NFL: Patriots have six-point lead in Super Bowl race

Media playback is not supported on this device Tottenham are not as good as some of the other top six teams – Eddie Howe The list of three-time Super Bowl champions continues to grow,…

NFL: Patriots have six-point lead in Super Bowl race

Media playback is not supported on this device Tottenham are not as good as some of the other top six teams – Eddie Howe

The list of three-time Super Bowl champions continues to grow, but the lack of excitement this year as an NFL season reaches the halfway point has raised eyebrows – to everyone outside the Northeast US.

In the first half of this season there was a three-way tie for first place between the Tennessee Titans, Los Angeles Rams and New Orleans Saints.

Then the New England Patriots came along and, by beating Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday, are now one game ahead of both and further ahead of the second-placed Los Angeles Rams.

Quarterback Tom Brady, in his 19th season with the Patriots, says this is his best season at the helm.

With them being another 11-point winner over the Eagles and giving Brady his 26th victory of the season, the Patriots have gained 68 points for an average of 34.9 points per game over their seven wins.

It also means they have the best point differential in the NFL this season (252), having scored 96 more points than the 22nd-placed Chicago Bears (24). The Patriots were second last season with a differential of -10.

While not a huge amount of yards have been gained – the Patriots have only scored 219 for an average of 13.2 points per game, but they have the fifth highest yards per pass (282.8) in the league, and are also second in rushing, third in interceptions thrown and fifth in defence.

The 1,000-yard pass-catching machine in which New England boast has been tight end Rob Gronkowski, who has moved past 10,000 yards receiving in his career and looks to have finally shown up as the second most dangerous offensive weapon in the NFL behind Michael Thomas.

And it is all in stark contrast to the other Super Bowl champions – Atlanta Falcons and the New York Giants – who remain winless, the first time that has happened in the opening month of a season since 1978.

Imitation has never been one of the Patriots’ biggest strengths, but they are now winning games by quite a large margin and the big wins are coming their way.

Edgar Davids helped become a household name with his play-making skills on the wing

Oh come on, you don’t mean other things!

A degree of sarcasm always pervades talks about world football (mostly my own) but when it comes to football in general it is quite apparent that the Netherlands remain as popular as ever.

Nevermind Holland, they are currently more popular than fellow Dutchman Gerard Houllier (who is still in charge at Lyon, with his current average of 18,561 as the club’s highest since August 2010).

English football was far more fickle during the mid-1990s when the Netherlands’ worst run of defeats was losing their last 16 qualifier against Scotland, and the next nine games also ended in defeat.

The current fortunes mean that 14 consecutive World Cup qualifying draws between Holland and the Group A leaders have been knocked over in the last six qualifying matches.

Friday’s game at home to Croatia – who are holding on to their place in the top two after failing to beat Republic of Ireland on Saturday – will only set up another tense run of games for Janco van der Vaart.

A collective failure of service is much to blame, but perhaps Van der Vaart, now a footballer/coach at Hamburg, should take a leaf out of New England Patriots’ playbook.

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