It's not over 'til it's over, as they say. Well, this game was over in April.
It sounds annoying and cocky (the latter of which is foreign to me, the former of which exemplifies me) to say something like that, but instead of going from 0-to-100, the Win Expectancy Chart for this game should have just read "We know what's going to happen 99% of the time, and in the other one-percent, North Korea is attacking." Basically, if the Seahawks didn't win this game, we likely had bigger fish to fry.
It just so happens that the Jaguars are the worst team in the NFL right now. The Browns are trying to lose and still couldn't do that right. I can only imagine that Jacksonville feels like Judd Nelson's character in The Breakfast Club, looking around at his detention mates and wondering, "How the hell did the rest of you wind up in here with me?"
The winless teams including Jacksonville, the Giants, the Buccaneers, the Steelers, the Vikings, and the Redskins. Two of those teams went to the playoffs last year. Two of those teams have won four of the last eight Super Bowls. One of those teams spent lots of money and draft picks to rebuild their franchise for a playoff push that has collapsed immediately. And the other team is the Jacksonville Jaguars. We expected the Jaguars to be here, but out of all the teams we thought might wind up with the top overall pick next year, only the Jags are still looking for their first win. They lost to the Seahawks 45-17 on Sunday for three reasons:
Jacksonville is possibly the worst, Seattle is possibly the best, and this game was played in CenturyLink.
This game was never in doubt. Before the Big Bang happened, demigods were sitting around laying two-to-one on the Seahawks to cover. (I don't know much about gambling, but that sounds about right.)
And so now I have to explore the second part of that equation above. The part that says the Seattle Seahawks are possibly the best team in the NFL right now. You would think it has to be either them or the Denver Broncos, but this much I am sure about: This is the best team we've ever seen in franchise history, and the distance between this team and the 2005 team might be about as large as the gap between the Seahawks and Jaguars.
The 2005 Super Bowl team still has the best offense in franchise history. They were so fluid, they had so much chemistry, and they were just so unstoppable behind Walter Jones, that it was really something amazing to watch every week. Especially for Seattle fans.
That team was like a family of four living below the poverty line had won the lottery; we had so much more than we had ever had before, we didn't know how to handle it, we blew everything we won on shiny toys that immediately lost their value, we were broke again within three years.
As good as the offense was, we were only average on defense and special teams and no matter what the refs did in Super Bowl XL, I expected the Seahawks to at least play much better on offense that day and they didn't. Because Pittsburgh was a lot better than I was giving them credit for.
Football Outsiders had the Steelers that season as a top 10 team in offense, defense, and special teams, one of only two teams that year to do that.
Last season, the Seahawks were top four in all three categories. You know who else has done that in the last 15 years? Nobody. You'd have to go back to the 1996 Green Bay Packers to find another team that was that far above league average on all three units of football. What's the difference between last year's Seahawks and this years version?
This year's version is better.
I don't know exactly what Football Outsider's rankings will say about Seattle's overall team efficiency this week but I can tell you that after two games they were second overall, 13th on offense, 2nd on defense, and 2nd on special teams. And then the Seahawks put up 45 points and 479 yards on offense against the Jaguars. And while we can all agree that Jacksonville's defense is bad, remember that the most yards that they had given up through two weeks was 340 to the Raiders.
That's still a pretty big gap. Here are a few reasons as to why this is, after three games, the best team we've ever seen and one of the very best in the NFL.
- After three games, the Seahawks have put up 1,139 yards of total offense. That is the second-most after three games in franchise history, falling behind the 1,197 yards of the 2005 team.
- Seattle has scored 86 points so far, the sixth-highest total in franchise history after three games. The disappointing 1985 team scored 101 points, but allowed 94. I'm not sure this team will allow 94 points at all.
- The only teams to score more points this year than the Seahawks are the Packers (96), the Bears (95) and Broncos (90 after two games) but Green Bay has allowed 88 points and is 1-2. The Bears have allowed 74 points.
