Do the Patriots need to fix their run defense in order to win a championship?
Raj: I feel like they do. Big plays by running backs have contributed to why the Pats have fallen behind early. If they work on that, then the offense might not have to play comeback in the early stages of the game.
Jason: I don't think the run defense is a huge issue. Yes, they have been gashed in back-to-back weeks, but you have to consider those games in context. They allowed the Broncos to run more because the alternative was putting the ball in the hands of one of the best QBs of all time, then they faced one of the best running teams in the league on the road. To me, the biggest defensive issue is health. That will be the determining factor in how far they go in the playoffs.
Derek: I can live with the run defense playing the way it is, as long as the pass defense remains stout. I think against Denver you clearly saw the Patriots' intention to concede the ground game in order to stop the dynamic passing game of the Broncos. When a team is driving down the field on the ground, it only takes one good defense play to grind the drive to a stop. The Broncos churned out a lot of yards in the rushing game, but not so many points (the majority of their scoring was off turnovers). It's a passing league now, and if you can force your opponent to go against that, I think it works to your advantage, even if they gain big yardage totals as a result.