Posts Tagged ‘defense’

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Me and some of my buddies are always trying to figure out who we would pick if we were to draft our own “Dream Team”.  The question normally is “who would you want on your team if you could build any defense?”  We do this for offense too; but that will be a different post.  There have been so many great defensive players that have played so it is very hard to choose the best of the best because everyone is always going to have their own opinions who the best players are.  You cant just go off of stats because some players are still young; or played in a different era when the game was different then it is today.  The way that I am choosing my players is based off stats, Pro Bowls, impact on the game, and presence on and off the field.  Its fun to think about how some of these players would play together, and we can always wonder, but all these players that I am about to list have made a huge impact on the game of football

+DEFENSIVE LINEMAN+

Defensive lineman include defensive tackles and defensive ends.  Without a group of solid defensive lineman you are going to have a defense that will get torn apart by the run and the pass.  Defensive lineman are the big guys that plug up holes in the running game; and put pressure on the passing game.  Below are just a few players I would love to have on my defensive line.  I know there are a lot of players not on this list, but these are the players that I would personally choose.

1. Reggie White (Packers)- 13 Pro Bowls, 1,112 tackles, 198 sacks, NFL Sack Leader twice, NFC Defensive Player of the Year 3 times
2. Bruce Smith (Bills) – 11 Pro Bowls, 1,225 tackles, 200 Sacks, Defensive Player of Year 2 times, Record Holder for Sacks
3. Cortez Kennedy (Seahawks) –  8 Pro Bowls, 668 tackles, 58 sacks, NFL Defensive Player of the Year
4. John Randle (Vikings) – 7 Pro Bowls, 556 tackles, 137.5 sacks, 1990s All-Decade Team
5. Warren Sapp (Bucs) – 7 Pro Bowls, 573 tackles, 96.5 sacks, 19 forced fumbles, NFL Defensive Player of the Year
6. Joe Greene (Steelers) – 10 Pro Bowls, 78.5 sacks, Defensive Rookie of the Year, NFL Defensive Player of the Year 2 times
7. Michael Strahan (Giants) – 7 Pro Bowls, 854 tackles, 141.5 sacks, Most Sacks in a Season Record (22.5), NFL Defensive Player of the Year
8. Richard Dent – 4 Pro Bowls, 137.5 sacks, 8 interceptions, Super Bowl MVP

+LINEBACKERS+

This is the meat of any defense.  The linebackers are like the quarterback of the defensive unit.  Linebackers are meant to be tough players that are fast, big, and needs great vision.  They need to be able to stop the run and be able to drop into pass coverage and cover the pass.  I know that the people I choose here would not be the same as others because there are some notable people who are missing.  The linebackers I am choosing I think are the best to ever play and when you pair them up with the defensive lineman I have chosen it would be beautiful to watch.

1. Ray Lewis (Ravens) – 13 Pro Bowls, 2,061 tackles, 41.5 sacks, 31 INT, 2x NFL Defensive Player of the Year
2. Lawrence Taylor (Giants) – 10 Pro Bowls, 1,088 tackles, 132.5 sacks, 3x NFL Defensive Player of the Year
3. Jack Lambert (Steelers) – 9 Pro Bowls, 1,479 tackles, 23.5 sacks, 28 INT, NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year
4. Patrick Willis (49ers) – 6 Pro Bowls, 839 tackles, 15 forced fumbles, NFL Rookie of the Year, 3x Linebacker of the Year
5. Derrick Thomas (Chiefs) – 9 Pro Bowls, 642 tackles, 126.5 sacks, 6 Chiefs Records, NFL Record 7 Sacks in a single game
6. Mike Singletary (Bears) – 10 Pro Bowls, 1,488 tackles, 2x NFL Defensive Player of the Year
7. Junior Seau (Chargers) – 12 Pro Bowls, 1,849 tackles, 56.5 sacks, 18 INT, NFL Defensive Player of the Year

+DEFENSIVE BACKS+

These are the speedy guys who mostly cover passes; but can come up and smack you if need be.  Most people think that defensive backs are small guys who can run fast; but those people are very wrong.  Most of these guys are as big as fullbacks and as fast as receivers.  On a defensive unit the defensive backs can make or break a game especially in the pass game.  Quarterbacks are always reading what the safety and corners are doing and they are going to be the players that get most of the interceptions, but the better they cover the receivers the more sacks the defensive lineman get.  Then you get some defensive backs who play just like linebackers and can completely take over a defense and make them better than then average defense.

