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When it comes to road games, the Seahawks’ unlucky number is 24

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Divisional Round - Seattle Seahawks v Atlanta Falcons Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

Winning on the road is never an easy task, and it’s no coincidence that all three trips to the Super Bowl for the Seattle Seahawks involved home field advantage throughout the postseason. The Seahawks failed to get either the #1 or #2 seed this season, and the end result was a 36-20 trouncing on the road against the Atlanta Falcons in Saturday’s NFC Divisional Round.

Seattle is a team that has managed a sustained run of success over the past several years by being a defensive-oriented team in a league that is driven by offense. But what happens when the defense is unable to put the clamps down on the home opposition, as was the case at the Georgia Dome on Saturday?

Since 2012, the league-average in scoring (rounded to the nearest whole number) has consistently been at 23 points. Following the loss to Atlanta, the Seahawks are now 1-14 in the Russell Wilson era when they allow more than league-average in road games.

For what it’s worth, under the same parameters, they’re 5-4 at home, so that means out of 27 losses (postseason included) since Russell Wilson’s rookie year, 18 have happened when the Seahawks give up at least 24 points.

What can we gather out of a limited data set? Well what stands out is that the Seahawks are really really really bad at winning road games in which the defense isn’t holding up their end of the bargain. My genius observations aside, there are no teams in the NFL that have a winning record when allowing 24+ on the road, and we should expect that, but where does Seattle rank when compared with the rest of the league? I’m glad I asked, because here’s what the (sortable!) table looks like.

Win-loss records when road team allows 24+ points (2012-2016, postseason included)

Team Total road games played Road Games allowing 24+ % of road games allowing 24+ Wins Losses Ties Win % Playoff appearances
Team Total road games played Road Games allowing 24+ % of road games allowing 24+ Wins Losses Ties Win % Playoff appearances
New England 42 17 0.405 6 11 0 0.353 5
Indianapolis 44 29 0.659 9 20 0 0.31 3
Green Bay 45 26 0.578 8 18 0 0.308 5
SD/LA Chargers 41 26 0.634 8 18 0 0.308 1
Dallas 41 17 0.415 5 12 0 0.294 2
Atlanta 40 22 0.55 6 16 0 0.272 2
Denver 40 15 0.375 4 11 0 0.267 4
Kansas City 43 19 0.442 5 14 0 0.263 3
Cincinnati 42 16 0.381 4 12 0 0.25 4
New Orleans 42 25 0.595 6 19 0 0.24 1
Philadelphia 40 27 0.675 6 21 0 0.222 1
Carolina 41 17 0.415 3 13 1 0.205 3
Oakland 41 22 0.537 4 18 0 0.182 1
(Total) 1327 680 0.512 119 557 4 0.178
Washington 40 26 0.65 4 21 1 0.173 2
Miami 41 19 0.463 3 16 0 0.158 1
NY Jets 40 26 0.65 4 22 0 0.154 0
Arizona 42 20 0.476 3 17 0 0.15 2
Tampa Bay 40 20 0.5 3 17 0 0.15 0
Pittsburgh 43 14 0.325 2 12 0 0.143 3
San Francisco 44 21 0.477 3 18 0 0.143 2
Cleveland 40 29 0.725 4 25 0 0.138 0
Houston 42 23 0.548 3 20 0 0.13 3
Baltimore 44 23 0.523 3 20 0 0.13 2
NY Giants 41 24 0.575 3 21 0 0.125 1
Chicago 40 19 0.475 2 17 0 0.105 0
Detroit 42 20 0.476 2 18 0 0.1 2
Tennessee 40 22 0.55 2 20 0 0.09 0
STL/LA Rams 40 20 0.5 1 18 1 0.075 0
Jacksonville 40 28 0.7 2 26 0 0.071 0
Seattle 45 15 0.333 1 14 0 0.067 5
Minnesota 41 15 0.366 0 14 1 0.033 2
Buffalo 40 18 0.45 0 18 0 0 0

To the surprise of no one, New England has the best record at 6-11, while the Buffalo Bills are dead last at 0-18. It’s very possible that Green Bay can take sole possession of 2nd place if they win at Atlanta, who might get 24 points by halftime.

The good news for Seattle is that in the last five seasons, they have the 2nd best % in the NFL at holding home teams to under 24, behind only Pittsburgh. The bad news is that they have the 3rd worst win percentage, a far cry from the offensive-minded Packers and Patriots, who are the only other teams who have made the playoffs in each of the last five seasons.

Considering the avg. win % is .178, the minimum record the Seahawks would need out of 15 games to exceed that mark is 3-12. In fact, even if you took out the perennially awful teams like Cleveland and Jacksonville, the win % bumps up to .206, so the .200 mark of 3-12 effectively accomplishes the same thing.

Playoff teams only

Team Total road games played Road Games allowing 24+ % of road games allowing 24+ Wins Losses Ties Win % Playoff appearances
Team Total road games played Road Games allowing 24+ % of road games allowing 24+ Wins Losses Ties Win % Playoff appearances
New England 42 17 0.405 6 11 0 0.353 5
Green Bay 45 26 0.578 8 18 0 0.308 5
Seattle 45 15 0.333 1 14 0 0.067 5
Cincinnati 42 16 0.381 4 12 0 0.25 4
Denver 40 15 0.375 4 11 0 0.267 4
Indianapolis 44 29 0.659 9 20 0 0.31 3
Kansas City 43 19 0.442 5 14 0 0.263 3
Carolina 41 17 0.415 3 13 1 0.205 3
Pittsburgh 43 14 0.325 2 12 0 0.143 3
Houston 42 23 0.548 3 20 0 0.13 3
Dallas 41 17 0.415 5 12 0 0.294 2
Atlanta 40 22 0.55 6 16 0 0.272 2
Washington 40 26 0.65 4 21 1 0.173 2
Arizona 42 20 0.476 3 17 0 0.15 2
San Francisco 44 21 0.477 3 18 0 0.143 2
Baltimore 44 23 0.523 3 20 0 0.13 2
Detroit 42 20 0.476 2 18 0 0.1 2
Minnesota 41 15 0.366 0 14 1 0.033 2
SD/LA Chargers 41 26 0.634 8 18 0 0.308 1
New Orleans 42 25 0.595 6 19 0 0.24 1
Philadelphia 40 27 0.675 6 21 0 0.222 1
Oakland 41 22 0.537 4 18 0 0.182 1
Miami 41 19 0.463 3 16 0 0.158 1
NY Giants 41 24 0.575 3 21 0 0.125 1
(Total) 1007 498 0.494 101 394 3 0.206

(Side note: 3 of Denver’s 4 wins came in 2012 and 2013, and those were Peyton Manning’s two best statistical seasons while with the Broncos.)

The assumption is that Seattle will eventually find a way to start winning these sorts of games, as they heroically managed at (of all places) New England this season, but the current evidence we have on hand is that on the road, the Seahawks are not built to win anything that even threatens to be a high-scoring contest. They already have major issues when they’re as much as down by 10+ points, home or away. I’m extremely skeptical that this is the way to operate in modern-day NFL.

Will we see these road struggles continue for as long as Pete Carroll is the head coach? Will the team’s identity still be heavily based on having a dominant defense, even as Russell Wilson enters his sixth year in the league, with a top-10 WR and a top-5 TE at his disposal? Can you have both an excellent defense and the capability to win higher scoring games on the road, or are they mutually exclusive? I suppose we’ll find these answers out in due time, starting with this offseason.