The rich get richer as Minnesota tops the charts
Adding DE Jared Allen to the Vikings' already-dominant defensive line gives offenses something else to worry about, writes Doug Kretz.
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The Vikings owned the best run defense in 2007, in large part because of their defensive tackles, Kevin Williams and Pat Williams. They gave up a paltry 74.1 yards per game, which forced opponents to become pretty much one-dimensional. Now that they have added DE Jared Allen, who led the NFL with 15.5 sacks last season while playing for the Kansas City Chiefs, they should be able to put a lot of pressure on opposing quarterbacks as well. This will, in turn, take a lot of pressure off of LDE Ray Edwards and force teams to concentrate on their pass-blocking schemes to the right side of Minnesota's defense. Kevin Williams also is one of the best defensive tackles in terms of getting to the quarterback; he's earned 34 sacks the past five years.
The Giants led the NFL in sacks in 2007 with 53, and their front four played a major role in their Super Bowl run. Losing DE Michael Strahan to retirement will affect the Giants' defense, but surprisingly the run defense will feel his absence more than the pass defense. Last year, as a sub, Justin Tuck had 10 sacks. Plus, he has the ability to slide inside and allow LB Mathias Kiwanuka to put his hand on the ground and rush off the edge as a designated pass-rusher. Interior linemen Barry Cofield, Fred Robbins and Jay Alford provide depth and different personnel looks, so they make it difficult for offensive coordinators to plan against them.
2. New York Giants
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Depth is one of the keys to success in the NFL. Scouts Inc. looks at the starters and the backups at every position and ranks each unit based on its potential production.
• Nos. 1-10: No shock at the top
• Nos. 11-32: Look who's in trouble
• Nos. 1-10: Chargers best, but others closing fast
• Nos. 11-32: Raiders up? Bears down? Really?
• Nos. 1-10: Pats lead the way, others closing fast
• Nos. 11-32: Super Bowl champs best of the rest
• Nos. 1-10: Gates and Chargers on top
• Nos. 11-32: Texans, Jags have youth, talent
• Nos. 1-10: Thomas leads resurgent Browns
• Nos. 11-32: Physical Jags on edge of top 10
• Nos. 1-10: Adding Allen makes Vikes No. 1
• Nos. 11-32: Eagles just miss top 10
• Nos. 1-10: Ware and Thomas make Dallas No. 1
• Nos. 11-32: Falcons on the brink of top 10
• Nos. 1-10: Jones puts Dallas over the top
• Nos. 11-32: Buccaneers are just outside top 10
• Nos. 1-10: Bears, Hester run away with No. 1
• Nos. 11-32: Rams and Vikes just out of top 10