NFL Week 8 Defense Rankings | NFL News, Rankings and Statistics | PFF

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NFL Week 8 Defense Rankings

The Buffalo Bills and Arizona Cardinals keep proving that their defenses are for real even as the competition gets more challenging, while teams like the Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos have failed to maintain their early-season form once they started to face stiffer challenges.

Some of the best defenses in the league in recent years are sliding ever further down the rankings, and the Washington Football Team now see their defense ranked in the lowest tier, along with the Super Bowl losing Kansas City Chiefs, whose season now may be in real trouble.

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Team EPA/Play Rank EPA/Run Rank EPA/Pass Rank
Buffalo Bills -0.262 1 -0.277 2 -0.255 1
Arizona Cardinals -0.221 2 -0.221 4 -0.221 2
Carolina Panthers -0.149 3 -0.192 7 -0.124 4
New Orleans Saints -0.112 4 -0.167 13 -0.085 5
Cincinnati Bengals -0.089 5 -0.188 9 -0.044 7
Tampa Bay Buccaneers -0.087 6 -0.256 3 -0.031 9
Minnesota Vikings -0.086 7 0.053 31 -0.169 3
Dallas Cowboys -0.052 8 -0.001 29 -0.073 6
Denver Broncos -0.047 9 -0.15 16 0.019 12
Indianapolis Colts -0.044 10 -0.284 1 0.112 22
New England Patriots -0.043 11 -0.175 11 0.046 16
Pittsburgh Steelers -0.041 12 -0.18 10 0.043 14
Los Angeles Rams -0.03 13 -0.057 27 -0.017 10
Chicago Bears -0.026 14 -0.126 20 0.044 15
Las Vegas Raiders -0.016 15 -0.14 18 0.057 17
Green Bay Packers -0.015 16 -0.068 25 0.014 11
San Francisco 49ers 0.004 17 -0.131 19 0.092 18
Los Angeles Chargers 0.007 18 0.067 32 -0.037 8
Tennessee Titans 0.007 19 -0.064 26 0.039 13
Baltimore Ravens 0.013 20 -0.188 8 0.107 20
Philadelphia Eagles 0.015 21 -0.105 23 0.112 21
Seattle Seahawks 0.018 22 -0.146 17 0.132 23
New York Giants 0.037 23 -0.057 28 0.101 19
Cleveland Browns 0.041 24 -0.17 12 0.156 24
New York Jets 0.048 25 -0.156 15 0.191 28
Houston Texans 0.056 26 -0.076 24 0.167 25
Atlanta Falcons 0.058 27 -0.16 14 0.179 27
Miami Dolphins 0.059 28 -0.112 21 0.17 26
Detroit Lions 0.092 29 -0.21 6 0.324 32
Washington Football Team 0.098 30 -0.212 5 0.259 30
Kansas City Chiefs 0.125 31 0.013 30 0.197 29
Jacksonville Jaguars 0.129 32 -0.105 22 0.302 31

Tier 1

1. Buffalo Bills (Up 4)

It was easy to point to the slew of bad quarterbacks the Bills played early in the season when evaluating their defense. However, they showed up well against the Kansas City Chiefs, and though the Tennessee Titans put up some points, their passing attack was limited to 216 net yards and converted just 40% of third downs.

Buffalo’s defense boasts the highest expected points added (EPA) per play mark of any unit and has allowed opponents to score a touchdown on a league-best 14.7% of their drives. There is still room for improvement, with cornerback Tre’Davious White earning overall PFF grades in the 50.0s right now — a far cry from his All-Pro ceiling.

2. Arizona Cardinals (Up 9)

At some point in every NFL season, you need to cast off your priors and evaluate what’s in front of you. Arizona’s defense had some major weaknesses on paper, but none of them seem to be translating to problems on the field. The Cardinals' defense is simply performing at an extremely high level.

They are changing up formations and game plans weekly to match up with specific opponents, and no defense in the league has allowed a scoring drive at a lower rate than the Cardinals' 24%. J.J. Watt may never be the Defensive Player of the Year again, but he has 28 total pressures from 217 pass-rush snaps.

Related Content: Grading all 32 first-round picks after Week 7 of the 2021 NFL season via Sam Monson

3. Los Angeles Rams (No Change)

The Rams fielded the league’s best defense last season under Brandon Staley, and though they have dealt with departures from both players and coaching personnel, the group is still clearly an imposing unit. Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey remain two of the biggest defensive superstars in football, and each is playing at a level that rivals anything else at their respective position.

Donald leads all interior linemen with 34 total pressures, while Ramsey already has more defensive stops than all of last season in his new, more central role within the defense.

4. New Orleans Saints (No Change)

Only the Buffalo Bills have allowed a touchdown drive less often than the Saints (14.9%). This defense ranks top five in several different defensive categories and is about to get one of its best players back from suspension in defensive lineman David Onyemata. In 2020, Onyemata’s 88.8 overall grade led the defense, and he recorded 49 total pressures as well as 31 defensive stops.

The Saints' defensive line could use the arrival of Onyemata this season, but it has been an excellent bend-but-don’t-break unit so far. Cornerback Marshon Lattimore is having his best campaign since he was a rookie, despite being burned by D.K. Metcalf for a big touchdown on Monday night in Week 7.

5. Cleveland Browns (Up 5)

The Browns' defensive front is starting to hit top form the way it hoped it would after adding reinforcements over the offseason. Myles Garrett is on a Defensive Player of the Year run and leads the NFL in total pressures on third down. He also ranks No. 2 overall in PFF grade. Jadeveon Clowney has 31 total pressures, already more than his 2020 total in Tennessee.

Cleveland has also enjoyed the fruits of improved players in the secondary, and even depth players such as Greedy Williams are playing well when pressed into action.

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