1. Ronnie Lott (49ers) – 10 Pro Bowls, 63 INT, 1980s All-Decade Team, 1990s All-Decade Team
2. Deron Cherry (Chiefs) – 6 Pro Bowls, 50 INT, AFC Defensive Player of the Year, 1980s All-Decade Team
3. Rod Woodson (Steelers) – 11 Pro Bowls, NFL Defensive Player of the Year, NFL Record 12 INT for touchdowns
4. Darrell Green (Redskins) – 7 Pro Bowls, 1,159 tackles, 54 INT, 4x NFL Fastest Man Winner, 20 NFL Seasons
5. John Lynch (Bucs) – 9 Pro Bowls, 1,058 tackles, 26 INT, 13 sacks
6. Charles Woodson (Packers/Raiders) – 8 Pro Bowls, 752 tackles, 56 INT, 13 TDs, NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, NFL Defensive Player of the Year
7. Brian Dawkins (Eagles) – 9 Pro Bowls, 1,131 tackles, 37 INT, 26 sacks, 2000s All-Decade Team
8. Troy Polamalu (Steelers) – 7 Pro Bowls, 660 tackles, 30 INT, 2000s All-Decade Team

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As we approach the mid-way mark of the 2013 season it is time to see how our fantasy “projections” have turned out.  At the start of the season everyone had their opinions on who was going to be the best fantasy options.  Also, there were plenty of sleeper and bust articles written and now we get to see if any of those projections were correct.  In this article I will go over every position that encumbers a fantasy football team and I will go over who is leading in fantasy points and see if the projections earlier this season were correct or way off.  The point system I am using is a Standard ESPN Fantasy Football Scoring Format.  At the end of this article I will show the top rankings for all positions.

+QUARTERBACKS+

The QB section is pretty close to what we had expected.  The big surprise was how good of start Peyton Manning started off with.  Through 7 weeks Peyton has already put up a monstrous 168 fantasy points.  The next QB down is Drew Brees with 130 fantasy points which is still very good obviously.  A name that has shocked me is Jay Cutler; she is 7th in fantasy points for QB with 102 points which is above Aaron Rodgers (100), Matt Ryan (96), and Cam Newton (92).  Cutler was not even drafted in some leagues and in other leagues he has been just sitting on the bench.  People may want to think about starting him for future games now that he is proving to be a better QB than before.  Another big surprise was Tony Romo; he is 4th in fantasy points for QBs with 115 points and he has made some mistakes but not nearly as many as previous years.

The players that I have been disappointed with are Colin Kaepernick (76), Tom Brady (79), and Matt Schaub (72).  Kap in his first game looked like he was going to be just amazing, but since that game he has not been playing to the standard we had thought he would.  Tom Brady is going to the Hall of Fame, but with an inexperienced receiving squad he has really had to struggle to get the ball downfield this season.  There are some Patriot receivers who are stepping up, but it is a far cry from where he was just a few years ago.  Matt Schaub has just been a mess this season and if he is on your fantasy team then you are just wasting a slot.  He has been a turnover machine and he is not making it easy for the Texans to win.

+RUSHING+

There have been some big shockers here.  People who picked up Jamaal Charles are sitting pretty right now since he leads all RBs in points with 112.  LeSean McCoy is sitting at 98 points while Marshawn Lynch is at 93.  Outside of those 3 people it has been an absolute mess with RBs.  As it stands right now Knowshon Moreno is 4th in points for RBs with 92 which is ahead of Adrian Peterson (84); who I am sure was drafted #1 in every league.  In most leagues Moreno was not even drafted since it was said that Montee Ball would most likely be the starter.  Reggie Bush is also fitting in very well with the Lions by scoring 77 points already and that is with him missing one full game.  Adrian Peterson has had a lot of things happen this season but he is still producing numbers and he is 5th in points with 84 points so far this season.

