NFL Defense Power Rankings 2022

Last Updated: Feb 2, 2023

Thank you for navigating to our NFL Defense Power Rankings! Click to get the latest NFL betting picks for the playoffs.

Entering the 2022 NFL season, we projected and ranked the top defenses in the NFL according to offseason personnel movements and overall finishes from 2021.

A lot has changed since those initial rankings were posted. It’s Week 14, and while some team defenses are living up to the hype, others have fallen short or exceeded expectations. This calls for an updated set of rankings.

Below, you will find our latest NFL Defense Power Rankings for 2022, ranking all 32 team defenses from around the league.

All 2022 NFL futures odds are courtesy of Caesars Sportsbook unless otherwise noted and are current as of Thursday, Dec. 8, at 1 p.m. ET.

NFL Defense Power Rankings

32. Detroit Lions

Maybe this shouldn’t surprise anyone, but the Lions have the NFL’s worst defense. I can make the case for another team or two, but the Lions don’t have a lot to build off of aside from Aidan Hutchinson.

While the Lions are 12th in the NFL with 15 takeaways, they are a bottom-seven unit in most statistical categories, including points, totals yards, passing yards, rushing yards, and touchdowns conceded.

Bet Tip: Aidan Hutchinson to Win Defensive Player of the Year (+850) at Caesars Sportsbook

31. Chicago Bears

I would put the Bears dead last, but they have been at least competent in defending the pass despite being awful in containing the run.

And you can’t blame Chicago’s inability to stop the run on the Roquan Smith trade. Their run defense has been terrible all season.

While Matt Eberflus is a defensive head coach, the Bears have shown very little improvement thus far. Preceding the Smith trade, the team also moved Robert Quinn, another veteran contract.

This shows that the organization is looking to rebuild for 2023 and beyond.

Keep track of the latest NFL futures odds and gameday lines:

If you are looking to make a wager on the NFL, perhaps on some defensive props, be sure to check out the best sportsbook promos.

30. Los Angeles Chargers

This is another spot where I could have slotted other teams. However, I am deducting points from the Chargers because they should be better.

With the incredible talent this team boasts on defense and a defensive-minded head coach, there is simply no excuse for the Chargers’ defense conceding 25.8 points per game, the third-worst mark in the NFL.

This is on head coach Brandon Staley, who is/should be on the hot seat and on his way out of town.

Ranking 25th in third-down percentage, 28th in rushing yards, and 26th in passing touchdowns allowed, this team has a lot of work to do in the offseason.

29. Arizona Cardinals

I am being generous with my ranking of the Cardinals. However, I am doing so because this should have been expected.

Losing Chandler Jones this offseason while not addressing their needs in the secondary, most notably, at cornerback, we expected the Cardinals’ defense to be among the league’s worst.

J.J. Watt may be an elite player on the back end of his career, but he can’t do it alone. Arizona has some players on defense like Budda Baker, Zaven Collins, and Isaiah Simmons, but when you are light on the back end and the EDGE, you’re going to give up lots of yards in the pass-heavy NFL.

28. Atlanta Falcons

The Falcons are another team that we expected to struggle defensively. While the Falcons have exceeded expectations with five wins through 13 games, their defense is not the reason why.

This is another team that is ranked in the bottom eight in the most important defensive categories. Notably, they are dead last in plays, passing yards, red zone attempts, and first downs.

Outside of Grady Jarrett and A.J. Terrell, the Falcons have some work to do when it comes to bringing in more talent to improve this unit.

27. Green Bay Packers

Like I did with the Chargers earlier, I am deducting points from the Packers, a team that entered the year with a defense that looked like it was ready to take a step forward.

While the Packers ended last season ranked 14th in points allowed, they are conceding the seventh most this year. Green Bay’s secondary has done its part.

However, when it comes to stopping the run, the Packers fail to show up. Green Bay’s defense is ranked 31st in rushing yards, 30th in attempts, and 25th in rushing touchdowns allowed.

This is a team that can turn it around fast, however, with the right moves in the offseason.

26. Cleveland Browns

The Browns defense is more than just elite pass-rusher Myles Garrett. They have legit talent at all three levels of their defense.

However, the Browns are allowing the sixth-most ppg in the NFL (25.0), which means either their big-pop players aren’t gelling or they’ve simply failed to show up.

