Written/Ranked by Harley Schultz
1. Seattle Seahawks @ BAL
Only three things in America are certain: Death, Taxes, and Matt Schaub pick-sixes. Two games into his feature role to end this season, Schaub is a perfect two-for-two on games with a pick-six allowed. This should come as no surprise since Schaub has thrown a pick-six now in six of his last nine starts. He also has seven since the onset of 2013. Plus he has more total interceptions thrown than touchdowns over the last three years. The Seahawks have five picks of their own over the last two weeks. They also have three DST touchdowns already this year. That number will be at least four this time next week.
2. Kansas City Chiefs vs. SD
The Chiefs are the hottest defense in football. Since Week 6, the Chiefs lead the league in takeaways and they are tied for third with 23 sacks. They also just added their fourth DST touchdown of the season last week. One of those touchdowns came two weeks ago off of an errant throw from Philip “don’t call me Schaub” Rivers. In that game, the Chargers barely managed to eke out 201 total yards while Rivers threw his fourth pick-six of the season and was sacked three times. Rivers added yet another pick-six this past week versus Denver when Danny Trevathan took him to the house. In fact, Rivers nearly allowed a second pick-six in this past game when Chris Harris Jr. snatched a first-half pass and scored. This play was ultimately negated due to a very questionable penalty, saving Rivers a little face here.
3. Denver Broncos vs. OAK
David Carr is starting to endure a rough stretch. Over the last five weeks, the Raiders have turned the ball over 11 times and they have allowed two DST touchdowns. Meanwhile, Denver leads the league in passing yards allowed. They also rank fourth in rushing yards allowed and second in points allowed. Making matters worse for Carr, Denver leads the league in sacks and they are tied for second in takeaways. Plus back in Week 5, Denver sacked Carr four times, while turning over the Raiders three times, and scoring a defensive TD.
4. Carolina Panthers vs. ATL
Matt Ryan has been a shell of himself recently. Since Week 5, the Falcons have 20 turnovers and they’ve given up a pair of DST touchdowns. It isn’t going to get any easier for Ryan as he prepares to face Carolina for the first of two times over the next three weeks. Since Week 8, Carolina has multiple takeaways in every game except one. They also have 26 sacks since
5. Arizona Cardinals vs. MIN
I’m beginning to feel sorry for Teddy Bridgewater. All of the other starting quarterbacks drafted the last two years, have blown up recently for huge yardage and touchdown numbers. Bridgewater on the other hand has been held in check in his development thanks in part to: a touch-demanding Adrian Peterson, a performance-prohibiting offensive strategy, and a turnstile offensive line. Facing the Cardinals on short rest is not the solution Bridgewater needs. They will continue to harass him and knock him around, adding to the 14 sacks he has suffered over the last four weeks. His only way out of the line of fire is if the Vikings can establish their run game early. I’m n0t holding my breath on that one since Peterson has struggled to get out of the blocks recently and Arizona is allowing under 90 yards per game on the ground.
6. Green Bay vs. DAL
Dating back to 2011, Matt Cassel has 35 touchdowns compared to 39 interceptions. This makes his numbers for this season seem slightly more reasonable despite his obvious inability to instill any confidence in the Dallas fan base. Tony Romo wasn’t much better than Cassel in his one-plus game return, but at least he kept Dez Bryant from suffering an aneurism on the sidelines. Cassel will have to run for his life this week as the Packers rank eighth in sacks this year. This includes ten over the last three weeks. Typically we associate the Cowboys with a strong offensive line but they have allowed multiple sacks eight times this season. They also have eight turnovers over the last three weeks and they have allowed the second-most DST touchdowns this season, including five since Week 7.
7. Cincinnati Bengals vs. PIT
The Cincinnati Bengals have multiple takeaways in three straight games and four of six. They also have three or more sacks in seven different games, including four of their last six. Meanwhile, the Steelers have turned the ball over multiple times in each of their last six games. This included a four-pick performance from Ben Roethlisberger two weeks ago against the Seahawks and a three-pick performance against these very same Bengals back in Week 8.
8. New England Patriots @ HOU
The New England Patriots have logged the second-most sacks this year and only twice all season have they not managed multiple sacks in a game. Despite a solid start to the season, in four of their last six games the Texans have allowed multiple sacks. Keeping Brian Hoyer upright will be even harder if the Texans are forced to play without starting guard Brandon Brooks once again. Brooks was rushed to the hospital last week prior to the game due to stomach issues. This could keep him out this week as well since he does have a history of stomach ulcers. With back-to-back losses under their belts, and a playoff bye slipping away, Bill Belichick will surely have his coursers ready for war this week.
