They say defense wins championships, so here are our top five defenses in the league entering the dog days of the season, Week 16.
1. Philadelphia Eagles
In Philly the offense led by MVP candidate Jalen Hurts gets most of the love, as they should. But the Eagles play a nice brand of football on the opposite side of the ball. With one of the best pass rushes and secondaries in the league, teams have struggled when they attempt to step back and throw the football. That was the case in Sunday’s win over the Bears. In the game they sacked elusive Bears quarterback Justin Fields six times and surrendered just 4.3 yards per play.
The one area that needs to be tightened up is the run defense, and that should get better when 2022 first-round pick Jordan Davis returns to his early season play.
#FlyEaglesFly defense has 30 sacks on third down this year
2nd-ranked team has 21
The variety this defense shows on the most important down in football really stands out on a weekly basis. Love the variety of players used as a 'spy' this week vs Justin Fields pic.twitter.com/d5jpiA0Zxy
— Fran Duffy (@EaglesXOs) December 19, 2022
2. San Francisco 49ers
There aren’t many more accolades we can give DeMeco Ryans’ defense, which continues to dominate opponents weekly. Last week it was the Seattle Seahawks who couldn’t crack the code to the Niners physical and aggressive approach. In the past seven games the Niners have been playing at historic levels on defense, allowing less than 60 yards rushing per game and a paltry 36.7 percent third-down conversion rate.
Former Niners safety turned-team broadcaster Donte Whitner had high praise for the defense, saying, “I totally believe this is the best defense in the history of the organization”
3. New York Jets
The Jets are young and a bit inexperienced, but this unit is getting better every week. They’ve shown a propensity to slow down some of the top offenses in the league this season. Against a very good Detroit Lions attack, minus star defensive lineman Quinnen Williams the Jets held the Lions to just 308 yards on 65 plays, which is just 4.3 yards per play.
The play of cornerback Sauce Gardner has been a huge reason for the rise of the Jets defense. His man-to-man cover skills have allowed the Jets to bring more pressure.
— uSTADIUM (@uSTADIUM) December 18, 2022
4. Cincinnati Bengals
Last week, the defense forced four Tom Brady turnovers and five overall for the Bucs. The unit was led by defensive tackle DJ Reader, who made big plays all game with starting edge rushers Sam Hubbard and Trey Hendrickson both out.
Since last season, the Bengals have been known to make great halftime adjustments defensively, and that didn’t change Sunday in South Florida. This team is dangerous.
#Bengals defense shows out in one of the best performances I've ever seen on that side of the ball, they ran Brady out in the second half and here's the D for the DUB #WhoDey @WLWT pic.twitter.com/1yslz82AIB
— Mark Slaughter (@MarkVSlaughter) December 19, 2022
5. Baltimore Ravens
It’s no secret the Ravens need Lamar on offense. But the defense has more than held up it’s end of the deal this season. In last weekend’s road loss at the Browns they held Cleveland to just 283 yards on 54 plays, which is 4.4 yards per play.
They also got pressure on Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson, but the offense couldn’t put up points in a very winnable 13-3 loss.