Defensive line play is another underrated component of NFL betting. The ability to generate pressure on the quarterback is so key in today’s game, and bettors should be sure to handicap each defensive line unit when betting on any game. Here, we provide our NFL defensive line rankings, to give bettors a baseline as far as what to expect from each team in the trenches on defense.
32. Arizona Cardinals
Key Players at this Position: Leki Fotu, Zaven Collins
Finishing in last place in our rankings of NFL defensive lines will be the Arizona Cardinals. They lost some talent in the offseason, most notably the now-retired JJ Watt. But they did not do anything of note to replace that talent, which is a huge concern going into this year. With all of the offensive talent in this division, the Cardinals will be in real trouble without a respectable defensive front.
31. Baltimore Ravens
Key Players at this Position: Justin Madubuike, Odafe Oweh
Another team that sustained a key loss up front on defense is the Baltimore Ravens. They no longer have the services of Calais Campbell in 2023. And while Campbell is aging anyway, losing him only exacerbates an area of concern for a Ravens team whose defense struggled to stop the pass late in games last year thanks to a suspect d-line.
30. New Orleans Saints
Key Players at this Position: Cam Jordan
Cam Jordan is a nice player, but he is not getting any younger for the New Orleans Saints. Losing Marcus Davenport on this defensive line should hurt the Saints, as they look to prove that they can find the depth to make an impact consistently in games in the season to come. For now, though, they are near the bottom of our list.
29. Chicago Bears
Key Players at this Position: DeMarcus Walker
Give the Chicago Bears some credit going into this season, as they have at least tried to improve their defensive line. They brought in DeMarcus Walker and made some attempts to patch things up in the most recent NFL Draft. That could improve things this year, but the Bears were terrible at getting pressure on opposing quarterbacks, and they will need to prove they can create pressure to move up this list.
28. Seattle Seahawks
Key Players at this Position: Jarran Reed
The Seattle Seahawks were well inside of the top-10 in the NFL in sacks last season, but they still have questions to answer coming into this season up front. Seattle will face some improved offenses in the NFC West this year, as the Rams and Niners should have more continuity on that side of the ball, and we could see a steep drop-off in sack production for this defensive front.
27. Atlanta Falcons
Key Players at this Position: Calais Campbell, Grady Jarrett, David Onyemata
The Atlanta Falcons have put together an interesting defensive line group going into this year. Calais Campbell and Grady Jarrett are not in their prime any longer, even if you could do worse than having them up front. The question here will be how fatigue plays a role, as an aged Falcons defensive line may be on the field quite a bit as the offense could struggle in 2023.
26. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Key Players at this Position: Vita Vea
Have you ever seen a really nice car parked outside of a really rough looking house? That is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ defensive line going into the 2023 NFL season. Vita Vea is the really nice car in this analogy, as he is immensely talented. But the Bucs have a long way to go to be a top-half defensive line in the NFL this year.
25. Denver Broncos
Key Players at this Position: Frank Clark
Opening up the top-25 in our NFL defensive line rankings is the Denver Broncos. They made a bold move this offseason, bringing Frank Clark in to help improve this area on the field. But there is a lack of depth around Clark on this defensive line, as this group needs more top-end talent in order to make this defense a success story in Sean Payton’s first season in charge.
24. Green Bay Packers
Key Players at this Position: Kenny Clark, Rashan Gary
Our ranking of the Green Bay Packers would likely be higher if they had a fully healthy Rashan Gary in their lineup. But Gary is going to be making his return from a torn ACL, so we are not 100% sure as to what we are going to get from him and the rest of this group going into this campaign. For now, we put this unit just inside of the bottom-10 in the league.
23. Jacksonville Jaguars
Key Players at this Position: Josh Allen, Travon Walker
The foundation for a strong defensive line and pass rush is developing in Jacksonville. Josh Allen and Travon Walker have the potential to be an elite duo at getting after opposing quarterbacks. But the production is just not there yet for this group, and that needs to change if the Jags are going to move up this list over the next year.
22. Houston Texans
Key Players at this Position: Will Anderson, Jerry Hughes
While the attention on the Houston Texans’ rebuilding efforts is on their offensive additions, their defense has been upgraded up front. The Texans drafted Will Anderson to follow up on last year’s addition of former Buffalo Bills standout Jerry Hughes. The Texans may need time to put everything together, but there is at least cause for cautious optimism in Houston.
21. Las Vegas Raiders
Key Players at this Position: Maxx Crosby, Chandler Jones, Tyree Wilson
There are some individual talents that are undeniable on the Las Vegas Raiders defensive line. Maxx Crosby is a problem for opposing pass protectors, and the addition of Tyree Wilson could make the Raiders pass rush one to fear in the future. Wilson is dealing with some injury concerns going into this season, but the long-term future of this group is promising.