Now for the disappointments in the RB column.  Here are some of the running backs that people picked in the first round of their drafts; CJ Spiller, Ray Rice, Doug Martin, Trent Richardson, Arian Foster, and Alfred Morris.  Now I am not saying they are all doing bad but I am going to put this into perspective.  Ray Rice has 37 fantasy points; that is one point more than back up running back Jaquizz Rodgers (36) for the Falcons.  I know Rice has had some injury issues but he is only averaging 2.8 yards per carry.  People had high hopes for CJ Spiller but he has only put up 39 points while his counter part Fred Jackson has racked up 71 points.  I dont think anyone saw that coming.  I think my two biggest surprises are Doug Martin (47) and Trent Richardson (45).  Martin had an incredible rookie year but he is proving to have a huge sophomore slump right now and the same goes for Richardson who even got traded to a better team!  I know most people who have Richardson or Martin have not been impressed yet.  Arian Foster is still having a good year so far with 80 points but he would be putting up a lot more if Schaub was not turning the ball over so much.  Some other quick disappointments are Maurice Jones-Drew with 40 points (27th ranked); and Chris Johnson with 46 points (19th ranked).

Some surprises at the running spot; besides Moreno; is DeMarco Murray, Frank Gore, and Danny Woodhead.  Even with Murray battling an injury he is still 10th in points for RBs, Gore is 11th in points with 67, and Woodhead who is playing behind Ryan Mathews is 16th in points with 49 while Mathews is 26th with 41 points.  There is still a long way to go in the season and there is always going to be players that just explode in November and December.

+RECEIVING+

This is where most of the fun is taking place right now.  I will go over the receivers first then the tight ends, but I am shocked that DeSean Jackson is the leader in points for receivers right now with 87 points.  Wes Welker is in second with 80 points, Dez Bryant is 3rd with 78 points, Brandon Marshall is 4th with 76 points, and Demaryius Thomas is 5th with 74 points.  There are a lot of familiar names toward the top of this list like Victor Cruz (73), Julio Jones (65), and Jordy Nelson (71).  One name that stands out right now is Alshon Jeffery with 63 points which ranks him 10th overall.  Another surprise name is Denarius Moore ranking in at 11th with 62 points which is above big named players like Reggie Wayne (56) and Calvin Johnson (55).  One player who is still consistent as ever is AJ Green with 69 points and coming in 8th in overall points.

The disappointments are all over the place here.  Most leagues had Calvin as the first picked receiver and so far he is ranked 16th in points which is pretty bad compared to his previous seasons.  At number 21 we have Anquan Boldin who had a monster first game, but since then has literally done nothing to keep his fantasy value up.  Another big name that is yet to impress is Vincent Jackson; I know he has had two games that were good, but other than that he only has 50 fantasy points and is ranked 23 right now.  One surprise here is Josh Gordon who missed the first 2 games of the season; yet he is ranked number 18 with 55 points.  All of the Bronco receivers are in the top 20 with Welker at number 2, Thomas at number 5, and Decker at number 17 so if you have any of those guys keep them in your lineup forever. 

When it comes to TEs we all know that Jimmy Graham is ranked first with 93 points, but sis you know the second TE with the most points is Julius Thomas with 78?  Bottom line if you have any Broncos receiver, you better hold on to them.  Vernon Davis comes in 3rd right now with 74 while the 4th ranked is Jordan Cameron with 73 points.  Antonio Gates is 5th on this list with 53 points and he is showing glimpses of previous seasons.  But that is a huge gap between 4th and 5th place right now; thats a whole 20 points.  There really are not any surprises when it comes to TEs except for the absence of Gronkowski.  There have been reports of Gronk coming back very shortly and I can see Brady putting him to good use very quickly.

+DEFENSE+

Most people dont really see how many “fantasy” points defenses put up.  I bet right now that most people dont know that the Chiefs have scored the most points with 113; the next defense down at number 2 is the Seahawks with 75 points.  So go to your fantasy team and add the Chiefs right now.  Also, the Titans are 3rd in defensive points with 66 and the Browns are 4th with 58 points.  After the first few defenses on this list they all are about equal; just a few points off so if you need a defense; you best pick up one of these.

+KICKERS+

Kickers and defenses are pretty similar.  Most kickers will do about the same amount of points give or take 10 points.  Right now Matt Prater leads all kickers with 72 points while Stephen Gostkowski comes in 2nd with 67 points.  Garrett Hartley and Steven Hauschka both have 62 points while Mason Crosby has 60 points.  After that they all pan out to be pretty much equal; but if you are in need of a kicker one of these guys will do the trick.

