Seahawks coach Pete Carroll: 'I love close games'

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The Seattle Seahawks live for one-score games.

Pete Carroll's team sits at 11-3, currently No. 1 in the NFC, with a ridiculous 10 of those wins coming in one-score games.

"I love close games," Carroll said, via the team's official website. "I think they help you. They make you stronger. They keep you in the game longer. They make you have to focus farther, and it prepares you for more kinds of things that can happen that you need background and experience in. It would really be OK if we could win by a lot sometimes. That'd be fun. (But) this is this season. These seasons write a story and that's kind of the story of what's been going on all year long."

You know who likely doesn't really love it, Pete? Your fans, who probably have needed to refill their blood-pressure medication far too often this season.

Sunday's Week 15 victory in Carolina was emblematic of the Seahawks' season. Carroll's team owned a comfortable lead most of the contest but allowed the Panthers to claw back in it, turning a 20-point blowout into a one-score game.

The ever-positive Carroll sees these close games as a net-positive in the long run.

"We're certainly not trying to let them back into it," Carroll said, stating the obvious. "That's not the idea. I think it's only going to help us. I think all of the young guys that have been through those games, they're not tensing up. They're not worried about what's going to happen next. Just keep thinking we're going to find a way. That's powerful. It really supports what the experienced guys have been around and how they think. It's just the way it is. I'm sorry for the fans. Like I've said before, you've got to suck it up and enjoy the wins. Sometimes, they just come out later than you want."

Whether it's style of play, injuries, or whatever you'd like to pin the blame on, the Seahawks are on an eye-popping pace with their one-score games.

Despite winning 11 of 14 bouts (.786), Seattle ranks 30th in average margin of victory at 5.6 points, worst among teams with at least five wins. The Seahawks currently hold the highest win percentage among teams with an average margin of victory of fewer than six points since at least 1950 (previous: 2016 Giants and 2003 Panthers at 11-5, .688), per NFL Research.

Wait, we can keep going.

Owning a +26 point differential, Seattle has the highest win percentage by a team with a point differential lower than +30 since at least 1950. The lowest point differential by a team to earn the No. 1 seed since the NFL instituted a playoff seeding system in 1975 is +46 by the 1985 Raiders, according to NFL Research. Of the five No. 1 seeds with a point differential under 75, only the 2015 Broncos won more than one playoff game (won Super Bowl 50).

Seattle will have to battle to keep that No. 1 seed, starting with Sunday's game against Arizona and in a Week 17 match for the division crown. NFL Network Analytics Expert Cynthia Frelund gives the NFC West winner by far the best odds to take the No. 1 seed.

Carroll's team has excelled in the crucible of the tight tilt. The Seahawks have a +39 point differential in one-score games, best in the NFL. Seattle owns a .909 win percentage in one-score games this season (10-1). Russell Wilson's squad has generated 28.7 points per game in one-score games, the highest in the NFL -- i.e., the defense is giving up a lot of points, and the offense is making up for it.

"I think that's the most valuable thing that you can do is, learn how to win in different scenarios," linebacker Bobby Wagner said of playing close games. "That's where you get your confidence, you grow your confidence as you get to the end of the season and get to the playoff run. You have those games where you're down 10 or down seven and when you've been in that situation so many times, you believe in yourself, you believe in your team that you're going to pull it out."

Sunday's opponent, the Cardinals, is the only team the Seahawks have beaten this season by more than one score, 27-10 in Week 4.

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