Written By: Josh Crocker – Follow Josh on Twitter @jccrocker
– Under the Stream Defenses to Avoid –
– The Ravens in New England –
The Ravens are a good defense. They, at least in my opinion, deserve their current ownership of about 83% as much as just about any sub-elite defensive unit. They’re very tough against the run, allowing the 32nd most points to RB’s out of 32. But, they’re playing New England and while I certainly don’t know what Belichick has in store for the Ravens I would be willing to bet that aren’t going to blindly run into the teeth of this unit. They also have the tools in James White and Dion Lewis to make the running game work in less than conventional ways. I just would never start a defense in New England.
– The Giants against Dallas –
The Cowboys certainly aren’t the sexiest, flashiest, offense in the league. But they seem to be one of the most reliable. Even against the Vikings they were able to put up enough to win. I guess on the upside we could look at the fact that the Vikings defense did manage to sack Dak 3 times and picked up a couple of fumbles, but the Giants are not the Vikings. I think you could do a lot better than hoping the Giants hold on to a couple of measly points against a very good offense.
– Defensive Streamers –
– Bengals / Browns –
How about a team that has allowed 23 sacks in the last 5 weeks? It may be fair to say that if RG3 gets the start in week 14 that it will be harder to get pressure on a more mobile player, but I think we’re going to find out that he makes mistakes under pressure too. Kessler really wasn’t a horrible player. He was short on arm strength, but he was efficient in the passes he made. The point being that I don’t think we should view a change at QB as a big boost to this offense. My expectations for Griffin are relatively low. That’s not say that he can’t be a usable fantasy player if he’s able to provide a rushing floor, but it doesn’t make me hesitate to play a defense against him either. The Browns are just putting up too much fantasy goodness for defenses to be ignored as a matchup. Besides the aforementioned sacks, they’ve also given up 8 turnovers that have resulted in 2 defensive TD’s in the last 5 weeks. As far as offensive output the Browns are 31st in points scored and 29th in yards. They just aren’t scary.
The Bengals as a unit are 17th against the run and 20th against the pass. They’re nothing to write home about. One thing they do seem to able to do is get interceptions, with a pick in every game since week 6 and more than one in 3 of those games. Even at Cleveland they’re favored by 5.5 points. They aren’t great but they should be good enough to stand up to the Browns.
– Atlanta at LA Rams –
If you like a defense in a positive game script, this should be that. I can’t really imagine that this turns out to be much of a contest. The Rams just don’t have the fire-power on offense to keep up. And, while their defense isn’t bad at all, I’ll be surprised if they’re able to limit a Falcons offense that may be the second most adaptable unit behind the Patriots. And so, in a very negative game script we are likely to find the young Mr. Goff, a quarterback who thus far has thrown 4 TD’s and 3 INT’s. He’s behind a line that has allowed 31 sacks and pressure almost 7% of the time (worst in the league being 9.6%). The Falcons front line isn’t an overly imposing bunch, but I think they have a decent chance of getting this young QB rattled. Under pressure Goff has the 44th ranked completion percentage, making opportunities for defenses on a weekly basis. It’s really not best practice to make picks based on a predicted game script, but saying that the Falcons may be ahead in this one seems like a safe conclusion to reach. Vegas definitely agrees giving the road Falcons 6 points in this game, the highest spread given to a road team this week and 3rd highest overall.
– Lions / Bears –
I feel pretty confident that this game’s scoring won’t get out of hand. While Detroit continues to rank near the bottom of the list for defensive DVOA, they also continue to have opponents score less than 20 points. In their last 3 they’re only allowing 15 points per game. In fact, we have to go all the way back to week 8 to find the last team to hit the 20 mark against the Lions, and it was the Texans of all teams. So why is this? In Detroit’s last 3 games they’ve only allowed opponents to run 57.3 plays per game. On the high end of that spectrum (the plays allowed spectrum) Kansas City, Carolina, and Cincinnati have allowed 70 or more plays to be run against them in the last 3 weeks. That’s a difference of 17 plays! That steals 2-3 possessions worth of opportunity from the team’s they play. Think about how much NFL coaches harp on turnovers being a huge deal because they steal possessions from your offense (and other reasons like field position) and think about how this tactic the Lions have developed is taking the air out of opposing offenses. When you hold the Saints to 13 in the Super Dome with a defense that is not #good, something about the scheme you are running is very #good. It would almost seem that the null hypothesis to the Chip Kelley approach of, plays, plays, and more plays, has been proven.
The Lions have not been completely hapless. They deserve some credit for intercepting Brees 3 times, even if one of them was a garbage time hail mary. And at the same time, there are reasons to like picking on this Bears offense. For one they are without a serious Wide Reciever threat as long as Alshon is serving out his suspension. For another thing, Matt Barkley did throw a couple of picks against the Titans, and if he does that against the Lions, they may just never get the ball back. I don’t see this pick as having a lot of upside. The Bears have a pretty decent offensive line, they run the ball a lot. But, at the same time there’s a high floor because I don’t see these Bears mustering up a lot of points to a divisional opponent. If you just need your D/ST to not lose the game, or if there aren’t a lot of great options available I don’t think the Lions will let you down.
Written By: Josh Crocker – Josh can be found on Twitter @jccrocker