Seahawks Advanced Stats, Week 11: Seattle closes gap on Broncos on the basis of a balanced diet

woo! - Kevin C. Cox

The Seahawks nearly take the lead in DVOA, Russell Wilson is one of the best quarterbacks ever, and Jermaine Kearse is actually really good! All that and more today on...

I like to write the body of these articles before I write the intro, because really that's when a post starts to develop life. Like Dr. Ian Malcolm once said: "Life.. finds something something."

Well, you can also imagine that after 3,000 words, sometimes I don't feel like writing an intro at all. Hey, guess what, here's all the advanced stats and regular stats of the week you could ever ask for! Just don't ask for a better intro.

Seahawks at Falcons, Win Expectancy Chart

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One would have said that going into the season, Week 10 at Atlanta was perhaps one of the three toughest games of the season. Instead, it's looking like perhaps the easiest game that Seattle has had so far.

My "5 Reasons" for Atlanta were:

- We almost beat them in the playoffs, so we know we can

- They're arguably not one of the six best teams in the NFC (and it turned out, not top 12)

- They lost a veteran presence

- They lack depth, including at wide receiver

- Special teams

The Seahawks started out as 62.5-percent favorites and the Falcons never made it any closer than that. According to Pro Football Reference, the offense put up 23.02 "expected points" (not exactly as clear as that sounds, it's more like a formula that correlates to the total point difference of the final score) which was their highest mark of the entire season. The defense was -1.69 and the special teams was -0.11.

Seattle has put up 905 yards of offense over the last two games. That's their highest two-game output since 959 yards in Week 14-15 last year (plus they had 459 yards against the Bears in Week 13.)

Big Play!

Believe it or not, it doesn't take much of a lead against a bad team like Atlanta for the game to be nearly secure for a good team like the Seahawks. Technically the biggest play was Russell Wilson's 31-yard completion to Golden Tate with 15 yards tacked on for roughness that was not entirely necessary by William Moore, but instead I'll point to the play that really started to put the game away.

When Wilson hit Jermaine Kearse for a 43-yard touchdown it only put Seattle up by a score of 13-3, but it still made them nearly 90-percent favorites to win.

And it's make Kearse a 100-percent favorite in my heart.

"Cool" and "Fool" of the Week

NFL Advanced Stats WPA and EPA

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Speaking of Kearse, is the team better off with Chop Chop than they were with Drop Drop? (Sidney Rice isn't known for drops by any means but damn it that would've worked so well! Why couldn't it have been a Braylon Edwards reference!)

In the last two games, Kearse has five catches for 118 yards and two touchdowns. Over Rice's last five games, including when he tore his ACL (he was still in the game) he had seven catches for 105 yards and one touchdown.

In two games, that's six targets for five catches and 19.6 yards per target and he's had the highest WPA for any receiver in either of the last two games. When people talked about Kearse last season as a player they thought could be really good, I thought it was some annoying hometown Husky bias for an undrafted free agent, and those rarely ever work out.

The bright side is that he's been great. The down side is that with players like Kearse and Doug Baldwin, we're still going to have a lot of people fooled into thinking this is commonplace. It's still not.

Speaking of spending high draft picks on wide receivers, Golden Tate had the highest EPA of any skill player. By catching six of seven targets for 106 yards, The Education of Goldyn Hill tour continues.

Tate has 133 DYAR on the year, which ranks 21st among qualified receivers. He is 24th in DVOA and catching 66-percent of his targets.

Baldwin has 157 DYAR, which ranks 15th. He is eight in DVOA and catching 71-percent of his targets.

Rice had 7 DYAR and caught just 43-percent of his targets.

With just 19 targets, Kearse does not qualify. However... Among players with 31 or fewer targets, Kearse is number one in the NFL in DYAR with 106. If you put him on the leaderboards, he would rank between Victor Cruz and Harry Douglas. His DVOA is 56.9-percent, and if he managed to keep that up, he'd rank first in the league, just ahead of the 51.7-percent of Jerricho Cotchery.

