Well, that certainly did suck but at least we had Christmas to distract us from Seattle's 17-10 loss to Arizona in Week 16. Or maybe it ruined Christmas like Great Uncle Jack honking my boob. Obviously I'm not a girl, so this isn't a true story, but it sounded funny in my head so there you go.
Also, I do have boobs so it still works.
Speaking of boobs, another thing that I really like are advanced stats and sports statistics in general. Not regular statistics mind you, because I'm horrible at math, but when the Seahawks are involved now that's some math I can really get behind. Einstein's math? Thanks for nothing, loser! E=MCwhocares, am I right?
No, I'm not. But here's a bunch of things that I am right about, with just one game left in the season. Enjoy!
Seahawks vs Cardinals Win Expectancy Chart (via Pro-Football-Reference)
Despite how frustrating the game was to watch, the Seahawks were actually still favored to win for most of it, with Arizona not getting any favorable odds until late in the third quarter. Interceptions by Carson Palmer carried big swings in Seattle's favor, specifically the ones by Malcolm Smith and the second one by Richard Sherman (both +18%) and the Seahawks were nearly 70% favorites after taking a 10-9 lead.
However, it wasn't enough, and when the Cards took a 17-10 lead with just over two minutes left and the Seattle offense doing very little all day long, that was enough for PFR to say "We're out!" and surely enough, the Seahawks couldn't get it done on this day.
Palmer's go-ahead touchdown throw to Michael Floyd was a 32.1% swing and one Seattle play later, the game was over.
"Cool" and "Fool" of the Week (via AdvancedNFLStats.com)
It's a game where the most valuable player on offense for the Seahawks was a guy who caught two passes for 34 yards, according to EPA (Estimated Points Added.) Conversely, the defense was apparently full of great performances and though single-game EPA and WPA, especially for defensive players, isn't a great way to gauge someone, I think it does provide another opportunity to say that the defense had a great game.
This game is sort of like a callback to the 2011 Seahawks and just another example of how damn hard it is to evaluate how good a defense is when the offense is so terrible.
Both defenses played outstanding football and I would say that the main difference is that the Cardinals sustained longer drives and were able to eat up most of the clock, forcing Seattle's defense to spend more time on the field, potentially tiring them out for Arizona's game-winning drive. Bruce Arians may have locked up Coach of the Year on Sunday, thanks to this game.
Another award that could be close to getting locked up is Sherman and Defensive Player of the Year honors. It's not going to be an easy one to win by any means, but he now has eight interceptions, two more than any other player in the league. Combined with his eight interceptions from a year ago, the fact that he plays in one of the most successful units in football on a top-ranked defense, and his consistent media attention, Sherman stands as good a chance as anyone. The only issue is that it's a very crowded field this year, with no clear favorite like we've seen in recent seasons with performances like that of JJ Watt.
I think it's interesting to note that a lot of teams make Super Bowl appearances in the same year -- or relatively close to the same year -- that a player wins Defensive Player of the Year:
2009 - Charles Woodson, Packers (won Super Bowl next season)
2008 - James Harrison, Steelers (won Super Bowl that season)
2007 - Bob Sanders, Colts (won Super Bowl season prior)
2000 - Ray Lewis, Ravens (won Super Bowl that season)
There's obviously a couple of omitted examples (Jason Taylor, Ed Reed not near any Super Bowl season for Baltimore) but I'd even say it's a bit more on-the-nose than the MVP award, in terms of Super Bowl appearances and champions.
The good news for Seattle though isn't just that they have a great corner in Sherman, or a great safety in Earl Thomas, but that they have a lot of great players, and a lot of good players, and a lot of great coaches. It's amazing how often it really does seem like "the next man up" does step up in a huge way. And we know that's not always the case for every unit, since we've had to watch the offensive line this year.
You've gotta love this depth.
"Cool" of the Week - The Seahawks Depth
Malcolm Smith, a seventh round pick out of USC in 2011, had played very sparingly in his first two years. Like most seventh rounders, you try to make your bones on special teams, stay on the active roster, and wait for your moment. When KJ Wright went down with a broken foot, Smith finally found his opportunity.
And he's running away with it.
With Pro Football Focus naming Wright as perhaps the top coverage linebacker in the NFL (Football Outsiders would likely agree, or understand that, as they rated the Seahawks as number one against opposing tight ends) it was potentially a huge blow to the defense. But Smith, who brings a different type of talent to the position, perhaps more of a run-stopper than a coverage guy, has still been plenty valuable.
Plus he intercepted a pass on Sunday, so maybe he can be great in coverage too.
PFF credits Smith with 36 tackles, 24 stops, and only four missed tackles. He's only played in less than half the snaps of an OLB that's been starting all year long, but his rate of stops, tackles, and missed tackles per snap, is up there with some of the best in the NFL.
