Sunday, October 7, 2012

AFC North Defensive Matchups

**NOTE: These are match-up ratings, not defensive ratings. A rating of 1st means that they are an amazing match-up while a rating of 32nd means they are the worst match-up.

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8. Cleveland Browns Defense:
7th Against the Pass [20.24 PPG]: The Browns have the 4th most passing attempts against them, and that contributes to their poor ranking. They have generated 6 interceptions, but 4 of those came in week 1 against Michael Vick. They have allowed 9 passing touchdowns; a trend that will likely continue even after Joe Haden returns from injury. Play opposing quarterbacks against this defense.
15th Against the Run [15.88 PPG]: Opposing teams have not been especially successful running the ball against the Browns, despite running the ball nearly 25 times per game. The teams ranked 15th-23rd are very tightly packed in terms of run defense, but most of those teams have endured fewer rushing attempts than the Browns. I wouldn't seek them out if I could avoid it.
3rd Against Receivers [32.58 PPG]: Their top corner has been out for a while and they are paying for it. The nice thing is that there are more than enough points to go around for teams with two top receivers (Maclin/Jackson, Boldin/Smith). If you don't know which receiver to play, play the one with the matchup against the Browns.
29th Against Tight Ends [5.00 PPG]: The Browns have been excellent against tight ends. Brent Celek, Jermaine Gresham, Scott Chandler, and Dennis Pitta have been stymied by this defense. Avoid them whenever possible.

10. Baltimore Ravens Defense:
25th Against the Pass [14.27 PPG]: The Ravens have a much improved offense, but their defense is far worse than in the past. The saving grace is that they still generate plenty of turnovers. Opposing quarterbacks have not been especially successful, and you shouldn't seek a matchup against the Ravens when you can avoid it. You also shouldn't bench an entrenched starter against this team.
13th Against the Run [17.48 PPG]: The Ravens are nothing better than average against the run. Opposing offenses aren't afraid to run against the Ravens, but they aren't very successful when they do. Despite scoring 5 rushing touchdowns in 4 games, opposing teams are only generating about 3.3 YPC. This is a difficult set of data to predict into the future, so don't avoid or seek a rushing matchup against the Ravens.
11th Against Receivers [23.60 PPG]: Even against mediocre offenses, the Ravens have not been very good against the receivers. Opposing offenses are forced to pass against the Ravens more than in the past, and the corners are not living up to their potential in most games. Feel safe playing your strong receivers against this team. Short-pass receivers are having special success (Wes Welker and Andrew Hawkins).
16th Against Tight Ends [7.75 PPG]: There's nothing to see here. You can't make any predictions based on this very average rating.

14. Cincinnati Bengals Defense:
7th Against the Pass [19.98 PPG]: The Bengals CB corps has been extremely beat up this season. At this point it's hard to know if they will ever improve, but almost any competent QB can pass against this weak pass defense. They aren't generating turnovers or causing incompletions. Don't worry about avoiding this team.
10th Against the Run [22.20 PPG]: Despite defending against only 71 rushes this season, the Bengals have allowed over 5 YPC and one rushing touchdown per game. Feel confident playing almost any running back against this team. Opponents should start running more against this team.
24th Against Receivers [19.23 PPG]: Despite all the passing and running against this team, it doesn't seem to generate many WR points. The truth behind this statistic is that the Bengals have had two softball games against the Browns and the Jaguars. This ranking is going to plummet once they start playing real offenses.
7th Against Tight Ends [9.85 PPG]: The Bengals are poor against opposing tight ends, so seek out guys playing against this defense. We'll see what direction these numbers go as the season moves on.

28. Pittsburgh Steelers Defense:
13th Against the Pass [17.00 PPG]: One third of this teams games have been against Mark Sanchez, and this still isn't very good for the Steelers. Troy and James should be back on defense in the coming weeks, so I would expect things to turn around for them. At this point the Steelers are allowing 2 touchdowns per game passing to only one total interception. Those numbers are good for your fantasy quarterback.
20th Against the Run [14.07 PPG]: The Steelers run defense had been allowing about 4.5 YPC in their 3 games to start the season; an uncharacteristic number for this premier defense. With Philly and Tennessee coming to play over the next two weeks, we'll get a much better look at this team against real rushing attacks. I wouldn't hesitate to play McCoy or CJ2k against the Steelers at this point.
16th Against Receivers [21.77 PPG]: There's not much data on the Steelers when considering a true WR1. Demaryius Thomas had a good game in week one, but the Jets and Raiders don't really have a single top receiver. Philly and Tennessee don't have real WR1s either, so I'd feel comfortable playing Jackson and Maclin this weekend. Odds are that at least one of them has a big game.
13th Against Tight Ends [8.60 PPG]: The Steelers haven't be great against TEs yet, but this number is still pretty average. If you have two equal choices, this isn't a bad matchup to choose.

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