Who Has the Best D in the NFL?

It’s a debate as old as time itself. Who has the best D in the NFL? Is it the Broncos? The Seahawks? The 49ers? We break it down.

Who Has the Best D in the NFL?

The Case for Aaron Donald

In the NFL, defense wins championships. A dominant force on the defensive line can make an enormous difference for any team, and that’s exactly what Aaron Donald is for the Los Angeles Rams. Donald is widely considered to be the best defensive player in the NFL, and it’s not hard to see why.

His sack numbers

No one disputes that Donald is the best interior lineman in the NFL. The only possible knock on him is that he doesn’t have the numbers to back up his case as the best defensive player in the league. In 2018, he had 20.5 sacks, which is a career high, but it’s still not enough to put him over the top. J.J. Watt had 20.5 sacks in 2014 and Von Miller had 18.5 in 2012, and both of those players won Defensive Player of the Year.

His impact on the Rams’ defense

In his six seasons with the Rams, Donald has been one of the most impactful defensive players in the NFL. He’s racked up an impressive 79.5 sacks, 32 tackles for loss, 19 quarterback hits, and four forced fumbles. In 2018, he had a career-high 20.5 sacks en route to winning Defensive Player of the Year honors.

But Donald’s impact goes beyond the stats. He’s a game-changing player who forces opponents to change their game plans when they face the Rams. They have to account for him on every snap, and that often means double-teaming him or running plays away from his side of the field. That frees up other Rams defenders to make plays, and that’s a big part of why the Rams have been one of the best defenses in the NFL over the past few years.

The Case for J.J. Watt

When looking at who has the best D in the NFL, the first name that comes to mind is J.J. Watt. He is a force to be reckoned with and has been since he came into the league. He is a 3-time Defensive Player of the Year and has led the league in sacks twice.

His sack numbers

In just six seasons, J.J. Watt has racked up a whopping 76 sacks. That puts him at sixth all time in Texans’ history, and 10th among active NFL players. But it’s not just the quantity of his sacks that are impressive – it’s the quality. Watt is a three-time Defensive Player of the Year, and he’s only 27 years old. He’s already being talked about as one of the best defensive players in NFL history, and it’s not hard to see why.

His impact on the Texans’ defense

In his five seasons with the Houston Texans, J.J. Watt has been one of the most dominant defensive players in the NFL. He’s a three-time Defensive Player of the Year and a five-time Pro Bowler, and he’s led the league in sacks twice. He’s also been incredibly durable, missing just three games in his five NFL seasons.

Watt’s impact on the Texans’ defense is undeniable. When he’s on the field, Houston’s defense is one of the best in the league. In 2016, the Texans had the fourth-ranked defense in the NFL, allowing just 317 yards per game. They also had the second-best scoring defense, giving up an average of just 17.4 points per game.

But when Watt has been out of the lineup, Houston’s defense has struggled. In 2014, Watt missed nine games with a back injury, and the Texans’ defense fell to 24th in yards allowed per game and 18th in points allowed per game. And in 2017, Watt missed most of the season with a broken leg, and Houston’s defense plummeted to 30th in yards allowed per game and 27th in points allowed per game.

There’s no question that J.J. Watt is one of the best defensive players in the NFL. When he’s on the field, he makes a tremendous impact on Houston’s defense. But his absence is also felt when he’s not on the field, as evidenced by Houston’s struggles on defense without him over the last two seasons.

The Case for Khalil Mack

Khalil Mack is one of the best defensive players in the NFL. He was drafted by the Oakland Raiders in 2014 and has been a force to be reckoned with ever since. In his six years in the league, Mack has racked up 78.5 sacks, forced 16 fumbles, and been named to the Pro Bowl five times. He was even named the Defensive Player of the Year in 2016. There’s no doubt that Mack is one of the best at what he does.

His sack numbers

In 2014, Khalil Mack had a breakout year, notching 10 sacks and forced four fumbles while cementing himself as one of the league’s best young linebackers. He followed that up with an even better 2015 season, racked up 15 sacks and was named the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year. He has since been selected to two Pro Bowls and was named a first-team All-Pro in 2016.

Mack’s sack numbers are impressive, but they don’t tell the whole story. A closer look at his game tape reveals a player who is consistently disruptive, whether he’s sacking the quarterback or not.

His impact on the Bears’ defense

Since being traded to the Chicago Bears, Khalil Mack has been nothing short of a force on the defensive side of the ball. In just over a season with the team, Mack has recorded 23.5 sacks, 9 forced fumbles, 2 fumble recoveries, an interception and a touchdown. He was also named to the Pro Bowl and was named first-team All-Pro in his first season with the team.

