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Jan 13, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Seattle Seahawks free safety Earl Thomas (29) intercepts a pass intended for Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Roddy White (84) during the fourth quarter of the NFC divisional playoff game at the Georgia Dome. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The Seattle Seahawks Defense Was On The Field Less Than Any Other Defense in 2012

I previewed this study yesterday (it should take me about a week to run all the stats and write up all the results), but now it’s time to get the first look at some of the numbers. I thought we’d start at the basics, and look at the number of drives that each defense was on the field for, and how that related to the number of points scored.

The Seahawks rank 1st in both categories. They were on the field for the least amount of drives (164) of any team, and also gave up the fewest number of total points (245). That shouldn’t come as a surprise if you read yesterday’s preview, since it was that combination that got me interested in undertaking this exhaustive study in the first place.

The league average drives was 181.2. That means that the Seahawks defense played approximately a game and a half less than the average NFL defense. This is significant. That’s a lot less time on the field, and a lot less opportunities for the opposing team to score points.

The Arizona Cardinals were on the other end of the spectrum, their 205 defensive drives was by far the most in the league. That’s 23 more than average, which is almost 2 full game’s worth of possessions. It’s also 41 more drives than the Seahawks defense was on the field for, or about 3 and a half games worth.

That is a mind boggling result to me. I never expected the difference to be that extreme.

I ran a correlational study there’s a a reasonable correlation between the number of drives and number of points given up. Notice I said reasonable, not high. The variables are correlated, but they are not highly correlated. That just means that there are other competing factors going on here, which should come as no surprise. 

There are some interesting outliers. Only 3 defenses were on the field more than that of the Bears, and yet they were 3rd in total points allowed. That’s pretty damn impressive. I think it has to do with that defense’s ability get turnovers to end drives early, but that’s just a guess at this point.

Another interesting outlier are the Arizona Cardinals. Despite being ont he field more than any other defense, they were right in the middle of the pack in terms of points allowed. That’s pretty impressive if you think about it. I bet the Cardinals will miss former defensive coordinator Ray Horton more than they expect they will.

On the other end of the spectrum are the Dallas Cowboys. Only the Seahawk’s defense was on the field less, and yet they were 24th in scoring defense. That’s impressive, but its a “damn they were awful” sort of impressive.

Here’ the full data for all 32 teams:


Rk Team Drives Rk Team TotPts
1 Seattle Seahawks 164 1 Seattle Seahawks 245
2 Dallas Cowboys 168 2 San Francisco 49ers 273
3 Carolina Panthers 170 3 Chicago Bears 277
4 New York Giants 170 4 Denver Broncos 289
5 Indianapolis Colts 173 5 Atlanta Falcons 299
6 Kansas City Chiefs 173 6 Pittsburgh Steelers 314
7 San Francisco 49ers 173 7 Miami Dolphins 317
8 Pittsburgh Steelers 174 8 Cincinnati Bengals 320
9 Atlanta Falcons 176 9 New England Patriots 331
10 Philadelphia Eagles 176 10 Houston Texans 331
11 San Diego Chargers 176 11 Green Bay Packers 336
12 St. Louis Rams 176 12 New York Giants 344
13 Washington Redskins 177 13 Baltimore Ravens 344
14 Miami Dolphins 178 14 St. Louis Rams 348
15 Buffalo Bills 179 15 Minnesota Vikings 348
16 Oakland Raiders 180 16 San Diego Chargers 350
17 Minnesota Vikings 181 17 Arizona Cardinals 357
18 Jacksonville Jaguars 183 18 Carolina Panthers 363
19 Green Bay Packers 184 19 Cleveland Browns 368
20 Tennessee Titans 184 20 New York Jets 375
21 Detroit Lions 185 21 Indianapolis Colts 387
22 Cincinnati Bengals 186 22 Washington Redskins 388
23 Denver Broncos 186 23 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 394
24 New Orleans Saints 187 24 Dallas Cowboys 400
25 New York Jets 187 25 Kansas City Chiefs 425
26 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 187 26 Buffalo Bills 435
27 Baltimore Ravens 190 27 Detroit Lions 437
28 New England Patriots 191 28 Oakland Raiders 443
29 Chicago Bears 192 29 Philadelphia Eagles 444
30 Cleveland Browns 194 30 Jacksonville Jaguars 444
31 Houston Texans 196 31 New Orleans Saints 454
32 Arizona Cardinals 205 32 Tennessee Titans 471

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Tags: Defense Seattle Seahawks

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