Hint: a very attainable Seattle Seahawks win/loss record after a week 8 ‘bictory’ over the Oakland Raiders. I just can’t bring myself to say it aloud. Or type it. I can’t. And don’t you DARE do so yourself. You’ll break your mother’s back.
The Seattle Seahawks come home to play the Arizona Cardinals at Qwest Field in week 7. Following the Cardinals, the Seahawks travel to Oakland on Halloween Sunday. (Don’t do it!!!). Let’s focus on the Cardinals.
Arizona is a joke. For those of you pointing at a ‘convincing’ victory over the Super Bowl champion Saints, go elsewhere. Please. They turned three turnovers into touchdowns, one of which Max Hall got CRUSHED, fumbled right to Levi Brown in the end zone for 7. If you click that link to the NFL.com video page, that’s the EXACT description: “Max Hall is crushed attempting a TD.” Epic.
Despite miracle of a turnover-fest, the Cardinals are still -3 on the Turnover differential. If any game was a fluke, it was their win over the Saints. Aside from that, they beat the Rams by three (in Bradford’s very first game in the NFL, in which he threw three picks), and Oakland by one, in which Oakland beat themselves. They’ve been outscored 88-138 by their opponents. FIFTY points.
Let’s dig into the Cardinals, shall we?
- Offensive Stats: -41.7 Expected Points Added (31st), -0.43 Win Probability Added (23rd), 17.6 PPG (25th), 240.0 YPG (31st), 152.6 Passing YPG (30th), 87.4 Rushing YPG (29th)
- Defense Stats: 39.4 Expected Points Added (26th), 0.31 Win Probability Added (16th), 27.6 PPG allowed (30th), 382.0 YPG allowed (27th), 241.2 Passing YPG allowed (25th), 140.8 Russing YPG Allowed (29th)
The Cardinals are horrendously lucky they’ve got 3 wins. Aside from some key converted turnovers, the offense is sputtering without a functional quarterback or a effective run game, and the defense is getting lit up. The Cardinals have been torched through the air, but to their credit, by some elite offenses and quarterbacks: Falcons (Matt Ryan), Chargers (Phillip Rivers) and to a lesser extent a sloppy Saints (Drew Brees) showing. Injuries haven’t helped, either. They’ve been without their 2nd and 3rd receivers in Steve Breaston and Early Doucet.
Seahawks’ biggest concern? Arizona’s opportunistic, but mistake-prone secondary. Arizona’s pass EPA ranks 27th and a WPA 15th in the league. Why the huge discrepancy? Win Percentage Added is a mashup of plays that helped them win versus those that contributed to a loss. They’ve held up their WAP with some key interceptions that affected the outcome of a game:
- Game 1: On Arizona’s 21, Bradford gets picked by Adrian Wilson with :05 left, effectively ending the game.
- Game 5: Brees gets picked by Paris Lenon, leads to touchdown a few plays later.
- Game 5: Brees gets picked by Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie late in the fourth quarter, returned for seven, essentially sealing the victory.
In five games, the Cardinals have gathered seven interceptions, good for 6th in the league (most other teams above and just below have played six games). The Seahawks managed to come out of Chicago, a team that excels at takeaways, without either a fumble or an interception (first time since week 13 in 2009 season that Matt hasn’t thrown one, in fact). However, between the big plays, the Cardinals have given up a lot of yards, completions, first downs and points (hence the poor EPA). The Seahawks, and Matt Hasselbeck, can’t get cute. Lead with the run, make smart, high percentage throws and move the chains. Because as we’ve seen: Arizona can quickly turn turnovers into points.
Seahawks’ biggest opportunity? The Seahawks have a few big opportunities, but I think the biggest is to pound the rock. Arizona has yet to face an elite running back outside of Steven Jackson, yet they’ve allowed over 140 yards rushing per game. The Seahawks offensive line and new duo of Forsett and Lynch have an opportunity to establish the Seahawks as a legitimate run offense. Sprinkle in 20-25 pass attempts from Matt, with some now-effective play-action, and I have a hard time seeing Arizona stopping Seattle’s offense, in general.
Speaking of play action, did you see Matt’s stat that Mike Sando posted? Against Chicago, Hasselbeck was 9/11 for 79 yards on play action passes. Before the Chicago game: 5/14, 34 yards, 2 picks. With Lynch in the fold, defenses have to respect the run by committing defenders to the box; that opens up the short passing game.
The Seahawks’ other opportunity is to shake up Max Hall. He’s a young guy with very little experience. Confusing defensive looks, unpredictable pressure similar to what Chicago faced, and stuffing the run game (with the Seahawks’ 2nd-ranked rushing EPA) will put a lot of pressure on Max. Pile onto that a deafening Qwest Field, and Max is likely in for a very long outing.
At this point, I’m just hoping for “Tore and Shoe”.