There weren't any standout performances on defense but Walter Thurmond III was certainly very active on Sunday. They'll obviously need him in a big way over the rest of the season with Brandon Browner out indefinitely.

The offensive line played well, which hopefully means they'll play phenomenally over the rest of the season if everyone is healthy.

But still, there's only one true "Cool" this week and I don't need to explain it.

"Cool" of the Week - Russell the Thrill-son Wilson

We will get to Wilson in the Wilson Section. He had arguably the best game of his career, and he's had a pretty gd good career.

"Fool" of the Week - COOLS FOR EVERYBODY!

I wouldn't say that you can avenge a playoff loss with a regular season win, but to finally just win with ease, and do so on the road, when the week prior you struggled against a team that's probably about as bad as the Falcons if not worse, and yes against the team that knocked you out of the playoffs a year ago....

I ain't got nothin' but luv for you, sons.

Put My Heart In A Blender: Inside-Outsiders DVOA Update

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Last year the Seahawks were special -- and first in DVOA by the end of the year -- because they were the most balanced team in the NFL. That's once again where they are in 2013.

No other team in the league is top 10 in all three units of football, and Seattle is top three on defense and special teams.

The gap between the Broncos and Seahawks gets smaller and smaller each week and it really does look like Seattle will claim it's rightful place back atop the throne. The biggest thing standing in their way this week is that the Seahawks play the Vikings, 24th in DVOA, and the Broncos play the 8th-ranked Chiefs.

If Denver wins, and does so convincingly, they'll get a boost that Seattle probably couldn't match.

If Peyton Manning loses and the Seahawks do what they are supposed to do, we're gonna have a fun "We're #1!" post during the Bye week. How far behind has Seattle's road been?

In Week 2, before DVOA came out and we were still on VOA and DAVE, the Hawks were second with 47.9% and the Broncos were at 72.1%.

In Week 3, the Seahawks took a small lead for first place.

Then in Week 4, DVOA came out. I made a graph to show how wide the disparity started between the Broncos and Seahawks (no other team in the NFL has been first or second in DVOA this year) but just remember that "1" is actually "4."

Listen, I made a chart. I'm still figuring out the fine details, brainiac.

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I'm not sure what #REF! is. Oops! The Refs aren't even charting at all in DVOA, but you can see Seattle and Denver. When DVOA opened in Week 4, the Broncos were at 62.2% and the Seahawks were at 43.1. Seattle actually dropped big the next week but has held steady around 34% while Denver falls more and more pretty much every time the new numbers come out.

Now the gap is down to 3.3-percent.

Playoff Odds

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And of course the team with the best chance to make the playoffs is the Kansas City Chiefs, who also don't rank in the top five to win the Super Bowl. Stats! This, despite the fact that the Chiefs are still 1.6% to go undefeated and 9.7% to go 15-1. (We have better chances to go 15-1, with 12.4% odds to win out.)

Seattle jumps to a cool 66.1% to make the NFC title game and 39.7% to make the Super Bowl. The way things are going, they've got a good lead on the number one seed and that would put them just one home game away from being one home game away from the title game. That's where they now take back the lead as Super Bowl favorites, though I don't think Vegas agrees yet.

Take advantage of that, I guess.

The Seahawks, Chiefs, and Broncos are the only three teams with a Mean Wins total of at least 11, with the latter two at 13.0 and Seattle at 13.3.

Stat of the Week

I thought that stuff about Kearse was pretty cool!

Alright, let's see what I can find out...

hmnhnahum...carry the one... buh buh... hmmm.. subtract a two... divide by I didn't graduate high school...

Did you know that since 2000, 33 teams have had a point differential of at least 100 after 10 games, including the Seahawks right now at +106? Of those 33 teams, nine have made the Super Bowl (its actually out of 29 teams since four teams qualify this year and we haven't played the SB yet) and three have won it.

When 31% of teams in a category have made the Super Bowl, that's a pretty good category to be in. The teams that qualify right now are the Seahawks, Broncos, Chiefs, and Saints. The 2002 Bucs (the team I compared Seattle to earlier this week), 2009 Saints and 2010 Packers are the ones to have won the whole damn thing.

