<
>

NFL Week 11 Power Rankings: Season-defining stats for every defense

play
Hasselbeck has Eagles falling, Titans rising in power rankings (0:46)

Tim Hasselbeck explains why he is dropping the Eagles and moving up the Titans in his Week 11 power rankings. (0:46)

There was a shake-up at the top of the NFL Power Rankings again, as the Pittsburgh Steelers cracked the top five for the first time, while the Los Angeles Chargers saw their stock rise to No. 4 behind a dominant defensive effort on Sunday.

In a season of historic passing and scoring accomplishments, defensive storylines have taken a back seat. So as we run down the Week 11 rankings, we identify the stat that best sums up each team's 2018 performance on defense.

How we rank: Our power panel -- a group of more than 80 writers, editors and TV personalities -- evaluated how teams stack up through the first 10 weeks of the season.

Previous rankings: 10 | 9 | 8 | 7 | 6 | 5 | 4 | 3 | 2 | Preseason

1. New Orleans Saints (8-1)

Week 10 ranking: 1

Defining stat: 72.4. The Saints actually have a few disturbing trends on their defense, despite being the hottest team in the NFL. One is their 31st-ranked pass defense. But the one that has really disturbed coach Sean Payton is their 28th-ranked red zone defense. They are allowing opponents to score touchdowns on 72.4 percent of their trips inside the 20-yard line. Even the Bengals were 1-for-1 in New Orleans' 51-14 dismantling of them Sunday. -- Mike Triplett

2. Kansas City Chiefs (9-1)

Week 10 ranking: 2

Defining stat: 31. The Chiefs are tied for first with 31 sacks and a suddenly potent pass rush gives them reason for defensive optimism heading into Monday night's showdown against the Rams in Mexico City. One edge rusher, Dee Ford, is having a career season, while the other, Justin Houston, returned Sunday against the Cardinals after missing the previous four games because of a sore hamstring. Lineman Chris Jones has at least one sack in each of the past six games. -- Adam Teicher

3. Los Angeles Rams (9-1)

Week 10 ranking: 3

Defining stat: 122. That's the average number of rushing yards the Rams have allowed this season, which ranks 24th in the NFL. The Rams vowed to play better against the run after a Week 5 victory at Seattle in which the Seahawks rushed for 190 yards. But the Rams allowed the Saints to rush for 141 yards in Week 9, and then gave up a whopping 273 yards to the Seahawks on Sunday. It begs the question how a front that features Aaron Donald, Ndamukong Suh and Michael Brockers has been unable to slow the run. -- Lindsey Thiry

4. Los Angeles Chargers (7-2)

Week 10 ranking: 5

Defining stat: 15.5. That's the average points per game the Chargers' defense is allowing during the team's six-game winning streak, tops in the NFL during that stretch. The Chargers also are No. 1 in red zone efficiency since Week 4 (33.3 percent), and have had two goal-line stands where they've kept the offense out of the end zone in back-to-back weeks against the Seattle Seahawks and Oakland Raiders. The Chargers have bought into defensive coordinator Gus Bradley's philosophy of defending every blade of grass. -- Eric Williams

5. Pittsburgh Steelers (6-2-1)

Week 10 ranking: 7

Defining stat: 18. The Steelers have recorded 18 sacks during this five-game winning streak, including six against Atlanta and five against Carolina, both blowouts at home. Pittsburgh's defense is predicated on front-seven pressure, and success up front is fueling a top-10 defense on third down (36.9 percent conversion rate). -- Jeremy Fowler

6. New England Patriots (7-3)

Week 10 ranking: 4

Defining stat: 8 and 29/31. The eight represents the number of players to record at least one interception -- a high total that reflects across-the-board contributions and a knack for creating turnovers at times, which has helped offset some other struggles. As for the 29 and 31, those are the team's rankings in kickoff coverage and punt-return coverage, respectively, which is uncharacteristically low and ties in to the defense. -- Mike Reiss

7. Chicago Bears (6-3)

Week 10 ranking: 10

Defining stat: 24. The Bears have forced 24 turnovers. Chicago's defense, which had three takeaways in its 34-22 victory over Detroit, is an opportunistic bunch with playmakers at every level. Entering Week 10, the Bears led the NFL with 82 points off turnovers. -- Jeff Dickerson

play
1:34

Clark, Schefter have differing views on Saints

Ryan Clark and Adam Schefter debate whether the Saints are the best team in the NFL.

