Can't Dismiss Patriots' Defensive Struggles

As much as we've made this week of the challenge of stopping New England's No. 1 ranked offense, there are two sides to that pancake, as Bill Parcells, the former coach of both teams, used to say.

The Pats also have the league's last-ranked defense. New England has allowed 433 yards per game this year, and 6.81 yards per play, both of which are 32nd in the NFL. In terms of points allowed, the Pats are better, ranking 14th.

New England is fifth in points per game differential, and eighth in offense per game differential, so an obvious reason for their statistical defensive struggles would be the fact teams are having to open up their offense to keep up with Tom Brady. Indeed, the Pats are much better against the run than they are against the pass.

New England is 13th in rushing yards per game, and 21st in yards per rushing play. However, they are dead last in both measures of pass defense.

The Pats are coming off their best game of the season in the secondary, surrendering only 166 yards to Mark Sanchez last week, reason enough for Tony Romo to respect them.

"You can tell they're well coached," Romo said on his conference call with the New England media yesterday. "They play the right technique. They played really good ball last week.

"Obviously, they're well coached and they do a lot of different things. You just have to be prepared for a lot of different stuff, a lot of two-man type coverages and things of that nature."

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