Championship week defense/special teams

Championship week defense/special teams

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1. Chicago Bears at ARI

After scoring eight defensive touchdowns in a six-game span, the Bears have only collected nine total turnovers (none of which went for a touchdown) in their last six games. Injuries to Tim Jennings and Brian Urlacher have not helped, but a game against the Cardinals can heal many wounds. Arizona has yielded 51 sacks this season, which is eight more than any other team in the league, and has given up seven return touchdowns this season.

2. Denver Broncos vs. CLE

The Broncos have now intercepted at least one pass in nine straight games and have returned seven turnovers for touchdowns in those nine weeks. They're also one of the few teams in the league that has recorded a sack in every game this season. A good pass rush plus Peyton Manning at the helm of your offense means that opponents are usually trailing and taking chances, which is exactly what the Browns will be doing this weekend.

3. New England Patriots at JAC

You might not know it, but the Patriots only trail the Bears in takeaways by one and have had an even amount of return touchdowns this season. So while the Patriots might not be an elite reality defense, they certainly are when it comes to the fantasy game. If this game against Jacksonville becomes a blowout, as it should, look for Chad Henne to try to pass his way back into contention. If that happens, look for the immobile Henne to get sacked early and often, as he has been 15 times in the last four games.

4. Seattle Seahawks vs. SF

It's quite possible that your fantasy team made the playoffs as a six seed with an awful lineup, but you've ridden the Seahawks defense into the championship game. The 11 turnovers, six sacks and three defensive touchdowns have been enough to catapult any team to the title game. This week is a tougher test against the 49ers. The Niners don't turn the ball over much. In fact, since Colin Kapernick has started they've only given the ball away five times in five games. However, it's the Seahawks, they're incredibly hot right now and it's another home game.

5. Washington Redskins at PHI

The Redskins may be the most interesting defense in the world. They don't often take the ball away, but when they do, they prefer touchdowns. The Redskins did score a return touchdown in four of five games earlier this season, but have not done so in eight weeks. However, the last time they faced this Eagles team they nabbed three takeaways and held them to six points. Philly has allowed seven return touchdowns this season, the most in the league. So I like Washington this weekend as a sneaky start.

6. Green Bay Packers vs. TEN

Here's the deal. It's the final home game of the regular season for the Pack. Clay Matthews returned last week. Charles Woodson could play this week and they're playing for a better seed in the NFC and possibly a first round bye. On the other side, Jake Locker isn't hurting anyone, the Titans' wideouts are injured or not that good, and Chris Johnson only has one long run in him every couple of weeks. This seems like one of those games where the Packers defense does a couple of Lambeau leaps, but we're not promising anything.

7. San Diego Chargers at NYJ

The Chargers' general manager and head coach are about 10 days away from being unemployed, so it may surprise you to learn that the Chargers have the same amount of defensive touchdowns this year as the Bears. They've now scored in three of their last five games and will be facing a rookie quarterback in his first start this week in New York. Fair warning though, in college Greg McElroy only threw 10 interceptions in over 600 passing attempts. So I'm not sold on a lot of picks here.

8. Atlanta Falcons at DET

The thing that's separating the Falcons defense from being a good fantasy team to a great fantasy team is that they really haven't scored this season. Only twice this season have the Dirty Birds returned a takeaway for a score. There is hope though. Detroit is the opponent this weekend and the Lions have given up three return touchdowns in just the last two weeks, including two last week to the Cardinals. Matthew Stafford puts the ball in the air a lot, so I would expect to see more than a pick or two for Atlanta on Saturday.

9. Indianapolis Colts at KC

Despite a significant rib injury, Brady Quinn is still set to start for the Chiefs on Sunday. That shouldn't scare the Colts one bit. Quinn has thrown only two touchdown passes this season while seeing action in eight games. He also doesn't cough up the ball a lot though, as he's only thrown six picks this season. If Dwight Freeney and the Colts pass rush knock Quinn out, we'll see our first look at Ricky Stanzi. But, what am I saying? The Chiefs were shut out by the Raiders last week, this offense is terrible.

10. Cincinnati Bengals at PIT

The Bengals lead the NFL in sacks. The Steelers have allowed over 40 sacks in each of the last six seasons, but have only given up 31 this season. That means that the Bengals have some work to do. In the five weeks since Ben Roethlisberger sustained his rib and shoulder injuries and subsequently returned to the lineup, the Steelers have turned the ball over a league-worst 18 times. The Bengals just caused five turnovers last week in Philly, so maybe it's the Pennsylvania air that's making them stronger and faster Bengals.

Other options…

11. Arizona Cardinals vs. CHI

12. Houston Texans vs. MIN

13. Miami Dolphins vs. BUF

14. New York Jets vs. SD

15. New Orleans Saints at DAL

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