The unusually large number of NFL teams that are .500 or worse this season could benefit the Seahawks in their pursuit to make the playoffs after their 2-4 start.
As the NFL season approaches its midpoint, a theme is beginning to develop. The league features a few good teams, quite a few bad ones and maybe not quite as many evenly matched clubs as is considered its goal.
A parody, if you will, of parity.
And one of the bigger beneficiaries of that development could be the Seahawks.
Among the many things Thursday’s 20-3 victory at San Francisco did was increase the Seahawks’ playoff odds, which were considered dire entering the game.
Most Read Sports Stories
- What UW's College Football Playoff rankings snub means for Rose Bowl hopes
- Pac-12 bowl projections: UW football left to wonder a giant 'what if'
- Florida QB Kitna arrested on child pornography charges
- Is Russell Wilson playing his way out of the Hall of Fame? Voters weigh in
- In record-setting game, Kraken win 6th straight, 9-8, in OT
The win over the 49ers put the Seahawks at 3-4 this season and gave them a good jumping-off point to buck some imposing NFL history: Only 14 of 168 teams to start 2-4 have reached the postseason since the playoffs expanded to 12 teams in 1990.
Most of those seasons, though, weren’t like this one.
Consider that three teams — Cincinnati, Denver and Green Bay — are 6-0. Carolina and New England are 5-0, playing at home and are favored to win this week.
If the Panthers and Patriots defeat the Eagles and Jets, respectively, then it would break an NFL record for most 6-0 teams in a season. The mark is four, set in 2009. Five undefeated teams through six weeks is the most in the NFL since the merger in 1970.
Conversely, there are just 10 teams with winning records — which according to SI.com is the second-fewest since 2002 — with 18 having losing marks and four at .500.
The sports analytic website fivethirtyeight.com published a detailed study this week showing that the distribution of a lot of wins for a few teams, coupled with a lot of losing teams, is “very abnormal.” The site called the start to this NFL season the “fourth-strangest’’ in relation to what would be a usual distribution of wins and losses the past 36 NFL seasons.
Consider further that half of the NFL’s eight divisions have either just one or no teams with winning records. That includes the AFC South, which is led by 3-3 Indianapolis, a grouping some say could rival the 2010 NFC West, won by Seattle at 7-9, as one of the worst divisions in NFL history.
Things, of course, could and likely will change as injuries and other vagaries of the NFL season take their course.
And a few teams off to hot starts, such as Carolina and Atlanta, have feasted on mostly bad opponents (the Panthers’ win at Seattle an obvious exception), helped by the fact that the NFC South this year gets to play the aforementioned struggling AFC South.
Which is where this comes back to the Seahawks.
Not that it necessarily makes Seahawks fans feel better, but three of the team’s losses and fourth-quarter collapses came against three of the five remaining undefeated teams. Two of those games were on the road. That alone had the Seahawks’judged as having played the 12th-toughest schedule so far in the Sagarin computer ratings this week despite the presence on the schedule of Detroit and Chicago (a combined 3-9).
But thanks in part to the rampant mediocrity, the scheduling worm is beginning to turn for the Seahawks. According to the website PredictionMachine.com, the Seahawks have the NFL’s fourth-easiest remaining schedule (that includes Thursday night’s game against the 49ers) behind only the Falcons, Saints and Chargers.
Consider that the combined wins of the four teams the Seahawks have lost to — 19 — almost matches the combined wins of the nine opponents remaining on Seattle’s schedule — 24.
And the Seahawks likely will be favored in eight of those remaining nine games. As of today, you’d figure Arizona would be favored in the season finale Jan. 3 in Glendale but that might be it, especially with Dallas having to play without quarterback Tony Romo when the Seahawk play there Nov. 1.
After the loss to Carolina last Sunday, FootballOutsiders.com gave Seattle just a 30 percent chance to make the playoffs.
But indicating the strangeness of the season, those actually were the eighth-best odds of the 16 NFC teams — six make the playoffs. Seven teams already had playoff odds of 17 percent or less.
All of which means the Seahawks might have picked a particularly good year to have a bad start.