1. Chicago – The big bad Bears allowed 15.9 points per game a year ago, and 294.1 yards per game. They were deep enough to trade safety Chris Harris, and with Tommie Harris back, Lance Briggs, Alex Bown, and Brian Urlacher, this team should be very sound again in the defensive department. They also recorded 40 sacks and were third overall in points allowed. It will be interesting to see what changes if any are made with Ron Rivera out of the mix.
2. New England – I love what this team did in the offseason, and I think with LB Adalius Thomas on board, this unit is in for a big 2007. Last season they ranked 6th overall, 5th vs the rush and 12th against the pass. If they can survive without Asante Samuel, which they surely will, this team is looking for a deep playoff run with a solid front three (Ty Warren, Vince Wilfork, Richard Seymour), and good linebackers led by Thomas and Rosevelt Colvin. They also went defense in four of the first five rounds of the draft thinking about the future.
3. Oakland – Forget about the fact this team has little to offer on offense, the defense is solid and should be even better in 2007. They were number one vs the pass last season at 150.8 yards per game, and if the run stuffers can improve on allowing 134 yards per game, the defense will keep this team in games. The secondary and safety spots are solid and CB Nnamdi Asomugha is underrated and showed his skill last seaosn with 8 picks. They allowed 20.8 points per game last year, and I expect that number to go down to about 17 this season.
4. Baltimore – The Ravens will once again be a force on defense, last season playing out of their minds and leading the league in the following: total defense, points allowed, interceptions, and plus/minus in turnovers. They also sacked the QB 60 times on top of that. The somewhat suspect spot might be in the corner position, where Chris McCalister and Samari Rolle can give up the occassional big play. Teams will have to try different things to attack the Ravens this year though, as last season nothing seemed to work.
5. Minnesota – Number one against the run last season, the Vikings look to improve even more in 2007 on defense. They have a solid front four with Pat & Kevin Williams leading the way, along with a good linebacking core. They did lose defensive coordinator Mike Tomlin to the Steelers as head coach, but the unit still has enough talent to be a force in the NFC and if they can make strides in stopping the pass should win a few games with defense alone.