Much has been made around New England (including this site) about the Patriots’ last-ranked defense and how epically porous it has been. The general feeling among many fans is that if Tom Brady and the Patriots offense do not put up at least 30 points, the Patriots will lose the ball game. Luckily, the Patriots have put up at least 30 points in 11 out of their 14 games this season, losing only one of those contests (at Buffalo). Despite the Patriots’ regular-season success, the defense has many fans pessimistic about the team’s chances in the playoffs when they face better offenses and defenses than they have seen for much of this season.
Well fear not, Patriots fans. Elliot Harrison from NFL.com doesn’t think that the Pats’ defense is going to matter during the playoffs.
Harrison contends that in this offense-driven league, the Patriots’ offense can up enough points, and put enough pressure on the opposing team’s offense, that they’re going to be tough to beat. Here’s a snippet from Harrison’s piece on NFL.com:
"Who cares [about the Patriots’ defense]? When a club scores 30-plus points like it’s nothing, the need for a stout defense becomes awfully diminished. It also applies incredible pressure on opposing quarterbacks to keep up in an inevitable track meet where, more often than not, they can’t."
"The way Brady and his weapons are playing, it will be difficult for any team, including the Steelers and Ravens, to stop the Patriots."
Harrison then goes on to mention the recent slip-ups of the Patriots’ main competition in the AFC, the Steelers and the Ravens. It’s an interesting take, but I’m not sure I’m buying it just yet. The defense has to be able to put up a fight if Brady and the offense struggles, which they have at times this season. I hope Elliot Harrison is dead-on in his assessment, but that remains to be seen. If the Pats are playing at home for the entire AFC playoffs, they certainly will stand a much better chance.
The first step is winning this Saturday against Miami, which is no easy task.