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2023 NFL Team Defense Rankings: Ranking the Four Defenses in the Conference Championship Round

Only four teams remain in the 2022 NFL playoffs. Matt MacKay is here to share his updated defensive power rankings ahead of the final two Conference Championship games.
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2023 NFL Team Defense Rankings: Ranking the Four Defenses in the Conference Championship Round

The 2022 NFL season is down to its final three games. Four teams stand tall, including the hard-nosed defensive units that have contained explosive offenses all season. Defense is often overshadowed by offense, but they deserve recognition and credit for helping do their part to get their team into position to win the conference and earn a trip to Super Bowl LVII.

San Francisco has been ranked atop my NFL defensive power rankings for the majority of the season, and they have yet to fall down the rankings. That is until Conference Championship weekend. Move over 49ers, Cincinnati Bengals DC Lou Anarumo has arrived with his brilliant schemes and personnel to usurp the top defensive ranking. All four defensive units playing on Championship Sunday have talent throughout their personnel on that side of the line of scrimmage. However, there are weaknesses that can be exposed, so let's dive into why each defense is ranked accordingly based on their entire body of work this season.

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Best NFL Defense Rankings in the NFL Conference Championship Round

1. Cincinnati Bengals

The Cincinnati Bengals have been rock solid on defense all season. They aren't the best at generating pressure and manufacturing sacks, TFLs, and quarterback hits, but the Bengals' defense finished the regular season allowing opposing quarterbacks to complete just 58.9 percent of attempted passes, ranking first in lowest completion percentage surrendered. Cincinnati has allowed three total touchdowns in two playoff games and 27 total points, which is the fourth-lowest in the postseason. Whether it's Sam Hubbard, Germaine Pratt, Vonn Bell, Mike Hilton, or Jessie Bates III, the Bengals shut down opponents' rush and passing attacks, allowing Joe Burrow and the loaded offense to operate without dealing with pressure. Cincinnati is peaking at the perfect time defensively and will prepare to face MVP favorite Patrick Mahomes off of a high ankle sprain on Sunday evening.

2. San Francisco 49ers

DC DeMeco Ryans has been a heavily interviewed candidate for head coaching vacancies throughout the playoffs. Still, he put aside the opportunities to focus on preparing the 49ers' defense against Seattle and Dallas. San Francisco's run defense is the best in the league, allowing 3.8 YPC in the playoffs. However, they have surrendered 35 points across their last two games and have serious vulnerability in the secondary. The 49ers capitalized on a few Dak Prescott miscues, turning them into two interceptions in the Divisional Round. Still, as long as Fred Warner, Nick Bosa, and Halanoa Tufanga are lined up, the pads will pop, and players will fly to the football. Philadelphia is a run-centric offense, so the 49ers could cause fits early to keep the inexperienced rookie quarterback, Brock Purdy, protected like he was against Dallas last weekend.

3. Philadelphia Eagles

Philadelphia led the regular season with 70 sacks, and they've amassed five more in the playoffs with just one game played. Haason Reddick, Javon Hargrave, and Fletcher Cox are stout up front, while the secondary is led by Darius Slay and a vastly talented supporting cast to lock down opposing quarterbacks. Daniel Jones had a 50 QBR after playing the best game of his career against a bad Minnesota defense in the Wild Card Round, while the Giants' wide receiving corps allowed only 109 receiving yards for seven total points. Some weaknesses in the run game reared up during the regular season. Still, GM Howie Roseman made a couple of moves to bolster the interior of the defensive line to shore up that vulnerability.

4. Kansas City Chiefs

Kansas City is my fourth-ranked defense, but it's simply because the other three units roster high-caliber personnel. Chiefs DC Steve Spagnuolo does a fantastic job calling defensive coverages under head coach Andy Reid, starting with the talent up front. Chris Jones, Frank Clark, Derrick Nnadi, and rookie George Karlaftis are constant disruptors at the line of scrimmage, while Nick Bolton is an emerging superstar at linebacker. The Chiefs allowed a league-high 33 receiving touchdowns in the regular season and 369 total points, which ranked 17th fewest. They stood tall in the big moments against Jacksonville in the Divisional Round, allowing only one receiving touchdown while recovering a fumble in the red zone during the fourth quarter and forcing an interception a couple of plays later. Patrick Mahomes will look toward his defense to give him some extra respite as he prepares for the Bengals' top-ranked defense on a hobbled ankle.

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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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