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Top 5 NFL Defenses under the most pressure in 2013

One of the most famous clichés in football states that “Offense wins games, but defense wins championships”. That statement could not have been any truer for the San Francisco 49ers, whose defense was a major reason why the 49ers made a deep run last postseason en route to Super Bowl XLVII. The 49ers during the regular season was 3rd in the NFL in total defense allowing 294.4 yards per game, 4th in the NFL in yards per game allowed with 200.4 yard, and also finishing 4th in the NFL in rushing yards allowed per game with 94.4 yards. During the off-season, we watched as free agency moves were made and not made as teams throughout the NFL had the chance to add defensive players that could have made an impact on teams whose defense needed improvement. However, as the off-season starting to conclude and the 2013 season approaching, it is imperative that we look at the top 5 defenses under the most pressure to perform in 2013.

5: New York Giants

The New York Giants throughout their illustrious history have been built on having good defenses. Their last two Super Bowl seasons of 2007 and 2011 have been proof of how good their defense can be when their defensive line is getting to the quarterback. Unfortunately in 2012, the Giants were very inconsistent defensively while being the 8th worst rush defense team in the NFL allowing 129.1 yards per game. To make matters worse, the Giants were ranked 22nd in the NFL with a team total of just 33rd sacks last season while constantly leaving their secondary exposed to opposing quarterbacks. As a result of the Giants secondary constantly getting exposed, the Giants defense gave the second most total yards per game in the NFL with 383.3 yards allowed per game. This is a defensive line that is simply too talented up front to have simply under perform mightily considering that do have All-Pro Defensive Ends Justin Tuck and Jason Pierre-Paul anchoring the line with Osi Umenyiora ( who is now signed with the Atlanta Falcons). If the Giants wish to contend in the NFC East this season and possibly make it to Super Bowl XVLIII in their own stadium, they MUST improve in their run defense and getting to the quarterback.

4: Atlanta Falcons

There is something truly very telling into why the Atlanta Falcons have fallen short of their lofty expectations in the last two postseasons (If you want to go back to 2008, the last 5 postseasons). Let’s take a trip down memory lane: During last season playoffs, Atlanta struggled in the pass defense department against Seattle Seahawks barely squeaky by them (thanks to bad time management by Pete Carroll in the final minutes) and simply did not perform well enough in the NFC Championship game against San Francisco 49ers to go to the Super Bowl and their pass defense was certainly part of the reason why the 49ers were successful on 3rd down conversions throughout the game. In the 2011 NFC Wild Card game against the New York Giants, the Falcons secondary got burned on two long touchdown passes to Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz as the Giants went on to win the Super Bowl that season. This past season, the Falcons were ranked 20th in the NFL in pass defense and if the Falcons are make another deep run in the postseason and get to New York for Super Bowl XLVIII, their secondary is in fact under pressure for a team that is certainly built to win now.

3: New Orleans Saints

There is a reason why the Saints hired Rob Ryan this past off-season to become their new defensive coordinator. The Saints were simply horrific in 2012 defensively and a major reason for that is they allowed the most total yards per game in the NFL with 440 yards allowed per game and second worst pass defense in the NFL allowing 292.6 yards per game. With the return of Sean Payton after a year’s absence, the leadership for this team who dearly missed him last season should in fact return to prominence (aka the postseason) and compete for the NFC South division title. The Saints must improve defensively to compliment their high power offense that is among the NFL’s best. It is going to be very interesting to see what Rob Ryan brings to table and what defensive schemes he run and whether he will run a 3-4 or 4-3 defense in New Orleans.

2: New England Patriots

The Patriots have survived the past couple of years in the AFC with an outstanding offense led by none other than Tom Brady. However, it is becoming increasing clear and alarming the New England Patriots are getting more exposed by their opponents on the defensive side of the ball and if there was indication of why the Patriots failed to make it back to the Super Bowl last season, it is because of their secondary. Last season the Patriots allowed the 4th most passing yards per game in the NFL with 271.4 yards per game. The question begs: Why is the Patriots defense under pressure in 2013? It is because now with the loss of Aaron Hernandez and the uncertainty of Rob Gronkowski’s health, the Patriots simply have lesser room for error considering the uncertainty of the Patriots offense with an improved Miami Dolphins team and an up and coming young Buffalo Bills team. It is quite simply time for the Patriots defense to improve big time this year as they can no longer simply rely on Tom Brady and the offense to continue to outscore teams week in and week out.

1: Baltimore Ravens

This selection as the defense under the most pressure entering the 2013 season may shock many people, but there is something that is very much worth pointing out. The Ravens went on an unforgettable run to win the Super Bowl last season in what turned out to be Ray Lewis’ final year in the NFL. However, having to have lost Ray Lewis to retirement and Ed Reed via free agency as he signed with the Houston Texans, it is going to be very difficult for the Ravens to replace both future Hall of Famers and their productions they brought to the table. The Ravens have to find a way to improve defensively amid the losses they suffered on the defensive side of the ball (especially in the secondary) as they were ranked 16th in the NFL in pass defense. The AFC North is going to be one of the three most compelling divisions to watch this season in the NFL and as wide open as it has been in recent memory. If the Ravens hope to repeat as Super Bowl champions, they have to perform at a much higher level defensively than what they did in 2012.

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Ralph Garcia


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