We continue our "everybody sucks but us" tour with the Week 15 Advanced Stats Update!
The Seattle Seahawks got a mostly-easy, impressive shutout victory over the Giants this week. They have just two games left and unless a lot of things go wrong, will be the number one seed in the NFC. Here's more of Wilson vs Manning, Wilson vs History, Seahawks vs the World, plus Hauschka vs Brown, Lord Byron's indoctrination into the Firstary (because they are "second" to nobody) and a whole lot more on today's, Advanced Stats Update:
Seahawks at New York Giants, Win Probability Chart (via Pro-football-Reference)
I was watching a show the other day (I won't give away the title, for spoilers purposes) but in one scene a man hits the other man over the head with an ash tray and nearly knocks him out cold. The fallen man laid there helplessly from the sucker-hit, and probably wasn't thinking about what to expect next, if he was thinking at all. What more could he do other than lay there, head aching, stunned, bleeding from his forehead, and think "What just happened?"?
It was only moments after the first man struck the second man that the first man grabbed a pillow, got on top of the fallen man, and proceeded to push the pillow over his face. I've always wondered about how good of a method this would actually be to kill someone. I think we've all tried it at least once in our lives; pressing a cold pillow over your face and seeing how long you could last before gasping for fresh air. I think most of us probably must not do it hard enough, because often instead I'll just think, "This is actually quite nice" and take a nap. But if you pressed hard, really pressed and forced out all the O-deuce with only CO-deuce remaining, the person should eventually die.
Normally in television or films, think One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Next (spoiler alerts not needed for references pre-2002), we see the person really fight back when they know they're being suffocated to death. Even in One Flew, for a man who's brain activity had been
zapped to nothingness zombified, the body's natural reaction is to fight back. It's innate, we need to live and you're trying to make me not-live right now.
Well in this show, with the man stunned early and nearly knocked out cold, he places his hands on the wrists of the first man, almost in the same way that I would describe how a woman might place her hands on your wrists if you were to kiss here softly for the first or last time. (Reverse that example if you're a woman. Call me if you're a woman)
He was halfway to death already when the first man began to take away his oxygen and snuff out his final spark of life, so there wasn't much fight left in him. He was just slowly, and surely, and inevitably -- even if it was a painstaking process for both the murderer and the victim -- snuffed out.
Near the end of the first quarter, the Giants were down 3-0 and Eli Manning completed a 16-yard pass to Victor Cruz, putting them near midfield. On the next play, unknown "Mr. Nobody" Byron Maxwell intercepted Eli's pass and put an end to any "momentum" that they "had" been building, for an 8.1-percent "swing."
"Cool" and "Fool" of the Week
Steven Hauschka shoutout
It's always easy and excusable to overlook the kicker, but for once this year, let's give a Haushoutout to Seahawks kicker Steven Hauschka. After another perfect day, Hauschka is now 30-of-31 on field goal attempts this year. Only Stephen Gostkowski of the Patriots has made more field goals this season (32-of-35) and only Nick Folk (another Nick Fol-something that's ruining my narrative) of the Jets is as accurate (also 30-of-31.)
Since joining Seattle in 2011, Hauschka is 70-of-74 from within 50 yards and his only "miss" this season is a blocked kick against the Colts. His only misses last season: A blocked 50-yard attempt against the Cardinals in Week 1, a 51-yard miss against the 49ers in Week 7, and a missed 61-yard attempt against the Lions just before halftime in Week 8.
So, over the last two seasons, Hauschka is 54-of-58, with those four misses: Two blocked kicks, a 51-yard attempt and a 61-yard attempt.
You almost only appreciate kickers when you don't have one, but at the moment, Seattle might just have the best kicker in the world from a certain distance. And I'd even say I trust him from the low-to-mid 50's if it came down to it.
I used to think that Josh Brown would lead the Seahawks in every career category for kickers with a comfortable lead, and I cursed his wretched name when he signed with the Rams, but looking across the field on Sunday and seeing him on the Giants and being reminded of how easily kickers dissolve into a pool of churned castoffs that you'll hear bandied about whenever a team needs to sign a kicker tout de suite, I appreciate Hauschka so much more.
Also, Brown was 29 when he started his career in St. Louis.
Hauschka is only 28 right now.
