Through 10 games, the 2019 Patriots (as a team) have yielded 108 points, a rate that puts them in the conversation when you are talking about some of the stingiest teams in the history of the game.
Since the league went to a 16-game schedule, seven teams have finished the regular season having allowed fewer than 200 points. Four went on to win the Super Bowl.
Here are those teams, sorted by season, total points allowed that year, and total points allowed through the first 10 games:
1. Ravens (2000) 165 points allowed – 105 points through the first 10 games.
That Baltimore defense had four shutouts, and held opponents to single digits on five other occasions. As a team, they allowed just 10.3 points per game. For what it’s worth, the 2019 Patriots have yielded 10.8 points per contest through the first 10 games.
2. Bears (1986) 187 points allowed – 120 points through the first 10 games.
The year after they won Super Bowl XX, the Bears were even stingier when it came to points allowed. Their Achilles’ heel? Because of injury, they had four different starting quarterbacks, and lost in the divisional round to the Redskins with Doug Flutie under center.
3. Titans (2000) 191 points allowed – 149 points through the first 10 games.
Maybe the most underrated team on this list, Jeff Fisher’s Titans peaked down the stretch, allowing a total of three points in their final regular season game. Their accomplishment was overshadowed in that they finished under 200 points allowed the same year the Ravens set the new standard.
4. Steelers (1978) 195 points allowed – 139 points through the first 10 games.
Pittsburgh’s “Steel Curtain’’ held six teams to single digits over the course of the year, as the Steelers would go on to win Super Bowl XIII.
5. Bucs (2002) 196 points allowed – 119 points through the first 10 games.
Warren Sapp, Derrick Brooks, Ronde Barber and John Lynch made up the heart of the Tampa defense, part of a team that cruised past the Raiders in Super Bowl XXXVII.
6. Broncos (1978) 198 points allowed – 141 points through the first 10 games.
Spurred by the “Orange Crush’’ defense, Denver was good enough to make this list, but remarkably, the Broncos weren’t even the best team in the league that year when it came to points allowed, as they were bested by the eventual Super Bowl champs from Pittsburgh.
7. Bears (1985) 198 points allowed – 127 points through the first 10 games.
The team that crushed the Patriots in Super Bowl XX, the 1985 Bears were not only one of the best regular-season teams when it came to points allowed; they yielded just 10 points combined in three playoff games.
To beat the Ravens’ mark, New England can’t allow more than 56 points over the last six games. While that might not be possible, the sub-200-point mark is certainly a possibility.
Three more notes:
■ 1. The best Bill Belichick team (measured solely by points allowed) was the 1994 Browns, which allowed 204 points. That’s also well within the reach of the 2019 team.
■ 2. The best Patriots team over a 16-game season (also measured by points allowed) was the 2006 team, which yielded 237 points. That also remains a possibility.
■ 3. Of the six games New England has left on the schedule, it faces two of the three lowest-scoring teams in the NFL heading into this weekend in Cincinnati (14.7) points per game) and Miami (13.9 ppg).