We've heard plenty of discussion about the New England Patriots' offense and who might start at quarterback in Week 1.
But don't overlook New England's revamped defense, which has shown signs it could be a force in 2021.
The Patriots allowed a total of 33 points over three preseason games, tied for fourth-best in the NFL. Free-agent signing Matthew Judon and rookie defensive linemen Christian Barmore and Ronnie Perkins all looked explosive during the preseason, while edge rusher Josh Uche and linebacker Dont'a Hightower have impressed in their returns to the field.
After New England capped off an undefeated preseason with another strong showing against the New York Giants, veteran defensive tackle Davon Godchaux is ready for his defense to show out in the regular season.
The Patriots ranked 26th in the NFL in DVOA (Defense-adjusted Value Over Average) last season, and Bill Belichick responded by overhauling the unit, acquiring Judon, Godchaux, cornerback Jalen Mills and defensive ends Henry Anderson and Montravius Adams while landing Barmore and Perkins in the 2021 NFL Draft.
With two-time Pro Bowler Hightower back in the mix following his 2020 opt-out, New England's defense seems poised to make some serious noise in 2021 -- and its members are well aware.
Whether the Patriots can score enough points with either Cam Newton or Mac Jones under center remains to be seen, but as their Sept. 12 season opener against the Miami Dolphins approaches, it appears the defense is entering the season with plenty of swagger.