One narrative I really don’t get is this idea Seattle’s offense is mediocre.
Not unless a top-ten offense is classed as mediocre these days.
According to DVOA, Seattle had the #7 offense in the league in 2013.
Combine it with the #1 defense and #5 special teams unit — and it’s easy to see why they were ranked #1 overall as the most complete team in the NFL.
Yes — they had some issues late in the season and haven’t exploded in the playoffs either.
There’s a pretty obvious reason for that.
They’ve consistently faced elite or very good defensive units since week 13.
Here’s the list, with each teams DVOA defensive ranking in brackets:
New Orleans (x2) – #10
New York Giants – #6
San Francisco (x2) – #13
Arizona – #2
St. Louis – #12
It’s not really surprising that they’ve only averaged 22 points in those seven games.
In the three games before this stretch, they faced Tampa Bay (#8), Atlanta (#29) and Minnesota (#27).
They averaged 34 points in those three.
What some people perceive as a dramatic slump or evidence of mediocrity, is probably more the opposition performing to standard from week 13 to the NFC Championship game.
Seattle faces the #15 defense in the Super Bowl. Yet it’s the #15 defense without Chris Harris (Denver’s best corner), Von Miller (their best pass rusher) and Derek Wolfe (a very good defensive tackle).
What’s more, while certain media outlets have focused on Seattle’s offense — they’ve been willing to look beyond some of Denver’s defensive issues.
Yes — the Broncos played very well against an injury hit New England offense in the AFC Championship game.
But look at the complete schedule this year.
They conceded less than 15 points on just two occasions — to the Houston Texans in week 16 (#29 ranked offense) and the Oakland Raiders in week 17 (#28 ranked offense).
Suffice to say, neither team had a great deal to play for.
They also gave up a lot of points in 2013 for a 13-3 team.
Take a look for yourselves. I’ve included each teams DVOA ranking on offense in brackets:
27 vs Baltimore (#30)
23 vs New York Giants (#31)
21 vs Oakland (#28)
48 vs Dallas (#11)
33 vs Indianapolis (#13)
21 vs Washington (#23)
34 vs New England (#4)
28 vs Kansas City (#15)
28 vs Tennessee (#16)
Remember, Seattle has the #7 offense. So they’re ranked higher than Dallas and Indianapolis, who combined for 81 points against the Broncos. And slightly worse than New England, who managed to register 34.
You could argue there’s a lot of selective opining going on here.
Don’t get me wrong — Seattle’s offense can improve. Third down and red zone performance has been surprisingly weak recently.
Yet the Seahawks have still made big plays to offset these issues. And they’ve kept on winning despite that 22-point average since week 13.
Without doing any real homework it’d be easy to point to trends.
To the passer-by, Seattle’s offense is regressing and Denver’s defense is improving.
In reality, the Seahawks have come through a stretch where they consistently faced top defenses with enough points to make a Super Bowl.
Denver’s defense over the course of the year has given up a ton of points.
And if you want one other myth busted tonight — look at how many points Denver have scored in their last two playoff games.
Despite dominating T.O.P. against San Diego and New England, they put up 24 and 26 respectively.
San Diego’s defensive rank in DVOA? #32 and dead last.
New England comes in slightly better at #21.
On Sunday the Broncos face the #1 defense.
It might be worth adjusting some of those +30 point predictions for Peyton Manning and co.