Well, the Seahawks first 2014 playoff game has been set and they're facing the same team that they last faced in Seattle in the playoffs. We want a repeat of that game, but we don't.
On one hand, we want the Seahawks to win because we think they're "super cool" and we love them and Russell Wilson is what makes my heart go on whether he's near, far, where ever he is, really, but on the other hand, we don't want to see a major upset. We want Seattle to easily take care of business and be resting their starters by the second offensive drive of the game!
And that's what it would be: A major upset.
The Seahawks are favored by 8.5 points, I believe, and I honestly think there's a good case to be made for predicting a final score that has Seattle winning by 20 points or more. After all, they just beat them 34-7 not too long ago, they match up really well with the Saints, and there's just a myriad of statistical reasons as to why Wilson will be going to the first NFC title game of his career, of which there are sure to be thousands more in the future for the omnipotent and immortal Wilson.
If only there were an article that threw some of those stats together... together... together... together...
On the road, I'm half the man I used to Brees: 87/57, 26-21
It's important to note that Drew Brees' career home/road splits are not that dramatic. In fact, over his first two years with New Orleans, Brees was much better on the road: 34 TD/10 INT on road, 22 TD/19 INT in the Superdome. Since then, the numbers are leaning heavily towards home success, with the lone exception of 2010 when his splits were even, but these are the totals over his last six seasons:
142 touchdowns, 38 interceptions, 37-11
87 touchdowns, 57 interceptions, 26-21
It's also important that when you isolate Brees' numbers out of context from his teammates, it unfairly scapegoats either Brees or them. In this case it seems like it unfairly scapegoats his teammates, because the rushing offense is nearly identical this season whether at home on the road (211 carries, 3.9 YPC at home/216 carries, 3.9 YPC on road) and the pass defense is especially better on the road.
The tends to further the narrative that the Saints have an especially-good homefield advantage when it comes to the passing game, and Brees is just better than most quarterbacks at winning a shootout, but New Orleans is not so good when their guns are holstered.
At home, the pass defense allowed 64% completions, 1,864 yards, 13 touchdowns, 3 INT, 7.1 Y/A and a passer rating of 96.9.
On the road, the pass defense allowed 56.8% completions, 1,408 yards, 10 touchdowns, 9 INT, 5.1 Y/A and a passer rating of 69.0.
In some ways, it seems like Brees is a character in Space Jam. On Earth, none of those players on the evil team could compete with Michael Jordan, but in space, the playing field is even. Don't get me wrong, Brees is more like the "Jordan" in this analogy (his career road passer rating is still 90.2) but it's not that hard to understand that in the Superdome, the footballs are more like bags on Southwest Airlines.
They fly free. Get it?
The passing offense seems to be the Saints best strength at home but just a role player on the road, where they rely on their pass defense to carry them. Well, mostly...
The only way that Russell Wilson will care about your pass defense is if it checks into the hospital: Passer rating of 139.6
Non-Wilson quarterbacks completed 54.8% of their passes against the Saints pass defense on the road, throwing seven touchdowns and nine interceptions for 4.42 yards per attempt.
Wilson-Wilson quarterback was 22-of-30 for 310 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions against the Saints pass defense. The 139.6 passer rating is the second-highest in any game of his career.
Forced TurNOvers: 29th
During their Super Bowl championship run in 2009, the Saints defense was not all that great, finishing 20th in points allowed and 25th in yards allowed. They gave up big chunks of yardage through the air and on the ground, but how could they still go 13-0 to start the year and basically chuck the final two games after losing in Week 15?
It wasn't just the offense.
Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams (who previously had top-ranked defenses in Tennessee, Buffalo and Washington) instead aimed for takeaways on interceptions and fumbles with an "aggressive" defense and so, New Orleans finished second in the NFL in turnovers forced.
Giving Brees and the offense extra possessions is almost certain death. It showed again this year, as the Saints went 6-1 over their first seven games with 15 turnovers forced. Over their last nine games of the year, New Orleans forced four turnovers and went 5-4.
The Saints forced four turnovers in Week 4 against the Miami Dolphins and then later forced four over the last nine games of the year.
They beat the Eagles in Philly despite losing the turnover battle 0-2. They lost the turnover battle in Seattle by just 0-to-1, but lost the game 34-7.
