According to the good people at Football Outsiders, the defending Super Bowl champion, Seattle Seahawks, have a 36.6% chance of winning it all again this year. Smart money would suggest that the reason the odds favor the Seahawks above the other three remaining teams would be because of their ferocious defense. After all, it’s the Legion of Boom and the rest of the Seattle D that often times set the tone for the rest of the team. And sure enough, according to Pro-Football-Reference.com, the Seattle Seahawks have the best defense in football this season.
This type of dominance would have to give Seattle the top defense in the history of the NFL, right? Not so fast. In a piece titled, “Where Seattle’s D ranks all time?” (subscription required) the Seahawks defense is statistically compared to history’s best, and the discoveries are quite interesting.
Here’s a look at three takeaways.
1. 2014 is good. 2013 was better.
Football Outsiders determines the quality of a defense by figuring out the DVOA (defense-adjusted value over average; learn more here). It is a complicated system, but the important thing to know is that Seattle’s defense this season was the best in the NFL. Their number of -16.3% puts them just ahead of the next best defense, the Buffalo Bills, who have a -15.6% DOVA. However, this team is no match for the numbers put up by the 2013 squad. That team showcased a DOVA number of -25.9%.
So, while the Seattle defense is more dominant than the rest of the teams in the NFL, they pale in comparison to last year’s Super Bowl champions.
2. In the last 25 years, Seattle’s had an impressive three years
As previously mentioned, this 2014 Seattle’s defense is not as good as the one before it. However, if you combine the last three defenses from 2012-2014, and average out their DOVAs, Seattle has one of the five best statistical defenses, over a three-year span, in NFL history. When averaged, their DOVA comes out to -17.8%. Only four other teams in history have had a better defense over a three-year span. Those teams are: Tampa Bay from 2001-2003 (-19.6%), San Francisco from 1995-1997 (-19.7%), Philadelphia from 1990-1992 (-21.2%), and the Eagles again from 1989-1991 (-21.5%).
All in all, having a top-five defense over the last 25 years, is nothing to be disappointed about.
3. Offense keys the defense
The defense is the bread and butter of the Seattle Seahawks. But, interestingly enough, it’s the effectiveness of their offense that allows for their defensive dominance. The Seahawks have the fifth-highest DOVA in the NFL this season, at 16.7%. But, this number is a little bit better than their defensive DOVA number. As a result, we learned that there was a direct correlation between both the offense and defense in Seattle. The D gets the majority of the credit, but without an effective offense, the defense would not find itself in a position to succeed as much.
The Seahawks thrive because of the balance on both sides of the ball. It’s good to be Seattle.