The NFL is gearing up for the 2018 season. Scoring points on offenses wins games, but defenses win championships. Ray Lewis once said something along those lines.
Here are the five defenses that could end up being the best units in the league in 2018. They each took the league by storm last year, some more than others. In addition, they have elite players that can change the game.
1. Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jags, last season, dominated the NFL by only giving up a total of 268 points for the season with 32 takeaways against opposing offenses. Their front line of Calais Campbell, Marcell Dareus, Malik Jackson, and Yannick Ngakoue caused havoc on opposing quarterbacks, compiling 36.5 sacks for the season. The secondary is also strong with Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye as they combined for 10 interceptions. It will be interesting to see how they deal with being the hunted as opposed to the hunters.
2. Minnesota Vikings
Minnesota is also a strong defense with the ability to make Sunday’s difficult for opposing teams. In 2017, the Vikings defense gave up an average of 15.8 points per game, which was the best in the NFL. They had a total of 19 takeaways as well and were led by 2017 Pro Bowler Everson Griffen with 13 sacks. Anthony Barr is the versatile linebacker capable of dropping back in coverage and rushing the passer. Harrison Smith is the quarterback of the secondary while Xavier Rhodes simply blankets receivers.
3. Philadelphia Eagles
Philly wreaked havoc on all NFL running backs as they held offenses to only 79.2 rushing yards per game which was the fewest yards allowed in the league. The Eagles front line of Chris Long, Brandon Graham, Fletcher Cox, and Derek Barnett were the key to shutting down opponents’ rushing attack. They also combined for 25 sacks. They could be more stout up front with the additions of former Pro Bowlers Haloti Ngata and Micheal Bennett,
4. Los Angeles Chargers
The Bolts are another defense that had a strong 2017 season and should be able to do the same in this upcoming season. The Chargers defense is led by the dynamic duo of Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram. As a team the Chargers had 43 sacks with Bosa and Ingram combining for 23. They also were able to find the end zone four times on defense last season with a total of 27 takeaways. Casey Hayward quietly had an elite year as he earned himself another Pro Bowl nod.
5. Los Angeles Rams
The Rams are another strong defense. In 2017, they forced opposing offenses into 28 turnovers. In 2018, the Rams defense could even be stronger with the key additions they made this offseason adding All-Pro players Ndamukong Suh, Aqib Talib, and Marcus Peters. These three should bring experience and depth to the team along with giving Aaron Donald some much needed extra help, as last season Donald had 11 sacks.
All five of these defenses were great last year as they dominated in similar and different ways. Some controlled offenses by stopping the run or pass while others excelled in getting takeaways or sacks. It will be interesting to see which one of these defenses will be able to keep up what they did last season or maybe even better themselves.