Let’s not feel too sorry for the Patriots as they limp into the playoffs with an out-of-sync offense ranked 26th in the red zone and 17th on third downs.

The face of that franchise this year isn’t the GOAT, Tom Brady. It’s the Gilmore. Cornerback Stephon Gilmore, among the favorites to win NFL Defensive Player of the Year, has enabled coach Bill Belichick to play the best defense of his 20-year-(and-counting?) dynasty.

Below is a ranking of the 12 defenses in this year’s playoffs. It’s based on a point system using each team’s regular-season ranking in the four critical categories: red zone, third downs, scoring and takeaways. The lower the number, the better the ranking.

With a top-four ranking in each category, the Patriots not only rank first with eight points, they are 16 points ahead of runner-up Baltimore.

New England’s 14.1 points against also were the NFL’s best since 2008 and Belichick’s stingiest mark as Patriots coach.

The Vikings weighed in third in these rankings, beating the Patriots in the red zone. They were top five in the league in red zone (second), scoring (fifth) and takeaways (fourth). But their No. 19 ranking on third down was 11th among playoff teams.

“We’ll just keep fighting our rear ends off trying to get off the field,” coach Mike Zimmer said. “And it would help if we weren’t in third-and-3s a lot, too.”

Ranking the defenses

 1. Patriots (8 points): Third downs 1, red zone 4, points 1, takeaways 2.

 2. Ravens (24 points): Third downs 11, red zone 3, points 3, takeaways 7.

 3. Vikings (30 points): Third downs 19, red zone 2, points 5, takeaways 4.

 4. Bills (33 points): Third downs 7, red zone 14, points 2, takeaways 10.

 5. Packers (37 points): Third downs 15, red zone 6, points 9, takeaways 7.

 6. 49ers (38 points): Third downs 2, red zone 22, points 8, takeaways 6.

 6. Chiefs (38 points): Third downs 12, red zone 9, points 7, takeaways 10.

 8. Saints (49 points): Third downs 6. red zone 20, points 13, takeaways 10.

 9. Eagles (52 points): Third downs 4, red zone 14, points 15, takeaways 19.

10. Titans (61 points): Third downs 8, red zone 31, points 12, takeaways 10.

11. Seahawks (68 points): Third downs 16, red zone 26, points 23, takeaways 3.

12. Texans (97 points): Third downs 31, red zone 32, points 19, takeaways 15.