The 2000 Baltimore Ravens deserve your respect and admiration (maybe not your love, which happens to be my drug) for having possibly the best defense of all time. As a team, they pitched four shutouts that season and they allowed 10 or fewer points 11 times. In the playoffs they played four games and never allowed more than 10 points in any of them, giving up a total of just 23 points to what was supposed to be the best the league had to offer that year.
The 2000 Raiders finished third in the NFL in scoring at just under 30 points per game, but managed only a field goal in the AFC Championship game. The Giants beat the Vikings 41-0 in the NFC Championship, but fell 34-7 to the Ravens in the Super Bowl.
Baltimore allowed only 165 points that year, the fewest ever allowed in a 16-game season. Perhaps the most amazing thing is that they gave up 36 points to the Jaguars in Week 2, nearly 22% of the total points they'd give up all year.
Against AFC North opponents, the Ravens gave up just 3.83 points per game in their six divisional games. They didn't allow a point to a divisional opponent until their fourth AFC North matchup. Baltimore recorded 35 sacks, 23 interceptions, 19 forced fumbles, and finished first in rushing yards allowed and yards per carry allowed at a time when carries were still king.
Now passers are the masters, and the Seahawks defense is full of greedy bastards. Maybe not greedy enough after surrendering 17 second-half points to the Jaguars; It may turn out that those 17 points are the difference between being great and being the greatest. Because after three games, Seattle is on pace to be the greatest.
Only seven teams in NFL history have allowed 200 points or fewer over the course of a 16-game season:
*Super Bowl champions
- The 1978 Pittsburgh Steelers* (195 points allowed)
- The 1978 Denver Broncos (198 points, lost to Steelers in playoffs)
- The 1985 Chicago Bears* (198)
- The 1986 Chicago Bears (187)
- The 2000 Ravens* (165)
- The 2000 Tennessee Titans (191, lost to Ravens in playoffs)
- The 2002 Tampa Bay Buccaneers* (196)
Out of the seven teams to allow 200 points or fewer during the season, four of them won the Super Bowl, two of them lost to other teams on this list, and the '86 Bears went 14-2 despite terrible play from their quarterbacks and lost to the Redskins in the playoffs when Doug Flutie made his second-career start and was awful.
The 2013 Seattle Seahawks are on pace to allow 144 points, which is 21 points fewer than the all-time record.
Now, I know what you're thinking: "But it's only been three games, who cares about "pace"?" (if you're a girl) and "But *sex* it's only been three games *sex games*, who cares *butts* about "pace" *pasties*?" (if you're a guy.)
Well, here's some encouraging news: In the history of the 16-game season, dating back to 1978, only 30 teams have allowed 27 points or fewer in their first three games of the year. Seattle has a chance and they haven't exactly been the benefit of a very fortunate schedule.
Since scoring only seven points in Week 1 against the Seahawks, the Panthers have scored 61 in two games since. Besides scoring only three points in Week 2 against Seattle, the 49ers are averaging 25.3 points in their other three games. Allowing points to the Jags was unfortunate, but seven points basically came off of a turnover and then they might have let up a little.
Because with games on the line, the Seahawks defense has been ridiculous.
This team has allowed zero points in the first quarter, seven points in the second quarter, 13 points in the third quarter, and seven points in the fourth quarter. The only team to allow fewer first half points this year? The Carolina Panthers have only allowed six points in the first half.
That was a pretty good team they beat in Carolina.
Allowing seven points or fewer total in the first half through three games is a feat accomplished only 54 times in NFL history.
As it stands right now, the Seahawks are allowing 9.0 points per game. To find the lowest points per game allowed over any season in NFL history, you'd have to go to the 1942 Chicago Bears that allowed 7.6 points per game over an 11-game season. The Bears allowed 14 points total over their final six games and went 11-0, but lost in the championship game 14-6 to the Washington Redskins.
To find the lowest PPG allowed during a 14-game season, you'd have to turn to the fascinating 1977 Atlanta Falcons. The Falcons allowed 9.2 PPG and allowed 10 points or fewer 10 times but simultaneously sported perhaps the worst offense in the league and finished 7-7. It was sort of like the 2012 Kansas City Chiefs to the Maxx.
Rooting for Seattle to win the Super Bowl this season or go undefeated is almost becoming blasé since they're obviously the best this season and you can have the rest. So if you need some rooting interest, how about being "The Best Ever"? The 2002 Bucs, 2000 Ravens, 1985 Bears, and 1978 Steelers are revered in history unlike most champions. The 2013 Seahawks are in a position to not only match them, but to allow fewer points than all of them. Nobody says it's going to be easy...
