A spread too thin: #1 Patriots defense faces toughest test

By Matthew Cunha


For a week and a half now, I have taken in all the information I could get my hands on for the big game. All the storylines, the stats, the matchups, all point towards a Patriots victory. Atlanta’s 27th ranked scoring defense being the biggest reason why. The Patriots have the 4th ranked offense by yardage and 1st ranked defense by points. The Falcons offense is legendary, but it does not compare to the Pats ability on both sides of the ball. With all of that being said, when asked who will win the game, I hesitate.


I have doubted the Patriots many times in my life. I have looked like a fool most of those times. The Patriots 1st ranked defense is not a 1st ranked defense. Here is a list of quarterbacks that have started against the Patriots this year with their QB rating for the season.


Ben Roethlisberger – 95.4

Brock Osweiler – 72.2

Matt Moore – 105.6

Bryce Petty – 60.0

Trevor Siemian – 84.6

Joe Flacco – 83.5

Jared Goff – 63.6

Ryan Fitzpatrick – 69.6

Colin Kaepernick – 90.7

Russell Wilson – 92.6

Tyrod Taylor – 89.6

Landry Jones – 86.3

Andy Dalton – 91.8

Cody Kessler – 92.3

Ryan Tannehill – 93.5

Carson Palmer – 87.2

Average – 84.9


The list is pretty bleak. To put it in perspective, the average of 84.9 would rank 22nd in the NFL. The number lands you between Eli Manning and Trevor Siemian if not means anything. The Patriots played no quarterback who ranked in the top ten of this category.


These numbers speak for themselves and point to a defense that has not played anybody and is about to walk into the Super Bowl to face an offense that has been compared to “the Greatest Show on Turf”. I should never doubt the Patriots, but the Jamie Collins-less defense faces a real test, a test that is nothing like the Steelers without Le’veon Bell for most of the game. The eye test of late says that the defense is legitimate, but I just don’t believe it.
The Patriots are 0-4 against the spread when they are Super Bowl favorites. Although 2-2 in the games, the Pats are only three point favorites. If forced to predict the Super Bowl, I would pick the Patriots to win 33-27. My confidence rating in this pick would be a low 33%. All the X’s and the O’s favor the Patriots, but the curious case of the Patriots defense is hesitating. Come Monday, let’s hope my nausea this week was just nerves.


Matt CunhaMatthew Cunha is a producer on The Drive, weekdays 4pm to 6pm on 92.9fm The Ticket and streaming live at DriveShowMaine.com. Follow us on Twitter, @DriveShowMaine and “Like Us” on Facebook, Drive Show Maine.