Tuesday, November 19, 2013
Best NFL team? Don't forget about Seattle
By John McTigue, ESPN Stats & Info
The Sunday night matchup between the Kansas City Chiefs and Denver Broncos effectively decided the No. 1 spot in the weekly ESPN.com NFL Power Rankings. Either the Chiefs or the Broncos have been No. 1 since Week 4, and Denver reclaimed the spot with the win.
Both teams are 9-1, but lost in the ballyhoo of the matchup is the fact that one team is 10-1: the Seattle Seahawks.
The Seahawks (No. 2 this week) may be the most complete team in the NFL, with an efficient offense (almost) like the Broncos and a disruptive defense on par with the Chiefs.
The Seahawks haven’t scored nearly 40 points per game like the Broncos have this season, but at 27.8 points per game, the Seahawks still rank fourth in the NFL and boast one of the most balanced offenses in the league.
The Seahawks' rushing attack continues to be one of the best in the NFL, averaging 147.9 yards a game. Only the Redskins (155.2) and Eagles (150.6) have averaged more rushing yards per game. Seattle's 4.5 yards per rush is sixth-best in the NFL.
Only the 49ers (48 percent) have run more frequently than the Seahawks (47 percent) this season, but when Seattle has passed, the results have been good.
The Seahawks have averaged an NFL-best 8.7 yards per pass attempt this season. This rate is boosted by Russell Wilson, who has shown a great ability to throw the ball deep. Wilson has completed an NFL-best 59.4 percent of his passes thrown 15-plus yards downfield this season, an improvement on last season's sixth-ranked 51.1 completion percentage.
Percy Harvin made his Seahawks debut in Week 11 and his addition will complement Wilson.
Harvin gained 528 yards after the catch last season, fifth-most in the NFL despite missing seven games. Harvin did most of his damage on shorter passes, catching 38 at or behind the line of scrimmage. Harvin averaged 8.4 yards per reception on those plays with 11.1 yards after the catch.
The Seahawks' defense has allowed 16.3 points per game this season, third-best in the NFL, but 2.5 points worse than the second-ranked Chiefs.
The Chiefs' defense had been leading the NFL in sacks until failing to record one against the Broncos. The Seahawks have three fewer in one extra game, but sacks don’t tell the entire pass-rushing story.
The Seahawks have sacked or put opposing quarterbacks under duress on 36.5 percent of dropbacks, best in the NFL (Chiefs: 28.8 percent). The constant stream of pressure has helped the Seahawks force the most turnovers (26) this season, including the most interceptions (16) and highest interception percentage (4.4 percent of attempts).
When passes are completed against the Seahawks, they don’t go far. Seattle has allowed 6.0 yards per pass attempt this season, third-best in the NFL. The low yards per attempt are in large part due to a lack of YAC. The Seahawks have limited opposing receivers to a league-low 4.2 yards after the catch this season.