Offense-oriented teams may be favored in today’s NFL, but defense wins championships as we have seen time and time again. The Oakland Raiders had the sixth-ranked scoring offense in 2016 in spite of playing some of the toughest defenses in the league. 2017 is no different so here’s a look at three of the top defenses they will face this upcoming season:
The New England Patriots
Last year, the New England Patriots had the number one scoring defense in the league while managing to win Super Bowl 51 and despite surrendering a season-high 28 points to Atlanta. This stingy defense got even better as coach Bill Belichick was able to pry defensive end Kony Ealy away from Carolina for a second round pick. Similarly, signing Stephon Gilmore from rival Buffalo will ease the departure of Logan Ryan; this should be a great matchup to see just how far Derek Carr has come. The road to the Super Bowl most likely will involve the Patriots at some juncture more than once.
New York Giants
Jason Pierre-Paul finally got his money and while the Giants may have lost Jonathan Hankins and Prince Amukamara, they used the draft to replace them both. The Giants front line is a virtual “who’s who” of defensive line play.
However, the secondary is led by field general and safety Landon Collins and with Janoris Jenkins, Eli Apple and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie manning the slot, the Giants have the formidable coverage unit to make the quarterback have to hang onto the football longer than he would like. This defense is fast and physical and was the only team capable of matching the physicality of the Cowboys offensive line.
On paper, this team has everything needed to challenge the Texans and the Patriots in terms of top defenses in this league. A stacked defensive roster got even better this offseason after the signing of defensive lineman Calais Campbell to a massive deal this offseason; he and Malik Jackson will form a very stout interior. Likewise, signing AJ Bouye was monumental; pairing him with Jalen Ramsey, who was already a lockdown corner in the making, will make the secondary an imposing one. On a related note, Barry Church brings experience to share and with young athletes at the safety position, the Jaguars are big, strong, fast and nasty just like any good defensive coach would want.
A notch below
Barring injury, the Titans will be the best defense of the bunch. They play the best run defense and possess as solid a linebacking corps as there is. The addition of Logan Ryan and drafting of Adoree Jackson will make this definitely an intriguing defense to watch.
Kansas City Chiefs
You think Chiefs and you think great defense and you would think wrong. Turnovers and defensive touchdowns skew the metrics and perception of the how effective the Chiefs were on defense. The fact of the matter was that when not generating turnovers, the Chiefs were a sub-par defense at best. Not great in terms of pass yards given up and far from stout against the run.
The corners are the best in the business. Von Miller is one of the premier pass rushers in the league. However, The middle of the defense is a safe haven for teams who like to pound the football. Until their run defense improves they will be at a disadvantage when playing the Raiders.