Exhibit A: Elite Defenses vs. Elite Offenses in the playoffs.
It may seem like the attorney for the defense has made a compelling argument for the offense. Facts are facts, and the numbers shown before are unavoidable. But, consider this: Of the 28 regular season losses endured last year by the top 5 offensive teams listed above, the losing team only scored at or above their season average eight times. That’s right, in the other 20 losses, those high-powered offenses failed to score their season average, in many cases falling woefully short (Hello December 19th, Bucs vs Saints: 9-0… OUCH!)
What happened? The facts indicate those high-flying offenses were unable to match their normal output. It wasn’t that they were being outscored. Rather, they ran into a defense that shut them down.
And then there’s the postseason. Football fans have numerous games burned into their memory where a seemingly unstoppable offense ran into a stubborn defense and was shockingly defeated. The New England vs the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLII is perhaps the most famous example. As recently as last year, a feisty Cincinnati Bengals defense outplayed their ranking and held the explosive Chiefs to 24 points and only three after halftime in the AFC championship game.
The point here is not that elite defenses are winning more games than elite offenses. That’s not the case. But, it is notable that when elite defenses run into elite offenses in the postseason, they can and do hold their own. Also, when top-shelf offensive teams stumble, it’s highly likely that a defense had a great day against them, and not that they were simply out-scored by an equally prolific offense. The bottom line is the best way to slow down a great offense is with a great defense… which is relevant for the next point: