Ranking the defenses best equipped to challenge Eagles' high-powered offense

The Eagles will get everyone's best shot this season, particularly when their offense is on the field.
A.J. Brown, Jalen Hurts, Philadelphia Eagles
A.J. Brown, Jalen Hurts, Philadelphia Eagles / Mitchell Leff/GettyImages

Just mention all of the stars on the Philadelphia Eagles' offense, and if you didn't know any better, you might be tricked into believing someone turned off the salary cap on Madden NFL's franchise mode. Howie Roseman waved his magic wand during free agency, and Saquon Barkley was added to an offensive unit that is already chock full of stars.

Just imagine seeing Saquon running behind an O-line that features Jordan Mailata, Landon Dickerson, Cam Jurgens, Lane Johnson, and whoever wins the starting right guard position. Here's the best part. Philly's attack doesn't stop there. They are home to elite wide receivers and one of the best young tight ends in the game.

Jalen Hurts has options. A.J. Brown, DeVonta Smith, and Dallas Goedert are among his weapons in the passing game. New OC Kellen Moore runs the show. This is the NFL though. No one's going to lay down for Philly.

Every NFL team has NFL-level players on it. The Birds will take everyone's best shot this season. Expect a few slugfests as we'll see some good defenses on the other sideline. Consider this your crash course.

Here's a ranking of the five teams that we believe will give the Eagles' offense the most headaches.

Pay attention to the Eagles' matchup versus the New Orleans in Week 3. Derek Carr isn't necessarily terrifying, but the Saints have some offensive weapons. They also boast some talent on defense.

Guys are getting old though. Cameron Jordan turns 35 years old in July, Demario Davis turns 36 in january, Tyrann Mathie just turned 32.

Marshon Lattimore is regressing. The Saints do force turnovers and play smart defensive football though.

They produced the fourth-largest number of takeaways last season. They also allowed an 89.1 QB rating during the final six weeks of their season. Still, they won't make our list of the top five defenses Philly will play this season. We believe the following teams fall on that list.

Cleveland Browns, Week 6

Things didn't go as smoothly for the Browns later in the season as it did for them early. Let's not forget how good they were when operating a peak efficiency. They were pro football's standard for 12 weeks.

Under former Eagles DC Jim Schwartz, Cleveland held opponents to a 55.6 percent completion rate and 73.2 QB rating during that time. They also racked up 34 sacks, but Myles Garrett got hurt, and if we're being honest, this unit wasn't as goog without him.

They'll walk into next season healthy, so they should again be among the NFL's best defenses in 2024. Former Eagle Jordan Hicks was added during free agency among others. They added Michael Hall Jr. during the NFL Draft. Don't be shocked if they give Philly fits.

Dallas Cowboys, Week 10 and Week Week 17

The annual Eagles clashes with the hated Dallas Cowboys will again be intense and full of venom. Dan Quinn, their defensive coordinator of the past three seasons, is now the head coach of the Washington Commanders, but despite taking Dorance Armstrong and Dante Fowler with him, they still have a few weapons.

Stephon Gilmore is also gone. Dallas suffered a few losses, but they added Mike Zimmer as DC and Marshawn Kneeland and Marist Liufau during the NFL Draft.

An improved DaRon Bland and a returning Trevon Diggs give the Cowboys a nice one-two punch at corner while Mazi Smith, Micah Parsons, and newly-added Erick Kendricks are all guys Philly must game plan for.

Baltimore Ravens, Week 13

They say a good offense doubles as defense in the NFL. Adding a workhorse like Derrick Henry gives the Ravens another dimension. Another tool with which to salt games away.

Baltimore has talent on defense too. Kyle Hamilton, Justin Madubuike, Michael Pierce, Odafe Oweh, Marcus Williams, and Marlon Humphrey are all worth mentioning. Nate Wiggins and Adisa Isaac were added during the NFL Draft, but we'll also be looking to see how this unit performs now that three extremely talented coaches on that side of the ball are gone.

Mike Macdonald, former Eagles defensive backs coach Dennard Wilson, and defensive line coach Anthony Weaver all left to explore other opportunities as did Patrick Queen, Geno Stone, and another former Eagle, Ronald Darby.

Pittsburgh Steelers, Week 15

Limiting explosive plays from Alex Highsmith, T.J. Watt, and Cam Heyward is as daunting a task as any offense can attack during game days. Now, offensive coordinators also have to ask themselves questions about what type of impact Queen might have, and that's while also trying to gauge whether or not it's wise to throw the ball in Joey Porter Jr. or Minkah Fitzpatrick's direction.

If the Steelers can muster some offense versus the Eagles in Week 15, this one could come down to a mistake or two.

Green Bay Packers, Week 1

The Pack filled a major need at safety and did so in a major way thanks to the addition of someone Eagles fans know very well, Xavier McKinney. Just look at this list of guys he'll be joining: Rashan Gary, Quay Walker, Devonte Wyatt, Preston Smith, and rookies Edgerrin Cooper and Javon Bullard.

The light bulb seemingly came on for the Packers during last season's playoff run. This could be a team Philly meets up with in the postseason often. For now, we'll have to settle for a Week 1 matchup.

Honorable mention: L.A. Rams

The Los Angeles Rams would have been ranked higher had Aaron Donald stuck around, but he didn't. Losing him will certainly create a void that it takes some time to fill.

The Rams can hang their hats on a few things though. They added collegiate teammates Braden Fiske and Jared Verse in the NFL Draft. The latter might be this class's best power rusher. Kamren Kinchens might also shock people. Kamren Kurl, Tre'davious White, and Ernest Jones are some of the other players worth watching.

Honorable mention: Jacksonville Jaguars

When people mention offseason pickups, often those discussions evolve into conversations about players. Here we'd like to mention two coaches first.

Regardless of what some would like to believe, Doug Pederson is pretty damn good at his job. So is the new Jags defensive coordinator, Ryan Nielsen. The latter transformed the Falcons' pass rush last season. There are still some holes in the secondary, but 'Sacksonville' might be reinstated in 2024.

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