(Note: KC, Denver, and NO have only played nine games, making their average point differential slightly better right now. Whatever. The 2007 Patriots had a +254 after ten games (89 points better than anyone else ever) and didn't do shit. It's also possible that the Chiefs and Saints won't be at +100 after this week.)

Week 11 Opponent

The sad-soul Minnesota Vikings have won two games this year, both at home, both by the score of 34-27, both over teams that are now 3-6. The Vikings are 2-7.

Minnesota, Tampa Bay, Atlanta and Jacksonville are the only four teams that have 0.0% chance to make the playoffs.

I believe that's what they call "mathematically eliminated." Even though, I mean technically, the Vikings could go 9-7... look, Football Outsiders knows what's what!

Minnesota is 24th overall in DVOA, 21st on offense, 25th on defense, and seventh on special teams. What's the biggest difference between the playoff Vikings of a year ago and the can't-play Vikings of 2013?

Christian Ponder started throwing as many touchdowns and interceptions as you would expect a player of Ponder's "accuracy" to throw after posting respectable (but not great) numbers in 2012. He's also fumbling at a higher rate and efforts to replace him with Matt Cassel and Josh Freeman have gone as you would expect.

Adrian Peterson could only be the "Greatest Running Back We've Ever Seen" for one year and now he's just "one of" the greats. Kyle Rudolph is now out 4-6 weeks with a foot injury. They lack playmakers on offense besides Peterson. Even if Cordarrelle Patterson is the best playmaker on special teams in the NFL right now, he's not contributing much on offense.

And he's not exactly an upgrade over Percy Harvin, the best kick returner in the league over the previous two seasons.

Post-Antoine Winfield era, Minnesota ranks 26th in the NFL against the pass and 16th against the run by DVOA. Free safety Harrison Smith went on injured reserve (designated to return) after Week 5. They used the first round pick they got from Seattle in the Harvin trade to draft cornerback Xavier Rhodes, and he's been slow to adjust to the NFL. Or, maybe regular speed, because rookie corners often take awhile to adjust. The other corner, second-year player Josh Robinson, has three pass deflections in nine starts.

The Vikings lack a serious pass rush and starting middle linebacker Erin Henderson will miss Sunday's game due to illness.

The Seahawks started to become what they are now in Week 9 of last season when they were 4-4 and faced off against the Minnesota Vikings at home. They won that game 30-20 and really controlled the entire thing after Peterson's ridiculous 74-yard run on the opening drive. Ponder was more terrible than usual and Seattle is 16-2 since that game.

And now Minnesota is a much worse football team.

Russell Wilson Stats Update

Week 10 Stat Line - 19-of-26, 287 yards, two touchdowns, no interceptions, 11.03 Y/A, 12.58 AY/A, 134.6 passer rating, three rushes for 20 yards, 129 DYAR (120 DYAR passing / 9 rushing)

Wilson had the second-highest DYAR of any quarterback in Week 10. The good news is that only the future Hall of Fame QB Drew Brees was better and the "bad" news is that Christian Ponder was third. In many respects, this was one of the best starts of Wilson's career.

In the Pantheon of Russell -

It was Wilson's highest passer rating of the season and the second-highest of his career, other than the 136.3 that he had against the St. Louis Rams in the 2012 season finale. It was his third-highest Y/A, third-highest Adjusted Yards per Attempt. His fourth-most passing yards in a single game, his ninth career game with at least two touchdowns and no interceptions.

The Seahawks are 8-1 when that happens.

According to my findings, without any exceptions included like Kurt Warner, Wilson is only the second QB in NFL history to have at least nine games of at least two touchdown passes and no interceptions through his first two seasons. Only Dan Marino had more and Marino only had 10 such instances.

(Warner only had seven over the '99 and '00 seasons, anyway.)

