Playoff X-Factors

Seattle still won’t know who they end up playing in the divisional round of the playoffs, at least until Saturday, and more likely Sunday. But whoever ends up facing the Seahawks, it won’t be an easy task.

The big reward for Seattle’s 13-3 regular season record gives them home field advantage throughout the playoffs. Playing at CenturyLink Field, with the 12th Man always cheering the team on, is the X-Factor that can send the ‘Hawks to New Jersey in February for the Super Bowl.

To those unfamiliar with Seahawks football, home field advantage may come as a bit of a surprise. The stadium isn’t known for playing in the snow like with the New England Patriots and there isn’t an altitude advantage like the Denver Broncos have. Still, Seattle is one of the tougher places for a visiting team to leave with a victory.

There are two main reasons why CenturyLink Field is the X-Factor for Seattle: they rarely lose at home and their rabid fan base cheering them on at home.

The 12th Man Difference

Twice this season, the 12th Man has joined together to set a new Guinness World Record for crowd noise. The first record was set in Week 2 against the San Francisco 49ers. The Kansas City Chiefs briefly broke the record with 137.5 dB, also against San Francisco. Week 14 came around and Seattle was able to reclaim the record, now measured at 137.6 dB.

Just how loud is 137.6 dB? There was a seismometer a few blocks away from C-Link Field that registered energy levels equal to a magnitude 2 earthquake. Anything over 85 decibels can potentially cause hearing loss and the crowd was more than 32 times louder than that. One hundred decibels is roughly equal to a jet taking off, for reference.

The Long Winning Streak

Up until the Week 16, 17-10 loss to the Arizona Cardinals, the Seahawks had won 14 straight home games. Before that loss, the last time Seattle lost at home was December 24, 2011 against San Francisco. Over the last 15 years, only four other teams have had better winning streaks at home.

To be exact, Seattle didn’t just win those 14 games; they dominated their opponents during that span. On average, Seattle won each of those games by a final score of 31-13 and eight of those victories, including a 58-0 blowout over the Cardinals in 2012, came by at least 20 points. Who was the last team to win that many games by at least 20 points during an undefeated streak? That would be the 1972-73 Miami Dolphins.

Even though home field advantage does not guarantee success in the playoffs (just as the Denver Broncos saw from last season), it certainly doesn’t hurt a team’s chances of victory. With a 27-9 win over St. Louis last week, look for Seattle to continue their new home winning streak against whichever team is unlucky enough to advance to the divisional round of the playoffs.

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