This year’s NFL may be all about rushing defense. Of the 12 teams with the highest total yards allowed, 11 gave up over 100 yards on the ground. These dozen teams allowed an average of 141.75 yards rushing. The remaining 20 teams allowed an average of 72.55 yards rushing, and only four of them allowed over 100.
Of the 12 teams with the greatest number of yards allowed on the ground, 75% lost. Of the 12 teams with the fewest yards allowed on the ground, 83% won. My hometown New England Patriots’ defense—led by nose tackle Vince Wilfork—was a great example of shutting down the run. The Pats allowed only 20 yards on the ground, stuffed the Tennessee Titans’ ground game, and went on to win.
The myth of the NFL becoming a passing league where the ground game means nothing should be put to bed. The first week of the 2012 season gives hope that it will be. Quite a shocker.