How the ‘Skins won their way back to the playoffs
This week, the Seattle Seahawks will host the Arizona Cardinals in the NFC Championship Game.
They’ll be looking to move on from a season that was an embarrassment of riches and put them back on the map as the best team in the NFL, as well as finally reclaiming their title of the greatest team of all time.
The first thing that comes to mind when thinking of the Seahawks and their resurgence is their historic defense.
Over the past two years, the Seahawks defense has given up only 27 points per game, and is second in the league in sacks (15.5) and third in points allowed per game (8.6).
The Seahawks defense was a major reason that the team’s record-breaking run to the Super Bowl was possible.
With Seattle ranked as the eighth-best team in Football Outsiders’ DVOA metric, they were able to keep their top-ranked defense in tact.
And with a new offensive coordinator and quarterback, Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch, the team was able to make significant improvements in terms of talent and consistency.
However, the defense was still very good, as it finished third in DVOA in 2015, and finished second in DVSA in 2016.
This season, the defending NFC champions will be looking for a big jump in the win column, as they have been the only team to allow more than 20 points per contest this season.
Russell Wilson has been fantastic in the passing game, with 4,788 yards passing on 1,838 attempts.
He is second only to Peyton Manning in the MVP voting behind only Tom Brady.
It’s important to note that Wilson is a quarterback who is going to throw the ball a lot.
Since becoming the first quarterback in NFL history to throw for 2,500 yards and 30 touchdowns in a season in 2014, Wilson has thrown for 1,063 yards and 23 touchdowns in 16 games.
That’s a staggering 3,722 yards and 22 touchdowns on the season, and a staggering 12 touchdowns more than he’s had in the previous 11 seasons combined.
When you consider that Wilson has never had a season with 20-plus touchdowns, that’s a huge difference in the numbers for a quarterback.
But if you take into account that Wilson threw for 1.1 yards per attempt on 4.5 attempts per game during the 2016 season, that number is actually very encouraging.
As a team, Seattle has the third-best quarterback rating in the division at 89.3, and are third in the conference in sacks at 12.6 per game.
For an offense that has struggled to find a rhythm this season, they are still a force in the trenches.
Through three games, the Cardinals have allowed only 1.7 yards per carry on their offensive line.
While they have allowed more than half of their points in the last two games, it’s clear that the Seahawks offense has been able to play at a high level in recent weeks.
Arizona has allowed a touchdown on only two of their seven drives.
On Sunday night, they allowed a total of six touchdowns, which included a season-high tying touchdown to Doug Baldwin on a one-yard run that would have tied the game.
The Cardinals have also allowed just one quarterback hit all season, which has been very impressive.
Seattle has been in control of the NFC West since they went undefeated in 2016, and with Seattle’s defense dominating, the rest of the division should be in the balance for a playoff spot.
There are two more games remaining this season for the Seattle secondary, and the Seahawks could be in for some upsets.
After the bye week, Seattle will play the Kansas City Chiefs in the playoffs, and while the Chiefs are one of the toughest teams in the AFC West, they also have been one of their better teams all season.
The Cardinals are coming off their bye week and will be playing without the services of their starting cornerbacks, which was a big reason why they went 1-4 last season.