The 5 Best NFL Defenses of All Time, Ranked

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Photo by Paul Natkin/Getty Images)

So, you're wondering what the best NFL defenses of all-time are? Let's get in to it!

The National Football League (NFL) has a rich history of dominant defensive units that have left an indelible mark on the sport. These teams are celebrated for their tenacity, skill, and the ability to thwart even the most formidable offensive juggernauts. In this article, we'll explore the NFL's best defenses and the defining characteristics that have made them legendary, including their legendary coaches.

Related: The 10 Players With The Most NFL MVPs All-Time

These defenses are more than just stoppers of touchdowns; they are a source of inspiration, pride, and intimidation, setting the stage for thrilling clashes between offense and defense on the gridiron. From the iconic "Steel Curtain" of the Pittsburgh Steelers to the "Legion of Boom" in Seattle, we'll delve into the remarkable history of these defensive juggernauts and their lasting impact on the NFL. Some of these teams may even be mentioned amongst the best of all-time!

5. 2015 Denver Broncos

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(Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)
  • Record: 12-4
  • Notable Players: Von Miller, Chris Harris Jr., DeMarcus Ware, Aqib Talib

The 2015 Denver Broncos boasted one of the most dominant and suffocating defensive units in recent NFL history. Under the leadership of defensive coordinator Wade Phillips and the guidance of head coach Gary Kubiak, the Broncos' defense played a pivotal role in the team's success and their victory in Super Bowl 50.

The Broncos' secondary, known as the "No Fly Zone," featured elite defensive backs, including cornerbacks Aqib Talib and Chris Harris Jr. and safeties T.J. Ward and Darian Stewart. This secondary was known for its exceptional coverage skills and physicality. Their defense was anchored by an outstanding pass rush, led by future Hall of Famer Von Miller and fellow linebacker DeMarcus Ware. Miller, in particular, had a spectacular season and was named the Super Bowl MVP. The Broncos led the league in sacks in 2015.

4. 2013 Seattle Seahawks

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(Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
  • Record: 13-3
  • Notable Players: Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas, Byron Maxwell, Kam Chancellor, Bruce Irvin, K.J. Wright, Chris Clemons

The 2013 Seattle Seahawks defense was legendary and is widely regarded as one of the greatest defensive units in NFL history. Led by the fearsome "Legion of Boom" secondary and a relentless pass rush, the Seahawks' defense played a pivotal role in the team's Super Bowl championship that season.

The nickname "Legion of Boom" referred to the secondary of the Seahawks, which consisted of standout players like Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor, and Byron Maxwell. These players were known for their physicality, ball-hawking abilities, and exceptional coverage skills. They created an aura of intimidation for opposing offenses. The 2013 Seahawks defense's crowning achievement was their performance in Super Bowl XLVIII. They held the high-powered Denver Broncos offense, led by Peyton Manning, to just 8 points, winning the championship in dominant fashion

3. 1976 Pittsburgh Steelers

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(Photo by Bob Grieser/Allsport/Getty Images)
  • Record: 10-4
  • Notable Players: Mel Blount, Glen Edwards, Joe Greene, L.C. Greenwood, Jack Ham, Jack Lambert, Andy Russell, Mike Wagner, J.T. Thomas

The 1976 Pittsburgh Steelers were a significant and transformative team in the franchise's history. Although they did not win the Super Bowl that season, they laid the foundation for the Steelers' dynasty of the late 1970s and early 1980s, which would eventually result in four Super Bowl championships.

The 1976 Steelers were known for their legendary "Steel Curtain" defense, which featured some of the greatest defensive players in NFL history, including Mean Joe Greene, L.C. Greenwood, Jack Lambert, Jack Ham, and Mel Blount. This defense was dominant, and it was one of the most feared in the league. They led the NFL in fewest points allowed and fewest yards allowed.

Although they fell short in 1976, the experience and talent developed during this season laid the groundwork for the Steelers' four Super Bowl victories in the late 1970s. They would go on to win Super Bowls in the 1974, 1975, 1978, and 1979 seasons, solidifying their status as one of the most successful franchises in NFL history.

2. 2000 Baltimore Ravens

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(Photo by Brad Mangin/Sports Illustrated via Getty Images)
  • Record: 12-4
  • Notable Players: Rod Woodson, Sam Adams, Ray Lewis, Anthony Davis, Tony Siragusa, Sam Adams, Anthony Poindexter, Peter Boulware

The 2000 Baltimore Ravens are widely regarded as one of the most dominant and historic defensive teams in NFL history. Coached by Brian Billick and led by a remarkable defense, they secured their place in the record books by winning Super Bowl XXXV.

The 2000 Ravens were anchored by their ferocious and suffocating defense, which came to be known as one of the all-time great units. The defense was led by future Hall of Famers Ray Lewis, who was named the Super Bowl MVP, and Rod Woodson, as well as standout players like Peter Boulware and Tony Siragusa. They were relentless, finishing the season with a franchise-record 165 sacks and an impressive 26 interceptions.

1. 1985 Chicago Bears

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(Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
  • Record: 15-1
  • Notable Players: Dan Hampton, Steve McMichael, Richard Dent, Otis Wilson, Mike Singletary, Gary Fencik

The 1985 Chicago Bears, often referred to as the "Monsters of the Midway," are one of the most iconic and dominant teams in NFL history. Coached by Mike Ditka and led by an outstanding defense, the Bears secured their place in the annals of football history by winning Super Bowl XX.

The 1985 Bears were renowned for their aggressive and disruptive defense, which featured a scheme known as the "46 Defense." Coordinated by defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan, the defense was anchored by Hall of Famers like Richard Dent, Dan Hampton, Mike Singletary, and Wilber Marshall. It was a swarming, hard-hitting unit that led the NFL in numerous statistical categories.

The Bears finished the regular season with a 15-1 record, and they breezed through the playoffs to reach Super Bowl XX. In the Super Bowl, they faced the New England Patriots and won convincingly with a score of 46-10. The defense intercepted Patriots quarterback Tony Eason three times and recorded seven sacks.

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