Super Bowl XLIX will be contested by the Seattle Seahawks and the New England Patriots in Glendale, Ariz. And already the narrative has focused on the match-up between quarterback Tom Brady and the Seahawks’ “Legion of Boom” secondary. But what most pundits/fans don’t realize is that the Patriots have a pretty good defense too, and that this years Super Bowl could be a low scoring affair.
New England was surprisingly good at limiting opponents from scoring during the game, as the Patriots only allowed 19.6 points game (the eighth best scoring defense in the league). The Patriots defense limited opponents scoring because of the fact that they only allowed their opponents to score touchdowns on 51.92% of their trips to the red zone during the 2014 season (11th best defensive red zone percentage). It’s going to be tough for a Seahawks’ offense which struggled in the red zone — Seattle scored a touchdown on 51.52% of its red zone possessions — to put up points on New England’s defense.
Not surprisingly, the Seahawks were also really good at keeping opponents off of the scoreboard as well. Seattle only allowed 15.9 points per game during the 2014 season (best in the NFL); despite the fact that Seattle allowed it opponents to score a touchdown on 56.82% (20th best in the league) of their red zone possessions. That means that New England — which scored touchdowns on 62.34% of its red zone possessions — could have an easier time of scoring if they get into the red zone (and that’s a mighty big if).
It is unlikely that the Patriots will be able to get into the red zone very often during the Super Bowl; as the Seahaws were really good at keeping their opponents away from the end zone. Seattle held its opponents to only 4.6 yards per play (best in the NFL), and the Seahawks were really good at forcing opponents into third and long situations all season long. One of the reasons the Seattle was good at forcing its opponents into third and long situations, was because of the team’s ability to shut down opponent rushing attacks (3.4 yards per carry).
New England wasn’t nearly as good at shutting down the run as the Seahawks, but they were still one of the top run defenses in the NFL; as the Pats only allowed 4.0 yards carry (9th best). It’s hard for a defense to force opponents into third and long situations (>3rd and 7) if that unit is giving up four yards a carry. Despite the fact that New England’s defense found itself often found itself in third and short situations, the Pats were really good at getting their opponents’ offenses off of the field. As their opponents only converted on 12.7% of their third down plays (sixth best third down defense in the NFL).
Seattle’s defense was also really good getting off of the field; as opponents only converted on 12.9% of third down conversions (ninth best defense in the NFL).
Both the Seahawks and Patriots have really good defenses, and it could lead to a low scoring Super Bowl.