+TOTAL POINTS ALL+

1. Peyton Manning – 168
2. Drew Brees – 130
3. Philip Rivers – 119
4. Tony Romo – 115
5. Chiefs – 113
6. Jamaal Charles – 112
7. Matthew Stafford – 110
8. Jay Cutler – 102
9. Sam Bradford – 102
10. Aaron Rodgers – 100
11. Michael Vick – 98
12. LeSean McCoy – 98
13. Andrew Luck – 97
13. Matt Ryan – 96
14. Marshawn Lynch – 93
15. Jimmy Graham – 93
16. Knowshon Moreno – 92
17. Cam Newton – 92
18. Russell Wilson – 92
19. Alex Smith – 87
20. DeSean Jackson – 87
21. Adrian Peterson – 84
22. Matt Forte – 82
23. Andy Dalton – 81
24. Wes Welker – 80
25. Arian Foster – 80
26. Tom Brady – 79
27. Robert Griffin III – 79
28. Dez Bryant – 78
29. Julius Thomas – 78
30. Reggie Bush – 77
31. Terrelle Pryor – 77
32. Brandon Marshall – 76
33. Colin Kaepernick – 76
34. Joe Flacco – 75
35. Seahawks – 75
36. Vernon Davis – 74
37. Demaryius Thomas – 74
38. Victor Cruz – 73
39. Jordan Cameron – 73
40. Geno Smith – 73
41. Matt Schaub – 72
42. Matt Prater – 72
43. Fred Jackson – 71
44. Jordy Nelson – 71
45. DeMarco Murray – 71
46. Eli Manning – 70
47. AJ Green – 69
48. Frank Gore – 67
49. Stephen Gostkowski – 67
50. Titans – 66
51. Ben Roethlisberger – 65
52. Julio Jones – 65
53. Jake Locker – 65
54. Ryan Tannehill – 64
55. Alshon Jeffery – 64
56. Garrett Hartley – 62
57. Steven Hauschka – 62
58. Denarius Moore – 62
59. Torrey Smith – 62
60. Carson Palmer – 60
61. Larry Fitzgerald – 60
62. Mason Crosby – 60
63. Antonio Brown – 60
64. Nick Novak – 59
65. Gio Bernard – 59
66. EJ Manuel – 59
67. Browns – 58
68. Adam Vinatieri – 57
69. Alex Henery – 57
70. Reggie Wayne – 56
71. Bengals – 56
72. Colts – 56
73. 49ers – 56
74. Calvin Johnson – 55
75. Eric Decker – 55

With the NFL season about a third of the way done it is time to see how the best players in the NFL are doing so far.  There have been a lot of surprises, trades, upsets, and close games thus far and some players are rising to the challenge while others are crumbling under the pressure.  Due to some of the great playing there are teams that are still undefeated while some other teams are still searching for that first win.  The one thing that always gets in the way is injuries.  There have been a large load of injuries that have already taken place proving that no player is safe.  Ill be going over the leaders in passing, rushing, receiving, defense, and kicking to see who is on top.

+PASSING YARDS+
Right now Peyton leads this group and if he stays on this path he will have well over 5,000 yards by the end of the season.  The same thing goes with Drew Brees; both of these QBs are deadly when they get into a groove and I do not see anything slowing them down.
1. Peyton Manning – 1884
2. Drew Brees – 1722
3. Matt Ryan – 1649
4. Philip Rivers – 1610
5. Matthew Stafford – 1524

+PASSING TDS+
This is a category that is pretty shocking to me.  I am used to seeing different names on this list, but this year has shown that no matter who is taking snaps, they can succeed with a solid offensive line and a good group of receivers.  Tom Brady is not on this list due to him having a lot of young receivers; same thing with Eli Manning except he has a weak offensive line.  At this rate we could have 7 QBs with over 40 TD passes by the end of the season and Manning could have well over 50.

1. Peyton Manning – 20 TDS and 1 INT
2. Tony Romo – 13 TDS and 2 INT
3. Philip Rivers – 13 TDS and 5 INT
4. Drew Brees – 12 TDS and 4 INT
5. Jay Cutler – 10 TDS and 6 INT
6. Matt Ryan – 10 TDS and 3 INT
7 Sam Bradford – 10 TDS and 3 INT

+RUSHING YARDS+
I was expecting a lot more rushing yards from certain players and so far this season it has really showed that teams are throwing the ball more.  There are only a handful of running backs that have actually lived up to their expectations.  I am not saying they are not playing well; but I am saying that teams are not running the ball like they used to.  McCoy is still on pace to have over a 1500 yard season and Peterson is on track to have at least 1300.  But players like Spiller, Jones-Drew, and Chris Johnson have been mostly a bust so far this season.

