Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

27 Oct 2010

Offense > Defense?

I know offense and defense are technically equal but I can't help feeling like offense nowadays is a bit more crucial to overall team success. Elite defenses aren't as dominant (or consistent) as elite offenses. If you have a bottom 5 offense, you're pretty much guaranteed to be terrible. Carolina has the 6th ranked defense, yet is 31st in overall DVOA due to their O. That's not the case for teams with terrible defenses however. New England's the 3rd best team despite their 27th ranked defensive DVOA.

So is offense more important than defense or have I overlooked some things? If so, will the trend continue?

Posted by: Niners on 27 Oct 2010

2 replies , Last at 28 Oct 2010, 2:42am by tuluse

Re: Offense > Defense?
by Dan :: Thu, 10/28/2010 - 2:38am

The simple thing to do is compare standard deviations. Right now the standard deviation for off dvoa is 17.3%, for def dvoa it's 13.0%, and for st dvoa it's 5.5%. So offense is a little more important than defense - a team that's one standard deviation above average on offense and one sd below average on defense will have a dvoa of 4.3%.

They say that it's 3/7 offense, 3/7 defense, and 1/7 special teams (43%, 43%, and 14%), but so far this year (comparing the standard deviations) it's 48% offense, 36% defense, and 15% special teams. I'd have to run the numbers for previous years to see if this is a trend or just random variation (we are only 7 weeks in).

Re: Offense > Defense?
by tuluse :: Thu, 10/28/2010 - 2:42am

I actually think the opposite. In a league where there are so many good offenses, if you actually manage to put together a good defense, it's a huge advantage.

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