Words by Daniel House, Rankings by Paul Charchian
1. Denver Broncos @ CLE
The Denver Broncos have accumulated two or more takeaways in four of their first five games. Not to mention, no team has recorded more sacks or interceptions than the Broncos defense. I don’t care if Josh McCown threw for like 6,000 yards last week. He won’t be asked to throw the ball almost 50 times against this defense. What’s more, Cleveland has surrendered the third-most sacks (18) to opposing defensive line’s. We’ll see what McCown has in his underpants as Von Miller is on the prowl. Over the first five games, Denver has allowed the fifth-fewest total points to opposing defenses. Browns fans might have temporarily pulled the paper bags off their heads, but I urge all of them to maximize their exposure to fresh oxygen leading up to Sunday’s game.
2. New York Jets vs. WSH
The Jets have quietly accumulated the second-most turnovers of any team in the league. They’ve allowed the fewest total yards (1,121) to opposing offense’s and have yet to surrender more than 24 points. In fact, teams have scored just 55 points against the Jets -- the lowest mark in football. This week, Kirk “The Paper Airplane” Cousins comes into town and Revis Island’s beachfront property is open for business. The Paper Airplane has thrown the third-most total interceptions and New York has notched the fifth-most picks among defense’s. Finally, the Redskins have provided the fifth-most giveaways of any offense in the league.
3. Arizona Cardinals @ PIT
In the final minutes of last week’s game, Mike Vick looked a dog that shook out of his leash. However, the Cardinals are the perfect shock collar to stop Vick’s legs from winning football games. Arizona has notched a jaw-dropping 11 interceptions including eight over the last three weeks of play. Vick has thrown at least one pick in each of his last three games and has yet to deal with a secondary of Arizona’s caliber. What’s more, Pittsburgh has surrendered the fifth-most sacks to opposing defensive line’s. Arizona has just one sack in each of their last three matchups, but two of those contests were against respectable offensive line’s. Furthermore, Arizona has accumulated the league-most three defensive touchdowns.
4. Green Bay Packers vs. SD
Coming into the season, I thought the Packers defense was going to be like Swiss cheese. I just haven’t seen the holes I was anticipating among their secondary and defensive line. They’ve notched the second-most total sacks (20) and interceptions (11) this season. Not to mention, just five teams have allowed fewer points through five games. According to Pro Football Focus, the Chargers offensive line has the third-worst pressured dropback percentage (33%). What’s more, San Diego has committed the fifth-most giveaways (10). Their offense couldn’t get anything going against Pittsburgh and their front-five has been absolutely demoralized as of late.
5. Cincinnati Bengals @ BUF
I’ve been trying to get the Red Rifle to co-chair the Ginger Pride of America Association with me, but I haven’t been able to get in touch with him. He’s really starting to cement his celebrity status and he’s telling me to screw off. Come on man, we’ve been lifelong bros. It hasn’t been just Andy Dalton who has fueled Cincinnati’s early success. Their defense has accumulated the sixth-most takeaways (8) and sacks (15) this season. Buffalo’s offense hasn’t been clicking lately and has surrendered at least one giveaway in each of their last two contests. Over that stretch, they haven’t scored over 15 points in any matchup. What’s more, the Bills have notched the sixth-most total giveaways through five games.
6. New England Patriots @ IND
I’m going to set the scene: Tom Brady walks onto the field at Lucas Oil Stadium for pregame warmups. Colts fans are holding signs about “deflated balls,” as he listens to “Hate Me Now” on his Beats by Dre headphones. Gronk walks out and slaps Brady on the rear end and drops a gesture towards the Colts fans. Then the game begins moments later. In other words, I’m deeming this matchup as a classic Patriots redemption game.
From a defensive standpoint, just three teams have accumulated more sacks (16) and interceptions (6) than the Patriots defense. What’s more, just two teams have provided more takeaways (7) than the Colts offense. Andrew Luck should be back this week, but he certainly won’t be 100%. Finally, the Colts have committed multiple turnover performances in every game but one this season.
7. Carolina Panthers @ SEA
Only two teams have registered more interceptions (8) than the Carolina Panthers. They accumulated five total takeaways last week and their secondary played a very physical game. Seattle has provided three turnovers in their last two contests, but the real story has been their poor offensive line performances. They’ve allowed 4+ sacks in every game but two and there hasn’t been any light at the end of the tunnel. Carolina has notched two or more sacks in just two of their first four games, but they certainly haven’t faced an offensive line as porous as Seattle’s.
