Ryan Mayer

Defense wins championships, or so the old cliche goes. The phrase does ring somewhat true in the NFL as we’ve seen teams like the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks act like wrecking balls to the league’s best offenses en route to Super Bowl wins. Heading into the 2017 season, those two teams look strong on the defensive side of the ball once again, but there are a few other teams that could have top units as well.

We posed the question to our CBS Sports Radio colleagues and they actually came up with two different teams, one in the AFC and NFC respectively: the Houston Texans and the New York Giants.

“The most formidable defense will be right there in my home state of Texas, but the wrong team, not my Cowboys, the Houston Texans,” said Brian Jones, co-host of Gio and Jones. “J.J. Watt, is back, he’s looking healthy. Then, you got him coupled with Jadaveon Clowney, I think they’re going to knock some heads off. Watch out for the Houston Texans.”

Jones’ co-host, Gregg Giannotti, agrees.

“I have to go with the Houston Texans. The combination of Watt hopefully healthy for a full year, Clowney, and Whitney Mercilus, who is someone who has been behind those two guys at that linebacker position that nobody seems to talk about,” said Giannotti. “He’s had five great years of football going into his sixth year. That team is going to need a great defense. They lived on it last year and they were so good last year they gave the Patriots fits for a little bit. They won a playoff game with Brock Osweiler as the quarterback, that’s how good that defense is. They have to be the best defense in the league.”

Marc Malusis went to the NFC with his pick, more specifically, the NFC East and the New York Giants.

“I think the Giants have the best defense in the NFL,” said Malusis. “They can get to the quarterback with Olivier Vernon, Jason Pierre Paul and Damon “Snacks Harrison in the middle can stop the ground game as well. I love the secondary. How could you not like the secondary that’s anchored by Landon Collins at the safety spot?”

Brandon Tierney, co-host of Tiki and Tierney, agrees with Malusis and points to Collins as one of the key guys in that G-Men defensive unit.

“Landon Collins might be among the top two defensive players in football,” said Tierney. “He’s clearly still ascending. He’s just starting to figure out what the league is all about. He’s largely been relying on natural instinct. He is an absolute superstar, he wreaks havoc and he makes plays back there. By the way, the rest of the secondary is pretty strong as well. Their defense is beastly, very very good.”

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