Most of the focus this year has been on Brady, Gronkowski and the rest of the Patriots offense. Few people have paid attention to the defense.
Led by Vince Wilfork, who had a monster game against the Ravens, this group has been known to allow sub-par offensives to gain a lot of yards. Look at the game against the Miami Dolphins, where they gained 488 yards.
While they did give up a lot of yards, they did force turnovers. They intercepted the ball 23 times and recovered 11 fumbles defensively. The defense as a whole only scored two touchdowns all year though.
The key thing the defense needs to do is harass Eli Manning. If the defense can do this and limit the amount of damage that Manning can do in the air, then the defense will be much better off. However, they still won't be out of the woods quite yet. They still have to stop the big running backs that line up behind and next to Manning.