Last season, the Patriots had first-and-10 situations with the football between their own 20 and 30 yard line 52 times in the regular season, not including plays like kicks or taking a knee.
Care to guess what they were most likely to do? Run? Pass? Which player do you think got the ball most frequently?
Boston.com has developed an interactive tool to provide those answers and more. We plugged every play the Patriots ran in 2011 into a database that allows you to choose a down and the distance to go and set a field position range. Then you will see the Patriots tendencies for that situation. Since predictions are often based on past performance, it provides a baseline to see the team’s strategy.
In the scenario outlined, the Patriots ran the ball 50 percent of the time (BenJarvus Green-Ellis up the middle was the most frequent play) and passed 42 percent of the time (most often Tom Brady to Aaron Hernandez).
The database throws out some plays, including sacks, although it does account for incomplete passes. That is why the percentages don’t add up to 100. It also includes several players no longer on the Patriots, but it still is a good look at the play choice and personnel used.
Take it for a test drive now, and keep it handy during the games this season to see how closely this year’s plays stack up. Remember that the field position setting shows the position of the ball at the snap, so a wider range shows more plays, but the ball could be anywhere in between.