1. LeSean McCoy – 514
2. Adrian Peterson – 421
3. Marshawn Lynch – 410
4. DeMarco Murray – 399
5. Jamaal Charles – 397
6. Arian Foster – 390
7. Frank Gore – 376

+RUSHING TDS+
There have not been too many rushing touchdowns yet, but as the season goes on these numbers should get better.  What is more shocking to me is how some of the best players have not reached the end zone at all or just once.  Like Arian Foster has 1 rushing TD in 5 games; or CJ Spiller only having 1 rushing TD. 

1. Adrian Peterson – 5
2. Fred Jackson – 4
3. Knowshon Moreno – 4
4. Frank Gore – 3
5. Marshawn Lynch – 3
6. Matt Forte – 3
7. Ray Rice – 3
8. Jamaal Charles – 3
9. LeSean McCoy – 3
10. BenJarvus Green-Ellis – 3

+WR RECEPTIONS+
Here is where the big boys are and where some big numbers are being posted.  With most teams looking to pass the ball more, receivers are becoming better fantasy options than running backs.  Even with injuries, suspensions, and constant depth chart moves, receivers are getting the ball a lot. 

1. Julio Jones – 41 receptions and 60 targets
2. Andre Johnson – 37 receptions and 57 targets
3. Julian Edelman – 36 receptions and 50 targets
4. Demaryius Thomas – 34 receptions and 44 targets
5. Antonio Brown – 32 receptions and 42 targets
6. Wes Welker – 31 receptions and 42 targets
7. Brandon Marshall – 31 receptions and 47 targets
8. Victor Cruz – 31 receptions and 55 targets
9. AJ Green – 31 receptions and 59 targets
10. Cecil Shorts – 31 receptions and 61 targets

+WR RECEIVING YARDS+
Just because you catch a lot of passes does not mean that you get a lot of yards or touchdowns.  The players in this category make the best use of their receptions by turning them into big plays.  Some of these players are set to have well over 1300 yards by the end of the season.

1. Julio Jones – 580
2. Torrey Smith – 556
3. DeSean Jackson – 525
4. Victor Cruz – 473
5. Demaryius Thomas – 450
6. Alshon Jeffery – 429
7. Eric Decker – 4278. Dez Bryant – 423
9. Antonio Brown – 412
10. Cecil Shorts – 411

+WR TDS+
1. Wes Welker – 7
2. Dez Bryant – 6
3. Eddie Royal – 5
4. Calvin Johnson – 4
5. Demaryius Thomas – 4
6. Victor Cruz – 4
7. Austin Pettis – 4
8. Larry Fitzgerald – 3

+TE RECEPTIONS+
The NFL over the last few years is really starting to use the tight end more like a receiver than a blocker.  I am not saying that tight ends dont block anymore, but we are starting to see them put up receiver like numbers.  There are some teams where the TE is the main receiver on the team.

1. Jimmy Graham – 37 receptions and 54 targets
2. Tony Gonzalez – 33 receptions and 46 targets
3. Jordan Cameron – 33 receptions and 47 targets
4. Antonio Gates – 32 receptions and 43 targets
5. Jason Witten – 28 receptions and 43 targets
6. Julius Thomas – 27 receptions and 36 targets

+TE RECEIVING YARDS+

1. Jimmy Graham – 593
2. Antonio Gates – 438
3. Jordan Cameron – 396
4. Julius Thomas – 359
5. Tony Gonzalez – 339
6. Jason Witten – 313
7. Charles Clay – 297

+TE TDS+

1. Jimmy Graham – 6
2. Julius Thomas – 6
3. Jordan Cameron – 5
4. Vernon Davis – 4
5. Tony Gonzalez – 3
6. Jason Witten – 3
7. Owen Daniels – 3
8. Martellus Bennett – 3
9. Garrett Graham – 3

+DEFENSE+
We have seen the emergence of some pretty good defenses and special teams this year.  Just based on fantasy points scored here are the defenses that lead the NFL.

1. Chiefs
2. Seahawks
3. Browns
4. Titans
5. Colts
6. Bengals
7. Cardinals
8. 49ers
9. Bears

There are only a few linebackers who are extremely feared in the NFL; Clay Matthews is one of them.  He has only been in the league a handful of years, but he is already considered to be one of the bests in the league.  Not only is he an incredible pass rusher; he is also very popular among fans around the league.  Even if you are not a Packers fan, you still find yourself liking to watch Matthews.  He is know for being very athletic, strong, and quick.  Not to mention his “flex” when he sacks an opposing quarterback. 

