With the game of football becoming more offense-based, some have the notion that defense isn’t nearly as vital anymore. That thought process could not be farther from the truth. While the phrase “defense wins championships” might not carry as much weight as it used to, it’s still imperative to be solid on that side of the football. Four weeks into the 2022 season, these five teams have played defense at the highest level.
1. San Francisco 49ers
The Niners have a very talented and stingy three-level defense led by rising defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans. On the field, edge rusher Nick Bosa, inside linebacker Fred Warner, and safety Talanoa Hufanga set the tone at every level of defense. The Niners are limiting teams to under three years per carry and barely 160 yards passing per game. For a team that blitzes just over 9 percent, to have a pressure rate of nearly 28 percent is astounding, and a credit to the defensive line getting home consistently. San Fran is just one of two teams this season to not allow 20 points in any game.
TZZ UP FOR BIG HUF
First-career pick 6 for @TalanoaHufanga!
— San Francisco 49ers (@49ers) October 4, 2022
2. Dallas Cowboys
Led by reigning Defensive Rookie of the Year Micah Parsons, who’s accrued four sacks this season, the Cowboys strangled the division rival Commanders, holding them to just over 4 yards per play. Dan Quinn’s active defense also hit quarterback Carson Wentz 11 times and totaled six tackles for loss. This comes one week after pressuring Giants quarterback Daniel Jones 24 times in a big road win on “Monday Night Football.” All-Pro cornerback Trevon Diggs is picking up where he left off with two more interceptions this season after his 11 picks in 2021. While Dallas can be run on (they rank 25th against the run), they only allow 175 yards passing per game.
During Sunday’s win over Washington, Diggs told his position coach Al Harris “every ball could be a pick.”
"Every ball could be a pick."
— NFL Films (@NFLFilms) October 5, 2022
3. Buffalo Bills
The Super Bowl favorite Bills overcame a 14-0 and 20-3 holes to win in rainy, sloppy Baltimore. Getting All-Pro safety Jordan Poyer back was huge for a defense that’s been just decent through the first four weeks of the season. With future Hall of Famer Von Miller providing a consistent rush off the edge, the belief is the secondary will begin to play better as they get some of the injured starters back. Buffalo gets to face Steelers rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett in his first NFL start.
The Buffalo Bills defense has recorded 26 sacks over the last 5 regular season games with 21 of those coming in the last 3. #BillsMafia
— Locked On Bills (@LockedOnBills) September 12, 2022
4. Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles are the lone undefeated team in the NFL, led by a dominant defensive line that goes 8-9 deep to keep guys fresh. The pass rush is superb, and the linebackers are better with the addition of Hassan Reddick via free agency. The piece of the puzzle that puts them on another level was adding cornerback James Bradberry to play opposite former All-Pro Darius “Big Play” Slay.
5. Kansas City Chiefs
We get so enamored with the Chiefs’ great offense under Andy Reid, Eric Bieniemy and Patrick Mahomes, but the defense is what makes them legit Super Bowl contenders. Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo is showing that they play defense in K.C. as well. In the team’s 41-31 wire-to-wire win at Tampa, they made life tough for Tom Brady, and while he did pass for over 350 yards, a lot of it came in garbage time.
If they’re going to be this good on defense, then it’s scary hours for the NFL.
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