Some team ranks to look at:
Rushing Yards Given Up: 19th
Passing Yards Given Up: 31st
Total Yards Given Up: 30th
Rushing First Downs Allowed: 23rd
Passing First Downs Allowed: 32nd (183, which is 16 more than the 31st ranked team)
First Downs Allowed: 31st
Third Down Conversion Rate Allowed: 32nd (48.8%, 4.6% worse than the 31st ranked team)
Fourth Down Conversion Rate Allowed: 28th (given up 11, which is worst in the league)
Here's another rank to look at:
Patriots Overall Record: 10-2, 1st in the league
The Patriots defense hasn't been thought of too highly by many, yet the team keeps winning. The teams gives up plenty of yards and they can't seem to reach the quarterback or stop running backs in the back field (the Patriots rank tied for 31st with the Cleveland Browns for Tackles for Loss. The Chiefs are 32nd). The defense don't put up statistically fantastic nights, but the teams continues to help get the ball back to the offense. Stats don't tell the whole story as this defense steps up at the correct time to seals wins for the team.
The Bears' defense, on the other hand, are towards the top in the league in most categories. What's their story?
Let's look closer at the Bears' defense after the jump!
The Patriots have played six out of the top eight "Yards Against" defenses. That's the #1 Chargers, #4 Dolphins, #5 Steelers, #6 Vikings, #7 Ravens and the #8 Jets. The Patriots have a 6-1 record against those teams. This week, the Patriots face off against the #3 Bears. The Bears and the main stream media have been saying that the Patriots should be stopped by one of the top defenses in the league. Well, the Patriots are the sole reason why the Ravens, Vikings, Steelers and Jets are ranked below the Bears- and they thrashed the #4 Dolphins. I don't believe that the Patriots won't be able to exploit the Bears defense. The Patriots are going to tear the Bears defense apart.
The Bears are ranked #3 in point/against. Well, the Patriots posted 39 points on the #2 Steelers defense. They 45 points on the #6 Jets defense. Also, even though the Patriots are ranked 18th, there's only a field goal difference between the Jets are #6 and the Patriots at #18. The ranks give a poor picture of the actual difference in defenses because the Patriots' defense is better than it first appears.
The Bears have the 13th ranked pass defense. No one's really trumpeting that. Everyone's talking about the Bears' #2 run defense. Well, the Patriots have played the #1 Steelers, #3 Jets, #4 Vikings, #5 Chargers and #6 Ravens. The Patriots put up over 100 rushing yards against every team other than the Chargers. That's 4 teams out of the top 6. I like those odds that the Patriots will do it against the Bears' #2 defense.
Now, the Bears are ranked #1 in 3rd down defense, while the Patriots are #32. That's as different as two teams can be. I'm still not overly impressed. Here's the list of the teams the Bears have held to under 33% conversion on 3rd down:
1. Week 1 Lions - 28% - Week 1 for a team coming off of a 2-14 season.
2. Week 4 Giants - 25% - It's a Manning.
4. Week 7 Redskins - 15% - The Redskins don't have wide receivers or running backs.
5. Week 10 Vikings - 11% - Brett Favre.
6. Week 11 Dolphins - 9% - Starring 3rd String Dolphins QB Tyler Thigpen.
7. Week 12 Eagles - 30% - Good game, still 30%
What do all of these teams have in common? Inexperienced quarterbacks (Lions, Panthers, Dolphins), mobile quarterbacks (Redskins, Eagles) and quarterbacks that don't take care of the football (Giants and Vikings). What do those qualities have in common with Tom Brady? Nothing. Nothing at all.
The Bears have faced the Lions twice, and have won both with questionable calls. They had their best 3rd down performances against the worst team in the NFL Panthers, with rookie quarterback Jimmy Clausen. Their second best 3rd down performance game was against the Dolphins who were using 3rd QB Tyler Thigpen because their #1 and #2 quarterbacks were out with injuries.
So what do I think of this upcoming battle between the Patriots' offense and the Bears' defense? Not as much as a lot of the talking heads. I don't think the Bears have a straw man defense, but I definitely think they're overrated; I think they've benefited from playing some pretty terrible offenses. The Patriots have shown they've had no problem demolishing top ranked defenses.
Regardless of what the stats say, I think the Bears' defense is the next to get run over by the Patriots' offense.
Stat of the Week: The San Diego Chargers, Miami Dolphins, Pittsburgh Steelers, Minnesota Vikings, Baltimore Ravens, and the New York Jets all have allowed more than 1000 yards fewer on defense this season than the Patriots defense. The Patriots have beaten all six of those teams.