The Seahawks now enter "The 60/30 Game."
Even before the season started, I would have said that the game in Kansas City is turning me into a cat, because it gave me pause.
Okay. Now that I've gotten rid of all the people who will hate my style of writing, we can continue.
The Chiefs were a playoff team a year ago, albeit an overrated one that faced an incredibly easy schedule and couldn't be any team worth a damn, but they were still clearly better than average. They have two devastating pass-rushers on the edge, one who comes straight up the middle, an elite running back, and a substantial homefield advantage. But losing in Kansas City wasn't as scary of a proposition back when most fans thought that might drop Seattle to 9-1 or 8-2.
Instead, the Seahawks sit at 6-4 with the division nearly out of reach. Lose the next one and it definitely will be, win it and call Thin Lizzy because the boys are back in town. According to Nate Silver and FiveThirtyEight, Seattle will have 60% odds of making the playoffs if they win this game, 30% if they lose.
"The 60/30 Game."
That's the biggest potential swing for any team in the NFL this weekend, and if you take a moment to soak in the context it gets even more important when you consider that four days later they have to play a game in San Francisco. If Seattle can pull off the "Bada-Bing" of the century and win those two games (plus a win in Philly the next week wouldn't hurt) then their playoff hopes might as well be as guaranteed as Callahan Auto Parts, and we'll forget all this nonsense of the sky falling.
But just as easily we could all be planning for a draft pick somewhere in the teens before the turkey has managed to make it's way through our small intestines.
Just remember this ...
If the Seahawks do drop to 6-5, it won't be long after the last time they dropped to 6-5. That was back in 2012 following a loss to the Miami Dolphins. Most everyone on this site was calling it another failed experiment of a season under Pete Carroll, and wondering how much longer Russ could hold onto the job. But whether your playoff chances are 1 or 100, you have a chance. That's what matters. I wrote my game recap as "I'm not going to just give up now" and since that loss, Seattle has been the best team in football.
As of today, the Seahawks have a 43.5% chance of making the playoffs, per FootballOutsiders, but what does it really mean? It means that a number exists and that number is designed to change every week until it's 0 or 100, and on that day, that's when it will truly mean something. Until then, we're all just people turning into cats.
Seahawks at Chiefs Win Probability Chart (via Pro-Football-Reference)
There was hope in the fourth quarter for Seattle, of course, but the Chiefs were favored to win this game for almost the entire 60 minutes. As much as the Seahawks did to keep it within a score, even having the audacity to take the lead in the third quarter on a pass to former KC tight end Tony Moeaki, the odds were never too strong in their favor.
Play of the Game
Kearse dropped a touchdown. That's all there is to it. Did you see the touchdown catch that JJ Watt made on Sunday?
"Chiefs" and "Chumps" (chart from Advanced Football Analytics)
- Earl Thomas was in ridiculous mode for this game. Playing on the same field as 2010 safety classmate Eric Berry, Thomas tied a career-high with 10 solo tackles, and forced a career-high two fumbles. (Thomas had two forced fumbles all of last season, and that was the most of his career for a single season.)
You don't think Thomas is taking it upon himself to do whatever it takes to help guide Seattle through the storm?
He was a real "Chief" on Sunday. (In the sense that he was like the king of the castle, not that he was a member of the Kansas City Chiefs.)
- Why did Lynch get such a negative grade for a 124-yard performance? He actually picked up a few first downs on 1st-and-10 situations, but he gained just two yards on a 3rd-and-4 in the fourth quarter, and then zero yards on a 4th-and-1.
Those moments he was "frustrated" with, were also quite costly.
- Luke "frickin' finally" Willson caught all three of his targets, gaining 51 yards. He caught one pass in the short left, and two in the short right. We could really use him (or anyone) in that deep, middle area however.
- When you don't have a reliable big man like Brandon Marshall or Demaryius Thomas to target in the red zone, and instead your number one is Doug Baldwin, that means that you're often looking for smaller, less-reliable people to catch touchdowns. And that's how you end up with Jermaine Kearse dropping a touchdown that would have made this article a whole lot different.
The Seahawks need to -- and will -- go out and get a big (both in name and stature) receiver next offseason.
DVOA Update (via Football Outsiders)
The Seahawks drop to seventh overall, a new DVOA-low since the Advanced Stats series started last season. A drop in passing offense, defense, and special teams, has given Pete Carroll a whole new set of challenges to overcome over the rest of the year.
Seattle's slippage on defense can be attributed to ranking 18th in DVOA on pass defense. What's worse is that their fourth-ranked run defense will likely only continue to tumble after the loss of Brandon Mebane.
That being said, they ranked 2nd against number one receivers, meaning that perhaps Arizona's number two and three receivers will have to do most of the work. The Seahawks rank 18th against a number two and 25th against all other receivers.
Seattle is the number one ranked rushing offense and 21st in passing. I am honestly surprised they are as high as 21. That'll adjust as the season goes on.
We can now see that the Cardinals and 49ers are ranked high enough for me to expand the screenshot a bit and include them. San Francisco is 11th and Arizona at 15th. FO points out that the Cardinals are the worst-rated 9-1 team in their history of tracking DVOA back to the late 80s and of the 10-worst 9-1 teams only the 2006 Colts ended up winning the Super Bowl. However, eight of those teams made it at least as far as the NFC title game.
