AFC North: the New Black & Blue Division

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AFC North:  the New Black & Blue Division
Larry French/Getty Images

With all apologies to the NFC North, the NFL's new Black and Blue division is the AFC North.  If you pay attention to the NFL's official defensive rankings (which I'm trying to get you guys to stop doing), you'll see that every defense in the AFC North is ranked no lower than seventh.  That's ridiculous!  I have these surging AFC North defenses not quite as high but all in the top 14—led by the Baltimore Ravens—of my latest Aggregate Defensive Rankings:

2011 NFL Aggregate Defensive Rankings (through Week 6)
                 
Ranking Team Total Pts. / Gm Total Rushing Yds  Total Passing Yds Total Yards / Gm Turnovers 3rd Conversion % Sacks ADR
1 Baltimore Ravens 14.2 383 1048 286.2 14 34.0% 15 15.1
2 Washington Redskins 16.6 530 1078 321.6 8 29.0% 17 17.0
3 New York Jets 21.8 792 1205 332.8 14 29.0% 17 17.2
4 San Francisco 49ers 16.2 448 1566 335.7 14 31.0% 17 18.0
5 Detroit Lions 19.0 777 1233 335.0 13 29.0% 14 19.8
6 New York Giants 24.5 766 1475 373.5 13 34.0% 21 20.4
7 Houston Texans 20.7 642 1330 328.7 10 33.0% 17 21.9
8 Dallas Cowboys 24.2 348 1190 307.6 10 43.0% 16 22.9
9 Philadelphia Eagles 24.2 743 1304 341.2 9 34.0% 18 23.6
10 Cincinnati Bengals 18.5 537 1134 278.5 9 36.0% 14 23.8
11 Green Bay Packers 19.0 504 1798 383.7 14 40.0% 15 28.3
12 Cleveland Browns 23.4 649 960 321.8 6 38.0% 13 29.8
13 Minnesota Vikings 24.2 501 1617 353.0 8 44.0% 17 33.4
14 Pittsburgh Steelers  17.0 677 946 270.5 2 38.0% 15 33.5
15 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 24.2 687 1656 390.5 11 34.0% 10 34.3
16 Arizona Cardinals 24.2 594 1291 377.0 7 36.0% 11 34.3
17 Seattle Seahawks 24.4 489 1341 366.0 7 32.0% 8 35.3
18 Chicago Bears 22.0 731 1653 397.3 8 37.0% 14 36.3
19 Tennessee Titans  18.8 525 1105 326.0 8 47.0% 11 36.7
20 Oakland Raiders 25.0 679 1701 396.7 9 43.0% 16 37.0
21 San Diego Chargers 21.8 568 898 293.2 5 40.0% 8 41.6
22 Denver Broncos 28.0 617 1312 385.8 7 45.0% 12 41.7
23 Jacksonville Jaguars 22.0 690 1262 325.3 6 40.0% 11 42.0
24 New Orleans Saints 25.2 655 1538 365.5 4 39.0% 14 43.1
25 Atlanta Falcons 24.5 588 1697 380.8 12 49.0% 11 43.8
26 Buffalo Bills  24.5 814 1709 420.5 16 39.0% 4 44.7
27 New England Patriots 22.5 609 1933 423.7 11 42.0% 10 45.5
28 St. Louis Rams 27.4 815 1202 403.4 6 43.0% 9 53.4
29 Indianapolis Colts 27.2 820 1535 392.5 7 48.0% 9 64.6
30 Carolina Panthers 27.2 842 1314 359.3 5 46.0% 9 65.3
31 Miami Dolphins 25.6 534 1420 390.8 3 43.0% 8 69.1
32 Kansas City Chiefs 30.0 598 1248 369.2 5 44.0% 5 74.3
                 
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers are gaining momentum, moving up 12 spots from 26 to 14.  I know they caught a break facing the Jaguars and rookie Blaine Gabbert.  That being said, a game in which a defense racks up five sacks and allows only 76 net passing yards is quite impressive.  Look for the Steelers to end up where they always do, at the top of the defensive rankings, no matter who's running the numbers.

Now to last week's "prove-it-to-me" teams.  Going into last week, I highlighted three defenses with big tests: the Bills, Cowboys and Redskins.  Of the three, the Cowboys were the most impressive by confusing Tom Brady and the Patriots for most of the game.  Unfortunately for the Cowboys, they gave Brady one too many opportunities and (predictably) he made them pay.  The 'Boys drop one spot from seven to eight in this week's ADR, but the defense looks really solid. 

Although the Redskins' defense has an elite ranking (No. 2 overall in the ADR), they turned in a disappointing performance against the Eagles on Sunday.  Lost in all the talk about the Rex Grossman debacle is the fact that the Eagles went up and down the field on the Redskins D.  Sure they played better in the second half and kept the game within reach, but they failed to stop the Eagles' ground game and allowed them to run off the final two-and-a-half minutes. 

The Bills turned in the worst defensive performance of the three, generating only one sack and allowing 414 total yards to the Giants.  Do you notice something missing there?  That's right, no turnovers.  It's funny what happens when you don't get them. The Bills' D plummets from 16 to 26.

I'll be back next week with a brand new ADR!

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