William Clay Matthews III was born on May 14th, 1986 in Northridge California.  Believe it or not; Matthews was not the biggest guy in high school.  He attended Agoura High School and he played on the football team where his father was the defensive coordinator.  His father refused to play his son because of how small he was at the time.  In his senior year of high school he really began to gain strength and size, but because he did not play much high school football there were no school really interested in Matthews.  He decided that he would walk onto the USC Trojans football team and take his chances there.

He made the Trojan football team and his first year at college he never actually got to play; he was on the scout team.  The coaches tried to put Matthews in during “garbage time” in some games.  Garbage time is where USC was winning by so much that they would pretty much put anyone into the game to give them playing time.  Matthews turned down the offer to play during the garbage time.  In 2005 he got to play on special teams for the Trojans.  For the next two seasons he only got to play on special teams and even the small amount of time he played he made a big impact by blocking field goals and making tackles. 

It was in 2008 that Matthews really dedicated himself to the gym to be able to start for the Trojans.  The coaches for USC decided to try Matthews in a defensive position called “Elephant”; where he would line up as a defensive end, but would be in a two point stance so he could utilize his speed.  He did very well in that position and recorded 4.5 sacks his senior year.  He still played on special teams and was able to showcase his speed and tackling abilities.

Even with only limited college experience, Matthews still was invited to attend the 2009 NFL Combine where he dazzled NFL teams with his size, strength, and speed.  He was drafted by the Green Bay Packers in the first round (26th overall pick) in the 2009 draft.  That same year the Packers hired former NFL great Kevin Greene to help coach the linebackers for the Packers.  Matthews made an immediate impression as a rookie by being a sack machine and made a name for himself by forcing fumbles and actually scored a touchdown on a Monday Night game where he stripped the ball away from Adrian Peterson and ran for a touchdown.  As a rookie he recorded 51 tackles, 10 sacks, and 3 fumble recoveries.  He also led the Packers in QB Pressures with 45.5 and finished 3rd in the Rookie of the Year award.

Since his rookie year opposing defenses have tried to figure out how to contain Matthews and there has been little success.  The 2010 season the Packers went to the Super Bowl and in that season Matthews racked up 60 tackles, 13.5 sacks, and recorded his first interception.  In the post season Matthews was one of the big reasons why the Packers went to the Super Bowl.  Even in the Super Bowl Matthews forced a game changing turnover that sealed a Championship for the Packers.

In 2011 Matthews recorded 3 interceptions, 3 forced fumbles, 50 tackles, and 6 sacks.  Even though his numbers were lower for the 2011 season; it was crazy to see the amount of times that he was double teamed and even triple teamed.  Matthews did show an improvement in his pass coverage abilities which helped the Packers be one of the most dominant defenses of that season.   Even with all the extra attention from opposing teams he still managed to be one of the best linebackers of the 2011 season.

In the 2012 season it was much of the same where teams would double team Matthews to try and contain him.  He still was able to record 43 tackles, 13 sacks, and 1 forced fumble.  He helped the Packers get to the NFC Divisional Championship game where they lost to the 49ers; but Matthews showed that he can lead a team on and off the field.  He may not have posted the biggest numbers of his career, but he did help ignite a defense that was struggling in numerous areas.

So far in Matthews short career he has totaled up 204 tackles, 42.5 sacks, 154 QB Pressures, 4 interceptions, 2 touchdowns, 22 pass deflections, and 7 forced fumbles.  He has made the NFL Pro Bowl every year he has been in the NFL and been named to the All-Pro team 2 times.  He already has a Super Bowl ring, was the 2010 Defensive Player of the Year, 2010 NFC Defensive Player of the Year, and won the 2010 Butkus Award.  Matthews still has a long career ahead of him and he will continue to be a dominant presence on the field.

Through the years we have seen some extraordinary defenses in the NFL.  An NFL team is only as good as their defense; you can have the best offense in the league but if you don’t have a defense to back it up then you’re team will still lose.  Offenses can only score, but defenses can score and stop the other team from scoring.  Below is the best defenses that the NFL has ever seen (in no particular order).

