1. Chicago Bears vs. CAR
Why are the Bears always occupying the top spot here? Here's a few reasons. They've sacked the quarterback three or more times in five of six games. Their defense has forced at least two turnovers in every game and had four or more three times. The Bears have five defensive touchdowns on the season and Devin Hester is their return man, and he's due to break one. The Panthers' offensive line has been in shambles since Ryan Kalil went down to an injury and they've lost seven fumbles in their last four games.
2. San Francisco 49ers at ARI
For the third time in the last four games the 49ers defense held their opponent to six or fewer points after last week's game against Seattle. The only disappointing thing about the Niners defense is that they haven't been forcing wild amounts of turnovers like last season. In four of their seven games so far San Fran has recorded one takeaway or less. They could make up all of their numbers just by sacking John Skelton this weekend though. Arizona has allowed 29 sacks in the last four games. I hope Skelton has a tub full of Icy Hot ready.
3. Atlanta Falcons at PHI
The Falcons have 10 interceptions so far this season, which ties them for the third-most in the NFL. They've also forced at least two turnovers in five of six games this season and sacked the quarterback exactly three times in five of six. Granted, they haven't played a team with a record better than .500, but they don't make the schedule. They didn't choose the Eagles as an opponent this week either, but it might work out well. Philadelphia has allowed multiple turnovers in five of six games this year, including four games in which they've given up the ball at least three times. It's an offense that makes a lot of mistakes against a defense that takes advantage of them.
4. New England Patriots at STL
The Patriots lead the league in fumble recoveries with 11 (four more than any other team). Last week against the Jets, New England returned a kickoff for a touchdown, recorded a safety and had a sack/fumble recovery to end the game in overtime. Not a bad day at the office. This week they head to old England to face a Rams team that doesn't turn the ball over a lot, but has allowed two defensive scores in only nine turnovers this season. If you give me 22 percent odds on returning a turnover for a touchdown, I'll take that all day long.
5. Arizona Cardinals vs. SF
What has been lost in the Cardinals' three-game losing streak is that the team is still playing great defense. Last week Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder only could muster 43 yards passing against Arizona, and the team has not yet allowed an opponent to score more than 21 points in a game. I don't see that streak ending this week against a 49ers offense that has been mediocre at best since Steve Young left town. Last season the San Francisco offense made few mistakes and turned the ball over only 10 times all season, but this year through seven games they've already let the ball go nine times. While they've put up some decent point totals against poor defenses, they could not top 13 points against the good defenses of Minnesota, Seattle and the Giants.
6. Oakland Raiders at KC
No team has had more fumbles lost and no team has had more interceptions than the Kansas City Chiefs. To lead one of these categories is a failure, to lead both is nearly unspeakable. The fact that the Chiefs have turned the ball over 21 times in only six games means that they are on pace to hand over the ball to an opposing defense 56 times this season. This brings even the crappy Raiders defense into the top ten for a week. Oakland showed a little flash after intercepting Matt Ryan three times in Week 6, but that's about their high point for the year. That is, until this week.
7. Green Bay Packers vs. JAC
The Packers lead the league in sacks with 24 and have recorded three or more in each of the last three weeks. Interestingly, the Packers are the only team in the NFL that has yet to record a fumble recovery through seven games. They're not the fiercest tackling bunch, but that shouldn't matter this week as they take on the worst offense in the NFL, the Jacksonville Jaguars. Jacksonville is averaging a league-worst 14 points per game and has scored 10 or fewer points in three of six contests. Let's not forget that their best offensive player, Maurice Jones-Drew is injured and will not play, and starting quarterback Blaine Gabbert is battling multiple injuries of his own.
8. Seattle Seahawks at DET
Somehow, the Detroit Lions have given up four kick return touchdowns and two defensive scores this season. I know how it happened. They're Detroit! It's called regression to the mean folks. Joking aside, Detroit hasn't ran the ball well this season, meaning they take to the air quite often, which is exactly what the Seattle Seahawks want you to do. The Seahawks are one of a handful of teams to allow less than 300 total yards per game to opponents and they're third in the NFL in points against, much of that is based on their strong secondary and great pass rush, which is not a good fit for the Lions.
9. Cleveland Browns vs. SD
In the four games in which Joe Haden missed due to his suspension, the Browns only had five takeaways. In the three games Haden has played this season, the Browns have 10 takeaways. Any questions? Phillip Rivers and the Chargers are trying to erase the memory of the six turnover second half which cost them a Week 6 game against the Broncos. What was worse is that two of those turnovers went back to the end zone in the wrong direction. Rivers has stumbled a bit after a strong start with eight picks in the last four games. Let's see if he can avoid the turnover bug against Haden and the Browns.
10. Minnesota Vikings vs. TB
Last week the Vikings defense did a little bit of everything to help beat the Arizona Cardinals. They held the Cards to 14 points on the heels of seven sacks, a fumble recovery and a Harrison Smith pick six. This Thursday night they take on a 2-4 Buccaneers club that doesn't appear that bad on the offensive side. The Bucs have not allowed more than two sacks in any game this year, and have not allowed more than one in each of their last three games. They've also only turned the ball over seven times this year. This Tampa squad could turn the corner very quickly, let's see if the Vikings can put a stop to it.