Last season, Chicago was devastatingly good on defense by stopping opponents but also by forcing turnovers. This season, they are only forcing turnovers. They've gone from fourth in net passing yards allowed per attempt to 29th. And if you're wondering who their opponents have been, let's just say that one of them is Christian Ponder.
- The Seattle defense has given up a league-low 27 points. That's the second-fewest after three games in franchise history. The 2004 team allowed only 13 points through three games.
- The Jaguars finally scored a touchdown in the third quarter... on a two-yard drive.
- If you're as bad at math as I am: The Seahawks are 4th in scoring offense, 1st in scoring defense.
- They are also first in total defense, with 725 total net yards allowed and first in passing defense with 440 net passing yards allowed. Believe it or not, 440 is not even close to the record after three games and while you're probably thinking that's because of passing offenses in the 1960s, it's not. The 1999 Tampa Bay Buccaneers allowed 265 net passing yards through their first three games. The 2007 Denver Broncos also allowed only 265 net passing yards through three.
The 1982 Seattle Seahawks allowed 356 net passing yards, one passing touchdown, four interceptions and had six sacks through three games, but they started 1-2. The '92 Seahawks that went 2-14 allowed 454 net passing yards through three games.
Yards! They sometimes don't mean things.
- The 725 total net yards allowed is the fewest allowed through three games in franchise history.
- The rest of the NFC West is 1-2. On average, the other three teams have allowed 83 points so far this year.
- Seattle has forced 10 turnovers this year, tied for fourth-best in franchise history through three games. The 1984 Seahawks forced 15 turnovers in their first three games.
- The +59 point differential is second-best in franchise history through three games. The 1998 Seahawks were +67 after three games.
This is a team that didn't get Brandon Browner and Chris Clemons back until Sunday. A team that played without their Pro Bowl offensive tackle as they put up 45 points. That also happened to enter the season with the fourth-youngest team in the NFL.
A team whose quarterback threw four touchdown passes and is 10-0 in his career at home. A team that has one of the top running backs in the league. A team that lacked a pass rush for much of last season and then added Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril. A team that still hasn't played with Bruce Irvin or Percy Harvin. You could argue that this is the best team in the NFL, and many people will, and yet they still haven't put their best 53 on the field.
If you put this team on the same field as the 2005 Pittsburgh Steelers, I don't think the refs, Pete Rose, and the Chicago Black Sox all put together could stop them from winning Super Bowl XL.
And of course I'm scared as hell.
This is the part of the article where you're loving me for 1,000 words and now you're going to turn on me, but as excitable as I am, I've also learned to prepare myself for the worst. How far do we have to look to see a worst case scenario? However long it is from Seattle to the Bay.
Throw up a finger if you feel the same way, 49ers are imploding in Californ-I-A.
I think that there were reasonable arguments that the San Francisco 49ers were overrated eight days ago, but let's not forget how far they've actually fallen in those eight days. Eight days. Before playing Seattle, San Francisco was ranked by some as the best team in the league. Their young quarterback had just torched the Packers, they had a great offensive line, great coaching, and a great defense. They were 1-0 and it had to be either them, Seattle, or Denver as the best team in the NFL.
The 49ers have lost two straight games. By a lot. Aldon Smith played and then wasn't suspended indefinitely until after the big loss at home to the Colts. Patrick Willis left the game with a groin injury and was immediately ruled out. Vernon Davis was inactive. Colin Kaepernick has six turnovers in the last two games and has mostly picked up yardage (of which there is barely any) in garbage time. Fans are calling for offensive coordinator Greg Roman to be fired, just a year after the pistol-slash-option offense with Kaepernick helped lead them to the Super Bowl. And further questions will be brought up regarding Jim Harbaugh and Trent Baalke's decision to play Smith only two days after he was arrested for his second DUI in less than two years.
