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Team Defenses Report - Week 16
Darin Tietgen
December 22, 2005

First Tier – Must Starts

  1. Chicago The best fantasy defense this season. What better way to close up shop than with the completely beat up Packers and very average Vikings.
  2. New England Hey! There they are! New England has been one of the better fantasy defenses over the past few years, but took a horrible turn for the worse this season after injuries completely decimated the squad. Well, they’re gelling at the right time, and face a pretty lousy Jet team on ABC’s final iteration of Monday Night Football. Expect plenty of “BOOMS” from John Madden. Oh, and they have Tedy Bruschi.
  3. Jacksonville One of the better fantasy defenses this season. They face Houston. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.
  4. Seattle If the Colts were still gunning for the perfect season, Seattle would be a third-tier fantasy defense (at best) this week. But, given the fact that they will probably face second and third string Colts, at home, with home field advantage on the line, you gotta assume they will rack up plenty of sacks and turnovers.

Second Tier – Solid Starts

  1. Cincinnati The Bengals still lead the NFL in turnover margin (a whopping +26) and total takeaways (42). Buffalo has only given the ball up 21 times on the season, but expect them to turn it over at least twice in chilly and wet Cincinnati.
  2. Carolina The Redskins, typically a pretty bad fantasy defense, put up 22 fantasy points on Carolina’s Week 16 opponent – the Cowboys – last week. The Panthers have put up some solid fantasy points on the defensive end this season (including 17 last week). I’d be shocked to see them score less than that amount here this week.
  3. Washington They’ve been average – at best – all season. That is, up until 3 weeks ago. Since then, they’ve posted fantasy defense scoring of 14, 17 and 22 points. The Skins are pretty much in a must-win situation at home. They’ll look to make up for a 36-0 drubbing the Giants gave them earlier this year.
  4. Denver The weather should hold up for this matchup against the Raiders, so don’t expect too much sloppiness. But expect the Broncos to hammer the sputtering Oakland offense.

Third Tier - Best of the Rest

  1. Baltimore Week 16 opponent the Minnesota Vikings finally looked like their average selves last week. Baltimore feasted on the Packers’ ineptitude last week, and could certainly do the same against the Vikings.
  2. Pittsburgh It’s gonna be super ugly, weather-wise, in Cleveland this weekend. Chilly temperatures, rain and some snow. Perfect weather for a hungry defense like the Steelers’ to jump all over the average offense of the Browns.
  3. Detroit Bit of a sleeper pick here, as New Orleans is the NFL’s worst in terms of turning the ball over. Detroit has caused a respectable 2 turnovers per game this season. Figure they can keep up with that average this week, if not more.
  4. St. Louis It pains me to type this, but the Rams are startable this week. Figure they will be on the field a lot, due to their propensity to give up yardage. That said, there should be increased opportunities to sack QB Alex Smith and make plays on his passes. Certainly a pretty risky pick, but it could be reward-laden.

Note: League scoring used for this column is 2 points for safety, fumble recovery, blocked punt or FG, 1 point for blocked PAT or sack, 6 points for defensive or special team TDs, and anywhere from 10 to 2 points based on points allowed.