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12 observations about Chris Carson’s impact on the Seattle Seahawks W-L record

Tennessee Titans v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images

At some point during Sunday’s broadcast, the CBS crew pointed out that the Seahawks were 17-1 when Chris Carson scores a rushing touchdown. I thought that was impressive and made a note to include it in my 12 Thoughts article for Week 2. Even after the Seahawks choked and their record fell to 17-2 in those instances, I still considered it impressive and planned to make it one of my 12 thoughts.

Then I visited Pro-Football-Reference.com to dig into the numbers a little bit, went down more than a few rabbit holes, and, well, here we are, with a whole article dedicated to Mr. Carson and his impact on Seattle’s Won-Loss record.


Observation #1: Including Sunday’s game, Seattle is 1-2 when games that include a rushing touchdown by Chris Carson go to overtime.

At first glance, I would say that maybe the Seahawks should try harder to avoid overtime when Carson has scored a touchdown, but ... overall, Seattle is 2-3 in overtime games since Carson joined the league so ... ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.


Observation #2: Seattle’s 17-2 record in games that feature a Chris Carson touchdown includes 4 games where he scored 2 touchdowns. Seattle is 3-1 in those 4 games, with the loss being that one time (at band camp) when the opposing running back scored 3 touchdowns.

This is a little more intriguing than Observation #1, but still sort of ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.

Note: Three of Chris Carson’s multi-touchdown games have come against AFC teams.


Observation #3: Thirteen of the 19 games in which Chris Carson has scored a touchdown have been against NFC teams. The other 6 have been against AFC teams.

Given the unbalanced nature of NFL schedules, I suspect that this isn’t too surprising to the vast majority of you.

However ...

Since 2017, Seattle has played 48 regular season games + 4 playoff games against NFC teams and 18 games against AFC teams. That’s a mix of 74.3% NFC vs. 25.8% AFC.

But ...

Of those 70 total possible games, Chris Carson has missed 21 (30%) of them. And, 18 of Carson’s 21 missed games were against NFC teams. Thus, Chris Carson’s mix is actually a little more balanced that Seattle’s with 34 games against the NFC (69.4%) and 15 against the AFC (30.6%).

I know ... still sort of ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ ... right?

Ah, but wait until we dig into those numbers just a little bit more. Observation #4 is where things start to get really interesting.


Observation #4: Chris Carson has scored a touchdown in 40% of his games versus AFC teams (6 of 15), and he has had similar success against NFC teams: 40.6% (13 of 32) in the regular season, and 38.2% overall (13 of 34).

But what does the NFC have that the AFC doesn’t?

Yep!

Our division rivals.

Thus, we need to separate the NFC West from the NFC Rest:

  • Against the NFC West, Chris Carson has scored a touchdown in 3 of his 13 regular season games (23.1%) and 3 of 14 overall (21.4%)
  • Against the rest of the NFC, Carson has scored a touchdown in 10 out of 19 regular season games (52.6%) and 10 of 20 games overall (50%)

So, to recap:

  • 50 to 52.6% against the NFC North, South, and (L)East
  • 40% against the AFC
  • 21.4 to 23.1% against the NFC West

That’s pretty interesting, right?

Note: On some levels, this seems intuitively logical to me, and yet I feel like this observation and the next observation could prove to be completely counter-intuitive as well.


Observation #5: Chris Carson has NEVER scored a rushing touchdown against the Rams. He’s 0-for-4 in the regular season and 0-for-1 in the playoffs.

For some perspective on that:

  • Since selecting Chris Carson with a 7th-round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, Seattle has faced 11 teams more than once with Chris Carson available/able to play. He has scored a touchdown at least once against 9 of those 11 teams.
  • Carson has scored a rushing touchdown in 2 of 5 games versus the 49ers and in 1 of 4 games against the Cardinals. But zip, zilch, nada in 5 games against Mr. McVay’s annoying disciples

NOTE: We’re going to shift gears a little bit and move away from the focus on touchdowns. No need to worry though - at least a couple of the remaining 7 observations will circle back to that particular dynamic.


Observation #6: How’s this for Twilight Zone spookiness? Seattle is 17-2 when Chris Carson has at least 80 yards rushing.