That said, on paper, this defense isn’t as bad as it appears. The Browns are only in the red in rushing touchdowns (29) and red zone attempts (29), showing the spots that need improvement.

Furthermore, the Browns also have the fifth-fewest interceptions.

If they can get these areas right, they will be a vastly improved defense in 2023.

25. Seattle Seahawks

The Seahawks entered the season with question marks on both sides of the football. While they are 7-5, nobody expected them to be where they are entering Week 14.

Credit to Geno Smith and the offense.

However, the Seattle defense is allowing the fifth-most points per game while slated in the bottom six in a slew of categories including points, plays, passing yards, rushing yards, and touchdowns allowed.

This would be a bottom-feeding team in the NFC if Smith didn’t bail out this defense as much as he has.

Bet Tip: Seahawks to Win NFC West (+320) at FanDuel Sportsbook

24. Las Vegas Raiders

The Raiders made a key move this offseason with the acquisition of Chandler Jones. However, they also lost some talent in free agency, and it has shown throughout the year.

While the Raiders are loaded on the EDGE with Jones and Maxx Crosby, the rest of their defense is either aging or inexperienced. The team is also feeling the aftermath of horrendous drafts from Mike Mayock and Jon Gruden.

Ranked 28th in sacks, 31st in takeaways, and 26th in third-down percentage, this defense can simply not get off the field.

23. Miami Dolphins

While the defense was a strength of the Dolphins during the Brian Flores era, that is no longer the case. This is puzzling since the Dolphins have a high-priced secondary, among other positions scattered on that side of the ball.

The greatest issue the Dolphins are having this season is when they are in the red zone. While they are 24th in red zone attempts, they are 28th in red zone touchdowns allowed.

They need to find a way to turn those drives into field goals to right the ship. Otherwise, their defense is not as bad as the numbers might suggest (25th in points per game allowed).

22. Houston Texans

If the Texans are doing anything right in 2023, it’s on defense. This is a testament to Lovie Smith.

Although you can run all over them — the Texans are ranked dead last in rushing attempts and yards and rank 25th in rushing TDs allowed — they are stingy against the pass. Elite rookie corner Derek Stingley Jr. has made an immense impact containing enemy No. 1 wideouts.

When you are allowing the second-fewest passing touchdowns in a passing league, you know you have some talent on the back end to build off of.

21. Pittsburgh Steelers

Perhaps I am being a tad harsh on the Steelers. However, it is deserved. A team loaded with defensive talent, it has not lived up to form.

While injuries have played a role, notably to T.J. Watt and Minkah Fitzpatrick, a decline that began in last season has continued, with no signs of improvement.

Still very sound against the run, the Steelers are 27th in passing yards and 30th in passing touchdowns conceded. It is important to note that Pittsburgh is 24th in sacks.
When you’re not getting pressure, opposing signal-callers will pick you apart.

20. Indianapolis Colts

The loss of Matt Eberflus has made an impact. Although the Colts were one of the better defenses in 2021, they have taken a step back sans their former defensive coordinator.

Ranking 15th in points per game allowed, the Indy defense is still a middle-of-the-pack unit, but they have been slashed and gashed by superior offenses.

Twelfth in sacks, but 28th in interceptions, the Colts’ defense has not been as opportunistic as they have been in years past. They are also one of the worst defenses in the red zone (27th in red zone scoring percentage), thanks to giving up the sixth-most TDs on the ground.

19. Los Angeles Rams

The defending Super Bowl champions have taken an immense step back on both sides of the ball in 2022. While they are worse on offense, their defense has not been able to carry them.

Despite employing notable names like Bobby Wagner, Jalen Ramsey, and Aaron Donald, the Los Angeles defense has holes and is beginning to age. Moving off as many draft picks as the Rams have through the years is catching up to them, as is a mismanaged salary cap.

You can’t knock Les Snead for going all-in last season and winning it all, but the organization is now paying the price for it.

18. Minnesota Vikings

The Vikings are allowing the 11th-most points per game. And although they can contain the run, they are a bottom-five unit in most passing categories, as well as plays.

However, the Vikings are one of the best teams in the NFC because they find a way to get the job done, making plays when they need to. The Vikings’ defense is fourth in interceptions and turnovers forced,, showing those all-important opportunistic tendencies that will come in handy come playoff time.

If they can tighten up the back end of the defense, they are can make a legit run at the Lombardi.

