A quick checkdown today, looking at the net points allowed in the playoffs by each of the 50 teams that won the Super Bowl. What do I mean by net points? It’s pretty simple:
(Touchdowns allowed to opposing offenses) * 7 + (Field Goals allowed) * 3 – (Touchdowns scored by the defense) * 7 – (Safeties scored by the defense) * 2
I have decided to ignore special teams touchdowns — both for and against that team — as this is just a look at defenses. And obviously this is a very basic look: it doesn’t incorporate number of drives faced, average starting field position, missed field goal attempts, or quality of opposing offense (or era). But hey, I said it was a quick checkdown!
Here’s how to read the table below. Let’s use the 1985 Bears as an example. You may know that Chicago shut out both NFC opponents en route to the Super Bowl, where the Bears allowed 10 points. But that’s a bit misleading, because Chicago’s defense was better than that. The 1985 Bears played in three playoff games, and the defense scored two touchdowns and recorded a safety (total of 16 points). The defense did allow 10 points, via a touchdown and a field goal, but that means the Bears defense allowed -6 net points in the playoffs, or -2 NP/G.
|Rk||Team||Year||G||DEF TDs||Safeties||TDs Allowed by D||FG Allowed||Net Points||Net PA/G|
Some quick thoughts:
- Three teams really stand out here: the ’85 Bears, ’00 Ravens, and ’02 Bucs. Those teams were obviously incredibly dominant during the regular seasons, too, although to somewhat varying degrees. After removing non-offensive touchdowns and adjusting for SOS, the ’02 Bucs rank as the 2nd best defense since 1970, the ’85 Bears ranked 4th, and the ’00 Ravens ranked 13th in points allowed. And based on Z-Scores, the ’02 Bucs rank 1st, the ’85 Bears rank 5th, and the ’00 Ravens rank 34th in terms of standard deviations from the mean, although that is perhaps unfairly influenced by the variation in defensive quality in each year.
- Chicago’s opponents averaged 24.9 (NYG), 21.2 (LA), and 22.6 (NE) points per game. The 2002 Bucs had it a little tougher, facing teams that allowed 22.9 (SF), 25.9 (PHI), and 28.1 (OAK) points per game. The Ravens faced Denver (30.3), Tennessee (21.6), Oakland (29.9), and the Giants (20.5), although Denver played that game with its second and third string quarterbacks, while the Raiders lost their starting quarterback, Rich Gannon, 17 minutes into the game.
- The 1981 49ers rank dead last here, which is pretty interesting. One interpretation is that Joe Montana didn’t get a ton of help in winning his first Super Bowl. And while that’s mostly true, the way it’s presented here is probably at least a little misleading. Against the Giants, the 49ers defense allowed 17 points in the first three quarters; then scored and allowed touchdowns in garbage time in the fourth. That’s a mediocre but not bad performance. In the NFC Championship Game, the 49ers allowed 27 points to Dallas, but in the defense’s defense, two of the Cowboys touchdown drives began at the SF 29 and the 50 following 49ers fumbles (San Francisco’s offense had six turnovers in the game, making life not so easy on the 49ers defense). In the Super Bowl, the defense allowed 21 points, but none in the first half or until the 49ers scored 20 points.
What stands out to you? What do you think?