Hope for the Falcons: The Patriots’ No. 1 defense isn’t really No. 1

Atlanta Falcons running back Tevin Coleman (26) dives into the end zone for a touchdown against the Denver Broncos during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 9, 2016, in Denver. (AP Photo/Joe Mahoney)

Visual proof that the Falcons can score against a good defense. (AP Photo/Joe Mahoney)

When last we met, the topic concerned Football Outsiders’ appraisal of what would happen if the Atlanta Falcons played poorly in the Super Bowl. (Spoiler alert: They’d lose big.) Today’s offering comes courtesy of another analytical site, this one Chase Stuart’s Football Perspective. And Mr. Stuart, I’m glad to report, offers hope for the Bowl-bound Birds.

We know that the Patriots yielded the fewest points among NFL teams. But that doesn’t mean New England had the No. 1 defense. Going by yards against, it was No. 8. Using Outsiders’ DVOA (defense-adjusted value above average), Mr. Stuart notes that the Pats were No. 16 — mediocre, in sum — in that metric. He also writes:

“The Patriots faced by far the easiest schedule of any defense in the NFL. New England’s strength of schedule was -7.1%, while Tennessee was 31st at -4.2% and the Bills were 30th at -3.0%. The Patriots would be tied for eighth in DVOA if that metric was not adjusted for strength of schedule, which is why the defense falls to 16th with those adjustments.

Also: The best quarterback the Patriots faced in the regular season was Seattle’s Russell Wilson, who threw for 348 yards and administered New England’s only loss with Tom Brady starting. Mr. Stuart’s conclusion: “As far as ‘No. 1 scoring defenses’ go, this is a pretty non-threatening defense to face for the top quarterback in the NFL in 2016.”

Not trying to make anybody overconfident here. The Pats are still coached by the guy who slowed the fast-break Buffalo Bills and the Rams’ Greatest Show on Turf in Super Bowls. But I don’t know that the Pats’ defense, man for man, is any better than Denver’s or Seattle’s or Arizona’s. The Falcons beat all three of those.

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Reader Comments 0

34 comments
ricko1112
ricko1112

Bradley is wildly grasping at straws again, but that's his job isn't it?To try to give hope when there is none. 


NE's offense will be able to score at will. Brady doesn't make mistakes. Matt Ryan is due for one of the clunkers he's known for.



JACKINHAVERHILLL
JACKINHAVERHILLL

Hey, there's an idea for you Failcon fans....

If you're looking for sure success go with a little Barry 0bama "Hope and Change" !!

Look where all that "Hope" got the country .....

Jse1960
Jse1960

I know the Pats had an easy schedule but they still destroyed a pretty good Steelers team. I guess all those bad memories of 1998 are bubbling up.

TOJacket
TOJacket

DawgNole is a grammar preek. Loserboy.

DawgNole
DawgNole

@TOJacket

Not at all. I simply recognize basic, elementary school English--unlike you, who not only can't write/spell, but who hypocritically spends his days calling out God and others on blogs for their perceived "stupidity."

Few things more distasteful than a hypocrite--especially a desperately ignorant one.

John92
John92

Go Falcons Go!!!!! The Falcons will WIN.

jlrhoya
jlrhoya

The real key to beating the Pats defense is the passing game - they can stop the run really well which was a strength of the majority of teams they played - Bills, 49ers, Texans, Dolphins, Jets, Steelers, etc.


Teams with above average QB's and that can go without running the ball every down are the ones that had the true success against them.  Freeman and Coleman will be important for the Falcons but as short yardage receivers not runners.

David Mark Belcher
David Mark Belcher

@jlrhoya  intelligent analysis and I agree with you.  The only chance the Pats have defensively is to disguise their coverage to confuse Ryan.  They can do this, but will it work.  The other option is to match Atlanta score for score and hope you get the ball at the end.

ricko1112
ricko1112

@David Mark Belcher @jlrhoya Atlanta's defense can't stop the run, can't stop the pass, and was 23rd in the most important stat of all! Points allowed! 


Ryan is having a great year, but he hasn't played as many top defenses as NE either. Lots of bottom feeders like NO, TB, OAK, KC, GB, and SF. 


NE played 8 top 12 defenses and went 7-1. Atlanta played 5 top 12 defenses (Seachickens twice) and went 4-1. 


Atlanta also had losses to TB, Eagles, and San Diego. San Diego lost to the Browns! That's why NE will win. 

SkokieDog
SkokieDog

@ricko1112 Nice try in applying the transitive property there. You should go straight to Connecticut and get on the payroll at ESPN. They'll be dazzled by your analytic skills. Here, we're not. 

TChris
TChris

The off-the-field circus scares me the most...Having a young player provide Pats motivation or some extra curricula mishap...If Birds can get to the game remaining humble but confident w/o incident, I love our chances! Hope Alex and Jet can play their respective games...Gosh, I've been with these Birds since I was 10 yrs old (61 now), sooo very proud of and happy for this TEAM! 


WARNING! BIRDS IN FLIGHT! FALCONS COMING! #RISE UP!

DawgNole
DawgNole

@TChris

My mistake on the deleted comment. Had the Hawks on my mind--having just watch them beat the Knicks in FOUR overtimes.

Like you, I've been following the Falcons since their inception in '66.

Hoping they can finally bring home an NFL title!

Wrecker
Wrecker

These numbers merely confirm what a lot of people have believed all along:  the Patsies faced a mediocre schedule and dominated a lot of bad QBs and offenses.

DawgNole
DawgNole

@TOJacket

Displaying your ignorance yet again. Should've stayed awake in class.

More importantly, you should stop being a lying hypocrite; that places you down in the dregs with slime like tampongator, oh:io, and ThomAss Brown.

DawgNole
DawgNole

@TOJacket

What "your" trying to say???

"Their" dog squeeze???

Yet you call God and others stupid on here daily.

And you're not embarrassed?!

Not to worry--I'm sure your family is plenty embarrassed for you, unless you're hiding your hypocritical ignorance from them behind that idiotic blog handle.