This is not a great defense. You can blame McD, you can blame injuries, you can blame talent, it doesn't matter, they are what they are. Giving up as many points and passing TDs as we have, well, it looks bad. But a few things occured to me, especially after Sunday's game, which gives me some positive vibes heading towards the playoffs.
1) Although we give up lots of yards and points, we create turnovers. We all know the numbers, Leading the league in INTs and combined TOs.
2) We're pretty good against the run. At 4.0 YPC, we're tied for 10th in the NFL. According to DVOA, our run defense is above average (-5% DVOA, 14th in the NFL), and even better, our Adjusted Line Yards rank us #4(this adjusts for down, situation, etc). All this tells us what we already know, when we want to stop the run, we can.
Put these two things together and you see what we saw Sunday: We're never really out of a game. As Dallas can tell you, stopping the run is the most important ability a defense can have late in the game when trailing. If the Giants (who were justly lauded for having a great and punishing running game) could have run the ball at all effectively in the 4th quarter, Vick and DJax would not have had the chance to perform in the way they did. When the Giants did throw the ball, I think Manning's knowing Asante and co were waiting to pounce had a factor in some of those terrible looking throws.
Going into the playoffs, I think that our offense should be able to score against any defense we're likely to face. If we're up in the game, our ability to get turnovers will help win the game (given that we're going to face teams throwing a lot). If we are trailing, our ability to stop the run will likewise help us get our offense back on the field to do some damage.
Bottom line, although our defense has real weaknesses, our strengths are perfectly suited to compliment our offense's strengths. Overall, I feel good about our chances in January.