But it'll be like "Intermediate video game" level.
Pace it up:
- The Seahawks are on pace for 37 sacks. They had 36 sacks last season but this year they've played three games without Bruce Irvin, two games without Chris Clemons, and a game without Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett. And Clemons played just 15 or 16 really-excellent snaps against Jacksonville. If they can actually go to Week 5 with all of these players healthy and not-suspended, this pace might be well short of reality.
- Seattle is on pace for 26.6 interceptions. I think the 0.6 interceptions will have to be attributed to Chad Henne's doink off Brad Meester. The Hawks had 18 interceptions last year and 26 would tie for third-most in franchise history after the '84 Hawks (38) and the '99 Hawks (30.)
- The team is on pace for 80 pass deflections after deflecting (or defensing) 77 passes last year.
- The Seahawks are on pace for 21.3 forced fumbles after forcing 18 of them last season.
- Seattle is on pace for 53 turnovers forced, which would fall behind '84 (63) and '83 (54.)
- They are on pace for 459 points scored and 144 points allowed. In the history of the 16-game season, 50 teams have scored at least 400 and allowed fewer than 300. Only two of those teams won fewer than 10 games (the '89 Bengals went 8-8, the 2008 Eagles went 9-6-1) and 25 of those teams went 13-3 or better.
But 300 points is twice as many as what the Seahawks are currently on pace to allow. Let's also not ignore the schedule ahead of them:
- Two games against the Cardinals (25th in scoring) and two games against the Rams (28th in scoring.) The Texans (15th), Colts (17th), and Titans (21st.) Then there's the Bucs (31st) and Giants (27th) as well, plus another game against the 49ers (22nd.) The top scoring teams remaining for the Seahawks:
The Saints (15th but probably capable of better) the Falcons (12th) and the Vikings (7th in scoring but already 10 turnovers.) In reality, the most capable offenses remaining are probably the Texans, Colts, Falcons, Saints, and 49ers and the Seahawks have allowed 29 points total to San Francisco in their last three meetings.
Back to scoring and not scoring:
Only 13 teams in NFL history have scored at least 400 and allowed 250 or fewer points and six of those teams won the Super Bowl. (The 2012 Seahawks were one of the 13 teams, having scored 412 and allowing 245.) Among the seven teams to accomplish this feat and not win the Super Bowl, the '92 49ers would win the Super Bowl two years later (they lost to the Cowboys in '92, another team that scored >400 and allowed <250) and the '94 Cowboys lost to the 49ers.
The 2005 Colts would win the Super Bowl the following season.
The only teams out of those 13 to not win a Super Bowl around their era of dominance are:
- The 1979 Chargers (fell short of expectations in the Don Coryell era despite consistently being a threat, and Dan Fouts threw five interceptions in a '79 playoff loss)
- The 1988 Vikings (went to the playoffs 11 times in 14 years but never made the Super Bowl)
- The 2002 Eagles (went to the playoffs nine times in 11 years, making one Super Bowl and five conference title games)
So what separates the elite, memorable teams from the chaff that were just "really, really good?" Point differential.
The '79 Chargers, '88 Vikings, '92 49ers, '92 Cowboys, '94 Cowboys, '02 Eagles, '05 Colts, and '12 Seahawks had a point differential of less than 200 points. Only the '92 Cowboys won the Super Bowl during that season of >400/<250. Meanwhile, the '84 49ers, the '85 Bears, the '91 Redskins, '96 Packers and '99 Rams were all at least +246 or better and that's a pretty significant difference.
All of the latter teams won the Super Bowl.
A point differential of +246 is something accomplished just 11 times in NFL history and as you can imagine, all of those teams were really good. The NFL record for point differential is of course the 2007 Patriots that went 18-1 and nobody can forget how that season ended but it really took some kind of miracle for them to lose that Super Bowl to the Giants. I'll still regard them as one of the best teams in NFL history and it's amazing that they didn't win a Super Bowl in the years following (of course, Tom Brady was injured in 2008 and they returned to the Super Bowl once since) but New England has been a consistent contender for over a decade with five appearances and three titles. That 2007 team that went 16-0 in the regular season was an NFL-record +315.
The 2013 Seahawks are on pace for +315.2.
Don't be surprised if in the final game of the season against St. Louis, Pete Carroll becomes the first coach to go for a 0.3-point field goal.