Jan 4, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; New Orleans Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan (94) celebrates a sack during the first quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles during the 2013 NFC wild card playoff football game at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Top Five NFL Contenders for Best Defense

Offense wins the glory, but in the NFL, defense wins championships.  Which team could field the very best unit in 2014?

#5 – New England Patriots

People easily forget how banged up the New England Patriots were on defense in 2013.  Their best linebacker Jerod Mayo was out most of the season.  Star nose tackle Vince Wilfork tore his Achilles after four games.  That isn’t counting the various losses they suffered throughout the year that weren’t season-ending.  Now the Pats will get those guys back healthy, but in addition to it all they will have two Pro Bowl corners to join then in Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner.  With a great coach like Bill Belichick to guide them, this group may surprise a lot in 2014.

#4 – Carolina Panthers

If this were purely ranking front sevens, there is no question the Carolina Panthers would be on top.  They have a defensive line headlined by Greg Hardy and Charles Johnson and perhaps the best linebacker in the NFL in Luke Kuechly.  Spearheaded by them, Carolina fielded the 2nd best defense in football last season.  Unfortunately questions abound regarding their secondary at both corner and safety.  Until that gets resolved, the Panthers will have to settle for #4 on this list.

#3 – Kansas City Chiefs

For a time last year there was no better defense in the league than the Kansas City Chiefs thanks to a dynamic pass rush centered around Justin Houston, Tamba Hali and Dontari Poe.  Soon though injuries began to eat away at them, that and a rather suspect secondary that allowed 367 yards per game.  Hopes are high that better health and some additions made via the draft will better deal with those two problems this NFL season.  Bottom line, if their pass rush continues to perform like it can then they will be in the hunt.

#2 – Seattle Seahawks

They were the best defense last year and considered one of the best of the past decade.  Much of the success for the Seattle Seahawks came through their secondary but it went beyond that.  With stars Earl Thomas and Richard Sherman locked up long-term, they remain clear contenders for the crown of top defense but the reason they fall back a spot is because of the considerable losses they suffered in free agency.  Among them included Red Bryant, Chris Clemons, Clinton McDonald, and Walter Thurmond.  That is a lot of depth and veteran leadership lost.  Time will tell how it affects them.

#1 – New Orleans Saints

Where the Seahawks mostly lost key names, the New Orleans Saints were busy adding more talent.  In NFL free agency they may have nabbed the steal of the year when they got three-time Pro Bowl safety Jairus Byrd who was widely considered the best overall player available.  On top of that they got future Hall of Fame corner Champ Bailey and then added the lengthy 6’3″ corner Stanley Jean-Baptiste in the draft.  Their defense, which ranked 4th last year, is deeper and more talented than before.  If things progress as they could, New Orleans may field not only the best offense but the best defense in the NFL this season.

Dick's Sporting Goods presents "Hell Week":

Tags: Carolina Panthers Kansas City Chiefs New England Patriots New Orleans Saints NFL Seattle Seahawks

  • Chad Jensen

    No mention of the Broncos?

    • Kevin Poore

      No doubt! Broncos D should be top 5 this year.

      • Erik Lambert

        Lot of injury concerns from my viewpoint with MIller, Ware and Talib.

  • Cataclysm Bitb

    Saints and Patriots…… This normally doesn’t compute….

    • Erik Lambert

      How times have changed.

      • whodatfan

        I know right? Saints went from trash to treasure at saftey. Byrd, Vaccaro, and Bush will lock it down at Saftey. Dont forget about Victor Butler who we lost in camp last year. He should add some talent to LB which was the weakest position on D last year. And of course that pass rush the Saints have in Jordan/Hicks/Galette and Lewis/Bailey/Jean-Baptiste at CB should definitley put the Saints D as a top contender. Should we even speak on Brandin Cooks in this offense with Brees/Graham/Stills/Colston and up and coming Khiry Robinson? Man, that deserves its own piece.

  • trinity

    Broncos and 49ers. The 49ers seem to be a staple for defense, and i think they’ll be right there. As for the Broncos and injury concerns, the patriots have just as much cause for concern. If not more. Denver is the most talented of the two to me, so I would put them there.

    • Hawthorne

      The patriots are borderline based on their performance last season, Niners should be in that 5th slot. Denver may have added some pieces on defense, but their defense sucked last year and we have yet to see how those pieces come together. Denver may well be better, but nobody knows how much.

      • Erik Lambert

        Don’t forget the 49ers won’t have NaVorro Bowman for a substantial amount of time. The same may be true for Aldon Smith. That is why the Pats leapfrogged them.

