The Patriots are giving up an average of just over 11 points per game. How much of that is a credit to the improved defense, and how much of that is due to playing weaker opponents?
Jason: I'm not sure the defense has improved significantly from the end of last year (when it was actually pretty good). None of the Pats' previous opponents have any realistic aspirations for more than 6 wins this year. If Geno Smith or Josh Freeman are hanging 20+ on your defense, just give up football and go play checkers. You're supposed to hold those teams to 11 ppg.
Raj: On one hand, you feel good that your defense is playing well. On the other, you might not feel so good since the Pats wins this season have been over weaker opponents. They have a big task to complete in Atlanta, who is a much stronger opponent. But this is not to say the defense will implode (at least I hope not). As they say..baby steps first!
Derek: While it's true that the Patriots have yet to stop a high-octane offense this season, you can only play who's on your schedule. I think Sunday will be the true test to tell us what this defense is capable of. That being said, I wouldn't brush off what we've seen from the defense just because they happened to have played two rookie quarterbacks and the now-benched Josh Freeman. A year ago, the Patriots defense was routinely getting torched regardless of who was under center. This defense has given up three touchdowns in three games, and one of those was on a short field after a Brady interception. They are getting off the field on third down and avoiding getting burned on long plays. They are forcing turnovers. Other than a slightly improved pass rush, I don't think you could ask for much more than the defense has shown so far.