8. Tennessee Titans vs. MIA
Miami is ready to prove that a week of the Oklahoma drill can lead to a plethora of victories. I mean that’s really all that was wrong with the Joe Philbin era, right? Tennessee has quietly accumulated the sixth most sacks (13) and interceptions (4). In fact, they’ve registered two or more turnovers in two of their first four games. The Titans have allowed the sixth-fewest total points on defense, but yet are a 1-3 ball club. Ryan Tannehill had another week to throw some more interceptions to practice squad defensive backs and I’m sure he trashed talked them afterwards. That’s like celebrating a sack when you’re down 20 points. C’mon, man! Nonetheless, Tannehill has thrown five interceptions over his last five games alone. The Titans might not be the sexiest start, but would be a great one week stand.
9. Philadelphia Eagles vs. NYG
Just two teams have notched more takeaways than the Philadelphia Eagles defense. They’ve accumulated four or more turnovers per game in two of their last three contests. On the flip side, the Giants have surrendered at least one giveaway in each of their last three matchups. What’s more, no team has registered more fumble recoveries than the Eagles. Philadelphia has a respectable 12 sacks, but the Giants have allowed just four quarterback takedowns in their first five games. Nonetheless, the pass rushes they’ve faced weren’t overpowering.
10. Seattle Seahawks vs. CAR
After having two or more turnover performances in 11 of their 16 contests last season, Seattle has just two of them in their first five contests of 2015. One of them came at home and they historically have performed much better with the 12th man behind them. Carolina has committed just one turnover over the last three weeks, but they’ve had matchups with the Jags, Texans, Saints, and Bucs. Not much to write home about.
11. Atlanta Falcons @ NO
Over the last two weeks, Atlanta’s defense has been as hot as Candice Crawford on the runway. Over this stretch, they’ve accumulated six takeaways and a whopping three defensive touchdowns. New Orleans offensive line was manhandled last week and they have been frequently this season. Not to mention, the Saints are allowing two turnovers per game in each of their last three contests. Finally, Drew Brees has thrown interceptions in four of his last five contests, while Atlanta has accumulated interceptions in every game but one.
12. Minnesota Vikings vs. KC
Kansas City will be without their biggest weapon Jamaal Charles as he tore his ACL last week. That’s not good for an offense that was already struggling to score points. They’ve scored over 25 points just twice this season and tallied just 17 points against a measly Bears defense. The Vikings are coming off the bye week and are allowing just 18.3 points per game over their first four contests. What’s more, the Vikings have accumulated two or more takeaways in three of their last four matchups.
13. Baltimore Ravens @ SF
Last week, Baltimore’s secondary looked bare like the shelves after Black Friday. They were shredded to pieces by Josh McCown and haven’t created a turnover in three weeks. Why should you look at them this week? San Francisco has thrown five interceptions over their last three weeks. Not to mention, teams have scored defensive touchdowns on two of those plays over that stretch. Both of these teams are equally as poor on both sides of the ball, which leaves room for a neutral matchup.
14. Detroit Lions vs. CHI
The Detroit Lions defense was absolutely obliterated last week, but that was partly because their offense was turning the ball over like crazy. The Bears are averaging two turnovers per game over their last two contests, including three fumbles. These two squads are evenly matched and Detroit has accumulated two or more takeaways in three of their last four contests against Jay Cutler. Finally, all of the Lions’ multiple turnover performances have come at home. Oh yeah, and in case you haven’t seen it yet, Matthew Stafford once starred in The Wizard of Oz.
15. Buffalo Bills vs. CIN
The Buffalo Bills notched the third-most interceptions (7) and have registered multiple turnover performances in three of their first five contests. What’s more, the Bengals have surrendered two or more takeaways in two of their last three games. Buffalo has allowed 25 or more points just once and all but one of their best defensive performances have come at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Finally, they’ve add at least a pair of sacks in every game but one, while the Bengals allowed four quarterbacks takedowns last week.
Streamer of the Week:
Jacksonville Jaguars vs. HOU
The Jags lost to the Bucs last week, so why in the hell would I tell you to start them this week? One word: Texans. Just three teams have thrown more interceptions than the Houston offense. Not to mention, Houston has registered multiple turnover performances in three of their first five games. The Jags have just three total takeaways this season, but have notched two of them over the last two weeks of play.