Overall, both defenses shot up the rankings last week with dominant performances against the Cowboys and Bears, respectively. Both teams play a 3-4 defense, and both are succeeding in the same way: a Top 10 pass defense is anchored by a Top 5 run defense. Another way to measure them is by using the QB Jay Cutler barometer: he threw 4 INTs against the Packers, but 5 INTs against the 49ers.
Over the last 4 weeks, which is after each teams' bye week, here's how they've played:
Packers (2-2). They dominated the Browns and held their woeful offense to 139 yards in total. As a team, the Packers allowed 38 points in each game against the Vikings and Buccaneers, but special teams, and turnovers in the Bucs game, kept handing their opponents great field position. The Packers D held the Vikings offense to just 355 yards in total, and the Bucs to only 279 yards. Their most recent game was their best, as they held the potent Cowboys offense to only 278 yards in total, and forced them to abandon their usually dangerous running game. The only problem area has been their pass defense in the red zone, which has allowed 6 red zone TD receptions in the last 3 games.
49ers (1-3). They held the dangerous Texans offense to only 336 yards, but allowed 3 TDs in the 1st half. The Colts had 410 yards against them, but they held QB Peyton Manning without a TD in Indianapolis. The Titans only had 315 yards of offense, despite another huge game from RB Chris Johnson. And while the Bears managed 350 yards in total against them, the 5 INTs they grabbed made that yardage almost useless.
The Packers have been playing better over this stretch, as their No. 1 ranking would attest to, but the 49ers have played against better competition. I'm not sure the Browns even count as competition. Which defense has appeared more impressive over the last 4 weeks?