The Seattle Mariners have clinched their first playoff spot since the magical 2001 season when they tied the major league record with 116 wins.
The Mariners finally ending MLB’s longest active playoff-free streak may be the highlight of the weekend for Seattle given the fact that the Seahawks are road underdogs on Sunday morning against the better-than-expected Detroit Lions.
Speaking of the Lions ...
Through the season’s first 3 weeks, the Lions have the league’s 3rd-best rushing attack (170.3 yards per game) and the 3rd-best overall offense (409 ypg).
Unfortunately (for the Lions), their top running back, D’Andre Swift is expected to miss Sunday’s game with shoulder and ankle injuries.
Swift’s backup, Jamaal Williams, is good enough that I added him to 11 of my 33 fantasy teams. He’s a different type of back than Swift though, as these stats show:
- Swift: 27 carries for 231 yards (8.6 average, long of 50) with 1 TD
- Williams: 43 carries for 168 yards (3.9 average, long of 15) with a league-leading 4 TDs*
* Tied with the Cleveland Browns’ Nick Chubb.
- Swift: 151 carries for 617 yards (4.1 average, long of 57) with 5 TDs
- Williams: 153 carries for 601 yards (3.9 average, long of 20) with 3 TDs
How Detroit does on the ground is one of the keys to the game for me - especially since Seattle’s defense has surrendered an average of 157.0 yards per game thus far - “good” for 3rd-worst league-wide.
As if Detroit needed another reason to try to pound the rock against the Seahawks, their #1 wideout will be in street clothes on Sunday. Well, maybe not in street clothes, but not in the game - Amon-Ra St. Brown was ruled out by his Head Coach on Friday.
Through the first 3 weeks, Amon-Ra had been targeted 33 times. Tied at #2 for targets are WR D.J. Chark and TE T.J. Hockenson with 18 apiece. Amon-Ra has 253 yards and 3 TDs this season; between them, Chark and Hockenson have 180 yards and 2 TDs.
Josh Reynolds will presumably be the #1 target on Sunday (10/16 for 162 with 1 TD through 3 weeks) but Detroit’s passing attack clearly revolves around last year’s 4th-round pick (#112 overall) so his being out should benefit the Seahawks.
Especially with D’Andre Swift (12 receptions for 77 yards with 1 TD) also
in street clothes not playing in the game.
As surprisingly good as the Lions have been on offense thus far, their defense has been the polar opposite.
- Week 1, vs. the Philadelphia Eagles: The Lions scored 35 points but let the Eagles score 38.
- Week 2, vs. the Washington Commanders: Detroit led 22-zip at halftime but let the Commanders claw back to within 1 score before holding on for a 9-point win.
- Week 3, at the Minnesota Vikings: The Lions led by 10 heading into the 4th quarter but lost by 4 after allowing the Vikings to score 14 unanswered points.
Overall, Detroit has surrendered 93 points in 3 weeks - an average of 31 per game - which is just shy of a touchdown and a 2-point conversion more than Seattle’s defense has given up on a per-game basis (70 total; 23.3 average).
To be fair, Jared Goof gifted Philly with a pick-6 which shouldn’t really count against the Lions defense (even if it does on ESPN and other similar sites). Subtracting the points from the Eagles’ house call drops Detroit’s defense’s points allowed to 28.7 per game which is still 4.4 points more than Seattle’s D has allowed.
Bottom line: Seattle’s D may be struggling but Detroit’s D is struggling also - and more so.
Oh, and at least the Seahawks can make stops in the red zone.
Detroit’s opponents are 10 of 11 in the red zone through the first 3 games whereas Seattle’s opponents are 5 of 13.
Three weeks is not a great sample size on which to make snap judgments, but it’s not that small of a sample size either (3/17ths is basically 1/6th of the season).
QB stats through the first 3 weeks:
- Attempts: 102
- Completions: 79
- Percentage: 77.5%
- Yards: 717
- Average: 7.0
- Yards per game: 239.0
- TD:INT ratio: 4:2
- Sacks, Yards: 6, 52
- Passer Rating: 100.8
- QBR: 62.2
- Attempts: 106
- Completions: 63
- Percentage: 59.4
- Yards: 743
- Average: 7.0
- Yards per game: 247.7
- TD:INT ratio: 2:1
- Sacks, Yards: 6, 52
- Passer Rating: 83.2
- QBR: 45.5
In many ways, it’s like looking at a mirror, stats-wise. Same average yards per throw, same amount of yards lost on sacks, same overall TD:INT ratio (Geno has 2x the TDs and 2x the INTs of Russ), and nearly the same amount of pass attempts (+4 for RW3).
