As the countdown to the 2023 NFL season intensifies, speculations and projections are running rampant about which teams will emerge as defensive powerhouses. In the NFL, sturdy defenses often dictate the flow of the game, and identifying the top contenders becomes crucial for fans, analysts, and teams alike. Based on statistical trends, and roster evaluations, here are the potential top five defenses for the upcoming season.
Projecting the Top 5 Defenses for the 2023 NFL Season
1. San Francisco 49ers
The San Francisco 49ers’ defense has shown remarkable resilience and poise over the years and is assured to carry that over to the 2023 season. Their defensive line, bolstered by reigning defensive player of the year Nick Bosa, ranks among the most disruptive units. In the 2022 season, they ranked first in pretty much every category, allowing 300 total yards per game, and astonishingly holding their opponents to only 77.7 rush yards per game.
With a ferocious defensive line and strategic coverage schemes with their linebackers like Fred Warner, the 49ers are confident that they will make their presence felt yet again this season, and will have the best defense in the league.
2. Philadelphia Eagles
The Philadelphia Eagles are poised to showcase a formidable defense in the 2023 season, supported by several key factors. In recent years, the Eagles have steadily invested in their defensive lineup, focusing on player development and strategic acquisitions. Specifically, the Eagles’ defensive line has exhibited impressive potential, recording 70 sacks last season, which led the league by a mile. Furthermore, their secondary led by cornerback Darius Slay has shown great promise in disrupting their opponent’s pass game, recording 17 interceptions in 2022.
With a proactive approach to improving their defensive game and a foundation of emerging talents, the Eagles are in position to be among the league’s top defenses once again in 2023.
3. Dallas Cowboys
The Dallas Cowboys are primed for defensive excellence once again in 2023. Led by stars like Micah Parsons, their linebacking corps has showcased versatility and playmaking ability, with Parsons tallying 13 sacks his rookie year, and 13.5 in his sophomore campaign. Furthermore, the presence of skilled defensive backs like Trevon Diggs has enhanced their secondary’s ability to create turnovers, with the defense finishing 2022 with 16 interceptions.
Under the leadership of defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, the Cowboys’ defense has evolved into a cohesive and opportunistic unit, setting the stage for a strong performance in 2023.
4. Pittsburgh Steelers
The Pittsburgh Steelers always have one of the best defenses in the league it seems, and this year will be no different. In the 2022 season, the Steelers finished 14th in the league in sacks with 40 of them, which was significantly worse than in 2021, in which they recorded 55 sacks. A big reason for the Steelers dropping production in this category was due to the injury of star pass rusher T.J. Watt, who was injured in Week 1 which caused him to miss the first seven games.
Watt in 2021 recorded 22.5 sacks on his own, more than half of what the entire Pittsburgh defense produced last season. With Watt fully healthy and ready to go, along with other star defenders like safety Minkah Fitzpatrick, who was also injured for multiple games, the Steelers once again will be a top-five defense, and nobody will want to face them.
5. New York Jets
The New York Jets are on track to put up an intimidating defense in 2023. Going from almost dead last in total defense in 2021, head coach Robert Saleh’s investment in a strong defense in 2022 jumped them up to the fourth best in the league overall. The Jets’ defense last season only allowed 18.6 points per game, holding their opponents to 20 or less points in 11 of those games. With veteran players around the field like C.J. Mosley to lead the defense, and rising stars like Sauce Gardner with his ballhawk abilities, the New York Jets’ defense is in a great position to stay a top-five defense in the league.
The stage is set for a thrilling battle of defenses in 2023, with these five teams ready to show why they are the top dogs in the league. As NFL fans around the world eagerly await kickoff, they can look forward to a thrilling display of defensive mastery, as these teams vie for supremacy.