The 2009 Patriots defense ranked 11th in the NFL in total defense and fifth in points per game allowed. But despite posting strong defensive statistics, the team's defense does not compare to the defenses of the Jets and Colts, the two AFC rivals who will face off in this Sunday's AFC Championship Game.
The Jets and the Colts have built dominant defenses in different ways. While the Jets have built an aggressive, hard-nosed defense, the Colts have constructed a quick, speedy defensive unit.
Both defenses include playmakers that wreak havoc on opponents. Players like the Jets' Bart Scott and the Colts' Dwight Freeney put pressure on opposing quarterbacks to make bad decisions.
The Patriots' defense lacked star power this past season. Players such as defensive tackle Vince Wilfork and strong safety Brandon Meriweather made the AFC Pro Bowl roster, but neither lived up to their playmaking abilities on the field.
The Patriots will need to address their lack of defensive playmakers this offseason through free agency or the draft. Failing to do so could derail any championship aspirations for next season.