Patriots defense: Not too shabby

Jerod Mayo has been a leader on the improving Patriots defense.

So, the Patriots defense is going to blow this team’s chance at a fourth Super Bowl title, eh?

They’re going to give up 500 passing yards, 40 points, and blow the last goal-line stand of the game against the Ravens?

Based on the way the national media portrays the Pats D, you’d have every reason to think those things. Heck, Troy Aikman said the Patriots had the worst defense to ever make the playoffs.
Come. On.

Listen, the Pats defense isn’t going to break any records anytime soon, but worst ever? Not even close. In fact, there are a lot of stats that would prove the Patriots defense is satisfactory. And with an offense like the one they possess, satisfactory is more than enough.

Let’s get this out of the way right now: They ranked 31st in total yardage allowed. Big whoop. Teams threw on the Patriots 619 times in the regular season, fourth most in the NFL. Eventually those yards will add up.

But did yards given up translate to points? Nope. When it came to points allowed, the Patriots gave up 21.4, putting them in the top half of the league. In fact, the Patriots have only given up more than seven points in the second half once in the last nine weeks.

“Each week we are getting better,” Vince Wilfork said. “That’s our goal to get better, and each week we have. It’s something that we work for and that’s what we’ll continue to do. The better we can be prepared, the better we’ll be on Sunday. That’s where we’re at right now.”

Wilfork is having arguably his best season as a Patriot. On top of the 52 tackles, he had two interceptions and one forced fumble during the regular season. That’s three takeaways out of an AFC-leading 34.

And when it comes to run defense, the Pats are relatively stable. They’ll have to be on Sunday because of Ray Rice.

“I think it all starts with [Rice],” Wilfork said this week. “After him, it starts with the quarterback. … We have to do a good job of slowing [Rice] down and hopefully everything else will fall in place for us.”

The Cold, Hard Football Facts
A look at the NFL’s conference title games through the eyes of the stat experts at ColdHardFootballFacts.com.
 
The importance of Defensive Hogs
The Cold, Hard Football Facts measure the performance of every defensive front in football each year with our Defensive Hog Index. It’s proven that teams with great defensive lines are built to win playoff football. The 2007 Giants were No. 1 in the DHI. They won the Super Bowl. The 2008 Steelers were No. 1 in the DHI. They won the Super Bowl. The statistic is an incredible 37-15 (.712) picking playoff winners since it was introduced in 2007, including 6-2 here in the 2011 playoffs. Here’s how the NFL’s Final Four stack up on the Defensive Hog Index
 
Baltimore Ravens – No. 1
San Francisco 49ers – No. 2
New York Giants – No. 13
New England Patriots – No. 25


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