Offense, Not Defense, Now Winning Championships

The Chiefs continued to be pass-happy in the playoffs with QB Patrick Mahomes
The Chiefs continued to be pass-happy in the playoffs with QB Patrick Mahomes

At coach Kliff Kingsbury’s introductory press conference last week, the Cardinals’ brass consistently spoke of the changing NFL landscape.

“Offense, overall, is the direction this league has gone,” team president Michael Bidwill said.

The postseason results continue to add credence to that argument. The teams left vying for the Super Bowl – the Chiefs, Rams, Saints and Patriots – were the top four scoring teams in the regular season and continued that dominance in the Divisional Round.

They combined to average 30.5 points per game and all of them won by six points or more to advance to the Championship Round.

According to Chase Stuart of FootballPerspective.com, this is the most offensively-skewed final four in NFL history, even adjusting for era. Only the Patriots were in the top-10 in points allowed during the regular season among this quartet.

“This year, the final four teams have offenses that, on average, rank 15.5 slots higher than their defenses,” Stuart wrote. “The 2016 final four is the only year that comes close, but the offenses are better in 2018 while the defenses are worse. Make no mistake: this is the most unbalanced set of final four teams we have ever seen.”

About an hour after his press conference last Wednesday, Kingsbury spoke casually with the Cardinals’ beat writers and was asked if a pass-happy offense could succeed in the NFL. Kingsbury pointed to Patrick Mahomes’ regular season dominance, and then wondered aloud if it would continue in the playoffs, where “everybody says you have to run the ball and play defense.”

Mahomes threw the ball 41 times in the Divisional Round blowout of the Colts and Kansas City cruised to the win. Defenses may have been the backbone to championships in the past, but these days, offenses are spearheading title runs.

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