Combine Smith's accomplishments this year with those that we've already seen out of Byron Maxwell, Walter Thurmond, O'Brien Schofield (very early in the year), and even Heath Farwell, and it's comforting to know how deep this team runs, but also be grateful that they've remained relatively healthy.
"Fool" of the Week - Russell Wilson (im so sorry, ilu)
Besides, who else but Russell Wilson would put the blame on himself after a loss? It just so happens that this time, he's probably going to find a lot more things wrong with his game than he normally would. There's more to correct, more to learn from, more things that will hopefully help him avoid games in the future with 4 yards per attempt and the inability to move the ball at all until the fourth quarter.
One of the biggest flubs of all though would have to be the six targets in the direction of Doug Baldwin that resulted in one catch for eight yards. Whether the onus of that falls on Wilson or Baldwin or a combination of both, the only thing that matters is that it's hard to score points, let alone win, when that happens with one of your top targets.
Also, again, that the Cards defense is really, really good.
Calling back to the "Cool" depth at defense, Seattle is looking for players to step up amid the absence of Sidney Rice and Percy Harvin. Baldwin, Golden Tate and Jermaine Kearse have all seen their percentage of snaps go up as the season goes on, but right now they're not looking for players to just go out there and "get by." When you're trying to win the Super Bowl for the first time in franchise history, we need them to be great.
Wilson, above all else, knows this too. He needs to be great.
Put My Heart in a Blender: Inside-Outsiders DVOA Update
It seems nigh impossible at this point that Seattle won't finish first in DVOA for the second year in a row. The offense has slipped a bit, but it's important to note that the Seahawks have faced a run of defenses that most teams would not survive.
Week 13, Saints -- 11th in Defense DVOA
Week 14, 49ers -- 10th in Defense DVOA
Week 15, Giants -- 7th in Defense DVOA
Week 16, Cardinals -- 2nd in Defense DVOA
All four teams are also top 10 against the pass, giving some explanation as to why Wilson hasn't caught up in the MVP race, but until his meeting with Arizona was still putting up respectable numbers. Let's not forget that the only secondary tougher than Seattle might be the Cards.
Over the last four games, Wilson has still put up a passer rating of 90.9. And we're worried? The loss to Arizona hurt, but it didn't hurt the Seahawks odds very much...
NFC West Odds
I don't necessarily believe it would be to the "dismay" of 49ers fans, or anyone else that just hates the Seahawks, so much as I don't think that Football Outsiders is going to get any love from the Bay Area right now based on their playoff odds. Because despite losing to the Cardinals and being just a loss and a San Francisco win away from dropping the division, here's how much that loss to AZ hurt SEA in the O.D.D.S.:
Last week, the Seahawks were 66.2% to make the NFC title game, now they are 65.7%.
Last week, the Seahawks were 43.2% to make the Super Bowl, now they are 41.4%.
Last week, the Seahawks were 25.8% to win the whole damn thing, now they are 24.3%.
And Seattle is still better than 90% to win the NFC West, which is really the only thing that matters at all right now. Even if they lose to the Rams this week, if the Niners lose to the Cards, I can't see the Seahawks Super Bowl odds going down much, if at all, since they'll still host any playoff games leading to the Super Bowl.
But the only way they can guarantee that happening, is by winning this week.
Week 17 Opponent
The St. Louis Rams have improved from 32nd in DVOA in 2011, to 15th in DVOA in 2012, to now currently ranking 12th in DVOA. I think it's important to understand why the Rams have improved so much in less than two years, especially since it's pretty clear right now that the answer is not "Sam Bradford."
I was asked the other day what player I would cherry pick off of St. Louis if I had the opportunity, and I didn't even look at the roster before I gave my answer.
Robert Quinn has 18 sacks, seven forced fumbles, 48 solo tackles and is 23-years-old. The 14th overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, Quinn is just another feather in the cap of one of the most ridiculous drafts we've ever seen. From 2011 Defensive Rookie of the Year Von Miller to 2012 NFL Defensive Player of the Year JJ Watt to Quinn, a good candidate to win the award this season.
Not to mention: Cam Newton, Marcell Dareus, Patrick Peterson, AJ Green, Julio Jones, Aldon Smith, Muhammad Wilkerson. It's a wonder that Blaine Gabbert went 10th and Christian Ponder, 12th, but if the 2014 draft turned out as good as this one, it especially sucks that the Rams could be picking twice in the top 15.
Pro Football Focus grades Quinn as the top 4-3 defensive end in the NFL, and it's not even close. I honestly don't know much about PFF grades yet and I hear that the grain of salt that they should be taken with isn't something you'd want to pass through your kidneys, but I can tell you that Quinn has a 70.1 and the next guy is at 25.1. While the grades themselves might be arbitrary -- or even meaningless -- the gap between him and Michael Johnson of the Bengals, plus everyone else, still makes plenty of sense.
