The Path to the (other) Title: Seahawks Week 8 DVOA Outlook
By Brad Howell
Despite the terrible performance by Seattle’s offense last week, the Seahawks still sit at number 2 in Football Outsiders DVOA rankings.
Last week’s “epic” tie against the Cardinals was about as good for Seattle’s DVOA title hopes as it was their real title hopes. It wasn’t really helpful, but it didn’t damn them either. Overall, the Seahawks dropped one spot to 2nd place while somewhat surprisingly falling in both the offensive and defensive DVOA categories. My gut feeling watching the game was the defensive numbers would improve while the offense declined…guess not.
The biggest changes this week in the DVOA top ten came from the Eagles shellacking the Vikings. Philadelphia moved into first place with Minnesota dropping to seventh. The top ten also became more condensed as Seattle and Minnesota have fallen back to the pack. At this point there isn’t a clear frontrunner for the DVOA title as most of the teams are relatively imbalanced in their component DVOA scores.
As always, head over to Football Outsider’s for the full details on the current DVOA standings.
Week 7 DVOA Recap
Last week was not kind to Seattle’s DVOA splits as they declined slightly in every category. This isn’t surprising for the offense, as Russell Wilson and company literally did nothing on offense except for one drive in overtime. As I mentioned earlier, I did find it strange the defense dropped a little and my best guess is this was mostly due to opponent adjustment; Arizona was already just the 24th ranked offense according to DVOA prior to the matchup. Shutting them down wasn’t worth as much as say Philadelphia embarrassing Minnesota’s 11th ranked offense (I know, I’m as surprised as you Minnesota was ranked that highly).
I’m starting to lose hope that the rushing game will improve before Wilson regains his mobility. It’s become pretty clear how much the running game is aided by Wilson’s legs. Christine Michael has actually looked decent (FO’s 15th ranked RB) but the rushing offense in its entirety has not developed into a credible threat.
It’s still weird to see Seattle’s offensive DVOA numbers so disproportionately skewed towards the passing game, but that’s the reality we live in today. When Seattle needs a clutch play, it tends to come by way of Wilson’s arm rather than his or the RB’s legs like in seasons past.
Defensively, Seattle fell slightly in each defensive category but still remains in the top five. The defense’s performance last Sunday night was impressive on so many levels that it’s really too bad it’s not reflected in the numbers below. Either way, the results are setting up a similar matchup this weekend as the game against Atlanta: great pass offense versus great pass defense, mostly crap everywhere else.
Week 8 Outlook
Like the Atlanta game, this matchup pits strength against strength although this time the offensive “juggernaut” gets to play in their home dome. Offensively, New Orleans will likely look to exploit the slot with surging rookie wide receiver Michael Thomas and by moving Brandin Cooks inside. I also wonder if they try a tactic of subbing wideouts in to run multiple go-routes in a row to attempt to fatigue Seattle’s corners coming off of their exhausting game last week.
Considering the Saints historically play very well at home, I don’t think it’s a stretch to think this game will require the Seahawks offense to seriously step up. I worry the early kickoff combined with the after effects of last week’s marathon game (no Mike Bennett!) will allow the New Orleans offense to make Seattle’s defense look mortal. Can the Seahawks offense keep up? I think so, actually.
So far this season, Seattle has averaged 30 points in its three games against below average defenses like the Saints. I think Seattle should be able to run and throw effectively against this Saints defense. Ideally, Seattle can grab a quick lead and attempt to extend possessions with the running game in order to keep the defense off of the field as much as possible. If this game turns into a quick back and forth affair, I think that favors the Saints.
Next: Saints feels like a classic trap game
Remember that crazy comeback game against the Texans in 2013? The one where Sherman made that one-shoe pick six to force overtime where Seattle eventually won on a Hauschka field goal. Well, the next week they travelled to Indianapolis and lost in a wild back and forth shootout to the Colts. That’s kind of what I fear happens today, with the Saints playing the role of the Colts.
No Kam, no Bennet, heavy legs. Seattle loses a dramatic one 34-30.