'11 first half vs. '12 first half

In a piece now posted on ESPNBoston.com, Field Yates looks at statistics in comparing the first half of the Patriots' 2012 season to the team's 2011 first half.

A few of his conclusions:

1. More balance on offense. "Digging deeper inside the offense, it becomes clear that the Patriots are a different and more balanced unit. ... Not only are the Patriots running the ball more frequently (34.5 attempts per game compared to 24.9), they're doing so with greater effectiveness."

2. Spike in three-WR package usage. "Due to the absence of tight and Aaron Hernandez for nearly five games, the Patriots have come to rely on a one-tight-end, three-receiver set in 2012. They've already run 337 plays from "11" personnel, up from 175 last season."

3. Defensive statistics improve. "While the defense remains a work in progress, the Patriots can take solace in marked improvement in a number of statistical categories. The defense is yielding nearly two fewer points per game at this juncture in 2012 (21.3 as opposed to 23.0) and has cut down its yards allowed per game by nearly 50 (416.2 to 369.8)."

To read the piece, CLICK HERE.