The Shadow League’s respect for the way the Buffalo Bills dismantled the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium might’ve clouded our judgment when ranking their defense in the past couple of weeks. They finally had to take a back seat to another defense.
Here are The Shadow League’s best defenses following seven weeks of NFL gridiron action.
The Arizona Cardinals are still the only undefeated (7-0) team in the NFL, and they’re led by a stout defense.
The Arizona Cardinals defense is surrendering the least points per game in the NFL at 𝟏𝟔.𝟑. A big credit to DC Vance Joseph for turning things around. The Cards defense was statistically the worst in the league in 2019 during VJ's first season.
— Bo Brack (@BoBrack) October 25, 2021
Bookends Chandler Jones and JJ Watt are harassing all opposing QBs. Fresh off a 31-5 throttling of Watt’s former team, the Arizona D held Houston Texans quarterback Davis Mills III under 100 yards passing. They’ll get another huge test this Thursday against Aaron Rodgers and the Packers.
A bye week for the Buffalo Bills means they’ll have time to fix some leaks in their run defense. Derrick Henry and the Titans exposed them on “MNF.” Despite the Henry hazing, they remain No.1 in overall defense.
It's Dolphins week.. again.
The Buffalo Bills are currently ranked 14th in total offense and 1st in total defense.
The Miami Dolphins are currently ranked 24th in total offense and 32nd in total defense.
— The Wandering Buffalo (@TheWanderingBuf) October 26, 2021
They possess four pass rushers with at least 13 QB pressures (Jerry Hughes, Ed Oliver, Gregory Rousseau and AJ Epenesa) and a ballhawking secondary led by cornerback Tre’Davious White and safety Micah Hyde.
Defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier mixes and matches his coverages on the backend to perfection. Expect a huge performance at home against Miami, whom they beat 35-0 on the road in Week 2.
A new arrival to the list plays out of the Queen City. The Cincinnati Bengals were downright dominant in a surprising 41-17 blowout of the Ravens in Baltimore.
This defense is playing on ANOTHER LEVEL 😤 pic.twitter.com/dpqoYNZNM7
— Cincinnati Bengals (@Bengals) October 26, 2021
They harassed the elusive Lamar Jackson all game (five sacks). Defensive ends Sam Hubbard and Trey Hendrickson played smart and didn’t get upfield and lose containment on Jackson.
Tampa Bay Bucs
Down in Tampa they’ve been treading water on the defensive side of the football with injuries.
Bears OC Sean Desai on what makes Tampa Bay DT Vita Vea so good: “He can destroy double teams so well.” Bucs have the #1 run defense in the NFL. pic.twitter.com/FONnEiMzvw
— Matt Zahn (@mattzahnsports) October 21, 2021
With edge rusher Jason Pierre-Paul back and the secondary beginning to play to the level of last year’s playoff run, it could be scary for opponents again very soon.
In a matchup with former quarterback Jared Goff, the Los Angeles Rams seemed to be off most of the day. But when they needed a play in the red zone they came up with it.
Buffalo is still NFL's stingiest defense. The Rams, led by Aaaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey, have to improve against the run and get more stops on third down. https://t.co/3TzWz0QR5h
— The Shadow League (@ShadowLeague) October 20, 2021
A lot of the defense’s issues stemmed from a special teams unit that was anything but that. Allowing short fields and putting the defense in tough situations isn’t a recipe for success against better opponents, but the Rams have an elite defense, and no way they’ll overlook another lesser opponent.
Pittsburgh Steelers — A healthy TJ Watt is a recipe for success. DT Anthony Hargrove is having an All-Pro type season.
Dallas Cowboys — Trevon Diggs (seven interceptions), isn’t the only good thing about the defense in “Big D.” Defensive end Randy Gregory is off the weed and playing well. They’ll get their best defensive player (DeMarcus Lawrence) back in a couple weeks.
New Orleans Saints — Saints are leaning heavily on their defense while inserting Jameis Winston as the starting QB for the retired Drew Brees. An elite pass rush led by Cameron Jordan and a secondary led by Marshon Lattimore has been playing well. This team will need the defense to continue to develop if they want to secure a playoff spot.