Losses can be tough to swallow, but no NFL team in history has gone 19-0 so while they're not completely necessary they are totally expected. Even if we spend the next 48 hours saying, "Woah! That was totally unexpected!"
I haven't expected the Seahawks to lose a game since perhaps October 18, 2012, a Thursday night road loss to the 49ers. In the 32 games since I did not expect them to go undefeated, but I wouldn't say that after any of those losses since that I thought to myself, "Well, I saw that coming." Because Seattle has played the best football in the National Football League since mid-2012 and almost certainly continue to be a rightful favorite against any team they play.
This week, the Seahawks take on arguably the second-best team in the NFL by my standards, the Broncos, but the game comes in Seattle; the Seahawks have won 18 of their last 19 in Seattle. I expect them to win but if they lose, it won't be unexpected.
Here are the expected and unexpected advanced stats after two weeks and Week 2.
Seattle at San Diego Expected Win Probability Chart (via Pro-Football-Reference)
Even on the road the Seahawks were 65% favored to win this game at kickoff, by PFR's standards. They held court until early in the second quarter when Antonio Gates gave the Chargers a 10-7 lead and on the ensuing drive by Seattle, Russell Wilson was sacked for a loss of nine yards and San Diego quickly had the ball back. It was a bit of a slow burn after that, but the Chargers methodically and assuredly put the game away with their consistent third-down conversions.
It's the first time that the Seahawks haven't been favored at some point in the second half (or even fourth quarter) since that game against San Francisco that I spoke of.
Play of the Game
It's hard to point to any single "moment of victory" when one team scores on all four of their first half possessions. The Chargers dominated the Seahawks defense in a way that no team has since maybe even as far back as 2010. Yes, other teams have scored points on Seattle -- the Falcons in the playoffs, the Colts, the Lions -- but this performance was pretty willful on the part of Philip Rivers.
Which is why Percy Harvin's fumble was so costly.
This was a game in which the Seahawks had to have a razor thin margin of error and instead it was more like "blubber thin." Seattle would have had the ball with almost five minutes remaining in the half and down six points. Even a field goal would have represented a 10-point swing, since Rivers hit Gates for the second time in the quarter to make it 20-7.
How good of a chance did the Seahawks have to score if Harvin didn't fumble it away? Well, they did come right back on the next drive and run five plays for 69 yards in 52 seconds ... San Diego's defense is still not-good, which is why it was so crucial for Rivers to keep his offense on the field.
He did. They won.
The Sea-Hottie and the Sea-Nottie (chart via AdvancedNFLStats)
It can be hard to get an accurate picture of a great or poor performance when one team controls the football for almost 70-percent of the game.
"Hey this player did a lot of this good thing! But this other guy didn't do much of that thing! (The "Oh Brother" tune from The Flintstones plays)" These methods of measurement won't help us much because the Chargers had twice as many offensive snaps as Seattle.
On a rate-per-play basis, who do we like and who do we worry about?
Michael Bennett, he's so hot right now
Bennett took 42 snaps on Sunday (about 50-percent of the available defensive snaps) and generated four QB hurries, a QB hit, a sack, and three stops. Bennett's career high in sacks is nine, but he's already got three through two games.
I'm not sure if Bennett will ever generate the kind of numbers that Pro Bowl voters and the like look for when nominating players for that particular roster, but he has been a Pro Bowl-caliber defensive end for quite some time. Now it's possible that he might get the numbers too.
Through two weeks, Bennett and Cliff Avril each have seven QB hurries, which is tied for second-most for 4-3 defensive ends in the league.
Russell Wilson, smoking hot imho
I think Wilson continues to play on another level. If he had been given an equal number of snaps as Rivers, his numbers would've been even better. On 17-of-25 passing, Wilson had three throwaways and his receivers dropped three passes.
We'll get back to him later.
Doug Baldwin, he's totally on the outskies
It seems weird to even say this, because Baldwin had one of the best catches I've ever seen him make, but Baldwin ended up having a far worse game than he had in all of 2013. In some ways, it was a single game that was worse than his entire 2013 campaign: Per PFF, Baldwin had two drops on Sunday. He had two drops all of last season.
