The Patriots pass defense is now allowing 326.6 yards per game. That’s not just the worst in the NFL, it is far and away the worst in the NFL.
The only other team allowing more than 300 per game would be the lowly, winless Dolphins at 307. Even winless St. Louis and Indianapolis are in the middle of the pack.
Yet, No. 30 on that list: The 5-0 Green Bay Packers. In fact, the bottom five teams in pass defense are a combined 14-10 on the season. Take out Miami, and four of the five are a combined 14-6.
What does that tell you? Nothing, except expect a lot of points at Gillette on Sunday. The Patriots and Cowboys rank 1-3 in passing yards per game. On a separate note, we regret to inform you that with Joe Buck doing baseball, Thom (“Our thoughts and prayers are with Brett Favre”) Brennaman will be calling the game. Sync your radio now.
This week’s picks…
Peter King, Sports Illustrated: Patriots 31, Cowboys 23. Tom Brady’s 31st straight regular-season home win will be a fun game. Lots of big plays, including a couple by DeMarcus Ware. But I like the Patriots because they’re more trustworthy late in games. Throughout games, actually. Encouraged by the way the Pats played on defense against the Jets too.
ESPN.com: Nine out of 10 pick the Patriots.
CBS Sports.com staff: Patriots across the board.
Pete Prisco, CBS Sports.com: Patriots 33, Cowboys 31. This should be fun to watch. Both teams can score, and the Patriots struggle on defense. The question here will be whether good Tony Romo or bad Tony Romo shows up. I say the good one shows up and makes this a game. Both teams get over 30.
Vinnie Iyer, Sporting News: Patriots 38, Cowboys 34. Romo will have a fighting chance to keep up on the scoreboard, as his top wide receiver, Miles Austin, is expected to return. New England will have trouble keeping Austin, Dez Bryant and tight end Jason Witten all in check. This high-scoring game will come down to which quarterback makes a critical mistake during a second half possession, and in that scenario Romo will fall short against Brady.
Mike Florio, ProFootballTalk.com: Patriots 34, Cowboys 20. The Cowboys are getting healthy just in time to face their stiffest challenge of the year. The Patriots are riding a 19-game regular-season winning streak at home, and the Cowboys simply aren’t ready to blow a lead or choke in the clutch against a team as good as the Patriots.
Gregg Rosenthal, ProFootballTalk.com: Patriots 34, Cowboys 24. Tom Brady got his revenge on Rex Ryan last week. Now Brady tries to get Rob Ryan back for the beatdown the Browns put on the Patriots last year. The Patriots defense gives up a ton of yards, but they have played well in the red zone and forced timely turnovers. Translation: Expect to see “Bad Tony” at some point.
Greg Cote, Miami Herald: Patriots 37, Cowboys 27. Chanting protestors have gathered outside Game of the Week committee HQ, incredulous that a deserving 49ers-at-Lions game was passed over for this. You know what, though? Give me America’s Team visiting America?s Quarterback in a shootout that figures to be a punter’s day off. Dallas, coming off a bye, will rush everybody but Jerry Jones to try to disrupt Tom Brady, but that’s a strategy risk against a great, nimble-minded QB with myriad weapons. An NFL axiom any bank will accept as a deposit: Brady wins at home. Maybe not in the mansion when Giselle is bossing him around, charge, but at The Razor Blade…yes.
Peter Schrager, FoxSports.com: Patriots 37, Cowboys 24. The last defensive coordinator to hold the Patriots to less than 30 points in a regular-season game? That would be Rob Ryan, whose 2010 Cleveland Brown defense suffocated and confused Brady and Co. in an upset victory last season. The ‘Boys should have Miles Austin, Jason Hatcher and Orlando Scandrick all back in the lineup for Sunday’s game, too. So there’s reason for optimism in Big D this week, right? C’mon now. You know the Patriots don’t lose regular-season games at home this decade.
USA Today staff: Seven out of eight pick the Patriots.
Sam Farmer, Los Angeles Times: Patriots 28, Cowboys 23. One quarterback can consistently finish the job, the other can’t. It’s hard to bet against Tom Brady, especially at home. The Cowboys need to prove they can show up in the fourth quarter.
Globe staff: Cowboys across the board (Line: Patriots by 7).
It says here: If Romo shows up: Patriots 52, Cowboys 48. If he doesn’t: Patriots 52, Cowboys 42.