Oct 13, 2013; Kansas City, MO, USA; Oakland Raiders quarterback Terrelle Pryor (2) is sacked by Kansas City Chiefs outside linebacker Tamba Hali (91) and defensive back Quintin Demps (35) during the first half at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Bob Sutton’s Historic Chiefs Defense

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The Houston Texans come to town this Sunday for an afternoon game at Arrowhead against the Kansas City Chiefs. I’m certain the Texans scouts scour AA for insider tips that can help their team, so here’s a tip to make their jobs easier: The Chiefs defense is really good.

But just how good are they? To answer this question, let’s first discuss what the best metric is to measure defensive prowess. I’m going to go with points given up by a defense per game. More so than interceptions, sacks or tackles-for-loss, points given up is perhaps the best defensive indicator of what really matters: will the Chiefs win or lose the game.

Through six games, defensive coordinator Bob Sutton’s defense has given up an average of 10.8 points per game (PPG), the stingiest in the NFL this year by that metric. I went back and looked at the entire history of the NFL as measured by the PPG metric, and here’s what I found — the top 15 defenses of all time:

Rank

Year

Team

Record

Last Game

PPG

1

1977

Atlanta Falcons

7-7

Regular Season

9.2

2

1969

Minnesota Vikings

12-2

Super Bowl

9.5

3

1975

Los Angeles Rams

12-2

Conference Championship

9.6

4

1976

Pittsburgh Steelers

10-4

Conference Championship

9.9

5

1971

Minnesota Vikings

11-3

Conference Semifinals

9.9

6

1971

Baltimore Colts

10-4

Conference Championship

10.0

7

1970

Minnesota Vikings

12-2

Conference Semifinals

10.2

8

1968

Baltimore Colts

13-1

Super Bowl

10.3

9

2000

Baltimore Ravens

12-4

Super Bowl

10.3

10

1977

Los Angeles Rams

10-4

Conference Semifinals

10.4

11

1977

Denver Broncos

12-2

Super Bowl

10.6

12

1973

Miami Dolphins

12-2

Super Bowl

10.7

13

1975

Pittsburgh Steelers

12-2

Super Bowl

11.6

14

1966

Green Bay Packers

12-2

Super Bowl

11.6

15

1986

Chicago Bears

14-2

Conference Semifinals

11.7

At its current pace, this 2013 Kansas City Chiefs defense would rank as the 13th best defense of all time.

By way of comparison, here are the next best defenses this year in 2013, after the Chiefs:

Team

Record

PPG

Carolina Panthers

2-3

13.6

Seattle Seahawks

5-1

15.7

Indianapolis Colts

4-1

15.8

New England Patriots

5-1

16.2

The Panthers would be tied for 49th historically, while the Seahawks, Colts and Patriots would fall far outside of the top 100.

You may notice that in the first table of the top 15 defenses, no teams are represented after 2000. Clearly, the NFL has become a more pass-centric, high-scoring game. That’s what makes this 2013 Chiefs defense even more remarkable. For fun, I also pulled together the top defenses in the NFL from 2001-2012. Here’s what we get:

PPG

Team

Year

12.3

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

2002

12.6

Chicago Bears

2005

12.6

Baltimore Ravens

2006

12.7

Chicago Bears

2001

13.9

Pittsburgh Steelers

2008

14.2

Pittsburgh Steelers

2011

14.5

Pittsburgh Steelers

2010

14.8

New York Jets

2009

14.9

New England Patriots

2003

15.3

Seattle Seahawks

2012

15.7

Pittsburgh Steelers

2004

16.4

Indianapolis Colts

2007

In addition to this 2013 Chiefs defense being the 13th best defense of all time, it would rank as the single best defense since 2001 and the modern era of high-scoring offenses.

Addicts, do the numbers back it up? Is this truly the best defense in the NFL since 2000?

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