Here, I GIF'd that catch for you so everyone feels better:
Percy Harvin? More like Percy Chagrin
Moving right along (because unfortunately there are a number of guys who were nottie on Sunday) is Harvin. I listed him as one of my "losers" over on SportsOnEarth this week and it's not just that he stepped out of bounds on his 51-yard run and got away with it, or that he fumbled the kickoff and didn't get away with it, but Harvin seemed persona non grata on offense. His one target and two carries is about six targets and three carries shy of what we were expecting.
Maybe that's not his fault, since Seattle seemed to rarely have the ball, but maybe there's something more to it. The Chargers don't seem like a good enough defense to account for Harvin that much. So what happened?
On the outside looking in: KJ Wright and Malcolm Smith
And then there's these two knuckleheads. There were nine pass attempts thrown in the direction of these two and all nine were completed. Two of those went for touchdowns. Wright is supposed to be a borderline Pro Bowler at linebacker while Smith is the reigning Super Bowl MVP looking to cash in next year.
Another game like this though and they'll be cashing in alright. Cashing in with unemployment!
(I kid of course, they're still going to make millions of American dollars.)
DVOA Update (via FootballOutsiders)
For the first time since mid-2012, the Seahawks aren't first or second in DVOA. Their loss dropped them to fifth overall, 2nd in offense, 21st in defense, and 16th on special teams. That being said, remember that this is not DVOA. This is VOA. It's like trying to judge who will make the BCS bowl games based on polls released in August. It doesn't mean a whole lot until we have a better idea of the quality of opponent and we really aren't sure what to make of a fringe team like San Diego.
They made the playoffs last year and if they improved upon that, then they're good. If they snuck in because it's a weak AFC and got lucky on Sunday (plus their close loss to 2-0 Arizona) then maybe it wasn't a good loss for Seattle.
We can't say for sure yet, though it does kind of suck to not see the Seahawks at the number one spot for the first time in a long time. To cope just do what I do: Get in the fetal position and rock yourself back to sanity while muttering "It's just VOA. It's just VOA. It's just VOA."
Stat of the Week
There is very little to be happy about when it comes to finding stat nuggets this week. Even though I think Richard Sherman had a fine game (he did) the 54 yards he allowed were technically more than he gave up in any one game last season, including playoffs. Considering that he didn't give up a touchdown or any long plays and people still said he was "exposed" just goes to show what kind of standards Sherman is being held to right now.
Conversely, Joe Haden and Patrick Peterson did allow touchdowns, while young players like Jimmie Ward, Stephon Gilmore, and Dee Milliner were carelessly used over and over again like dish rags.
But the Seahawks just could not account for Gates, something that they'll absolutely need to do against Julius Thomas and the Broncos this week. They didn't have a problem with it in the playoffs last year ...
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On Sunday, Gates caught all seven of his targets and gained 96 yards with three touchdowns. In 19 games last year, not a single tight end gained more than 90 yards on the Seattle defense in one game. Vernon Davis had 57 yards over three games. Jimmy Graham had 50 over two, including a touchdown in garbage time. Graham, Davis, and Thomas all faced the Seahawks in the playoffs and they combined to catch seven passes for 51 yards and no touchdowns.
Stat of the week? I said it would not be pretty: Seahawks gave up three touchdowns to Gates after only giving up five touchdowns to tight ends all of last season, including playoffs.
Week 3 Opponent - Denver Broncos
Either my head is in the clouds as I daydream of beating Paul Allen in a $100 million hand of poker and we're laughing about it or this is a Super Bowl rematch that people aren't all that keyed into this week. I'm a little surprised that this game didn't hit the Sunday or Monday night schedule but here we are.
Sunday afternoon in Seattle, Peyton Manning gets his opportunity for revenge. Except for instead of playing for "all the marbles" they're playing for a half-pack of Donruss bubble gum cards and seven A-Team pogs.
The Broncos come into this game 2-0, having beaten the Colts and Chiefs, with Manning looking like his usual self with six touchdowns and no interceptions. Denver had an active offseason that included overhauling their secondary with Aqib Talib, T.J. Ward, Bradley Roby, and seeing the return of Chris Harris. They also added DeMarcus Ware and will have Von Miller, a player who was unavailable in February.
But this isn't a perfect team.
