As we prepare for Week 14 already in the NFL, we gotta give these defenses some love. The list is led by the stingy Niners, who under defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans continue to dominate opponents weekly.
San Francisco 49ers
San Fran boasts the league’s best unit on the defensive side of the football. Led by edge rusher Nick Bosa, linebacker Fred Warner and safety Talanoa Hufanga, this defense shut down the Miami Dolphins in a highly anticipated matchup last week. After surrendering a 75-yard touchdown on the game’s opening play, the Niners held the dynamic Fins offense to 233 yards and 0 points on their last 44 plays.
The aforementioned Bosa sacked Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa three times, further boosting his case for NFL DPOY. The unit also forced the Fins to go 0-for-9 on third down, which is a focal point each week for defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans.
Brandon Aiyuk was asked what makes the Niners defense so special:
“First of all it’s a mindset… Any dude that gotta play with them, you have to have a certain mindset to even play or you’re gonna stick out too crazy, you ain’t gonna fit with them…” #49ers pic.twitter.com/cyZcf69neW
— Coach Yac 🗣 (@Coach_Yac) December 6, 2022
Leading the NFL with 48 sacks, the Cowboys have shown they can completely wreck a game with their pass rush. Case in point was last Sunday night’s 54-19 win over the Colts, which they led 21-19 heading into the fourth quarter before a 33-0 final stanza. It was their defense that forced three turnovers that led to a quick 21 points.
With DPOY candidate Micah Parsons requiring so much attention, it has opened up opportunities for others to get one-on-one and make plays.
This week’s opponent the Houston Texans are in for a long day.
The Cowboys defense is SCARY 👀 pic.twitter.com/gWcZHY4JWt
— PFF (@PFF) December 5, 2022
Buffalo has never had their full complement of players on the defensive side of the ball all season, but that still hasn’t hindered their effectiveness. In last Thursday’s win over the Patriots, Buffalo held New England to 10 points, 242 yards and a 25 percent third-down conversion rate.
That was without edge rusher Von Miller, who’s been sidelined since the team’s win over the Lions on Thanksgiving. During Miller’s recent knee scope, it was revealed that he suffered a torn ACL and would miss the rest of the season. Huge blow for a team who signed Miller as the missing piece of their Super Bowl hopes.
The Bills defense was largely consistent in their 24-10 Week 13 win.
— Next Gen Stats (@NextGenStats) December 2, 2022
This defense has drastically improved from Week 1 to now. After a slow start where the team was 1-4, they’ve fixed the defense and have gone 6-1-1 in their past eight games. Led by the “Alabama Wall” of Jonathan Allen and DaRon Payne, head coach Ron Rivera and defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio have to be excited about the growth on that side of the ball.
Their 34 percent third-down conversion rate is top five in the league.
“This is who we are” Rivera said on NFL Network. “We’re running the ball right now. We’re controlling time of possession. We’re keeping our defense fresh. There’s some things obviously that could help. I think right now we know where we are, and who we are, I think we’re in a good spot.”
Despite their NFL-best 11-1 record, run defense has been Philly’s biggest problem this season. That wasn’t the case in Week 1. A strong Eagles front held Tennessee Titans running back to a season-low 30 yards on 11 carries. Teams have successfully tested the Eagles in the run game all year.
If the Eagles truly believe they’re Super Bowl favorites in the NFC, that deficiency has to be fixed or teams will exploit them come January.