Sunday, September 7, 2014

Your Official Milestone Preview for the 2014 New England Patriots

Though he's struggled to stay healthy in recent years, tight end Rob Gronkowski is still climbing New England's all-time touchdowns list.
By Adam Lowenstein (@StatsAdam)

Although the defending Super Bowl champions played on Thursday, the best team of recent memory is still the one with the highest win total, points scored and point differential over the last five, 10 and 15 seasons: the New England Patriots.

With all the Pro Bowlers on the squad, the Patriots have several milestones in front of them this year. Before I get to the individual ones, the franchise is just 12 wins away from its 450th regular-season victory. The only National Football League team to play fewer games than the Patriots and have more wins than them all-time is the Dallas Cowboys (464-348 record). So, without further ado, here are the milestones that the Patriots are chasing this season en route to what they hope will be their fourth Vince Lombardi Trophy.

Tom Brady’s franchise-best 49,149 passing yards rank seventh overall in NFL history. He has an extremely strong chance of taking over Warren Moon for sixth place in Week 1, as he is just 177 yards away from passing him. Brady is also on pace to join Brett Favre, Peyton Manning, Dan Marino, John Elway and Drew Brees as the sixth quarterback to throw for 50,000 yards all-time. The Patriots QB will most likely be in fifth place overall by season’s end with John Elway having just 2,326 yards more than Tom Terrific heading into 2014.

We now turn our attention to the Patriots’ history books, where Stevan Ridley is quickly approaching the upper echelon in rushing. He enters this season with 2,477 rushing yards. With 1,131 more, he would pass Kevin Faulk for fifth all-time. In addition, nine more rushing touchdowns puts Ridley in a seventh-place tie with BenJarvus Green-Ellis.

Here comes a shocker: Rob Gronkowski is near the top of the Patriots’ touchdown list. A double-digit touchdown season would put him in second place all-time (Yes, yes, I know - if he is healthy, but let us proceed under the impression that he miraculously plays a bulk of the team’s snaps this season).

Ben Coates and Randy Moss each put up 50 scores during their time in Foxboro, and Gronk currently stands at 43 total ones. Stanley Morgan will be difficult for him to reach soon at 68 total touchdowns, but the 25-year-old tight end is on track to be the team’s best touchdown scorer in franchise history.

To finish, here are some other quick hits on the record books from Julian Edelman, Jerod Mayo, Stephen Gostkowski and a couple former Patriots. Edelman, who is statistically the team’s best punt returner all-time, ranks fourth in New England history in punt return yards, and he is just 118 away from passing Dave Meggett for the next spot.

Moving to the defensive side of the football, Mayo has amassed 463 tackles in just 81 games over six seasons, and he is approaching Willie McGinest, who is in sixth place at 484 tackles over his 12 years in Massachusetts. We have not forgotten about kicking: Gostkowski is impressively on pace to pass Adam Vinatieri for the most points in franchise history this year.

Speaking of Vinatieri, if the former Patriots kicker plays a full season in 2014, he will become just the 10th NFL player to participate in 300 contests all-time. He also has a chance at being in third place in points scored by the end of the year.

Wes Welker, still by far the franchise’s reception leader, is 19th all-time in all-purpose yards and would crack the top 15 with a big year.

Well, there ends the important milestones for the current and former Patriots for this upcoming season. I hope these milestones gave you another aspect of the Patriots’ season to enjoy.

For more sports coverage, follow Adam Lowenstein on Twitter at @StatsAdam.

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