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Seahawks need to be a 2nd half team once again

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

If the Seattle Seahawks go 6-1 in their final seven games, they will finish with a record of 13-3, the same record they had during their Super Bowl runs in 2005 and 2013. And in the four seasons when the Seahawks went 12-4, they went to one Super Bowl and made it to the divisional round in the other. Given that Seattle is 7-2, it would seem reasonable that if you had no other information, the Seahawks could definitely finish 13-3 or 12-4.

But with the added context of a +18 point differential, Seattle constantly battling from behind in large part due to a bottom-10 defense, and an exceptionally difficult schedule ahead few people expect a 6-1 or 5-2 finish.

All I’m saying in this article is this: historically, there’s reason for hope.

And for concern.

In four of the last seven seasons, the Seahawks have finished 6-1 in their last seven games. I think you should read that again because it’s one of the most fascinating, surprising, and exciting win-loss stats in Seattle sports history. In 2012, 2014, 2015, and 2018, the Seahawks went 6-1 in the final seven games. In 2013, the year they won the Super Bowl, they went 5-2.

So in five of the last seven years, the Seahawks have gone 5-2 or better to end the year. And these haven’t been silly, funny, scary little wins either. Seattle has point differentials of:

  • 2012: +151
  • 2013: +103
  • 2014: +91
  • 2015: +126
  • 2016: +64 (4-3)
  • 2017: -12 (3-4, only time to miss playoffs since 2011)
  • 2018: +54

These are extraordinary point differentials, especially given that they have outpaced themselves in nearly every instance despite the fact that it was only over seven games, not nine.

Last season, the Seahawks went from a +27 in their first nine games to a +54 in the final seven. In 2016, they went from +35 to +64 in the final seven. These nine-game point differentials are comparable to the number Seattle has put up en route to a 7-2 record this season, but now the Seahawks have the added benefit of a 7-2 record.

Which is the point I’ve been making over and over again in the last few weeks: Wins matter. Not points. That’s the point, not points. I’m pointing to the fact that my points about points are that you’d rather point to wins than points, so point me to a league where points matter more than wins and I’ll point you back to the NFL where that’s not the point at all.

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Pete Carroll and Russell Wilson have consistently gotten better as the year has gone on, with the one exception of 2017. This does not mean that they are guaranteed to get better in 2019 and certainly the schedule (two games against the 49ers, plus games against the Vikings, Panthers, Eagles, and Rams) mean that Seattle can’t hope to play as well as they have and expect to win 11 or more games. They can’t just hope to get better, they need to get better.

In almost every season under Carroll and Wilson, they have. So that’s encouraging.

Here’s something less encouraging.

(By the way, I wrote about this and more in the Seaside Joe daily Seahawks newsletter on Monday. Subscribe here!)

I went back 10 years and looked for teams with similar results to the Seahawks in terms of points allowed and points scored through nine games. Seattle has scored 248 and allowed 230. What other teams were in a similar range of a high-scoring offense and a high-scoring defense with maybe a record above their pythag expected record?

  • 2018 Carolina Panthers were 6-3 with a +9 point differential. 241 points scored, 233 points allowed. The Panthers finished 7-9.
  • 2011 New York Giants were 6-3 with a +7 point differential. 218 points scored, 211 points allowed. The Giants finished 9-7, secured a wild card spot, and won the Super Bowl.
  • 2017 Tennessee Titans were 6-3 with a -8 point differential. 205 points scored, 213 points allowed. The Titans finished 9-7, winning a wild card game over the Kansas City Chiefs, losing in the divisional round to the Patriots.
  • 2012 Indianapolis Colts were 6-3 with a -15 point differential. 186 points scored, 201 points allowed. The Colts finished 11-5, losing in the wild card round.
  • 2010 Tampa Bay Buccaneers were 6-3 with a -18 point differential. 188 points scored, 206 points allowed. The Bucs finished 10-6 and missed the playoffs.
  • 2013 Detroit Lions were 6-3 with a +22 point differential. 238 points scored, 216 points allowed. The Lions finished 7-9, losing six of their final seven games.
  • 2016 Oakland Raiders were 7-2 with a +22 point differential. 245 points scored, 223 points allowed. The Raiders finished 12-4, securing a wild card spot — not a division title — and losing on the road to the Houston Texans. The game was Connor Cook vs Brock Osweiler, by the way.
  • 2014 Pittsburgh Steelers were 6-3 with a +29 point differential. 248 points scored, 219 points allowed. The Steelers finished 11-5, winning the division but losing at home to the Ravens in the wild card round. (That was the first game all year for Pittsburgh without Le’Veon Bell. They gave nine carries to Josh Harris, who had nine carries all year long and hasn’t played since.)
  • 2009 San Diego Chargers were 6-3 with a +35 point differential. 237 points scored, 202 points allowed. The Chargers finished 13-3, winning their last 11 games of the season. They ended up fourth in points and 11th in points allowed. With Philip Rivers, LaDainian Tomlinson, Darren Sproles, Antonio Gates, Vincent Jackson, Mike Toblert, Malcom Floyd.... they lost to the New York Jets and Mark Sanchez 17-14 in the divisional round.
  • 2010 New England Patriots were 7-2 with a +44 point differential. 258 points scored, 214 points allowed. The Patriots win out and finish 14-2. They secure true blowout wins in four of their last five games (45-3, 36-7, 34-3, and 38-7) to finish with a point differential of +205. That’s what matters! One year after doing the same to the Chargers, Sanchez beats the Patriots in the divisional round, in New England, 28-21.
  • 2016 Atlanta Falcons were 6-3 with a +46 point differential. 305 points scored, 259 points allowed. Most remember that the Falcons were the best offense that year, Matt Ryan won MVP, and they blew a 28-3 lead. That’s what people remember. But to blow a lead in the Super Bowl, you have to get to the Super Bowl. The Falcons did that with a defense ranked 27th in points allowed. They weren’t that much different than the 2019 Seahawks, right down to the nepotistic offensive coordinator in his second season guiding a veteran QB to his first MVP award. The Falcons finished 11-5, securing a first round bye with that record, hosting Seattle in the divisional round, blowing out the Packers in the NFC Championship, and then you know what. If the 2016 Falcons can make the Super Bowl, I don’t think the 2019 Seahawks are far off from where they were, if at all.

Those are teams that were 6-3 or better with similar point totals to the 2019 Seahawks, but as you know, many teams were 5-4 or worse with that kind of result.

This includes the 2015 New York Giants, who started 5-4 and finished 6-10.

The 2010 Lions, who were 2-7 but managed to win their last four games to finish 6-10.

The 2018 Colts, who were 4-5 and finished 10-6.

The 2016 Chargers, who were 4-5 and finished 5-11.

The 2009 Giants, who were 5-4 and finished 8-8.

This could go any number of ways in the final seven games, but the best news of all is that Seattle is starting with a 7-2 record. Not 6-3, not 5-4, and certainly not 2-7. Why any fan would seemingly be happier if the Seahawks had a win-loss record more “fitting” of their point differential is completely and totally beyond me, but the 7-2 record means that they have an opportunity to be the next 2011 Giants or 2016 Falcons.

And that means they have an opportunity to do the one thing teams are setting out to do each year, whether it’s this season or three seasons from now, and that’s win the Super Bowl. I would much rather have that be this year though, and in that respect, Seattle has a shot.

Not a bad shot either.

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