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2022 NFL Team Defense Rankings: Ranking the Top Defenses in the NFL Heading into Week 11

Week 10 provided plenty of noteworthy defensive performances, including some poor outings, but we're focusing on the top ten defensive units following the chaos. Matt MacKay is here with his top ten defensive power rankings heading into Week 11.
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2022 NFL Team Defense Rankings: Ranking the Top Defenses in the NFL Heading into Week 11

There were a lot of big defensive stands and plays throughout the Week 10 slate, starting with the Indianapolis Colts, who rallied around their new interim head coach, Jeff Saturday, while holding Las Vegas running back Josh Jacobs under 80 rushing yards on 21 carries. Minnesota's veteran cornerback Patrick Peterson came up with a game-winning interception in the end zone in a 33-30 win over Buffalo, while the return of T.J. Watt helped rejuvenate Pittsburgh's defense in a dominant 20-10 win against New Orleans.

Tennessee was held in check by Denver's talented defense, but they game-planned against Derrick Henry, which allowed Ryan Tannehill to throw for over 250 yards and two touchdowns to emerge with a 17-10 win. The line of scrimmage was dominated by Jeffery Simmons and the rest of the Titans, forcing six sacks and an interception, ultimately winning the game with an underrated Tennessee defense. Dallas and Buffalo, both mainstays in the top ten power rankings this season, were exposed during high-scoring losses, while the Browns' defense continues to be a massive liability.

Here are the latest top ten NFL defensive power rankings heading into Week 11 of the 2022 NFL season.

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Best NFL Defense Rankings After Week 10

1. San Francisco 49ers

San Francisco has lost a couple of big pieces within its defense and looked lost against Kansas City and Atlanta, but Nick Bosa and Fred Warner returned to dominance against the struggling Los Angeles Chargers offense during a primetime game in Week 11. Deommodre Lenoir and Talanoa Hufanga are two fifth-round draft picks from the 2021 NFL Draft class that is returning a massive value in the 49ers' secondary, forcing interceptions and laying big hits. The 49ers are still ranked fifth in points against, averaging 18.1 points per game, holding every quarterback not named Patrick Mahomes under 250 passing yards this season. The run-centric offense allows for the defense to play with a lead and maintain fresh legs, so watch for San Francisco to make a run down the stretch.

2. New England Patriots

The Patriots were on their Bye in Week 10 but Matthew Judon leads the league in sacks with 11.5, while Deatrich Wise and the rest of New England's front seven are constantly wrecking the line of scrimmage. The pass defense is tightening up in recent games, but opponents are unable to establish the run against New England, as three of their previous four opponents have rushed for under 80 combined rushing yards in each contest. The turnovers are assumed at this point, as the Patriots have forced five turnovers in their last three games played. This includes six games with multiple turnovers, which can flip the momentum of a game and give the pedestrian New England offense life in most matchups. Bill Belichick leads this unit out of their Bye against Jets quarterback Zach Wilson for the second time in three games during Week 11.

3. Philadelphia Eagles

Philadelphia rosters one of the most potent secondaries in the league. Led by Darius Slay, the Eagles have forced 12 interceptions in eight games played, while holding opponents to a combined ten passing touchdowns. This ranks third-lowest in the league, which makes it tough for pass-centric teams to adjust to their running game. The run game is a liability for Philadelphia, as they allow 5.2 YPC, but the defense constricts in the red zone, surrendering only six rushing touchdowns on the year. No quarterback has finished with 250 passing yards against Philadelphia's pass defense while forcing at least one turnover in every game played. They are loaded at all three levels and don't surrender points easily, making the Eagles a top-three defense.

4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

We forgot about the strength and physicality of Tampa Bay's defense, which showed up in a big way against Seattle in Week 10. The run defense was on fire against sensational rookie running back Kenneth Walker III, who recorded 17 rushing yards on ten carries, turning into a receiver to have any impact moving the football. Geno Smith lost a fumble, while two late touchdowns made the final score look a lot closer than reality. Lavonte David, Devin White, Akiem Hicks, and Vita Vea are rounding into form in November, reminding all of us why the Buccaneers were so successful in previous years.

