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    2024 NFL Defense Rankings: Jets Fly Past Browns for the Top Spot

    Which team has the best defense in football? What about the worst? Find out where each franchise fits in our 2024 NFL Defense Rankings.

    While the NFL is still a pass-heavy league, last season proved that defenses can still win championships. The Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers squared off in Super Bowl 58, as two of the best scoring defenses in the entire league.

    Although a team might have all the offensive firepower in the world, it doesn’t automatically equate to winning. Teams are always eager to find the next great pass rusher or shutdown cornerback each offseason.

    Therefore, as training camp approaches, it’s worth taking a look at each defense around the league. Throughout the offseason, each team has changed their respective defenses to keep up with the explosive offenses around the league. Following the flurry of moves, which team has the best defense in the NFL?

    2024 NFL Defense Rankings

    1) New York Jets

    Despite losing star quarterback Aaron Rodgers to a season-ending injury in Week 1, the Jets remained competitive in 2023.

    That was primarily due to the team’s dominant defense, which added star pass rusher Haason Reddick via trade this offseason. If Rodgers can remain healthy, New York’s defense should play significantly fewer snaps and dominate en route to earning the respect that they deserve.

    2) Cleveland Browns

    Similar to the Jets last season, the Browns dealt with a tough situation at quarterback. Therefore, Cleveland’s defense was forced to shoulder most of the load.

    The Browns allowed the fewest yards in the NFL last season, while also finishing sixth in sacks. Cleveland’s defense is on the rise and the Browns added veteran linebacker Jordan Hicks in free agency.

    3) Pittsburgh Steelers

    Pittsburgh’s defense finished sixth in DVOA last season, led by superstar pass rusher T.J. Watt. The Steelers are in line to take a huge leap in 2024, thanks to the addition of former Baltimore Ravens linebacker Patrick Queen. If Joey Porter Jr. can take another step at cornerback, Pittsburgh’s defense should be among the league’s best.

    4) Dallas Cowboys

    While it’s fair to be concerned about the departure of former Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, Dallas’ defense is far too talented to fall very far.

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    Micah Parsons is arguably the best defensive player in the NFL, while star cornerback Trevon Diggs is returning from a torn ACL. The addition of Eric Kendricks and the return of DeMarvion Overshown at linebacker could be huge as well.

    5) San Francisco 49ers

    San Francisco’s trip to Super Bowl 58 came with a hefty cost, as the Niners lost several defensive starters. Yet they are still expected to be one of the top defenses in the league, led by Fred Warner and Nick Bosa. The Niners made a few notable additions in Maliek Collins, Leonard Floyd, and De’Vondre Campbell as well.

    6) Baltimore Ravens

    Similar to the Niners, the Ravens were a victim of their own success last season. Baltimore lost three coaches on the team’s defensive staff, including defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald. The Ravens also lost three starters on defense in free agency, although the team selected cornerback Nate Wiggins in the 2024 NFL Draft to replace Ronald Darby.

    7) Kansas City Chiefs

    Following Kansas City’s victory in Super Bowl 58, they lost several defensive starters. The Chiefs elected to trade shutdown cornerback L’Jarius Sneed to the Tennessee Titans. Trent McDuffie, though, appears ready to take the next step.

    Despite losing multiple starters, Steve Spagnuolo’s defense should still rank among the NFL’s best units, especially given that the Chiefs re-signed star defensive tackle Chris Jones.

    8) Houston Texans

    Although Texans rising star quarterback C.J. Stroud got most of the attention for Houston’s success last season, the defense also exceeded expectations. After finishing inside the top 10 in several categories in 2023, Houston made some notable additions.

    The Texans signed Pro Bowl edge rusher Danielle Hunter to a two-year deal in free agency. Houston also signed linebacker Azeez Al-Shaair away from the division rival Titans.

    9) Las Vegas Raiders

    While it was tough to watch the Raiders’ offense, Las Vegas’ defense was quite a pleasant surprise. Led by star edge rusher Maxx Crosby, the Raiders allowed the ninth-fewest points in the NFL in 2023. Las Vegas made a huge splash in free agency by signing defensive tackle Christian Wilkins to a massive contract.

    10) Detroit Lions

    The Lions reached the NFC Championship game last season but ultimately fell short, largely due to the team’s lackluster secondary. Thus, Detroit overhauled the cornerback spot, trading for veteran Carlton Davis and selecting Terrion Arnold in the first round.

