The No. 1-ranked scoring defense in the NFL is ...
Not who you think it is.
It's the Miami Dolphins, fresh off their impressive and dominating defensive performance against the Los Angeles Rams Sunday. In that game, the Dolphins harassed Rams quarterback Jared Goff into four first-half turnovers en route to a 28-17 victory in which they had almost no offense of their own.
The defense was that good.
Dolphins coach Brian Flores came to Miami from New England, where he was defensive coordinator. While in New England, it was his defensive plan that helped shut down the Rams in New England's Super Bowl victory two years ago.
The same plan was in play Sunday. They lined up in different fronts, usually with six across, and they played a lot of zone behind it. They then attacked the empty sets of the Rams.
The result was a victory for first-time, rookie starting quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, even though he didn't play that well. The Dolphins are now 4-3 and clearly in the playoff race and up to 13th in my Power Rankings.
When Flores took over in 2019, he had a lot of work to do. They said the Dolphins were tanking for Tua, but the reality is they had to complete an overhaul of the roster, which they are in the process of doing.
You can tell by watching the Dolphins play that they have bought into Flores' no-nonsense approach. It's easier to do with younger players, which is why there was talk early last year that Flores might be losing some of the team with his rigid approach.
The reality is he was right. Weed out the weak, and play on with those who buy into your beliefs.
The Dolphins play hard, which is evident when you watch the tape. The defense isn't loaded with top-level talent, but there is enough of it to make it work.
Being top-ranked in scoring defense means they are legit. This week they face a tough road test against Kyler Murray and the Arizona Cardinals offense. That won't be easy, but if they pass that test, the playoffs will be much more of a reality — no matter what they do on offense.
|They are the last remaining undefeated team and they showed a lot in coming from behind to beat the Ravens. They are the league's most-complete team.
|They finally got the passing game cranked up again with gaudy numbers, which is good to see. They will only go as far as Patrick Mahomes takes them with his right arm.
|The passing game is outstanding, which is why Russell Wilson is the MVP right now. The defense made some strides early against the 49ers, which is a good thing.
|They made it interesting against the Giants. Now they face a huge division game with the Saints and they should have Antonio Brown.
|They have to throw it better in big games than they did against the Steelers. They are two games behind the Steelers now, which isn't good.
|That was a big-time victory against the Patriots, even if it wasn't pretty. The run defense has to be better.
|They came off their bye with a good showing against the Lions. They are the class of the AFC South right now.
|They didn't look good on defense against Dalvin Cook and the Minnesota run game. That's not a good way to be heading to San Francisco for a Thursday night game.
|They come off their bye with a suddenly tough game against the Dolphins. They seemed to be hitting their stride before the bye, so they need to hope it doesn't impede the progress.
|They aren't blowing teams out, but they are finding ways to win games. They need to get healthy on offense heading into this week's big game with the Bucs.
|They have lost two straight and the defense isn't very good. They have to find ways to rush the passer going forward.
|Going on the road and winning at Cleveland behind an improved defense is a good look for this team. They are in the playoff race heading into their road division game with the Chargers this week.
|They won Tua Tagovailoa's first start, but it wasn't because of him. They face a tough road test this week at Arizona.
|They just can't seem to get anything going in terms of momentum. The offense regressed against Oakland. They do miss Odell Beckham.
|The short week and long trip seemed to impact them against the Dolphins. They head to their bye with the bad taste of that Miami game lingering.
|Their fast start looks to be fading away with two losses in a row. At least the offense got them back into it against the Saints, which is progress.
|They couldn't get much of anything going on offense against the Seahawks until it was too late. Now they have to play without Jimmy Garoppolo and George Kittle. When do the injuries end?
|Their little surge came back to reality in a hurry with a terrible showing at home against the Colts. The heat is back on Matt Patricia.
|They are in first place. That's the good news. The bad news is they haven't looked that good in getting there. At some point, Carson Wentz has to be better.
|Three consecutive losses has them reeling a bit. But isn't that the team we expected to see?
|Could the late-game comeback against the Chargers be the moment that gets Drew Lock going as their long-term guy? He was impressive in the fourth quarter.
|They find new ways to lose games and at some point that has to change. They can't win the close ones.
|They've lost four straight games, which is hard to believe for this group. Is the playoff run over?
|Winning at Green Bay, with a soft schedule coming the next five weeks, gives them some hope. Not much, but some.
|That was an impressive victory against the Titans, which shows where this team is headed. Watch out next year.
|They have showed some life since Raheem Morris took over for Dan Quinn. They aren't dead yet.
|They come off their bye still in the division race. That's hard to believe, but it's true.
|They are a mess. Getting Andy Dalton back won't fix it either. It looks like it's on to 2021.
|They come off the bye with an eye on next year. They are considering trading some of their players to get picks, which is clearly look-ahead mode.
|They are making progress, which is a good sign. They just have to stop the Daniel Jones turnovers.
|It will be rookie Jake Luton at quarterback. He has a big arm, which Gardner Minshew does not. But don't win any games to ruin the chance to get one of the top quarterbacks in the draft.
|They are halfway to a winless season. What are the odds they get there? Good, right?