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Seattle Seahawks, superstars?

Posted by Chase Stuart on September 12, 2010

It turns out that Pete Carroll didn't have much of a problem playing against a team that also got to pay its players. The Seahawks scored the biggest upset and the biggest cover of the day, shocking the San Francisco, 31-6. The 49ers were favored to win by 3 points, giving Seattle a 28-point cover against the spread. There's usually one huge upset by an underdog each season opener: from 1983 to 2010, there have been 27 underdogs to cover by at least 20 points in their first game of the season:

Year Team OPP Spread PF PA Cover H/R QB Coach
1997 NYJ SEA +6 41 3 44 R Neil O'Donnell Bill Parcells
1987 TAM ATL +2.5 48 10 40.5 H Steve DeBerg Ray Perkins
2000 PHI DAL +6 41 14 33 R Donovan McNabb Andy Reid
1986 HOU GNB +3.5 31 3 31.5 R Warren Moon Jerry Glanville
1985 DAL WAS +1.5 44 14 31.5 H Danny White Tom Landry
2006 BAL TAM +3 27 0 30 R Steve McNair Brian Billick
2002 SDG CIN +2 34 6 30 R Drew Brees Marty Schottenheimer
2005 MIA DEN +5.5 34 10 29.5 H Gus Frerotte Nick Saban
1999 SDG CIN +1 34 7 28 R Jim Harbaugh Mike Riley
2010 SEA SFO +3 31 6 28 H Matt Hasselbeck Pete Carroll
1994 IND HOU +3 45 21 27 H Jim Harbaugh Ted Marchibroda
1994 NYJ BUF +7 23 3 27 R Boomer Esiason Pete Carroll
1996 CAR ATL +3 29 6 26 H Kerry Collins Dom Capers
2008 CHI IND +10 29 13 26 R Kyle Orton Lovie Smith
1986 ATL NOR +3.5 31 10 24.5 R David Archer Dan Henning
1997 MIN BUF +2.5 34 13 23.5 R Brad Johnson Dennis Green
1995 WAS ARI +3.5 27 7 23.5 H Heath Shuler Norv Turner
1986 SDG MIA +1.5 50 28 23.5 H Dan Fouts Don Coryell
1999 MIA DEN +6 38 21 23 R Dan Marino Jimmy Johnson
1990 TAM DET +6 38 21 23 R Vinny Testaverde Ray Perkins
1992 CIN SEA +4 21 3 22 R Boomer Esiason David Shula
1984 MIA WAS +4 35 17 22 R Dan Marino Don Shula
2001 CAR MIN +10.5 24 13 21.5 R Chris Weinke George Seifert
1995 TAM PHI +6.5 21 6 21.5 R Trent Dilfer Sam Wyche
2009 NYJ HOU +4.5 24 7 21.5 R Mark Sanchez Rex Ryan
2004 CLE BAL +3.5 20 3 20.5 H Jeff Garcia Butch Davis
2003 TAM PHI +3 17 0 20 R Brad Johnson Jon Gruden

Several of the coaches on the above list -- including Pete Carroll, version 1 -- came in the coach's first game with his team. Most of the victories were impressive upsets -- some came from good teams that were just matched up on the road against equally strong opponents -- but how often did those week 1 blowouts signal a breakout season? The table below reprints the teams from above, but also includes their number of wins and losses from the prior season, along with their SRS from that year. On the right, wins and losses from the season of the big debut:

Year Team N-1 W N-1 L N-1 SRS W L
2003 TAM 12 4 8.8 7 9
1984 MIA 12 4 7.7 14 2
1999 MIA 10 6 5.9 9 7
2008 CHI 7 9 1.2 9 7
1986 SDG 8 8 1.1 4 12
1985 DAL 9 7 1.0 10 6
1994 NYJ 8 8 0.8 6 10
2009 NYJ 9 7 0.2 9 7
1997 MIN 9 7 -0.1 9 7
2002 SDG 5 11 -0.3 8 8
2001 CAR 7 9 -1.1 1 15
2006 BAL 6 10 -1.8 13 3
2005 MIA 4 12 -2.2 9 7
2004 CLE 5 11 -2.9 4 12
1996 CAR 7 9 -3.8 12 4
2000 PHI 5 11 -4.2 11 5
1990 TAM 5 11 -5.1 6 10
1995 WAS 3 13 -6.1 6 10
1995 TAM 6 10 -6.2 7 9
1999 SDG 5 11 -8.4 8 8
1992 CIN 3 13 -8.7 5 11
1986 ATL 4 12 -8.9 7 8
1986 HOU 5 11 -8.9 5 11
2010 SEA 5 11 -9.3 ?? ??
1997 NYJ 1 15 -10.1 9 7
1994 IND 4 12 -11.3 8 8
1987 TAM 2 14 -15.4 4 11

As good as Seattle looked on Sunday, the evidence isn't very compelling that they're going to look more like they did in week 1 than they did for most of 2009. It's tempting to think that this is the sign of a new era in Seattle, but it's more likely a sign of the same old era in San Francisco.

This entry was posted on Sunday, September 12th, 2010 at 9:13 pm and is filed under Statgeekery. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.