The NFL is a quarterback’s league, and when a new rule is adopted, it is almost always going to favor the offense. Fans like touchdowns; the NFL likes its fans.
But defensive coordinators and the increasing use of hybrid-type players that can fill multiple roles on the defensive side of the ball has made life more difficult for the darlings of the league, the quarterbacks.
You still need a great quarterback to win the Super Bowl, but to be a current first-place team in the NFL, defense reigns supreme.
The Ravens are in first place in the AFC North, and that’s with cast-off Demarcus Robinson as their best healthy wide receiver. Their running backs have struggled with health, and even Mark Andrews has missed time.
But Cold, Hard Football Facts ranks the Ravens third in Defensive Hog Index, 11th in Total Team Yards Allowed (as compared to just 25th in Total Team Yards), and they are 10th in both Bendability and Defensive Passer Rating.
In order to make a deep playoff run their offense needs to get healthier, and better. But they are going to be in the playoffs because their defense has risen to the occasion.
New York Jets
The Jets have perhaps the worst offense in the NFL, not named the Houston Texans. Cold, Hard Football Facts ranks them 31st in Real Quarterback Rating, 30th in Offensive Passer Rating, and 30th in Total Team Yards. Maybe they’re even worse than the Texans come to think of it.
But on the flip side, this team is squarely in the playoff hunt because their defense is fourth in Total Team Yards Allowed, they are third in Defensive Passer Rating, and fourth in Defensive Real Quarterback Rating.
The Jets have the offense of a team picking in the top three in the NFL Draft next year, but a defense that is Super Bowl-worthy. That has equaled out to make them a good team, and possibly a playoff team.
The Titans have spent time without their starting quarterback, and a significant amount of time without any good wide receivers. But they have played their way to the brink of another AFC South title because of Derrick Henry, Mike Vrabel, and their defense.
Henry is now throwing touchdown passes, begging the question, what can’t he do? Vrabel is once again having the best year coaching that no one is talking about. And the defense, even as it has been hit by several injuries, has been outstanding.
Cold, Hard Football Facts ranks Tennessee first overall in Bendability, first overall in Defensive Hog Index, and they are first overall in Defensive Rusher Rating. Even with Henry, the Titans rank just 17th in Offensive Rusher Rating, so to be the very best team in the NFL at stopping the run is a huge boon to Tennessee.
When January football rolls around, the Titans are exactly the kind of team that will make life miserable for others.
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