20. Detroit Lions
Key Players at this Position: Aidan Hutchinson
Ranking 20th in our NFL defensive line rankings are the Detroit Lions, whose d-line is headlined by Aidan Hutchinson. Detroit’s defense was pretty miserable overall last season, but they did finish in the middle of the pack in sacks for the 2022 campaign. Some further growth from Hutchinson should help this defense overall, but the Lions need to get more pressure more consistently to live up to the hype in 2023.
19. Minnesota Vikings
Key Players at this Position: Danielle Hunter, Harrison Phillips
The Minnesota Vikings are pretty difficult to evaluate from a defensive line perspective this season, as they may or may not have Danielle Hunter when the season begins. For now, he is on the roster, so the Vikings land in the middle of the pack somewhere. But their ranking could take a huge tumble if they do end up dealing Hunter and taking away one of their most dynamic d-line members.
18. Los Angeles Rams
Key Players at this Position: Aaron Donald
Simply having Aaron Donald on your defensive line makes a team like the Los Angeles Rams better than the teams below them on this list. But the rest of the Rams d-line leaves a lot to be desired, hence their spot in these rankings. Donald can help plug things up and generate pressure from the interior, but a high-level edge rusher would really take things to the next level in Los Angeles.
17. Carolina Panthers
Key Players at this Position: Brian Burns, Derrick Brown
The Panthers have a middle of the pack defensive line, thanks almost entirely to the presence of Brian Burns. Burns had 12.5 sacks last season, and was one of the major bright spots for a Panthers team that struggled to stand out in many areas. If Burns can continue to be a force in the pass rush for the Panthers, they could continue to evolve as a defensive line group and take some steps forward around new quarterback Bryce Young.
16. Los Angeles Chargers
Key Players at this Position: Joey Bosa, Sebastian Joseph-Day
In Los Angeles, both teams that occupy SoFi Stadium have high-end defensive line talent but lack consistent talent around it. While the aforementioned Rams are led by Aaron Donald, the Chargers have Joey Bosa as their top defensive lineman. Khalil Mack has taken some steps back since joining the Chargers, which has cost this team dearly, and will need to change if the Bolts are going to threaten the Chiefs in the AFC West.
15. Indianapolis Colts
Key Players at this Position: DeForest Buckner
The Indianapolis Colts start the top-15 of these NFL defensive line rankings, thanks in large part to the presence of DeForest Buckner. Buckner is incredibly talented in the middle of the line, which helped the Colts rank in a tie for fourth in the NFL in yards per carry allowed. While the edge rushers for the Colts are not great, the Colts can at least win in one area of their d-line on a regular basis, which is more than many teams can say.
14. New York Jets
Key Players at this Position: Quinnen Williams, Carl Lawson
Going into the 2023 season, the New York Jets are very similar to the Colts in terms of their strengths and weaknesses on the defensive line. Quinnen Williams helps the Jets to win up the middle regularly, as the Jets are a top-10 team in the league in yards per carry allowed. But there is no elite pass rushing presence on this roster either, which will hurt them in an AFC East that features pass-happy teams in the Bills and Dolphins.
13. Tennessee Titans
Key Players at this Position: Denico Autry, Teair Tart
The Tennessee Titans are set to be better up front than they were a year ago, which says a lot given that they were already strong there in 2022. They added Arden Key on the outside to go with their interior threats Denico Autry and Teair Tart. This group should prosper in a division that features two rookie quarterbacks in Houston and Indianapolis.
12. New England Patriots
Key Players at this Position: Matt Judon, Lawrence Guy
Once again, the New England Patriots are rock solid at a position group that is less than glamorous. Matt Judon is one of the best defenders in the NFL, as he averaged 14 sacks per season over the last two years. As long as Judon continues to perform, the rest of the defensive front for the Patriots should have an easier job than they would elsewhere, even with six games against high-level quarterbacks coming in their division.
11. Kansas City Chiefs
Key Players at this Position: Chris Jones
The Kansas City Chiefs are set to take a step back up front this season, as Frank Clark is no longer with the defending champions. Still, when you have Chris Jones available to pose a threat to opposing offenses, you are not in all that bad a place with your defensive front. And with Steve Spagnuolo’s ability to dial up pressure with extra defenders, the defensive line of the Chiefs will not need to be great by itself.
