Defense & Special Teams

July 24, 2005

The category of defense and special teams usually shouldn't be addressed until the final two rounds. There might be justification for taking a unit earlier, but only if, in your league, points are awarded for stats such as sacks and takeaways in addition to defensive scores and kick returns for TDs. Remember--the NFL ranks defenses by yards allowed, but you're most interested in the number of points they score, which informs the rankings below.

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  PPG ALLOWED TAKEAWAYS SACKS TDS*
1. Ravens 16.8 34 39 9
2. Patriots
Return game boosted with addition of Tim Dwight, Chad Morton
16.3 36 45 5
3. Eagles 16.3 28 47 2
4. Panthers 21.2 38 34 3
5. Steelers 15.7 32 41 5
6. Falcons 21.1 32 48 6
7. Bills 17.8 39 45 9
8. Vikings
Bringing in vets Fred Smoot, Sam Cowart and Darren Sharper gives defense a lift
24.7 22 39 3
9. Jaguars 17.5 28 37 0
10. Jets 16.3 33 37 4
11. Bucs 19.0 27 45 4
12. Colts 21.9 36 45 4
13. Dolphins 22.1 25 36 2
14. Chiefs
Rookie linebacker Derrick Johnson helps one of league's most porous defenses; and don't forget--you get return man Dante Hall in the deal
27.2 21 40 4
15. Redskins 16.6 26 40 1
16. Chargers 19.6 33 29 2
17. Bears 20.7 29 35 7
18. Bengals 23.3 36 37 5
19. Seahawks 23.3 35 36 3
20. Giants 21.7 28 41 4
21. Broncos 19.0 20 38 2
22. Cardinals 20.1 30 38 2
23. Saints 25.3 33 37 3
24. Cowboys 25.3 22 33 0
25. Lions
Eddie Drummond led NFL in punt returns (13.2 yards, two TDs) and was second in kickoff returns (26.6 yards, two TDs) in 2004
21.9 24 38 5
26. Texans 21.2 30 24 5
27. Browns 24.4 28 32 2
28. Rams 24.5 15 34 3
29. Packers 23.8 15 40 5
30. Titans 27.4 30 32 2
31. Raiders
Unit allowed league-high 47.4% conversion rate on third down
27.6 18 25 1
32. 49ers 28.3 21 29 3
*defensive and special teams touchdowns

 

Beware of 52 in the 46

First-year Ravens defensive coordinator Rex Ryan learned the 46 scheme from the man who made it famous as a coach with the Bears--his father, Buddy--and now he'll use it to unleash a unit that features five Pro Bowl--caliber starters. The obvious beneficiary is middle linebacker Ray Lewis, who should relish playing behind a four-man front again after battling through traffic in the 3--4 the last three years. The only questions are whether Terrell Suggs, who had a total of 221/2 sacks in his first two years as a linebacker, can continue to produce when he lines up at end, and whether free-agent pickup Tommy Polley and rookie second-round draft pick Dan Cody can live up to expectations at outside linebacker. But those are minor issues for a unit that last year led the league lead in defensive touchdowns, with seven.

COLOR PHOTOAL TIELEMANS

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)