Do you like to simulate seasons to see what potential outcomes you could get? ESPN does!
ESPN’s Football Power Index (FPI) simmed the entire 2021 NFL season a whopping 20,000 times and the combined results are averaged out to get their full projections. For the Seattle Seahawks, they are projected for roughly a 10-7 campaign which in an expanded playoff ought to be enough to make the playoffs. They are one of only nine teams with a greater than 60% probability to play postseason football, and they’re also 9th for both making and winning the Super Bowl.
But for some reason, ESPN focused specifically on one scenario that, as they insist for all of their simulations, “give us one plausible outcome for the 2021 season.” In the end, the Buffalo Bills beat the Green Bay Packers to win their first Super Bowl, which genuinely does seem plausible. You’re not here for that. You’re here because of what I wrote in the headline.
Seahawks fall apart
Coach Pete Carroll and new offensive coordinator Shane Waldron tried it all. They tried to “let Russ cook.” They tried to run the ball. They tried everything in between. It didn’t matter. The Seattle Seahawks couldn’t recapture the magic of their early 2020 offense, while a questionable pass rush and a lacking secondary betrayed them on defense.
In this simulation, Seattle started the year with a loss … then another loss … and then another. By midseason, the team was the shock of the league, staring at an 0-8 record. Six of those losses were by one score, though the Seahawks were pummeled in Week 6 by the Steelers in a 29-point loss. As the season passed its midway point, no other team stood winless.
In other words, the close game fortunes the Seahawks have thrived off of for years finally falls apart and sinks their season early. They eventually finish 5-12 in this simulation, tied for the NFL’s worst mark alongside the New York Giants, New York Jets, Houston Texans, and Carolina Panthers. This would be quite disastrous because it’d also mean the Jets would get two picks in the top-five as a result of the Jamal Adams trade.
By the way, the San Francisco 49ers win the NFC West and lose in the Divisional Round, the Rams get a wild card berth but Matthew Stafford’s elusive first playoff win remains out of his grasp, and the Arizona Cardinals go 6-11 and nowhere near the postseason.
If by any chance we do live in this one specific simulation out of 20,000 and this actually comes to fruition, then there is absolutely no way that we don’t see massive organizational and roster changes. I am assuming that these sims don’t account for injuries but a healthy Russell Wilson leading a team to just five wins seems highly implausible to me. Missing the playoffs isn’t inconceivable but being at the very bottom doesn’t cross my mind at all.
But ESPN knew what it was doing when it chose simulation 13,330 to highlight for an article. And it worked! Because we did a story on it.