Written/ranked by Harley Schultz
1. Denver Broncos vs. SD
I feel bad for Philip Rivers. No offensive line, no running backs, no receivers, and now they are throwing him to the wolves against the best defense in football on the road. Denver leads the league in sacks and they are amongst the league leaders in takeaways. Versus the Broncos back in Week 13, Rivers was sacked four times and the Chargers turned the ball over three times in that game. One of those was a Pick-6 for Danny Trevathan.
2. Kansas City Chiefs vs.OAK
Kansas City has four defensive touchdowns in their last six games. They also have 15 sacks and 12 takeaways over that span. This includes a four-sack, three-interception performance featuring a Pick-6 back in Week 13 versus these Raiders. That Pick-6 was one of two that Derek Carr has thrown over the last four weeks.
3. Arizona Cardinals vs. SEA
Seattle is coming off a loss at home to a mediocre St. Louis Rams team. Russell Wilson was sacked four times. This is nothing new as he has been sacked multiple times in all but two games. His sacks usually don’t hurt the Hawks too much because he can improvise enough to make them pay for their pass rush. However, when he faces a steady secondary on top of a fierce pass rush, he will struggle. Meanwhile, Arizona is coming off a nine sack game against the Packers and only one team leads them in takeaways. Plus they have three DST touchdowns over the last three weeks.
4. Carolina Panthers vs. TB
No team has more takeaways than Carolina. This includes a five takeaway game back in Week 4 versus these Buccaneers. Four of those takeaways were Jameis Winston interceptions and one was a Pick-6 by Josh Norman. Carolina will not be in a happy mood after losing their perfect season last week, leaving Winston as their tee-off-target.
5. Minnesota Vikings @ GB
Aaron Rodgers just got knocked nearly unconscious by the Cardinals. His eight sacks was a season high and the fact that he wasn’t checked for concussion midway through the game was a mockery of the protocol process. Minnesota’s defense is fully healthy for the first time in nearly a month. They put together a total effort last week en route to a four-sack, three-pick game against the Giants. That gave them nine sacks over their last two contests.
6. Philadelphia Eagles @ NYG
Eli Manning put forth his best Manning Face last Sunday as he tossed three picks and was sacked four times. It was the fifth time in eight games that New York has allowed three or more sacks. Back in Week 6, Philadelphia sacked Manning three times. They also picked him twice, including a Pick-6 by Nolan Carroll.
7. Pittsburgh Steelers @ CLE
Back in Week 10, Pittsburgh sacked Johnny Football six times and they took the ball away from Cleveland three times. That was just one of ten times this season that Cleveland has allowed three or more sacks by an opponent. Pittsburgh is coming off an embarrassing loss to a Ryan Mallett-led Ravens’ team, so they should be in a foul mood. With the playoffs on the brink, the Steelers will channel all that anger onto Manziel.
8. New England Patriots @ MIA
Another team that is angry about a loss last week is New England. Poor Ryan Tannehill, he just got sacked six times last week. It marked the seventh time in ten games that Miami has allowed three or more sacks. Earlier this year, the Patriots sacked Tannehill five times and picked him twice.
9. St. Louis Rams @ SF
San Francisco has allowed 20 sacks over their last four games. It won’t get easier for Blaine Gabbert this time out as the Rams rank sixth in terms of sacks. In addition, St. Louis has scored DST touchdowns in two of their last three contests.
10. New York Jets @ BUF
Tyrod Taylor has been sacked eight times in his last two games despite putting up some nice rushing numbers. Meanwhile, the Jets have managed to record multiple sacks in eight of their last ten contests. This includes a Week 10 matchup with the Bills during which they sacked Taylor four times as the Bills managed only 280 total yards.
11. Houston Texans vs. JAX
Jacksonville has a really good offense, so if you get negative points for points allowed you may wish to look elsewhere. That said with all of their passing attempts they also allow a lot of sacks and interceptions. Bortles ranks sixth in pass attempts and second in interceptions thrown. He also has been sacked multiple times in every game except two. In Week 6, Houston sacked Bortles three times and picked him off three times as well.
12. Detroit Lions @ CHI
The Bears have allowed nine sacks over the last three weeks. On the year, Detroit has the eighth most sacks, including 14 over the last five weeks. However, the real reason you want to start any defense against Chicago is that no team has allowed more DST touchdowns than the seven that they have given up.
13. Cincinnati vs. BAL
Baltimore has also been prone to allowing DST touchdowns. They have given up four over the last five weeks. You have to expect that sort of thing when your team is turning the ball over multiple times in six of their last seven games. Meanwhile, Cincinnati has ten sacks and ten takeaways over their last four games.
14. Oakland @ KC
No team has recorded more sacks than Oakland since Week 10. This doesn’t bode well for Alex Smith as he has been sacked multiple times in every game except two this season. This includes allowing ten sacks over their prior four contests. What should be more disconcerting is that Kansas City has allowed 39% of their total turnovers over that very same four-game span. Two of which went to Oakland.
15. Seattle Seahawks @ ARI
Carson Palmer threw an interception last week for the first time in five weeks. It was only the tenth time this year that Arizona has had a pass picked off. One of those picks came courtesy of the Seahawks back in Week 10. In that game, they managed three takeaways, including a Bobby Wagner fumble recovery touchdown. Seattle is known for their secondary but they only have eleven interceptions this season. That said seven of those have come in their last five games.
Tennessee Titans @ IND
The Colts will likely be in trouble at quarterback this week with one of the following under center: Andrew Luck with internal injuries and not cleared for contact, Matt Hasselbeck who is old and has a severe shoulder separation, or Steven Morris who they just signed less than a week ago. Things have gotten so bad they even tried out Josh “seven rows deep” Freeman. Tennessee is the only team to turn the ball over more frequently than Indianapolis. The Colts also have given up three DST touchdowns in their last four games.