17. New Orleans Saints

Defense has carried the Saints since the retirement of Drew Brees. However, despite the promotion of Dennis Allen to head coach, the New Orleans defense is no longer a strength. In fact, it’s now a liability.

While the Saints’ defense is 16th in points per game, they are second to last in interceptions and takeaways. They are also 31st in plays, showing they can’t get off the field.

Still, it is not all bad for the Saints. While they allow their opponents into the red zone quite frequently, this defense is stingy as they come from inside 20 yards.

The Saints are sixth in red zone touchdowns allowed and fourth in red zone touchdown rate. Some positives to build off of in an otherwise lost campaign.

16. Jacksonville Jaguars

There are many positives to draw from the 2022 Jaguars in Year 1 under Doug Pederson. While the offense has taken a drastic step forward, the Jacksonville defense remains a liability.

Sure, they managed to improve this season, but they are very much a middle-of-the-pack bunch. We have seen some good with some bad, which is to be expected from a team that is rebuilding.

The biggest hole in the Jaguars’ defense is on the back end as they allow the fifth-most passing yards. There is also a lot of room for improvement in the red zone and on third downs.

The Jags have five picks in the first four rounds in the upcoming 2023 NFL Draft. Look for the defense to be addressed.

15. Carolina Panthers

The Panthers have been one of the biggest messes in the NFL this season, and that led to the early firing of head coach Matt Rhule.

However, defensively, it hasn’t been that bad. The Panthers give up the 14th-most points per game.

With studs like Brian Burns, Shaq Thompson, and Jaycee Horn on all three levels of the defense, this unit could emerge in 2023, especially if they end this season on a high note.

14. Kansas City Chiefs

Every year, the Chiefs defense seems to get better as the season progresses. They can look atrocious at times, but Kansas City always finds a way to tighten up in big spots and in the money months.

The Chiefs are much better against the run, but they employ one of the most vulnerable secondaries in the NFL. However, since they score at a higher rate, a lot of that production is a result of garbage time and shootouts.

Steve Spagnuolo will have his guys ready for another run.

13. New York Giants

The Giants field one of the more surprising defenses in the NFL, thanks to new defensive coordinator Don “Wink" Martindale.

Martindale immediately turned around a defense that had an erratic run in 2021. This is another club chock full of young talent with seasoned vets in the mix.

The Giants have played very well for the most part, but need to improve their run defense.

12. Washington Commanders

In 2021, the Commanders had one of the league’s worst defenses, which is no longer the case. Despite a rough start to the year, as well as the fact that Chase Young has yet to play a snap, Jack Del Rio‘s unit has turned it around.

The Washington defense is a big reason why this team is in the postseason conversation in December. While they are a bottom-four team in sacks, they are the fourth-best team in getting off the field on third down.

A tremendous accomplishment.

A unit looking to finish the year strong defensively, they will get a boost if/when Young returns.

11. Tennessee Titans

The Titans win ugly, but they win football games. Tennessee’s defense is a big reason why.

A top-11 unit in points per game, the Titans’ defense is one of the stingiest defenses against the run, allowing the fewest rushing scores in the NFL, as well as the third-fewest rushing yards.

However, this defense still has its issues. They are allowing the second-most passing yards and the fourth-most touchdowns through the air. They also allow the most pass attempts and completions.

A variance of this magnitude will only get you so far in the postseason.

10. New England Patriots

The 2022 version of the Bill Belichick defense is one with flaws. While they are still one of the league’s best, the Patriots struggle at times defending the pass.

They also aren’t as good in the red zone as they have been in years past.

Still, when you are allowing 18.8 points per game, you are going to be in every football game, especially when you are ranked in the top four in sacks and picks.

9. Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens defense had an erratic start to the year. However, this was to be expected in the wake of the loss of Don Martindale to the Giants.

Stout against the run, the Ravens are another club that struggles to defend the pass, ranking 25th in passing yards allowed and 26th in completions and attempts.

Roquan Smith will make an immense impact going forward, making the Baltimore defense that much more difficult to run against.

If the Ravens are going to tread water until Lamar Jackson returns, their defense must play lights-out football. They have the personnel to do so.

8. Cincinnati Bengals

The Bengals defense is a lot better than their points-per-game ranking suggests (12th). While injuries to the secondary forced their defense to take a step back, they are managing to get the job done when they need to.

