There's some good news and some bad news with regards to the Patriots defense.
The bad news? The team ranks last in the league in penalty yards. Through 24 penalties (second most in the league), the team has been penalized 263 yards, 65 more than the second place team.
Of course, two games is hardly a trend, but it should be a definite point of concern with the Patriots coaching staff. The team has accrued the most penalty yards on offense (105 on 12 penalties, two more than the second place 49ers) and on defense (158 on 12 penalties, 32 more than the second place Steelers).
If you subtract the penalty yardage from the team's offensive output, it's obvious to see that the team is struggling. While the team already ranks a meager 27th overall with respect to offensive yardage, when you factor in the team is continuously moved backwards with penalties, the Patriots fall to dead last with 344 net yards on offense.
In fact, the 31st ranked Jacksonville Jaguars are the only team within shouting distance (355 net yards) of the Patriots net offensive yards, with the 30th ranked Giants posting 99 more yards than the Patriots. If we want to point out offensive struggles, penalties are a clear option.
Looking at the defense, if you add the penalty yardage to the allowed yards to show an overall defensive performance, the team drops from 4th in defensive yards to 16th. While it's not a bad performance, it clearly shows the team has a lot of work to do if it wishes to maintain its status as a top unit in the league.
New England put together a solid performance against the Vikings. But the numbers show there are still a lot of places to improve.