How many Power Rankings had San Francisco number one before last Sunday? How many will have them in the top 16 now? How many will have them in the top 20 if they lose to the Rams on the road on Thursday night without Smith and possibly Willis and Davis?
Don't take this as an opportunity to talk shit about the 49ers, because that's not what I'm doing. I could be saying the same stuff about the Bucs, but the truth is that it's not a good comparison because Tampa Bay hadn't started at the top. The only reason I'm bringing up San Francisco is because we need something to keep ourselves grounded as fans. Don't let it harsh your buzz, let it heighten it:
The Seahawks are great despite -
"The Seahawks are great despite injuries."
"The Seahawks are great despite suspensions."
"The Seahawks are great despite mistakes."
"The Seahawks are great despite being the Seahawks."
No team is immune to injuries, but with losses on offense like Harvin and Russell Okung, others have stepped up.
No team in this league is immune to players getting in trouble off of the field, but in the absence of Irvin, others have stepped up.
Nobody is immune to making mistakes, but despite some shaky play from Russell Wilson (three fumbles, two interceptions this year) this team is 3-0.
And since bringing in the regime of Pete Carroll and John Schneider, this team no longer identifies itself as the same "Seahawks team" that the rest of the league (and many of our own fans) identify them as. Carroll came out of USC as a coach that didn't believe in losing. Literally, he's a "Losing Truther" that goes into every game not knowing that a loss is even possible and even when his team does lose, he resets his brain and continues on like someone that has only won. We probably need that kind of delusion. The truth is that I don't know that Carroll could have been successful at San Diego in the way that Harbaugh was successful. It would have killed him to go somewhere where he couldn't have the best.
At USC he was given the opportunity to bring in the players that he wanted, without much risk that he would lose out on the best athletes on the west coast. And in the NFL he knew that if he could just turn Seattle around a little bit with good drafting, he could start recruiting free agents in the same way that he recruited student-athletes.
That's how perhaps the best team we've ever seen got better. That's why they're the team-to-beat in the NFC after three games. That's who you want to be. That's what you want to see.
That's when this article turns to bulletpoints.
- Also important for perspective: Look at those other Seahawks teams that I mentioned and remember that being the best in September is shit compared to being the best in December and January.
The 1984 team is a much better comparison for this team than 2005. Dave Krieg was 26-years-old and threw 32 touchdown passes. Steve Largent was still in his prime. Jacob Green had 13 sacks, Jeff Bryant had 14.5. Kenny Easley had 10 interceptions and Dave Brown had eight. As a team they had an insane 38 interceptions and 20 fumble recoveries.
If they hadn't lost Curt Warner in Week 1, who knows what would have happened. What happened instead was that they started 12-2, finished 12-4, and got blown out by the Dolphins in Miami in the divisional round. Despite all the youth and promise of '84, they didn't win another playoff game until 2005.
- The 2005 team was the culmination of everything that Mike Holmgren was trying to build in Seattle. The year when everything went right. But it was the tip of the bell curve in a five-year playoff run that sadly never got nearly that close in any other year to winning a championship.
- The 2004 team started 3-0, finished 6-7 over the last 13 games, and lost to the Rams at home in the playoffs.
- The 1998 team started 3-0, finished 5-8 over the last 13 games.
- The 1985 team that scored 101 points to start the year finished 13th in scoring, with an 8-8 record.
- The 2006 team, following up their Super Bowl loss, started 3-0 but finished 6-7 over the rest of the season.
- Holmgren also started 3-0 in 2003, before going 5-6 over the next 11 and then finishing at 10-6.
- Oh shit, I'm bumming you out. My bad.
I still have to re-iterate that I believe this is the best team in franchise history as well as being the best relative-to-the-rest-of-the-league team in franchise history. (Which is really the point anyway, right?) At this time, I really don't see many teams that would be able to beat the Seahawks very often on average if you simulated a bunch of games.
