Patriots fans love offense. They love long scoring drives and putting up a ton of points. I love it. I want every game to be a blow out. Screw competitiveness and close games. I want my team to win as easily as possible. Every week. Every game.
But it just doesn’t work that way.
The Patriots’ performance in the regular season earned them a ticket directly into the second round of the NFL Playoffs. This past weekend, based on the outcomes of the games, there were three teams that the Patriots could have played. The Bengals, the Colts, and the Ravens. With Baltimore winning Saturday night, the wait to see who their opponent would be was over. It was the team I least wanted to see next week.
Baltimore. Of course.
Do I think the Patriots are better than the Ravens? Sure. Do I think the Patriots should win this game? Yes. But do I think Baltimore is a team that will come in and get beaten soundly by the Patriots like the Colts, Texans, and Broncos of the previous three years. No. No I do not. These Ravens aren’t afraid of the Patriots. They’ve come to Foxboro in the playoffs 3 times – beating them twice and ALMOST beating them a third time.
The difference this time? The difference this year? The Patriots have a defense. A real defense. A defense that can bail out the offense if it is struggling. A defense that can keep a game close if need be. A defense that can win this game for them.
And I think they will.
The one thing that I haven’t heard a lot of people talking about, when referring to the Patriots and more specifically their defense, is the performance of the defense strictly in the second half of games.
Before the bye week, the Patriots defense allowed a total of 125 2nd half points over 9 games. That comes out to an average of 13.89 per 2nd half points per game.
Since the bye week, the Patriots defense allowed a total of 22 2nd half points over 7 games. That comes out to an average of 3.14 per 2nd half per game.
Since the bye week, the Patriots have outscored their opponents 95-22 in the second half of games.
- 10 points to the Colts
- 3 points to the Lions
- 3 points to the Packers
- 0 points to the Chargers
- 0 points to the Dolphins
- 6 points to the Jets
- 0 points to the Bills
With all the talk being about how the Patriots offense has been a little sluggish lately – you can’t ignore these numbers. You can’t ignore that the Patriots defense over the past seven games has given up next to nothing in points in the second half.
That’s a true shut down defense.
That’s why they will win this game.
But I think the offense will help too!