2013 Seahawks vs 2015 Broncos: Which defense was better?

Feb 8, 2016, 10:01 AM | Updated: 11:09 am
John Clayton said the 2013 Seahawks and 2015 Broncos are the best defenses of the modern passing er...
John Clayton said the 2013 Seahawks and 2015 Broncos are the best defenses of the modern passing era. (AP)

Both defensive units dominated their respective Super Bowls, but which was more impressive: Denver in 2015 or the Seahawks of 2013?

“I say Seattle’s,” said ESPN’s John Clayton on “Brock and Salk” Monday. “I rated the Broncos the seventh best defense in Super Bowl history and I had the Seahawks right there at No. 3… Where that’s significant is that that means these are the top two defenses in the modern passing era.”

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Clayton’s top defenses, written before the Super Bowl, put Seattle behind the 1976 Steelers and 1985 Bears. Led by linebackers Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware, the Broncos’ D ranked No. 1 in total defense (283.1 yards), pass defense (199.6) and sacks (52), was No. 3 against the run (83.6), No. 4 in scoring (18.5 points against average) and No. 3 in defensive touchdowns (5), according to Clayton.

The vaunted Legion of Boom-led Seahawks finished their Super Bowl-winning season leading the league in multiple areas, too, including points allowed, yards allowed, takeaways and opponent passer rating. From Clayton’s perspective, the major difference was Seattle’s dismantling of a then-record setting Peyton Manning.

“Seattle was able to come off a 55-touchdown season by Peyton Mannning and absolutely destroy him,” Clayton said. “…There’s three now in the modern era that are the top and I think Seattle is the top of all three.”

Co-host Brock Huard said he agreed was Clayton’s assessment, but that it was awfully close.

“You’ve got to get to the nitty-gritty and really dig into whatever level of efficiency you want to do: Points per play, yards per play, scoring defense, all those differentials,” he said. “There is statistically speaking a slight edge.”

Huard agreed that it’s nearly impossible to compare the current NFL with the reckless ferocity that was allowed back in the 70s and 80s.

“The fact that Pete’s Seahawks and Wade Phillips’ Broncos are even on that level in the top seven is pretty darn remarkable,” Huard said. “Shows you how talented at every level of their defense, how versatile at every level of the defense, both of those groups have been.”

You can hear the full conversation with Clayton starting near the 15:30 mark of this podcast of “Brock and Salk.”

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