Last season, one of the most dominant defenses in league history helped Peyton Manning win his second Super Bowl. As the old adage goes, defense wins championships but that is not always the case. When it comes to winning titles, offense is just as important.

Looking back at the last 27 Super Bowls, the better defensive team (per weighted defensive DVOA) won 17 of the games. The better offensive team, again measured by DVOA, won 14 titles on Super Sunday.

The Super Bowl champs have had a top 5 defense 13 times and a top 5 offense 14 times. When top 5 offenses squared off against top 5 defenses, the offense hoisted the Lombardi Trophy 5 times and the defense won 6 titles.

The defense has a slight edge but it is pretty close and given the small sample size it would be foolish to say defense is more important than offense.

The Patriots and Falcons are set to meet in Houston for Super Bowl 51. New England and Atlanta ranked 1st and 2nd respectively in weighted offensive DVOA but 11th and 22nd defensively.

The Pats have the better offense and defense; New England is a 3-point favorite in Vegas. Since 1989, there have been twelve times when a team had the better offense and defense but the “superior” team has gone just 7-5 straight-up in the Super Bowl.

Super BowlMatchupOFF DVOADEF DVOAScore
LCarolina vs. DenverCAR 6, DEN 18DEN 1, CAR 5Denver 24 Carolina 10
XLIXSeattle vs. New EnglandNE 3, SEA 5SEA 1, NE 13New England 28 Seattle 24
XLVIIISeattle vs. DenverDEN 1, SEA 9SEA 1, DEN 10Seattle 43 Denver 8
XLVIISan Francisco vs. BaltimoreSF 7, BAL 16SF 4, BAL 22Baltimore 34 San Francisco 31
XLVIN.Y. Giants vs. New EnglandNE 3, NYG 9NYG 22, NE 28N.Y. Giants 21 New England 17
XLVGreen Bay vs. PittsburghPIT 3, GB 8PIT 1, GB 2Green Bay 31 Pittsburgh 25
XLIVNew Orleans vs. IndianapolisNO 4, IND 8IND 19, NO 23New Orleans 31 Indianapolis 17
XLIIIPittsburgh vs. ArizonaPIT 17, AZ 19PIT 1, AZ 23Pittsburgh 27 Arizona 23
XLIIN.Y. Giants vs. New EnglandNE 1, NYG 21NYG 11, NE 19 N.Y. Giants 17 New England 14
XLIIndianapolis vs. ChicagoIND 1, CHI 26CHI 2, IND 24Indianapolis 29 Chicago 17
XLPittsburgh vs. SeattleSEA 5, PIT 10PIT 4, SEA 17Pittsburgh 21 Seattle 10
XXXIXNew England vs. PhiladelphiaNE 3, PHI 10NE 7, PHI 13New England 24 Philadelphia 21
XXXVIIINew England vs. CarolinaNE 13, CAR 16NE 2, CAR 11New England 32 Carolina 29
XXXVIITampa Bay vs. OaklandOAK 3, TB 20TB 1, OAK 8Tampa Bay 48 Oakland 21
XXXVINew England vs. St. LouisSTL 3, NE 11STL 4, NE 13New England 20 St. Louis 17
XXXVBaltimore vs. N.Y. GiantsNYG 11, BAL 23BAL 2, NYG 6Baltimore 34 N.Y. Giants 7
XXXIVSt. Louis vs. TennesseeTEN 2, STL 4 STL 4, TEN 19St. Louis 23 Tennessee 16
XXXIIIDenver vs. AtlantaDEN 1, ATL 8ATL 2, DEN 21Denver 34 Atlanta 19
XXXIIDenver vs. Green BayGB 3, DEN 4GB 3, DEN 10Denver 31 Green Bay 24
XXXIGreen Bay vs. New EnglandGB 4, NE 11GB 6, NE 14Green Bay 35 New England 21
XXXDallas vs. PittsburghDAL 1, PIT 8PIT 7, DAL 17Dallas 27 Pittsburgh 17
XXIXSan Francisco vs. San DiegoSF 1, SD 10SF 3, SD 16San Francisco 49 San Diego 26
XXVIIIDallas vs. BuffaloDAL 2, BUF 14DAL 10, BUF 16Dallas 30 Buffalo 13
XXVIIDallas vs. BuffaloDAL 2, BUF 9DAL 2, BUF 13Dallas 52 Buffalo 17
XXVIWashington vs. BuffaloWAS 2, BUF 5 WAS 2, BUF 12Washington 37 Buffalo 24
XXVN.Y. Giants vs. BuffaloBUF 3, NYG 13NYG 6, BUF 12N.Y. Giants 20 Buffalo 19
XXIVSan Francisco vs. DenverSF 1, DEN 9DEN 3, SF 5 San Francisco 55 Denver 10