Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
This is an odd week with Seattle playing on Thursday Night Football and not playing again until next Monday night (that, in and of itself, is a telling statement of how far the Seahawks have come in the last two years).
Hum…I could talk about Percy Harvin‘s imminent return to the gridiron…no, I don’t think so. I could talk about the fact that we have played over half of our games on the road and are 6-1, a worthy topic but not today.
Okay I’ve got it…numbers. Numbers are an interesting thing, you can manipulate them to prove or disprove an argument, hypothesis or comparative analysis. They can tell a story, but not necessarily the complete story. I believe this last statement applies to the Seattle Seahawks and I will try to analyze some numbers to prove my point.
Today I looked up each of the top six NFL team’s offensive and defensive rankings just for fun and then realized that this is a good topic to discuss. I must admit that when somebody says my Seahawks are ranked as the top defensive team in the NFL I get a bit giddy and start to fist-pump in all directions (fair warning to stay away from me when I receive this information). This is my innate reaction so I make no excuses nor apologies (unless you are the unintended recipient of an errant fist). So what did I find out…
Kansas City, although the only undefeated team still remaining, maybe the most undeserving of this title. Looking back on the games that they have already played, compared to the other top five teams, shows that they have played the easiest schedule by far with their opponents having a .310 winning rate. Now combine this with the fact that they have played four games at home and three on the road, shows that they still have an uphill battle, especially when you consider two games against Denver.
Their rankings look like this: Passing Offense-26th, Rushing Offense-12th, Passing Defense-3rd, Rushing Defense-20th. Only one category in the top 10, against the easiest schedule of the top six teams, with relatively few injuries and more than half of their games still on the road? I hope you have enjoyed your couple of weeks in the limelight.
San Francisco definitely got off to a rough start this year, but they have turned things around and are suddenly looking like a team ready to make some noise. They will be getting their top two wide receivers back, in Mario Manningham and Michael Crabtree, which will help their passing offense (see ranking below). To this point their opponents have put together the toughest win/loss percentage of the six teams, coming in at a .56 winning rate, best of the six teams. They also enjoy the fact that they have played one more game at home to this point.
Their rankings are as follows: Passing Offense-31st, Rushing Offense-3rd, Passing Defense-6th, Rushing Defense-18th. Overall I would expect their rushing defense to be better than a pedestrian 18th, but with Aldon Smith coming back that will help to clog the middle. They seem to be gaining some traction and I expect them to be in the mix at the end.
Denver was a team on fire to start the season, and to be honest, although they may not be a wildfire out of control any longer, they are still at least a two-alarm fire. Denver has enjoyed the second easiest opponent schedule, registering a .40 winning percentage. And as the previous two teams already mentioned, have played four out of the first seven games at home. Denver has some really good rankings, as would be expected, but they have one stat that prevents them from winning handily over an above average team.
Denver’s rankings are: Passing Offense-1st, Rushing Offense-16th, Passing Defense-32nd, Rushing Defense-1st. So any smart team would steer away from running the ball and go strictly with a passing approach. Because of this discrepancy on their defense it really sets the other team up with a blueprint on how to win. With Von Miller coming back this stat should see some improvement. I would be surprised if they aren’t vying for the AFC Championship come January 19th.
New Orleans has surprised many with their rapid rise back to prominence (having a severe case of amnesia in forgetting last season hasn’t hurt either). Drew Brees continues his brilliance on the field, but we expect that. It has been their defense that has made the difference for this team. They have played six games, three at home and three away, to this point. Their opponents have brought in a .44 winning percentage, which is middle of the road for the top six teams.
Here are their rankings: Passing Offense-2nd, Rushing Offense-22nd, Passing Defense-9th, Rushing Defense-22nd. We would expect their passing to be the staple of their offensive possessions, which this shows. The surprise is the stout passing defense that they bring to the table. What the Saints have achieved this year is applaudable, but mind you they have not suffered many major injuries this season. If they do eventually succumb to the injury bug like most of the top six teams then we can expect their numbers to take a hit…including their record.
Indianapolis is probably the most intriguing of the bunch. There were expectations that they would be good this season, but after an early loss to Miami I felt like they were going to be an above average team that wouldn’t make much overall noise…um, yeah…I was wrong. I believe this team to be a very formidable team, heck they have beaten San Francisco, Seattle and Denver, if that doesn’t bolster your resume then I don’t know what will. They have played four out of their seven games at home, playing opponents with a .55 winning rate, second highest.
Their rankings go like this: Passing Offense-23rd, Rushing Offense-8th, Passing Defense-12th, Rushing Defense-27th. You can see they definitely have some room for improvement. Their passing offense comes in at a paltry 23rd overall, and what makes matters worse is they just found out that Reggie Wayne is out for the season with a torn ACL. Even though they show a rushing offense that is ranked 8th, remember that this includes a very mobile Andrew Luck that doesn’t mind running the ball when needed. If they can get Trent Richardson to lace up his shoes correctly then we may suddenly find them in the thick of things at the very end.
And last but not least, the Seattle Seahawks.
Seattle is the only team of the six to play more games on the road than at home, four out of seven. They have played three games with 10am starts (Seattle time), which has plagued them in the past. They tie New Orleans, with opponents having a .44 winning rate to this point, and as of last week Seattle has the fourth easiest remaining schedule of all NFL teams with the majority of them being in the confines of CenturyLink Field.
Their overall rankings are impressive: Passing Offense-25th, Rushing Offense-2nd, Passing Defense-2nd, Rushing Defense-6th. Obviously the only glaring mark is our passing offense, which I would agree leaves something to be desired at this point. All I can say is that our offensive line is getting healthier and we expect Mr. Harvin to make his long awaited debut in the next couple of weeks. Our passing stat should see a dramatic rise very soon. We still have tough games against San Francisco and New Orleans, but even if we split with them we should be sitting at 14-2 at season’s end. I’ll take it. Go Hawks!