8. Minnesota Vikings (5-3-1)

Week 10 ranking: 8

Defining stat: 25.7. The Vikings aren't far off from reaching the all-time mark for defensive efficiency on third down (25.2) that they set last season. Minnesota's defense ranks No. 1 in third-down stops (just 26 of a total 101 allowed), a testament to the effectiveness of a pass rush that has generated 31 sacks, which is tied with three other teams for first in the NFL. Nine of those sacks came on third down. -- Courtney Cronin

9. Carolina Panthers (6-3)

Week 10 ranking: 6

Defining stat: 83.3. The Panthers rank 15th in total defense, giving up 357.2 yards a game. But what keeps them from being a top unit is their red zone defense, which ranks next-to-last -- just ahead of Tampa Bay. Opponents are scoring touchdowns at an 83.3 percent clip against Carolina inside the 20. The good news is opponents are getting in the red zone only 2.7 times a game, which is the fourth-best mark in the league. -- David Newton

10. Houston Texans (6-3)

Week 10 ranking: 11

Defining stat: 92.9. That's how many rushing yards the Texans are allowing on average per game, thanks in part to stellar play from J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney. After getting off to an 0-3 start, Houston's turnaround to winning six in a row -- and now leading the AFC South -- began with improved play from its defense. -- Sarah Barshop

11. Green Bay Packers (4-4-1)

Week 10 ranking: 13

Defining stat: 31, 10.5 percent. That's the Packers' sack total and sack percentage. They're tied for the league lead in sacks and have the lead outright in sack percentage. And they've done it without much production from Clay Matthews (2.5 sacks) and Nick Perry (1.5). They've already had 15 different players in on a sack through nine games -- two more than they had all of last season. New defensive coordinator Mike Pettine has sent pass-rushers from a variety of directions to make up for the lack of one dominant edge rusher. -- Rob Demovsky

12. Washington Redskins (6-3)

Week 10 ranking: 14

Defining stat: 19.44. That's the number of points allowed per game, which is tied for fourth in the NFL with Chicago. The Redskins haven't finished among the top 10 in scoring defense since 2008 and have been 17th or worse since that season -- until now. The Redskins rank 17th in yards per game after playing Atlanta and Tampa Bay in back-to-back weeks. But they're 6-3 in part because they don't give up a lot of points. Washington struggles to defend the pass, so it will continue to give up yards when facing a good passing attack. -- John Keim

play
1:27

Are the Eagles finished after loss to Cowboys?

Max Kellerman and Stephen A. Smith break down the state of the Eagles after a 27-20 loss to the Cowboys.

13. Philadelphia Eagles (4-5)

Week 10 ranking: 9

Defining stat: 7. That's the total number of takeaways they've generated, which is tied for 27th in the NFL with the Giants, Raiders and Ravens. Jim Schwartz's unit has been able to limit scoring -- the Eagles rank sixth in opponent points per game (20.3) -- but the inability to force turnovers has Philly running at a minus-6 in the takeaway/giveaway department. -- Tim McManus

14. Tennessee Titans (5-4)

Week 10 ranking: 20

Defining stat: 16.8. The Titans put the AFC on notice with a convincing 34-10 win over the Patriots. Tennessee's stingy defense is allowing an NFL-best 16.8 points per game. With the offense surging thanks to Marcus Mariota's increasing confidence, the Titans are poised to make a run down the stretch. Mike Vrabel has the Titans playing disciplined football, as shown by their league-low 4.6 penalties per game. -- Turron Davenport

15. Seattle Seahawks (4-5)

Week 10 ranking: 17

Defining stat: 5.01. The Seahawks are allowing 5.01 yards per rush. That's the fourth-highest mark in the NFL, and it would be Seattle's worst of the Pete Carroll era by more than a half-yard if the season ended today. End-arounds and fly sweeps have given Seattle particular trouble in two losses to the Rams and one to the Chargers. The Seahawks' defense has been better in several areas that many would have expected given all the turnover from last season, but this hasn't been one of them. -- Brady Henderson