What's gonna happen if the Seahawks win the battle by more than one turnover? The Saints finished 29th in turnovers forced, the Seahawks finished first. The Saints were seventh in average time of possession per drive on defense (2:27) but 25th in turnovers per drive and interceptions per drive. The Seahawks were 25th in TOP/Dr on defense (2:43) but first in TO/Dr and INT/Dr.
Drew Something: 3.87
Before New Orleans came to Seattle this season for a big matchup between the 10-1 Seahawks and 9-2 Saints, it seemed like there was some talk about Brees struggling on the road but not that much. After the game, it all of a sudden became apparent to people (okay... to me) that Brees could be just downright bad on the road.
Though his passer rating of 77.4 that night was pedestrian rather than terrible (it's only the 61st-worst passer rating of his career) and he avoided throwing any interceptions, Brees was as contained as he's ever been in his career. He threw for 147 yards on 38 attempts, for an average of 3.87.
The only two games of his career where he posted a lower Y/A came all the way back in 2003, his second season with the Chargers.
Seattle allowed just 4.8 net yards per pass attempt during the season, the best mark in the league.
You're from New Orleans? But I thought you were Rushin': 19th in Rushing DVOA
Against teams ranked in the bottom 16 of rushing offense by DVOA this season, the Seahawks were 8-1, including their win over New Orleans. (Loss to Cardinals)
The Saints were third in passing offense; Dating back to last season, Seattle is 9-4 against teams with a top 16 passing DVOA, including a win over the Patriots last season, the top passing team in the NFL in 2012.
New Orleans was 24th in special teams DVOA; The Seahawks are 12-4 against teams in the bottom half of special teams, dating back to last year.
Seattle? We got the whole city on lockdown: 30.1
Besides just winning 15 of their last 16 games at home, the Seahawks are also good at home in the playoffs, having won five straight home playoff games. They've scored 151 in those last five games, for an average just over 30 per.
This year at home, the pass defense was actually slightly more giving than they were on the road, which meant that they allowed a whopping 5.4 yards per pass attempt, eight touchdowns, 12 interceptions and a passer rating of 66.8 in Seattle. They had more sacks at home (25, compared to 20 on the road) and allowed two rushing touchdowns. (Both were shorties against the Jaguars)
The Seahawks scored nine rushing touchdowns at home, to go with 15 passing touchdowns and an adjusted net yards gained per pass attempt of 7.8. (Opponents have an ANY/A of 3.7 in the CLink.)
Seattle rushed for 5.3 yards per carry in the first quarter, while Wilson had 11 touchdowns, no interceptions, and a passer rating of 122.4 in the second quarter. Also, Drew Brees better not f-_- up and find himself in a third down passing situation; Opponents have thrown two touchdowns, 12 interceptions, and a rating of 41.3 on third downs.
On 59 such plays on defense this year of 3rd and 4-6 yards-to-go, opponents threw seven interceptions. Vis-a-vis, if it's 3rd-and-5, there's an 11.8% chance that Brees will throw a pick.
How about Red Zone and Dead Zone? Quarterbacks threw one touchdown and 12 interceptions this season when on their own 21-50-yard line against Seattle with a passer rating of 58.2. In the Seahawks red zone, they completed 36.4% of their passes for nine touchdowns, seven interceptions, and a rating of 44.9.
Believe it or not, opponents ran exactly 1,000 plays against the Seahawks this season. The Seahawks led for 63.2% of those plays and trailed in just 17.3%.
Brees threw for 63.17% of his yards and 67.4% of his touchdowns from shotgun formation this season. Well, it doesn't really matter whether you're in the shotgun or under center against Seattle, but they were slightly better against the shotgun: 60.2 passer rating, 3.0 ANY/A, 15 interceptions on 445 plays against the shotgun, 62.7 rating, 3.7 ANY/A, 13 interceptions on 555 plays against a QB under center.
So, shotgun, center, pistol, rifle, BB, Seattle, New Orleans, Mars, 1st quarter, 2nd quarter, OT, After Dark, Night Calls, Day Calls, play calls, Dayquil, Drew Brees, Drew Stanton, Drew Carey, Carey Mulligan, rushing, passing, kicking, dashing, Donner and Blitzen... it doesn't really matter. All the numbers say that the Seahawks should win this game going away, but at home.
Let's go ahead and not see an upset this time, though I will have another beastquake, thanks.
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