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The StatHawk, Weeks 2-3: The Tipping Points

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This week's stats are: Record by points allowed, and points per drive, weaved together into one narrative sans neckbeard.

Win McNamee

These two teams, the Seahawks and Broncos, have met before, if memory serves.

But if you think the Hawks are going to complete the fantasy -- and fantastical -- trifecta of "safety+special team score+defensive score" again on Sunday, you're a teeny tiny bit delusional. Our kind of delusional, to be sure, and you've brought your cuckoo-brain to the right place, but still.

Field Gulls on Facebook

If you think the Hawks are once again going to hold the Broncos to eight measly, pathetic, lame, forgettable, lousy, non-competitive, putrid, historically shameful points, I've got some fairly recent Antonio Gates highlights to drag out of the archives. Don't make me do it.

Well then, what is the magic number of points Denver needs to turn this game from a blowout into a ball-out? 20? 24? 28? Yeah, about that much, probably. Late in the game against San Diego, after the Chargers scored point 27 (aided by actual video evidence of Bruce Irvin's brain melting to gray goo), a piece of ominous trivia flashed across the screen. "The Seattle Seahawks have lost 32 consecutive games when giving up 27 or more points."

All right, let's say the Broncos don't  collectively shit their pants in front of a billion people this time around, and after they catch a break or two in their favor this time, they manage to put 27 on the board. Is that really a death sentence? At first glance, the Pete Carroll-led Seattle Seahawks' history suggests yes. The following table "proves" it.

Points allowed W-L record Notes
0-5 3-0 Cards and Niners on this list. Next: Rams!
6-7 7-1 Includes 6-3 loss at Cle in Week 7 of 2011
8-9 3-0 Hawks are 1-0 when outscoring foe 43-8
10-11 3-0
12-13 6-1
14-15 5-0
16-17 6-1
18-19 1-3 that's weird, right?
20-21 5-2 20 points exactly in 3 straight games in 2010!
22-23 2-3
24-27 2-2 Have never allowed 26 or 27 points under PC.
28-31 0-5 Includes 2012 divisional loss to Atl
32-35 0-7 2010 team gave up four such losses
36+ 1-4 Includes Beastquake! (41-36 victory wooo)

Enough gazing at that table allowed me to simplify it into three tiers:

Points allowed W-L Record
0-17 33-3
18-25 10-10
26+ 1-16

The only time a Carroll-coached Seahawks team has won a game when giving up 26 or more points is The Game That Shook The Earth, Episode I. Before and since then, no dice.

The raw statistics above lead to a lazy analysis of "give up four TD's equals automatic loss," and the misguided conclusion that it will be a death sentence for Seattle's hopes if Peyton spends Sunday Manning his troops up and down the field.

Not so fast, though.

First of all, the Hawks don't allow 30 points at the CLink. That is no longer a thing. The last time that happened was in Week 8... of 2011. When Cincinnati had the temerity to win 34-12. How rude. Since then, the top two point outputs for guests in Seattle are 24 points by Tampa Bay in 2013 and 23 points by New England in 2012. As has been documented by Bill Barnwell at Grantland, the Hawks have developed something of a home-field advantage.

Oh, and Seattle won both those games anyway.

Second of all, the offense that sputtered its way to those 16 losses in 17 forgettable games, that offense is dead and buried. May it never show its zombie face again. Since Wilson took over, the Hawks are indeed winless when giving up 27+, but in those four games, they've scored 28, 28, 24 and 21 points.

The new offense, the actual offense, oh, I'm afraid it will be quite operational, is quite capable of keeping up. With anyone.

Anyone? Hyperbole much?

No. Literally, anyone. For stat two, look at the Seahawks' improvement from year to year, culminating in the last three games:

Year Points Per Drive Offense PPD-Defense PPD
2010 1.35 -0.64
2011 1.44 +0.01
2012 2.19 +0.83
2013 2.12 +0.95
2014 + SB XLVIII 3.07 +1.43

I know the last row has a sample size of only three games. Even by NFL standards, that's tiny. So what sets it apart? It's the only sample size that includes Percy Harvin.

Some context for that last row:

Franchise Year Offensive PPD
Patriots 2007 3.19
Seahawks 2014 + XLVIII 3.07
Broncos 2013 2.83
Rams 2001 2.57
Saints 2009 2.44

You might recognize such teams as the 19-1 Pats, the record-setting Broncos, the Greatest Show on Turf, and a semi-random recent Super Bowl winner known for its offense.

(Quick methodology note: To calculate the Hawks' PPD, I removed safeties, defensive scores and special teams scores, as well as kneel-down drives. The result was 82 points in 27 applicable drives.)

The caveats are in the back of the room, raising their hands again. OK, fine. Yes, the Hawks lost 30-28 in Atlanta two years ago, and yes, they lost 34-28 in Indianapolis last season, and yes, they lost 30-21 in San Diego this season. Giving up 30 is hardly unheard of, that's once a year, even accounting for the Legion of Boom. But in each of those games, the offense possessed the ball with two minutes to go and a chance to take the lead. The Hawks are going to win a game soon in that circumstance. Might as well be this Sunday.

Conclusion: Giving up 27 points to Denver this weekend, which would be the highest home total in the Russell Wilson era, a scenario which seems highly unlikely, is still extremely manageable, as long as the Hawks get about 10 drives to work with. Well, they coincidentally got the ball 10 times in the Super Bowl, 10 times against the Packers, and 10 more times against the Chargers.

Color the StatHawk unworried, whatever color that is.