By Danny O’Neil
RENTON – NFL teams seeded No. 6 in the playoffs are 5-2 against No. 1-seeded teams over the previous eight years.
That fact that has as much to do with Saturday’s game between the Seahawks and Saints as their meeting six weeks ago, which is to say that it’s not all that significant. At least not according to coach Pete Carroll.
“What has happened in the past doesn’t tell the story in what will happen in the future one way or the other,” Carroll said.
That was the first message he gave his team when it returned to work on Monday.
The Saints and the Chargers were both seeded sixth in their respective conferences. Each won over wild-card weekend, advancing to the divisional round. It’s the first time in three years that a sixth-seeded team had advanced to the divisional round of the playoffs.
Over the previous eight NFL seasons, seven teams seeded No. 6 have advanced to face the top seed in the conference playoffs. Five have won that game to advance to the conference championship and two No. 6 seeds have gone on to win the Super Bowl: the 2005 Steelers and the 2010 Packers.
But that historical trend doesn’t have any more bearing on the outcome of Saturday’s game at CenturyLink Field than the more recent history of Seattle’s 34-7 victory over New Orleans on Dec. 2. It’s not just the Saints who are trying to forget the outcome of that game.
“You eliminate that thought anyways,” receiver Doug Baldwin said. “It’s a completely different ballgame. We’re in a playoff atmosphere. We’re playing against a very highly talented opponent. We know about Drew Brees. Sean Payton is a great coach. We’re not going to take this for granted because we know how talented those guys are on the other side of the ball.”
Harvin continues to progress
No news is good news. At least that’s true for receiver Percy Harvin, who continues to practice with the Seahawks and progress toward a return to the field.
“Now we’re to, ‘Let’s go through today and see what happens,’ ” Carroll said.
The Seahawks and Saints aren’t required to release injury reports from practice until Wednesday, which will be the first official designation of how much Harvin is practicing. All signs continue to point to Harvin returning to the field this weekend barring a setback with his surgically repaired hip.
Harvin appeared in one regular-season game for the Seahawks, participating in 16 offensive snaps and returning one kickoff. Carroll remained vague when asked about the plans for Harvin should he be able to return.
“If he’s playing, in my mind, he’s playing,” Carroll said. “So we’ll do everything we want to do with him. That he wants to do as well. But we don’t know how that’s going to turn out, and I reserve the right to change that.”
Seahawks relatively healthy
Tight end Luke Willson returned to practice as Carroll anticipated after suffering a high-ankle sprain in the regular-season finale. Receiver Jermaine Kearse was also back.
Linebacker K.J. Wright is the only player on the 53-man roster who has been ruled out for Saturday’s game, and there’s even good news on his potential return from the broken bone in his foot he sustained on Dec. 8.
“K.J. is going to run Thursday if you can believe that,” Carroll said. “He’s going to come back and run for us Thursday to see what that means. He’s not playing this weekend, but incredible recovery is underway here. Hopefully, we can follow through with it next week if we have that chance.”