After previously ranking the NFL's 32 offenses, Pro Football Focus turned its attention to the NFL's 32 defenses in a new piece for ESPN. For this list, the teams were ranked based on their secondary, linebackers, edge rushers and interior line.
After coming in ninth in the offensive rankings, the Detroit Lions landed 12th in the defensive rankings. Given the question marks surrounding their secondary, that's actually a bit higher than I was expecting, especially when you look at the breakdown for their position groups:
Edge rushers: 28th
Interior line: 4th
Despite being dragged down by their secondary and edge rushers, the Lions finished all the way up at 12th thanks to their linebackers and interior line. That's actually a pretty good summary of the Lions defense going into the 2014 season. The linebackers and interior line are viewed as strengths, but the defense's overall success will really come down to generating more pressure and stopping the pass.
In the NFC North, by the way, the Lions came in just behind the Green Bay Packers (10th) and way ahead of the Minnesota Vikings (29th) and Chicago Bears (30th). Considering all four teams made the top 13 for the offensive rankings, it's no surprise that people are expecting a lot of yards and points in the division this year. There's a lot of talent on offense in the NFC North, but at least on paper, there are a lot of question marks on the defensive side of the ball.
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