It’s no secret that the New England Patriots have a terrible defense this season. In fact it was historically bad. New England gave up an astonishing 411.1 yards per game, the most since the 1981 Baltimore Colts. Yet they still managed to avoid the title of 2011’s worst defense. That honor went to the Green Bay Packers, who gave up an extra half-yard per game. You heard that right, the No. 1 seeds in both the AFC and NFC each had the worst defenses in 30 years.
Compare those numbers with last year’s Green Bay team, which gave up only 309 yards per game; fifth-best in the NFL that year. That championship team could play both sides of the ball, but don’t expect the same results this year.
Admittedly Patriots and the Packers were first and second in interceptions, and some will argue that winning the turnover battle combined with their potent offense will be enough to carry them to a championship.
However, relying on turnovers is a losing strategy in the playoffs where you don’t have the luxury of playing against bad quarterbacks and bad teams; unless of course you’re the Pittsburgh Steelers (sorry Tim Tebow).
The Patriots didn’t beat a single team with a winning record this year, as they feasted on easy turnovers. But that’s what good teams do. Meanwhile, the Packers got 70 percent of their interceptions from quarterbacks named Jay Cutler, Kyle Orton, Sam Bradford, Christian Ponder, Josh Freeman, Carson Palmer, Josh McCown and Cam Newton.
Compare that with the playoffs, where they’ll have to force turnovers off guys named Drew Brees and Eli Manning. Two quarterbacks who threw for six touchdowns and only one interception against the Packers in their regular season meetings.