Indianapolis and Kansas City both made the playoffs last year, but today they sit as 0-2 disappointments who face long roads to postseason return invitations. The Broncos will see the 2014 debut of Wes Welker, but kicker Matt Prater remains on suspension. His replacement Brandon McManus has not even attempted a kick over 30 yards yet this season and you never know when a game like this will come down to one kick. Another special teams question mark is rookie receiver Isaiah Burse, who has returned three punts for just four yards.
On offense, Demaryius Thomas is off to a very slow start by his standards, having caught only nine of his 18 targets and for just 12.2 yards per catch. Denver let Knowshon Moreno walk in free agency and his replacement Montee Ball is averaging just 3.6 yards per carry on 35 attempts.
As pass rushers go, it would be hard to think of a better duo than Ware and Miller (at least historically speaking in the context of their whole careers) but through two games they've been very good, not great. In fact, I'd say that right now Bennett and Avril are generating just as much push on the quarterback this year, if not more.
The truth is that the Broncos defense is smattered with a few big names but is largely made up of players that are not playing that great. Derek Wolfe, Malik Jackson, and Quanterus Smith -- they aren't just new characters in Twilight: Raging Eclipse -- they are the guys sharing time at defensive end with Ware. But they might be more useful in a new Twilight series.
Denver ranks first in DVOA and they almost certainly could be the best team in the AFC, but they're five-point underdogs this week for a reason. It's going to take more than not-bobbling-the-first-damn-play-of-the-game to win this one. And it's going to take more than just homefield advantage for the Seahawks to do the same.
Not a perfect team, but they make for the perfect matchup.
Russell Wilson Stats Update
Wilson in Week 2: 17-of-25, 202 yards, two touchdowns, no interceptions, two rushes for 18 yards
It's Wilson's 13th career game with two touchdowns and no interceptions, tying him for most-ever for a player through three seasons with Jeff Garcia. It's his 19th career regular season game with a passer rating of at least 100, tying him for most ever with Joe Flacco, Dan Marino, and Carson Palmer. Wilson has a lot of season left to play.
Wilson hasn't thrown an interception since Week 16 of last season against Arizona. That's six straight games, the longest streak of his career.
Wilson has 25 career regular season wins. His 26th win will tie him for eighth-most wins through first three seasons with Marc Bulger, Bernie Kosar, Joe Ferguson, Mark Sanchez, and ... Peyton Manning. The record for most total wins in a QB's first three official seasons is 33, by Marino and Matt Ryan.
Manning holds the NFL record for most games with a touchdown pass through three seasons, with 44. Wilson would have to throw a TD pass in every game for the rest of the season to tie that. However, the record for most games to have at least one TD pass without an interception through three years is 22, held by Flacco. Wilson has 18 such games. Manning had ... 10.
Wilson and Kurt Warner through almost exactly the same number of career attempts:
People are looking for all kinds of reasons to discount what Wilson is doing, which is honestly rather mind-boggling. Here you have one of the best first-three-year quarterbacks in NFL history and everyone else is staring at ... that other guy. If Wilson didn't have a defense, people would say "Well, he's always in shootouts!" and when he does have a defense, it's about how they must be the ones setting up all these easy scoring drives.
There's nothing easy about a scoring drive. That's why people give a shit when they happen and bitch when they don't.
Wilson is great. He rarely makes mistakes. He has thrown 11 interceptions over his last 31 games. He's willing to throw the ball away when he has to rather than try to force something that isn't there. He'll slide, he'll get out of bounds, he'll hope for seven yards but protect himself and the football even if it means he'll only get five. Ask that Washington quarterback about that. He's got a big arm, a strong arm, and a mostly-accurate arm. His football IQ is at phenom levels for a player of his age and experience.
When people watch the game on Sunday they won't look at Wilson on one side, then that other guy on the other side and say, "Hmmm, that looks like the next Peyton Manning." Because he doesn't look like the next Manning. No, he doesn't fit the prototypical model that Manning built for that Indy quarterback. Wilson is something entirely else.
He's not Manning, he's Wilson. They aren't the same. That doesn't have to be a bad thing or a good thing or a thing at all. Rather than compare the two, admire each individually. But damn it ... Do admire Russell Wilson.
Players like these two quarterbacks don't come around very often.