16. Baltimore Ravens (4-5)

Week 10 ranking: 15

Defining stat: 373.3. Yards per game allowed by the Ravens during their three-game losing streak. That's the 10th most in the league over that span, which is quite a fall for the one-time top-ranked defense in the NFL. Baltimore has struggled to contain the likes of Drew Brees, Cam Newton and Ben Roethlisberger. If the Ravens don't bounce back defensively, they'll soon be out of the playoff hunt. -- Jamison Hensley

17. Cincinnati Bengals (5-4)

Week 10 ranking: 12

Defining stat: 4,091. Total yards allowed by the Bengals' defense, which is on pace to break the 2012 Saints' record of 7,042 yards allowed in a season. That's the number that got defensive coordinator Teryl Austin fired Monday morning, and it's one of many bad numbers for the Bengals' defense, which has allowed at least 500 yards of offense in the past three games. -- Katherine Terrell

18. Atlanta Falcons (4-5)

Week 10 ranking: 16

Defining stat: 51.9. That's the percentage of third-down conversions for Falcons' opponents, second worst in the league behind the Bengals (56.2). You're not going to have much success if you can't get off the field. The Falcons hope part of that issue will be solved with the expected return of Pro Bowl linebacker Deion Jones from foot surgery, considering Jones is one of the best coverage linebackers in the game. -- Vaughn McClure

19. Dallas Cowboys (4-5)

Week 10 ranking: 21

Defining stat: 28. The goal of a Rod Marinelli defense is to make the opponent drive the field through execution. The unit loathes giving up the big play. The belief is the more an offense has to make plays, the more it will screw up. Through nine games, the Cowboys have given up just 28 plays of 20 yards or more, which ranks near the best in the NFL. Big plays in drives lead to points, and the Cowboys have allowed more than 24 points in a game just once all season, leaving them on pace to give up their fewest in a season since 2009. -- Todd Archer

20. Indianapolis Colts (4-5)

Week 10 ranking: 23

Defining stat: 4. That's the number of sacks the Colts have totaled over the past five games to fall all the way down to being tied for 23rd in the NFL in that category. The drastic plummet in the rankings came after the Colts looked like they would be one of the best in the league when they had 17 sacks after the first four weeks of the season. -- Mike Wells

21. Miami Dolphins (5-5)

Week 10 ranking: 18

Defining stat: 142. The number of rushing yards the Dolphins have allowed per game this season, worst in the NFL. Replacing Ndamukong Suh hasn't gone well as the Dolphins' defensive tackles have struggled to prevent large holes, and a young linebacker crew has often failed to step up. Miami has allowed 164 or more rushing yards in five of its 10 games, and the Dolphins are 1-4 in those contests. They have allowed more than 100 rushing yards in all but two games this season. -- Cameron Wolfe

22. Jacksonville Jaguars (3-6)

Week 10 ranking: 19

Defining stat: 8. The Jaguars have forced only eight turnovers through nine games. That ranks 25th in the league and puts them on pace to finish with 14 -- which would be less than half of their total from 2017. The defense feasted on turnovers last season, finishing second in the NFL with 33, and scored an NFL-high seven defensive touchdowns. Those kind of big plays have been pretty rare this season -- the Jaguars have scored just one defensive TD, and that came in the season opener -- and it hasn't helped a limited offense that hasn't shown it's capable of consistently putting long drives together. -- Mike DiRocco

23. Denver Broncos (3-6)

Week 10 ranking: 24

Defining stat: 6. That's how many sacks Von Miller has in the Broncos' three wins combined this season. On the flip side, Miller has just three sacks in the Broncos' six losses combined, and while he has had quality efforts overall in virtually all of those games, Denver has been unable to tip the scales against some of the better offenses it has faced. When Miller is disrupting things, knocking the ball out, it seems to key a better effort across the defense. As he put it: "I have to make more of those game-changing plays, that's my job, it's what I do, and I have to do more of that for this team.'' -- Jeff Legwold

