Most of the talk regarding the Kansas City Chiefs, Green Bay Packers and Dallas Cowboys when the season started centered on their offenses, while most wondered whether the defenses could be good enough to help those teams get to a Super Bowl.
With four weeks left in the season, and it's the defenses of those teams that have taken on a starring role. The three teams sit atop their respective divisions heading into the stretch run because the defenses have played so well that they have carried offenses that have sputtered at times.
The Chiefs have flashed signs of their explosive offense some this season, even showing some of that in Sunday's blowout of the Las Vegas Raiders, but it's the defense that has shined in the past two months to get them to 9-4. They are sixth in scoring defense.
The Cowboys have recently looked average on offense as Dak Prescott's early MVP play has leveled off, but they are showing real signs of coming to life on defense. With their pass-rushers all back from injury, they have a front that can change games quickly, which it did against Washington in a tough victory on the road Sunday to take command of the division. They are 12th in scoring defense.
Green Bay's defense has been impressive under first-year coordinator Joe Barry. They have been the surprising unit in Green Bay, and will soon get back key players in corner Jaire Alexander and pass-rusher Za'Darius Smith. Green Bay is seventh in scoring defense.
The Packers are now first in my Power Rankings, followed by Kansas City at No. 5 and Dallas in the seventh spot. If the offenses of those three teams can get back to being as explosive as expected, they all have a chance to be the Super Bowl champions.
Who knew it would be because of their defenses?
4 Football Team
Rcrd1 Packers They just keep on rolling, even with a ton of injuries on the offensive line. Aaron Rodgers helps cure those issues. 1 10-3-0 2 Buccaneers They made it interesting against Buffalo, but they found a way in overtime. The defense still has a way to go to be back to the Super level of last season. 1 10-3-0 3 Patriots They come off their bye as the top seed in the AFC facing a tough road game at Indianapolis against the Colts. Bill Belichick for NFL Coach of the Year. 1 9-4-0 4 Cardinals They lost to an undermanned Rams team at home, which is not a good look. The defense really let them down. 3 10-3-0 5 Chiefs They probably wish they could play the Raiders every week seeing how they dominated them in both games. They seem to be getting it going at the right time. -- 9-4-0 6 Titans The defense impressed in shutting out the Jaguars. They now face a tough road game at Pittsburgh, but they pretty much own the division now. 3 9-4-0 7 Cowboys The defense will be trouble going forward now that the injured down players are back on the field. They can wreck a game. Dak Prescott does have to pick it up. 3 9-4-0 8 Chargers They have won two straight and head to a big Thursday night game with the Chiefs looking good. Justin Herbert is back in a big way. 3 8-5-0 9 Rams That was a huge road victory Monday night with all the injuries and COVID players who were out. Credit Matt Stafford for getting it done. 3 9-4-0 10 Bills Two straight losses has them reeling as they head to the final four weeks. They have to get it going or they could be the biggest flop of the season. The schedule is favorable. 3 7-6-0 11 Ravens With Lamar Jackson banged up and Green Bay coming to town, they have big issues. They've navigated through a bunch of problems, but this will be the biggest. 3 8-5-0 12 Bengals They've lost two straight and haven't looked as crisp as in some earlier games. They still can win the division, but it has to start this week. -- 7-6-0 13 Colts They are firmly in the playoff chase, but they come off the bye with a home game against the Patriots. That's a proving-ground game for this team. -- 7-6-0 14 49ers Pulling out a big overtime victory at Cincinnati has them in the playoffs right now. Jimmy Garoppolo has played well this season. 2 7-6-0 15 Broncos They have put themselves smack dab in the playoff race. The running game is leading this team on offense right now. 3 7-6-0 16 Steelers This is a team getting beat up on both lines. You can't win games that way. They are in big trouble. 2 6-6-1 17 Browns By holding on to beat the Baltimore Ravens, they have a real chance now to win the division. The schedule down the stretch is brutal. 3 7-6-0 18 Vikings They always seem to make it interesting in the end. But they found a way against the Steelers last Thursday, which keeps them in the playoff mix. 3 6-7-0 19 Football Team With Taylor Heinicke injured, it could be Kyle Allen's time. He would face a big game this week against the Eagles. 4 6-7-0 20 Raiders Their season is spiraling out of control after their blowout loss to the Chiefs. They are on life support now. 3 6-7-0 21 Dolphins They were on a five-game winning streak when they went to the bye. Can they regain that momentum this week against the Jets? 2 6-7-0 22 Eagles They should have Jalen Hurts back this week as they ready to play Washington in a big division game. PS: He is their quarterback, so let's stop the Gardner Minshew mania. -- 6-7-0 23 Saints The defense won that game against the Jets, but Taysom Hill showed improvement throwing it. Now comes a huge game with Tampa Bay. -- 6-7-0 24 Seahawks They've won two straight to keep their playoff hopes alive. They would likely have to win out, which won't be easy. 1 5-8-0 25 Falcons They kept their playoff chances alive by winning at Carolina. The defense played well in that one, but now they have a tough trip to San Francisco. 1 6-7-0 26 Panthers The firing of coordinator Joe Brady didn't do much for the offense. They are just not good enough on that side of the ball, no matter who calls the plays. 2 5-8-0 27 Giants This season is done. It's time to start thinking