The Patriots lead the league in takeaways since 2009

Andy Hart dished out a couple of noteworthy stats on the Patriots defense earlier today on twitter.

One thing that has been constant about the Patriots defense over the past couple of years, is well, it hasn't been that great. Of course, that's one way of looking at it.

The thing that has commonly been said about the Patriots, year in year out, is that they give up a lot of yards but they get a lot of turnovers. Of course, turnovers are almost always looked at as a fluke. It's not something that fans have thought they could hold their hat on. However, maybe that's not the case.

This year, the Patriots haven't exactly looked like world beaters on defense, though they've been better than the start of last year. The Patriots currently lead the league with 9 forced fumbles and they also have six interceptions.

Not sustainable you say? Not so!

Since 2009, the Patriots have led the league in takeaways with 114. Since Devin McCourty has entered the league - he leads the AFC with 11 interceptions and Kyle Arrington is tied for fourth with eight.

The buzzword for the Patriots defense has been "opportunistic". They've created turnovers, and most importantly, they've made them at key points in games.

The Jerod Mayo interception in the Redskins game last year comes to mind. So does the Brandon Spikes forced fumble on C.J. Spiller at Buffalo or the Ninkovich forced fumble on Willis McGahee just last week.

Sure, turnovers look lucky. They look flukey. But the evidence over the past 4 years of Patriots defense shows that they are not. It just seems to consistently happen that the Patriots defense is either at the top or near the top of the league in turnovers.

When it's something you practice and something you emphasize, it's something sustainable.