Patriots Pick Six: Leftovers From Sunday’s Loss to Buffalo

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Oct 26, 2014; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots cornerback Darrelle Revis (24) gestures to the crowd during the second quarter against the Chicago Bears at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Three: No matter what happens with the offense, the New England defense is going to determine if the Patriots are a Super Bowl team or not. While the points per game were similar to 2013 (8th in the NFL with 19.5 points per game this season; 10th in the NFL with 21.1 points per game last season) the New England defense is a much different beast. Their third-down defense is much better (40% and 16th in the league in 2014 compared to 42.2% and 26th in the league last year) and the red zone defense is off-the-charts (6th in the league allowing just 22 touchdowns on 46 red zone trips compared to 16th last year allowing 28 touchdowns on 50 trips).

 With Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner holding down the top two spots at cornerback, the Patriots are able to take away top targets. Last year Aqib Talib was banged-up most of the second-half of the season and his inability to stay on the field in two consecutive AFC Championship games turned close games into losses as a combination of Alfonzo Dennard, Kyle Arrington, Logan Ryan and Marquice Cole simply were not good enough to stop Baltimore’s and Denver’s top passing options the past two seasons. In 2014 the secondary is deep and strong at safety still with Patrick Chung playing better than expected and Devin McCourty continuing to excel playing centerfield. McCourty has played well in coverage as well in the dime as the Patriots slide him up to cornerback and bring on Tavon Wilson for Chung and Duron Harmon to man the safety position.

New England has a rejuvenated Vince Wilfork teamed with veteran Alan Branch and a healthy Sealver Siliga and Chris Jones inside making the run defense much stronger. Chandler Jones is healthy and Rob Ninkovich is his consistent self as well at defensive end. The addition of Akeem Ayers has given them another pass rush option from the outside that the team lacked in previous years. With Dont’a Hightower and Jamie Collins continuing to elevate their game inside, the Patriots have their best front seven since their Super Bowl teams of a decade ago.

The defense is going to have to win a game at some point in the postseason, and this defense is the best prepared to do so for the first time in a long time in New England.

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