This argument came up just before the Super Bowl. There was a poll debating what fans would rather have from their team, the No. 1 offense or the No. 1 defense?
Before the Super Bowl, it was just about a 50-50 split. I'm sure now it'd be about 80-20 in favor of defense after what Seattle did to Denver.
I guess, I'd be in that 20 percent.
I've never been on the side of the "defense wins championships" mantra. I think they can win championships. I think they won this past one.
But over the years, going off the stats, you can make the argument for both sides. And remember, what kind of stats you use can support the argument as well. Most of the time, the rankings for best offense and defense go off of yards only. You can use points scored or points allowed, but since usually we just go off of yards, let's keep it that way here.
The Seahawks weren't just the best defense of the season, but one of the best of all time. Any time great defenses are mentioned, we always say something like, "They're good … maybe not the '85 Bears." Sometimes the 2000 Ravens are referenced and perhaps the Buccaneers defense of 2002. But we should also include the 2013 Seahawks because of what they did in the regular season, and then how they dominated the game against Denver in the Super Bowl.
But if you're asking me – at the start of the season – would you rather have the No. 1 offense or the No. 1 defense, I'll take offense every time. The way the NFL is structured, it's an offensive league. The rules are tailored to suit the offenses. The two positions that get taken care of the most are quarterbacks and receivers. The term is called "defenseless receiver." We never hear about a "defenseless linebacker," and that's even on interceptions or crack-back blocks. You think Sean Lee could've hit Golden Tate like that and it would've been considered legal? No way.
The rules are for the offense. And frankly, it bothers me. If I've got to change a rule, I think I'd take away the stiff-arm to the face and helmet. I understand it's a part of the game, but since there is no other place in football where you can deliberately hit a guy in the head or face, why should a guy with the ball tucked under his other arm be allowed to do it. If a lineman just stiff-armed a pass-rusher off the edge, it's a penalty. If you hit a running back in the face, they call a facemask probably. And, of course, if a quarterback even got close to taking a shot to the head, it's a penalty. [embedded_ad]
That's just one example of how the rules are in favor of the offense. And if that's the case, I think I'd rather have the top offense in the league. Because it's not always like Seattle.
We didn't have this argument last year or the year before. Why not? Well, that's because the Ravens hoisted the Super Bowl trophy with the 17th best defense. The year before, the Giants beat the Patriots after ranking No. 27 in total defense in the 2011 season.
Over the last 10 years, a Top-5 defense has advanced to the Super Bowl just six times. They've won four of those games.
Over the last 10 years, a Top-5 offense has advanced to the Super Bowl eight times, and won four of those games.
For this past season, I took the Top-12 offenses, since there are 12 playoff spots. Only two teams ranked in the Top-12 missed the playoffs. That would be the Cowboys (fifth) and Bears (third). Both of those teams lost in Week 17 with a chance to advance.
On defense, of the Top-12 teams, only five made the playoffs. Yes, Seattle was by far the best, but just having a great defense doesn't exactly mean you're going to even sniff the playoffs. Heck, Houston had the No. 7 defense and they'll be picking No. 1 in a couple of months.
So really you can make the argument either way. Don't get me wrong, having a great defense is certainly an asset, especially because of the way the rules are set up. But there will be years when the best defense in the NFL is still vulnerable – we just didn't see it this season.
It's an offensive league, so give me the best offense every year.