I have often thought about the Giants and the 4-3 defense they run. More specifically, is it the best defense for our team to employ in the quest for a fourth Super Bowl title. And as we know, it's about championships. Not winning seasons, not playoff or Super Bowl appearances, but winning it all. Just ask the 2000 Giants, nobody cares that you made it and lost, you GOTTA WIN IT ALL. And in my opinion, other than the QB and the coach, it all comes down to how good your defense is. Having a dominant defense is absolutely essential to winning it all. I cannot think of a team that hoisted the Lombardi Trophy that did not have a great defense. Even the 2006 Colts, who did not have a great defense all year, played much better in the playoffs and especially in the Super Bowl.
Now, all this being said, I have compiled some data that leads me further down the path of preferring the 3-4. I kept it fairly recent by including only the last 7 seasons. And I only used the conference championship teams to focus on winning teams. I have been ok with the Giants running the 4-3, we did win it all in 2007 with a dominant 4-3. But we also won TWO Super Bowls running the 3-4 under Belichick and Parcells. It's not a slam dunk for me, because you obviously can win it all with either (including this years winner, over the last 7 years, 3 SB winners will be 4-3 teams, 4 teams run the 3-4).
But like that last fact, for the teams in the conference championship games, the edge goes to the 3-4...
The first thing I looked at was simple; in the last 7 seasons, the 3-4 has been played by 15 of the 28 conference championship teams, including all four teams this year, and the 4-3 has been run by 13 teams. Slight edge 3-4. One thing I thought I might see, but did not, was if it was trending in the 3-4 direction. While all four teams in the conference championship games this year play the 3-4, last year 3 out of 4 played the 4-3. And in 2008 it was 2 and 2.
Again, focusing on the entire seasons of the conference championship participants (4 teams per year), here are just a couple more facts:
3-4 defenses gave up an average of 288.3 yards per game. 4-3 defenses gave up an average of 341.1 yards.
3-4 defenses gave up an average of 16.2 points per game. 4-3 defenses gave up an average of 19.7 points.
3-4 defenses average league ranking in yards per game allowed over the 16 game season: 5.3. The 4-3 defenses average ranking: 13.0.
Not a scientific study to be sure, but these are just some stats that back-up what alot of what I see.