When you can hold the Chiefs to 24 points, you know you are doing something right. When you are a top-four defense in plays and touchdowns allowed, you are going to win a lot of football games.

Bet Tip: Bengals to Win AFC Championship (+600) at Caesars Sportsbook

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Buccaneers have battled injuries on both sides of the ball, but more so on defense. No longer the lights-out unit of the past few seasons, they can still get to the quarterback at a high rate.

Teams have still been able to run on the Buccaneers, something that was an afterthought under Todd Bowles, but they’re a bit more difficult to throw on, allowing the fifth-fewest passing yards in the NFL.

If the Buccaneers are going to turn it on and make any type of noise in the playoffs, this defense must continue playing at a high level. They must also find a way to create more turnovers.

They are the third-worst unit in that category.

6. Buffalo Bills

Buffalo’s defense was a strength of the team early in the year. However, because of injuries in the secondary, it has since become a handicap.

Don’t get me wrong, this is still one of the best defenses in the NFL, allowing the fourth-fewest points. However, they are 14th in third-down rate, giving opposing offense more opportunities to take advantage of the injuries on the back end.

With Tre’Davious White finally back in the fold, the Bills’ defense will be just fine in January when they need it to step up most.

5. Philadelphia Eagles

While the Eagles are seventh in points allowed, they are one of the best overall units across the board.

They are the No. 1 defense in takeaways and sacks. The unit is a headache for all challengers.

If a team can get to Philly, it is on the ground. The Eagles are allowing the 16th-most rushing yards along with the 13th-most scores on the ground.

This could be troublesome, however, in the playoffs.

4. New York Jets

It took a year, but Robert Saleh‘s defense is finally on point.

Stingy against both the run and the pass, young players like Sauce Gardner are stepping up in a big way and making an immediate impact.

Jets GM Joe Douglas has also hit on a few key free-agent acquisitions, including D.J. Reed and Carl Lawson. If the Jets can figure it out on offense, this team could do some damage.

3. Denver Broncos

Denver’s 2022 season has been a disaster on offense. However, when it comes to the Broncos’ defense, they have done their part to keep this team in games.

Teams have found some success running the ball against the Broncos, but throwing on them has been a completely different story.

The Broncos allow the fewest touchdowns in the NFL and are a force in the red zone. Still, there is room for improvement in terms of getting to the quarterback and forcing turnovers.

2. San Francisco 49ers

The 49ers’ defense has stepped up in a big way under second-year defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans. This is one defense that offenses struggle to get anything going against.

Not only can the 49ers stop the run, but they are just as frugal against the pass. They are also a top-end unit when it comes to sacks and takeaways.

This is a defense built for a Super Bowl run.

A star-studded unit with menacing players that include Fred Warner and Nick Bosa in the front seven, we have also seen the emergence of Talanoa Hufanga, who is already one of the league’s best safeties.

Bet Tip: Nick Bosa to Win Defensive Player of the Year (+240) at Caesars Sportsbook

1. Dallas Cowboys

It is difficult to put any team ahead of the 49ers. However, the all-around play of the Cowboys’ defense is hard to ignore.

They are No. 2 in takeaways and No. 1 in sacks.

The Dallas defense may not be as polished as the 49ers since they do give up yards, but they step up when it counts. They’ve allowed the second-fewest touchdowns while remaining stout in the red zone.

Bet Tip: Cowboys to Win Super Bowl 57 (+800) at FanDuel Sportsbook


Anthony Cervino

Anthony Cervino is an NFL Writer and Betting Analyst for The Game Day. He is also a lifelong NFL savant and self-proclaimed league historian. In the industry, Anthony has excelled in both the fantasy football and sports betting space with fantasy his proverbial bread and butter. Anthony has made appearances on SiriusXM, amongst other publications. He is also the co-creator of the FF Faceoff (Faceoff Sports Network) and the FF Faceoff Mental Health Podathon partnered with the Hayden Hurst Foundation. Industry Clout: 15th most accurate ranker in the FantasyPros ECR for both draft and in-season accuracy (2019) | 8th most accurate ranker in the FantasyPros ECR for sleepers (2020) | 13th most accurate ranker in the FantasyPros ECR for in-season accuracy, including 2nd at quarterback and 3rd at tight end (2021).

Related articles