Wednesday, November 20, 2013
Projecting Seattle's path to the playoffs
By Terry Blount
RENTON, Wash. -- One of the many sayings Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson lives by is “Have a 1-0 mentality.”
He means stay focused on the task at hand and don’t look too far ahead. Good idea, but it’s not what I’m going to do today.
Let’s look ahead to the final five games of the regular season and try to project what will happen for the 10-1 Seahawks.
Game 12: New Orleans on Monday, Dec. 2, at CenturyLink Field
This is the game Seattle needs to win more than any other, including the 49ers game one week later.
At the moment, the Seahawks are one game ahead of the Saints in the loss column. A victory over New Orleans would give Seattle a two-game lead over any other team for home-field advantage in the NFC playoffs.
Prediction: Seattle wins in front of a frenzied home crowd to go 11-1.
Game 13: San Francisco at Candlestick Park on Dec. 8
When the season started, this looked like the game that might decide the NFC West title. But the 49ers will enter the game at least two games behind Seattle, and will be at least three back if the Seahawks beat the Saints.
It’s certainly a game Seattle would love to win to send a message to its division rivals, but it’s not as big a game as it was expected to be. The Seahawks will be coming off an emotional Monday night game with one fewer day to prepare. But Seattle can lose this game and still end up with the top record in the NFC.
Prediction: San Francisco wins and the Seahawks fall to 11-2.
Game 14: The New York Giants at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey on Dec. 15
This is one of those games that worries me. Yes, it’s a game the Seahawks should win. But the Giants are playing far better than they did at the start of the year.
After losing their first six games, New York has won four in a row. The teams that beat the Giants have a combined record of 42-19, including two 9-1 teams (Denver and Kansas City).
So the Giants are a little better than their 4-6 record would indicate. And Seattle will be coming off two games against tough opponents, along with traveling for the second consecutive week.
Prediction: The Seahawks find a way to win a close game at the place where they plan to return for the Super Bowl. Seattle improves to 12-2.
Game 15: Arizona at CenturyLink Field on Dec. 22
The Seahawks close out the regular season with back-to-back home games around Christmas week. They should win both of them, but this one may be the tougher of the two.
The Cardinals (6-4) have won three consecutive games since the loss at home to Seattle. They have a shot at making the playoffs and could finish ahead of the 49ers in the NFC West. Those two teams play at Phoenix in the regular-season finale.
But the Seahawks likely will be a big favorite in this one, returning home after back-to-back road games.
Prediction: Seattle wins to go 13-2.
Game 16: St. Louis at CenturyLink Field on Dec. 29
The Seahawks might get to this game with home-field advantage clinched no matter what happens. If so, some of Seattle’s key players are going to get a rest and play sparingly to avoid the possibility of an injury.
Obviously, that would improve the chances of a Rams upset. And the Seahawks have struggled at times against the St. Louis pass rush. Rams coach Jeff Fisher seems to know something every other coach doesn’t know about how to cause problems for the Seattle offense.
But the Seahawks will play with passion in this one because they don’t want to end the regular season with a loss and slow the team’s momentum before the playoffs start.
Prediction: The Seahawks win their 16th consecutive home game and end the regular season 14-2, earning home-field advantage for the playoffs.
It would be the best regular-season record in franchise history (and the best road record at 6-2), surpassing the 13-win season in 2005 when Seattle made its only Super Bowl appearance, a 21-10 loss to Pittsburgh.
These Seahawks are a much better team than the one from eight years ago.