It’s that time again where we rank the top five defenses in the NFL. In a league where the rules are catered to benefit the offense, here are the teams who still stop opponents at a high percentage.
1. Buffalo Bills
The Buffalo Bills are still holding down the No. 1 spot this week and are the NFL’s top-rated defense. When you give up just 15 points per game you’re going to win plenty of games. They’ve held opponents to 84 yards rushing per game, while also keeping them bottled up in the passing game at under 200 yards per game (190).
With a pass rush that now has its full complement of players, expect more interceptions on the back end. The D is legit and offense is struggling, which is the opposite of what we anticipated coming into the season. Safety Micah Hyde has been DPOY-worthy thus far.
Micah Hyde is such a baller. Consistently one of the top 5 safeties in the league since he’s been in Buffalo. Always been ball savvy and extremely versatile, but now just plays the free safety position at such a high level every single week.
— Ryan Clark (@Realrclark25) November 14, 2021
2. Carolina Panthers
In Matt Rhule’s first year (2020) the Panthers used every single pick in the draft on defense. Those picks are paying off this season. The Panthers are no strangers to stingy defense, as they’ve had some of the league’s best units over the years.
— Michael Rimmer (@avl_mike) November 15, 2021
Allowing a paltry 280 yards per game (173 passing and 107 rushing) is what Rhule — a defensive coach — had in mind when he took the job. While at Temple, despite limited resources and middle-of-the-road recruiting, his defenses were still amongst the nation’s best.
3. New England Patriots
Three things are certain in this world, and they are death, taxes and Bill Belichick fielding a defense that is capable of beating you multiple ways. Last season the Patriots had more players opt out due to COVID-19 than any other team in the league. It really hurt their defense. As many as eight expected contributors on that side of the football decided against playing.
With most of those pieces returning this season, Belichick spent the offseason adding players like Matthew Judon, who’s been virtually unblockable (9.5 sacks and 44 QB pressures). He’s also sound against the run. Cornerback JC Jackson (five interceptions and 14 passes defensed) is a ballhawk and one of the five best corners in the NFL.
The past three weeks quarterbacks have tallied a very paltry 54.6 completion percentage and 53.4 passer rating against a defense that has snatched seven interceptions. This group is ELITE.
— Anita🤙☮️ (@anita_anita26) November 6, 2021
4. Green Bay Packers
Don’t look now, but the Green Bay Packers have gotten better on defense since injuries to their two best defensive players in Za’Darius Smith and Jaire Alexander. On Sunday they lost pass rushers Whitney Mercilus and Rashan Gary to possible season-ending injuries as well. As a whole, “The Pack” has held five teams to 17 points or fewer this season, tied with Buffalo for second-best in the league
Since Week 3 they’ve allowed only a 61.6 completion percentage, surrendering 28 total points in games versus Russell Wilson, Patrick Mahomes and Kyler Murray.
— Green Bay Packers (@packers) November 16, 2021
5. Arizona Cardinals
The aura of early season invincibility has left the Cardinals, but the team still has a good defensive unit. Even after surrendering 34 points in a home loss to the Panthers, their defense is very good
San Francisco — Dominant at all three levels in a big Monday Night win over the Rams. Showed how physical they can be when fully healthy and engaged.
Tampa Bay — A bad road loss to Washington wasn’t all on the defense, as they played pretty well. It was Brady’s two big picks that changed the game.
Tennessee — The Titans defense doesn’t rank very high in most categories, but they’ve made winning plays for six straight weeks. Once 2-2, now they’re 8-2 and the No. 1 seed in the AFC. Defensive end Jeffrey Simmons seems to have turned the corner, posting 7.5 sacks, 30 pressures, 16 hurries and 13 QB knockdowns.