Top Five NFL Defenses Heading Into Week 18 | Defense Is Still The Staple Of Bill Belichick’s New England Patriots Teams

Photo: Twitter/Ravens

As we head into the final week of the NFL regular season, it’s time to rank the top defenses in the league.

1. New England Patriots

For a team that struggled on offense all season long, New England’s defense is the reason that Bill Belichick’s squad controls their own playoff destiny heading into Sunday’s season finale at Buffalo.

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick came into the 2022 season, with no offensive plan, in fact he put a former defensive coordinator and special teams coordinator in charge of the offense. That meant the defense would have to be stout, and that has come to fruition. 

In last week’s must-win over the Dolphins, the defense held receivers Jaylen Waddle and Tyreek Hill to 12 combined receptions and just 107 yards. Edge rusher Matthew Judon, who has 15.5 sacks this season, continues to wreak havoc on opposing offensive lines with his array of pass rush moves, making him a DPOY candidate.

Speaking on his weekly radio interview on “The Greg Hill Show,” on WEEI, the six-time Super Bowl-winning coach had this to say about his team’s effort in their 23–21 win over Miami:

“Everybody just poured everything they had into it, and that’s what we needed to do.”

2. San Francisco 49ers

DeMeco Ryans’ vaunted Niners defense has often been the crème de la crème of our weekly rankings. But last week was their second-worst performance of the season. Raiders backup QB Jarrett Stidham went for 385 yards and three touchdowns. The QB developed an immediate chemistry with all-world wideout Davante Adams. This week the 49ers should regain that dominance as they face the hapless Arizona Cardinals, who’ll have a ton of new faces playing for them. If you’re into fantasy football take the Niners defense this week. Also, edge rusher Nick Bosa should wrap up this year’s DPOY award. 

3. Pittsburgh Steelers

The gritty Mike Tomlin’s Steelers kept their playoff chances alive with a huge road win against the archnemesis Ravens. In a slugfest, it was the Steelers defense that shone brightest, holding the Ravens to 240 total yards in the ugly 16-13 triumph. Led by reigning DPOY T.J. Watt and safety Minkah Fitzpatrick, the Steelers dominated Baltimore, holding them to both 120 yards rushing and passing.

That unit is into going to get better next season as they continue to grow together.

4. Buffalo Bills

Following Monday night’s health scare with teammate Damar Hamlin, football was the last thing on the Bills’ mind. Now seeing and hearing nothing but positivity concerning their teammate, they can get back to playing football. Sunday’s game against the Patriots’ putrid offense should be a welcome sight for a Bills defense that’s been getting better the past few weeks following some struggles since losing star edge rusher Von Miller to a torn ACL for the season.

Pass coverage had suffered a bit since Miller’s injury, but it’s gotten better the past two weeks.

5. Baltimore Ravens

Without the injured Lamar Jackson the Ravens have to completely hang their hat on the defensive side of the football. And for the most part they’ve answered.Last Sunday’s late Steelers touchdown to win the game was the first touchdown they gave up at home in 15 quarters, which is nearly four full games.

But will that type of effort carry them in the playoffs if Jackson isn’t ready to go? Don’t bank on it. Teams in the AFC playoffs are too good offensively to be one-dimensional and have sustained success. While this Ravens defense is good, they’re not 2000 Ravens good.