    11) Jacksonville Jaguars

    The Jaguars were a disappointment last season, yet the team’s defense exceeded expectations at times. Jacksonville ranked 10th in DVOA and Joshua Hines-Allen asserted himself as a rising star.

    KEEP READING: NFL 2024 Quarterback Rankings

    Following the hiring of Ryan Nielsen as defensive coordinator, the Jaguars are certainly trending in the right direction. Jacksonville also signed Arik Armstead and Ronald Darby in free agency, giving the defense a much-needed veteran presence.

    12) New England Patriots

    Although the Patriots finished with one of the worst records in the NFL, the team’s defense was surprisingly good. New England finished fourth in rushing yards allowed and 11th in total yards allowed. It was just unfortunate that the Patriots offense couldn’t score any points to help out the defense.

    13) Green Bay Packers

    Packers quarterback Jordan Love received most of the attention for the team’s success in 2023, but Green Bay’s defense is on the rise, too. The Packers are loaded with young talent that makes the defense one of the most intriguing units in the league.

    Not only did the Packers land safety Xavier McKinney in free agency, but Green Bay also added Edgerrin Cooper and Javon Bullard in the 2024 NFL Draft.

    14) Miami Dolphins

    Due to Miami’s salary cap situation, the Dolphins were forced to make several tough decisions on defense. Still, the team managed to recover and add several notable players in free agency.

    Teair Tart and Calais Campbell will attempt to fill the void left by the departure of Christian Wilkins. The additions of Jordyn Brooks, Kendall Fuller, and Jordan Poyer will help the Dolphins remain among the top half of defenses in the NFL.

    15) Minnesota Vikings

    Brian Flores arrived as defensive coordinator of the Vikings in 2023 and helped a young defense exceed expectations. Minnesota finished eighth in rushing yards allowed and 13th in points allowed last season.

    As the Vikings continued to build Flores’ vision on defense, Minnesota made several notable additions. Jonathan Greenard, Blake Cashman, and Andrew Van Ginkel will all help take the team’s front seven to another level in 2024.

    16) Cincinnati Bengals

    There’s no way around it, Cincinnati’s defense was a massive disappointment last season. That is exactly why the Bengals aggressively addressed the unit. Cincinnati added Sheldon Rankins to help replace D.J. Reader’s impact while also revamping the safety position by signing Geno Stone and reuniting with Vonn Bell.

    17) New Orleans Saints

    The Saints quietly had one of the best defenses in the NFL last season. New Orleans’ secondary is a key reason for the team’s success, as Marshon Lattimore, Paulson Adebo, Tyrann Mathieu, and Alontae Taylor form a dominant unit. The Saints made two notable additions in 2024, as they signed linebacker Willie Gay and edge rusher Chase Young.

    18) Chicago Bears

    After trading for Montez Sweat, Chicago’s defense suddenly looked like one of the better groups in the NFL. Now the Bears will look to build on that success in 2024. The team also re-signed rising star cornerback Jaylon Johnson. With two franchise cornerstones in place, Chicago’s defense could surprise many moving forward.

    19) Philadelphia Eagles

    Philadelphia’s defense was embarrassing to watch at times last season. There was no consistency and the team changed defensive coordinators midseason. Now the Eagles have hired veteran Vic Fangio in an attempt to turn around the defense.

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    Despite the hiring of Fangio, Philadelphia’s defense is still loaded with several question marks. The additions of Devin White, C.J. Gardner-Johnson, and Bryce Huff should certainly help, but each veteran needs to prove that they can be a full-time impact player in 2024.

    20) New York Giants

    The Giants are one of the most underrated defenses in the NFL. New York’s front seven is loaded with talent, as they have four players that could potentially earn a spot in the Pro Bowl. Yet it’s hard to dismiss the concerns about the Giants’ unproven secondary that will rely heavily on inexperienced players in 2024.

    21) Seattle Seahawks

    Seattle’s defense certainly isn’t the “Legion of Boom,” but the arrival of Macdonald should help them take a step forward immediately. The Seahawks have some intriguing young defensive talent, headlined by cornerback Devon Witherspoon. Seattle signed two intriguing linebackers this offseason: Jerome Baker and Tyrel Dodson.

