Stats show the Patriots' defense has been better than advertised

Remember before the start of this season when we were all worried about how the Patriots were going to be on defense? We were worried that they might have the worst defense in the division. Worried that they'd revert back to the defenses of 2009-13, giving up big play after big play.

Well, that's been far from the case this season. This year's defense has been solid. Here are a few stats from Ben Volin of The Boston Globe and Doug Kyed of NESN that may open some eyes.

For those who have been paying close attention from the beginning of the season until now, the defense has seemingly improved every week. Those numbers might be a little skewed based on the quality of quarterbacks they've faced. Kirk Cousins, Brandon Weeden, Blake Bortles and the like really don't scare anybody. Eli and Peyton Manning will provide tougher tests within the next couple of weeks. Both of them have dangerous groups of receivers that figure to truly challenge the Patriots' secondary.

One of the stats I saw from Sunday that made me feel good was Malcolm Butler giving up 15 yards on three of six targets. He was on DeSean Jackson, an elite receiver, all game. Granted, it was Jackson's first game of the year so there may have been some rust there, but that kind of play from Butler is great to see.

Overall, the Patriots have to feel good about the way they've played on defense to this point. Is it good enough to win a Super Bowl? With the way the offense has operated, then yes it is. But it'll be interesting to see how they handle these offenses over the next few weeks.

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