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Thursday, November 28, 2013
Defensive groupings: Sub total rises

By Mike Reiss

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- One of the areas that will be charted throughout the season is the New England Patriots' defensive breakdown between their sub and base packages. This can highlight player value and take us deeper into the X's and O's of each game.

In Sunday's 34-31 overtime win over the Denver Broncos, the Patriots played a sub defense (mostly a nickel) for all 90 snaps. This was a contrast from the prior week against the Carolina Panthers, when the team played a high total of snaps in base defense (42 of 58 snaps, including penalties, 72.4 percent). The reason is obvious: The Patriots were most concerned with the Broncos' passing attack.

Looking ahead to Sunday night against the Houston Texans, we'd anticipate more of a return to a base defense with a focus on the running game.

Overall, here are the numbers for the season (includes penalties):

Sub defense: 559 of 815 snaps (68.6 percent)
Base defense: 241 of 815 snaps (29.6 percent)
Short-yardage: 15 of 815 snaps (1.8 percent)