The Seahawks play the Cardinals on Sunday and a loss for either team and they should be looking forward to the 2019 draft. But the numbers from 2018 tell us who will win this week.
The Seahawks should win on Sunday. Should being the important word here. The Vikings should have demolished the Bills in week three but the reverse happened. So on any given Sunday…
But Seattle travels to Arizona having the better quarterback, slightly better offensive line (seriously!), better receivers and better individual players on defense, such as Earl Thomas and Bobby Wagner. But what do the statistics from each team tell us about who really should win on Sunday?
3rd down defense
In 2017, even with Richard Sherman, Michael Bennett and Kam Chancellor (for most of the season), Seattle stunk at getting opposing offenses off the field on third down. This is not the case this season. The Seahawks currently rank as the seventh best defense on the third down conversions allow first downs just 32 percent of the time.
The Cardinals, though, are seventh worst in the NFL and allow first downs 45 percent of the time on third downs. What does this mean for Seattle? Great things possibly.
The Seahawks want to win by running the ball, just like they did in week three against Dallas. Or, at least, they should want to win by running. If Seattle can stay on the field by converting third downs, this should translate to Arizona’s defense getting tired in the second half. This after being worn down by Chris Carson running over and through them.
Time of possession
This piggybacks on third down conversions, but so far in 2018 Arizona is atrocious in time of possession. The Cardinals keep the ball for just 23:48 of the game, easily worst in the league. This is two-and-a-half minutes worse than the next worst team, the Colts.
Not only is Arizona not scoring any points (just 20 points total this year), but they do their defense no favors by keeping them on the field. Again, Seattle should run the ball against Arizona and eat clock. By the fourth quarter, Arizona could be a tired team.
The Seahawks are not much better in time of possession at 27:44. But Seattle held the ball for 32:44 against Dallas last week. They did this by focusing on running the ball. Hopefully, Brian Schottenheimer will have the same kind of game plan in mind against the Cardinals.
Yards after first contact – Chris Carson vs. David Johnson
Johnson is coming back in 2018 after being injured in 2017. Prior to his injury, he was one of the best running backs in the NFL. Johnson might still get back to his 2016 level, or he may struggle against a bad offensive line.
Johnson, though, is averaging just 1.97 yards after first contact, this is 49th in the NFL. Maybe he is getting hit early on runs, but he isn’t do a whole lot to create his own yards at this point either.
Carson, though, averages 3.52 yards after first contact. In fact, a lot of the yards Carson gets seems to ones he creates. He pushes piles and simply acts as if it is a personal affront to be brought to the ground. Carson ranks fifth in the league with yards after first contact.
The three statistics above are critical in Sunday’s game. Arizona has so far not stayed on the field on offense, hasn’t been able to get the opposing offense off the field on third down and Carson picks up yards after contact. If Seattle gives the ball to Carson 20-plus times against Arizona, Seattle will win a fairly low scoring game but one in which they control the clock.