Elite NFL Offense More Important Than Elite Defense

Offense versus defense and which is more important is a debate that has raged on for many decades in the NFL. In the biggest games, in the past, an elite defense has been more important than an elite NFL offense. For example, Super Bowl XLVIII featured the best offense and best defense in the NFL. The Seattle Seahawks had the league’s best defense. The Denver Broncos had a record-setting offense. Seattle won by 35.

Elite NFL Offense More Important Than Elite Defense

Dominant Offense Now More Important

In recent years, there has been a change and now dominant offenses are ruling the day. While some defenses are very talented , it is difficult for defenses to string together stops. At this point, teams are so careful with possession that turnovers are less common. Teams like the 2020 Pittsburgh Steelers who are threatening 50 sacks and 30 turnovers are an outlier. In this era of high-powered offense, offenses challenge defenses to hold them to even 20 points.

Elite Defenses Now Measured Differently

Jumping back to the 2020 Steelers who, at the time this article was written, are second in the NFL in scoring defense, allowing 19.2 points per game.

At this point in NFL history, the efficiency of most offenses almost prevents teams from keeping scoring down. Also, the accuracy of kickers has increased throughout NFL history. Most kickers can reliably hit field goals from even 50 yards. Points are no longer at a premium in most games, and teams that have an opportunistic defense regarding forcing takeaways are often more valuable than other elite defenses that don’t force as many turnovers.

Having an elite offense is the way to win games. If an elite defense only holds a team to 15 or 20 points under the best circumstances, an elite offense will almost always beat an elite defense. Offenses like the Kansas City Chiefs or Green Bay Packers can score from anywhere on the field and their quarterbacks rarely throw interceptions.

An elite offense is preferable to an elite defense because an elite offense knows the answers to the test. Both the receivers and quarterback know what routes will be run. This means defenses must be reactionary. If the offense executes at the highest level, it is extremely difficult for the opposing defense to stop them.

Perfect Offense Will Win

A perfect throw and catch can beat perfect coverage. In Week 3 Patrick Mahomes dropped a perfect throw to Tyreek Hill. Marcus Peters played textbook coverage on the play, but he still got charged with a touchdown because of Mahomes’ perfect throw and Hill’s ability to make the catch. There really wasn’t much more that Peters could have done on the play.

Last Word

Outside of rare circumstances, teams will often not lose both down and yardage on a play on offense. But defensively, holding, pass interference, and personal foul penalties all carry automatic first downs for the offense.

Overall, the average play in the NFL benefits the offense more than the defense. The defense often must rely on splash plays (such as turnovers and sacks) to keep the offense from moving the ball. But many quarterbacks are smart with the football and the rules are geared towards making it easier for the offense. It is nearly impossible for a defense to consistently get stops. The era of the “bend, don’t break” defense has taken over in the NFL.

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