You may recall that when we started our look at the ten best in a variety of sports and disciplines, we began by looking at NFL quarterbacks.

Since then we have looked at Basketball and Soccer stars for the last few weeks, but we are now returning to the NFL for our next top ten list and we are going to focus on the other side of the ball; the less heralded but no less important defense.

Rather than make a list of individual players, I’ve instead looked at units and come up with what I believe to be the ten best defensive units in the NFL at this particular moment in time.

Now of course, stats will play a key role in evaluating this list but I am also going to consider some intangibles too, such as the quality of individual players on the defense, how well the defense shapes up in key moments and also how much the unit has developed, or deteriorated, over this season.

It’s been a long haul since the very start of the NFL season on Week One, and with one extra game this season, teams have had an additional week of action to cater for in their schedule. Yet it is not unrealistic to say that the best defense in the playoffs, regardless of what has gone by already this season, could play a key role in deciding who wins the Super Bowl.

With the NFL reaching the end of the regular season this week, and the playoffs looming, it is the last chance for punters to have a bet on any of the 32 teams in the NFL with bet365 Sport this weekend.

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So who are the defenses that could prove the maxim that “offense wins you games, defenses win you Championships”?

Let’s take a closer look at our top ten in the NFL when it comes to defense.

  1. New England Patriots

Bill Belichick has done it again. Admittedly, the Patriots defense may not be packedhilarious NFL moments with superstar names, but as a unit, this defensive engine purrs. They absolutely smothered the Jaguars last week forcing two sacks, three interceptions and five pass deflections against the No.1 draft pick Trevor Lawrence. Matt Judon is having a sensational year and the Patriots are still the benchmark for defensive units in the NFL. Just.

  1. Dallas Cowboys

We knew the Cowboy’s defense was good, but the unit has been lifted to another level by the performances of Micah Parsons, The rookie linebacker has been a massive threat the entire season and has been a significant factor in this Cowboys defense being recognised as one of the leagues best. With other outstanding individual performances, if the Cowboys go deep in the playoffs, this defensive unit will play a significant role.

  1. New Orleans Saints

Forget the 8-8 record for the Saints, this defense is an elite unit and they showed that last week against the Carolina Panthers. Cam Jordan landed 3.5 sacks alone, the unit sacked Sam Darnold seven times and constantly harassed the quarterback forcing him to make rushed throws. If the Saints get in, and it is a big if, this unit will be the one that carries them in the playoffs.

  1. Los Angeles Rams

In terms of the quality of individuals, the Rams are probably on level terms with the Cowboys at the top of this list. Their defense hasn’t been as impressive as they were last season, but when you have Aaron Donald, Von Miller and Josh Norman leading your three units, then you know you have something pretty special.

  1. Buffalo Bills

The Bills would have ranked higher in this list earlier this season but the less of Tre’Davious White has impacted their defense. The unit is still elite and can still stop quarterbacks in the passing game, however, their run defense without White has suffered. And with the prospect of Jonathan Taylor and Derrick Henry on the horizon in the playoffs, that is something that should concern Bills fans.

  1. Indianapolis Colts

While Carson Wentz has deserved the plaudits coming his way for reinvigorating the Colts’ offense this season, it is the stellar play of their defense that has seen them come from a 1-4 start to the brink of the playoffs. With so many talented players, this unit was gassed against the Raiders due to their offense being unable to sustain drives. If the Colts reach the post-season, this unit will be a real danger to any offense.

  1. Tennessee Titans

Last season, the Titans defense was pretty much one of the worst units in the NFL, forcing their offense to score more than their opponent to win games. However, after a slow start this season, the defense has been absolutely crucial to the Titans being the number 1 seed in the AFC heading into the final week of the season after Derrick Henry and AJ Brown went down with injury. The defense has played superbly since the midway point of the season and they are now a feared unit.

  1. Green Bay Packers

The Packers were very impressive this weekend on defense, holding Dalvin Cook to just 13 rushing yards on nine carries and effectively nullifying his threat. Aaron Rodgers and the high-powered Green Bay offense may get the credit for the Packers best in NFL 13-3 record this season, but the defense has played a key role in many games and their quality should not be overlooked, especially in the playoffs when they are going to be vital if the Packers are to get to the Super Bowl.

  1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

One famed for having the best rush defense in the league, the Bucs defense has started to allow yards on the ground in the last few weeks. Add to that the fact that the secondary hasn’t been unduly tested by a top-quality quarterback for a while and there are a few concerns that this elite unit, which was key in Tampa’s Super Bowl victory last year, has declined slightly.

  1. Arizona Cardinals

At the start of the year, the Cardinal’s defense looked a stellar unit and for most of the season, they have been excellent. However, a loss of form and performance drop-off in the last month or so saw them take a tumble in the rankings. They were much better in a win over Dallas at the weekend and with J.J.Watt in line to return to the offensive line for the playoffs, they could well be a very real threat to offenses once again.

Other teams defensive units just outside this top ten include the San Francisco 49ers, Kansas City Chiefs, Miami Dolphins and Denver Broncos.

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