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Hukos

How often does a great defense translate into a championship?

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It's a common refrain that "defense wins championships", but how often does it hold up? There are some notable examples of some amazing defenses that didn't do anything in the playoffs because the offense couldn't move a paper bag (the 1986 Bears/2006 Ravens being good examples of this).

Here's a sample size of last ten years, the top #1 defense in total points allowed and how they performed.

2019: New England - 225; one and done
2018: Chicago - 283; also one and done
2017: Minnesota - 252; defense got obliterated in the NFC Championship Game.
2016: New England - 250; won the Super Bowl
2015: Seattle - 277; didn't get past the 2nd round
2014: Seattle - 254; lost the Super Bowl
2013: Seattle - 231; won the Super Bowl
2012: Seattle - 245; didn't get past the 2nd round
2011: Pittsburgh - 227; one and done to Tim Tebow
2010: Pittsburgh - 232; went to the Super Bowl and lost.

Also shoutout to Seattle for having the best defense in the NFL for like 4 years straight - considering that defense is way more volatile than offense is statistically, that's extremely impressive. But it seems like while a great defense is a good asset to have... I think the refrain is overused. A great defense isn't a guarantee of winning a championship, you still generally need a competent offense to help back up a great defense (unless you're the Broncos in 2015). Like most football sayings, there's an element of truth to it, but it's extremely overused and lacks nuance.

Edited by Hukos

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2015 Denver obviously had the best defense and won the SB with it. It doesn't show on your metric because the offense was so dire the d had to start from worse positions all the time

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All I know is that a good offensive team with a terrible defense hasn't really won the Super Bowl except maybe once (closest I can think of is the 2006 Colts). But there have been a couple of examples of a good defensive team with a terrible offense winning the Super Bowl. 

Edited by PapaShogun
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You cant win WITHOUT a defense, but that doesnt mean you have to have a "championship level defense" to win. 

You need to be able to get stops/takeaways in crucial spots. 

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My philosophy on defense is timely stops. Essentially bend but don’t break. 

Forced turnovers, sacks, tackles for loss and points allowed are the 4 most important stats to me. Yards don’t mean much because teams all start from varying parts of the field because offense and special teams plays a huge role.

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A great defense doesn't have to be good statistically.

They just have to get off the field in key situations. 

 

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I'm not sure there's much to go on there. There's too many other factors at play. 

I'd be more confident saying the more-rounded teams win often. A team with the 6th best offense and the 4th best D, for example.

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1 hour ago, PapaShogun said:

All I know is that a good offensive team with a terrible defense hasn't really won the Super Bowl except maybe once (closest I can think of is the 2006 Colts). But there have been a couple of examples of a good defensive team with a terrible offense winning the Super Bowl. 

That changed in the playoffs though with the defense allowing 65 points over 4 games (34 of them to the Pats) which was enough to carry a 3 TD 7 INT quarterback to the title. Run game was good though averaging 150 ypg. 

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1 hour ago, evilflamingo said:

That changed in the playoffs though with the defense allowing 65 points over 4 games (34 of them to the Pats) which was enough to carry a 3 TD 7 INT quarterback to the title. Run game was good though averaging 150 ypg. 

Yeah I know it changed. Just like it did with the 2011 getting healthy in time for the playoffs. 

So, I guess there hasn't been a Super Bowl winning team with a defense that just stayed terrible. 

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2 hours ago, candyman93 said:

How is 2015 Denver not on that list...?

They had the Shell of Peyton Manning and Brock "$60 million career earnings" Osweiler playing QB for the Regular Season so gave up more points than Seattle did?

Given what Peyton was that year it's amazing they won the Superbowl.

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6 hours ago, Hukos said:

It's a common refrain that "defense wins championships", but how often does it hold up? There are some notable examples of some amazing defenses that didn't do anything in the playoffs because the offense couldn't move a paper bag (the 1986 Bears/2006 Ravens being good examples of this).

Here's a sample size of last ten years, the top #1 defense in total points allowed and how they performed.

2019: New England - 225; one and done
2018: Chicago - 283; also one and done
2017: Minnesota - 252; defense got obliterated in the NFC Championship Game.
2016: New England - 250; won the Super Bowl
2015: Seattle - 277; didn't get past the 2nd round
2014: Seattle - 254; lost the Super Bowl
2013: Seattle - 231; won the Super Bowl
2012: Seattle - 245; didn't get past the 2nd round
2011: Pittsburgh - 227; one and done to Tim Tebow
2010: Pittsburgh - 232; won the Super Bowl.

Also shoutout to Seattle for having the best defense in the NFL for like 4 years straight - considering that defense is way more volatile than offense is statistically, that's extremely impressive. But it seems like while a great defense is a good asset to have... I think the refrain is overused. A great defense isn't a guarantee of winning a championship, you still generally need a competent offense to help back up a great defense (unless you're the Broncos in 2015). Like most football sayings, there's an element of truth to it, but it's extremely overused and lacks nuance.

I don't think Pittsburgh won the SB in 2010.

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With few exceptions, most Superbowl winning teams have had a top defense, or a defense that got hot and dominated the playoffs.

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5 hours ago, Hunter2_1 said:

I'm not sure there's much to go on there. There's too many other factors at play. 

I'd be more confident saying the more-rounded teams win often. A team with the 6th best offense and the 4th best D, for example.

Right - defense/offense isn't what wins championships; BALANCE wins championships. D/O/ST all need to be solid with at least one being excellent (say, top 5), and you can't be utterly reliant on one stud player to carry a unit (or a team). When one phase of the game can make or prevent big players while the other 2 are struggling, that's when you win games where you aren't at your best. 

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7 hours ago, PapaShogun said:

All I know is that a good offensive team with a terrible defense hasn't really won the Super Bowl except maybe once (closest I can think of is the 2006 Colts)

I wouldn't even count that - wasn't that 06 season the season where Bob Sanders didn't break himself and made that defense respectable?

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