- Speaking of which, the Houston Texans sure don't look very good. Seattle travels to Houston this week, definitely still far from being an "easy" win, but I'm not sure what's wrong with the Texans. Houston finally lost on Sunday, going down 30-9 to the Baltimore Ravens. They are two plays away from being 0-3.
And the Ravens had thus far been blown out by Denver and won a squeaker against the Browns.
If there's hope for Houston, it's that they've only forced one turnover this year but are top ten in net passing yards allowed, yards per carry, and yards per carry allowed. This is probably a better team than what they've looked like so far, but hopefully they continue to look crappy for one more week.
- Tarvaris Jackson had as many touchdowns as Chad Henne had turnovers. Which, I guess, could have been a negative thing but actually it turns out that Henne had two turnovers and no touchdowns. So it's a good thing!
- On a day when Zach Miller scored two touchdowns, after scoring three regular season touchdowns in his entire Seahawks career, Luke Willson had me dreaming of him as the starting tight end.
- In my series of '5 Reasons to a Perfect Seahawks Seasonne' I dreamt of a team that went 16-0 in the regular season and they are now only 13 games shy of doing just that! What's the closest they've ever come to a perfect seasonne? You're looking at it.
The Seahawks are 0-5 in franchise history in the fourth game of a season when starting the year 3-0. That is to say, they've never been 4-0 before.
Carroll has had a lot of "firsts" in his three-plus years of being the head coach of this team, but that would be one of the coolest "firsts" yet.
- Seattle had 28 first downs on Sunday, as many as they had in any game last year. (They had 28 first downs in the playoff loss to Atlanta.)
- The Seahawks actual win expectancy chart, per Pro Football Reference:
- Sidney Rice made up a bit for last week, catching five of seven targets for 79 yards and two touchdowns. If he can do that same kind of thing against Houston, it'll be a little bit more meaningful to his long-term status with the team.
- Sometimes a team will draft or sign a guy with an injury and folks will think "Well, this will work out just fine because injuries are something that only exists in those fairy tale books I tell my children at night!" as if the only thing that matters is how talented a player is. We like to ignore things like injury history and off-field troubles when we see a guy that is extremely talented and has natural abilities that other players on his level don't have.
In the case of Harvin, he's on the end of the spectrum where you're reminded that injuries are real things and that some players tend to get them more often than others.
In the case of Michael Bennett, holy shit we got a steal. (And even then, the injuries are still present.) As a reminder, Bennett signed a one-year, $4.8 million contract, is 27-years-old, and has 2.5 sacks through two games while also being a steady presence in the opponents backfield.
- Still have to give some credit to Chad Henne, for doinking this pass off of Brad Meester's head, leading to a Bobby Wagner interception.
- I don't get to make the captions, unfortunately.
- I find drive charts to be some of the most telling parts of box scores, if not the most telling. You'll notice that the Jaguars have drives with more plays in them, but the Seahawks drives took off more clock and, obviously, ended in a lot more scoring. It wasn't until late in the game, after the outcomes was decided, that Jacksonville was able to run a long drive that ended in a touchdown.
- I am fine with making statements that I believe in. In 2005, I believed before the year that Seattle was good enough to make the Super Bowl and that turned out to be true. As the season wore down in 2012, I believed that Seattle could make it to the NFC Championship game, and they fell short. This year, I know that this is the best team in the NFC and I believe that they are good enough to win it all. I know that if everything fell as you'd expect it to, that the Seahawks and Broncos would meet in the Super Bowl.
But I can't actually predict the future. (Sorry, but if you've already paid me $50 for a palm reading that was a non-refundable payment.) And we can never expect the expected. Things might not turn out the way that we want them to, but I still know that this team stands a very, very good chance of being this year's champion. The best chance we've ever had, possibly.
Don't worry too much about tomorrow. The future is an illusion. Enjoy today as much as possible. The Seahawks are really fucking good today.