Predicting Where the Top 10 Defenses from Last Year Will Finish This Season

Jeffrey Schmidt@JeffSchmidt9Correspondent IIIAugust 19, 2011

Predicting Where the Top 10 Defenses from Last Year Will Finish This Season

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    Last year's Super bowl featured two teams with top five defenses in 2010. The Green Bay Packers were ranked fifth, while the Pittsburgh Steelers were ranked second.  

    The Chargers had both the No. 1 defense, and the No. 1 offense, and it will be interesting to to see where they end up this year without defensive coordinator Ron Rivera.

    In this article, I'll look at the top 10 defenses from last year and predict where they will end up after this season is in the books. 

Baltimore Ravens

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    Last years finish: 10th

    The Baltimore Ravens were ranked a mediocre 21st in pass defense last season, while being ranked fifth in rush defense. 

    The Ravens addressed their need of cornerback during the draft with the selection of Jimmy Smith, and Domonique Foxworth returns to the lineup after missing all of last season with a knee injury.

    Ray Lewis and Ed Reed are potentially on their last stand, which will make this defense play more ferocious then ever. 

    Where they'll finish this year: fifth

Chicago Bears

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    Last years finish: ninth

    The Bears will similar to the Ravens in the sense that they were ranked 20th in pass defense compared to being ranked second in rush defense. 

    Julius Peppers will be more of a threat while rushing the passer this season, and you can never bet against a defense that is lead by Brain Urlacher. Charles Tillman had one of his best years as a pro, and I expect him to get better this season due to the Bears pass-rush.  

    Where they'll finish this year: seventh

Minnesota Vikings

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    Last years finish: eighth 

    The Vikings lost two of their best defensive lineman during the offseason in Pat Williams and Ray Edwards. Minnesota still has a strong defensive line, but teams will find it easier to run the football against them with only one Williams in the lineup.

    The Vikings secondary is the major concern for the franchise heading into the 2011 season, due to the fact that they have so little experience. This is by no means a bad defense, but their production will be slightly decreased in 2011.

    Where they'll finish this year: 13th

    The Philadelphia Eagles will take their spot in the eight position.

New York Giants

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    Last years finish: seventh 

    Osi Umenyiora finally reported to training camp on Monday, Aug. 15, and he did so under his current contract. Umenyiora was huge for the Giants last season, racking up 11.5 sacks and 10 forced fumbles. 

    The Giants have arguably the best defensive line in the NFL, and the secondary will once again benefit. The key to the Giants defense is the linebacking core, especially with the quality tight ends that are in their division.

    Where they'll finish this year: ninth 

Miami Dolphins

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    Last years finish: sixth

    The Dolphins had a great defensive unit in 2011. The team was lead by former CFL star Cameron Wake, and their pair of young corners have the potential to resemble the great duo of Patrick Surtain and Sam Madison.

    The Dolphins offense was awful last season, and with a little help from them, expect this defense to improve.

    Where they'll finish this year: sixth 

Green Bay Packers

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    Last years finish: fifth

    The Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers will once again possess a top-five defense in 2011. 

    Lead by my preseason favorite for the NFL's defensive player of the year award Clay Matthews, this team is one that has a great chance of repeating.

    Their secondary is lead by Charles Woodson, but Tramon Williams will prove to be an elite talent once again this season.

    Where they'll finish this year: third

New Orleans Saints

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    Last years finish: fourth

    The Saints took huge steps during the 2010 season on defense and were ranked 16th against the run, while being ranked fourth against the pass.

    This years defense will still be ranked in the top 10, but I expect the pass defense to slide down a few spots. The offenses in the NFC South have only gotten better, and they will have to face each of those teams twice.

    The Saints also face pass happy teams such as Green Bay, Houston and Indianapolis

    Where they'll finish this year: 10th

New York Jets

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    Last years finish: third

    Rex Ryan has once again made a Super Bowl victory prediction for the New York Jets, and I believe it will be a reality this season.

    The Jets may have lost Shawn Ellis to the New England Patriots, but they addressed the position via the draft when they selected Muhammad Wilkerson in the first round.

    Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie will continue to lock down opposing receivers, and Jim Leonhard will be back after his devastating leg injury.

    Where they'll finish this year: second

Pittsburgh Steelers

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    Last years finish: second

    The Steelers were once again the cream of the crop against the rush and only allowed 62.8 rushing yards per game last season. The Chicago Bears who finished second and allowed 90.1 yards per game, which is a minus-27.3 differential.  

    Pittsburgh also re-signed linebacker Lamar Woodley in the offseason, keeping the pass-rushing duo of himself and James Harrison in tack for a few more seasons. It will be interesting to see how this team reacts to a Super Bowl loss, but I expect this defense to come out stronger than ever.

    Where they'll finish this year: first 

San Diego Chargers

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    Last years finish: first

    Just when we thought the Chargers window appeared to be closed, another one opened. San Diego was both the No. 1 offense and defense in 2010, but their weak link was the special teams unit.

    Defensive coordinator Ron Rivera has moved on to coach the Carolina Panthers, so look for this defense to struggle a bit early on.

    The re-signing of Eric Weddle in the offseason was huge for the Chargers, and this team has the chance to make a run at the Super Bowl if the defense shows up in a big way like it did a year ago.

    Where they'll end up this year: fourth