By John Boyle
It’s no secret after a win in Chicago two weekends ago, and an absolute thrashing of the Cardinals on Sunday that the Seahawks are playing some pretty good football of late. Just how good is up for debate, and will ultimately be decided over these next few weeks and in the playoffs (if the Seahawks are able to get there, that is), but at least one website, and a very credible one at that, says the Seahawks are currently the second best team in the NFL.
FootballOutsiders.com, which uses advanced stats to dig deep into all aspects of the game, has the Seahawks ranked No. 2 behind New England in its weekly DVOA ratings.
Now first off, if you’re not familiar with the work of the good folks at Football Outsiders, you might be wondering what exactly this DVOA thing is. Well for the long version, click here or, here’s the short explanation on their website.
DVOA is a method of evaluating teams, units, or players. It takes every single play during the NFL season and compares each one to a league-average baseline based on situation. DVOA measures not just yardage, but yardage towards a first down: Five yards on third-and-4 are worth more than five yards on first-and-10 and much more than five yards on third-and-12. Red zone plays are worth more than other plays. Performance is also adjusted for the quality of the opponent. DVOA is a percentage, so a team with a DVOA of 10.0% is 10 percent better than the average team, and a quarterback with a DVOA of -20.0% is 20 percent worse than the average quarterback. Because DVOA measures scoring, defenses are better when they are negative.
So back to the Seahawks. How does an 8-5 team, one that has played in a ton of close games, rank ahead of teams with better records like Houston, Atlanta and San Francisco? Well for starters, DVOA rankings are based on how a team plays on offense, defense and special teams, and the Seahawks are a top five team in all three categories (the Seahawks offense is strong based on its efficiency, not raw numbers), a claim no other team can make. Also, that thrashing of Arizona, which according to F.O. is the third most dominant game in the NFL since 1991, certainly gave the Seahawks a boost in the rankings, helping them jump for fourth last week to second this week.
Ultimately, these rankings or any other form of power rankings really matter, but until the playoffs roll around, they bring about some fun arguments.
And while this is unrelated (well sort of anyway, the Seahawks wouldn’t be as good as they are without Richard Sherman) you should take the time to read this story on Sherman by Michael Silver of Yahoo! Sports.
Silver, who spent some time with the Seahawks, chatting up Sherman and plenty of others last week, takes a look at the perpetual chip on Sherman’s shoulder that stems from what he believed to be (and what more in more is proving to be) the foolish decision of NFL teams to let him go undrafted for four-plus rounds.
In the story, Sherman tells Silver:
“Some of those guys who got drafted [ahead of me], I was like, ‘Wow, this is ridiculous.’ I thought, ‘What’s the point of playing good ball if it doesn’t matter?’ By the time the fifth round rolled around, the damage was done. I was like, ‘When I get to the NFL, I’m gonna destroy the league, as soon as they give me the chance.’ And that’s what I’ve been doing ever since.”
Of course, as Sherman himself admits at the end of the story, he would have found a way to play with a chip on his shoulder wherever he was drafted.
“Definitely,” he says. “Let’s face it — if I had been the first pick in the first round, I’d still find something to be pissed about.”