Yep, that’s the same exact record that the Seahawks have when Carson scores a touchdown.

However, Carson only had 31 yards against the Titans, which is why I’m typing this observation with the Twilight Zone theme song playing in the background.

(Do-do-do-do-do-do-do-do)


Observation #7: Want to know what’s even better than Chris Carson scoring a touchdown or running for 80+ yards? Chris Carson doing both in the same game!

As has been mentioned, Seattle is 17-2 when one or the other happens. That’s a win-rate of .895. When Carson has at least 80 yards and scores a rushing touchdown, the Seahawks are 12-1 (.923).


Observation #8: While not nearly as impressive from a win-rate perspective, 100 yards is also a pretty solid barometer for Seattle’s success with Chris Carson toting the rock.

  • In Carson’s 12 career games with 100+ yards, Seattle is 10-2 (.833)
  • 100+ yards and a touchdown bumps Seattle’s win-rate to .857 with a 6-1 record

Note: Combining Observations #7 and #8 and doing some math shows that the true goal for Seattle should be to have Carson score at least 1 touchdown while rushing for between 80 and 99 yards because in the games when that has happened, the Seahawks are a perfect 6-0.


Observation #9: Chris Carson has 7 touchdown receptions in his career. He had 1 in each of 5 games and 2 in another one. In those 6 games, Seattle is 4-2.

Somewhat amusingly, those numbers seem like they would be a positive thing but, as it turns out ... not so much.

  • Seattle’s win-rate with a Chris Carson touchdown reception is .667 (4-2)
  • Their overall win-rate in games Carson suits up for is .673 (33-16)
  • The Seahawks’ win-rate in games when Carson doesn’t catch a touchdown pass is .674 (29-14)

Technically, that means that the Seahawks are better off having Carson not catch a touchdown pass. However, since we’re only looking at 49 career games ... ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.


Observation #10: Chris Carson’s receiving yards do make a difference for the Seahawks. At least to a point.

  • Seattle’s record in games when Carson has 30+ receiving yards is 8-1 (.889)
  • The Seahawks are 8-3 (.727) when he has 20-29 receiving yards
  • When Carson has 10-19 receiving yards, Seattle is 5-4 (.556)
  • Less than 10 receiving yards? 12-8 (.600)

Wait ... what?


Observation #11: For his career, Chris Carson has had a total of 6 games when he was not targeted a single time as a receiver. He has 4 other games where he was targeted, but ended up with either 0 yards or negative yards.

Want to laugh?

  • 0 targets = a 4-2 record
  • 0 yards with at least 1 target = a 1-1 record
  • At least 1 target and negative yards = an 0-2 record

The moral of those 3 bullets is that if you’re going to target Carson, make sure he catches the ball and gets positive yards; otherwise, don’t target him.

That isn’t the laugh-worthy point though.

This is ...

If we subtract everything in Observation #11 from the last bullet in Observation #10, Seattle is left with a 7-3 record. That’s a .700 win-rate which is even better than the .600 win-rate that made us wonder what the (Washington Team Football) was going on with Observation #10.

Ya gotta love statistics!


Final Observation (aka Observation #12): If you’re going to throw the ball to Chris Carson, do it a lot (2-6+ times) and make sure he catches it.

Here are Seattle’s win-rates and overall records based on the number of receptions Chris Carson has:

  • 0 or 1 = .526 (10-9 overall)
  • 2 or 3 = .739 (17-6 overall)
  • 4 = YAHTZEE! (3-0)
  • 6 = .750 (3-1)

Note: As shown, Chris Carson has had 6 receptions in a game 4 different times, including twice last year (at Atlanta and vs. Minnesota). He has never had a 5-reception game though.

And here are the Seahawks’ win-rates based on Chris Carson’s catch-rate:

  • 75% to 100% = 21-7 (.750)
  • Less than 75% = 12-9 (.571)

Note: Four to 7 targets with 1 incompletion appears to be the sweet spot; Seattle is 5-1 in those situations (.833), but “only” 16-6 (.727) when Carson is targeted 1-6 times and feels like he’s gotta catch ‘em all.