Tuck: Super Bowl Doesn’t Reward Great Offenses

The Denver Broncos became the highest scoring team in NFL history this year.  Peyton Manning shredded the record books breaking both touchdown and yardage records.  Denver had FIVE players score double digit touchdowns (Thomas, Thomas, Decker, Welker, and Moreno).  How on Earth will the Seahawks have a chance in the Super Bowl against this juggernaut?!?!?

Denver is the favorite because of their offense and people’s perception of offense.  Fantasy football.  We recognize the names.  We tend to lean to favoring the team with the better quarterback.

Well consider some history that works against Denver.  All the rankings below account for scoring, not yardage totals.

– Of the 17 highest scoring teams in NFL history, only one has won the Super Bowl, the 1999 St. Louis Rams (1oth highest scoring team ever).  The Rams averaged 32.9 and scored just 23 in the Super Bowl.  This was after they managed just 11 in the NFC Title Game.

– Of the top 30 highest scoring teams in NFL history, Denver is only the 13th one to make the Super Bowl.  The previous 12 were a combined 5-7.

– It actually is worse if you look to the best of that group.  Of the top 15 highest scoring teams in NFL history, only 7 made it to the Super Bowl, but went a combined 1-6!

– 4 of the 6 losses they were blown out!  Those teams were outscored 144-49!!!

– The exception, New England.  The Patriots lost two close games to the Giants, but managed just 14 and 17 points in those defeats.

– Even worse news.  Of those 7 teams in the top 15 that made it, none of them scored more than 23 points!

– Those teams scored 14, 9, 14, 23, 16, 17, and 10 points in the Super Bowl.  That season they averaged 36.8, 33.8, 33.4, 32.9, 32.1, 32.1, and 32.0.  That’s a 18.6 point drop (33.3 to 14.7) on the big stage!

– Seattle’s defense is pretty good.  Historically it ranks 80th all-time in PPG allowed. That doesn’t sound impressive, but if you consider the rise of offense in the NFL and take into account that only 12 of those 79 that rank ahead of Seattle have accomplished it since the year 2000, it provides a little better perspective.  They are one of the best defenses since the turn of the century.

– Of the teams ranked in front of them all-time, 27 went to the Super Bowl.

– Those teams went a combined 17-10.  Interestingly enough, 3 of the games pitted teams ranked in that top 80 all-time, meaning 3 of the losses had to happen.

– If you take the top 80 offenses ever, they are 13-13 all-time in the Super Bowl. 4 of those match-ups were head-2-head of top 80 offenses.

– Since 2000, the 3 defenses that ranked higher than the Seahawks all won the Super Bowl that got there.

– Since 2000, 31 of the top 80 offenses ever have played.  Only 6 made it to the Super Bowl.  Only one, the 2009 Saints, won the Super Bowl over another offensive minded team, the Colts.

– Let’s take a look at the recent Super Bowl match-ups that were billed as OFFENSE vs. DEFENSE

2008 Pittsburgh (#1 defense in the NFL) defeats Arizona (#2 offense in the NFC)

2007 NY Giants (they finished ranked only 17th, but they allowed only the Pats to score more than 22 against them after Thanksgiving so it was obvious they were better than their season stats) defeats New England (#1 offense in NFL history at the time)

2002 Tampa Bay (#1 defense in the NFL) defeats Oakland (#2 offense in the NFL)

2001 New England (#3 defense in the AFC) defeats St. Louis (#1 offense in the NFL)

1990 NY Giants (#1 defense in the NFL) defeats Buffalo (#1 offense in the NFL)

1988 San Francisco (#6 defense in the NFL) defeats Cincinnati (#1 offense in the NFL)

1984 San Francisco (#1 defense in the NFL) defeats Miami (#1 offense in the NFL)


You can read all of this and determine it means nothing.  After-all, I did highlight that some of the greatest offenses in NFL history did win the Super Bowl.  So Denver very well could win.

History suggests however they won’t.  So many before them have failed.  As competition ramps up, it becomes more difficult to score against better teams.  And the results really get ugly if forced to play a very good or excellent defense, which in this case, Seattle would qualify.

History tells us offense may win games and the hearts of fans every where, but it is indeed defense that delivers championships more often.