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Well, well, well. What have we here? Yes, I am aware I am not the normal author for the Defense Rankings Reaction, but don’t fret, I’ll do my best to make sure I provide you with the correct plays for the defensive position in Week 9.

So where did we last leave off? We had a shootout of the ages in the Superdome, a blowout across the pond, and well, whatever happened to the Jets in Oakland? In fact, a grand total of only two D/ST touchdowns were scored in Week 8.

Outside of a few performances, like the Denver defense holding Aaron Rodgers to 77 passing yards, last week was relatively quiet. However, Week 9 offers some tasty matchups, and I’m going to start off with a bang and say that I would place the Atlanta Falcons at the top of the defense rankings.

The SCFE staff has them as the No. 5 defense, but with all that is going on in the Bay Area, how could you not be enticed to put them No. 1. Still not convinced? Well, Carlos Hyde is most likely going to be held out through the Niners’ Week 10 bye. Longtime tight end, Vernon Davis, was shipped to Denver a day before the trade deadline, and most importantly; Blaine Gabbert has been named the starting quarterback!!!

Yes. This is the same Blaine Gabbert that has a career record of 5-22 and has thrown more interceptions (24) than touchdown passes (23) in five NFL seasons. For those who own Seattle, Arizona or Kansas City, look to snag “The Dirty Birds” as a bye week fill-in for Week 9.

Week 9 Defense Rankings Reaction


Defenses I Like More

Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys

Despite playing in “Jerry World,” the Eagles, much like Atlanta, draw a beaten and battered Cowboys team in Week 9. Dallas is in a state of flux, as troubled running back, Joseph Randle, was released from the team on Tuesday. Couple that with Matt Cassel under center and you have a recipe for disaster.

Granted it was against the Seattle defense, but Cassel just barely completed over half of his passing attempts (13-for-25) in the Cowboys Week 8 loss. He only threw for 97 yards, and the bulk of his completions were checkdowns to Darren McFadden. Cassel also threw three interceptions in his first start two weeks ago against the New York Giants.

The Eagles have been a Top 10 defense so far in 2015 and have had multiple takeaways in all but one game (Week 4). Look for Philly to take advantage of the situation and get themselves back to the top of the weak NFC East.

Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Oakland Raiders

The Oakland Raiders shocked everyone last week with a convincing victory over the New York Jets. Sure, Geno Smith had to relieve an injured Ryan Fitzpatrick, but it was the Jets defense that needed relieving after the Raiders were done with them.

The Steelers, despite not getting a win, also had a very impressive showing against the unbeaten Cincinnati Bengals. The Bengals came into Week 8 as one of the top offenses in the league, averaging just over 30 points per game. Andy Dalton has been a legitimate MVP candidate this year, but the Steelers bottled up Dalton and the Bengals to a season-low 16 points. Dalton was picked off multiple times for the first time this season and it took the Bengals almost 58 minutes to score their first touchdown.

While Oakland is a team on the rise with budding talent, playing at Heinz Field is no easy task. I believe being on the road, in a tough environment, will lead to Oakland having a letdown game against a very solid Steelers defense.


Defenses I Like Less

Carolina Panthers vs. Green Bay Packers

The Panthers have been a Top Five defense this year, but on Sunday against the Packers, they will NOT be startable. Call me crazy, but my gut says that we see the last unbeaten team in the NFC fall.

Despite dominating the inept Colts for three and a half quarters on Monday Night Football, Carolina managed to squander a 17-point lead, and barely escaped with an overtime win. I know Green Bay is on the road, but you have to expect that they will want to quiet the rumblings that have surrounded their struggling offense, which ranks near the bottom of the NFL, with 332.1 total yards per game.

Just remember that what we witnessed Sunday night in Denver was a career-worst performance by Aaron Rodgers. Basically, there is not a doubt in my mind that Rodgers will get back on track in this one. I know Josh Norman has been a beast in the secondary, but the Pack are going to find a way to get their receivers open and win a crucial game with postseason implications.

Tennessee Titans at New Orleans Saints

I really went out on a limb with this one…

After what Drew Brees did last Sunday in the Superdome, I don’t think the Titans defense should even be ranked. Heck, I’d probably rank the Lions, Texans and Ravens defenses ahead of them and yes, I realize they are sitting on their couches this week.

After missing Week 3 with a shoulder injury, Brees and the Saints have soared back to life, winning four of their last five. If you take away their sole loss at Philadelphia, the Saints have been an abyss for opposing defenses, saddling them with scores of one, zero, negative one and negative two in their four victories.

The game is also being played in New Orleans. So between that and the firing of head coach Ken Whisenhunt, avoid the Titans defense like the plague. You WILL get a negative outcome.

We’ll see how my first rodeo goes. Good luck and hopefully you will be back next week for some more Defensive Rankings Reaction.

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