Top Five NFL Defenses Following Week 10 | DeMeco Ryans Has Houston ‘Texans Tornado’ Defense Playing Elite

The 2023 season has seen a return to defenses actually winning games around the league. Here are our top five units after an eventful Week 10. 

Houston Texans (5-4)

This team has been the surprise of the 2023 season thus far. Each week we laud rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud, who’s playing his way into the MVP conversation weekly. But on the other side of the football first-year head coach DeMeco Ryans has the defense humming. Each week this unit seems to get better, while also making timely plays (sacks, forcing turnovers, etc.). 

Houston’s defense currently ranks just 19th overall, but they rank 16th in points allowed and eighth in run defense. That’s a far cry from last year, when they ranked 30th in total defense and at the bottom of the league in rush yards allowed and points allowed. It’s a credit to the defensive-minded Ryans, who’s made his chops in the league as a defensive guru. 

Cleveland Browns (6-3)

This team has real Super Bowl aspirations, and with DPOY favorite Myles Garrett leading the way on the defensive side of the football the Browns have what it takes to make a serious run at Super Sunday. In Sunday’s huge comeback win over division rival Baltimore, Garrett led a defense that got after the elusive Lamar Jackson, sacking him three times and intercepting him twice, one being returned for a touchdown in the fourth quarter. 

The Browns held the Ravens to 2 of 8 on third down, and for the season they’ve held opponents to 27 of 104 on third downs, a low league-leading 26 percent conversion percentage. Through nine games the Browns haven’t even allowed 2,000 total yards (1,878), which is roughly 208 yards per game. In his postgame interview, Ravens head coach John Harbaugh credited the Browns following their big win over his team. 

“They’re very aggressive. They’re very attack oriented. They’re kind of the mindset of a puncher, they come out swinging, and they’re downhill at every level — tight coverage all the way up to the linebackers, downhill versus the run, defensive line up field — that’s kind of their way. They understand who they are, and they play well, very hard.”

New York Jets (4-5) 

The problem in New York isn’t the Jets’ top-flight defense. It’s an offense being led by a quarterback in Zach Wilson who can’t play. Each week this defense keeps the team in the game, and way too often their effort goes by the wayside. In Sunday’s road loss to the rejuvenated Las Vegas Raiders, the Jets gave up just 274 yards, 33 percent third-down conversion and forced two turnovers and three sacks, but an inept offense continues to haunt them. 

Linebacker C.J. Mosley, the heart and soul of the defense, had 14 solo tackles before leaving with an injury that’s not thought to he serious. 

San Francisco 49ers (6-3)

Coming into Sunday’s matchup with the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Niners were riding a three-game losing streak, and they’re once vaunted defense couldn’t get generate a consistent pass rush or get off the field on third down. That all changed in Duval County as the Niners with the addition of former No. 2 overall pick Chase Young now playing opposite of reigning DPOY Nick Bosa recorded five sacks. All the defensive line, the aforementioned Bosa, Young and inside guys Javon Hargrave and Arik Armstead all accounted for at least a half a sack.  

As a whole they allowed just 221 total yards to a Jags offense that came in rolling, while forcing four turnovers. Niners head coach Kyle Shanahan talked about his new edge rusher Young in his postgame interview. 

“From what I saw there, it seemed like he had a big impact.”

Baltimore Ravens (7-3)

Even though the Ravens gave up a nearly 400 yards in a 33-31 home loss to the Browns, the defense still made a ton of plays. Another pick-six, four sacks and a forced fumble. For arguably the best defense in the league, Sunday’s outing is something the team will be stewing over all week until the Cincinnati Bengals invade Baltimore on “Thursday Night Football.”

All-Pro linebacker Roquan Smith had 14 tackles and numerous other big plays, as he does weekly as the leader of the defense.

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