NFL Week 6: 5 Defenses That Face Stiff Challenges
The NFL is constantly becoming more and more about the offensive fire power a team can put together, led by the likes of star quarterbacks like Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees and Peyton Manning. As a result, we so often see significant mismatches for the opposing defenses.
While upsets are always possible in a league as unpredictable as the NFL, and everything could conceivably come together for a unit at any given time, here are five defenses that face the stiffest of challenges in Week 6.
5. Tennessee Titans
The Titans defense is struggling against both the run and pass in 2012.
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In a Thursday night matchup, the Titans square off against a Steelers team that is looking for its breakout scoring performance. Based on the struggles that the Titans' defense has experienced so far in 2012, this could be the week.
The Titans are surrendering an opposing QB rating of 112.4 through four games, and against a Steelers offense that is slowly starting to come together under new OC Todd Haley, that trend could easily continue. The Steelers already have several dangerous weapons in the passing game for QB Ben Roethlisberger, not to mention last week's return of RB Rashard Mendenhall to lead the ground game. The more games they play together under this new system, the better they will be.
The Titans' offense should have trouble moving the ball in this game, leaving their defense with even more time on the field. That, in combination with the struggles that they have already experienced, is not a recipe for success against an offense of the Steelers' ability.
4. San Diego Chargers
The Chargers defense will face another dangerous passing attack on Monday Night against Denver.
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A unit that has played fairly well so far, the Chargers defense is in for a tough matchup on Monday Night Football against the Denver Broncos.
Peyton Manning and the Denver offense continue to get better with the more reps that they get together. So far this season, Peyton has shown that he is still Peyton, as the Broncos currently sit at fifth in the NFL with 287.2 yards passing per game.
The Chargers' two losses on the season have come against the Falcons and Saints, being two teams with high powered passing attacks. Manning and the Broncos should see similar success this week, as they continue to come together and take control of the AFC West.
3. Detroit Lions
Struggling to create turnovers, the Lions defense is having trouble getting off the field.
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In a matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles, the Lions face a team with as much offensive talent as any in the NFL. While they have not yet shown everything that they are capable of so far in 2012, their breakout game could very well come this week.
This Lions defense has not been terrible in the stat column, but its lack of ability to create turnovers like it did in 2011 has hurt Detroit. Surrendering over 100 yards per game on the ground, and a matchup against one of the league's best running backs in LeSean McCoy does little to help matters.
Look for the Eagles to establish the run early, helping to nullify the Lions' pass rush and protect Michael Vick. As a result, they should be able to keep the Lions defense on the field, and have the breakout dominant game that has eluded them thus far.
2. New York Giants
For the Giants to consistently get the ball into Eli Manning's hands, they will need to slow down their opponent's running game.
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Not known for a weak defense, the Giants are in for a tough matchup in Week 6 when they travel to San Francisco for a rematch of the 2011 NFC Championship game.
The Giants can look for the 49ers to remain dedicated to their powerful and dominant running game, as they lead the NFL in both yards (981) and yards per attempt (6.1). This has been an area where the Giants defense has indeed struggled, and will likely continue to do so on Sunday. The defense will need to force the 49ers into passing situations, and challenge Alex Smith to beat the Giants through the air. So far, not many teams have had success in doing so.
If the Giants can't find a way to slow down the 49ers' run game, they will have a difficult time getting the ball back in the hands of their offense, and thus a difficult time winning this game.
1. Oakland Raiders
Struggling through injuries on defense, the Raiders face the tallest of tasks taking on an explosive Atlanta offense in Week 6.
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The Raiders have struggled on defense for several years, and the first four games of 2012 have been no different. With injuries to both starting CBs Ron Bartell and Shawntae Spencer, the secondary is extremely thin. So much so that FS Michael Huff has been starting at CB in recent weeks, and the team is just one of two in the NFL without an interception thus far.
Heading into Atlanta, this secondary faces the toughest of tasks that the NFL has to offer. Falcons WRs Roddy White, Julio Jones and TE Tony Gonzalez make for likely the best group in the league. QB Matt Ryan is having no trouble getting the ball to them, and is looking to be having the best season of his young career.
Look for the Falcons to attack through the air from the game's outset, and for the Raiders, so far allowing an opponent completion percentage of 71.5 percent, to have no answer for it. If the offense can't stay on the field and keep the ball out of Matt Ryan's hand, it will prove to be a very long and high scoring day for the Raiders defense.