If you remember back a couple of months, I did a couple posts that went into necessary vs sufficient conditions regarding the construction of a Super Bowl team. At the time, I looked at every team from the last 10 years and used their PPG and PPA to gauge their relative percentile ranking. However, since then I’ve gone back and adjusted each team’s performance to account for the league average PPG that season. This adjustment will help account for the general offensive inflation the league has seen over the past decade.
Today, we’re looking at the offensive side of the ball.
The question is, how good are Super Bowl winning teams on offense? The idea here is to get an idea of what a truly optimal team construction strategy would look like. There is a salary cap, and the number of roster spots means every team must sacrifice somewhere in order to improve a different area. What is the best mix of offense and defense?
My last look came to this general conclusion (ignoring Special Teams for now): Teams should focus on building an above-average offense. Once that’s assured, the team should focus 100% on developing the best defense possible.
After adjusting each team’s performance, does that still hold? And if so, what does it mean for the Eagles?
First, let’s revisit the best offenses. My main data set only goes back to 2003, but for this, I went back to 2000 to make sure I was including some all-time greats (to give us a sense of just how great they were). You’ve seen this before, but here are the best offenses in recent history:
The teams highlighted Red LOST in the Super Bowl. Teams in yellow WON the Super Bowl. We can see the overwhelming dominance of the Patriots, as well as some less-heralded performances, like the 2011 Packers.
However, we also see a lot of red. Just as in our original look, it seems that a great offense can go a very long way towards winning a Super Bowl, but can’t guarantee a win.
We do have to be careful with the sample size here. 5 of the top 16 offenses since 2000 went to the Super Bowl. The 1-4 record of those teams in the final game may just be bad luck.
How about all the Super Bowl winners?
Here are the winning teams from the last 10 years:
As you can see, the only team to win a Super Bowl in the last ten years with a below-average offense was the 2008 Steelers, and that team was just 1% off the mark.
Additionally, the average offensive performance of Super Bowl winners is +16%.
It appears as though our previous conclusion, at least on the offensive side of the ball, stands. An above-average offense is close to a necessary condition for winning the Super Bowl.
That should be good news for Eagles fans, since it explains why the focus of this offseason has really been on Offense, despite the terrible defensive performance of last year. Given Chip Kelly’s background and skill-set, meeting the league-average offensive threshold SHOULD be close to guaranteed for the Eagles, if not this year, then soon (likely depending on the QB situation).
But wait! What about the Losers?
If there have been Super Bowl LOSING teams that did not have a strong offense, then we may just be over-extrapolating based on a what is likely the result of chance.
Here are the LOSERS from the past 10 years:
Combining this chart with the Winners chart shows us that just 3 teams have even made it to the Super Bowl with below average offense in the past 10 years, and the worst among them was San Francisco this year. The 49ers were just 4% off the league-average mark.
Tomorrow we’ll look at the defense, but it appears as though our original conclusion not only stands, but looks stronger. You cannot win the Super Bowl with a bad offense. Not only that, but you can’t even MAKE IT without a league-average offense.