New England Patriots: Renewed defense has helped win 8 straight

FOXBORO, MA - NOVEMBER 26: Trey Flowers
FOXBORO, MA - NOVEMBER 26: Trey Flowers /

The New England Patriots started the season 2-2, and the league thought that they had finally caught up to them.

The easy answer is the Tom Brady to Rob Gronkowski connection. Another easy one is Bill Belichick. Those are the two easy answers. There are other variables to the New England Patriots success that dig deeper than just Tom Terrific, Robbie Gronk, and Bill “The Hoodie” Belichick. The offense has indeed done their part, but the play on the other side of the ball has been the deciding factor in most of the games this year.

This defensive unit had a very rocky start. They gave up 42 points against the Kansas City Chiefs, who were led by Kareem Hunt, a rookie starting in his first ever game. After that, they did a little better. New Orleans only scored 20 on them. After that, they gave up 33 twice in a row. A potent Texans offense led by Deshaun Watson was the first one. A revived Cam Newton and the stellar Panthers offense beat them as well as scored 33 on them.

Since giving up 33 twice and dropping to 2-2, this Patriots defense has not given up 20 or more points since. The most they’ve given up is 17 twice. It is tremendous when you look at that crazy jump.

The stats behind the madness

The New England Patriots are the 4th best team in the league when it comes to winning the turnover battle. They are one of the best year in and year out when it comes to this, I mean, have you seen their offense?! They have a +9 differential and are of course behind the Los Angeles Chargers (+11, 3rd), Jacksonville Jaguars (+12, 2nd) and the Baltimore Ravens (+14, 1st). This is a big jump from the team who couldn’t stop an offense from driving down the field with their helmets on backwards.

This defense allows the least amount of points per game this season (18.6) despite the huge totals they gave up in the first 4 games this year. The rest of the 12 games have been spectacular in terms of allowing points.

New England Patriots
New England Patriots /

They only allowed 14 against Tampa Bay. The Jets could only score 17 on them. The dominant Falcons offense only put up 7, which is mind boggling. The Chargers dropped 13 on New England. After the bye, the Pats only allowed the Broncos to score 16. Down South of the border, Oakland could only put up 8 against Malcolm Butler and company. New England then squished the fish, only giving up 17 and forcing a couple turnovers. This past Sunday, New England didn’t let Buffalo get in the end zone once.

Related Story: Eric Lee steps up, earns Belichick’s praise

Granted, They have given up a ton of yardage. This year’s New England squad is 28th in yardage allowed per game (375.7), 29th in passing yards allowed per game (254.9), and 26th in rushing yards allowed per game (120.8). Normally you’ll here at least one person each season say, “Hey, if they don’t score, it doesn’t matter, right?” Well, I hate to break it to you, bucko, but yes it does. The more yardage a defense gives up, the more tired they become.

More from Chowder and Champions

Remember when I said that most sports are more mental than physical? That includes football. Giving up big yardage can lower a defense’s confidence, and raise the opposing offense’s confidence as a result. This literally forces the defense to make a big play to get things going again.

This makes that turnover differential number I discussed earlier matter even more. The less turnovers by the offense, the more time the defense could potentially have to rest up. The more turnovers by the defense, the more chances the offense gets to score. Football and Baseball are very unique in the way that either side of the ball compliments the other.

In conclusion, The New England defense has been more essential than the offense to this point. They would still have at least 8 wins if they put up 75% of their average points per game.

Next: New England Patriots: The 10 greatest defensive players of all-time

On that note, Belichick and Josh McDaniels’s brilliant Pats squad hasn’t gone anywhere, and they won’t for a long time… Boston strong!