These teams have been putting the clamps on their opponents weekly, and it’s time we give them their due.
1. New England Patriots
After struggling without Tom Brady and looking like a run-of-the-mill squad for the first time in 20 years, the New England Patriots and Bill Belichick are back in a big way on the defensive side of the football.
The revival of the defense is led by by edge rusher Matthew Judon (10.5 sacks and a team-high 44 quarterback pressures) and ballhawking cornerback JC Jackson (six interceptions and a league-high 23 passes defensed).
This defense is making life miserable for offenses. Thursday’s 25-0 win at Atlanta was downright dominant. The Patriots are holding offenses to a paltry 170 passing yards per game, with 12 interceptions, 15 sacks, and an extremely low 56.5 completion percentage over the last five games.
“We just got to put that much more focus and detail behind it and continue to go forward.”
Defense hoping to step up post-Thanksgiving: https://t.co/PFrEsD6R76
— New England Patriots (@Patriots) November 23, 2021
2. Arizona Cardinals
Last week edge rushers Chandler Jones and Markus Golden harassed Russell Wilson with seven combined pressures and two sacks. The pressure also played a role in the secondary holding wide receiver DK Metcalf to a season-low 31 yards on targets. The loss of JJ Watt to season-ending injuries hasn’t really hurt them yet, as Golden has been really good in his place.
3. Dallas Cowboys
Albeit in a loss, the Dallas Cowboys defense played well against the high-powered Kansas City Chiefs. The Cowboys struggled on offense all day in K.C., but their defense led by leading DROY candidate Micah Parsons kept them within striking distance all game.
Parsons, for his efforts, was credited with nine QB pressures, seven QB hurries, and two sacks. That effort helped hold the Chiefs to just 19 points. With DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory scheduled to return soon, blocking those three is gonna be a tough task for any offensive line.
— Dallas Cowboys (@dallascowboys) November 21, 2021
4. Indianapolis Colts
When the season began the Indianapolis Colts were picked to have one of the better defenses in the league. They struggled early to find their footing, but lately they’ve been lights out. Facing the elusive Josh Allen and a struggling but capable Bills offense, Indy played arguably it’s most complete game of the season on that side of the ball.
By staying in their pass rush lanes and making sure tackles, they forced Allen to press causing multiple interceptions. A big game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers looms, but if they play with the same effort they did last week, Brady and crew could be in for a long day.
✔️ Strip sack
✔️ 77.8 PFF Grade
✔️ Rookie of the Week nominee
— Indianapolis Colts (@Colts) November 23, 2021
5. San Francisco 49ers
The San Francisco 49ers defense is beginning to look like the 2019 version. Led by Nick Bosa and a ferocious pass rush, San Fran is back to playing fast and furious on that side of the football. Six days after holding the high-powered Rams to less than 300 yards, while forcing two turnovers, they bottled up rookie Trevor Lawrence and the Jags.
They held Urban Meyer’s crew to 4.5 yards per play, a number which was much lower until prevent defense allowed for some adequate gains late in the game. With four forced turnovers and just 20 points allowed in the past two weeks, the 49ers D looks legit. A test against Dalvin Cook and the Vikings this week will reveal more.
The Kansas City Chiefs seem to have turn the corner a bit on the defensive side of the football. The past four weeks they’ve played much better, and you can attribute a lot of that to the health of edge rusher Frank Clark.
Star defensive lineman Chris Jones is a good edge rusher, but he’s an elite interior lineman, as evidenced by his 3.5 sacks against the Cowboys on Sunday. He did that against arguably the best offensive guard in the NFL in Zach Martin.
The Philadelphia Eagles were left for dead at the start of the season, and for good reason. The NFC East squad has found the groove behind an opportunistic defense and a strong running game on the offensive side of the ball. Led by All-Pro defensive back Darius “Big Play” Slay, who has three defensive touchdowns in the past four weeks, Philly is 5-6 and squarely in the wild-card picture.
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