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2023/24 NFL season: Ranking every defense 1-32

With the 2023/24 NFL season upon us, we’ve provided our rankings of all 32 defenses in the NFL.

1. New York Jets

There’s been no shortage of hype surrounding the New York Jets ahead of the 2023/24 season, whether from Hard Knocks on HBO or quarterback Aaron Rodgers joining the team. 

One of the primary reasons Rodgers wanted to be traded to the Jets was their elite defense led by DE Quinnen Williams and reigning Defensive Rookie of the Year CB Sauce Gardner.

2. Philadelphia Eagles

The Philadelphia Eagles fell just short of a Super Bowl victory last season and look poised to make another appearance. 

While QB Jalen Hurts and the WR duo of AJ Brown and Devonta Smith deserve the attention they get, their defense is also elite. 

Led by a whole crew of University of Georgia beasts including young defensive tackles Jalen Carter and Jordan Davis, they also have CB Darius Slay to lead a talented group of cornerbacks.

3. San Francisco 49ers

Despite losing defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans to the Houston Texans’ head coaching job, the San Francisco 49ers are still looking to be one of the best defensive teams thanks to DE Nick Bosa. 

Pass rushers continue to be of the utmost importance, and Bosa is a former Defensive Player of the Year winner listed at +1200 to do so again this season.

4. Dallas Cowboys

The Dallas Cowboys would crack into the top three if not for their tendency to give up the explosive play every now and then. 

Otherwise, their bend-don’t-break style under defensive coordinator Dan Quinn has proven to be strong, especially when CB Trevon Diggs can pick off double-digit passes in a season.

5. Denver Broncos

If not for the abysmal play of QB Russell Wilson and the offense last season, the Denver Broncos would have actually been one of the best teams in the NFL. 

Their defense was so strong that if Denver would have just scored at least 20 points in each of their first nine games, they would have started the season 8-1 last year.

6. Buffalo Bills

There’s no storyline bigger than Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin and his return to the field this season as part of one of the league’s best defenses. 

Buffalo could be even higher if we didn’t have to wait for DE Von Miller to take the field due to injury, but even still, they’ve proven to be one of the most complete defenses in one of the most difficult stadiums for opponents to play.

7. Baltimore Ravens

If there was ever a franchise whose entire history has been synonymous with defense, it’s the Baltimore Ravens. 

Since drafting Ray Lewis in their inaugural season in 1996, they have been built on physicality. 

Now, it’s cornerback Marlon Humphrey, linebacker Roquan Smith, and safety Kyle Hamilton taking up the mantle from those legendary Lewis-led defensive units that have included legends like Ed Reed, Terrell Suggs, and Haloti Ngata. 

When CB Marcus Peters is healthy, look for them to rise up this list. 

8. New England Patriots

The New England Patriots have needed their defense to remain consistent with QB Mac Jones not developing as much as many fans hoped, along with a lack of explosive weapons on the outside. 

Head coach Bill Belichick has always been a defensive genius and with Matthew Judon as a chess piece for him to use to disrupt opposing offenses, their schemes will always be elite.

9. New Orleans Saints

The New Orleans Saints locked up DE Cameron Jordan just prior to the start of the year to ensure their defense would be strong for years to come. 

They allowed the fifth-fewest yards per game last season, and in an NFC South with two young QBs, they may very well do so again in the 2023/24 season. 

10. Cincinnati Bengals

We already covered the Ravens, who have forced the entirety of the AFC North to become physical. 

The Cincinnati Bengals have followed suit, which was needed to assist QB Joe Burrow and company to make the Super Bowl just two seasons ago. 

That continued last season when Cincy allowed the sixth-fewest yards per game.

11. Washington Commanders

If the Washington Commanders are going to be competitive this season, their defense is going to need to rise up this list. 

Regardless, they have one of the best pass-rushing duos in Montez Sweat and Chase Young, and CB Emmanuel Forbes is one of the favorites to win Defensive Rookie of the Year at odds of +1600.

12. Miami Dolphins

If not for CB Jalen Ramsey’s knee injury, the Miami Dolphins likely would have cracked the top 10. 

In the meantime, Xavien Howard is still one of the best corners in the game. 

Their superior athleticism plays a significant factor, especially considering the ridiculous heat and humidity of Miami during the first half of the season as well. 

13. Pittsburgh Steelers

The Pittsburgh Steelers are the third AFC North team we’ve mentioned in the top half of the league's defensive unit rankings. 

They may not be the Steel Curtain of old, but they’re still a defensive-minded franchise and have superstar edge rusher TJ Watt looking for his second Defensive Player of the Year award at odds of +800

They also added veteran CB Patrick Peterson and drafted rookie CB Joey Porter Jr. to put in work behind Watt.

14. Cleveland Browns

Surprise - another AFC North team. 

It’s not often that the ‘worst’ defense in a division is still within the top 15 of the league but that is the division's stiff competition has created. 

As you’ve likely noticed by now, pass rushers are a theme of great defenses, and that’s exactly what the Browns have in DE Myles Garrett - he has the second-shortest odds at +700 to win Defensive Player of the Year. 

They could use more depth, but CBs Denzel Ward and Greg Newsome are also a strong duo.

15. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

We may not see the likes of Warren Sapp and Derrick Brooks anymore, but the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are still a stout defensive team. 

They have talent at every level - Tampa had a top-10 passing defense and up front, Vita Vea and Shaq Barrett are as intimidating as it gets.

16. Kansas City Chiefs

It’s impossible for the Kansas City Chiefs defense to match their offensive output, but they’ve been sneakily solid, helping them reach the Super Bowl in three of the past four seasons. 

Of course, much of this is predicated on Chris Jones ending his holdout and rejoining the team, which fans are eagerly awaiting.

17. Seattle Seahawks

The Seattle Seahawks snuck in the playoffs last season as one of the most surprising teams to do so. 

They certainly aren’t the Legion of Boom anymore, but they still have a physical secondary that communicates well to run complex coverages. 

They also brought home LB Bobby Wagner, which every Seattle fan loved to see.

18. Green Bay Packers

Based on the talent alone, the Green Bay Packers have the potential to rise much higher on this list. 

Of course, having CB Jaire Alexander helps with that, but they just need to get everything together into one moving unit. 

They drafted DE Lukas Van Ness higher in the 2023 NFL Draft than many expected, so if he pans out, things could look good for the Cheeseheads. 

19. Carolina Panthers

The Carolina Panthers drafted QB Bryce Young with the #1 overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, but being in a weak NFC South has helped their defense at least look solid. 

They won’t need to worry about Tom Brady in the division anymore either. 

The Panthers' defense is anchored by Shaq Thompson and veteran edge rusher Justin Houston. As long as Young doesn’t force them on the field too much with turnovers, they could prove respectable.

20. Indianapolis Colts

The Indianapolis Colts have caught too many headlines for the wrong reasons, but at least they haven’t been about negatives on the defensive side of the ball. 

They’ll need linebacker Shaq Leonard to stay healthy, but if he can do so, their front end - which includes DeForest Buckner and Kwity Paye - can help protect the fact that they lost CB Stephen Gilmore this offseason.

21. Atlanta Falcons

22. Jacksonville Jaguars

23. Tennessee Titans

24. Detroit Lions

25. Los Angeles Chargers

26. New York Giants

27. Houston Texans

28. Las Vegas Raiders

29. Chicago Bears

30. Los Angeles Rams

31. Arizona Cardinals

32. Minnesota Vikings

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