The 2013 Broncos had one of the greatest offenses of all time and made it to the Super Bowl. Two years later, Denver is again in the Super Bowl, on the strength of a superb defense. How rare is that? Well, the only team that really fits that profile is the Miami Dolphins, who made the Super Bowl in 1982 and 1984, and had a similar swing (albeit in the other direction).
Over at 538, I look at the similarities between those two teams, and other teams that have swung from an extreme offensive/defensive identity to an extreme defensive/offensive identity just two years later. A special thanks to Adam Harstad, who was the one who gave me the simple but creative methodology to display these results.
In the strike-shortened 1982 season, the Miami Dolphins made it to the Super Bowl on the strength of an incredible defense that allowed the NFL’s fewest yards, first downs, passing yards and net yards per pass attempt. The offense wasn’t very good, but the defense — known as the Killer Bees because the last names of six starters began with the letter B — guided the team to the Super Bowl, as Miami ranked second in points allowed and third in takeaways.
Just two years later, the Dolphins were back in the Super Bowl, and once again, the team was one-dimensional. But, remarkably, it was the offense that was the dominant unit, as Miami led the NFL in points, yards, first downs and net yards per pass attempt, while a second-year quarterback named Dan Marino set single-season records for passing yards and passing touchdowns.
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