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Sunday, November 27, 2011
Patriots may exploit Eagles biggest issue

By John Fisher


David Butler/US PresswireRob Gronkowski's ability to fight for extra yards could be huge against the Eagles.
When the Philadelphia Eagles host the New England Patriots on Sunday in a rematch of Super Bowl XXXIX, the strength of the Patriots offense is going to attack the Eagles defense in their weak spot.

New England is often criticized for its "dink-and-dunk" passing game but the Patriots gain yards by the bundle in the short and intermediate passing offense.

Quarterback Tom Brady leads the NFL in completion percentage, passing yards, touchdown passes, and yards per attempts on passes thrown within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage. He also leads the NFL in passing yards, is second in yards per attempt and is tied for second in touchdowns thrown on passes thrown between 10 and 20 yards from the line of scrimmage.

The Patriots like to run after the catch. They're the only team in the NFL with two players in the top seven, and one of two teams with three players in the top 31 in the league in yards after the catch.

As a team, the Patriots rank second in yards-after-catch per reception (6.1) and total yards after catch (3,266) and 47 percent of their receiving yards come after the catch, the eighth-highest ratel in the NFL.

All that is a recipe for success against a team that doesn't tackle well.

The Eagles don't allow many passing yards, but more than half of them (53.1 percent) come after the catch. No team in the league allows a higher percentage of its opponents' pass yards after the catch.

Philadelphia's tackling problems are magnified in the run game. They've allowed 475 rushing yards after contact -- good for 12th in the league -- but only seven teams have fewer rush attempts against them this season. The Eagles allow more than four-and-a-half yards after contact per rush attempt, ninth-most in the league.