Wilson on the year - 163-of-257, 63.4%, 2,132 yards, 17 touchdowns, six interceptions, 8.3 Y/A, 8.6 AY/A, 213.2 Y/G, 101.8 passer rating, 59.53 QBR (12th), 70 carries for 395 yards, one touchdown, five lost fumbles, 388 DYAR (ninth), 10.0% DVOA (11th.)

Regression? "Figured out"? Gimmick?

It seemed like for most of this season, Wilson has been behind the eight ball of his incredible rookie season. I look at his player page every single week (over and over and over again) and all season long his numbers weren't quite as good as his rookie numbers. His stupid finish to last season over the second half just ballooned his overall numbers to being one of the best first seasons in NFL history.

Now all of a sudden, his sophomore numbers are better.

Wilson now has a higher yards per game, yards per attempt, adjust yards per attempt, passer rating, rushing yards per game, slightly fewer interceptions per attempt, same number of touchdowns per attempt. What if Wilson has the same finish to the year in 2013 that he had in 2012?

Russell Wilson versus History

Since the merger of 1971, only 56 players have had a yards per attempt of at least 8.30 in a season with a minimum of 250 pass attempts, including this year. Wilson is at 8.30 yards per attempt on 257 passes.

Out of those 56 seasons (and an understanding that Wilson's number could go down) he is the seventh-youngest of any of those QBs in any season. The only ones that were younger are Dan Marino, Ben Roethlisberger (twice), Eric Hipple, Greg Landry, and Daunte Culpepper.

Currently, Wilson is tied for the 37th-best AY/A for any season since the merger. The person he is tied with?

49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh.

In 1995, Harbaugh played in 15 games for the Colts, 12 starts, 8.20 Y/A, 17 TD, five interceptions, 100.7 QB rating, 63.7-percent completions. Their numbers are remarkably similar, except that Wilson has only played in 10 games so far and is winning more often.

Sort of just like how it currently is with Wilson versus Harbaugh. :)

Around the League

- Patterson leads the NFL with a kick return average of 35.2, plus two touchdowns. Kearse is 28th in the NFL, with a return average of 22.1. Over the 2011-2012 seasons, Harvin was better than 34 yards per return and led the league both years.

- By PFR's Simple Rating System rankings, the top 5 teams are: Denver (11.1), Carolina (10.5), Seattle (10.2), New Orleans (9.6), and San Francisco (8.4.)

Earlier in the year it really looked like maybe the AFC was back to catching up with the NFC, if not ahead. Do you remember that? The NFC East was getting dominated by the AFC West, the NFC South was getting beat up by the AFC East. Well, that seems long ago.

11 of the 16 AFC teams have a negative SRS score and 10 teams in the NFC have a positive score. The three worst SRS scores are in the AFC, including the Jets (-7.1) who also happen to lead the second wild card race.

The top two SRS scores in either conference also happen to be the current 5-seeds.

- The Atlanta Falcons are on pace to rush for 1,028 yards as a team this season. The lowest total ever for a team over a 16-game season is the 2000 Chargers that rushed for 1,062 yards and went 1-15. Of course, we all know what player they took in the draft next season.

Don't we?

(LaDanian Tomlinson is who I am talking about. Also, Drew Brees. Also, they passed on Michael Vick, which worked out, I think.)

The Jaguars are on pace to rush for 1,040 yards.

- The Seahawks punt 3.9 times per game. The Ravens punt 6.4 times per game.

- The leader in the NFL in pass deflections is Kansas City Chiefs rookie Marcus Cooper, with 14. Cooper was a seventh round pick this season out of Rutgers... by the 49ers... who cut him.

- Ray Rice has fallen from seventh in DYAR last year to dead last. CJ Spiller has fallen from third to 30th.

- Manning, Brees, and Stafford are all still on pace for 5,000 yards. Nick Foles has 16 touchdowns and no interceptions. Manning is on pace to throw 58 touchdowns this year. The Cardinals have thrown 54 touchdowns since the start of 2011. The Raiders have thrown 51 touchdowns in that time.

The Chiefs have thrown 57 touchdowns since the start of 2010.

Don't forget to tune into that game on Sunday night!

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