In three-and-outs, Pats rank top six both ways

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham

It's a pretty good formula for victory.

Get first downs on offense; prevent first downs on defense.

AFC South sensei Paul Kuharsky has an enlightening item that ranks how often teams avoid three-and-outs offensively and force them defensively.

You can check out the Ralph Sampson and Hakeem Olajuwon of charts on Kuharsky's blog. I'd run them here, but I don't have the bandwidth.

The New England Patriots and New York Giants are the only clubs that rank among the top six in both categories. The Patriots have possessions without a first down 30.8 percent of the time (sixth-lowest in the NFL) and stop opponents from gaining a first down 44.2 percent of the time (second-highest).

The rest of the AFC East ranges from fair to uninspiring.

The Miami Dolphins rank 12th on offense with 32.9 percent of their possessions failing to achieve a first down and 23rd on defense by forcing a three-and-out at a 33.3 percent clip. The latter figure combined with the Patriots' offensive efficiency doesn't bode well for the Dolphins on Sunday in Gillette Stadium.

The Buffalo Bills are 19th on offense at 36.8 percent and 17th on defense at 35.6 percent.

The New York Jets rank 26th on offense at 40.8 percent and 12th on defense at 39.3 percent.