How does this Broncos defense stack up against three of the best of all time?

Which of these four players anchored the best Super Bowl defense of all time?

Focus on Sport

The 2015 Denver Broncos relied on their defense to win 12 regular-season games, earn the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoffs and win three more postseason games en route to the franchise’s third Lombardi Trophy. Their victory in Super Bowl 50 — which featured seven sacks, four interceptions and only 10 points scored by the Carolina Panthers — evoked memories of some of the best championship-winning defenses of the past 30 years.

The 1985 Chicago Bears are always the first team that comes to mind when recalling the best defenses of all time. The 2000 Baltimore Ravens had a very similar unit from a statistical standpoint. How do those dominant defenses stack up against those of recent years, specifically the 2013 Seattle Seahawks and this year’s Broncos?

We will rank these teams 1-4 in five major stat categories: yards against per game, points against per game, shutouts, turnovers and defensive scores. Playoff games are included: The ’85 Bears, ’13 Seahawks and ’15 Broncos each played of ’19 games, while the ’00 Ravens played a total of 20.

Cast your vote for the best defense of all time in the poll at the bottom of this article.

Broncos OLB Von Miller won MVP of Super Bowl 50.

Yards against per game

1. ’00 Ravens: 240.2

2. ’85 Bears: 240.5

3. ’13 Seahawks: 284.3

4. ’15 Broncos: 293.5

The ’00 Ravens and ’85 Bears are separated by less than half a yard when it comes to the average amount of yardage they surrendered per game. The ’13 Seahawks and ’15 Broncos don’t come close in this regard, but they both averaged less than 300 yards against per game in an era that is geared toward heightened offensive production.

Points against per game

1. ’00 Ravens: 9.4

2. ’85 Bears: 10.9

3. ’13 Seahawks: 14.3

4. ’15 Broncos: 17.9

The ’00 Ravens edge out the ’85 Bears yet again, this time by an average of 1.5 points per game. Of the four examined here, they are the only team with a sub-10-point average. The ’13 Seahawks gave up an average of about two touchdowns per game, and the ’15 Broncos allowed a little more than a field goal per game on top of that.

Broncos safety T.J. Ward had an interception and a fumble recovery in Super Bowl 50, while outside linebacker Demarcus Ware had two sacks.

Shutouts

t-1. ’00 Ravens: 4

t-1. ’85 Bears: 4

3. ’13 Seahawks: 1

4. ’15 Broncos: 0

Deadlocked again at the top of the ranking, the ’85 Bears and ’00 Ravens both served four shutouts. Half of Chicago’s shutouts came in the playoffs. The Seahawks shut out the New York Giants during the 2013 regular season, but this year’s Broncos’ defense did not enjoy a single shutout. All four of these teams have one blemish on their respective résumés in which they gave up more than 30 points in a game.

Turnovers

1. ’85 Bears: 64

2. ’00 Ravens: 61

3. ’13 Seahawks: 47

4. ’15 Broncos: 34

The ’85 Bears top the ’00 Ravens when it comes to turnovers, but the difference is minimal yet again. Those Ravens, however, were the only one of these four teams to create at least one takeaway in every game of the season. The ’15 Broncos had four games in which they did not force a turnover, while the other two teams each had one.

Defensive scores (safeties included)

1. ’85 Bears: 11

t-2. ’13 Seahawks: 7

t-2. ’15 Broncos: 7

4. ’00 Ravens: 4

The ’85 Bears have their biggest advantage over the ’00 Ravens when it comes to defensive scores. Chicago’s defense scored 11 times (15 times, if you count defensive tackle William "The Refrigerator" Perry’s three rushing touchdowns and one receiving touchdown), while Baltimore’s team only scored four times on defense. They bookend the ’13 Seahawks and ’15 Broncos, who are tied with seven defensive scores each (six returns/recoveries and one safety each).

Follow Kevin Boilard on Twitter: @KevinBoilard