NFL playoffs: Did New Orleans Saints end the 'defense wins championships' era?
NFL playoffs are led by teams with dreadful defenses, like the New Orleans Saints and Detroit Lions. It's a sign that more teams are turning to the Indianapolis Colts model.
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This is what the Colts were famous for: leveraging their entire team to maximize the talents of Manning. He missed this year to injury, and they finished 2-14, the worst record in the NFL. They had made the playoffs for nine consecutive years previously.Skip to next paragraph
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The Steelers model is to find a top second-tier quarterback who won't eat up too much salary-cap space and then build the rest of the team around defense. The Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals, and Houston Texans all found success with this formula this season. Along with the Steelers, they all rank in the top seven of NFL defenses.
It is this generation's "defense wins championships" – though it is noteworthy that the only team that has parlayed this strategy into consistent success in recent years is the one with the best quarterback, the Steelers with Ben Roethlisberger.
The remaining teams in this years playoffs are a throwback team with a dominant defense and a caretaker quarterback (San Francisco 49ers), two teams that have a top second-tier quarterback (New York Giants and Atlanta Falcons), and one that emerged from a weak division (Denver Broncos). None but perhaps the 49ers would appear to have a serious shot of making it to the Super Bowl.
With two quarterbacks (Brees and Brady) breaking Dan Marino's single-season passing yardage record, and three teams with dreadful defenses standing as legitimate Super Bowl favorites, it is perhaps only fitting that this season's Super Bowl will be in Indianapolis.
Even without their team present, it might just feel like a home game for Colts fans.
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