Silver lining kind of stuff.
So Seattle is now graded by FO as playing 20.3% ball. Good for an ordinal ranking of 9th. Not bad. But their VOA grade is 8.2%. Wow! That's not nearly as good. A 12.1% difference. Why the big difference?
They've faced the 6th-toughest schedule, by DVOA, 8.3%. But, there is no other positive opponent-adjustment anywhere near that kind of boost. The only other large opponent adjustment is Cleveland, a whopping 18-point drop because they've played awful against a very easy schedule.
So 5 other teams have supposedly played tougher schedules, but nobody else has more than a large handful of percentage points as a boost. This suggests that Seattle has played notably well in the face of a formidable slate of matchups.
Dallas and St. Louis have the toughest-graded past schedules. They get a smaller boost, which suggests that while it's understandable to not play your best against a schedule that tough, they didn't exactly rise to the occasion, either. The only other good teams that have faced difficult schedules, SF & Denver, get modest boosts, suggesting what, I'm not entirely sure. I guess if you face a tough schedule and just kick butt, you are how good you are, not better. Or something to that effect.
The less fun part of these numbers is the change to the playoff odds. But, a -3.1% net drop in probability is less bad than I would have imagined. The smart money is rightfully on SF for the division crown, with a 2.5 game lead and 8 left to play. Though I refuse to concede until it's sealed up. Seattle's postseason chances still have life. Of course the wide receiver situation might start to feel like the E-brake is on.
Seattle is currently a DVOA underdog in two of the remaining 8 games: @CHI and SF. The closest matchup looks to be @Miami, a difference of 8 percentage points, which is the difference between 1st-ranked Denver and 6th-ranked Green Bay.
SF is also the only remaining offense they'll face that is currently not below average. The next best offense scheduled to face? Buffalo. 17th-ranked, -2.0% DVOA Buffalo. In the Rogers Center, a dome, in Toronto. If they take bets on who the best defense will be by year's end, Seattle is not a bad bet.
The remaining defenses are another story. 6 of the remaining 8 are above average, and though the Patriots hung 45 on St. Louis, I still consider the low-productivity affair in week 4 indicative of the Rams' being a tough style matchup for this offense. Basically it's the Bills and a thoroughly tough row to hoe, the rest of the way.
The good news about that? First, it's not terribly different from the slate of defenses they faced in the first half, which was a 4th-ranked -4.7% schedule. They played New England and Detroit, two poorly-graded defenses (Detroit played Seattle well for some reason) while they only face one bad defense the rest of the way. And Chicago is on another level. So it's tougher, but not by much.
So they played tough defenses, and came out...average? Seattle is now 16th-ranked, -1.4% DVOA on offense. Usually it's not the kind of thing to instill confidence. But they've crept up from a low-point of a -39.6%, nearly dead-last passing offense at the beginning of the year, to a 6.8% pass offense. That's right, they've reached positive ground. We've all noticed the improvement, but it might surprise some of you at how much improvement has been made. It surprised me. A 45% swing? That's like the difference between New England and, well, Seattle. Where they've finally reached, that is.
Throwing balls to a M.A.S.H unit of wideouts, again, takes some of the scent of that rose. But I was encouraged by the also better-than-expected DYAR figures for Russell Wilson, this week, and this extrapolation blurb:
Wilson's statline against Detroit was nice enough, but most importantly for Seattle is where Wilson had his success. In the first seven weeks of the year, Wilson had most of his success on deep passes. Counting pass interference flags as receptions, he completed 51 percent of his passes that traveled 16 yards or more past the line of scrimmage, higher than the league average of 45 percent. However, he lacked consistent touch and accuracy on shorter throws, hitting only 64 percent of the time (league average: 67 percent). Green Bay and New England can tell you all about Wilson's ability to hit the deep ball, but due to his erratic short passing the Seattle offense often sputtered and stalled. Against the Lions, though, Wilson found his short game, completing 23-of-30 short passes (that's 77 percent accuracy) for 218 yards. The Seahawks came up short on Sunday, but if Wilson keeps playing like this, they'll have many more victories down the road.
Playing Seattle dropped Detroit's defensive DVOA ranking from 18th down to 23rd in a crowded space. Watch the weighted DVOA for offense over the next month, as the 1st month of games lose weight. There's no doubt the offense will continue to play second fiddle on this team, this year, but they're not the liability they started out as. Things are not looking bad.