It’s the most wonderful day of the week. Yep, time for another Seahawks mailbag, with questions from Twitter followers on Pro Bowl voting and playoff scenarios.
Q: @tweetsareduuumb asked: “Did (Seahawks punter Michael) Dickson miss out on the Pro Bowl due to (Detroit’s) Jack Fox just getting a lot more opportunities to punt?’’
A: There is no doubt Dickson was fully deserving of another Pro Bowl nod — he made it as a rookie in 2018.
In fact, all of Dickson’s numbers are better than they were then — 49.4 gross average (48.2 in 2018); 44.1 net average (42.5 in 2018); and 27 punts on 51 attempts downed inside the 20-yard line (he had 28 of 78 in 2018).
But it’s hard to say voters got it wrong with Fox.
For better or worse, fast starts to seasons tend to leave pretty lasting impressions, and for the first two months of this year, Fox was on pace to break the record of 51.4 yards per punt by Sammy Baugh in 1940 (hard to believe that record still stands) at 53.4. That number has since dropped a little bit — he’s at 49.3, third in the NFL behind Dickson and leader Corey Bojorquez of Buffalo (50.1).
But, Fox’s net is still better than Dickson’s at 45.3. Fox has also downed 21 punts inside the 20, fewer than Dickson. But he actually has two fewer attempts — 49.
And Fox had a gross punting average better than Dickson’s before last week — voting concluded Thursday.
Also, Detroit’s overall special-teams units this year have been regarded as among the best in the NFL — the Lions have allowed just 76 punt return yards, fewest in the NFC (Seattle has allowed 152).
Seattle got two of the other four special-teams non-return slots — snapper Tyler Ott and special-teamer Nick Bellore. There might have been a little bit of a thought here of spreading the wealth around some.
Dickson was deserving of a Pro Bowl slot. But Fox was, too, and there is only one punter named. It was a tough call. The good news is Dickson is still just 24 years old. I imagine he has a few more Pro Bowls ahead of him.
A case could obviously also have been made for kicker Jason Myers, who is 20-for-20 on field-goal attempts and has made 31 in a row. But it’s likewise hard to argue against Atlanta’s Younghoe Koo, who is 35-for-36 (both have missed three PATs — Myers 45-for-48, Koo 28-for-31).
Seattle could have filled all four special-teams Pro Bowl kicking battery/coverage slots. That speaks to how well those units have performed this season.
A: Well, there is one.
But, first let’s recap where things stand.
Despite getting a win Sunday while New Orleans lost, Seattle’s odds of getting the NFC’s No. 1 playoff seed didn’t improve, still listed at just 4% by FiveThirtyEight.com.
Green Bay holds the top seed at 11-3, and New Orleans and Seattle are 10-4. But the Saints hold the No. 2 spot due to a better overall conference record (8-2 to Seattle’s 7-3).
As noted, in any scenario for getting the No. 1 seed Seattle has to win its final two games against the Rams and 49ers.
Via the FiveThirtyEight.com simulator, a Seattle loss in either of its next two games eliminates any chance at the top seed.
The good news is Seattle doesn’t need Green Bay to lose both games.
But what it does need is Green Bay to lose to Chicago due to the conference tiebreaker. A Green Bay loss at home to Tennessee doesn’t do any good unless the Packers also then lose to the Bears (which, at least, is on the road).
Green Bay has the best record, has beaten New Orleans to give it the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Saints, and has a better conference record at 9-2. That is why the Packers are the overwhelming favorite for the top seed — 79% via FiveThirtyEight.com.
But if Seattle wins out, the Packers lose to Chicago and the Saints lose at least one of their next two games (both NFC games against the Vikings and Carolina), the Seahawks would have the top seed because they would win a two-team tiebreaker with Green Bay at 12-4 thanks to a better record in common games. Seattle went 5-0 against Minnesota, San Francisco, Atlanta and Philadelphia, and Green Bay went 4-1 (Green Bay lost to the Vikings). But again, this assumes a Green Bay loss to the Bears, not Tennessee. Also, Seattle cannot win a three-team tiebreaker at 12-4 with the Saints and Packers.
Obviously, Seattle can also still just finish with the best record in the NFC if its wins both and the Packers lose both and the Saints — who host the Vikings and play at Carolina — lose at least one. That’d be the cleanest way to do it.
Q: @CraigMarker asked: Assuming Seattle beats the Rams and 49ers, who is the odds on favorite (for the Seahawks) to play first in the playoffs and where?
A: As noted above, Seattle does have a remote shot at the No. 1 seed and a first-round playoff bye.
But if Seattle wins the NFC West it likely will be the No. 2 or 3 seed. The Seahawks won’t be No. 4, as that is signed, sealed and delivered to whoever survives the NFC East.
FootballOutsiders gives Seattle 19% chance to be No. 2 seed and 36.5% to be the No. 3 seed. The No. 2 seed would host seventh seed in the wild-card round, which currently is Arizona. As the No. 3 seed Seattle would host the sixth seed, which currently is Tampa Bay (no fun story lines there or anything).
But, if the Seahawks win the division that would mean handing the Rams another loss, which would push L.A. down — in fact, FootballOutsiders gives the Rams the best chance of being No. 6 seed at 30.7%.
So the most likely scenarios right now for Seattle are winning the division and then hosting a division rival on the first weekend.
If Seattle does not win the division it would have to go on the road the first weekend as No. 5 (which would mean a game at the NFC East), 6 (probably playing the Rams) or 7 seed (probably at the Saints).