Friday 5 – Exciting Defenses

When I say exciting defense, what are some of the teams that immediately jump to your mind? The Ravens? Steelers? Vikings? Jets? Cowboys? What if I told you that this Friday 5 is my list of the top five most exciting defenses in the NFL right now, and not a single one of the teams I just mentioned is on it? Now hear me out before you jump to conclusions and discredit the rest of this post. I came up with with this list of top five most exciting defenses by basing it solely on numbers. That’s right, my list is purely from a statistical perspective, and that’s right, none of those teams made the cut. I started out by asking myself the basic question of what are the most exciting defensive plays? I think it’s pretty straight forward to say that they would be interceptions, forced fumbles and sacks. Bone-crushing hits would also be in there but there is no statistic for that, plus a lot of those hits result in sacks and/or forced fumbles anyhow. Starting with this as my foundation I started looking up the numbers for last season. In 2009 there were a total of 1101 sacks, 525 interceptions and 509 forced fumbles. So as a general statement (using 1 sig-fig, if you will) I think it’s fair to say that interceptions and forced fumbles are twice as exciting as sacks, based on how frequently they happen. So I developed two basic formulas:

One for the total number of exciting plays: S + I + F = N

And one for the level of excitement the team causes: S + 2I + 2F = X

Where S represents the number of sacks a team had, I represents the number of interceptions, F represents the number of forced fumbles, N represents the total number of exciting plays and X represents the level of excitement rating. I ranked the teams using the first formula, then I ranked them using the second formula, and after that I took their average from those two rankings and used that as my final number to sort the teams by. As a tie-breaker I used defensive touchdowns scored. Here’s how it panned out:

5. New Orleans Saints

Sacks: 35

Interceptions: 26

Forced Fumbles: 15

Defensive TDs: 8

Total Number of Exciting Plays: 76

Level of Excitement Rating: 117

4. Carolina Panthers

Sacks: 31

Interceptions: 22

Forced Fumbles: 23

Defensive TDs: 1

Total Number of Exciting Plays: 76

Level of Excitement Rating: 121

3. Green Bay Packers

Sacks: 37

Interceptions: 30

Forced Fumbles: 12

Defensive TDs: 4

Total Number of Exciting Plays: 79

Level of Excitement Rating: 121

2. Philadelphia Eagles

Sacks: 44

Interceptions: 25

Forced Fumbles: 15

Defensive TDs: 4

Total Number of Exciting Plays: 84

Level of Excitement Rating: 124

1. San Francisco 49ers

Sacks: 44

Interceptions: 18

Forced Fumbles: 23

Defensive TDs: 3

Total Number of Exciting Plays: 85

Level of Excitement Rating: 126

The honorable mention goes to the Minnesota Vikings with 48 sacks, 11 interceptions, 23 forced fumbles, 1 defensive TD, 82 exciting plays and a 116 excitement rating.

What I find really interesting about this is that all five (six if you include the Vikings) are NFC teams. I don’t know if that speaks highly of NFC defenses or lowly of AFC defenses (or maybe it speaks highly of AFC offenses… or lowly of NFC offenses) but either way I found it interesting. I think it’s also safe to say that you should watch the NFC South and NFC North the most if you want to see a lot of exciting defense.

Let me know what you think in the comments.

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5 Responses

  1. Nice concept! I think I would’ve put the Packers at number two instead of the Eagles. Mostly for all the pick six’s they had between Blackman and Woodson!

    I like the 49ers being number one. I think Patrick Willis is way under rated as hard to believe as it is. He’s the best linebacker in the league, and leads that D!

    • I definitely considered putting defensive TDs and safeties in as one of the factors (or maybe just defensive points scored) but I thought that there was too much overlap in the stats that way. I could rerun the numbers with it factored in though and see what happens, lol.

    • I was praying that Willis dropped to the Rams in 07, though I have no doubts that we would have passed him up.

      To date, Adam Carriker has played in exactly the same number of games as Jamarcus Russell.

  2. Awesome concept!! I especially liked the highlight videos. It’s the BEST way to watch football! : )

  3. […] Vernon Davis and Frank Gore will make for an extremely dangerous offense, and they already have the most exciting defense in the league. Anthony Davis and Mike Iupati will step in and start right away on the […]

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