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Seahawks in position to return to Super Bowl for third straight season

The Seattle Seahawks closed out the regular season with a 36-6 victory over the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday. They move on to the NFC playoffs to face the Minnesota Vikings.

Reasons to be excited: Given how the final seven games played out, there are many, but No. 1 on the list is Russell Wilson. Since Week 10, he has completed 71 percent of his passes, averaged 8.8 yards per attempt and tossed 24 touchdowns against one interception. Wilson has shown he can beat defenses in a variety of ways. He can win from the pocket. He can extend plays. And he can do damage with his legs. According to ESPN Stats & Information, Wilson is the first quarterback in NFL history to throw for at least 4,000 yards, post 30-plus passing touchdowns and rush for at least 500 yards. The Seahawks have suffered injuries to Jimmy Graham, Marshawn Lynch, Thomas Rawls and offensive linemen. But Wilson has played the best football of his career and gives them an opportunity to make noise in the NFC.

Reasons to be concerned: The path won't be easy. The Seahawks will have to win three games on the road. It's entirely possible that they'll have to win at Carolina and at Arizona to come out of the NFC. They are also dealing with some injuries. Lynch is expected to return to practice Monday. Left tackle Russell Okung and right guard J.R. Sweezy both missed Sunday's game against the Cardinals. Strong safety Kam Chancellor was inactive as well. The Seahawks have a very good chance to get back to the Super Bowl for the third straight year, but there will be obstacles along the way.

How far they can go: They are among a handful of teams that can win the Super Bowl. In 15 of the Seahawks' 16 games, they held a lead at some point in the fourth quarter. This is a hard team to put away, and the Seahawks have played their best football down the stretch. The passing game is clicking better than it has at any point since Wilson has been the quarterback. And the defense answered some questions with its performance in the first half against Carson Palmer and the prolific Cardinals. The ground game is a question and the injuries are worth monitoring, but the Seahawks look like a serious threat to make a run.