10. Cincinnati Bengals
Key Players at this Position: DJ Reader, Trey Hendrickson
Starting off the top-10 of our NFL defensive line rankings is the Cincinnati Bengals, who have nearly won the Super Bowl two years in a row. Having a great defensive line is so important when staring down the gauntlet of the Bills and Chiefs in the AFC playoffs. Fortunately, the Bengals have just that, with DJ Reader and Trey Hendrickson leading each portion of the line, respectively.
9. Buffalo Bills
Key Players at this Position: Von Miller, Greg Rousseau, Ed Oliver
Buffalo has some holes defensively that they need to address if they are going to beat the Chiefs and Bengals to reach the Super Bowl. But defensive line should not be one of them. Von Miller will be coming back from injury, and his performance will be a key to this team’s success in 2023. But with or without Miller, the Bills should be in good shape up front as they look to break through in a true Super Bowl or bust year.
8. Cleveland Browns
Key Players at this Position: Myles Garrett, Za’Darius Smith
Myles Garrett is one of the best athletes in the NFL, and he leads one of the better defensive lines in the NFL. But it is what the Browns did around Garrett this offseason that has elevated their d-line. They brought in Za’Darius Smith and Dalvin Tomlinson, which should help the Browns to make plays through sources other than Garrett on a consistent basis.
7. New York Giants
Key Players at this Position: Dexter Lawrence, Kayvon Thibodeaux
The New York Giants offense has had plenty of drama this offseason, but their defense remains solid heading into 2023. The defensive line has two game-breaking players on the roster, as Dexter Lawrence and Kayvon Thibodeaux are capable of wrecking the best laid plans of opposing offenses from different parts of the line. While this is not the Michael Strahan-led version of the Giants d-line, this group is well above average.
6. Dallas Cowboys
Key Players at this Position: DeMarcus Lawrence, Micah Parsons
At this point in our NFL defensive line rankings, you really start to see the star power shine through. That is the case for the Dallas Cowboys, as the Cowboys have a couple of elite players at their respective positions in Micah Parsons and DeMarcus Lawrence. Parsons could end up winning Defensive Player of the Year honors this season, and could help the Cowboys make the deep playoff run they have so desperately wanted to make in the Dak Prescott era.
5. Miami Dolphins
Key Players at this Position: Christian Wilkins, Jaelan Phillips, Bradley Chubb
The Miami Dolphins have cracked the top-five of our d-line rankings, as a young group should be able to cause problems for opposing offenses. Bradley Chubb’s health is always something of a question mark, but Miami reached a respectable 40 sacks as a team last year. They also came in tied for fourth in the league in rushing yards allowed per carry, and their ability to thwart both the pass and run up front is huge.
4. Washington Commanders
Key Players at this Position: Chase Young, Montez Sweat, Jonathan Allen
In terms of a pure pass rushing group, the Washington Commanders may have one of the best in all of football. If Chase Young and Montez Sweat can both stay healthy, this Commanders group could resemble the one that featured Ryan Kerrigan and his immense production not too long ago. That will be huge in a division that features a couple of elite passing teams in the Eagles and Cowboys.
3. Pittsburgh Steelers
Key Players at this Position: TJ Watt, Cam Heyward, Larry Ogunjobi
TJ Watt is going to be back in 2023, and that is great news for the Pittsburgh Steelers, and bad news for the rest of the NFL. Watt is joined up front by some excellent players like Cam Heyward and Larry Ogunjobi, who has spent time in the AFC North with the Browns and Bengals previously. But the focal point of this defensive line is Watt, who makes this unit elite all by himself.
2. San Francisco 49ers
Key Players at this Position: Nick Bosa, Arik Armstead, Javon Hargrave
Another elite pass rusher leads his team to the second spot in our d-line rankings, as Nick Bosa and the San Francisco 49ers check in at number two. Bosa is not alone, though, as he is joined by a couple of all-NFL level talents in Arik Armstrong and Javon Hargrave. The Niners were tied for the best yards per carry average allowed on defense last season, and Bosa will be more of a threat in the pass rush.
1. Philadelphia Eagles
Key Players at this Position: Fletcher Cox, Jalen Carter, Brandon Graham
There is no doubt that the top team in our NFL defensive line rankings is the Philadelphia Eagles. Philly has dominated the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball over the last couple of years, and the Eagles d-line will continue that tradition this season. Fletcher Cox and Brandon Graham are joined by Georgia’s Jalen Carter this year, and that will be bad news for opposing quarterbacks.
Other NFL Position Rankings
Do you want rankings for positions other than the defensive line going into this NFL season? If so, you are in luck. Just click the links below to get our rankings for other key position groups, from quarterback to special teams and everything in between.