Which defenses have improved, regressed

The Seattle Seahawks lost nine games last season, none by fewer than 15 points. When they lost, they lost big -- by an average of 21 points per regular-season defeat.

Their four defeats this season have been by an average of 11.3 points. Their most recent two defeats, to Atlanta and Cleveland, were by a combined 5 points.

Defensive improvement accounts for the increased competitiveness, in my view. Defensive ends Chris Clemons and Red Bryant are playing at a high level, as are safeties Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor.

After charting how much NFC West offenses have changed from last season, I've crunched the numbers for defenses and made them available in the table below.

A few highlights:

  • The St. Louis Rams are allowing an additional 73.5 yards per game this season. Only Green Bay (81.9) and Indianapolis (74.4) have higher figures in this department. The Rams' total jumps out because nearly all of it, 70.7, has come on the ground. No team in the league has suffered such a dramatic change for the worse in rushing yards allowed. Pittsburgh is next at 44.3 additional yards per game on the ground.

  • The Rams have suffered the third-largest increase in third-down percentage allowed.

  • The Arizona Cardinals are allowing 31 fewer yards rushing per game, the fourth-largest improvement from last season. They are allowing an additional 45.8 yards per game passing, however.

  • Arizona, San Francisco and Seattle rank among the NFL's top 10 in biggest improvements for rushing yards allowed per game.

  • The 49ers have enjoyed the fifth-best improvement in points allowed per game. The Rams rank last in this category, allowing an additional eight points per game over last season. Indianapolis (7.3) is the only other team above 5.3 additional point allowed.

On to the chart (stats marked with red text and underlines stood out to me when putting it together) ...


2010-11 NFC West Defenses: Change from last season