Quarterly defenses can help gauge production for your betting needs or simply just following games. Teams that are allowing fast starts to their opponents will need more production from their own offense. Teams that are playing from behind a lot will usually see more second half production, and we like to call that, “garbage time”. Viewing how many plays a team allows is also a great source for production. It is simple, the more plays a team runs, the more opportunity there is for them to produce. If you are looking for big plays against a defense, teams that are allowing over six yards per play is a good indicator that they are for one not very good, but also giving up huge chunk plays. Defenses that are allowing less than 5.5 yards per play make it tougher to move the ball against them in big chunks.
Diving into rushing production allowed, you are going to be viewing a lot of the stats with similar guidelines. You want teams that rush the ball a lot against specific opposing defenses, and bad teams will see a lot of rushing production against them because of the positive game script. Yards and touchdowns are easy targets, but yards per attempt will show how easy it is to run on an opponent. Being over the 4.2 mark is where you want to be looking to target, while anything under starts to make things more difficult for backs. Passing production is much similar, teams with bad defenses will throw more, unless they are just built to pass anyway. Yards per completion will show how effective and the big chunk plays are coming for passing games against the defense. You also have yards per attempt, which is not an efficiency measure, but a volume measure against them.
Red zone defenses are crucial, and you have a lot of teams that are a bend don’t break style defense. We have seen that a lot in New England the last few seasons, where the yardage allowed are high, but points allowed are low. You want the percentage to be low for your team’s defense, and if the percentage is up, they are allowing a lot of production. Turnovers do not measure how good a defense is, but it does help. If you are looking for fantasy production, then turnovers are something you will be after.
Breaking Down NFL Team Defense Stats
Starting from the top, you can break down defense stats within the regular or postseason. If you are looking for prior seasons, you can see what defenses were at the top of the league. Swap between leagues if you want to see AFC and NFC, or take a look at totals or per game numbers. Getting into the table, overall points allowed can be broken down by quarter. See if defenses are struggling right off the bat, or tighten up over the course of a game. This can also be useful for betting totals, and breaking down more in-game props. Check in on how many plays against defenses are allowing, alongside yards and yards per play. Defenses that allow a ton of yards per play are giving up big chunks and usually a ton of points.
Defenses are going to be built to stop the pass and the run, one or the other, or neither. We see the true elite defenses excel against both the run in the pass, but stopping the pass has become vastly more important over the last decade. Under the passing allowed, you can see what defenses are allowing the most production to opposing passing offenses. You can also see how much volume is coming their way, where a defense might see a ton of attempts against. This could either be because they are a strong team who is always ahead and forcing teams to throw more against them, or they have a weak secondary and it is easy to target. The same goes for rushing production allowed, where volume could be because they are constantly trailing and opposing offenses run more, or they have a weak run defense.
Top defenses are going to limit red zone attempts against them, often not allowing them inside their own 20-yard line. Sort through and see what defenses are allowing more red zone attempts, and also see the overall touchdowns allowed within the red zone. The red zone percentage is going to be the amount of times a team has scored during the amount of trips. Forcing turnovers is always going to be a plus for a defense, and the same goes for sacks. See what defenses are generating the most turnovers and sacks. Defenses are going to generate turnovers in different ways, as they might have more interceptions or fumbles. Penalties are a way a defense can shoot itself in the foot, and teams that are discipline will have an edge.
Styles Of Defense
There is a lot of turnover within defenses on a yearly basis, but the top teams defensively are going to keep a strong roster from top to bottom. We have seen teams like New England and Pittsburgh pride themselves on the defensive side and continue to dominate year in and year out. Defenses are not going to always be equal in stopping the run and the pass, and some defenses might not even be able to stop either. Sorting through the table above you will see what teams struggle or excel in each department. Defenses are going to be looking for turnovers, have a strong pass rush, or play a bend don’t break style. When looking at the way a roster is built, we can get an idea of how a defense is built and how their production can be.
We have seen some of the top defenses over the last few years focus more on stopping the pass in comparison to the run. Kansas City won a Super Bowl with a strong pass defense last season, but were one of the worst run defense teams in the league. This worked in their favor because their offense was going to jump out to a good lead and teams were going to be focused on throwing more anyway. San Francisco did something very similar in the 2019 season, where we have seen this more and more lately. New England had one of the top defenses last season, and they were different from prior seasons. Over the past, New England had been more of a bend don’t break style of offense where they would toughen up in the red zone, but allow them to still move the ball.
Defenses that have a ton of turnovers or sacks don’t necessarily always translate to being a good defense, but they have the chance to be more productive and cover up some weaknesses. As we look through recent data we have seen teams jump in variance for sacks and turnovers, but turnovers more specifically. This is because turnovers are a high variant stat, and not always a given. Just because a defense doesn’t have a ton of interceptions doesn’t mean they are a bad pass defense. The Bears last season did not force a ton of turnovers, but were still a top ten defense. The same goes for sacks as teams can generate pressure, but struggle with everything else.
