Quick Reads NFL

The most elite NFL defenses in the current era

Having success on defense in the pass-happy NFL is no easy task. A combination of injuries, salary cap decisions, and strength of schedule all play a role in hindering a team’s ability to sustain success on the defensive side of the ball on an annual basis.

More than a few franchises have built elite defensive units this season, and most of these squads are legit Super Bowl contenders. Below are five teams that boast stout defenses through the first eight weeks of the 2022 campaign.

  1. San Francisco 49ers

Linebacker Fred Warner spearheads a 49ers’ defensive unit that has allowed the fewest total yards (285.9) and rushing yards (86.6) per game. Warner has posted a team-high 62 tackles, and Dre Greenlaw has tallied 58 tackles. San Francisco has also limited opponents to 19 or fewer points in six out of eight games this season.

The 49ers rank second with 26 sacks in eight games. Nick Bosa leads the team with eight sacks, while Samson Ebukam (3.5), Charles Omenihu (3), and Drake Jackson (3) have combined for 9.5 quarterback takedowns.

NFL elite defenses

  1. Denver Broncos

The Broncos’ top-ranked best pass defense allows just 165.8 passing yards per game. Safety Caden Stearns leads the team with a pair of interceptions, while Jonas Griffith, K’Waun Williams, Justin Simmons, and Baron Browning each have collected one pick.

Linebacker Alex Singleton has racked up a team-high 62 tackles for a defense ranked second in total yards (288.4) and points allowed (16.5). Denver has the fourth-most sacks with 24, and the pass rush is led by Dre’Mont Jones (5.5) and Bradley Chubb (5.5). However, Chubb was dealt to the Miami Dolphins at the trade deadline.

  1. Buffalo Bills

The Bills have surrendered the fewest points in the NFL this season. Opposing teams are averaging a meager 14 points a game against a defense that leads the league with 11 interceptions. Buffalo is also ranked third in total yards allowed (298.1) and has conceded the fourth-fewest rushing yards (95) per game.

Safety Jordan Poyer has a league-high four interceptions despite suiting up for just five games, while Matt Milano and Kaiir Elam have each picked off two passes. Linebacker Tremaine Edmunds leads the team with 52 tackles and Taron Johnson has recorded 41 tackles. Von Miller (6) and Greg Rousseau (5) have combined for 11 sacks.

  1. Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles’ defense ranks in the top 10 in interceptions (2nd), total yards allowed (3rd), points allowed (4th), passing yards allowed (4th), and sacks (6th). Philadelphia has held opponents to 17 points or less in five out of seven games.

Linebacker T.J. Edwards leads the team with 68 tackles, while Haason Reddick has posted a team-high 5.5 sacks. Fletcher Cox (3), Brandon Graham (3), Javon Hargrave (3), and Josh Sweat (2.5) have combined for 11.5 sacks. Safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson has collected a league-high four interceptions, and cornerback Darius Slay has three picks.

  1. Dallas Cowboys

2021 Defensive Rookie of the Year Micah Parsons headlines a Cowboys defense that leads the league with 33 sacks. Parsons has a team-high eight sacks for a defensive unit that has allowed the third-fewest points (16.6) and passing yards (178.4) per game.

Safety Donovan Wilson and linebacker Leighton Vander Esch have tallied 58 and 57 tackles, respectively. The trio of Dorance Armstrong (5), DeMarcus Lawrence (4), and Dante Fowler (4) have combined for 13 sacks. Cornerback Trevon Diggs leads the team with three interceptions.

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