These rankings are for the purpose of predicting how many fantasy points defenses will allow to offensive players this week.
If you have other questions relating to matchups, feel free to ask them via Twitter @MichaelSalfino. I cannot emphasize enough that these defensive rankings have nothing to do with which defense to play in fantasy.
This week's highlighted matchups follow after the chart. But first a word about the categories. Only "Red Zone" is a little tricky. We're not talking efficiency there, but rather red zone possessions allowed. Red zone possessions have proven over many years to be more useful in predicting future defensive performances. RYPG is rushing yards per game. RTD/G is rushing TDs per game. PYPG is passing yards per game. PTD/G is passing TDs/per game. Yardage allowed is more reliable than touchdowns allowed for predictive purposes. Ideally, the two correlate. But some teams really can be break but don't bend, e.g., teams that blitz a lot.
Defensive Power Rankings
Teams are sorted by cumulative rankings in all categories. Lowest total number is best; highest is worst.
Games of note:
Browns at Raiders (31): Oakland is in next-season mode, especially when it comes to stopping the run. So this game should be a dream for Trent Richardson owners. The Raiders secondary is also very generous, but I can't recommend anyone in the Browns passing game. Remember, offensive excellence is far more bettable than defensive excellence when it comes to predicting passing game results. After last week, I'm thinking that just the will to run the ball will overwhelm a defense that doesn't care enough to fight. The one risk here for Richardson owners is that the Raiders are at home and the game is winnable, so perhaps that provides enough motivation. But after seeing the tape of their effort versus the Bengals, I'm very skeptical and would be petrified if I faced Richardson in a life or death situation.
Texans at Titans (30): Great matchup for all your Texans skill players. Tennessee is slightly worse against the pass. But it's hard to bet on anyone among Texans receivers other than Andre Johnson, who gets all the yards (the most ever in consecutive games), and Owen Daniels, who lately has gotten more than his share of TDs. Matt Schaub is a top 10 QB this week.
Jaguars (29) at Bills (28): The Bills defense has been better of late, especially against the run. Buffalo has given up just 34 points in the last two games (Dolphins, Colts) – and under 500 total yards. But with Chad Henne throwing passes, Cecil Shorts and Justin Blackmon have turned into playable options. Either makes a suitable No. 3 WR, even with the chips on the table. The Bills offense has been sputtering of late though. Still, those run defense numbers for Jacksonville bode well for C.J. Spiller and even Fred Jackson.
Seahawks (3) at Bears (2): Seattle is at full strength in their secondary as the suspensions of starting corners Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner are still being appealed. The Bears struggle to generate yards – they've actually given up more than they've gained – and will do so again this week for sure. You can't pay Matt Forte against this defense, given his ankle injury. And, of course, very tough sledding for Marshawn Lynch, but you have to play him. The Seahawks run defense stats almost mirror those of the Dolphins, who Lynch struggled against in Week 12. Forget about Jay Cutler, too, obviously.