A lot has been made of the Seahawks penchant for close games in 2019. It has caused people to discredit their worth as a playoff team—not helped by a point differential of +7, which is closer to a .500 or below team—and question Pete Carroll’s coaching methods, but it’s also made each of Seattle’s games must watch affairs. This is not exactly breaking news to anyone who has watched Seahawks football this year—or pretty much any season since 2012.
Seahawks Football: Making Everything As Hard As Possible— Danny Kelly (@DannyBKelly) September 8, 2019
The Seahawks have literally never played in a normal game.— Kevin Clark (@bykevinclark) November 12, 2019
Seattle games are wild, and Russell Wilson and the Seahawks’ never say die approach keep them in any game. Anecdotally, it’s always seemed like Seattle’s games are impossibly weird. Now, there’s data to back that up.
The Wall Street Journal studied the Win Probability Added—how much a team’s win probability changes on a play-to-play basis—for every play from the 2019 season, to answer the simple question: Whose games are the craziest? More specifically, which team had the most plays in which their win probability changed by 15% or more?
You guessed it.
On 53 plays this season, Seattle’s win probability in a given game either increased or decreased by at least 15%. That wasn’t just the most in the NFL. It was leagues beyond the norm. The league average team had only 26.6 plays that created that much change, or around the Seahawks. The next closest team, the 49ers, had 47, or a difference of more than 10%.
They also had more plays with large swings at even higher thresholds, such as 20%, than any other team. The numbers are clear: Seattle is the opposite of even flow.
The Seahawks opponent in the divisional round, the Green Bay Packers, were tied for the 13th fewest win probability swings in 2019 with just 23. However, despite their relatively calm games and balanced team, Green Bay can expect drama on Sunday at Lambeau. After all, they’re playing Seattle.