That said, Geno is kicking Russell Wilson’s backside on completions (+16), completion percentage (+ a mile), passer rating (+17.6), and QBR (+16.7).
And the league-wide rankings show it.
Geno is #1 in the league for completion percentage (by 5 full points), RW3 is #27. For passer rating, Geno is #7 with Wilson 15 spots behind him. QBR? 10th (Geno) and 21st (Russ).
Sure, by season’s end both are likely to land closer to their career averages than they are right now which means Wilson will improve and Geno will regress.
But what if they don’t?
Also, I heard or read somewhere that the Seahawks are passing the ball 10% more this year than they ever did with RW3 under center.
I haven’t verified that, but it does make you wonder ....
(Things that make you go Hmmmm....)
Speaking of quarterbacks ...
Thursday night’s game was a reminder that there are things that are more important than football.
I am not going to weigh in on the question of whether Tua Tagovailoa should have been in the game to begin with after what occurred in their game the previous week.
What I will say is that I hope the Miami Dolphins don’t rush Tua back into action until he is 100% ready to resume his role as their starting quarterback.
Heading into this week, there were only two undefeated teams. One of them, the Dolphins, fell to 3-1 on Thursday night. The other one is the Philadelphia Eagles who face the 2-1 Jacksonville Jaguars this weekend at “The Linc” in Philly, PA.
Last I checked, the Eagles were favored by about a touchdown.
At this time last year, there were five undefeated teams: the Arizona Cardinals, the Carolina Panthers, the Denver Broncos, the Las Vegas Raiders, and the Los Angeles Rams. Four of the five lost their Week 4 game.
Note: The Cardinals ran their record to 7-0 then lost 6 of their final 10.
On the other end of the spectrum, we have the 0-3 Raiders and the 0-2-1 Houston Texans.
The Texans were expected to be bad; the Raiders, not so much.
In fact, there were a fair number of pundits who expected the Raiders to be one of the top 2 teams in what was expected to be the best division in the NFL this year.
Interestingly, the Raiders’ 0-3 record doesn’t tell the full story.
On the one side, each of the games have been close with the Raiders’ 3 losses being by a combined 13 points (minus-5 at the Los Angeles Chargers, minus-6 vs. the Cardinals, minus-2 at the Tennessee Titans).
On the other side, each of the teams that beat the Raiders has only beaten the Raiders. That’s right, the Chargers, Cardinals, and Titans are all 1-2 with their lone win coming at the Raiders’ expense.
The streak ends on Sunday with the 2-1 Broncos coming to town.
For what it’s worth, at this point last season, there were 5 teams with zero wins: the Detroit Lions, the Indianapolis Colts, the Jacksonville Jaguars, and both New Jersey teams (the Giants and the Jets).
Three of the five won their Week 4 matchup.
The Jaguars waited until Week 6 to notch their first W, taking down the Miami Dolphins courtesy of a last-second field goal, 23-20.
The Lions waited until Week 13 to get in the Win column, courtesy of a touchdown pass from Jared Goff to Amon-Ra St. Brown with 4 seconds left against the Vikings: Detroit 29, Minnesota 27.
To be fair, the Lions did manage a TIE against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 10 - but ties don’t count as wins, not even moral ones.
Circling back to the undefeated Philadelphia Eagles, how many of you have Jalen Hurts on your fantasy team?
Yeah, I am 0-for-33 on that count.
Did not expect him to have a good season. Fully expected that he’d be greasing the skids for his being unceremoniously dumped at season’s end.
Instead, he’s in the early conversation for MVP.
Through 3 games, Jalen Hurts is 66-of-98 (67.3%) for 916 yards with 4 touchdowns, only 1 interception, and a passer rating of 106.5.
He also has 37 carries for 167 yards and 3 touchdowns.
To put that into proper context, if Jalen Hurts were a team unto himself, he would sport the league’s 11th-best offense at 361 yards per game (tied with the Dolphins).
Because he is not a team unto himself, the team he plays for has the league’s #1 offense with an average of 447 yards per game - which is 5.7 yards better than the Buffalo Bills, 38 yards better than the Lions, and 150.7 yards better than the Seahawks.
