It should surprise no one that the San Francisco 49ers have advanced, by fan vote, to the semi-finals in ProFootballWeekly's "Best Defense in the NFL" bracket. The team they're meeting this week in that tournament may come as more of a surprise though, - none other than their NFC West rivals - the Seattle Seahawks. The Seahawks had the upset last week by besting Houston's vaunted and respected defense in the vote, but their task this week just gets harder as they face one of the main favorites to win the whole tournament - Vic Fangio's 49er defensive unit.
As you would expect, the PFW analysts all pick San Francisco as the stronger defense and I cannot say I disagree with them. The Niners have probably the best front seven in all of football and a very strong secondary to boot. It's difficult to argue that Seattle's defense was better in 2011, and that's why San Francisco will likely get the edge here, but projecting forward, - this year, next year, and on - I do see them both having great units and I can see Seattle closing the gap a bit.
As Senior editor Eric Edholm notes:
"The Seahawks will surprise people on defense this season. They have a young, ballhawking, aggressive secondary, and to a man it will be better than the 49ers. Yes, I said it. But - and it's a big but - the front seven edge goes to the 49ers. Hands down. The league might be cycling away slightly from the 3-4, but few teams do it better. They have a great front three that can stack and clear lanes for maybe the four best playmaking linebackers in the league, on par with the Super Bowl units the Steelers had in the past several years. I do worry about their health after having so few injuries last season, but this Niners "D" gets the edge. It's just not as big a gap between these teams as people realize."
Sounds right to me.
For more on the Seahawks, make sure you head to Field Gulls and join in on the discussion.