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Projecting the NFL’s 10 Worst Pass Defenses for 2016-2017 Season

NFL’s 10 Worst Pass Defenses

Last season saw two of the worst pass defenses in the history of our league in New Orleans and New York… Surprise, surprise, both teams show up on our list for 10 worst pass defense for the 2016-2017 fantasy football season.

There are a wide variety of factors we consider when projecting just how good/bad a team’s pass defense will be. First, previous season’s statistics including opposing QBR allowed, YPG allowed, team sacks, etc… Second is offseason moves, has the personnel improved or regressed enough to effect the previous season’s performance. Third is scheme, has the scheme changed for either the better or worse and how does the personnel fit the system.

Keeping these factors in mind, here are our projected 10 worst pass defenses for the 2016-2017 season.

10. Detroit Lions

Mathis leaves, but he really only played in 5 games last season, contributing to what was a down year for the Detroit secondary. Their overall numbers from last season earned their spot here, but with as good as they looked in the second half of the year, and as good as we know Teryl Austin is, the Lions snuck into our bottom 10 list for 2016-2017. Improvements at safety, a more experienced Nevin Lawson, the return of DeAndre Levy, could swing the Lions into our top 10 by the time all is said and done.

9. Atlanta Falcons

Sorry, but we aren’t buying Dan Quinn’s year one improvements… The Falcons were the absolute worst team in the NFL at pressuring the QB and they did little to improve that this offseason. Keanu Neal will be a solid starter in this league, but we are betting the rookie gives up his share of big plays in year one. We expect Atlanta’s offense to improve, but their pass defense to take a step backwards in 2016-2017.

8. Jacksonville Jaguars

Definitely talented and trending in the right direction, but it’s hard to imagine the Jags are going to be much better than they were a season ago. Monte Kiffin comes on as an assistant, Jalen Ramsey will help, Dante Fowler will help, but this team was in the bottom 10 in nearly every category last season including yards, scoring, QB rating, and completion percentage.

7. San Francisco 49ers

The 49ers tried desperately to take the air out of the football last season, but still struggled defending the pass. They finished in the bottom 10 in the NFL in YPC, QB rating, sacks, YPG, and completion percentage. Clearly the 49ers are in rebuilding mode, but new DC Jim O’Neil just failed to rebuild or improve Cleveland’s defense, and left under some great scrutiny from former players. The secondary is horrible, but if the 49ers can’t get pressure on the QB again this season, they will continue to give up a high completion percentage and QB rating.


6. San Diego Chargers

I made the argument early last season that the Chargers were an Eric Weddle injury away from being a bottom 5 defense. He missed the Raiders game and the Charges gave up 39 points, missed the Ravens game and they gave up 320 yards and 29 points to Flacco and co, and then gave up over 500 yards to what was a the time an offensively struggling Broncos in Week 17. He’s gone for good now, and I think the Chargers will finish in the bottom 10 of pass defenses this season.

5. Tennessee Titans

Dick LeBeau worked magic with this roster last season, but how much longer can the 78 year old coordinator do it? On paper the secondary looks horrific… statistically they weren’t quite as bad as the talent here indicates. They did however finish bottom 6 in scoring, YPG allowed, TPA allowed, and QB rating. No major offseason moves to the secondary, but they should pressure the QB slightly better keeping them out of our bottom 4 for 2016-2017.

4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

We aren’t huge fans of Lovie Smith’s scheme, but what it did do was mask the huge issues the Bucs have in their secondary. Bringing in Mike Smith will eventually work out, but not this season. Adding Grimes and Hargreaves helps, but Grimes is coming off his worst season, has all sorts of off the field wife issues and while Hargreaves is NFL-ready, he’s going to have some growing pains. The depth chart looks better, but a scheme change will likely expose the weaknesses at safety and lack of depth. This defense gave up 70% completion percentage last season and were 31st in QB rating at 102.5, while only giving up 5 big plays all season… So it was a dumpster fire everywhere except for allowing big plays and we expect the new scheme to start giving up big plays.

bucs passing defense depth chart

3. Cleveland Browns

While the Browns only gave up 250 passing yards per game last season, they allowed an opponent QB rating of 101.8 (30th in league) and were 29th in the league in scoring defense at 27 PPG. They added a ton of players and history tells us they will hit on a % of those guys eventually. In the meantime, while they develop these young players, the Browns look like they are going to struggle to slow down opposing pass offenses. Excuse us if we aren’t overly optimistic about Ray Horton, who just got his 4th DC job after failing to get more than one season at any of his previous 3 DC jobs.

2. New Orleans Saints

New Orleans was an all-time bad defense last season, and their crazy salary cap issues ensures they will be for the next few season. Vonn Bell is a solid addition, we love the Sheldon Rankins pick, but neither guy will have a big enough impact to move New Orleans off this spot. We think Dennis Allen get’s the defense to play somewhat better this season, but we will still be targeting the Saints early and often.

1. New York Giants

The Giants were a perfect storm for opponent scoring last season… The offense is 100% no huddle, and they throw the ball a ton, so games were often uptempo and high scoring. Couple that with absolutely no pass rush, a slightly overrated secondary, and the Giants gave 299 passing yards per game last season. We know Spagnuolo can coach, but this roster just doesn’t fit his scheme. Eli Apple is going to be good, in a few years, but right now this team can’t pressure the QB which makes it tough for any DB to find consistent success.

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