I suppose there’s nonetheless loads of time (however little room for error) for the Seattle Seahawks to make the 2021 playoffs. An additional playoff spot, an additional common season recreation, and but the playoffs appear so far-off as a result of not solely are they 2-5, however the two more than likely groups to take wild card spots (aside from the NFC West runner-up) are the New Orleans Saints and Minnesota Vikings, each of whom maintain wins over Seattle.
How may this occur? How may the Seahawks fall to this point after going 12-4 and successful the NFC West in 2020?
Nicely perhaps it’s time we take a look at that season once more, as a result of I feel regardless of the good DVOA rating (which accounts for opponent energy), there may need been a touch of excellent fortune for Seahawks that made them look significantly better than they really had been. I refer you to a Ben Baldwin tweet from January that holds up fairly properly.
In the event you take a look at the W-L file, there is a case for preserving this regime. However that is willfully ignoring context. The Seahawks received 12 video games in 2020 due to an exceptionally simple schedule, & that point is over. Contemplate the method. And the method has been unsuitable in nearly each manner
— Laptop Cowboy (@benbbaldwin) January 13, 2021
Seattle’s 2020 schedule ranked nineteenth by DVOA and a very good chunk of that’s boosted by taking part in the NFC West, the place even the “worst” rated crew was the Arizona Cardinals at thirteenth. The Seahawks solely performed three eventual playoff groups (the fewest within the NFL): A 7-9 Washington Soccer Crew that benched and ultimately lower their QB, the eventual AFC Championship runner-up Buffalo Payments, and the Los Angeles Rams. They needed to maintain on for pricey life in opposition to WFT, cut up with the Rams, and had been totally crushed down in Buffalo.
As was the case for everybody else within the NFC West, the Seahawks obtained to play the traditionally unhealthy NFC East (and didn’t even sweep that quartet!) and the nonetheless unhealthy AFC East. The Miami Dolphins had been unfortunate to complete 10-6 however miss the playoffs, but it surely didn’t take lengthy for the plain regression candidates to return to being one of many NFL’s worst groups. On the time the Seahawks beat them, Miami’s protection was roughly the identical as Seattle’s in EPA/play and considerably worse (twenty ninth!) when subtracting rubbish time.
And so far as that defensive enchancment you noticed after the halfway level? Let’s take a look at these vaunted offenses they performed and their DVOA rankings:
Los Angeles Rams (2x) – tenth
Arizona Cardinals – nineteenth
San Francisco 49ers – twentieth
New York Giants – twenty sixth
Philadelphia Eagles – twenty eighth
New York Jets – thirty first
Washington Soccer Crew – thirty second
Seattle performed just one above-average offense from Week 10 onwards. Towards the 49ers, Giants, and Washington they performed backup quarterbacks. Carson Wentz and Sam Darnold had been traded at season’s finish and each of them had been among the many worst within the NFL. On the opposite facet of the ball, the Rams, Playing cards, 49ers, and Washington had been all within the top-10 in defensive DVOA. The Seahawks offense noticeably struggled down the stretch and this must be factored in.
By the way, these present Seahawks have seemed significantly better defensively over the previous two weeks… taking part in in opposition to the twentieth (Saints) and twenty second (Steelers) ranked offenses by DVOA. The Jaguars roll into city this weekend at twenty fourth.
And that’s the purpose. The 2021 crew is presently worse than the 2020 squad simply off of the absence of Russell Wilson, however there’s a powerful argument that they’re worse than the 2020 crew even when Wilson is wholesome. Particular groups has actually dipped due to Jason Myers alone. At greatest (which means with Wilson wholesome and different key gamers at full energy), they’re roughly pretty much as good as final yr’s facet, aka nowhere close to Tremendous Bowl rivalry regardless of that gaudy trying file of 2020.
However what’s the most important change this yr (aside from Wilson getting damage)? The schedule. It’s at the moment the 4th hardest in DVOA for earlier opponents, and so they haven’t even performed the Inexperienced Bay Packers or Arizona Cardinals but. In all chance the Titans, Cardinals, Rams, Packers, and no less than one of many Saints or Vikings shall be within the postseason and above .500. These six groups characterize about half of Seattle’s schedule and so they have misplaced to 4 of these groups already. Supposedly issues get simpler with the Lions, Texans, and Washington all on the slate, however by then it’s in all probability already too late to show the season round.
The issues of the 2020 Seahawks by no means actually went away in 2021. The opponents obtained harder.