It’s a bit early to start writing the words “Super Bowl” next to the Seahawks, but after a big win in Foxborough and some fortunate outcomes in the NFC, the path is clear if Seattle can take advantage.
The Seahawks sit two games ahead of the Arizona Cardinals in the NFC West after their thrilling win over New England Sunday night. The L.A. Rams, who won 9-6 over the hapless Jets, are still in the race at 4-5, but they’re benching their starting quarterback Case Keenum for their top-pick rookie Jared Goff. Goff could lead the Rams to a second-half resurgence, but the Rams coming back in this division seems unlikely at this point. (If preseason action is any indication of real game action for a rookie, it doesn’t look good for Goff).
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As I mentioned earlier this week, the Seahawks got some help from several AFC teams last weekend, who took out a few key NFC foes for Seattle before their prime time showdown on Sunday Night Football. One of the most notable NFC defeats was New Orleans’ excruciating loss to Denver on a blocked PAT and return. The Saints have a tie-breaker over Seattle for their home win against the Seahawks last month, but that likely won’t come into play now.
The Seahawks have seven games remaining–all against beatable teams. After the Hawks went to Foxborough and beat the 7-1 Patriots, I’d say any game against any team in the NFL is winnable for them, but their opponents over the next seven weeks will make it easier.
Here’s the remaining schedule:
Week 12: at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-5) PFF: 27. ESPN: 25.
Week 13: Carolina Panthers (3-6) PFF: 22. ESPN: 24.
Week 14: at Green Bay Packers (4-5) PFF: 16. ESPN: 22.
Week 15: Los Angeles Rams (4-5) PFF: 19. ESPN: 26.
Week 16: Arizona Cardinals (4-4-1) PFF: 10. ESPN: 10.
Week 17: at San Francisco 49ers (1-8) PFF: 32. ESPN: 31.
A couple things: The Seahawks are ranked fourth, behind Dallas, New England (somehow), and Oakland by PFF. They are ranked second by ESPN. These rankings are only for Week 11, and many things can change by the end of the season.
There are landmines in this schedule. The Eagles are a good team, probably better than their 5-4 record indicates. Although they have suffered through some up-and-down play from their rookie quarterback Carson Wentz, they have one of the best offensive lines in the NFL and their defense has been balanced and tough all year. The Panthers are a desperate team that will be eager to hang a home loss on the Seahawks in Week 13. I have a hard time calling a win against the reigning MVP easy. And the Cardinals are always lurking in the division this time of year.
Still, last week’s action has the Seahawks holding firmly to the second-seed in the NFC behind only the 8-1 Cowboys. If they keep that seeding, they will earn a first-round bye and at least one home game in the playoffs. While Dallas doesn’t exactly have a murderer’s row of opponents left in their final seven games either, Seattle’s statement win at New England combined with Thomas Rawls and Michael Bennett making their long-awaited returns means the race for the top seed in the NFC will probably come down to the wire.
The Seahawks have three road games left on the schedule, all against sub-.500 teams. It’s tough to count Aaron Rodgers and company out at Lambeau Field, but with the way their defense has been playing of late, I could see Russell Wilson putting up numbers in Week 14. Nothing is certain in the NFL, but the Seahawks are in a very favorable position in the conference heading into the second half of the year. And if we’ve learned anything from the Seahawks in the Pete Carroll era, they are an extremely dangerous team in the second half of the season. They’re getting healthy at just the right time to earn that crucial home field advantage in the playoffs and take the inside track to the Super Bowl in Houston. Get your popcorn ready.