Over the offseason you are going to see teams try and fix prior issues. Keep an eye on teams making those moves as if they have a struggling pass defense, they will add some defensive backs. Teams will also draft according to their needs at times, where we saw Carolina in this most recent draft go with defensive players because they needed a complete revamp. The roster build is going to show what teams are trying to focus on. One thing to note is how quickly defensive players can fall off, we saw Minnesota be one of the top secondaries, and over an offseason it went from being a top ten pass defense to really struggling at times.
Top Pass Defenses
What makes a good pass defense is not giving up a ton of yards or touchdowns of course, but good pass defenses are going to want to get off the field and not allow a lot of time of possession. The Patriots have been one of the top defenses over the last few seasons, and they have an excellent secondary. With their shut down corners, it has been easier for their front seven to generate pressure as well. Staying within the AFC East, the Buffalo Bills are one of the top pass defenses in the league, and Tre’Davious White is one of the top young corners in the game. Now both of these teams also have generous matchups within their own division, which certainly play a small part in their overall numbers.
After a couple of off years on the defensive side, San Francisco invested in a lot of young talent and signed some veteran players to help the secondary. The 49ers pass defense was very stingy and didn’t allow a ton of production, but their yards per completion numbers have been what stands out the most. Staying in California, the Los Angeles Chargers had a rough year, but their defense is still intact and can be one of the top ones. They signed Chris Harris and that adds to an already very good secondary. Combining it with the front seven they have, the potential for a monster defensive year is there.
The Pittsburgh Steelers overall have had one of the top defenses in the league for a long time, and their pass defense has been exceptional. They added Minkah Fitzpatrick from the Miami Dolphins, which gave them a major boost. The Chicago Bears and Kansas City Chiefs are a few other top end pass defenses who have been solid the last few seasons. The Chiefs have made more of an effort to address it over the last season.
Top Run Defenses
Being able to stop the run makes it easier for defenses to stop teams from setting up their offense. We see run defenses rotate in and out of the rankings because personnel moves is very big for stopping the run. Tampa Bay used to be one of the worst run defenses, but a few moves has made them one of the tougher run defenses. You might actually see some teams look bad because of their production against, but that can be volume based because their offense struggles. Both New York teams actually have had strong run defenses, but it goes overlooked because of how bad the overall teams have been.
Sticking with the Pittsburgh Steelers, the run defense has been just as good as the pass defense over the last few seasons. With a great front seven, and a couple of defensive backs who are not afraid of playing up against the run. The Eagles are another strong run defense, and teams have a tough time gaining rushing yards and touchdowns against them. New England is in the same boat as another good run defense, and the front seven has always been a strong part of the New England defensive system. Despite all the rotational change they have, the numbers still stick year in and year out.
Top Red Zone Defenses
Being able to tighten up in the red zone is an advantage for defenses. The Broncos have been one of the better red zone defenses over the last few seasons, and good luck getting inside the 20 and putting up touchdowns. Last year they held teams to under a 40% conversion rate. Minnesota was not that far behind, as that defense allowed teams to move the ball against them a bit, and were able to stand strong. Some of the top overall defenses are going to excel in this department, as you would guess already.
A lot of the constant playoff teams are going to be strong in the red zone. We have seen the Green Bay Packers excel in not allowing a ton of production in the red zone. Those defenses that even allow yards against, like the Colts and Ravens have showed the ability to consistently keep opponents out of the red zone. There is a strong correlation with being a strong red zone defense and allowing points per game overall.
NFL Team Defense Stats FAQ
What Defense Gave Up The Most Yards Per Play In 2020?
Giving up a lot of yards per play is not a good thing for a defense, and Detroit Lions were tied with Jacksonville Jaguars for the most yards per play allowed in 2020. Both defenses allowed a whopping 6.3 yards per play.
What Defense Gave Up The Most Rushing Touchdowns In 2020?
The Detroit Lions owned the worst defense in the league this season. They allowed the most rushing touchdowns at 27 and the next closest was Houston at 24. Detroit allowed 4.4 yards per carry and were bottom ten in run defense.
What Defense Gave Up The Most Passing Touchdowns In 2020?
The Detroit Lions allowed the most passing touchdowns in 2020, sitting at 38. The Tennessee Titans weren’t too far behind with 36 passing touchdowns allowed. Detroit allowed 7.8 yards per attempt and ranked dead last against the pass in 2020.
What Defense Allowed The Most Red Zone Touchdowns In 2020?
The Detroit Lions allowed 47 red zone touchdowns this season, which was the most in the league. Opposing teams scored touchdowns in the red zone 72% of the time. They also were bottom ten in red zone attempts allowed.
What Defense Had The Most Takeaways In 2020?
The Miami Dolphins forced the most turnovers in 2020, as they recorded 29 total. The Dolphins recovered 11 fumbles and had 18 interceptions. Miami was one of the most improved defenses from the 2019 season and should be a force next year.
What Defense Had The Most Penalties In 2020?
Having a ton of penalties is never a good thing for a defense, and the Philadelphia Eagles had the most in the league during the 2020 season. They had a total of 112 penalties on the defensive side, which resulted in over 1,000 free yards to opposing offenses.