With Payton at the helm there is no way our defense gives up 7000+ yards.
Hopefully, they aren't on the field enough to do so.
The performance of the defense is linked (not completely) to the performance of the offense. The entire team was effected by the suspensions and the loss of Payton.
I agree with this. SP being there changes the face of everything. Maybe he overrules a gameplan change, or tells Spags what adjustment to make in game. His presence alone makes them a better team.
Now, can I make an argument that they would have been superbowl contenders? No. But, they have a better shot.