Once again, it’s time to rank the top defenses around the NFL following a crazy Week 9, which saw some surprising upsets. The defensive efforts of these five teams were superior.
1. Tennessee Titans
The Tennessee Titans have completely turned their season around and much of the credit goes to the defense. Early in the season, opponents were averaging 273 yards passing per game, with an 8.2 yards per attempt average and a QB rating of 101.9. The defense was also getting very little pass rush and allowing a 66 percent completion percentage.
The Tennessee Titans defense ranked 26th in EPA/play from Weeks 1-4.
They've ranked 6th in Weeks 5-9. They faced the Bills, Chiefs, and Rams in that time, too.
— Dalton Miller (@DaltonBMiller) November 10, 2021
The pass rush led by Jeffery Simmons, Harold Landry and Denico Autry wreaked havoc in recent wins over the Chiefs, Colts and Rams. The Titans D allowed a paltry 59 percent completion percentage on 5.4 yards per attempt, while also registering 10 sacks and 22 QB pressures. Head coach Mike Vrabel, a former Super Bowl winning linebacker, has to love what he’s seeing from his defense.
2. Buffalo Bills
The Bills defense can’t be blamed for the 9-6 upset loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 9. Buffalo still has the number-one ranked defense in the NFL. A defense that didn’t allow a touchdown and held the Jags under 220 yards of total offense.
Through 8 weeks, our Buffalo Bills are PFF's highest graded defense (79.7) 🗣 pic.twitter.com/2trjVsiUES
— PFF BUF Bills (@PFF_Bills) November 4, 2021
When you allow 3.8 yards per play and a paltry 15.4 percent conversion rate on third-down you’re not supposed to lose. This week, they face the New York Jets and backup Mike White. It should be another quality outing for the Bills, who will be able to confuse the young QB, while forcing some turnovers.
3. Pittsburgh Steelers
The Pittsburgh Steelers were lit up pretty good by the ever=elusive rookie Justin Fields on Monday Night Football. The Chicago Bears racked up 414 yards of offense, with most of the heavy lifting done by Fields.
The Steelers are Top 5 in the NFL in points allowed (169) and will respond under Mike Tomlin and DC Keith Butler.
4. Los Angeles Rams
"I want to bring the Von Miller effect." 🤫
🎥 Sit down with the newest addition to the Rams defense » https://t.co/ssBSKxqHhI pic.twitter.com/U92K150WOE
— Los Angeles Rams (@RamsNFL) November 5, 2021
The Rams pretty much shut down the Titans (without Derrick Henry) on offense, holding them to 194 yards and a 33 percent third-down conversion rate. Tennessee’s wideout duo of Julio Jones and A.J. Brown combined for a measly 77 yards, yet the Rams still lost.
They’ll unveil their newest toy on MNF as Von Miller is expected to make his Rams debut against the Niners.
5.New England Patriots
One thing for sure and two things for certain, Bill Belichick can still coach defense. The New England Patriots are Top 10 overall in defense and seventh in points allowed. Dolla Bill’s defense has been outstanding in wins over the Jets, Chargers and Carolina Panthers.
Bill Belichick's defense when they saw the Panthers starting Sam Darnold pic.twitter.com/IlOI1dtmK2
— Benjamin Solak (@BenjaminSolak) November 7, 2021
The last three games they’ve allowed a very modest 615 passing yards, turning their 2-4 start into a 5-4 surge right into the thick of the AFC East race. Cornerback JC Jackson doesn’t get enough credit for his coverage and ballhawking skills. The addition of Matthew Judon off the edge has infused life into a listless pass rush. Let’s see how they deal with the rejuvenated Baker Mayfield this week.
Denver Broncos – Anytime you completely shut down a Cowboys offense that features Dak Prescott, Zeke Elliott, Tony Pollard, Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb you deserve some attention.
Jacksonville Jaguars – Urban Meyer’s defense came to play on Sunday and they shut down the AJ Brown über-talented Bills attack led by QB Josh Allen. Jags, Linebacker/Edge rusher Josh Allen had himself a day, as he became the only player in NFL history to record a sack and interception against a player with the same name.
New York Giants – The “G-Men” have been playing a defense reminiscent of the 1980’s Blue Swarm that terrorized opposing offenses. Lawrence Taylor isn’t walking through the doors of Giants Stadium, but edge rushers Azeez Ojulari and Leonard Williams have been dominant upfront. The secondary has been ball hawking. They’ve snagged six interceptions in the last four games.