The Rams have already locked up the NFC West – thanks in large part to beating these very Seahawks twice, in very close matchups – and they’re positioning themselves for the top seed in the NFC.
By contrast, our Seahawks are now 8-5, a game and a half over the Vikings, and a full two games over the Panthers (who we beat), the Eagles, and the Redskins, with three games left in the season. The Seahawks just need to beat the 49ers to lock into a wild card spot this weekend and the odds are looking pretty good that we’ll end up with that 5th seed, playing whoever ends up in the 4-seed (right now, it’s the Cowboys, who are a game behind the 3-seed Bears).
The Seahawks have won 4 in a row, including games against the Packers, Panthers, and Vikings. We’re also, obviously, 8-3 dating back to our 0-2 start to the season, which is very remarkable, making us one of the hottest teams in the league. We’re starting to be talked about in the same breath as those Bears and Cowboys, and sneakily compared to the likes of the Rams and Saints.
This team is for real. So, can we DO something here? Or, given the fact we have to go on the road throughout the playoffs, do we throw our hands up and pack it in?
Everyone and their mothers are saying the Seahawks are The Team No One Wants To Face In The Playoffs. I’ve always hated that phrase. The REAL Team No One Wants To Face In The Playoffs is the number 1 seed, because they’re most likely the best team in the conference! Would you rather face the Seahawks or the Saints? I think we know the answer to that.
But, I get it. There are crappy wild card teams who sneak into the playoffs every year, and they’re just happy to be there. They might play you tough, but they’re almost always going out in the first round.
Then, there are those teams like the Seahawks, a would-be division winner if we played in the AFC East, for instance. Or the NFC East. Or the AFC North or even maybe the AFC South! It just so happens we’re in a division with one of the three best teams in football, and due to some unfortunate outcomes earlier in the season, we’re shit out of luck.
The Seahawks have shown they can play with anyone. All of our losses were by a single score, and all of them were to very good teams (either in record, or DVOA, or both). We were IN those games, and more importantly, we’re peaking at the right time. If THESE Seahawks went back in time and played the Bears back in Week 2, I have no doubt we’d come away victorious. Ditto the Broncos in Week 1.
Which is why I like our chances in any scenario during Wild Card Weekend. I would prefer the Cowboys, because while their defense is certainly strong, I feel like they’re less scary than the Bears’. Plus, it’s in a dome vs. the harsh elements of January in Chicago. But, I think the Seahawks are better than both of those teams, and I think we can win either of those games.
Assuming whoever ends up with the 6th seed doesn’t shock the world (my money’s on the 3-seed right this very second, knowing nothing about the matchup), the Seahawks would appear destined to travel to the 1-seed in the Divisonal Round. If I had my druthers, give me the Rams for a third time. Their defense is vastly overrated, and at some point we’re going to figure out how to slow down their passing attack. The Saints are the team that probably scares me the most, because they’re so balanced and talented on offense, and their defense is super legit. I don’t think it would be IMPOSSIBLE to beat the Saints on the road, but I just think the Rams are a little more susceptible to what our game has to offer.
Regardless, I think the Seahawks can play with anyone in the NFC. I also think that if we happened to sneak past the 1-seed, the 2-seed will assuredly be waiting for us. Any way you slice it, the Saints AND the Rams will be in the mix. It feels like asking a lot to beat BOTH of them in back-to-back do-or-die weeks.
The AFC, conversely, has to contend with a Chiefs team that can’t defend anything, some very flawed teams below them (Chargers, Steelers, Ravens, Texans), and one of the worst Patriots teams you’re ever going to see that still qualifies for a #2 seed, because as usual they play in a garbage division. A lot of people think the Pats are going to turn it on come playoff time, but I’ll be legitimately surprised if they make it to the AFC Championship Game this go-around.
Ultimately, if I had to bet the Taylor Family Farm, my money is on the Seahawks getting to the Divisional Round and then losing to either the Saints or the Rams. HOWEVER, it wouldn’t shock me in the slightest if we actually did some damage. Barring any more catastrophic injuries, the Seahawks are JUST the type of Wild Card team that could take this party on the road.
Don’t get me wrong, it would require a tremendous feat of good fortune. We’d have to prevail in a lot of close, exciting games. But, with the way our O-Line is blocking, the way our run game is destroying, and with how good Russell Wilson has been throughout the season – on top of a defense that is peaking at the best possible time – it’s not out of the realm of possibility that the Seahawks make a deep (even, dare I say it? Super Bowl) run.
For a team with no shot at a playoff BYE, the Seahawks are in about as good of shape as you could hope for. Win this weekend and we’re in. The Chiefs game is essentially meaningless at this point, so anyone even remotely injured should have a week to rest up. And, if we can’t beat the Cardinals at 50% effort, then I don’t know what to tell you.