You have made it to the second round of your league’s playoffs, congratulations. There is still a lot of work to do. I am sure you are well aware that all it takes is one bad week and this whole season can go down the toilet.
Seattle’s defense was a HUGE difference maker in a ton of playoff match ups last week. I’m going to do my best to get your the right team defense to get you into your league’s championship.
There are a lot of tough match ups this week and I wouldn’t rely on another 40+ point performance from a defense but here we go with my week 15 team defense rankings.
1. Seattle Seahawks – It’s pretty hard not to put a defense at the top spot after they put up over 40 points last week. Granted it was Arizona and in Seattle, but the Seahawks have a good match up against a Buffalo offense that ranks 20th overall. Ryan Fitzpatrick hasn’t lived up to his contract and Seattle should be able to focus in on and contain C. J. Spiller.
2. Houston Texans – J. J. Watt and Houston’s D got embarrassed to say the least on Monday night. I believe they will turn it around in a big way this week at home vs. Andrew Luck and the Colts. Houston still needs to lock up their first round bye and this is usually the time of the year when we see what rookies are really made of. Houston plays Indy 2 out of the last 3 weeks and these divisional rivals should bring everything they got.
3. Detroit Lions – Pretty much from now on anyone playing Arizona will be in my top 5, i’m serious Arizona is that bad. Ndamukong Suh might gain 12 pounds from this game because he should be eating good all day. Arizona’s offensive line (not to mention pretty much everything else) is terrible and Detroit’s front 4 should have a field day in the desert.
4. Denver Broncos – Peyton Manning has a great track record vs. Baltimore. Why is this relevant you may be asking yourself? It is important because when Peyton gives Denver’s D the lead the defense flourishes. Von Miller and company are among the best in the business when they can “pin their ears back” and just go after a QB. Joe Flacco hasn’t exactly been great under pressure so far this year and Baltimore just fired their offensive coordinator.
5. Cincinnati Bengals – In no way am I buying Nick Foles as a good QB yet. One good game vs. the worst ranked pass D doesn’t exactly prove anything. Cincinnati is the 6th ranked defense right now and vs. a Rookie QB and a Rookie RB in Bryce Brown I like Cincinnati to put up some points.
6. Miami Dolphins – Miami has a good match up at home vs. Jacksonville this week. Montell Owens is a glorified fullback and I can’t see him doing anything vs. the 9th ranked run defense. Jacksonville will be forced to become one dimensional and that usually leads to turnovers.
7. New England Patriots – New England’s defense looked very good on Monday night in week 14. A lot of that was due to Tom Brady putting up 21 quick points so the defense could go into full fledged attack mode. The Patriot’s were busting through a very good Houston o-line with ease. With a rookie QB running the show SF could be in trouble.
8. Tennessee Titans – Yes Tennessee is in my top ten. The Titans play host to a bad Jets offense on Monday night football this week. Tennessee is definitely my sleeper D of week 15. The Jets best WR is now Braylon Edwards and if that doesn’t convince you to grab the Titans if you are in a pinch just think to yourself Mark Sanchez.
9. Pittsburgh Steelers – Steelers still sit at #1 with regards to defenses in the NFL. Tough match up heading into Dallas to play Tony Romo with a now healthy DeMarco Murray. A big part of starting Pittsburgh is if Dez Bryant plays or not. I have Pitt in my top ten because I don’t think Dallas will put up a lot of points here and Troy Polamalu usually gives Romo a headache.
10. Chicago Bears – Bears defense is showing their age and with out Brian Urlacher, Adrian Peterson, had a field day vs. the Bears run D. The good news is the Bears should get Tim Jennings back this week, the bad news is the Bears face Aaron Rodgers in a game that could give the Packers the NFC North crown. The game is in Chicago which definitely helps the Bears and the fact Green Bay doesn’t run the ball well also helps Chicago’s cause here.
11. New York Jets – Jets head into Tennessee on MNF this week. The only positive thing about the Jets this year has been their 3rd ranked pass defense. I don’t see a lot of points being scored in this game and the Jets could easily forced Jack Locker into making some dumb passes.
12. San Francisco 49ers – I warned you last week about playing a defense vs. Tom Brady at home in December…well heed my warning again. If you have to play SF this week it’s not the end of the world but see if a Tennessee is available. SF will no doubt have their hands full this week.
13. Philadelphia Eagles – Thursday night football hasn’t really produced a ton of offensive fire power this year. I don’t see that trend changing this week. Philly is a pretty safe start this week vs. Cincinnati. The Eagles’ secondary will have to bring their “A” game vs. Andy Dalton this week.
14. Buffalo Bills – The Bills have the tough task of trying to cool down Russell Wilson this week. I believe that Mario Williams is just the DE to do it. As long as the Bills can keep Wilson in the pocket and get a significant rush off the edges this could work in their favor this week. Seattle still isn’t great on the road.
15. Green Bay Packers – The Packers could be getting Clay Matthews and Charles Woodson back this week vs. the Bears. Outside of Jay Cutler to Brandon Marshall the Bears offense hasn’t done anything. Cutler is still a risk to throw 1 or 2 terrible passes that result in easy picks for the D. And of course we all remember the last time these two teams meet, Green Bay’s D rolled.
16. NY Giants – Matt Ryan hasn’t been breaking records at home this season and the Giants pass rush won’t help that. I have the Giants outside the top 15 because after the loss to Carolina Atlanta still has some business to take care of before the playoffs. Play with caution.
17. Dallas Cowboys – Dallas still has the 8th ranked pass D and Pittsburgh is struggling to get their running game going. I don’t see a lot of turnovers here but I also don’t see a very high scoring game.
18. Minnesota Vikings – Oh how the mighty have fallen. Remember when Minnesota was a top ranked defense? This isn’t a bad play in St. Louis either. Jarred Allen and Minnesota’s d-line will need to get to Sam Bradford in order to create turnovers.
19. Cleveland Browns – Robert Griffin III has a huge part in this. If RG 3 comes out like nothing happened to his knee last week the Browns are in trouble. On the other side of the coin if RG 3 has to wear a bulky brace and therefore isn’t as mobile Cleveland might have a chance. Cleveland’s special teams have been hot lately as well if you get points for kick returns.
20. San Diego Chargers – Just like Cleveland at 19, SD is dependent on Cam Newton. Cam has been on fire lately but SD has the 4th ranked rush defense in the league. If they can contain Cam (no one can stop him right now) SD has a chance to put up some turnovers.
Hopefully I’ll see you back here next week trying to figure out what team defense to start in your championship match up. Until then make sure you are here on Sunday Morning 90 minutes before kick off to get any last minute roster questions you may have answered.