Is The New England Defense Good Enough

IS NEW ENGLAND'S DEFENSE GOOD ENOUGH TO WIN AN NFL CHAMPIONSHIP?

If it's true that "defense wins championships," then there's no reason to even play Sunday's Super Bowl. The Seattle Seahawks have the best defense in the NFL. They won the Super Bowl last year. They'll win again this year if all it takes is mastery on defense.

But, the world is usually more complicated than that...particularly when you have a Hall-of-Fame quarterback on the other side of the ball trying to cement his legacy as the best ever. How perfect would it be for Tom Brady supporters if he does what Peyton Manning couldn't do? And, if Brady is able to perform well, does the Patriots DEFENSE have what it takes to finish off a victory. New England's defense isn't great. Is it good enough to win a championship?

We conclude our four-day series on the offenses and defenses of this Sunday's Super Bowl teams with a look at New England's stop unit. If you missed the earlier reports, please check the archives. We're now all the way to Friday...and the mainstream media STILL isn't talking about the stuff that really matters down in Arizona. We really need five days of "Marshawn Lynch doesn't like talking to the press?" The caliber of New England's defense is a lot more important than that!

TOTAL DEFENSE
344.1 yards-per-game (#13 in the NFL by a lot)
5.3 yards-per-play (#10 in the NFL)

New England was above average...which can be enough to get the job done if Brady is effective. Remember that their fast pace makes it tougher to post great per-game yardage on defense. That per-play mark is top ten in the league. Seattle's conservative offense has been inconsistent this year, and prone to struggle vs. top 10 defenses. The Patriots at least have a chance to be a force on this side of the ball given those numbers.

RUSHING DEFENSE
104.3 yards-per-game (#9 in the NFL)
4.0 yards-per-carry (#8 in the NFL)
26.2 carries-per-game: (near league average)

Very important here. Seattle will try to win the game first with Marshawn Lynch. New England must be able to put up a brick wall that prevents big plays and third down conversions. Good sign that the Pats are top ten in both categories. That's come against something just below a league average number of rushes (many teams have to go pass-heavy from behind against New England), so those aren't polluted numbers. New England is in the Super Bowl because they're good on both sides of the ball.

PASS DEFENSE
239.8 yards-per-game (#17 in the NFL)
7.2 yards-per-pass (#15 in the NFL)
35.9 passes-per-game: (ninth most in the NFL)

Here the team turns mortal in a way that could matter. Russell Wilson of Seattle isn't a prolific passer. But, he's a playmaker. Here he'll be facing a league average pass defense. That may be the tie-breaker if everything else cancels out. Brady has the much more daunting task of trying to earn yards through the air against Seattle's defense.

TAKEAWAYS
25 in the regular season (#13 in the NFL)

There's nothing wrong with a performance like that. But, it's frankly a bit of a disappointment given how many New England opponents have to go into desperation mode when playing from behind. The best New England teams of this era were better in this stat (as was New Orleans the year it won a Super Bowl with a similar style). The good news is that BOTH New England and Seattle have been disappointing in this regard this season.

We've laid out the fundamentals very clearly in this build-up to the big game. Our next report will cover our classic indicator stats to drive home the points you need to remember when handicapping the game. A quick summation leading into that:

OFFENSE: Very close. NE more explosive...Seattle more balanced
DEFENSE: Edge to Seattle, but New England isn't totally outclassed
TURNOVERS: Both have safe offenses, and disappointingly passive defenses when it comes to forcing major miscues

Why is New England the favorite given all that? We'll discuss THAT in our next NOTEBOOK!

Remember that BIG, JUICY WINNERS in Sunday's Super Bowl is available from JIM HURLEY right now at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions about football or basketball service, call the office at 1-800-323-4453 during normal business hours Friday or this weekend before the games get started.

Be sure to build your bankrolls for Sunday with some great basketball Friday (mostly NBA) and Saturday (another huge slate featuring a few blockbusters!). Think of this as SUPER BOWL WEEKEND and go for the glory! Two more football reports ahead...

Saturday: Super Bowl preview with JIM HURLEY'S key indicators
Sunday: Super Bowl game day notes

And, then...we switch gears to race down the road to March Madness with this slate of big-game previews...

Monday: College Basketball...#2 Virginia at #13 North Carolina (UVA off Duke!)
Tuesday: College Basketball...#22 Indiana at #5 Wisconsin
Wednesday: College Basketball...special major conference report
Thursday: College Basketball...UCLA at Stanford in the Pac 12
Friday/Saturday: blockbuster previews choosing from Kentucky at Florida, Louisville at Virginia, Notre Dame at Duke, and Georgetown at Villanova!

Wow....one of the most anticipated Super Bowls ever followed by a 2015 college basketball chase that could go down in the history books. Whether it's pro football, college basketball, or ANY Las Vegas betting sport...when championships are on the line, YOU NEED WORLD CHAMPION HANDICAPPER JIM HURLEY!

23
Aug

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