Before the season began, we asked our three Patriots experts project how the team’s defense would fare after finishing the 2011 season ranked 31st in total defense, having given up an average of 411 yards per game.
Each of the three projected improvement for the defense, and their prognostications proved correct for the most part. The 2012 Patriots defense improved in every area, surrendering an average of 373 yards per game (38 yards per game better) and 20.7 points (down from 21.4 in 2011). The defense embodied the “bend but don’t break” reputation it established in the early-to-mid-2000s: It ranked 25th in the NFL in yards allowed per game but was ninth in points given up.
Both Mike Reiss and Field Yates had the Patriots in the top 10 in points allowed, though Mike Rodak was closest in predicted yards per game (off by just 5 yards per).
And reader “Oswlek” nearly nailed the defensive projection, predicting the team to rank 23rd in yards allowed per game and 11th in points given up.
Here were our predictions from September:
Later this week, we'll take a look back at our forecasts for the Patriots' passing and running games and see how we did.