The following is a guest post from Rohan Shah.
The Seattle Seahawks were a major disappointment their first 6 games of 2015. With a 2-4 record, they were written out of playoff contention due to a crowded NFC playoff picture.
However, since then, they have gone on a tear, winning 7 of their last 8 games. They now find themselves nearly locked into an NFC Wild Card spot and in great position to make a deep run into the playoffs.
Several factors indicate that Seattle is a dangerous, underrated team.
Russell Wilson is an Elite Quarterback
Many have questioned Wilson’s true effectiveness without a great running back and great defense.
However, over the past few weeks, Wilson has shown his greatness. He has been without running back Marshawn Lynch and his dynamic tight end Jimmy Graham, but has nonetheless still produced.
Wilson has been a top 5 QB each of the last 5 weeks based on ESPN’s Total QBR metric, which accounts for both running and passing. According to The Power Rank, Seattle ranks 4th in pass offense by yards per attempt adjusted for schedule with a fairly mediocre receiving crew.
Current Playoff Picture
Despite the rough start, Seattle is in a prime position to make a deep run in the playoffs. This is based on several factors: the current playoff picture, and the tough opposition that Seattle has faced this year.
Barring a collapse of epic proportions, Seattle will be locked into the NFC’s 5th seed in the playoffs. This gives them a game against the 4th seed in the NFC, which will be the “winner” of the putrid NFC East.
The competition that Seattle has faced this year will also be a blessing in disguise in the playoffs. Playing in one of the toughest divisions in football (NFC West) and drawing a division with a plethora of good QB (NFC North), Seattle will be in good shape to take anything thrown at its way in the playoffs.
Richard Sherman and the defense
The last factor that really makes Seattle a serious contender is their highly touted defense. Led by high profile players, the defense has lived up to the hype this season by ranking 5th against the pass, 3rd against the run, and 10th in terms of sack rate (all adjusted for strength of schedule).
With the defense and Wilson at quarterback, Seattle could win their second Lombardi trophy in three years.
Advanced NFL statistics
The numbers cited in this article, such as sack rate adjusted for strength of schedule, are available to members of The Power Rank.