The game of football has evolved over the last decade plus. Fullbacks have disappeared, wide receivers are getting paid big bucks, teams use a variety of guys in the backfield and everything is just so much more about getting your playmakers the ball in space. While all these things might be true and everybody knows the names of the superstars with the ball in their hands, to me there’s no doubt that the game is still won and lost in the trenches. If you can dictate the pace of the game and set the tone up front, you put yourself in a very good position to succeed. Therefore I wanted to take a look at which teams have the most dominants fronts on both sides of the ball. I expect about eight of these ten teams to make the playoffs in 2018.
It was really hard to compile this list, because of all the moving pieces, players being injured and just what these defenses have become as units. So the base I judge them on is the way they are constructed right now. Therefore, I couldn’t quite put the Seahawks and definitely not the Texans on this list, since they have suffered immensely with injuries to top of their three best defensive players. Sometimes the major statistics, like total yards allowed, can be misleading, for example, until a week ago, the Denver Broncos were the number one defense in terms of yardage allowed. Even though they still have an excellent trio of cornerbacks combined with Von Miller to rush the passer and they could easily bounce back big-time next season, that’s absurd, considering since after a hot start to the season at 3-1, they gave up an average of just over 30 points per game during an eight-game losing streak. The numbers I do care about are points allowed, takeaways, third down and red zone percentage allowed. Most importantly though, I want to look at the scheme each unit runs, how well they execute, and what my eyes tell me.
Now six weeks into the season we have a pretty good picture of all 32 NFL teams. Sure, you never know what will happen over the rest of the year, but I tried to rank them by the way they’ve played so far and factor in how they’ve improved since the season started or what they can still get better at. As of right now the list looks like this:
At this point of the season a lot of analysts like to rank their top players by position, as we have gotten a good impression of the top players in the league. I chose a different way, as I decided to rank my top ten offensive players in the league right now outside of the O-Line regardless of position. My criteria includes playmaking ability, consistency and health. By that I mean players who have been contributors for their teams for the majority of the season and in critical moments. At the top stands: