Quick-hit thoughts around the NFL and with the Patriots:
1. When the Patriots’ captains head to midfield for the opening coin flip today, fans will notice a new addition: Alge Crumpler. The veteran tight end has proven to be a big-time presence in the locker room and has been rewarded by being named a captain, joining Vince Wilfork, Kevin Faulk, Jerod Mayo and Tom Brady.
2. The Patriots have gained 52.7 percent of their passing yards after the initial catch, which is the sixth best mark in the NFL, according to ESPN Stats & Information tracking. The Patriots will be tested in this area today as the Ravens’ defense ranks No. 2 in lowest percentage of yards after the catch allowed this season.
3. One of the things that stood out from watching the Kansas City Chiefs last week is how outside linebacker Tamba Hali and defensive lineman Glenn Dorsey have adapted to the 3-4 scheme. Both were drafted for the 4-3 scheme preferred by the Chiefs' previous regime, but they look like good examples of how a scheme change can still bring out the best in players. It also helps to have a top-notch coordinator like Romeo Crennel.
4. The short pass is where it’s at for the Patriots offense. On passes 10 yards or shorter this season, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is 74 of 92 for 648 yards, with seven touchdowns and no interceptions, according to ESPN Stats & Information data. Brady’s 80.4 completion percentage is the best in the NFL in throws 10 yards or shorter.
5. If there was a Most Disappointing Player Award, it would probably go to Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer at this point.
6. Monday night offers a chance for two smaller-market teams to showcase what they’re all about to a national audience, as the Titans (3-2) visit the Jaguars (3-2). It will also be a good chance to highlight the competitive AFC South, the only division in which every team has a winning record.
7. One random note through five weeks: Bill Belichick is one of the only head coaches in the NFL not to throw a challenge flag this season.
8. No surprise that three of the top teams in the NFL – the Jets, Falcons and Steelers – are atop the league in the all-important turnover-differential stat. The Jets are a league-best plus-11, with just one giveaway. The Falcons and Steelers are plus-7.
9. Credit to New York Giants general manager Jerry Reese for the selection of wide receiver Hakeem Nicks in the first round of the 2009 draft (29th overall). Nicks is breaking out, with 33 receptions and six touchdowns.
10. After two weeks in which the Patriots’ trade of Randy Moss was a hot topic of discussion, any guesses on which player is featured on the ticket for today’s game? That’s right – it’s Moss. The tickets, of course, are printed up at the start of the year.