24. Detroit Lions (3-6)

Week 10 ranking: 22

Defining stat: 132.7. The Lions are allowing 132.7 yards per game rushing, which has caused issues in almost every game this season, particularly in five of their six losses. Detroit has, at points, struggled with the inside and outside run. The addition of Damon "Snacks" Harrison has helped the run defense, but it's still poor. And without a good run defense -- and without good pass pressure -- opposing offenses have been able to move the ball with relative ease against Detroit all game long, particularly during the Lions' current three-game losing streak. -- Michael Rothstein

25. Cleveland Browns (3-6-1)

Week 10 ranking: 26

Defining stat: 25. The Browns lead the league in forced turnovers, and though that hasn't led to a lot of victories, it has helped the defense establish a personality. The Browns have aggressive players who play an aggressive style. -- Pat McManamon

26. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-6)

Week 10 ranking: 25

Defining stat: 400. The Bucs' defense has given up an average of 400 yards per game this season. Tampa Bay been in the bottom five in the league in that category in each of the past two seasons. -- Jenna Laine

27. Buffalo Bills (3-7)

Week 10 ranking: 31

Defining stat: 302.2. The Bills are allowing only 302.2 yards per game, the best mark of any team in the NFL and Buffalo's best through 10 games since 2004. However, calling the Bills the league's best defense this season might be ignoring how they rank 19th in points allowed per game. Buffalo ranks 23rd in red zone defense, and opponents are starting with the best average field position seen in the NFL since 2010, which limits how many yards Buffalo's defense can give up. -- Mike Rodak

28. New York Jets (3-7)

Week 10 ranking: 27

Defining stat: 4. The number of games in which the Jets have allowed more than 30 points. They did it "only" five times in each of the previous two seasons, so they're well ahead of their pace. When the defense has been bad, it's been really bad. -- Rich Cimini

29. New York Giants (2-7)

Week 10 ranking: 29

Defining stat: 3.65 percent. That was the Giants' sacks per pass attempt entering Monday night. Only the Oakland Raiders were worse. It's hard to be a quality defense when you're not pressuring or sacking the quarterback in today's passing league. The Giants' defense has been serviceable (allowed 23 points or less in five of the first eight games), but their ceiling has been limited by a pass rush that had produced 10 sacks and hasn't been good enough. -- Jordan Raanan

30. San Francisco 49ers (2-8)

Week 10 ranking: 28

Defining stat: 5. That's how many takeaways the 49ers have, the lowest total in the league. While the Niners are mostly middle of the road or slightly better in most major defensive categories, their inability to come up with turnovers has often left them on the wrong end of some close losses. It also underscores the need for a game-wrecking edge rusher who can come up with strip sacks and some ball-hawking defensive backs who can come up with interceptions. -- Nick Wagoner

31. Arizona Cardinals (2-7)

Week 10 ranking: 30

Defining stat: 19.3 percent. The Cardinals are second in the NFL with a 19.3 disrupted dropback percentage, which measures sacks, interceptions, batted passes and passes defended divided by the number of opposing quarterback dropbacks. It's a gauge for how effective a defense is, especially up front. While Arizona's offense has struggled, the defense has been doing its part. Case in point: It sacked Patrick Mahomes five times Sunday, a season high for him. The more the Cardinals can disrupt dropbacks, the more chances they'll have to create turnovers or negative plays, which can help keep them in games. -- Josh Weinfuss

32. Oakland Raiders (1-8)

Week 10 ranking: 32

Defining stat: Zero. As in no sacks, forced fumbles, fumble recoveries or interceptions made by the Raiders' linebackers during a 1-8 start this season, per the Associated Press. To say that the linebackers have given Oakland limited production would be a compliment. Because as the AP notes, 99 linebackers in the NFL have at least one sack this season, 36 have an interception, 55 have a forced fumble and 50 have recovered a fumble. Emmanuel Lamur, Marquel Lee, Tahir Whitehead, Kyle Wilber, Jason Cabinda and Nicholas Morrow? Not so much. -- Paul Gutierrez