These rankings are for the purpose of predicting how many fantasy points defenses will allow to offensive players this week.
If you have other questions relating to matchups, feel free to ask them via Twitter @MichaelSalfino. I cannot emphasize enough that these defensive rankings have nothing to do with which defense to play in fantasy.
This week's highlighted matchups follow after the chart. But first a word about the categories. Only "Red Zone" is a little tricky. We're not talking efficiency there, but rather red zone possessions allowed. Red zone possessions have proven over many years to be more useful in predicting future defensive performances. RYPG is rushing yards per game. RTD/G is rushing TDs per game. PYPG is passing yards per game. PTD/G is passing TDs/per game. Yardage allowed is more reliable than touchdowns allowed for predictive purposes. Ideally, the two correlate. But some teams really can be break but don't bend, e.g., teams that blitz a lot.
Defensive Power Rankings
Teams are sorted by cumulative rankings in all categories. Lowest total number is best; highest is worst.
Thanks for reading this year and for your comments and here's wishing you the best in 2013. We're going to focus this week only on games where we know teams will not be resting starters for the playoffs. And that's why you should never have your fantasy championships decided the last week of the NFL regular season.
Panthers at Saints (32): Cam Newton and company end their season on a big note. Tony Romo showed last week that the Saints' defensive excellence in Week 15 was mostly a product of Tampa Bay offensive ineptitude.
Jaguars (30) at Titans (31): My theory is that the bad offensive team should be expected to perform at an average level at best even against the worst defenses. So I would fade both of these teams, especially with Cecil Shorts out. The Jaguars contained Tom Brady last week, too.
Jets at Bills (29): Shonn Greene is an okay play this week. Mark Sanchez looks a lot better after witnessing the disaster with Greg McElroy due largely to the Jets' incredibly inept pass protection. But there's no reason to play any other Jet. The Jets run defense has gotten consistently better but C.J. Spiller, like most high yards per carry guys, is matchup proof anyway.
Lions vs. Bears (3): Calvin Johnson is guaranteed to get points in PPR leagues. Matchups are not a big deal at all for Megatron, so play him with confidence. Avoid Matthew Stafford though.
Texans at Colts (27): It's the Colts who are playing for nothing this week. And their defense isn't any good even when they care, so make sure you play all of your Texans this week. Houston needs the game to secure home field throughout the playoffs. It also has never won in Indy. Normally, teams do not play that hard for seeding but the Texans have fought hard for the No. 1 seed all year and have never had it so I think they really go full bore here and put up 40 or so points.