Is it possible that Richard Sherman is even getting overlooked lately? Maybe not by the national media, and definitely not by Sherman himself, but I think sometimes I focus a lot on what "we're not seeing" rather than what we are. Sherman is tied for the league-lead with six interceptions and though last year might have been his "Raging Bull" season, this year could be his "The Departed."
(i.e., making up for not giving credit for great work by awarding good work later on.)
Not that Sherman isn't having a great season, but I definitely think that when a player asserts to the nation that he's the greatest, others want to challenge him or not challenge him. By not challenging him, it's harder to assess his value other than to say "Because we have Sherman, they're not throwing to him and he's usually covering one of their top skill players."
That could be incredibly valuable... or... not.
Here's what I know, or at least, what I know that ProFootballFocus tells me with some of the numbers they said they've tracked:
Sherman has been "thrown at" 55 times. This lines up pretty perfectly with the other "elite" corner, Darrell Revis, who has been thrown at 56 times. Some of the worst-rated corners in the NFL have been targeted 90+ times. It wouldn't be abnormal to say that the average starting corner has been thrown at between 70 and 90 times, but QBs tend to avoid names like Sherman and Revis.
On those 55 attempts, Sherman has allowed 30 completions. Revis has allowed 29. Sherman has allowed 467 yards. Revis has allowed 268. Sherman has allowed two touchdowns. Revis has allowed two touchdowns. Sherman has six interceptions. Revis has two interceptions. Sherman is allowing a passer rating of 55.5. Revis is allowing a rating of 62.2.
Yes, whether he's being targeted, or forcing targets to lesser players, Sherman is one hell of an All-Pro cornerback and he was just named the NFC Defensive Player of the Week. But is he my "Cool" of the week?
The fact that others in the secondary are also doing so well is just icing on the cake.
"Cool" of the Week - Byron Maxwell
It's one thing to have targets pushed your way, it's another thing to actually not get abused when that starts happening. It would be really easy to excuse Maxwell for not doing a great job, considering that it seems like he's the guy you want to target and that he has so little experience at playing on the outside on defense during the regular season.
On 39 targets, Maxwell has allowed 20 receptions with three interceptions and an opposing passer rating of 45.0. So... sort of like Sherman... but better. (On a smaller scale.)
"Fool" of the Week - Eli Manning
Wouldn't be right to praise the guys above without giving props to Cooper's bro for making it all possible.
Put My Heart in a Blender: Inside-Outsiders DVOA Update (via Football-Outsiders)
I extrapolated the list out to the top 15 for a reason. You think I just do this for fun? You think it's "fun" to talk about how the Seahawks are the baddest dudes in the league? You think I "like" this?!
You'll notice that now the Rams have the 11th-best Weighted DVOA in the NFL. That suggests that St. Louis could be one of the top 11 teams in the NFL, right now. Weighted DVOA takes the previous eight games into account more than the ones way back when we hardly ever knew who we were. We didn't know what we wanted. We're different now.
That means that the NFC West, if you look just at Weighted DVOA, has the top team in the NFL.
The third-best team in the NFL.
The seventh-best team in the NFL.
And four of the top 11 teams in the NFL.
Through 14 games, Seattle's overall DVOA of 40.4% is the third-best in DVOA history (dating back to 1991) and ahead of the Seahawks end-of-season mark last year (38.7%) which was the sixth-best finish in DVOA history.
The defense is incredibly amazing. As much attention as the Broncos' offense gets, because offense, Seattle's defense could also be historic. Could be... people simply don't care to remember bad-ass defenses that didn't win a Super Bowl.
To be historic, you absolutely have to win a Super Bowl...
I think true "one-in-four odds" of winning the Super Bowl would come down to whatever four teams make the conference championship games. The "Final Four" (*trademarked) if you will. Sure, there's other factors to take into consideration, but I think you've really got a 25-percent chance of winning the title if you make it to your conference's championship game.
But in the world of advanced stats simulations, the Seahawks have a "one-in-four" chance of winning the Super Bowl right now. Well, there's virtually no chance that they'll win the Super Bowl right now, but at the very least they've clinched the hearts of the greater Seattle metropolitan, and other parts of the country/world.
If the Seahawks win one of the next two games, then they'll clinch the number one seed and then be one home game away from a conference title game, and then winning that game puts them one home game away from playing in the Super Bowl.