5. Cincinnati Bengals

The Bengals have quickly developed into a top-five defense this season. Cincinnati didn't play in Week 10 but the amount of talent throughout all three levels of its defense is forcing offenses to sputter. Trey Hendrickson, Logan Wilson, and a stacked secondary with names like Jessie Bates III and Vonn Bell all come together to form a talented defensive unit that creates difficult outings for opposing offenses. Only nine receiving touchdowns have been allowed by Cincinnati this season, ranking second-lowest in the league while surrendering only seven rushing touchdowns. The injury to cornerback Chidobe Awuzie will hurt, but there are plenty of talented players to overcome the void he leaves behind.

6. New York Jets

Robert Saleh's defensive background has been imprinted on the New York Jets defense. Whether it's Quinnen Williams, Carl Lawson, or sensational rookie cornerback Sauce Gardner, New York is stifling opposing passing attacks and delivering disruption at the line of scrimmage. It's been the formula for collecting wins all season, while a revamped secondary led by Gardner and D.J. Reed has put the clamps on opposing wideouts. Nine total receiving touchdowns is the second-lowest in the league while surrendering 5.8 yards per reception, which is indicative of how stout the Jets' secondary is playing this year.

7. Dallas Cowboys

I couldn't eliminate the Dallas defense from the top ten but they were obliterated by Green Bay's heavy rushing attack in Week 10. This commitment to the running game set up a massive outing for rookie wideout Christian Watson, who cooked Dallas' secondary with three touchdowns, ultimately leading the Packers to a huge win to end their losing slump. Micah Parsons and Trevon Diggs continue to be the focal point in Dan Quinn's defense, but they will need to regroup and bounce back on the road against a red-hot Minnesota offense in Week 11.

8. Tennessee Titans

The development of Jeffery Simmons, Tennesse's first-round draft pick in 2019, has paid massive dividends. The Titans are not the greatest pass defense by any stretch of the imagination, but their run defense is turning into the best in the league. Tennessee has only allowed two rushing touchdowns this season, which leads the league. Veteran safety and ballhawk Kevin Byard remains a staple of the defense on the back end, but Mike Vrabel deserves a lot of credit for building the trenches along the Titans' defensive line of scrimmage. Since being embarrassed by Buffalo in Week 2, the Titans have only allowed one team to score over 20 points, which includes the high-powered Kansas City offense. This is a defense built for the playoffs.

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9. Pittsburgh Steelers

I know, I know. You're thinking it's way out of line to rank Pittsburgh's porous pass defense in the top ten. However, the Steelers have forced ten interceptions this season, including two against New Orleans without the presence of star safety Minkah Fitzpatrick. The return of T.J. Watt, the 2021 Defensive Player of the Year, was a massive boost for Pittsburgh, who terrorized Andy Dalton, Alvin Kamara, and Chris Olave with pressure, hard hits, and pass deflections all afternoon. Meanwhile, the Saints' run game was stifled, held to 29 total rushing yards in Week 10, which will be needed against Joe Mixon and Jonathan Taylor in upcoming matchups. Mike Tomlin knows the Steelers' ability to win close games comes down to defense and a strong run game, which Pittsburgh certainly displayed coming out of its Bye Week.

10. Minnesota Vikings

Minnesota has had a tough time against opposing passing attacks but they have an offense that is capable of matching high-end firepower, as displayed in a thrilling Week 10 overtime win against Buffalo. As poor as Minnesota has looked defensively at times, they have forced eight turnovers in their past three games, while holding four opponents under 230 passing yards. Yes, there have been some bad outings, but the Vikings have only allowed 12 receiving touchdowns, which is tied for the 12th-fewest in the league. The arrival of Za'Darius Smith from Green Bay this offseason has done wonders for Minnesota's defense, as they have 26 sacks and 51 TFLs, including 9.5 sacks for Smith. Don't sleep on this group of veterans, including All-Pro linebacker Eric Kendricks, who scooped the botched fumble to flip momentum with a defensive touchdown against the Bills in Week 10.

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Matt is an avid writer, editor, and researcher. He enjoys analyzing the game within the game which is fantasy sports and sports betting. Music is another constant in his daily life. Matt loves spending time with his wife and three pets. He likes to read, listen to podcasts, and is constantly motivated to create the most accurate and engaging content in the sports betting industry.


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