The modern era of the NFL is centred around big plays.
This has led to the evolution of the game that is in the market for big catches on the offensive side of the ball. While the need for fullbacks is diminishing and running-backs are used for short yardage situations, NFL defences must adjust to this change in order to remain effective.
Long gone are the days of the "Steel Curtain" and the tough style of play designed to stop the opposition's running game. The ten defences listed below have a good balance of tough play up front and superb coverage by their secondaries.
10: Detroit Lions
The Lions have a decent balance between their front seven and their secondary. The front seven in Detroit is as fierce as anyone in the league.
With Ndamukong Suh, Nick Fairley and Ziggy Ansah up front, the Lions are going to be a force to be reckoned with. However, the reason that this team was 13th in total defence last year was because of their secondary.
The Lions are in a division with the teams that favour the passing game such as the Green Bay Packers. If the Lions want to show that they can be a shut down defence their secondary must prove it.
9: San Diego Chargers
The Chargers have reloaded their defence after the departure of Norv Turner as head coach. The Chargers brought in outside linebacker, Dwight Freeney to help the pass rush.
Manti Te'o, the rookie linebacker will look to add to the pass rush and help the Chargers remain a top ten defence.
Last year the team gave up on average 96.4 rushing yards per game which was fourth best in the league. The secondary, led by Eric Weddle, must be a factor in forcing turnovers if the team wants to be successful.
8: Chicago Bears
With the retirement of Brian Urlacher, the Bears look to move into a new era of defence. Last year the Bears were the fifth best defence in the league, only giving up an average of 17.1 points per game.
The team must look to stop the dominant offences within their division. The defence is still led by play-makers such as Julius Peppers, Lance Briggs, Major Wright and Charles Tillman. So they are in good hands for the upcoming season and will remain one of the better defences in the league.
7: New York Jets
We could talk hours on end about the dysfunctional offence that the Jets have. However, the defensive side of the ball is somewhat of a different story.
Even though the Jets lost Darrelle Revis to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, they still have a top ten defence. Last season, the Jets had the eighth best defence in the league. This was in part due to the outstanding play of the secondary.
The Jets gave up on average 189.8 passing yards per game and only 3036 net passing yards. Both statistics were second best in the entire league. This year's Jets secondary will be led by Antonio Cromartie and Dawan Landry.
6: Baltimore Ravens
With Ray Lewis into retirement and Ed Reed with the Texans, the Ravens look to rebound with an entirely different mold on the field.
The new front seven of this team is frightening. With a total weight of 1980 lbs and an average height of 6'2, this front is massive. The Ravens have a very good chance to be better than last year's Super Bowl Champion defence.
The Ravens look to be in the right direction defensively. The secondary will have some new faces as well with Michael Huff and Matt Elam joining the squad. This is going to make for a very hard hitting, smash-mouth type of defence that we are used to seeing from the Ravens.
5. Pittsburgh Steelers
As long as Brett Keisel, Lamarr Woodley, Larry Foote and Lawrence Timmons are on the front seven with Troy Polamalu, Ryan Clark and Ike Taylor in the secondary, you will have a top five defence.
The Steelers have dealt with some injuries to players, but do not seem to be effected on the defensive side of the ball. Last season, the Steelers were the best defence in the league. They gave up on average only 275.8 yards per game and 19.6 points per game.
This team may be old, but they are still effective and tough.
4: Cincinnati Bengals
This rejuvenated Bengals defence is something to look out for. Led by James Harrison, Carlos Dunlap and Geno Atkins, this defensive squad will be one to watch.
The Bengals have already proven their size advantage in the preseason by dominating opposing offensive lines. The Bengals are here to stay and look to add to a stellar season last year when they were ranked the sixth best defence in the NFL.
3: Houston Texans
The Texans are looking to repeat the regular season performance from last year - the defence of the Texans is an integral part of doing just that.
With the unbelievable combination of J.J. Watt and Brian Cushing along with Marcilus Whitney and future Hall of Famer Ed Reed - pending his recovery from an injury, of course.
The Texans look prepared to take on the challenges of another regular season. Last year the Texans were ranked seventh in the league for total defence and they look to improve from that.
2: Seattle Seahawks
This is a Seahawks defence that only allowed 4899 total yards in the whole regular season last year.
With competition heating up in the NFC West, the Seahawks look to catch the San Francisco 49ers and one way that they can do so is to dominate them defensivley. The twelfth man crowd in Seattle will have a defence to cheer about once again this season.
1: San Francisco 49ers
The defending NFC champions look to build off of last year and capture the elusive Lombardi Trophy. They will attempt to do this with the toughest defence in the league.
Led by Patrick Willis, Aldon Smith and Amhad Brooks, the 49ers will hold onto that fierceness that carried them to Super Bowl XLVII.
This year, the 49ers will strive to reach their seventh Super Bowl appearance in franchise history. There is no reason to believe as we head in to the season that they will not be able to reach that goal.
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