The Broncos remain steady at first despite the fact that they just don't look that good right now. Peyton Manning has thrown two picks in each of the last three games, and Denver has lost two of those. Who knows how things will look a month from now, but everything appears wide open.
Week 12 opponent - Arizona Cardinals
DVOA Overall: 15 ; Offense: 23 ; Defense: 6 ; Special Teams: 15
How does a team lose perhaps it's best defensive player (Daryl Washington) to suspension, one of their other greats to free agency (Karlos Dansby) and injuries (Darnell Dockett, John Abraham) and get one really disappointing performance from another (Patrick Peterson) and still go 9-1 with a good defense?
Because they may have added the best Defensive Player of the Year candidate that nobody is talking about: Antonio Cromartie.
Signed to just a one-year deal after making the Pro Bowl in each of the last two seasons with the Jets, Cromartie is playing out of his mind right now. Since Week 6 he's allowed a passer rating of just 17.3 on 26 passes thrown to a receiver he's covering. Over the last four games, that number drops to 9.3.
On the last 17 attempts thrown to Cromartie, seven have been completed (for just 51 yards) and three have been intercepted. This despite the fact that he's faced off against receivers like Jeremy Maclin, Dez Bryant, Calvin Johnson, and Golden Tate over the last four weeks.
Cromartie, who had 10 interceptions in his second season with the Chargers but has consistently averaged three-picks-a-year over the last seven seasons, is someone that Wilson will probably avoid for most of the game. Peterson is allowing a passer rating of 97.6 this year and Jerraud Powers is at 76.4. But even Peterson has been improving: He's allowed a rating of 29.5 on 22 attempts over the last three weeks. That includes two interceptions, but he's also been penalized three times.
Rookie safety Deone Bucannon (he of Washington State) has been torched in pass defense however (passer rating allowed over 118 since Week 6) and so it could be Wilson-to-Willson deep middle a couple of times.
On offense, Larry Fitzgerald is going to play through an MCL sprain which is bad news for Seattle. Despite the fact that he's not the "monster" he once was, Fitzgerald is easily the best receiver on Arizona. He's caught 70.8% of his 65 targets for 658 yards and two touchdowns. Michael Floyd is at an abysmal 48.1% catch rate with four drops (Fitz has zero drops) and 457 yards. Rookie John Brown has been a surprise, catching 56.7% of 60 targets for 468 yards. He has five touchdowns and two drops.
Floyd also has two fumbles, so perhaps one of those will bounce to the Seahawks, finally.
Quarterback Drew Stanton has 99 fewer pass attempts than Carson Palmer, but he has two interceptions (Palmer had just three), he's completing 53.6% of his attempts (Palmer was at 63.4%) has a rating of 84.1 (96 for Palmer.) It's not fair to compare a QB to his predecessor, i.e "Luck and Manning" but I think it's fair to say that the Cards are worse off with Stanton than Palmer. How bad? We don't know yet, but it's not looking good.
Arizona is 3-1 on the road, having lost by 21 to the Broncos in Denver. They did beat the Giants, Raiders, and Cowboys on the road, and all by 11 points exactly.
Russell Wilson stats update
This week: 20-of-32, 178 yards, two touchdowns, no interceptions, 5.56 Y/A, 98.2 passer rating, eight rushes for 71 yards
This is Wilson's first two-touchdown passing game since the Rams in Week 7. He dropped back to pass 40 times, made 32 throws, ended up running it six times, and was sacked twice. His last four games since that game in St. Louis have been really uneven where you might "like what you did here, but not so much over there" and in total he has a passer rating of 74.2 over that period of time.
You don't want to know the QBs that have a better passer rating over the last month.
But Wilson's ability to keep the chains moving with his legs is really an accomplishment that shouldn't be discounted. He gained 14 yards on a 2nd-and-12 in the second, then 12 yards on a 1st-and-10, then 14 yards on a 1st-and-10, then 11 yards on a 1st-and-10 in the fourth quarter, immediately followed on the next play with another 11-yard run. He gained three first downs with his legs on that drive alone; it should have ended in a game-leading touchdown, but it didn't.
He could use some help.
This year: 182-of-291, 62.5%, 2,019 yards, 13 TD/5 INT, 6.9 Y/A, 90.8 passer rating, 74 rushes for 571 yards and four touchdowns
Wilson leads the NFL with 7.7 yards per carry and is now on-pace for over 900 rushing yards. That would be the third-highest total for a QB in the modern era, behind Michael Vick and Randall Cunningham. But even if his passing numbers are struggling, he's a much better passer than either of those players.
He also has the most rushing yards in the 4th quarter and overtime of any player in the league. Not just quarterbacks, he's got more rushing yards over that period of time than any running back either. In fact, he would have the most rushing yards in just the fourth quarter alone, but he's lost 10 yards on kneel downs. Otherwise, he'd have a few more fourth quarter rushing yards than Le'Veon Bell. Instead, he's only in second.
I don't know what that means, but it's gotta be counted, right?
If you're thinking that Seattle has no vertical game, you're right. Wilson has attempted just 29 passes "deep" (20 or more yard downfield) which ranks 26th in the league. Surprisingly, Aaron Rodgers has attempted just 30 deep passes.
Wilson has completed 11 of those throws for 346 yards, two touchdowns, two interceptions.
Rodgers has completed 16 of his for 693 yards, nine touchdowns, no interceptions.
Pat, can I buy a "Jordy Nelson"?