If defense really does win championships, then it's important to find out which team has the best one as the NFL playoffs are set to begin.
Since there isn't any one metric that reliably proves one defense to be better than another, we used three: combining each team's final NFL ranking in points allowed, takeaways and yards allowed to settle on a combined rankings score.
That left us with one tie — at the top — and we'll tell you how we broke it when you get there.
We know the Falcons are all about offense, but they are at least a middle-of-the-pack team in forcing turnovers, which only gives Matt Ryan more chances to go to work.
Atlanta finished last among playoff teams in points per game allowed (25.4), but that doesn't matter as much for a team that tries to outscore its opponents the way the Falcons have for most of the season.
The Packers rank 11th out of 12 playoff teams in points per game allowed (24.3), but key takeaways have saved the second half of their season, and linebacker Clay Matthews is finally getting healthy at the right time.
The way Aaron Rodgers has been playing lately, the Packers' defense simply needs to be serviceable.
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Oakland Raiders (48)
Points allowed: 20 Takeaways: 2 Yards allowed: 26
The Raiders rank 10th in points per game allowed among playoff teams but rank second in the NFL and second among playoff teams (behind only Kansas City) in takeaways. Khalil Mack might be the most dangerous defender in the playoffs.
That figures to be a key against a Texans team that is turning back to the ineffective Brock Osweiler as its starter for this weekend's playoff game. (And yes, we know: the Raiders' QB situation isn't any better.)
Dallas Cowboys (39)
Points allowed: 5 Takeaways: 20 Yards allowed: 14
The Cowboys don't excel in either yards allowed or takeaways, yet somehow make it all work on the scoreboard. That's the recipe for a 13-3 record.
That's more than enough on the defensive side of the ball to go along with Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott behind an elite offensive line, and it's a big reason the Cowboys are the NFC's No. 1 seed.
Houston Texans (38)
Points allowed: 11 Takeaways: 26 Yards allowed: 1
The Texans' defense is the only reason this team is in the playoffs. But even a stingy yards-allowed ranking won't help in the postseason without more takeaways.
Fortunately for them, the quarterback-starved Raiders are up next on the schedule.
The Steelers rank sixth among playoff teams in points per game allowed (20.4) and have been getting stronger since a four-game losing streak in the middle of the season. They have allowed only 17.3 points per game on their current seven-game winning streak.
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Kansas City Chiefs (32)
Points allowed: 7 Takeaways: 1 Yards allowed: 24
The Chiefs lead the league in takeaways and rank fifth among playoff teams in points per game allowed (19.4).
All of that helps make Kansas City perhaps the most legitimate threat to the Patriots on the road to the Super Bowl in the AFC.
Seattle Seahawks (30)
Points allowed: 3 Takeaways: 22 Yards allowed: 5
The Seahawks rank third among playoff teams (and third in the league) in points per game allowed (18.3) and are stingy in yards allowed, but they haven't forced a lot of turnovers.
Things have slipped a bit since safety Earl Thomas went down with a season-ending injury.
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New England Patriots (23)
Points allowed: 1 Takeaways: 14 Yards allowed: 8
The Patriots rank first in the NFL in points per game allowed (15.6) and ended up tied with the Giants in our combined rankings score. We had to make someone first, so we threw out yards allowed (the least valuable of the three stats) to determine the champ. The Giants come out slightly ahead, 13-15, in the combined rankings score of the other two categories.
Plus, the Patriots can't be the best at everything, right?
Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY SportDerick E. Hingle
New York Giants (23)
Points allowed: 2 Takeaways: 11 Yards allowed: 10
The Giants spent a boatload of money on their defense last season, and it's clearly paid off. If defense truly does win championships, Super Bowl LI might just turn out to be another Giants-Patriots rematch.