ESPN’s predictive model currently gives the 3-2 Seahawks an 83 percent shot to win the NFC West – odds that have no doubt increased after Seattle’s 16-10 win over the Los Angeles Rams Sunday – and an 86 percent chance to make it to the playoffs.
And while that’s good news for Seahawks fans, they may not love its prediction for Super Bowl LII. The model assumes there is just under an 8 percent shot Seattle wins another Lombardi Trophy this year – higher still than FiveThirtyEight’s Elo-based model, which puts the Seahawks’ odds of winning the Super Bowl at 5 percent.
ESPN analytics writer Seth Walder joined John Clayton on 710 ESPN Seattle to explain the system’s rating, and to offer his take on the Seahawks’ performance through five weeks.
“It’s interesting. Part of the reason why they have such a strong shot to win the decision, FPI (Football Power Index) likes them, but it really doesn’t like the rest of the teams in the division,” Walder said.
“I know the Rams have got a lot of attention, but the model is still extremely skeptical of that team and it’s very skeptical of Jared Goff, frankly. It hasn’t seen enough after last year to think that the Rams are really that big a threat to the Seahawks. That’s part of the reason why it kind of seems like it’s out of sync. Like you said, they’ve got a great chance to win the division but the Super Bowl is harder because there are a few team’s it thinks of as better than them.”
So, who has the highest odds? As it stands now, the 5-0 Kansas City Chiefs have a 99 percent chance to make it to the playoffs and a 32 percent chance to win the Super Bowl. The Patriots are, unsurprisingly, in second-place, with Tom Brady’s odds of winning a sixth Super Bowl ring sitting at just under 15 percent.
In the NFC, the FPI gives both the Packers and the Eagles higher chances to make the Super Bowl, at 10 percent and 8 percent, respectively. It also predicts both will have 11-5 seasons, and predicts a 10-win season for Seattle – again, slightly higher than FiveThirtyEight, which predicts 9.8. The Eagles, Panthers and Falcons are all listed with greater odds of getting the No. 1 seed in the NFC.
As far as what he’s seeing from the Seahawks, Walder says Russell Wilson is under pressure more than other quarterbacks. But he’s also been surprised by Seattle’s pass rush.
“It’s not like it’s been bad, but I think just given the reputation of this team, I would have thought it would have been better,” Walder said. “A stat that jumped out to me: 30th in yards before contact — that’s opposing rushers against the Seahawks. That says to me that the Seahawks are not causing as much problems for opposing running backs. Once they contact them, it’s not like there’s a lot of yards after contact, but still that’s one thing that could be shored up.”
Still, Walder cautions against reading too much into predictive models, and notes analytics can’t account for all factors.
“There’s kind of a difference between what’s happened and what’s going to happen. The Seahawks haven’t played that well, but you and I both think, I assume, that they’re a very good football team. Just because of what they’ve done over the last five games, that doesn’t mean, necessarily (it is) who they are.”