Conference NFL Betting: A Look at the Top Defenses in the AFC in 2015
Welcome to the world where J.J. Watt is the undisputed king of the defense. What about Justin Houston, you ask? Good question… Last time I checked, Watt was the first player in NFL history to be the unanimous pick for NFL Defensive Player of the Year, and that was in the 2014-15 season. So with due respect to Houston and other talented defense players in the AFC, it is going to take a performance akin to a miracle in NFL betting for someone to better Watt, whose DPOY award last season was his second in the last three years. Even so, from a team perspective, there are a select few number of contenders that can stake a claim for best defenses in the AFC in 2015. Here are some of such teams:
At 26 years old, Watt is entering his physical prime, so a big year can be expected from him. Plus, besides Watt, the Texans have added a good number of pieces that could potentially give them one of NFL’s All-time best defensive units. After leading the NFL in in takeaways, thanks mainly to havoc-wreaking skills of Watt, the 2015 Texans have better talent, including future Hall of Famer in Vince Wilfork, who will eating up in the middle of the Houston’s defense, allowing Watt to take care of things on the side.
— Houston Texans (@HoustonTexans) July 27, 2015
On top of Watt and Wilfork, Houston gladly welcomes the return of 2014 No. 1 overall pick, Jadeveon Clowney, the most hyped pass-rusher in his class. Following an injury-ridden rookie campaign that limited his game-time, Clowney enters 2015 with a big chip on his shoulder, looking to prove his worth. Not to forget, 2015 first round pick, Kevin Johnson, will be joining the league’s premier CB corps in Kareem Jackson and Jonathan Joseph. Add up all that to former 2nd team All-Pro Brian Cushing, 2015 second-rounder Bernardrick McKinney, and Free Agent signing safety Rahim Moore, you get a nightmarish defense that will cause sleepless nights to many teams in the league.
Kansas City Chiefs
Keeping stud pass-rusher Justin Houston in Kansas City has been nothing short of a mind-raking exercise for the Kansas City family. But in the end, it’s been all worth the wait. Last week, Houston signed a 6-year, $101 million deal, the richest deal in Kansas City history and the highest money ever paid to a linebacker in NFL history.. With Houston back in the team and fully committed for a new season, his wizardry in the defense should be able to continue, especially after he led the league in sacks last year (ahead of even Watt). Apart from Houston, General Manager John Dorsey found a way of beating the cap space odds by bringing back nearly everyone from the 2014 Kansas City stellar defense that ranked second-best in scoring defense and seventh-best in total defense. Meanwhile, the NFL draft brought good tiding as well, as the Chiefs snatched a fantastic immediate-impact player in cornerback Marcus Peters, who figures to start causing havoc in Week 1 of the new season. The collective effort of all these players should be able to lead to a solid defensive showing by the Chiefs this season.
Best of the Rest
Outside the Texans and Chiefs, the rest of the AFC teams have ordinary defenses, so it’s hard to categorize them under solid defensive units. That notwithstanding, here are other AFC teams with slightly above-average defenses in 2015:
Despite losing the biggest piece in their defense in rookie Dante Fowler, who suffered a season-ending injury in rookie minicamp, the Jags still have a number of pieces that can keep them competitive. Notably, the team added big defensive lineman Jared Odrick, cornerback Davon House, safety Sergio Brown and linebacker Dan Skuta, who bring a wealth of depth in the team’s secondary. A much-improved Jacksonville defense thus looks to be in the offing.
The exit of outside linebacker Pernell McPhee and star defensive tackle Haloti Ngata will be tough to replace, but the Ravens have repeatedly shown their ability to cope with their losses through the “next man up” idealogy. And in that regard, General Manager Ozzie Newsome had a highly resourceful draft exercises, packing up both the O-line and D-line with promising pieces. So although the Ravens will probably take a step back in their defense due to the loss of key players, they should still be able to manage a top-5 ranking among the best defenses in the AFC in 2015, going by their consistent performance as a strong defensive unit over the last couple of years.