NFL Playoffs 2011: Ranking All 12 Playoff Defenses
Defense wins championships.
Well, if that statement holds true, then this season's playoff-bound teams might want to up the ante this January on the defensive side of the football.
Having our fair share of surprises this season, many newly-named defensive coordinators have made a name for themselves this year. Some, however, have not.
So as the road to the Super Bowl begins to clear up on a day-to-day basis, here are how the 12 postseason defenses rank.
12. Seattle Seahawks
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Rushing yards per game allowed: 118.9
Passing yards per game allowed: 249.4
Although playing in the NFC West is basically insulting enough, Seattle ranks in the bottom 10 in the league in nearly ever defensive statistical category.
Without a name-brand playmaker on the defensive side of the ball, the Seahawks are the obvious choices as the worst defense in this year's playoffs.
Besides, what's a defense if you give up 5.5 yards per play?
11. New England Patriots
Rushing yards per game allowed: 108.0
Passing yards per game allowed: 258.5
If you haven't already figured it out, here's your opportunity to receive the inside scoop: New England's defense is nearly equivalent to that of Seattle. Because of Tom Brady, however, it doesn't really matter.
Although New England's run defense actually ranks as the 11th best in the NFL, the Patriots' pass defense is their downfall—giving up 25 passing touchdowns on the season.
10. Indianapolis Colts
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Rushing yards per game allowed: 127.0
Passing yards per game allowed: 214.6
Despite their lackluster rush defense, the Indianapolis Colts do make up some ground on opposing offenses in their passing defensive schemes.
But then again, let's take a deeper look into things: 66.5-percent completion percentage (league worst), 91.7 passer rating allowed per game (sixth worst in the league) and only 10 forced interceptions (second least in the NFL).
Good luck, Indy...
9. Kansas City Chiefs
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Rushing yards per game allowed: 110.2
Passing yards per game allowed: 219.9
A bit of an unknown, the Kansas City defense will be more than likely exposed this weekend against the dual-threat Baltimore Ravens.
With only 14 interceptions while allowing a 78.8 passer rating to opposing quarterbacks and allotting 23 touchdowns via the passing game, the Chiefs have an average defense at best.
8. Atlanta Falcons
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Rushing yards per game allowed: 105.9
Passing yards per game allowed: 226.6
A vaunted defense at the start of the season is an exposed defense as of right now.
The Falcons have forced just 31 sacks on the opposition this season, as well as giving up one of the league's worst completion percentages (65.0) to rival quarterbacks this year.
However, Atlanta has had it's moments this season, especially at the defensive end position—intercepting Drew Brees twice in the last home meeting on Monday night.
7. Philadelphia Eagles
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
Rushing yards per game allowed: 110.4
Passing yards per game allowed: 216.8
Asante Samuel is the make-or-break X-factor for this Philly defense. In fact, despite missing five games for the Eagles this season, Samuel still leads Philadelphia in interceptions (7).
With 39 sacks, Andy Reid's crew has established themselves as a better-than-average defensive unit when rushing the quarterback this season.
But the lack of a dominating force on the defensive line has spelled trouble for Philadelphia's defense this season: they have allowed 31 touchdowns through the air to the opposition.
6. Baltimore Ravens
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Rushing yards per game allowed: 93.9
Passing yards per game allowed: 224.9
If this season proves not to be Ray Lewis' last great stand, when will that ever-elusive day come?
The Ravens haven't been the killer defense they've prided themselves on so very much in the last decade, but they have in fact limited their opposition to just 16.9 points per game—good enough to be third best in the NFL this season.
With Lewis, along with fellow bruiser Terrell Suggs, at the line of scrimmage, anything is possible—not to mention Ed Reed in the secondary.
The fact of the matter is that Baltimore still holds true to the defensive traditions as much as ever and it's showing this season.
5. New Orleans Saints
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Rushing yards per game allowed: 112.3
Passing yards per game allowed: 193.9
Surprisingly enough, New Orleans maintains a top five defense in the exclusive, pass-happy league that is the NFL, without big-name talent on the defensive roster.
Forcing 34 fumbles, allowing 19.7 points per game, as well as holding offenses to 112.4 yards per game on the ground makes the Saints an above-average defense worthy of consistent recognition.
In addition, with a road trip to the 7-9 Seahawks this Sunday, the New Orleans secondary will be receiving numerous chances against either Charlie Whitehurst or Matt Hasselbeck.
4. New York Jets
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
Rushing yards per game allowed: 90.9
Passing yards per game allowed: 200.6
First, let's take into account the fact that Darrelle Revis has zero interceptions this season and yet earns a trip to the Pro Bowl. Maybe it's just me, but that's a joke.
Anyways, let's get down to business: "Gang Green" attained the league's third-best defense in terms of yards allowed per game (291.5), whereas last season Rex Ryan's crew granted just 252.3 yards per game in the regular season.
A bit of a difference, as you can plainly see.
Still, Revis and fellow cornerback Antonio Cromartie are always accounted for by offenses around the league—making Ryan's crew one of the best in the business.
3. Chicago Bears
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Rushing yards per game allowed: 90.1
Passing yards per game allowed: 224.2
With the No. 2 run defense in the league, the Chicago Bears are certainly back to their monsters-of-the-midway traditions.
Allowing 17.9 points per game, Chicago has kept opponents in check this season, leading to their No. 2 seed in the NFC playoffs.
Ranking first in the league in forced fumbles (15), linebackers Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs are back to playing solid defense for Lovie Smith.
2. Green Bay Packers
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Rushing yards per game allowed: 114.9
Passing yards per game allowed: 194.2
Becoming the league's top scoring defense is only the beginning of the Green Bay Packers defensive tale.
The Packers boast three defensive Pro Bowl starters in safety Nick Collins, linebacker Clay Matthews, and cornerback Charles Woodson—not to mention the extravagant play from fellow cornerback Tramon Williams, who leads the team in interceptions (6).
Dom Capers' 3-4 style defense held the likes of the New York Jets, Buffalo Bills, Minnesota Vikings, Detroit Lions and the Chicago Bears to under 10 points this season. That's tops in the entire league, I might add.
1. Pittsburgh Steelers
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Rushing yards per game allowed: 62.8
Passing yards per game allowed: 214.1
You knew it would come down to this.
Pittsburgh's defense, although having a fair share of rough edges, has dominated opposing offenses from beginning to end in nearly all of the Steelers' regular season victories.
The Steelers lead the league in sacks (48) and with Troy Polamalu back from lingering minor injuries, Pittsburgh's defensive unit is obviously one of the most feared in the entire league.
As the No. 2 seed in the AFC playoffs, Polamalu and the hallowed black-and-gold defense will have time to heal up before their first playoff game.