Fortunately, Seattle doesn’t play the Eagles this year.
You know who else is a pretty darn good offense unto himself?
- 56-of-88 for 749 yards with 10 TDs, 2 INTs, and a league-leading quarterback rating of 119.0
- 26 carries for 243 yards with 2 TDs
- Combined average of 330.7 yards per game
Want to know who’s better than both Jackson and Hurts?
- 94-of-132 for 1,014 yards with 9 TDs, 2 INTs, and a quarterback rating of 109.8
- 19 carries for 113 yards with 1 TD
- Combined average of 375.7 per game
I would say that I miss “vintage” Russell Wilson but he’s never averaged more than a combined 295.3 yards per game and that was in 2020. During our Super Bowl years, RW3’s averages were 243.5 (2013) and 270.3 (2014). From 2015 to 2017, he averaged between 279.9 and 286.1.
Lamar Jackson, Jalen Hurts, and Josh Allen are at a whole different level.
Each week, PFF posts offensive line rankings.
Through 3 weeks, this week’s opponent, the Detroit Lions are #5 (up 1 spot from Week 2).
The Seahawks land at #26, which is the same spot they were in after Week 2.
Here’s what PFF had to say about Seattle’s O-line:
- Geno Smith was under pressure just 26.1% of the time in a favorable matchup for the Seahawks’ line against Atlanta in Week 3.
- The rookie tackles each earned PFF pass-blocking grades of at least 70.1.
- The Detroit pass rush has been less potent than expected, but the Lions still lead the league in total pressures generated (73).
For what it’s worth, the O-lines for Seattle’s first 3 opponents rank in the top half of the league. The Denver Broncos are currently #8, the Atlanta Falcons are #11, and the San Francisco 49ers are #12.
Our other NFC West rivals are also ranked in the top half of the league with the Cardinals currently at #13 and the Rams at #14.
Fortunately (maybe?), Seattle’s Week 5 opponent, the New Orleans Saints, are ranked in the bottom half, currently landing 3 spots ahead of the Seahawks at #23 overall.
PFF also has weekly quarterback rankings.
Currently, the leaderboard is not what anyone would have expected coming into the season.
You’ve got some familiar names in the top 10, including Lamar Jackson (#2), Patrick Mahomes (#4), Josh Allen (#5), and Matthew Stafford (#10).
But Tom Brady (#12) and Aaron Rodgers (#16) aren’t in the top 10. Neither are Justin Herbert (#11) or Joe Burrow (#13).
Jalen Hurts is #1, Tua Tagovailoa is #3, and Trevor Lawrence is #7. Even more surprisingly, Jacoby Brisset is #6 (!!) and Ryan Tannehill is #8.
The only reason we care about this on Field Gulls though is for the inevitable Geno Smith vs. Russell Wilson comparison.
Geno is in the top 10.
Yeah, you didn’t really think I’d fail to tell you where Geno and Russ landed, did you? Geno is #9 and Russ is #14. In the overall PFF “Bayesian” Quarterback Rankings.
From a PFF grading perspective, Geno is #7 and Russ is #22.
From the perspective of Expected Points Added (EPA), they’re closer with one of them landing at #10 and the other at #12.
Again though, it’s Wilson trailing Smith.
One more thought from PFF’s ranking; this time, the wide receiver rankings ...
Seattle lands at #9 overall.
PFF lists Metcalf as WR1, Lockett as WR2, and Goodwin as WR3, and has this to say about the group:
Outside of the Dolphins, this is probably the fastest wide receiver trio in the NFL. Even the Seahawks’ No. 4 and No. 5 receivers have speed (Penny Hart and D’Wayne Eskridge), which is a rare sight.
Despite subpar quarterback play, Metcalf and Lockett have been exceptional this season. Both have average target depths over 10 yards through three games, and neither player has dropped a pass. They are doing everything in their power to keep the offense afloat, but the quarterback and play caller just aren’t good enough to maximize their talent at the moment.
Hopefully that last sentence gets amended after Sunday’s game.
Personally, I’m expecting BIG things from Seattle’s wideouts against the Lions - something in the neighborhood of 250 yards and 3 touchdowns.
And that’s not counting whatever the tight ends and running backs add to that.
Through the season’s first 3 weeks, there were 28 teams with either 1 or 2 wins, including the Seahawks. Even for a parity-driven league, that’s pretty amazing.
(and Go Mariners!)