Seahawks look primed for another Super Bowl run
By HUNTER KOSSODO
College Contributor Network
The Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers are two teams going in very different directions, but Seattle's win over San Francisco illustrated just how dangerous this team is, again.
There's no better time to get in a groove in the NFL than December, and the Seahawks have won both of their games to start out the month. Not only did they win, but they won the way they won last season.
In Week 14, Seattle stonewalled Chip Kelly's Philadelphia Eagles for just 139 total yards. The Eagles did manage to reach the endzone twice. The first time was on a drive that started on Seattle's 14-yard line after the 'Hawks punter Jon Ryan couldn't handle the snap. The second was on a nice throw from Mark Sanchez to Zach Ertz after Ertz got past linebacker K.J. Wright on a wheel route near the left sideline. Wright had a good opportunity to stop Ertz short of the endzone but he failed to wrap him up properly. That was just about the only bad play from the Seahawks defense the entire game.
The 14 points given up by Seattle against Philadelphia is the most allowed since its last loss in Week 11 against Kansas City. In the four games since, the Seahawks have just 27 points scored against them, and yes that's counting the 14 from the Eagles.
If the playoffs started today, Seattle would be one of the wildcard teams. Don't let their current position at fifth in the NFC deceive you, the Seahawks are the best team in the conference right now.
The scouting report on Seattle looks very much the same as it did last season. Russell Wilson is a dynamic and highly intelligent quarterback, Marshawn Lynch is impossible to take down with one or two defenders, and Richard Sherman is basically impossible to throw on.
It seems the key to stopping Seattle is to stop Lynch first. With the exception of the Kansas City game, Seattle's three other losses just so happened when Lynch rushed for three of his four lowest rushing totals of the season. This isn't a case of Seattle abandoning the run to come back from a large deficit either, all of those losses were close games.
But stopping Lynch this season is harder now than it ever has been. Lynch had an ailing back for the first couple months of the season that clearly affected him in a couple games. His back is apparently feeling better, because in the last three contests he's rushed for 281 yards on 4.4 yards a touch.
Statistics are nice and all, but even more important to Seattle's dreams of repeating than what happens on the field is the field itself. Whoever represents the NFC in the Super Bowl may come down to who has home field advantage.
Of the six teams currently sitting at the playoffs table, four teams have either been very nearly or are in fact undefeated at home. Seattle is 6-1, Arizona and Green Bay are a perfect 7-0, and Detroit is 7-1. All of these teams, Seattle included, have looked very different on the road than in the comfort of its home stadium.
Three of Seattle's four losses this season have come away from "The 12th Man," including a game against the St. Louis Rams in Week 7 and their since-benched quarterback Austin Davis, in which the Rams held a 21-6 halftime lead and held on to win 28-26.
To Seattle's credit, the Seahawks have looked good on the road recently. Interestingly, Wilson played better in his seven road games than he has in his seven home contests, throwing for more yards, touchdowns, and fewer interceptions. Even Lynch, who struggled on the road early in the season, has over 300 total rushing yards in his last three away games.
And that's scary, because if Seattle plays on the road as well as it does at home, the only person in the NFC capable of stopping the Seahawks from reaching the Super Bowl is Aaron Rodgers on his best day. And what we've seen from the Packers so far is that they need to be playing at Lambeau for Rodgers to have his best day. We saw that this week when the Bills upset the Packers in Buffalo and we saw it in Week 1 when the Seahawks beat them in Seattle.
Seattle's defense is only going to look better, too. A wave of injuries early in the season contributed to the team's 3-3 start, but now they're healthy and couldn't have a better matchup to look forward to next week against Arizona.
The Cardinals are undefeated in Arizona, and that's where the game is being played, but Ryan Lindley will be starting for the Cards after Drew Stanton went down. Lindley hasn't started a game since his rookie year, and he threw seven interceptions and zero touchdowns in four starts. Something tells me that zero is going to stay a zero after this week.
The season finale for Seattle is against the Rams in Seattle. St. Louis just had its playoff hopes dashed, and facing a team that's playing for nothing and has no pressure to win can be a very dangerous thing.
But if this game is for a playoff bye, which it very well could be, added on top of the fact that the Rams have already beaten Seattle it would be very surprising to see the Seahawks allow the Rams to beat them again.
The rest of the NFC will be hoping the Cardinals and Rams come to play, because no one in that conference wants the road to the Super Bowl to go through Seattle.
Marshawn Lynch Overview | FindTheBest
Hunter Kossodo is a junior at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. He is a rabid supporter of Boston sports having lived there for most of his life. Follow him on Twitter: @HKossodo