New England Dominance: Exactly How Good Have the Patriots Been With Brady and Belichick?

We all know the Patriots have been unstoppable since 2001, but they may be even better than you think.

Tom Brady entered Patriot fans' lives -- their hearts -- back in 2001. Since, the team has been to six Super Bowls, won 12 division titles and failed to make the playoffs a grand total of two times.

The Patriots have been really good. But you already knew that.

It's not that simple though. I don't think just saying the Patriots have been the best team over the last decade and a half really explains just how dominant they've been. When you put things into perspective -- when you add numbers to New England's story -- things start to get crazy.

One of the metrics we use here at numberFire is appropriately called nERD. For football purposes, it represents the number of points you'd expect a particular team to win by against an average squad on a neutral field. If the Jaguars have a nERD of -4.00, we'd expect them to lose to an ordinary team at a random site by four points. If their opponent had a nERD of 2.00, the point differential would be six points.

Since 2001 -- the year Tom Brady became the Patriots' starter -- New England's average nERD per season has been 7.97. That's the best in the league. It's also 2.43 points better than the second-place Green Bay Packers.

The difference in average nERD per season between Green Bay and the eighth-ranked Chargers is 2.38.

Yes, you read that right -- the gap between New England to the second-best team over the last 14 years is the same as that second-best team to the eighth-ranked one.

Silly. Just silly.

The lowest single-season nERD from New England came back in 2002, when they finished with a 2.71 score. Arizona's hit this total just once since 2001, while the Raiders haven't touched a 2.71 nERD since their 2002 Super Bowl season.

Sadly, Cleveland hasn't hit the mark a single time since Tom Brady became New England's starter. Think about that for a second -- the Patriots' worst season is still better than the Browns' best season over the last 14 years.

I'm pouring some out for you, Browns fans.

To visualize just how dominant the Patriots have been since the Brady era began, I charted every season from every team in terms of nERD over the last 14 years. In the graph below (click the image for a larger view), the x-axis represents the year while the y-axis is the team's nERD score for that year. New England's year-to-year nERD totals are highlighted in red, while the blue line represents a league-average team.

Now we'll just wait and see what happens when Tom Brady isn't their quarterback.