Week 8 Matchup Rankings: Team Defenses to Exploit
This is a strange week as far as team defenses are concerned in the NFL. It seems we either have team defenses with good matchups or with terrible ones. I wouldn’t want to have to start any of the Top 14 here but would give it a go with any of the bottom 14. It’s unusual to have that kind of symmetry. I never truly panic about team defenses. Yeah, if I had Denver in any league I probably would’ve kept them, but other than that, if I didn’t have a dead spot on my roster, the team defense gets released when their bye comes up. I never like rostering two team defenses (assuming you’re in a standard league and not one that gives out an unusual number of points to team defenses). There are just too many solid team defenses and you can easily play the matchup game each week. Keep your depth.
[caption id="attachment_100077" align="alignright" width="374"] The Detroit Lions defense won't have it easy in London on Sunday against the Chiefs. Photo Credit: Keith Allison[/caption]
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Sure the Bucs can score points, as that offense is finally starting to look dangerous, but they can also give them up early and often. Playing the Falcons in Atlanta may not be pretty. Perhaps this is the game in which Matt Ryan makes his Fantasy owners happy once again.
- Detroit Lions: Somehow, I don’t think playing in England is going to fix this defense. While it’s true that Kansas City doesn’t have its weapon in Jamaal Charles (knee) for this game, they have enough with Charcandrick West and the return of Jeremy Maclin to make life miserable for the Lions.
- Chicago Bears: I doubt the bye week was enough time to fix the Bears’ defensive issues. The Vikings are suddenly hot with Stefon Diggs leading the passing game, and we all know the type of damage that Adrian Peterson can do, assuming he doesn’t eat any bad shrimp or swallow tobacco.
- New Orleans Saints: The Saints would rank even lower on this list if the Giants’ offense had been playing well. The Giants supposedly will have a completely healthy Odell Beckham this week and may even feature a new running back in Orleans Darkwa. Can the Giants really play poorly on offense for a third straight week?
- Oakland Raiders: Good for the Raiders; they are playing very well this season (about time, I know). They do get a tough Jets team this week, with a better offense than they’re given credit for. The Jets have the weapons at WR (Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker) to make life miserable for any defense and assuming Chris Ivory is over his hamstring pull, they can run the ball as well.
- Cleveland Browns: Well, the good news for Cleveland is that CB Joe Haden (concussion) looks like he will return to game action Sunday. The bad news is that he can only cover one of the trio of good wide receivers that Arizona will throw out there. Good luck.
- Baltimore Ravens: The Ravens didn’t play terribly Monday night in Arizona but they were far from a lockdown unit. Now they get the incredibly hot Phillip Rivers. To let you know how much I don’t trust the Ravens’ defense, I would start Rivers over Aaron Rodgers this week.
- Indianapolis Colts: This defense would certainly be ranked lower if they were playing a better offense. The Panthers aren’t inept offensively but don’t possess the weapons at the skill positions to truly take advantage of the Colts’ shortcomings.
- Kansas City Chiefs: They have been ripped apart by just about every passing game they have faced this season, with the possible exception of Landry Jones and Pittsburgh. Why should Detroit be any different?
- Atlanta Falcons: Yes, the Falcons were the streamer’s delight last week playing against the offensively challenged Titans. Well, this week they play another subpar team, but one that can put points on the board in both the running game (Doug Martin) and a revitalized passing game (Mike Evans).
- New York Giants: The G-men were shredded last week by the Cowboys in the run game, and the Saints will look to exploit this weakness as well. But unlike the Cowboys, the Saints also have a QB who can make the passing game work.
- Pittsburgh Steelers: It’s not really fair that a divisional game will be played with one team coming off a bye week. Why would the NFL do this? The Steelers have played better defense than expected but this game could be asking too much from this unit.
- Minnesota Vikings: This is yet another divisional game in which one opponent is coming off a bye. Well, in this case we can excuse the schedule maker, as Chicago needs all the help they can get. The Vikings have been solid defensively so far this season, but this game will be a test, as a healthy Alshon Jeffery will once again make the Bears’ offense a threat to score from anywhere on the field.
- Tennessee Titans
- Dallas Cowboys: The Cowboys defense is actually better than people think. We can all think whatever we want about DE Greg Hardy the person, but the fact is he is an outstanding football player and can get to the QB. He should make life difficult for Russell Wilson on Sunday. The problem for the defense, however, is that they haven’t had a turnover since Week 2.
- San Diego Chargers: I still don’t think the Chargers have any idea what hit them last week. Here’s hoping the game versus the Raiders was an anomaly and not a sign of things to come.
- Houston Texans: Well, if the Texans want to make some kind of statement on defense, this would have to be the game, wouldn’t it? The Texans had their doors blown off last week by Miami. They have to be an angry bunch, and facing a team that doesn’t have much in the way of offensive weapons may just be what the doctor ordered.
- Miami Dolphins: Well, now we will really find out if new coach Dan Campbell has turned this team around or if they just beat up on two hapless teams in Tennessee and Houston.
- Cincinnati Bengals: The Bengals defense is legit and I’d like to rank them higher, but, unfortunately for them, they will likely have to face Ben Roethlisberger in his first game back from a knee injury. To say the least, the Bengals will be tested here.
- New England Patriots
- Carolina Panthers: I probably should’ve ranked the Panthers a couple of spots lower, as Andrew Luck has been good for a couple of picks of late and that Colts’ offensive line is unlikely to be able to keep the Panthers’ pass rush away from Luck.
- San Francisco 49ers: We all love Todd Gurley, I know, but SF knows this too, and you have to think they will sell out to stop him and see if QB Nick Foles can beat them in the passing game.
- New York Jets: This defense should be in an ornery mood after allowing Tom Brady to throw for over 350 yards against them last week, in what was seen as a divisional showdown (imagine how many yards Brady would’ve thrown for had his receivers not dropped at least 12 passes).
- Seattle Seahawks: Yeah, Dez Bryant is likely to return but as we saw last week, Matt Cassel can’t get the ball deep and if he throws up more punts, Earl Thomas will have a field day taking them back. Also, with the Dallas coverage teams well below average, Tyler Lockette should have at least one big return in this game.
- Green Bay Packers: Denver’s offensive line is still terrible and the Packers will put pressure on Manning. Perhaps the week off will give him more zip on his passes, but if not, he will be in for a long day.
- Denver Broncos: This is their toughest test so far this season, but they may be up to the challenge. DeMarcus Ware will return from his back injury, allowing him and LB Von Miller to attack Aaron Rodgers from both sides.
- Louis Rams: The 49ers’ offense may not be as bad as the Browns, but it’s not that far off either. That pass rush is going to make life difficult for Colin Kaepernick.
- Arizona Cardinals: Umm, Johnny Manziel be the starting QB. ‘Nuff said.
As always feel free to follow me on Twitter and ask any questions you, @georgekurtz.
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