The Patriots’ defense played well last Monday against the Chiefs, limiting them to only three points and forcing three turnovers in a 34-3 rout at Gillette Stadium. It marked the second solid game in a row for the unit, as the defense also played well a week prior, when the Patriots took down the Jets.
Despite the steady improvements, though, there’s still those that are a bit concerned about whether the defense can hold up if the Patriots’ offense sputters and the team is forced to grind out wins toward the end of the regular season and potentially in the postseason. It’s a feeling similar to last year, when the Pats rode their potent offense to a 14-2 regular-season record before being bounced in the first round of the playoffs by the Jets.
This season, the Pats’ defense has done a pretty good job containing the run, holding opponents to 105.3 yards per game, which ranks 12th in the NFL. Against the pass, though, the unit continues to struggle. The Pats’ defense is ranked last in that department, allowing 298.9 passing yards per game.
Overall, the Patriots have allowed 404.2 yards of total offense per game to their opponents, which also ranks last in the NFL. Yet, as alarming as that may be, the Pats have allowed only 20.3 points per game, which may seem like a lot but is actually the league’s 10th best mark.
But it’s beyond the numbers where most Patriots fans’ uneasiness sets in. After all, the team has been forced to plug in a slew of undrafted free agents and relative unknowns throughout this season. The Patriots have gotten younger on defense the past couple of years, but the verdict’s still out on exactly how many defensive playmakers they have in the current system.
With the talent on offense, the Patriots’ defense doesn’t need to be lights out in order for them to win. But it has to be good enough. Is it?