NFC South Defensive Power Rankings for the 2017 NFL Season
It’s time to take a look at how the teams in the NFC South compare against each other as we cover the NFC South defensive power rankings for all four teams in the division.
New Orleans Saints 4th in the NFC South Defensive Power Ranking
Networks like NFL Spin Zone and The Bleacher Report put the Saints right down at the bottom of the list for defensive power rankings. The team has what is arguably the worst defense in the sport, and judging from the 2016 performance they should have spent more on boosting the defense this season.As it stands after the Draft, they’ve taken two rookies for the defense and have seemed to focus more on their offense. Marshon Lattimore is a rookie who will play cornerback, and Marcus Williams will play safety. These players show promise, but the Saints needed more and better.At the end of last year, they were near to the bottom of the table in both points given up and yards surrendered. They re-signed Nick Fairley who is an excellent defensive tackle, but he has now been ruled out of the season because of a non-football related heart condition. This leaves their defense pretty much where it left off last year, with the rookies not likely to start making an impact right away.The team has been suffering from losing records for the past three seasons, and it’s clear that they’re putting the power into their offense to try and turn 2017 around. However, a poorly ranked defense will hurt the team when they come up against stronger teams in the league, which means that 2017 might end with another poor result.
Atlanta Falcons 3rd in the NFC South Defensive Power Ranking
If the Falcons made it all the way to the Super Bowl, how can they be considered only third in defense in their own division? The answer is quite simple; the season’s biggest game also saw the biggest collapse of their defensive side. Giving away a 28 – 3 lead should surely be an indicator that this defense still has some work to do.The good news for the Falcons is that they have a fast defense, and they’ve been adding players in the off season who should be able to boost the team. Duke Riley and Takkarist McKinley are two new draftees where speed is a big advantage. These are players that aren’t afraid to go after the ball, play after play. Dontari Poe is another important addition to the team. While the Falcons didn’t impress with their run defense last year, Poe should be able to change that.The biggest weakness is still going to be defense in the red zone. They allowed more touchdowns in the red zone than any other team. Percentage of scoring allowed was a shameful 71.64%, putting them at 32nd in the NFL and even the Rams managed to do better than that.Marquand Manuel is the defensive coordinator for the season, and the Falcons will use a 4 – 3 arrangement. As it stands at the moment, they look to be third in their division, and down in the bottom half of the NFL.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2nd in the NFC South Defensive Power Ranking
The defense of the Buccaneers could be considered as a liability as we move into 2017. They would have been one of the worst defensive sides in the league last year, if not for their ability to create turnovers throughout the season. They totaled 29, which was the third best in the league, but in every other area of their defense they gave too much away to the opposition.The off season wasn’t a complete write-off in terms of improving their roster, and they’ve made two key additions that could help to boost the team. The first of these is Justin Evans, the round two Draft pick that the Buccaneers have signed for a four-year contract. He will play in safety and has shown some promise in his college games playing for Texas A&M. The other important addition is J.J. Wilcox, a player who has some good experience underneath him with the Cowboys. Wilcox has been signed for two years. Last year he suffered from injury but still managed 13 games with 4 starts. For the season he made 45 tackles and a single interception, and he could add some valuable talent to the Buccaneers, even if he isn’t a regular starting player.The offense is going to be the best shot for the Buccaneers this season, but we’re quietly optimistic about seeing an improvement in the defensive game. Even so, nobody will mistake this defensive side for one of the best in the league.
Carolina Panthers 1st in the NFC South Defensive Power Ranking
The Panthers looked good in 2015 but then underperformed for the 2016 season. Injuries definitely didn’t do the team any favors, with loss of field time for Luke Kuechly hitting the team particularly hard. Although we’re ranking them first in the league, they’re still not a power defense when compared to the best in the NFL.They’ve lost Kony Ealy who was continually developing, and that means that they’re now going to need to put resources into training other players. They’ve got a veteran in the form of Captain Munnerlyn, who returns to the Panthers after some time with the Minnesota Vikings. The problem with Munnerlyn is that while talented, his stats have been heading down since he was last with the Panthers. He recorded a career high of 75 combined tackles in 2013, but then dropped to 61, 55, and again 55 for the three following years. His last passes defended record was 12 for the panthers in 2013, but he only managed 4 in 2014, and 3 in 2016.If Kuechly can stay healthy this year, then the defense will be fast, and Thomas Davis and Shaq Thompson also have impressive speed. While they top the NFC South, they’ll need consistency and an injury free season to compare well with the best defenses in the league.