    22) Buffalo Bills

    Similar to the Dolphins, Buffalo was forced to make several tough decisions on defense due to the team’s salary cap situation. While the Bills moved on from several veteran defensive backs, Buffalo added safety Cole Bishop in the draft. It will be interesting to see how the Bills perform following these significant changes.

    23) Tennessee Titans

    The Titans are another underrated defense to look out for in 2024. Tennessee pulled off a huge trade with the Chiefs for Sneed and signed veteran cornerback Chidobe Awuzie in free agency.

    The most notable addition Tennessee made on defense might not even be a player, it could be new defensive coordinator Dennard Wilson. Wilson left the Ravens to finally secure the opportunity that he rightfully earned several years ago.

    24) Indianapolis Colts

    The Colts went into last season with relatively low expectations, given that the team was going with a new duo at head coach and quarterback. Indianapolis exceeded them, although the team’s defense struggled mightily in the process.

    While the Colts continue to embrace a youth movement on defense, they added more talent in the 2024 NFL Draft, headlined by the team’s first-round pick, edge rusher Laiatu Latu. Many believed Latu was the best pass rusher in the 2024 class.

    25) Los Angeles Rams

    For the first time in over a decade, the Rams’ defense will be without superstar defensive tackle Aaron Donald. While there’s no denying how great Donald was, the Rams have positioned themselves nicely for life after his retirement.

    Kobie Turner was a dominant force during his rookie season in Los Angeles and finished with nine sacks. Now he’ll be joined by two rookies along the Rams’ defensive front, as Jared Verse and Braden Fiske were plucked from Florida State.

    26) Washington Commanders

    The Commanders were essentially the worst defense in football by almost any metric last season. This is exactly why Washington hired Quinn as the team’s new head coach. Quinn did a phenomenal job in Dallas during the regular season and will look to repeat that success in Washington.

    However, the Commanders don’t have nearly the talent that the Cowboys did. Quinn did reunite with a few former players, as Washington signed linebacker Bobby Wagner and defensive lineman Dorance Armstrong.

    27) Atlanta Falcons

    The Falcons were a surprisingly solid defense under Nielsen last season. Now Atlanta is moving forward with a new face leading the charge, as Raheem Morris was hired as head coach. The Falcons didn’t make any significant additions on defense this offseason and it’ll be interesting to see if they can build on the success that they had.

    28) Los Angeles Chargers

    If defense was played on paper, the Chargers would be one of the best units in the NFL. But despite having Joey Bosa, Khalil Mack, Derwin James Jr., and Asante Samuel Jr., Los Angeles has been unable to find much success on the field. While the talent is certainly there, it’ll be up to new defensive coordinator Jesse Minter to put it all together in 2024.

    29) Tampa Bay Buccaneers

    The Buccaneers exceeded expectations last season as Baker Mayfield led the team to a playoff victory over the Eagles. Although Tampa Bay was able to re-sign star safety Antoine Winfield Jr., the Buccaneers lost several players. The NFC South should be more competitive in 2024, so it’ll be interesting to see if Tampa Bay’s defense can keep up.

    30) Carolina Panthers

    While the Panthers made the right move in making a change at head coach, Carolina was smart to retain defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero. Despite Carolina’s embarrassing record last season, Evero’s unit played surprisingly well.

    The Panthers allowed the third-fewest passing yards in the NFL last season, trailing only the Browns and Jets. Carolina made a few notable additions this offseason, including veteran linebacker Josey Jewell.

    31) Arizona Cardinals

    Although the Cardinals pulled off a few unexpected wins, Arizona’s defense was a joke. The Cardinals surrendered the second-most points in the NFL, while also ranking last in DVOA. The Cardinals selected Darius Robinson and Max Melton early in the 2024 NFL Draft, but they likely won’t be enough to take Arizona’s defense to the next level.

    32) Denver Broncos

    The Broncos were an absolute mess on defense last season, and they managed to somehow get even worse this offseason. It looks like several former starters have moved on and Denver will seemingly embrace a youth movement on both sides of the ball.

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    The Broncos allowed the fourth-most yards and sixth-most points in the NFL last season. They followed up that epic performance by releasing former All-Pro safety Justin Simmons, which is a clear sign that the Broncos are embracing a full-blown rebuild.

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