Patriots might have the best AFC defense

If numbers really tell everything, then the New England Patriots are a lot better on defense than they probably receive credit for.

So far this season, they have allowed the least points in the AFC, just 91 — or 15.2 points per game. That’s awesome, right? Sure. But it’s more confusing than anything.

Just watching them play, does the Patriots defense really look that good? They seem to come up with some key stops but overall, no, they haven’t been extremely sharp this season. Their run defense ranks 9th in the NFL and their pass defense ranks 18th (and 10th among 16 AFC teams).  But Bill Belichick told WEEI that’s not relevant.

“It’s all about points,” he said. “How do you score points? You score points in the red area. Goal-line. So there are a lot of points involved there. You score points on big plays, or plays that don’t go through the red area.”

“Defensively, if you can not give up big plays,” he added, “and force the team to drive through the red area, and then play well in the red area and not give up touchdowns, give up field goals, then how many points can you score? It’s hard to get a lot of points that way.”

Just kidding of course.

If there’s any stat that directly correlates to wins and losses though, it might be turnovers. And the Patriots have only turned the ball over four times this season. They haven’t even thrown an interception yet. Only they and the Minnesota Vikings can say that. But the Pats have received the ball on turnovers eight times this year, which is a +4 differential. That’s good. It’s also interesting to think the Patriots had a third-string quarterback who played and didn’t throw any picks, not that he did much throwing but still…

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