Week 16 NFL rewind:

Football by the Numbers: Matchup Decider

Michael Salfino
Yahoo Sports

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.
Rank Team RZ RYPG RTD/G PYPG PTD/G POWER
1 San Francisco 1 4 2 2 5 14
2 Chicago 10 8 2 6 3 29
3 Seattle 5 12 11 3 2 33
4 Pittsburgh 15 5 11 1 5 37
5 Houston 2 2 1 17 22 44
6 Denver 12 9 6 5 18 50
7 Arizona 7 23 6 4 11 51
8 Detroit 2 21 6 12 14 55
9 San Diego 2 6 4 20 24 56
10 Cincinnati 7 17 22 8 7 61
11 Dallas 17 13 16 9 11 66
12 Miami 21 7 4 27 10 69
13 Atlanta 5 22 27 13 3 70
14 NY Giants 7 16 6 25 18 72
15 Carolina 17 25 16 11 7 76
15 Green Bay 13 11 16 22 14 76
17 Tampa Bay 13 1 16 32 18 80
18 Philadelphia 21 18 6 15 24 84
19 Minnesota 24 15 16 14 18 87
20 NY Jets 10 30 27 7 14 88
21 Cleveland 19 19 16 21 14 89
22 St Louis 24 14 29 16 7 90
23 New England 15 10 11 29 27 92
24 Baltimore 24 26 22 23 1 96
25 Washington 24 3 11 31 31 100
26 Kansas City 30 24 11 10 27 102
27 Indianapolis 19 20 26 19 22 106
28 Buffalo 21 31 32 18 24 126
29 Jacksonville 30 29 29 28 11 127
30 Tennessee 29 27 22 26 27 131
31 Oakland 24 28 31 24 31 138
32 New Orleans 32 32 22 30 27 143

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.
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