Better buckle up your chinstraps when you play Baltimore. Known for their physical, relentless pursuit of the football, the Ravens look to improve in an assortment of areas. Ranking 22nd in turnovers and allowing the 23rd most passing yards is a place to begin. But those facts from last season came from a secondary that was riddled with injuries.
Getty ImagesPatrick Smith
When you think about Denver's defense, you start with the pass rushers. With outside linebackers Demarcus Ware, Von Miller and first-round pick Shane Ray firing off the edge, opponents will need to combat that with the short passing game. The problem that Denver presents, however, is a talented secondary bolstered by cornerbacks Aqib Talib and Chris Harris.
Getty ImagesJustin Edmonds
Head coach Mike Zimmer did an excellent job of tranforming the Vikings defense in his first season. In 2013, the Vikings' defense ranked 31st and 32nd in yards and points allowed. In 2014, they showed dramatic improvement in all areas. The key is the front office has infused that side of the ball with young talent since Zimmer's arrival. Even more anticipation has grown since the Vikings selected cornerback Trae Waynes, linebacker Eric Kendricks and defensive end Danielle Hunter with their first three picks in May's NFL Draft.
Getty ImagesCliff McBride
Kansas City Chiefs
Getting to the quarterback has never been a problem in Kansas City. Spearheaded by Justin Houston and Tamba Hali, the Chiefs defense finished fifth in the league in sacks (46.0). Creating turnovers certainly could be an area of weakness from last year, however. Ranking last in the NFL with 13 takeaways, the Chiefs bolstered their secondary by spending a first-round pick on cornerback Marcus Peters and a third-round pick on cornerback Steven Nelson.
Getty ImagesJamie Squire
New York Jets
First-year head coach Todd Bowles certainly won't have a problem applying pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Despite Sheldon Richardson's four-game ban for violating the league's substance abuse policy, the Jets have one of the NFL's most formidable defensive lines, led by Muhammad Wilkerson and first-round pick Leonard Williams. To add even more excitement, the Jets front office made a splash in free-agency, signing cornerbacks Darrelle Revis, Brandon Browner and Buster Skrine and safety Marcus Gilchrist. How Bowles molds this unit will be indicative of the team's success.
Defensive coordinator Sean McDermott has piloted a unit that has finished in the top 10 in total defense for three consecutive seasons. While the Panthers' pass rush could stand to get better in 2015, playmaking linebackers Luke Kuechly, Thomas Davis and first-round pick Shaq Thompson gives this unit some grit. Carolina is coming off a record-setting performance from last year, allowing the fewest yards ever in a postseason game against the Arizona Cardinals.
Getty ImagesGrant Halverson
The Dolphins are banking big on Ndamukong Suh fully maximizing his potential in Kevin Coyle's unit. By adding Suh to the center of the defense, they are hoping it opens up more opportunities for outside linebackers Olivier Vernon and Cam Wake. There's no doubt the front seven is loaded, but questions remain on how the back end of the defense will perform.
Getty ImagesJoel Auerbach
Everything in Houston centers around J.J. Watt, but the front office has complemented this unit with wide-ranging talent. Adding nose tackle Vince Wilfork to the middle of the defense gives the team a space-eating run stuffer. Then, they re-signed cornerback Kareem Jackson and inked an opportunistic play-making safety in Rahim Moore. If that wasn't enough, they drafted a nasty inside linebacker in Mississippi State product Benardrick McKinney.
Getty ImagesThomas B. Shea
Dan Quinn is no longer in Seattle, but the toughness and tenacity the Seahawks defense plays with will remain. Seattle plays a very aggressive style of defense, which allows their long cornerbacks and safeties a chance to make plays on the ball. Roaming the top of the field is Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas, who play at lightning speed. Inside linebacker Bobby Wagner patrols the second level and is a master at bringing down the ball carrier.
Getty ImagesChristian Petersen
Leading the NFL in sacks a season ago, Buffalo's defense is primed for another stellar year. Buoyed by a stout defensive line -- Jerry Hughes, Kyle Williams, Marcell Dareus and Mario Williams -- Rex Ryan will be able to come up with creative blitz packages to have opponents playing on their heels. This is an AFC Championship-caliber unit that will need to perform at a high level if the Bills hope to make their first postseason appearance since 1999.