During Week 1 of the NFL season, 3 defenses pitched shut-outs (Baltimore, San Diego, and Chicago). Two other defenses held their opponents to 6 points (Seattle, Atlanta). It may be a little early for a home-run type tracker, but the team allowing the fewest points during the season has won the Super Bowl in 3 of the past 6 years (New England '04, Tampa Bay '03, Baltimore '01). The record for points allowed in a 16-game season is 165 (Baltimore 2000 season). Since the beginning of the 16-game season in 1978, only 5 teams have held their opponents to less than 200 points (Pittsburgh '78, Chicago '85/'86, Baltimore '00, Tampa Bay '02). 4 out of those 5 won the Super Bowl (Chicago '86 was the exception). So tracking which teams are on course to allow less than 200 points may be a good indicator of Super Bowl victory. To hold your opponents to less than 200 points for the season, you have to allow less than 12.5 points per game (on average). After looking at the results of Baltimore's 2000 season, you don't have to hold everyone to 10 points every week to do that. Baltimore actually had 3 games where they allowed 20 or more points. But they also had 4 shut-outs. Here's how this season's leading defenses compare to the 2000 Baltimore squad:
As of Week 3 (target to give up <200 - 37.5 pts)
Baltimore '00 - 55 pts allowed
1. San Diego - 7 pts allowed (bye in week 3)
2. Atlanta - 9 pts allowed (Monday night game vs. NO)
3. Baltimore '06 - 20 pts allowed
4. Chicago - 23 pts allowed
5. Denver - 31 pts allowed
6. Kansas City - 32 pts allowed
7. Jacksonville - 38 pts allowed
Thus far, a total of 18 teams (Monday night result pending) are ahead of the 2000 Ravens' pace. That should change next week, as the 2000 Ravens shut out the Bengals in Week 4.
By the way, 7 of the 23 points that Chicago gave up came as the result of an INT returned for a touchdown. But, they still count for points allowed.
One more trivia note: since the institution of the 16-game season, only 1 team has allowed more than 300 points and led a conference in fewest points allowed for a season - Miami led the AFC in 2002 with 301 points allowed. That's pretty sad when that's the best scoring defense in the conference.
*** Updated 07 Nov 06 ***
As of Week 9 (target to give up <200 - 100 pts after 8 games)
Baltimore '00 - 89 pts allowed after 8 games (bye week was week 14)
1. Denver - 98 pts allowed
2. Chicago - 100 pts allowed
3. Baltimore '06 - 111 pts allowed
4. New England - 114 pts allowed
5. Jacksonville - 114 pts allowed
6. San Diego - 134 pts allowed
Well, no one is ahead of the Raven's pace from 2000. But, one shut-out for Denver or Chicago could put them back in the neighborhood. After the 31 points given up to Miami, I'm expecting Chicago to rebound next week against the Giants. But, it's going to be tough with injuries to Brian Urlacher and WR Bernard Berrian.
Denver leads the NFL in scoring defense, despite giving up 51 points in the last 2 games. Denver is quietly having a Super Bowl caliber defensive season. However, they are 15th in yardage allowed per game. Personally, I'd rather be #1 in scoring defense. You win more games that way.
New England has quietly crept up the scoring defense standings, even after giving up 27 points to Indianapolis last week (the only time they've given up more than 17 points in a game).
Not sure what this means but, 5 of the top 6 scoring defenses are in the AFC. Does that mean the AFC defenses are really good, or AFC offenses are struggling?