Among the other contenders, Philadelphia is easily the most surprising team in the top ten after three weeks. The Eagles hammering of the Steelers proved they are not a fluke. Arizona plummeted after their ugly loss and it may be time to start asking real questions about just how good this team is. Is Carson Palmer going full Delhomme after his terrible playoff game last season? Behind a great defense and better than expected quarterback play, New England sits in a great position going into their last game without Tom Brady.
Week 3 Recap
Nailed it. Like many, I predicted a Seattle blow-out and was happy to see my prediction actually come true. Furthermore, I was excited to see Christine Michael handle a full complement of carries and excel. That 41-yard TD run gave me such hope for the run game this season.
As expected, the DVOA numbers back up the scoreboard. Seattle straight up destroyed San Francisco.
The two categories that standout are the rush offense and the rush defense. Despite Michael’s solid rushing performance, the offensive line and Alex Collins graded relatively poorly which brought down the total rush offense DVOA in this game. Also, the running game wasn’t very efficient in the second half with Wilson injured and out as well as the conservative play calling indicative of a large lead.
As for the rush defense, I think that number would have been much better had the 49ers not insisted on running the ball at Seattle’s pass prevent defense late in the 4th quarter of the blowout.
Despite a better performance against San Francisco, the offensive DVOA numbers for the season remain well below expectations. While the passing offense is trending in the right direction, the running game is still hurting. A healthy Russell Wilson will surely help that both as a runner and as a threat to run. I’m also hoping getting Germain Ifedi back will help too. Finally, these first few opponents have featured some pretty dominant defensive lines, which have made it tough to get the run game going. That should soften up some after the bye.
I don’t have much more to say about the defense, as they have been both great and consistent so far this season. I’m not worried about the drop to 6th in rushing defensive DVOA as that is mostly from garbage time against the 49ers.
Following week 3, Seattle has a few key players ranking well in their respective position groups according to DYAR (FO metric which compares the player to replacement level). Christine Michael and Doug Baldwin are each 5th at their position. Russell Wilson, despite all of his injuries, is still in the top half of QB’s according to both DYAR and DVOA. Jimmy Graham is 8th among tight ends.
The Seahawks defensive line is ranked 7th in adjusted sack rate and adjusted line yards (rushing metric). This is very good, although I would have thought it would be better to be honest.
Week 4 Outlook
On paper, the matchup with the Jets doesn’t look like much of a matchup at all. Other than offensive DVOA, Seattle holds a significant edge on the Jets in every major category. Keep in mind, however, that the Jets had a historically bad game last week against the Chiefs that is having a large effect on their rankings given the small three-week sample size of data. I would not expect the Jets to play that poorly again this week.
While I don’t love the 10am start on the east coast, the biggest wild card for this game are the injuries. New York is without their top red zone threat and Fitzpatrick’s security blanket in wide receiver Eric Decker. Their other top wideout, Brandon Marshall, is still nursing an injured knee. With a hobbled receiver core, the Jets may need to rely on dumpoffs to Matt Forte and hope he can gain some YAC. Also watch for preseason standout wide receiver Robby Anderson, as his 4.4 speed could test Seattle deep should Earl Thomas not be on his game again this week.
For Seattle, the biggest injury question is of course, Russell Wilson. How effective he can be against the Jets dangerous defensive line? Digging into FO’s offensive and defensive line stats reveals what is likely the key matchup for this game. Seattle’s offensive line again ranks near the bottom of the league in both rushing and pass protection, while the Jets defensive line is a top 5 unit in both categories. Fingers crossed for a breakout first game for the rookie Ifedi.
Before the season I chalked up the Rams and Jets games as losses, expecting Seattle to go into their bye with a typical slow starting 2-2 record. I’m a little more hopeful now, as the defense has looked in mid-season form already and I’m hopeful the offense can continue to build on last week’s performance. My biggest concern is Russell Wilson…how many legs will he have for this game?
Since he hasn’t yet shown me otherwise, I’m going to trust Wilson is healthy enough to be effective in yet another dominant MetLife Stadium performance. Final score: Seattle 27, NYJ 9.