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Football Outsiders ranks 2013 Seahawks as NFL’s best team of the decade

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Super Bowl XLVIII - Seattle Seahawks v Denver Broncos

Football Outsiders released its DVOA rankings for the 2010s, and as you may have figured out by now, the Seattle Seahawks’ dynasty from 2012-2015 — #1 four years running — makes up literally four of the top-ten slots for the decade.

The 2014 team ranked at #9 at +31.1%, ahead of the 2015 Carolina Panthers. Seattle’s “weakness” that year was its special teams, aka the year that they let Earl Thomas return punts for one week before he was replaced by Bryan Walters. Steven Hauschka also famously missed three field goals against the Arizona Cardinals. Otherwise, the 2014 Seahawks were 5th in offense and 1st in defense.

Your next Seahawks appearance is the 2012 team, which comes in at #4 at 36.9%. Russell Wilson’s 2nd half surge as a rookie coincided with the rest of the squad’s outstanding play, as they finished 4th on offense, 2nd on defense, and 5th on special teams. They could’ve at least gotten the #2 seed in the NFC had they won any of their divisional road games, but instead the 11-5 record led to a wild card spot and you know the rest from there.

At #3, the 2015 Seahawks just edge out the 2012 team at 37.8% DVOA, the last of the great DVOA dynasty. Similarly to the 2012 side, a horrible habit of losing close games and a mediocre start to the season turned what should’ve been a first-round bye contender into a wild card team, and they wound up losing twice to the Carolina Panthers. At the time, this was Russell Wilson’s best season and he was playing at an MVP level from November onward, guiding Seattle to 1st in offense. The defense finished 4th and special teams 3rd, and this doubles as the last time the Seahawks had anything resembling a good ST group.

The 2010 New England Patriots were runners-up at 40.6%, but memorably lost to Mark Sanchez and the New York Jets in the AFC Divisional Round. That leaves the team of the decade honors to none other than...

Super Bowl XLVIII - Seattle Seahawks v Denver Broncos

From the article:

The 2013 Seahawks featured the No. 10 best defense in DVOA history (including playoffs). They also ranked seventh on offense and fifth on special teams for the regular season. Seattle’s three losses all came by a touchdown or less, and their 43-8 Super Bowl blowout of Denver ranks as one of the 20 best single-game performances in DVOA history.

Oh how we yearn for such great balance at an elite-level.

I feel that as much as we could lament the Seahawks not winning more than one Super Bowl as part of the DVOA dynasty, I have to note that the 2013 team was the only one on this entire list to actually win the Super Bowl. The 2015 Panthers (#10), 2014 Seahawks (#9), and 2010 Steelers (#8) made the Super Bowl but lost, while the 2012 Patriots and Broncos (#7 and #6 respectively), 2019 Ravens (#5), and 2010 Patriots (#2) never even made it that far. In fact, the 2010 Patriots, 2012 Broncos, and 2019 Ravens were all bounced in their first playoff game.

While we’re at it, of the top offenses by DVOA from the 2010s, only the 2019 Kansas City Chiefs (#9) were crowned NFL champions. On the defensive side, the 2015 Broncos actually ranked ahead of the 2013 Seahawks because of superior strength of schedule, and those are the only two teams from the top-ten to win the Lombardi Trophy.

If you’re an Arizona Cardinals fan, I suggest not reading the article because Arizona fielded three of the worst offenses of the decade and two of the worst overall teams.

Lastly, from an individual metric of DYAR (Defense-adjusted Yards Above Replacement), Tyler Lockett’s 2018 was the 7th best season for any wide receiver.

Lockett’s season set the all-time record for receiving DVOA by a wideout with at least 50 targets, going all the way back to 1985. Lockett caught 57 of 70 balls for an astounding 81% catch rate, but those weren’t short passes. His average depth of target was 15.3 yards downfield. He ended up gaining 965 yards, plus he added six defensive pass interference flags for 182 yards. He also scored 10 touchdowns. Lockett also balled out in Seattle’s playoff loss to Dallas with catches of 25, 40, and 53 yards, plus a 52-yard kickoff return.

The full article is behind the ESPN+ paywall, for curious minds. There’s a lot of great data in there if you’re into advanced stats.