1. 1969 Kansas City Chiefs:  This defense had 5 future defensive Hall of Famers and it was one of the main reasons that the Chiefs won the Super Bowl.  In the playoffs the Chiefs allowed less than 20 points in three games.  In the regular season they had 2 shut outs and in 7 games allowed less than 10 points.  The Chiefs used a “Triple Stack Defense” which gave the linebackers freedom to roam and have better vision on the field.  The 1969 Chiefs will always be one of the best defense the NFL has ever seen.

2. 1975 Los Angeles Rams:  The Rams went 12-2 in 1975 and the defense only allowed 9.6 points per game.  The defense was almost impossible to score on; they were anchored by Jack Youngblood, Merlin Olsen, Fred Dryer, Isiah Robertson, and Dave Elmendorf.  They did not have success in the playoffs by losing to the Cowboys in the Conference Championship Game.  But during the regular season the Rams had the most feared defense in the NFL.

3. 2002 Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Warren Sapp, Derrick Brooks, John Lynch, and Ronde Barber, add all those together and you get a defense that takes the ball away a lot.  The Bucs had 4 straight games where the defense scored a touchdown and had a record of 12-4.  This was Grudens first season with the Bucs and had a sweet victory over the Raiders in the Super Bowl, thanks to his amazing defense.  In 9 regular season games the Bucs held their opponents to less than 10 points.  And it was fitting that Dexter Jackson (a defensive player) got the Super Bowl MVP.

4. 1990 New York Giants:  Not only was the defense feared, it had the most feared player of all time…Lawrence Taylor.  The Giants went on to be 13-3 despite a very challenging schedule including 7 playoff bound teams.  And the defense shined in the playoffs by only allowing 3 points in the Divisional Game, only 13 points in the NFC Championship Game, and only 19 points in the Super Bowl victory.  In the regular season the Giants only allowed 13.2 points per game.  The 1990 Giants were ranked as the 6th best defense of all time by the NFL.

5. 1976 Pittsburgh Steelers: “The Steel Curtain”; full of defensive nightmares like Jack Lambert, “Mean Joe” Greene, Jack Ham, and Mel Blount.  In the last 9 games of the regular season the Steelers only allowed 28 points.  They were only one game away from the Super Bowl before losing to the Raiders in the AFC Championship Game.  Even without the Super Bowl the 1976 Steelers will always be considered one of the best defense ever put together.

6. 1985 Chicago Bears: There was no way I was going to make this list without including the 1985 Bears.  Now the Bears had an amazing offense, but it was the defense that helped them had a 15-1 record.  In seven games this defense allowed less than 10 points, but in the playoffs they had a shut out in the Divisional and Conference Championship Games.  Then in the Super Bowl they only allowed 10 points in the beating of the Patriots.  This defense had numerous studs on defense like Mike Singletary, William Perry, and Richard Dent.  They had an outstanding linebacking crew and was ranked #2 by the NFL as the best defense of all time, right behind the 1972 Dolphins.

7. 1972 Miami Dolphins: The undefeated season was anchored by their incredible defense.  Even with their amazing offense the “No-Name Defense” which was led by Nick Buoniconti, Bill Stanfield, Dick Anderson, and Jake Scott.  The defense had 3 games that allowed no points and only allowed 7 points in the Super Bowl.  In the season the defense only allowed 12.1 points and in the playoffs the defense allowed only 12.6 points.  This defense has gone down in history as the only defense to not allow a loss.

8. 1971 Minnesota Vikings: “The Purple People Eaters” had a defensive motto “meet at the quarterback”; and meet at the quarterback they did.  This defense was led by Alan Page who ended up being the NFL Defensive Player of the Year and League MVP.  This stingy defense only allowed 9.9 points per game and held quarterbacks to a rating of 40.4 for the whole season.  The defense had 3 shut outs and only one opponent scored more than 20 points.  The defense also included Carl Eller and Paul Krause which were All-Pros.

9. 2000 Baltimore Ravens: The Ravens offense was not too sharp and the defense was the reason why they did so well.  The defense had 4 shutouts and in the regular season they only allowed 10.3 points.  They had an incredible lineup with Ray Lewis, Tony Siragusa, Peter Boulware, and Rod Woodson.  The team got into the playoffs as a Wild Card and in 4 playoff games they only allowed 23 points and went on to win the Super Bowl.  Even though they were not the most complete team this Ravens defense will always be one of the best defenses ever.