Super Bowl Readiness: Data Does Not Lie

This is the final post to our prior analysis comparing the Seattle Seahawks’ two Super Bowl teams—the 2005 and 2013 teams, and Seattle Seahawks vs. Denver Broncos.

First, congratulations to Pete Carroll, Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks. While many in our nation heavily favored Peyton Manning and his high-octane offense, our analysis showed that Defense does in fact win championships! Not since Lenny Wilkens’ 1979 Seattle Supersonics has this city seen a championship on this level!

If you can humor us, let’s revisit several of the simple parameters we established that it takes to win football games:

Premise #1

The team with the higher QB Rating usually wins the game – True
Russell Wilson 18/25 for 206 yds 2 tds = QB Rating = 123.1
Peyton Manning  34/49 for 280 yds 1 td 2 int = QB Rating = 73.5
The team with the higher QB rating has now won 44 of 48 games (or 93.6%). Statistically, this is one of Russell Wilson’s top 5 games for QB Rating and it couldn’t have come on a bigger stage against a higher quality opponent.

Russell Wilson v Opposing Quarterbacks in the 2013 NFL season
Russell Wilson v Opposing Quarterbacks in the 2013 NFL season

Premise #2

Defense Wins ChampionshipsTrue

The best defense has won 30 of the 48 Super Bowl games played (or 62.5%), while the #1 Overall NFL Defense has won 17 of 22 Super Bowl games played (or 77.3%). Finally, the #1 Overall NFL Offense and the #1 Overall NFL Defense have played in seven Super Bowls with the #1 Defense winning six of those games (or 85.7%).

Defense Wins Championships

Let’s not forget that the 2013 Denver Broncos is the highest scoring team in NFL history! The Seattle Seahawks defense held this offensive juggernaut to 306 yards and 8 points by forcing 4 turnovers (2 fumbles and 2 interceptions). Until the second half, the Seattle defense made Manning and the Broncos offense look rather pedestrian and hardly like the most prolific scoring offense in NFL history.

Premise #3

You have to win either Offense or Defense + Special Teams to win the game – True

It’s also true that if you win all three phases of a game, you win the game. Seattle dominated the Broncos literally from the first snap from scrimmage, which was sent sailing over Peyton Manning’s head and ended up out of the endzone for a safety and two points for the Seattle Seahawks.

To add insult to injury, Percy Harvin returned the second half kickoff 87 yards for a touchdown, putting the Seahawks up by four touchdowns and essentially putting the Super Bowl out of reach for Denver.

In addition, the Seahawks beat the Broncos in return yards and were two for two for field goals and NEVER punted in Super Bowl 48. Think about that for a second. The Seattle Seahawks scored 43 points and never punted in Super Bowl 48.

Going into this game, Denver owned a 34-19 advantage in head-to-head games against the Seattle Seahawks. However, the Seahawks were 1-0 vs. the Broncos in the playoffs with a 31-7 AFC Wild Card win over Denver in the Kingdome. Make that 2-0 vs. the Broncos in the playoffs.

Peyton Manning is a special player and 2013 was an amazing year for him and the Denver Broncos. That said, the Seattle Seahawks defense is equally tough and now the rest of the nation knows. The Legion of Boom has made quarterbacks like Drew Brees, Colin Kaepernick, Peyton’s brother Eli Manning and Matt Schaub look downright silly. They held opposing QB to a ridiculously low 64.1 QB Rating and Manning to 73.5 and the highest scoring offense in NFL history to 8 points. After all, “Defense Wins Championships.
Congratulations, Seattle!

Random Factoids:

  • The safety scored by the Seattle Seahawks just 12 seconds into the game was the fastest score in Super Bowl history. (12th man?)
  • Percy Harvin’s kickoff return for a touchdown also came just 12 seconds into the 2nd half.
  • The Denver Broncos are 0-4 in the Super Bowl when wearing orange.

Super Bowl 3 - When Broncos Wear Orange

  • The team wearing white has won 9 of the last 10 Super Bowls.
  • The team wearing white has won 31 of 48 Super Bowls (or 64.6%).
  • Both the Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos wore Nike uniforms.
  • The Seattle Seahawks were the first team in the Super Bowl to commit 0 turnovers.
  • The Denver Broncos are 34-20 all time vs. the Seattle Seahawks.
  • The Seattle Seahawks are 2-0 vs. the Denver Broncos in the playoffs.


  • At an average age of 26 and 162 days, the 2013 Seattle Seahawks are the 4th youngest team to win the Super Bowl.
  • The mighty Broncos were held to 5.7 yards per pass and 1.9 yards per rush.
  • The most prolific offense in NFL history got their 1st first down 20 minutes into the game (2nd Quarter).
  • Eli Manning has won 2 Super Bowls (XLII & XLVI) > Peyton Manning has won only 1 Super Bowl (XLI).
  • Both coaches coached on the Iowa State Cyclones staff early in their careers.
  • The largest comeback victory by any team in the Super Bowl is 10 points by the NY Giants.
  • The Seattle Seahawks made a $92,000 bonus for winning Super Bowl 48; the Broncos take home a $46,000 bonus.
  • Four teams have NEVER played in a Super Bowl: Cleveland Browns, Detroit Lions, Houston Texans and Jacksonville Jaguars.
  • The Simpson’s predicted this Super Bowl in 2005.

–by David Sheffield
Business Director
Analytics Pros, Inc.

Stat pages used to complete this analysis:

NFL statistics on
NFL statistics on
NFL statistics on
NFL penalty statistics on
AFL & NFL statistics on
Information on Wikipedia



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