Upon looking at the scores from last week, your first assumption might be that the new "skirts only" rule has ruined defense. That players are so hesitant to make big hits that offenses were able to run wild on Sunday. If I asked you whether or not the new rule could have benefited defenses, I bet your first thought would be "no" the new rules certainly did not bolster defenses. You might think to yourself "Cleveland put up 30 points? The Raiders almost broke 60? The Bill scored 34 on the Ravens? The new rule is ruining any chance defenses ever had!" I, however, believe the opposite. I actually think the new rule did benefit defenses. And heres why: Instead of going for the big hit, defensive players played more carefully and went for the interception instead. Also, instead of going for the big hit, defensive players went for the strip + wrap up more often and got more fumbles as well. This resulted in an above average number of turnovers, and a ton of defensive touchdowns and short fields. Proof: 1. In 2009, there were a total of 872 turnovers. There are 256 regular season games, meaning that there was an average of 3.4 turnovers per game. Last week, there was a total of 58 turnovers. So far, weve played 13 games. Extrapolated out over a full season, and you've got 1142 turnovers, or an increase of over 30% 2. In 2009, there were a total of 74 touchdowns by defensive teams (after an INT or after recovering a fumble). Last week, there was a total of 10. As before, there were only 13 games. Extrapolated out over an entire season and you've got 196 defensive scores. Thats a 266% increase! I know what you're thinking. The defensive stats are impressive, but I still think there was a lot more offense than usual. I mean, the Raiders put up 59 points! That brings me to proof 3. Last week, there was an average of ~343 offensive yards per team per game. In 2006, there was an average of ~335 offensive yards per team per game. The median from last year was about 340 yards. Thats not a statistically significant difference, and represents an increase of only about 2% (8 yards). Anyway, this is only one week. So we'll have to do a comparison of before and after from this year once the season is completed to really see if this difference holds out. However, Ive already heard commentators making the point that the new rule is changing the game for the worse and that defenses are taking a beating and they are using ONLY the scores to prove their point. If you look closely, you can see that defenses actually got a big boost in turnovers and scoring while giving up almost the exact same yardage. The new rule seems to benefit defenses by making them play smarter.