Last season was a strange one for a number of different reasons, the most notable of which was players and fans adapting to life in the midst of a pandemic. Not only were fans not allowed anywhere near stadiums for the majority of the season, but we also saw players decide to opt out of playing. The New England Patriots had all of that, as well as trying to adapt to life without Tom Brady. It did not play out well for the Patriots, as they ended up 3rd in the AFC East with a 7-9 record despite being in the top 5 in the conference in points allowed. It was the inability of their offense to get the job done that really hurt them, but what are we looking at in terms of team D this season? Let’s dig in and see so you can plan your bets against their NFL odds.
NFL Betting – New England Patriots Defense Expert Analysis For the 2021-22 Season
The Patriots Defense in 2020
As previously mentioned, the Patriots finished 4th in the AFC with just 353 points surrendered through their 16 games. The old adage about defenses winning championships is somewhat true, but you also need to have an offense that puts points on the board. Of the top 7 teams in the AFC in terms of points against, the Patriots were the only one to have a negative points differential.
The Patriots were in the top 10 in the league in pass defense, surrendering 222.3 YPG through the air, plus their 18 INTs on the season were tied for first in the league, so where did things go wrong for the Patriots on the defensive side of the football?
There are a couple of problem areas that you can point to, starting with their inability to stop the run. The Patriots surrendered over 130 YPG on the ground, but that was not their only issue. They also had problems with getting pressure on the QB, registering a mere 24 sacks on the season, well shy of the 56 that the Pittsburgh Steelers delivered.
The Patriots used the offseason to make their offense better, but they also made a couple of changes on D that might just help.
Patriots Offseason Moves
The Patriots suffered a loss prior to the start of the 2020 season, with LB Don’t’a Hightower declaring that he would be opting out of the season. His return to the lineup this year makes this defensive unit instantly better. The linebacker crew also got better with the addition of Matt Judon, who the Patriots picked up from Baltimore in free agency. Judon has 34.5 sacks in 76 games in his NFL career and will immediately be a boost to what was an anemic pass rush.
Besides the veteran guys on the defense, the Patriots also have a few young players who look set to take another step forward this season. Cornerback C.J. Jackson has 9 INTs last year and is turning into a very solid shut down CB. Safety Kyle Dugger really began to take off at the end of last season and is potentially looking at an expanded role this season.
All too often in 2020, this defense was relied on after the offense failed to get the job done. If the changes on offense made in the offseason work and this D stays the same or improves, the Patriots may be looking at a return to the postseason.