This is an article from the Aug. 10, 2009 issue
|SI TEAM RANKINGS FOR 2009 with 2008 stats||POINTS PER GAME||YARDS PER GAME||INTERCEPTIONS||SACKS||DEF/ST RETURN TDS||BYE WEEK|
|1. Pittsburgh Steelers||13.9||237.2||20||51||3||8|
|2. New York Giants||18.4||292.0||17||42||3||10|
|3. San Diego Chargers||21.7||349.9||15||28||4||5|
|4. Minnesota Vikings||20.8||292.4||12||45||4||9|
|5. New York Jets||22.3||329.4||14||41||6||9|
|6. Dallas Cowboys||22.8||294.3||8||59||2||6|
|7. Philadelphia Eagles||18.1||274.3||15||48||7||4|
|8. Tennessee Titans||14.6||293.6||20||44||4||7|
|9. Baltimore Ravens||15.3||261.1||26||34||6||7|
|10. Washington Redskins||18.5||288.8||13||24||1||8|
|11. Arizona Cardinals||26.6||331.5||13||31||6||4|
|12. New England Patriots||19.3||309.0||14||31||1||8|
|13. Chicago Bears||21.9||334.7||22||28||7||5|
|14. Indianapolis Colts||18.6||310.9||15||30||5||6|
|15. Houston Texans||24.6||336.6||12||25||3||10|
|16. San Francisco 49ers||23.8||326.0||12||30||5||6|
|17. Green Bay Packers||23.8||334.3||22||27||9||5|
|18. Tampa Bay Buccaneers||20.2||306.1||22||29||7||8|
|19. Miami Dolphins||19.8||329.0||18||40||2||6|
|20. Carolina Panthers||20.6||331.2||12||37||2||4|
|21. Oakland Raiders||24.3||360.9||16||32||5||9|
|22. New Orleans Saints||24.6||339.5||15||28||3||5|
|23. Buffalo Bills||21.4||326.1||10||24||5||9|
|24. Atlanta Falcons||20.3||348.2||10||34||4||4|
|25. Seattle Seahawks||24.5||378.0||9||35||4||7|
|26. Jacksonville Jaguars||22.9||330.9||13||29||3||7|
|27. Cleveland Browns||21.9||356.5||23||17||3||9|
|28. Detroit Lions||32.3||404.4||4||30||1||7|
|29. Denver Broncos||28.0||374.6||6||26||2||7|
|30. Cincinnati Bengals||22.8||325.5||12||17||3||8|
|31. St. Louis Rams||29.1||371.9||12||30||1||9|
|32. Kansas City Chiefs||27.5||393.2||13||10||3||8|
• The entire front seven is back for Pittsburgh. The Steelers are all but automatic as the first defense called.
• The one caveat to picking the Vikings defense: You need to follow the legal battle involving StarCaps supplements and the Williams Wall (tackles Pat and Kevin Williams). If the two end up having to serve a four-game suspension each, scratch Minnesota from your board.
ON THE RISE
• It was already good last year, but the Jets defense will be even better with new coach Rex Ryan and former Ravens like Bart Scott on board. Plus, this team has a good return game.
• You don't think of the Cowboys as having an elite defense—perhaps it's the 44 points they gave up to the Eagles with a playoff spot at stake last year—but Dallas did lead the league in sacks in 2008, which gets you the fantasy numbers.
• The Eagles have formidable talent in the return game, and Trent Cole is a sack machine, but they'll miss longtime defensive coordinator Jim Johnson, who died of cancer last week. His successor, Sean McDermott, at least was schooled under Johnson for years.
• Don't be too concerned that the TITANS lost free agent Albert Haynesworth or coordinator Jim Schwartz. They stayed in-house to fill Schwartz's position (Chuck Cecil), so the scheme won't change. And Tennessee's ball-hog offense will keep the heat off linebacker Keith Bulluck and the defense.
• What happened to the pass defense in Chicago? The Bears dropped to 30th in the NFL in that category last year. Their greatest selling point now is their return game, with Devin Hester on punts and Danieal Manning bringing back kicks.
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