Best Defense in NFL – Who is the Best Team Defense in NFL?

Over the last few seasons, we have seen some consistency within the top defenses in the league.  The New England Patriots continue to be one of the top defenses in the league, while Pittsburgh is there as well. Looking into 2020, there are a few defenses on the rise and a few with very talented rosters that could do real damage on the defensive side. Below are the top ten defenses entering the 2020 season. If you are looking for our fantasy football defense rankings, you can find them updated all season long.

Top 10 Defenses

Baltimore Ravens
Pittsburgh Steelers
San Francisco 49ers
New England Patriots
New Orleans Saints
Buffalo Bills
Los Angeles Chargers
Chicago Bears
Los Angeles Rams
Minnesota Vikings
1. Baltimore Ravens

Baltimore RavensOver the offseason, the Baltimore Ravens added to the defensive side. Baltimore ranked 4th in DVOA against the pass, per Football Outsiders, but 20th against the run. Adding Calais Campbell is going to give a bump to the middle of the defensive line. They also added Derek Wolfe, who had been playing strong football in Denver over the last few seasons. The Ravens also drafted Patrick Queen as they filled a need for an inside linebacker. When you factor in, they added on the front seven to combine with an excellent secondary, and this defense is going to be elite in 2020. Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters are a nice shutdown duo, and Jimmy Smith isn’t the worst third corner either. Not to forget, but the Ravens also have Early Thomas roaming around at safety. Chuck Clark also made strides. They have the potential to be the best secondary in football.

Baltimore ranked 7th in drives ending in scores against their defense, as offenses scored on just 33% of drives. Getting to the quarterback was not a problem, and we should expect them to dial up the blitz once again. They had a top ten adjusted sack rate and also blitzed at a league-high 54.9%. Look for this front seven to get after the quarterback and dial up the pressure.

2. Pittsburgh Steelers

Pittsburgh SteelersWe certainly will see some regression because Pittsburgh’s 2019 numbers were out of this world. They ranked 3rd in DVOA against the run and the pass last season and forced the most turnovers in the league. The front seven is dangerous, and they can get a lot of pressure with the line in general. Cameron Heyward is a solid piece, and you have to remember Stephon Tuitt missed ten games last season. The linebackers in Pittsburgh are on another level as well. T.J. Watt is one of the most dangerous outside linebackers in the game and is coming off of a 14.5 sack season. He has 27.5 sacks over the last two years. Devin Bush made an immediate impact after being drafted tenth overall out of Michigan.

I am not sure anyone expected Minkah Fitzpatrick to ball out during his first season with Pittsburgh after being traded from Miami last season. You have Joe Haden, who found his way to the Steelers and has been a shutdown corner. You also have Terell Edmunds, Steven Nelson, and Mike Hilton in the secondary. If you completed a pass against the Steelers, you weren’t going anywhere as they allowed the fewest yards after the catch.

3. San Francisco 49ers

San Francisco 49ersOne of the main reasons for the San Francisco 49ers turnaround was their defense. Nick Bosa has been everything as advertised, and now they will add another young talented player to the line with Javon Kinlaw. This is a move from DeForest Buckner, who they traded in the offseason to the Indianapolis Colts. In addition to Ark Armstead, this line is going to be just as good as last season. The linebackers are a solid addition to the defense with Kwon Alexander and Fred Warner leading the way. Alexander will need to stay healthy.

The 49ers secondary was excellent last season, and I don’t think we expected Richard Sherman to get back to his Seattle form after tearing his Achilles. Overall this defense ranked 2nd in DVOA against the pass. They also had the second-highest pressure percentage despite blitzing just 20.9% of the time. That is the fourth-fewest in 2019, and it says volumes about their pass-rushers being able to get to the quarterback without extra help.

4. New England Patriots

New England PatriotsMuch like the Pittsburgh Steelers, we are going to see some regression with the New England Patriots. The Patriots had 47 sacks last season and forced 36 turnovers. This defense allowed 275 points per game, and opposing team’s drives ended in scores just 19.4% of the time. Those are insane numbers, and forcing a 17.3% turnover rate is a reason why they will take a small step back in numbers. The offseason was a typical New England offseason as they drafted players from small schools and did their share of trading back.

The secondary is the driving force of this defense right now. Stephon Gilmore is an elite shutdown corner, and having both Jason and Devin McCourty back there is also going to make things tough on opposing quarterbacks. New England ranked first against the pass last season and was overall the number one defense in the league.

5. Buffalo Bills

Buffalo BillsThe AFC East is loaded with strong cornerbacks, and Tre’Davious White is another one. White was a top-three cornerback last season and is in the prime of his career. While Josh Norman is a little past his prime, the Bills signed him on a one-year deal to bolster the secondary a bit. I love the safety duo with Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer. One of the big things we need to see improvement in Buffalo is the pass rush. While they did have the 12th most sacks in the NFL, getting to the quarterback more will take them to the next level.

Adding A.J. Epnesa in the second round was great value, and he had double-digit sacks in the last two seasons at Iowa. They also added Vernon Butler and brought in A.J. Klein. They may not have grabbed the headlines like a few other offseason acquisitions, but they are going to improve the Bills defense big time.

6. Los Angeles Chargers

Los Angeles Chargers2019 was a disappointing year as a whole, but especially on the defensive side. The Chargers ranked 21st in DVOA and struggled against both the run and the pass. While the offense is likely going to drop, the defense is going to be the side to bounce back. When looking at this depth chart, you expected more from this group, especially factoring in the pass-rushers they have.

Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram should have had better numbers but are still two dynamic defensive ends that can do damage. They also have Justin Jones Joseph Linval and Jerry Tillery to plug up the middle. One need was a middle linebacker, which they got through the draft with Kenneth Murray. Now the secondary is what I like the most as they brought in Chris Harris. While he might not be entirely in his prime anymore but in addition to Casey Hayward, this is a lethal secondary. You also have Derwin James fully healthy, as he missed most of 2019.

7. Chicago Bears

Chicago BearsChicago had a bit of a drop off in 2019, but it was more regression from 2018. It was a quiet offseason in comparison to some of the other teams in the league, but they drafted an impressive corner out of Utah with Jaylon Johnson. Kyle Fuller had a strong 2019 season and gave the Bears a chance to have a strong corner with both him and Johnson. The front seven is really what we like about Chicago as they have names like Robert Quinn, Akiem Hicks, and Khalil Mack.

The Bears had the eighth highest pressure rate, sitting at 25.2%. Chicago’s sack numbers just don’t add up to the pressure and hurry rates they produced. Expect that to even out a bit. They also went from producing extreme turnover numbers in 2018 to extreme lows in 2019. A middle ground would still be within the top ten.

8. Philadelphia Eagles

Philadelphia EaglesThe Philadelphia Eagles were a few pieces away from an elite defense as the front seven was excellent, but the secondary struggled. Trading for a shutdown corner like Darius Slay is going to be a significant bump to the secondary. They also signed Nickell Robey-Coleman, who is a solid slot-corner. Philadelphia also signed Javon Hargrave and paired with Fletcher Cox. This is going to be tough to deal with. We can’t forget about Derek Barnett and Brandon Graham.

Philadelphia was top ten in pressure rate and percentage of opposing drives ending in scores. The Eagles are strong against the run and ranked 4th in DVOA. They ranked 16th against the pass, but that is going to improve with the offseason moves they made.

9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tampa Bay BuccaneersAfter being one of the worst defenses in the league, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have completely turned things around. The front seven is a terror for opposing offensive lines and running backs. Tampa Bay ranked 5th in DVOA against the run last season and was 12th against the pass. Their secondary has been rather weak over the past few seasons, but they made some moves to the secondary. The front seven has been the most impressive part of the Buccaneers. Vita Vea and Ndamukong Suh both were big reasons why the run game was improved. We also saw Shaquil Barrett dial up the sacks, and Devin White was everything as advertised.

10. Denver Broncos

Denver BroncosThe Denver Broncos offseason was a successful one as they added to their offense but also made some strong moves on the defensive side. After the departure of Chris Harris, A.J. Bouye made his way over from Jacksonville, and they also grabbed Jurrell Casey from the Titans. That is not a bad haul for those AFC South defenders. Denver has the right mix of veterans and names for the future with Von Miller and Bradley Chubb. Justin Simmons is one of the top safeties in the game. Denver ranked 16th against the run and 14th against the pass. In the red zone, they tightened up and were one of the best red zone defenses in football.



Frequently Asked Questions

Who Was The Best Defense In 2019?

The New England Patriots had the best defense in 2019 as they held opponents to just 14.4 points per game. The Patriots allowed the fewest overall touchdowns and were dominant inside the red zone. They also ranked inside the top two in both run and pass defense.

Who Had The Best Defense Of All-Time?

The 1985 Chicago Bears go down as the best defense of all-time. This team forced 34 interceptions and also had 64 sacks total. Opposing offenses scored just 12.4 points per game against them, and they demolished the Patriots in the Super Bowl.

Who Had The Best Defense In The 1970s?

No doubt about it, the Pittsburgh Steelers dominated the 70s and did it with incredible defense. The Steelers would win four Super Bowls throughout the late 70s and defensive. They had strong years in each.

Who Had The Best Defense In The 1980s?

The Chicago Bears were the Monsters of the Midway during the 1980s, so it is no surprise to see them here. The Bears were led by names like Richard Dent and Mike Singletary. They held quite a few Hall of Fame members on these teams.

Who Had The Best Defense In The 1990s?

The Pittsburgh Steelers had one of the top defenses in the 1990s but didn’t quite have the overall success as some other teams in the league despite the defense. You can also look at Tampa Bay as they were breaking out in the late 90s and won a Super Bowl in the early 2000s because of it.

Who Had The Best Defense In The 2000s?

The Baltimore Ravens had a decade of Ed Reed and Ray Lewis surrounded by plenty of talent that led the Baltimore Ravens to a Super Bowl in this decade as well. With the offense not being so good, the Ravens needed their defense to step up to be successful in the 2000s.

What Defense Has The Most Sacks In A Single Season?

Chicago during the 1984 season had 72 sacks. This was during their defensive run. There they had 64 sacks the year after. It often takes teams a few years to put together the sack numbers the Bears did during those two seasons.

What Defense Has The Most Interceptions In A Single Season?

The 1961 San Diego Chargers were one of the elite defenses in the NFL as they held opponents to just 15.6 points per game. They also forced 49 interceptions, which is the most by a defense in NFL history.

What Defense Allowed The Most Points In A Single Season?

The 1966 New York Giants allowed 35.8 points per game, which is the most in NFL history. They won just one game that season as the offense only scored 18.8 per game and could not keep up with what the defense was allowing.

What Defense Allowed The Fewest Points In A Single Season?

During the 1977 season, the Atlanta Falcons allowed just 9.2 points per game to opposing teams. This is the lowest in NFL History. Unfortunately, the Falcons missed the playoffs s the offense only scored 12.8 points per game, and they went 7-7.

Jason has been involved in the sports betting industry over the last decade and is the current Site Manager of He is invested in providing some of the best sports and betting content to help new and advanced users navigate the betting wold.

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