Of course, when these two teams met earlier in the year, and the Seahawks had a banged-up offensive line, Quinn notched three sacks. It is only one of three 3-sack games for Quinn this season. The "other guy," Chris Long, had three sacks in that game as well, but that's nearly half of his season total for sacks.
Why is St. Louis good now, a threat to our division title, and a scary opponent for 2014? Because Jeff Fisher is starting to form the defense he envisioned when he came to the Rams, ranking fourth against the run in DVOA, and what they decide to do in the draft next year should be very telling. If they are 4-4 with Kellen Clemens (compared to 3-4 with Bradford), is that enough of a sign to convince them that they'll be fine with letting Bradford go or that they need a more stable option at QB, depending on how they evaluate the QBs at the top of the draft?
The Seahawks first meeting against the Rams this year was very interesting, but hopefully this time at home, Seattle finds a way to just win this game early. That doesn't seem likely, unfortunately.
Stat of the Week - Possible Seahawks milestones for the 2014 season
- Wilson's 8.3 yards per attempt would be the highest ever for a season for a full-time Seahawks starting QB. Dave Krieg had 8.8 Y/A in eight starts in 1983. Wilson will surpass his own franchise record (min. 300 attempts) of 7.9 Y/A, set last season.
- His 63% completion percentage would rank fourth of all-time (min. 300 attempts) behind Matt Hasselbeck 65.5% (2005), Wilson 64.1% (2012) and Hasselbeck 63.7% (2002).
- Wilson's 25 touchdown passes tie with Warren Moon (1997) for sixth-most in franchise history. With two more of those, Wilson will surpass his rookie mark and tie with Dave Krieg (1985) for third-most in team history. Of the top eight passing TD seasons in franchise history, the only QBs to not be named to the Pro Bowl are Kreig '85 and Wilson, this year, at the moment. (He can still be named to the Pro Bowl, even if it turns out that he's not eligible.)
- Russell's passer rating of 101.1 would surpass his own rookie mark (100.0) for best in franchise history.
- Marshawn Lynch has rushed for 1,160 yards and 11 touchdowns. With 83 more yards, he'll surpass Ricky Watters (2000) for the 10th-most in a season in team history. The 11 touchdowns ties his mark from last season and one more would tie him with himself (2011) for the 11th-most in a season in team history.
- Lynch is 52 yards shy of surpassing John L. Williams for fourth-most rushing yards in franchise history.
- Aside from the royalty of Steve Largent, it's surprising to see how "climbable" the receiving yardage rankings look. Golden Tate (2,066 career yards) is 222 yards shy of Mike Pritchard for 11th in franchise history, and Doug Baldwin (1,932 yards) isn't far behind.
Largent, Brian Blades, and Darrell Jackson are the only the players to gain at least 5,000 career receiving yards with the Seahawks.
- With 72 more punt return yards, Golden Tate will be the franchise record-holder for the number of those in a season. (Nate Burleson, 2007: 658 yards.)
- With one more interception, Richard Sherman will tie Marcus Trufant (21) for career interceptions with Seattle. Trufant played with the team for 10 years, Sherman has been here for less than three.
- Sherman has an NFL-leading eight interceptions this year. Kenny Easley (1984) and John Harris (1981) have had 10 in a season, while Eugene Robinson (1993) had nine. Dave Brown (1984) and Darryl Williams (1997) have also had eight in a year with the Seahawks.
Russell Wilson Stats Update
In Week 16 - 11-of-27, 108 yards, one touchdown, one interception, 4.00 Y/A, 3.07 AY/A, 49.6 passer rating, two rushes for 32 yards, -40 DYAR
In the pantheon of Russell
This is the time of year where all the "Best Of" lists come out, but unfortunately this is only a "Worst Of" list. :(
The passer rating was the third worst of his career. The yards per attempt was the worst of his career. The adjusted yards per attempt was second worst of his career. The completion percentage was the second worst of his career. The loss at home was obviously, the worst of his career.
There's still one more game to go in the year 2013, let's make it a "Best Of!" list next week, eh?
On the season - 242-of-382, 63.02%, 3,185 yards, 25 touchdowns, nine interceptions, 8.29 Y/A, 8.54 AY/A, 101.1 passer rating, 91 rushes for 540 yards and one touchdown, 757 DYAR (eighth), 16.9% DVOA (seventh), 59.5 QBR (12th)
Wilson remains among the best in the NFL, statistically and emotionally, despite his career-worst performance. He's still one of the best second-year quarterbacks in NFL history and rather than break down his ranks this week with just one week to go, we'll wait until the season is a wrap.
Speaking of it's a wrap.