Note: I haven’t been commenting much on the Seattle Seahawks so far this season. With the year ending injuries to key defensive stars Cliff Avril, Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor, plus the problems with the offensive line and the running game, I have been, more or less, in “wait and see” mode as regards this […]Read the Rest →
The Seattle Seahawks quest to make it to Super Bowl XLVIII (48) picks up again this Saturday at CenturyLink Field in a Divisional playoff game against the New Orleans Saints. These are the same Saints who got their socks blown off at “The Clink” on December 2nd 34-7 and who were rocked by Marshawn Lynch’s inaugural 67 yard Beast Mode run in the Seattle victory during the 2011 playoffs at the same venue. That was the day that the rabid “twelves” at “The Clink” made history by registering on a seismograph with their wild cheering towards the end of Lynch’s run. Many of the ESPN types on TV are speculating on just how Drew Brees and co will be able to win on the road against the favored Seahawks. Brees is an elite quarterback, they say, and the Saints have now found a running game. Witness the 180 plus rushing yards they piled up on the Eagles in last weekend’s Wild Card game in Philadelphia. New Orleans wants revenge and they are hoping that the 3rd time at CenturyLink will be the charm.
Well, all the ESPN types’ talk and the Saints players’ and coaches’ wants and hopes notwithstanding, there is no way the Seahawks will lose this game. The reason can be summed up in one word… “DEFENSE!”
The Seahawks’ defense is just too good. The 16 game regular season is a more than large enough sample size to weed out statistical oddities and anomalies. After 16 games stats do not lie. Check out the following stats on the Seahawks defense:
- The Seahawks are the number one defense in the NFL based on yards allowed to their opponents (273.6 yds per game).
- The Seahawks are the number one passing defense in the NFL based on passing yards allowed to their opponents (172 yds per game)
- The Seahawks are the number one team in the NFL in scoring defense, having given up only 231 points (14.4 points per game average).
- The Seahawks defense did not allow their opponents even a single point on their opening possessions of any game the entire season; the only team in the league to accomplish that.
- The Seahawks defense gave up only 20 touchdowns the entire season; less than 1.5 TDs per game.
- The Seahawks defense allowed their opponents an NFL low 63.4 passer rating, by far the best in the league and nearly 12 points better than the next team. At “The Clink” their opponent’s passer rating for the season is even lower at 56.9. Across their last 3 games of the season their opponent’s passer rating is a microscopic 46! Opposing teams simply have not been able to pass against the Seahawks, especially late in the season.
- The Seahawks defense only allows their opponents an average gain per pass attempt of 5.8 yards, also the best in the league.
- The Seahawks lead the NFL in Take Away/Give Away ratio (called “Turnover Ratio”) with a plus 20, meaning they have gotten 20 more turnovers than they have given up.
- 28 of these turnovers have been interceptions, the most in the entire NFL with Seattle’s All Pro cornerback Richard Sherman having a league leading 8.
- On 3rd down and long yardage situations (defined as 3rd down and 10 yards or more to go for a first down) the Seahawks are allowing a first down just 7.4% of the time, also the best in the league.
As you can see from the above the Seattle defense is simply best in the NFL and is one of the best in recent league history. They demonstrated that when they routed New Orleans 34-7 on December 2nd. Combine that with the best home field advantage in football with all the “twelves” at CenturyLink (Seattle is 15-1 there across the last two seasons) and you have the makings of another win for the Hawks on Saturday, possibly by a significant margin, and another major step toward their Super Bowl goal. The offense just needs to show up, play representative football, not turn the ball over, and the Hawks will win. The defense is that good. Then again, if Russell Wilson has the same kind of game he had against the Saints in December (22-30 for 310 yards, 3TDs and 140 passer rating); God knows what the score will be.
Oh, Brees and the Saints do have weapons. Tight End Jimmy Graham remains a formidable target, catching over 80 balls for 16 scores (tops in the league) and over 1200 yards receiving for the season. Running back Darren Sproles is a threat out of the back field. Partially due to the great linebacker play of KJ Wright the Hawks were able to shut down both players in December. Though Wright will miss this game with a broken foot I expect the deep Hawks “D” to rise to the occasion again.
I am so confident about this that I will do you a favor. I’ll give you a tip. When the Saints beat the Eagles last weekend the Vegas bookmakers immediately installed them as a 9 plus point underdog to the Seahawks for this weekend’s game. As the week has progressed that point spread has dipped down towards 7. My tip is this Hawks fans: take Seattle and the points! They will beat New Orleans by more than a touchdown and you can bet the grocery money on it!
If Seattle plays their game, that is how it will be.
Oh….and did I forget to tell you? The Seahawks’ Percy Harvin, one of the most dynamic receivers and play makers in the NFL, but who has been injured all season, is now fully recovered and will play in this Saturday’s game.
If you saw the few plays he was in against the Vikings in week 11, when he broke a long kick return and made a spectacular catch, you’ve got to love that news….unless you are a Saints fan.
Copyright © 2014
By Mark Arnold
All Rights Reserved