Football success is ultimately measured in wins and championships, but more and more frequently, people are paying attention to various advanced statistics that try to dig deeper into the game than they can with traditional stats. And you can count Seahawks coach Pete Carroll among that crowd.
For the fourth straight season, the football analytics website FootballOutsiders.com has ranked the Seahawks as the top team in the NFL by its signature metric, DVOA, which stands for Defense-adjusted Value Over Average. For more on what DVOA is, go here, but the short explanation is that DVOA measures a team's efficiency by comparing success on every single play to a league average based off situation and opponent.
Asked about his team's No. 1 ranking, which was clinched with last week's win over Arizona, which had previously been tops in DVOA, Carroll said, "We do know it. We've been aware of it. It's an interesting stat because it's so comprehensive, and it does take into account all three phases in great detail. I don't know how the structure of it, how accurate it is to tell you what kind of team you are, but it's pretty cool because it does involve everything you're doing. And they measure it against I think the average of what's going on in the league. That's a good sign of consistency is what it is."
This year's Seahawks earned the top ranking based in large part on their balance, with the offense ranking second in the NFL, the defense fourth and special teams third. Dating back to 1989, when Football Outsider's first started their DVOA rankings, the Seahawks are the first team to finish the season ranked No. 1 for four straight years, and are the fifth team, along with the 1991 Washington Redskins, the 1992 Philadelphia Eagles, the 1996 Green Bay Packers and the 2012 Seahawks to be top five in offense, defense and special teams.
Three of the top eight teams since DVOA began are recent Seahawks teams, according to Football Outsiders, with the 2013 Seahawks ranking fifth, the 2012 Seahawks seventh and this year's team eighth.
Football Outsider's ranking Seattle's offense the second most efficient in the NFL is just another measure of what a good year the Seahawks offense had under offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell and offensive line coach/assistant head coach Tom Cable, ranking fourth in the NFL in both points and yards while setting a franchise record for yards gained in a season.
"I think it's really exciting," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said of his team's offensive performance. "I think last year we set a record for yards per game, and then we broke it this year. There's been a lot of conversation about what's going on with the offense, and the coaches and all that stuff, I think it's just a million miles off. I think Darrell and Tom have done an incredible job again. Not just now, again. They've continued to maximize the talent that we have. You've seen our guys blossom as players, you've seen young players fit in, you've seen your quarterback just continue to get better throughout the process, which really encompasses all aspects of what we're doing."
The Seahawks play their 11th wild-card game in franchise history this Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings. This gallery throws you back to each of the Seahawks' previous 10 wild-card games, including their first-ever playoff game in 1983 facing the Denver Broncos and their most recent in 2012 versus the Washington Redskins.