1. Denver Broncos vs. SD
The Broncos defense and special teams unit is heating up just at the right time. Denver has scored a kick return touchdown in each of the last two weeks as well as returning an interception for a touchdown last week. Last time they faces the Chargers, Denver forced six turnovers and returned two for touchdowns. While we can't expect those sorts of numbers, we would be happy with half of that.
2. Washington Redskins vs. PHI
The Redskins defense is not very good. They've recorded only two sacks and two takeaways in the last three weeks. What they do… do is score when they happen to find a turnover, as they've done four times this season on 16 takeaways. The Eagles' offense is one of a kind. They have allowed the most defensive touchdowns, the second-most takeaways, the second-most sacks while scoring the fourth-fewest points in the NFL this season. And you wonder why Andy Reid is on the hot seat?
3. Houston Texans vs. JAC
The Jaguars' offense has been fairly good at protecting the ball for the three downs they have it until they are forced to punt. The NFL's lowest scoring offense at just above 14 points per game just can't seem to find ways to score, especially without Maurice Jones-Drew. It will be especially tough as they face a Texans defense that has allowed 13, 9 and 6 points in their last three games.
4. Chicago Bears at SF
The Bears are sixth in sacks, first in takeaways and most importantly first in touchdowns. Chicago has seven defensive scoring plays this season and have recorded a safety. Does a concussed Alex Smith or a green Colin Kaepernick stand a chance against the Bears? A surprising stat I came across is that the Niners have actually allowed the second-most sacks in the league this season. So it's easy to see why Smith had his bell rung last week.
5. Atlanta Falcons vs. ARI
Atlanta ranks fourth in the NFL in interceptions-forced this season, but has only forced one in the last three weeks. Pressure on the quarterback seems to be the culprit, so much so that the Falcons released Ray Edwards this week. The bright side is, anyone can have success against the Arizona o-line. The Cardinals have allowed 40 sacks this season, which is 11 more than any team in the league. To say the offensive line has problems is a massive understatement.
6. San Diego Chargers at DEN
The Chargers have actually recorded the third-fewest sacks in the league this year and have had zero takeaways in two of their last three games, so why start them this week? Because of any team, they seem to have Peyton Manning's number. In their last two meetings against Manning they've forced eight turnovers and recorded three touchdowns against #18. Things could be different this time around, but if you're desperate they're worth a gamble.
7. New York Jets at STL
The fierce defense of the New York Jets is averaging less than two sacks per week this season. Wasn't Rex Ryan supposed to be some blitzing genius? Why do they make the list this week? It's because they've actually had multiple sacks in three of their last four games and have averaged two takeaways in those four. They even scored last week in Seattle. The Rams rank in the bottom five in scoring offense, so look for the Jets to grind on the Rams in a low scoring affair.
8. Cleveland Browns at DAL
No one ever wants to play the Browns defense, but once in a while they come up with a gem of a game. Most of the time those gems are due to the right circumstance, like facing Michael Vick or Andy Dalton on a bad day. Tony Romo can also be that circumstance. Romo hasn't thrown a pick and the Cowboys haven't lost a fumble or given up a defensive touchdown in two whole weeks. They're due! This is pure speculation here, but if you're really desperate for some homerun points, starting a defense against Romo could give you just that.
9. Cincinnati Bengals at KC
Of all teams, the Cincinnati Bengals are tied for second in the NFL with 28 sacks this season. That's more than the Bears, Texans and any other team not named the Denver Broncos. And, they get Kansas City this week. The Chiefs have allowed nine more turnovers than any team in the league with 30. For those of you new to math, that's more than three per game. It's not surprising that the Chiefs are averaging only 16 points per game. Starting a defense against the Chiefs is an awesome feeling.
10. Tampa Bay Buccaneers at CAR
Tampa Bay has grabbed 15 interceptions this season, which ranks them third among NFL teams. There's a reason for that. They're the worst passing defense in the league, so teams are constantly throwing on them. I'm sure the Bucs would welcome Cam Newton to try to beat them with his arm this week. Newton has thrown two picks and had one returned for a touchdown in two of his last three games. He was also sacked seven times by the Broncos just last week.
11. New England Patriots vs. IND
12. Kansas City Chiefs vs. CIN
13. Baltimore Ravens at PIT
14. Green Bay Packers at DET
15. Miami Dolphins at BUF