No other team in the NFL has a more favorable path to New Jersey, right now.
Stat of the Week: What if Russell Wilson was better than Peyton Manning for 75% of the season?
I'll never be able to make a "Russell Wilson 4 MVP" argument without being called biased, or simply without actually being biased (I am biased) but that doesn't mean we should throw the debate out of the window.
How much closer is the gap since Manning threw seven touchdowns in Week 1, for instance? How much closer if we look at the last 10 games, which comprises 71.4% of the season so far?
Manning: 7-3, 276-of-424, 65.1%, 3,341 yards, 31 touchdowns, 10 interceptions, 7.88 Y/A, 8.28 AY/A, 103.7 passer rating.
Wilson: 8-2, 176-of-261, 65.9%, 2,291 yards, 18 touchdowns, five interceptions, 8.77 Y/A, 9.29 AY/A, 108.6 passer rating.
The amount of work that Manning is asked to do is far greater than the amount of work that Wilson is asked to do, on gameday. Because Manning doesn't have a run game to work with? Well, no, not really. The Broncos have handed the ball off (not including QB keepers) 380 times. The Seahawks have handed it off to their backs and receivers 359 times.
Yes, Denver has actually run the ball with their backs more often than Seattle has.
Mostly it just comes down to the fact that Manning has 183 more offensive snaps than Wilson does. Why? Better defense, better field position, fewer plays run, more of a field position battle, and significantly higher yards-per-attempt by Wilson.
Because the best reason to give a player the MVP award is based on how good or bad his own defense is.
Of course, I'm not discounting the first four games of the season and I'm not dismissing Manning as the favorable choice for MVP. Over the first four weeks of the year, Manning had 16 touchdowns and no interceptions and for the entire season, his numbers eclipse everyone else's numbers entirely. He's going to hold the all-time single season record for touchdown passes and the only two times that a player has thrown more than 31 touchdowns between their fifth and 14th games of the season (as noted in those stats above) was Tom Brady in 2007 and Manning himself, back in 2004.
I'm just saying... isn't it interesting that Wilson could wind up having outproduced (in some major categories) perhaps the greatest quarterback that's ever lived? During his prime? Is that not... fun, amazing, dope, cool, radical, tubular, worth noting?
I think it is.
Russell Wilson Stats Update -
In Week 15 - 18-of-27, 206 yards, one touchdown, one interception, 7.63 Y/A, 86.3 rating, eight rushes for 50 yards, 19 DYAR
After reaching 200 yards passing only seven times as a rookie, and never reaching 300 yards, Wilson is hitting that number pretty regularly now. He's gone over 200 yards 10 times in 14 games, with two games over 300 yards and one game at 199 yards.
It wouldn't be surprising to see that in a few years, Wilson is regularly eclipsing 4,000 yards per season, but with lower yards-per-attempt, though an Aaron Rodgers' career arc (where you get to have basically everything good) wouldn't surprise me.
In the pantheon of Russell -
It's the ninth time in his career (including playoffs) with at least 50 rushing yards. The Seahawks are 7-2 when Wilson rushes for at least 50 yards, including the playoff loss to Atlanta and the loss against the Colts when he rushed for a career-high 102 yards.
Overall, the team usually does better when Wilson gains ground yards. They are 1-3 in the four worst rushing games of his career, though this isn't really a "causation" argument. It's just a thing to observe.
It's the second shutout that Wilson has been a part of with Seattle (58-0 versus Arizona last year) and in both shutouts, he had one touchdown and one interception.
Wilson on the year - 231-of-357, 64.7%, 3,077 yards, 24 touchdowns, eight interceptions, 8.6 Y/A, 9.0 AY/A, 105.0 passer rating, 64.91 QBR (ninth), 89 rushes for 508 yards, one touchdown, 10 fumbles, 792 DYAR (seventh), 20.6% DVOA (seventh)
With only two games remaining, Wilson's second-season numbers are almost ready to surpass all of his rookie numbers. Other young QBs in the NFL in their year two:
- Robert Griffin III has been shut down.
- Colts OC Pep Hamilton has really settled Andrew Luck down. He's attempting far fewer passes, which leads to fewer interceptions but a higher touchdown rate. Fewer yards, fewer yards per attempt, higher completion percentage, more rushing yards... he's a more efficient passer and with a little more work, will eventually round out into a "Russell Wilson-type" QB.