But Mack’s impact goes beyond just his statistics. He’s also had a major impact on the Bears’ defense as a whole. In 2018, the Bears finished with the 3rd best defense in the NFL, allowing only 17.7 points per game. This was a huge improvement from their previous season when they finished 13th, allowing 20.0 points per game.

There’s no doubt that Mack is one of the best defenders in the NFL right now. His impact on the Bears’ defense has been huge and he’s only going to get better in the years to come.

Who Has the Best D in the NFL?

In the NFL, defense wins championships. A great defense can make even an average offense look good, and a great offense can make even an average defense look good. But when both units are firing on all cylinders, that’s when a team can make a real run at the Super Bowl. So, who has the best D in the NFL?

The Case for Aaron Donald

There is no single player in the NFL who has had as big of an impact on his team’s defense as Aaron Donald has had for the Los Angeles Rams. Over the past four seasons, Donald has been named first-team All-Pro four times and defensive player of the year twice. He is widely considered to be the best defensive player in the NFL, and it’s not really close.

In 2019, Donald had 12.5 sacks, 21 tackles for loss, and four forced fumbles. He was also a key piece of a Rams defense that was one of the best in the league, ranking second in points allowed per game (18.5) and first in yards allowed per play (4.6).

While some might argue that Donald benefits from playing alongside other great defenders like Ndamukong Suh and Jalen Ramsey, it’s worth noting that he has been doing this for his entire career. In fact, he has only gotten better as the years have gone on. In 2016, Donald had 11 sacks despite being double-teamed on nearly half of his snaps; in 2017, he had 14 sacks; and in 2018, he had 20.5 sacks (an NFL record for a defensive tackle).

The bottom line is that there is no player in the NFL who has a bigger impact on his team’s defense than Aaron Donald does. He is without question the best defensive player in the league, and it’s not even close.

The Case for J.J. Watt

J.J. Watt is the best defensive player in the NFL—and it’s not even close. The Houston Texans’ superstar has been so dominant that he’s redefined what we expect from the position. In an era of big, physical specimens who can run like gazelles and leap like kangaroos, Watt is in a class by himself.

Yes, there are other good players in the league. Aaron Donald of the Los Angeles Rams is a force in the middle of the defensive line, and Von Miller of the Denver Broncos is a ferocious edge rusher. But they haven’t been as consistently dominant as Watt, who has been named the NFL Defensive Player of the Year three times—an honor that no other player has attained more than twice.

In 2014, Watt had 20.5 sacks, which was the second-highest total in a season since the sack became an official statistic in 1982. He also had an astonishing 29 tackles for loss, which led the league. And he did all this while operating primarily as a 3-4 defensive end, meaning he was responsible for both rushing the passer and stopping the run.

The following year, Watt had 17.5 sacks and 36 tackles for loss—numbers that would be considered outstanding for any player, but which were actually down from his 2014 production. But Watt made up for it by intercepting two passes (one of which he returned for a touchdown), forcing four fumbles, and deflecting 16 passes (seven of which were intercepted by teammates). He was so clearly the best player on the field that he won Defensive Player of the Year again—becoming just the third player to do so in consecutive seasons.

The Case for Khalil Mack

Khalil Mack is one of the best defensive players in the NFL, and he’s proved it time and time again. In his six seasons with the Oakland Raiders, Mack has racked up an impressive 69.5 sacks, forced 16 fumbles, and even scored a touchdown. He was named Defensive Player of the Year in 2016, and he’s been selected to five Pro Bowls. There’s no doubt that Mack is one of the most feared defenders in the league, and opposing offenses have to gameplan specifically for him.

While Mack is an incredible individual talent, he’s also part of a great defense. The Raiders have one of the best defensive lines in the NFL, with Mack flanked by fellow Pro Bowlers Maurice Hurst and Josh Jacobs. Behind them is a linebacking corps that features rookie sensation DeVonta Buchanon and veteran Cory Littleton. The secondary is led by All-Pro safety Lamarcus Joyner. This is a talented defense from front to back, and they are more than capable of shutting down opposing offenses.

The Raiders have had some struggles on offense this season, but their defense has been rock-solid. They are currently ranked fifth in points allowed per game, and they have only given up more than 20 points twice all season. With Mack leading the way, this is a defense that opponents should be worried about when they face off against the Raiders.

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