The New England Patriots offense didn't inspire much optimism in its first game after the bye week. It failed to score a touchdown in Sunday's 10-3 victory over the equally-inept New York Jets.
Despite the poor performance, there is hope for playoff football in Foxboro. The Patriots enter Week 12 with a 6-4 record and a wild-card spot in the AFC.
Much of that success can be attributed to the defense's continued excellence. New England's D currently ranks fourth in yards allowed per game (302.8), second in sacks (36), second in points allowed per game (16.9), and fifth in takeaways (17).
Our Tom E. Curran believes the defense will need to continue to carry the load for the Patriots to have any shot at a postseason berth.
"How far can the Patriots go in 2022? Now as we turn into the home stretch a little bit, that's the question," Curran said during Tuesday's episode of "Quick Slants". "The answer is simple: as far as their defense will carry them."
Pats linebackers coach Jerod Mayo -- formerly Curran's "Quick Slants" teammate" -- told our Phil Perry that the offense will eventually carry the defense as well. Curran isn't convinced.
"They're not going to carry you at some point," he said. "Stop waiting. It's not time for the great pumpkin or anything else. The party is over. They're not going to get that much better. There's no win this week most likely. There's quite likely no David Andrews. There's no chance to light it up when you're an offense that's been at the 50 or better like 64 times and has scored just 25 times on those. They are averaging less than three points when over the 50-yard line this year. That's untenable.
"But what is tenable, it's that defense. And front to back, it's a defense that is actually more accomplished than last year's, those paper tigers from 2021. The 'boogeymen' from 2019. Those are the teams that make you a little bit leery of what the Patriots are going to do down the stretch. But this one's tough on the back end because it's got the safeties with (Adrian) Phillips, (Devin) McCourty, (Kyle) Dugger. The cornerback group is very deep and talented, and they have a dynamic pass rusher.
"To me, how far the Patriots are going to be able to go is completely linked to their defense. Keep teams under 20 points -- and they can do it -- and they're going to be fine."
The next test for the Patriots defense will be a Thanksgiving Night showdown with the 8-2 Minnesota Vikings.
You can watch the full episode of "Quick Slants" with Curran and Kay Adams below: