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How Important is an Elite Defense?

So I was listening to the radio this morning and they were discussing whether or not the "defense wins championships" saying still applies in an NFL that through rule changes from years past seems to heavily favor offense and scoring points. After deciding to do a little research I found a decent article at freakonomics.com which attempts to answer that exact question, but that article uses all past Superbowls as well as games from the last couple decades. Also that article is over a year old, so lets take a look at specifically the 2012 regular season totals and where teams ended up in the playoffs.

For starters heres a list of the top 10 defenses ranked by points allowed per game (according to espn.com) and how they fared in the post season.

Rank TEAM YDS YDS/G



PTS PTS/G
1 Seattle - Lost to Atlanta in the second round.
4899 306.2



245 15.3
2 San Francisco - Lost to Baltimore in the Superbowl.
4710 294.4



273 17.1
3 Chicago - Missed the playoffs.
5050 315.6



277 17.3
4 Denver - Lost to Baltimore in the second round. 4652 290.8



289 18.1
5 Atlanta - Lost to San Fransisco in NFC Championship
5849 365.6



299 18.7
6 Pittsburgh - Missed the playoffs.
4413 275.8



314 19.6
7 Miami - Missed the playoffs.
5708 356.8



317 19.8
8 Cincinnati - Lost to Houston in first round.
5115 319.7



320 20.0
9 New England - Lost to Balt in AFC Championship.
5972 373.3



331 20.7
Houston - Lost to New England in the second round.
5172 323.3



331 20.7


Next lets take a look at offensive stats. Heres a list of the top offenses from the regular season ranked by points scored per game, as well as how they did in the playoffs.

Rank TEAM YDS YDS/G PTS PTS/G
1 New England -Lost to Balt in AFC Championship.
6846 427.9 557 34.8
2 Denver - Lost to Balt in second round.
6366 397.9 481 30.1
3 New Orleans - Missed the playoffs.
6574 410.9 461 28.8
4 Washington - Lost to Seattle in first round.
6131 383.2 436 27.3
5 Green Bay - Lost to San Fransisco in second round.
5751 359.4 433 27.1
6 NY Giants - Missed the playoffs.
5687 355.4 429 26.8
7 Atlanta - Lost to San Fransisco in NFC Championship.
5906 369.1 419 26.2
8 Houston - Lost to New England in second round.
5953 372.1 416 26.0
9 Seattle - Lost to Atlanta in the second round.
5610 350.6 412 25.8
10 Baltimore - Won it all.
5640 352.5 398 24.9

So looking at the information above its hard to create any sort of relationship between individual offensive success or defensive success and success in the playoffs. Baltimore, the eventual champions ranked 10th in pts/g on offense, and 12 in pts/g on defense and had balance on both sides of the ball. San Fransisco the other Super Bowl participant ranked 11th in points scored per game and 3rd in points allowed per game. While other teams like the Steelers who ranked 1st in yards allowed, and 6th in points allowed per game, but 21st in yards gained per game, and 22nd in points scored per game ended up missing the playoffs entirely. Your Houston Texans have a very nice balance of offense and defense being a surprising 8th in points scored per game at 26.0 and 9th in points allowed per game at 20.7. I would have agree with Freakonomics' conclusion that a balance of offense and defense is needed, every team will need to spend high draft pics or toss lots of cash at offensive talent as well as defensive if it wants to make a run at a championship.

So now that the Draft is only a few days away and Andre has let it be known that he wants a WR bro to chill with and teach his recieving ways, I think the Texans are going to be forced to take a WR in round one or two. I personally don't think they have to select a WR in the first round when there are players like Swope projected to go in the third or fourth, but I wouldnt mind it if they did. I also wouldnt mind it if they picked up an ILB, OLB, or possibly NT in the first then went all reciever/tight end happy in the next few rounds. We'll see what the Smithiak lead Texans decide to do, we all know how they can follow their own path and make selections that shock us all, but after selecting defense as their first pick for the last four drafts, the loss of K Walt, and the injury to Posey they're going to have to pick a WR soon.

(I've been lurking here for a while and I finally decided to make a post, any criticism or sugguestions you have for me or my writing would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.)

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