Across the board the Detroit Lions, yes the Detroit Lions, have fielded the best defense in the NFL through the first six weeks of the season. The 4-2 NFC North-leading squad is first in total defense (specifically tops against the pass and second versus the run), first with 13.7 points allowed per game and they roll out the league’s best pass rush with 21 sacks, arguably the best weapon any defense can have in today's quarterback-friendly league.
It’s fair to be a little surprised, considering how far the Lions had to climb to field such an incredible defense. Since 2007 the Lions never ranked higher than 10th in total defense, and were dead last from 2007 to 2009.
Detroit has especially come up big against division foes. In their most recent victory, the Lions sacked Minnesota quarterback Teddy Bridgewater eight times, and in Week 3 they finally managed to silence Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers, sacking him twice and hitting him another three times, while containing the former MVP to 162 yards passing. It was a thrilling moral victory for the Lions, but first-year head coach Jim Caldwell is trying to keep things in perspective.
"I certainly wouldn't be passing out any accolades and trophies at this point in time," Caldwell said to MLive.com.
Caldwell’s right to hold off on any early celebrations, but fantasy owners have rejoiced with a solid 10 to 11 points each week from the Lions.
Now the question is whether the Lions can continue to roll against Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints in Week 7. For all their troubles, the Saints are still one of the most devastating offenses in the league, second in passing offense and eighth on the run, racking up 26.4 points per game.
On top of a bye week to plan, Brees is a perfect 3-0 against Detroit all-time, with 11 touchdowns to one interception and has completed nearly 75 percent of his passes.The Saints offensive line has only surrendered five sacks, the third lowest in the league, which would seemingly neutralize the Lions formidable frontline.
But as the Detroit Free Press reported, the Saints will be missing top receiving threat and tight end Jimmy Graham, and are increasingly relying on rookie Brandin Cooks. Also, the 35-year-old Brees has slowed down significantly, only throwing nine touchdowns through five games, which the Press pointed out puts him on pace for 29 touchdowns, his lowest total since 2007. The Saints are also 0-3 on the road this season.
With the Lions frontline healthy, owners shouldn’t hesitate to start their DST this week. There are also several matchups that owners should study for Week 7 before setting their lineups.
At first glance the Ravens defensive numbers, for fantasy purposes, are a little misleading. They are 17th in total defense, with a middling four interceptions and 10 sacks. But they’re only allowing 16.2 points per game, and have a top 10 rush defense. They might give up big yardage to opposing quarterbacks, but on average the Ravens are only letting up one passing TD per game. In Week 7 they’ll face Matt Ryan and the Falcons, who are still winless on the road. Start Baltimore and watch the points fly.
New England Patriots
The offense finally came around to match the defense in Week 6. The Pats DST has been good for about 10 points a week, and face a severely limited Jets offense on a short week. The Thursday Night game is a bit worrisome, but whether its turnover-prone Geno Smith or the unprepared Michael Vick under center, the Patriots should dominate this matchup for big points.
The Browns have only forced four turnovers and 10 sacks, and are allowing 23 points per game. But after stomping their most-hated rival Steelers in Week 6, this young and talented defense is loaded with confidence ahead of Sunday’s matchup with the debilitated Jacksonville Jaguars. So far Cleveland has split their two road games, which would be a red flag, but the Jags offense has shown little no life all season. Jacksonville's given up a league-worst 27 sacks, and eight interceptions.
Denver’s passing defense has gradually improved each week, now ranking No. 16 in the league, and with the No. 4 rush defense, the Broncos should be able to limit San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick on both fronts.They’ve generated only four interceptions, but have 15 sacks thus far, and Kaepernick has never played at Mile High before. There is one drawback. 49ers running back Frank Gore's only trip to Mile High resulted in 153 rushing yards. Granted that was back in 2006, but Gore's been one of the more consistent backs in the league in recent memory. Denver’s stopped the run in terms of yardage, but has allowed five rushing TDs. Use the Broncos as a fourth or fifth option if possible.
Week 6 Stars/Sits
Sit: N.Y. Jets, Atlanta, Washington, St. Louis, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Minnesota, Miami,New Orleans, Carolina, Green Bay, San Diego, Kansas City, N.Y. Giants, San Francisco, Pittsburgh
Start: Detroit, New England, Baltimore, Seattle, Cleveland, Buffalo, Chicago, Arizona, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Tennessee
Byes: Philadelphia, Tampa Bay