9. Pittsburgh Steelers @ CIN
Six weeks ago, Pittsburgh sacked Andy Dalton three times and picked him off twice during their 16-10 defeat. Ben Roethlisberger was clearly rusty in that game, his first back following a four-week absence due to injury. This game projects as more of a shootout, so if you get negative points for points allowed you may wish to fade both of these teams. That said if this does become a pass-heavy game, it bodes well for the Pittsburgh defense. The Steelers lead the league with a sack percentage of 10.66% over the last three weeks and Andy Dalton has faced multiple sacks in four of his last six contests. Pittsburgh has also been takeaway-happy of late logging ten turnovers over their last four contests.
10. Detroit Lions @ STL
St. Louis cannot win a game when Todd Gurley is being held to ten touches or less as he has seen the last two weeks. It doesn’t matter if they have Case Keenum, Nick Foles, or even an out-of-retirement Kurt Warner under center as long as they continue to ignore their bell cow, they will struggle mightily. Their inept signal callers have allowed the Rams to turn the ball over ten times over the last four weeks with one of those interceptions going for a pick-six versus Cincinnati. Detroit has hardly been a ball-hawking defense. They have a ridiculously low four takeaways over their last eight games. Fortunately they have been getting in the face of quarterbacks recently. Over the last three weeks, only Pittsburgh has a higher sack percentage than the 10.2% that Detroit has amassed. Not to mention, that they have a total of 20 sacks over their last six contests.
11. Philadelphia Eagles vs. BUF
Last year the Philadelphia Eagles led the league in DST touchdowns. This past week they notched three against the Patriots vaulting them into the league lead for this season as well. When you have Darren Sproles on your roster, a return touchdown is always in play. Be forewarned however, this defense is still awful. It is quite possibly the worst defense in all of football. So don’t yell at me when they give up 35 points to Buffalo. You aren’t starting them because they hold the opposition in check. You are starting them because they can score touchdowns for you. You are also starting them because they rank second in takeaways on the year. Finally you are starting them because they rank twelfth in sacks this year and Buffalo may be without two of their starting offensive linemen once again this week.
12. Houston Texans vs. NE
New England is hell-bent on winning this game and avoiding a three-game losing streak. That said their special teams got taken to school last week by Philadelphia as they allowed three DST touchdowns, including two on special teams. The Patriots also have to figure out how to continue to produce points with their dwindling number of offensive weapons. This could definitely come into play as they travel to Houston to face a Texans team that has allowed the second-fewest points per game at home (nearly half their points per game allowed on the road). Due in part to their high pass percentage, New England has allowed multiple sacks in all but two games this year. Don’t think for one second that J.J. Watt isn’t aware of that fact.
13. New York Jets vs. TEN
Just call the Titans sharers. Only four times this season has Tennessee not turned the ball over multiple times in a game. Plus the Titans have allowed the second-most sacks this season, including ten over the last three weeks. It won’t be any easier this week and Marcus Mariota will need to use his feet to avoid the sack-heavy attack of the New York Jets. New York has logged 17 sacks over their last five games.
14. Washington Redskins @ CHI
Chicago leads the league in DST touchdowns allowed with seven. This includes three over the last six games. Jay Cutler is busy doing Jay Cutler things as he has three turnovers and just one touchdown over the last three weeks. It’s not all his fault as he is basically down to only Alshon Jeffery and Matt Forte as potential reliable pass-catching targets. Meanwhile, Washington has six takeaways over their last two games and ten sacks over their last four. The only positive for Cutler and the Bears is that Washington allows a lot more points on the road than they do at home.
15. Indianapolis Colts @ JAX
The Jacksonville Jaguars have allowed the third-most DST touchdowns this season. They have also allowed 28 sacks over their past eight games. On their behalf, Indianapolis hasn’t done a lot defensively this year but as their secondary gets healthier, they are getting better. They have managed to finagle 12 takeaways over the last five weeks. They even sacked Jameis Winston five times a couple weeks back. I fully expect this to turn into a shootout, but that just means that Blake Bortles will be throwing the ball a lot leaving open the opportunity for sacks and interceptions.
San Francisco 49ers @ CLE
Johnny Manziel may be a step up from Austin Davis but that is hardly a certainty. Either way it won’t matter since Cleveland cannot keep any of their quarterbacks upright. They rank dead last in terms of sacks allowed. Plus they rank third from the bottom in terms of giveaways. San Francisco has been pretty much a clown show this year. That said, with the exception of their game against Seattle, they have improved recently. They even scored a defensive touchdown last week. I wouldn’t be surprised if they scored again here.