The old saying goes, defense wins championships.

So when trying to predict the winner of the year's biggest game, the better defensive team might be the best choice.

Do the Giants or the Patriots have the better defense?

Both of these defenses have been criticized throughout the season, and the game is expected to be a high-scoring affair. The total opened up in Las Vegas at 55.5, the second highest in Super Bowl history.

This isn't a surprise when you look at the stats. New England finished 31st in total defense in the 2011 regular season, while New York came in at 27th in the league.

But those numbers don't tell the whole story.

The Giants numbers are skewed because of a poor stretch in the regular season against the NFL's best offenses. Between Weeks 12 and 14, the Giants allowed a total of 120 points to the Saints, Packers and Cowboys.

Since their matchup against the Jets, the Giants have been one of the league's best defensive units. In those five games, New York is allowing less than two touchdowns per contest.

The much-improved Giants' pass rush has done a solid job of blitzing the quarterback. They finished third in the NFL with 48 sacks, and have been even better in the playoffs.

New York's defensive resurgence can be correlated to the health of some key players. Defensive ends Justin Tuck and Osi Umemyiora missed a combined 11 games in the regular season. The Giants were without middle linebacker Michael Boley for a few games as well.

The Patriots are guilty of allowing a lot of yards, but that hasn't always translated into scores. New England is at the bottom of the league in yards allowed, but they finished No. 15 in points allowed.

New England's biggest weakness is the pass defense. While the Giants' has improved recently, the Patriots have struggled. The Patriots gave up a league-worst 297 yards per game this season. The short-handed Patriots have had to use wide receiver Julian Edelman at cornerback.

In order to overcome these glaring holes, the Patriots have had to force a lot of turnovers. New England is first in the AFC with 34 takeaways. Even with a porous secondary, they managed to lead the conference with twenty-three interceptions.

Both teams will try to get most of their points through the air. The Giants and Patriots are in the middle of the pack when it comes to rushing defense, finishing at No. 19 and No. 17, respectively.

While the Giants may appear to have the overall edge, it's difficult to gauge how they both will play after two weeks rest, and which are capable of forcing a fumble or interception.

The Giants and Patriots have two of the best offenses in the NFL. Eli Manning and Tom Brady are both in position to have good games. It may not matter which quarterback finishes with more passing yards, or which running games has rushing yards.

The winner of the Super Bowl may very well be the one that forces turnovers, and limits mistakes.