When the Arizona Cardinals reside in first place for longer than a week, you just had to know that somehow, some way, Logan Thomas was going to happen. Sure enough it did and now the Seattle Seahawks are a Monday night win away from jumping back into a tie for first place and holding a .5-game lead over the San Francisco 49ers. Lose and things get muddier than Choco Mountain.
That would leave the Seahawks at a slight disadvantage to San Francisco and Arizona, though certainly nothing they couldn't overcome once they play those teams later in the year. Of course, a loss is not ideal ...
But it's also not likely.
On a road game to the east coast for Monday Night Football, Seattle is still a 7-point favorite over the Washington Redskins. The reasons for this are plainly obvious to most fans that pay some attention to the NFL landscape on a week-to-week basis, but here are a few more key numbers and facts that show why Russell Wilson should be bringing home another primetime victory on Monday night.
Nationwide is on Hawk's side
I don't know how valuable it is to point out that the Seahawks .714 winning percentage (20-8) on Monday night is the best in history, but I think that it is noteworthy to ... note ... that under "showtime" Pete Carroll the team plays better for a national audience. It's sort of like the difference between downey-and-out Robert Downey Jr. in Danger Zone (1996, 4.6 on IMDB) and the RDJ that resurrected his career on Ally McBeal.
He plays up to the number of people that are watching versus just taking a paycheck.
Pete's effusive love of the big stage has seeped into his players and it shows. For example, beating the Saints in a Saturday playoff game after going 7-9 in the regular season without any significant wins other than beating the Rams in Week 17 for the division title which came on a Sunday night for a national audience, their only national game that season. They lost to the Bears on a national stage the next week on the road.
The following year, Seattle again went 7-9 but had two national games and won them both.
In 2012, the Seahawks had three national games, one on a Thursday, one on a Sunday, and one on a Monday, and went 2-1. In the playoffs they were 1-1, including a wild card road win in Washington.
In 2013, Carroll's team was the hottest ticket they've been in franchise history, had four nationally-televised games with two on Monday night, and went 4-0. Of course, they had three playoff games seen by anyone in the country who cared to watch, and won all of those. That's a 7-0 record in front of the world last season, and their opening game 36-16 win over the Packers this year makes it eight straight wins in that sector.
Overall since 2010, the Seahawks have a 14-3 record when playing in a nationally-televised game. The fact that Seattle beat Atlanta in their Monday night debut in 1979 means pretty much nothing, but Carroll's .823 win percentage with the Seahawks on Monday, Sunday night, Thursday, or the playoffs, means that Washington is as fudged as an enemy of Frank Underwood.
Meanwhile, the Redskins went 0-5 on national TV last year and are coming off a 45-14 blowout defeat to the Giants two Thursdays ago. Including their loss to Seattle in the playoffs, that's seven straight nationally-televised losses for Washington.
Sometimes it feels like the team or player you never want to be is the team or player that leads the league in rushing. And by "sometimes" I mean in the last couple of years and by "never" I mean unless you win the Super Bowl that season.
The Eagles, last season's rush du jour, are currently 27th in rushing yards and 24th in yards per carry, with LeSean being a little too mc-"coy" with the ball this year.
In 2012, it was Washington's "D.C." (double chrubble) of Robert Griffin and Alfred Morris that led the league in rushing yards, but then they fell to fifth after Griffin got tore up from the toe up and are now 12th with the buzzin' Cousins. That almost seems like an illusion though, because Morris hasn't rushed for 100 yards in a game since November 7 of last year and the Redskins are 1-10 in his last 11 games with only double digits.
Yes, rushing yard totals can be heavily influenced by the fact that you're losing and not the other way around, but Morris has rushed for less than four yards per carry in seven of his last 10 games and he's not even a threat of a threat in the passing game. His backup Roy Helu does have that skill in his arsenal, but does not present much of a rushing threat.
It's not too hard for a defense to diagnose "run or pass" before a play against Washington, which doesn't really matter against the Seahawks cause they don't jord a forge if you run it, pass it, or punt it, they can stop it.
In addition to Seattle's well-known pass defense, the Seahawks are currently first in yards per carry allowed this season. They have not allowed a 100-yard rusher and last season, they allowed just five in 19 games: Zac Stacy, Arian Foster, Colin Kaepernick, Frank Gore, and Mike James. Seattle went 4-1 in those games anyway, but it's always nice when they force a team to lift the ball into their Winner, Winner, "Seachicken" Dinner secondary.
Speaking of which ...
I Get Lifted
Cousins has been forced to lift it 81 times over the last two games, resulting in five interceptions. He has appeared in 11 career regular season games and thrown at least one pick in eight of those games. He has thrown at least two picks in five of those games. Comparably, 2012 draft class mate Russell Wilson has thrown a pick in 16 of 35 games and multiple picks in just three games.
That's a multiple-pick performance in 8.5% of Wilson's games compared to 45.4% of Cousins'.
In other comps:
- Wilson's accuracy percentage (completion percentage but taking into account things like drops, throwaways, hit-as-thrown, batted passes, spikes) is 80.8% per ProFootballFocus, third in the NFL. Cousins is 71.6%, 22nd.
- Cousins is 8-of-18 on deep passes (20 or more yards downfield) with three interceptions, tied for most in the NFL. Wilson, as has been the topic of discussion lately, has only attempted six deep passes. He's completed three of those, without a pick.
- Wilson is number one in the NFL in accuracy% when under pressure, and he's under pressure on 41.9% of his dropbacks, fifth-highest in the league. Cousins is 12th in accuracy% under pressure (65%) but has been pressured on only 22% of his dropbacks.
That number should be higher on Monday night, as Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril are 4th and 6th respectively in "pass rush productivity" for their position per PFF. That's out of all 4-3 defensive ends in the NFL. It's the best pass rush duo in the league right now.
Nobody really needed 300 words to find out that Wilson was better than Cousins, but you got it anyway and it didn't hurt, did it?
Bennett and Avril could be nicknamed "Salt-N-Pepa"
Because when it comes to their presence in the pocket, they like to "ahhh push it. push it good" even moreso than they like to talk about sacks, baby. It's quite impressive to consider that coming into Sunday's games, the only 4-3 defensive end that had as many QB hurries as Avril (12) was Brian Robinson of the Vikings.
Robison has played in five games while Avril in just three, a difference of 137 snaps total.
The only 4-3 DE that had as many QB hits as Bennett (6) was ... nobody. And Bennett also had considerably fewer snaps than his counterparts.
Neither of these players are all that likely to finish in the top five or even top 10 for sacks, but that doesn't mean that they don't force tackles for a loss or turnovers by their pressure. Plus, they'll also get a good number of sacks.
What mighty good men.
The four big reasons why the Seahawks are about to re-take first place in the NFC West are Carroll's preparation for late-night celebrations, Seattle's big-time rush defense against a weakening Washington rush offense, Cousins' propensity for mistakes against Wilson's lack thereof, and the duo that makes you wanna shoop.
It's funny how it almost feels like the Seahawks are back in the middle of the pack after a week off and a "measly" 2-1 record but the truth is that if they happen to win by 16 or more, they'll have the best point differential in the NFC. The team they lost to, the Chargers, has the best point differential in the league currently. If Seattle posted a road shutout they'd have the second-lowest points allowed in the NFL, behind only San Diego.
This team is likely just as good as it was a year ago, now they just need to remind the world ... again.