- Cam Newton performed nearly the same during his second season as he did his rookie season, but the biggest difference was that he didn't repeat his 14 rushing touchdowns -- as nobody should have expected. In year three, his yards per attempt is way down, but he's more efficient, still a great runner.
- Obviously, Nick Foles has improved immensely. Coincidentally, Foles has nearly an identical number of pass attempts right now under Chip Kelly as he did under Andy Reid in 2012:
2012 with Reid - 161-of-265, 1,699 yards, six touchdowns, five interceptions, 6.4 Y/A, 79.1 passer rating, 11 rushes for 42 yards, one TD.
2013 with Kelly - 165-of-266, 2,398 yards, 23 touchdowns, two interceptions, 9.0 Y/A, 117.0 passer rating, 50 rushes for 209 yards, three TDs.
Is that not unbelievable? On one more pass attempt and only four more completions, Foles has thrown for an extra 699 yards, 17 touchdowns, three fewer interceptions.. and the Eagles are 6-2 in his eight starts instead of 1-5, as they were in his six starts as a rookie.
- A lot of the shine of Colin Kaepernick has worn off from last season, but he's still a pretty shiny 26-year-old quarterback.
As for Wilson?
He became the 17th player to throw 24 touchdown passes in his second season. Dan Marino had 48 touchdowns as a sophomore, and that's untouchable. Peyton Manning had 26 touchdown passes in his second year, which is tied for ninth-best all-time. Wilson's 105.0 passer rating is the fifth-best of all-time, and much better than Manning's rating of 90.7 in 1999.
If he can win the last two games, not only will Wilson be the first QB in NFL history to go 16-0 at home in his first two years, but he'll join Marino as the only two sophomores in NFL history to go 14-2.
Wilson needs only three touchdown passes to get to 53 in his career, which would put him alone in second place behind Marino for most ever over a player's first two seasons.
My favorite part is the "Draft position"
Around the NFL
- As noted before, the NFC West is really good. It hasn't happened since 2008, but if the Rams win their next two games, then there won't be a team in the division with a losing record.
In 2008, the NFC South's worst team was the 8-8 Saints. Of course, they won the Super Bowl the next year (good news, Rams fans.)
That same season, the Redskins finished in last place in the NFC East with an 8-8 record. The Giants had the best record in the division, coming off of a Super Bowl win, and then winning it again three years later.
In 2007, the East didn't have a losing team, the Giants went 10-6 for the wild card and won the Super Bowl. The AFC South didn't have a losing team that year either, and the Colts were coming off of a Super Bowl win and would have another appearance in 2009.
In 2002, the standings in the AFC East were: 9-7, 9-7, 9-7, 8-8. The only year in a four year stretch where the Patriots did not win the Super Bowl.
That year, the AFC West was one by the Oakland Raiders and didn't have a losing team. The Raiders made the Super Bowl that year, and I think every year since, if I'm not mistaken. Either they keep making it or they've been the absolute dregs of NFL society ever since.
The point is: Good divisions breed championship teams. It's a good thing that the Seahawks don't have a really crummy team in this division. Would Muhammad Ali want a punching bag that was half empty and didn't work him into proper shape? You want a punching bag that has the potential to punch back. The scary part is that the division is so good, you never know when roles will reverse.
That's also what makes it scary for other divisions to see what we're doing.
- Seattle has scored the fifth-most points in the NFL, despite only running the 28th-most plays. By comparison, the Bills are scoring 0.30 points per play. The Seahawks are scoring 0.44 points per play. Small difference?
Considering that Seattle runs about 61 plays per game, it's a difference of more than 8.5 points. (Which, in short-hand, umm... I guess you could just look at their points per game!) (And not accounting a slight deduction for defensive points.) (Seattle has three defensive touchdowns and zero special teams touchdowns.)
- The Chiefs have the best starting field position in the NFL (34.3) which gives them a full first down and more over the starting position of the Redskins (avg starting position of 24.2, last in the league.) That's why, despite the fact that Washington's drives are longer on average than Kansas City's, they're only four yards longer. And so they score fewer points per drive than the Chiefs do.
Seahawks are third in field position, eighth in yards per drive, fourth in points per drive.
- The Giants have turned it over once every five drives.
Moreso against Seattle.
Man, everybody sucks but us.