      • trinity

        Denver doesn’t have as far to go as you might think. It was thier pass defense that was really bad and has to be improved upon. But they actually finished the season tied for 7th with the seahawks in run defense. Lol surprising isn’t it? This was done without thier best player and other key components as well. Nobody is running on them, so if they improve that pass defense, this could easily be an elite defensive unit. Easier said than done, I admit. But nobody can accuse these guys of being passive in thier attempt to get better this offseason. We’ll see.

        • Kisersosay

          Denver “tied for 7th in run defense” is a tainted stat…..nobody runs the ball when they are down by 2 TD’s. Denver’s offense had more to do with that stat than Denver’s defense did.

          • trinity

            Actually, there were 420 attempts to run against Denver last season. The league’s best rushing defense, the Arizona Cardinals, only faced 370 attempts. So in fact, it’s not a tainted stat, and teams were attempting to run on the Broncos. Which makes sense, because teams would want to play keep away from Peyton. No better way to do that than clock chewing running possessions. Except not many had success doing it against them, because they were great at stopping it. If you want to see the rankings for yourself, say the word and I’ll post a link for you.

          • Kisersosay

            Yes 420 attempts…..the 8th fewest attempts in the league. I grant you that Denver was tough to run against but a large chunk yards usually happen late in a game when trying to run clock. Denver rarely had to deal with that….(Except in the SB of course). I am sure that the fact that the Pass Defense was so bad that it affected the low number of attempts as well. Payton was able to overcome these weaknesses though and it made for a great season in Denver.

          • trinity

            8th fewest, but if you look at the attempts made against everyone, they were all in the same ballpark. My point being, there wasn’t a lack of attempts just because of the offense. Seattle had only two more attempts made against them, and their offense wasn’t anything like Denver’s. Like you said, they were tough against the run. I agree with that. I also agree that the pass defense was a huge weakness, and Peyton was definitely running the show. But they had a great offseason. Free agency, the draft, and just getting guys back. They have a shot at being elite this season.

        • Hawthorne

          1. Pass defense is the most important defense in the NFL not run D. 2. If you are trying to argue them as a top 5 D, being 7th in run D which is better than their pass D does not inspire confidence. Denver should be better than last year, but if you are predicting top 5 Ds you want to look at teams that already had a solid foundation last year as players often take time to acclimate to a new system.

          • trinity

            No, that’s not what I’m arguing. Nobody can call them a top 5 D yet, simply because they haven’t played a down yet. What I was arguing is that being 7th means they’re really good at that aspect of defense already, and even without their best defender, so all they have to focus on is improving the pass. As opposed to being a team that was bad at every aspect of defense. Nobody knows what they’re going to be yet, but I do personally think they have the potential to be top 5 this upcoming season.

  • Alex Rodman

    No rams?

    • Erik Lambert

      They have a lot of parts to get in place before they are worthy of consideration. Too many things to sort out in the secondary and at linebacker. Defensive front, scary as it is, is not a enough.

      • BigLogun LoganKnox Fort Knox

        james, jo-lonn, and alec is nothing to mess with

  • Weston James

    Gee, maybe the Broncos weren’t mentioned because they don’t have a good defense. They never performed well at any point last season and were exposed in the Super Bowl. A few aging players aren’t going to turn around that squad.

  • TheFreakyRobber

    No 49ers? Chiefs gotta go.

    • kc4life25

      Aldon Smith what?

  • James Denton

    The Chiefs ruled in pass defense last year and wasn’t to bad in run defense either until the injury bug started taking out our star LB’s then our secondary got exposed way to much! But I have faith that Sutton will have the problem fixed this year we will have Houston, Hali, Poe, and Ford to rush, and he will have the secondary firing on all cylinders! Flowers was let go for 2 reasons 1 his cost was to high for the cap and 2 his size and the way he played didn’t fit into Sutton’s scheme. This Year well it’s a whole new season!!!

  • JohnPaul Sein

    Seattle’s got this….

  • william morris

    Let me see…………. the score of the super bowl was 43-8. The eight being scored by the most prolific offense in nfl history. Sure the Hawks lost a a few guys, but they did so knowing they had replacements. The Seahawks beat the Saints 34-7 in a game that Richard Steele would have stopped if he was the referee. The Broncos played the Aints, Denver won 34-14. OK, now I get it, New Orleans has the best defense because they added a pro bowl (not all-pro) safety and what, 63 year old Champ Bailey, who Russell Wilson burned in the Super Bowl? Let Cheetah or some other dart throwing chimp pick the best defense, clearly you don’t know what you are writing about.

    • psychosally

      we’ll see,lol, keep this paragraph for january

    • smith lovy

      Denver last played the Saints in 2012 not last year. Either you are trying to mislead on purpose or are really obtuse. You also skipped over the playoff Seahawks/Saints game that was 23-16.

      Stop being a homer.

  • Hopper15

    lol at the Patriots being on this list. They will have an average defense at best