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September 12, 2011

Bill Burt: Some Patriots number crunching for 2011

Everybody loves numbers.

They make the sports world go 'round these days.

Well, here are some numbers to decipher while chomping on your Cheerios this morning.

All of them relate to your New England Patriots, which open tonight in Miami (7 p.m. on ESPN).

If most of these come through, on the plus side for the Patriots, then this season will be super. I guarantee it.

Anyway, there are 10 of them:

Less than 1,300 for Ingram

That's less than 1,300 yards for Mark Ingram.

What do the stats of the rookie New Orleans Saints running back have to do with anything the Patriots?

The Patriots had the 28th pick overall and had an alleged need for a go-to running back — we're talking "breakaway" running back. Rather than take the top running back on most NFL "Draft Boards," the Patriots chose to take a chance or two second-tier backs in Shane Vereen (Cal) and Stevan Ridley (LSU) in the second and third rounds respectively.

If Ingram is the real deal, like the Saints think he is, and he rushes for 1,300-plus yards, the Patriots may pay for drafting from the clearance rack. Most of the best Patriots teams this past decade, including the Super Bowl winners in 2001, 2003 and 2004 had go-to backs. If Ridley or Vereen fill that role, no problem.

Anyway, anything near 1,300 yards means he is going to be very, very good.

40-plus sacks on "D"

The number is 40. When the Patriots have sacked the opposing quarterback 40 more times since the turn of the century, they have made the Super Bowl.

While it would be nicer if that number was closer to 50.

The bottom line is that this Patriots team appears to be built toward the mid-40s or even 50 with the addition of Albert Haynesworth and Shaun Ellis on the defensive line.

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