Sometimes you know what’s going to happen in a game, it just takes a while to figure it out. Before Sunday’s Seahawks game started, I thought they would lose to the Giants. I wrongly thought the previously winless Giants had found themselves with a surprising 23-10 victory at Denver last week.
But at halftime, we all knew what was going to happen in the second half. The Seahawks trailed 7-3 at that point but had gained three times as many yards as the Giants. They were clearly the superior team and showed it in the final two quarters, prevailing 24-7.
If you want, go ahead and downplay the win since it came against the injury-ravaged Giants, who tried to function without their best running back and top three receivers. I won’t. What if they had lost to the Giants? There would have been questions galore: “What’s wrong with the Seahawks? Can you believe they lost to the sad-sack Giants? Forget the Super Bowl, will they even make the playoffs?” And opinions such as “The Seahawks are done, the running game is terrible and so is Jimmy Graham.”
I’m guessing the glass-half-empty types are still looking at the Seahawks and saying, well, OK, they’re 4-2, but three of those wins came over the 49ers, Giants and Colts, teams with a combined record of 3-18, and the other win over the Rams could have been a loss if Cooper Kupp had caught a pass in the end zone.
I usually hang out with the glass-half-empty types, but I’m not with them today, though I admit to feeling out of place with cheerful glass-half-full 12’s, resisting the urge to tell them “You’re not 12’s, you’re still the 12th man to me!”
But over here we’re talking about the Seahawks suddenly looking like Super Bowl contenders again. I say this not only because of what they’re doing, it’s what everyone else in the conference is doing (or not doing), as well.
With Aaron Rodgers out for the season – or most of it anyway – Green Bay is no longer the NFC favorite. The Packers are 4-3 after losing to New Orleans on Sunday, and what’s doubly great about that from a Seahawks’ perspective is that the 17-9 loss in the season opener to Green Bay probably won’t matter as a tiebreaker now.
Only three teams have better records than the Seahawks: Philadelphia at 5-1, and the Rams and Vikings at 5-2. The Eagles might also have two losses after tonight’s game against Washington, and even if they win, the Seahawks still have a chance to catch Philadelphia since Seattle plays Carson Wentz’s team Dec. 3 at CenturyLink Field.
If I were the Seahawks, I wouldn’t be all that worried about the Vikings because of injury concerns with Sam Bradford, knowing that Case Keenum probably won’t hold up long-term.
The Rams are the team I’d be worried about the most. They always had a great defense under Jeff Fisher, and now they have a high-powered offense to go with it under new coach Sean McVay. The Seahawks need to win the NFC West to get at least one home game in the playoffs, and at this point they hold the tiebreaker over the Rams. They will face the Rams again Dec. 17 at CenturyLink in what could be a showdown for the NFC West championship.
The schedule looks favorable for an 11- or maybe even a 12-win season now. With three games left until the midpoint of the season, the Seahawks could be 6-2 with home games against Houston this Sunday and Washington on Nov. 5, and a Nov. 9 game at Arizona. The Seahawks have two games left with the Cardinals, who will play the rest of the year without Carson Palmer, who broke his left arm Sunday in a 33-0 loss to the Rams.
If we’re going to take it one game at a time like coaches and players do, the Texans arrive without defensive standouts J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus due to injuries. DeShaun Watson, as good as he’s been, is still a rookie who could be rattled at CenturyLink.
Then looking at the Seahawks, I could still find flaws, but I was surprisingly encouraged by two or three things that have been weaknesses with this team all year. I thought the offensive line played pretty well against New York. Russell Wilson still had to run around and buy time on occasion, but he had enough of a pocket to throw for more than 330 yards and he might have been closer to 400 were it not for three drops, two by Jimmy Graham.
Did anyone miss Luke Joeckel at left guard? I didn’t either, not with Mark Glowinski and rookie Ethan Pocic switching in and out from one series to the next. I’d be willing to bet we won’t see Joeckel as the starter when he returns from arthroscopic knee surgery in a month or so.
I also liked what I saw from Thomas Rawls and Eddie Lacy. I know they each ran for only 30-some yards, but there were glimpses of 100-yard games in the future. Rawls was explosive, almost appearing like he did as a burst-on-the-scene rookie. I’m exaggerating a little bit here, but still, those glimpses were more than what we’ve seen from Rawls to this point in the season. I saw something from Lacy too. All I saw before Sunday’s game was a guy who was closer to being cut than being an asset to the Seahawks.
Then there’s the defense that’s as good as ever. If someone tells you, well, yeah, the Giants were completely depleted on offense, remind him that the Seahawks limited the Rams to 10 points, 20 below their league-leading season average.
And as soon as I want to quibble with the number of sacks through six games – only 12 – I think of the one they got Sunday and how big it was, Jarran Reed’s strip sack of Eli Manning, which was recovered by Frank Clark.
That was a big win on Sunday. It took the Seahawks longer than it should have to overtake the Giants, but they got there. And when you think about it, this is who they are, a team that gets better as the season moves along.