Moore: After way Seahawks played vs Rams, playoffs seem reasonable
The Seahawks are now 2-3 and not even on pace to go 8-8, which is where I figured they’d be at the end of the season. Maybe you did too. But after what I saw against the Rams, I now think they’ve got a reasonable chance at the playoffs.
Think about it – they lost to the NFL’s best team by only two points in a game they easily could have won were it not for a questionable holding penalty on D.J. Fluker that took the Seahawks out of field-goal range and the chance for a 34-33 victory.
And take a look around the rest of the NFC. Do you see any other teams that are tearing it up? I don’t. Let’s say the teams that are leading their divisions are still in front at the end of the season. So take away the Rams in the West, Bears in the North, Saints in the South and Redskins in the East.
You’re battling a grab-bag of mediocre teams for one of the two wild-card spots. Only one, Carolina, is two games in front of the Seahawks with a 3-1 record, and the Panthers needed a 63-yard field goal by Graham Gano to avoid losing to the Giants on Sunday and falling to 2-2.
Minnesota and Green Bay are 2-2-1 and a half-game in front of the Seahawks. It’s easy to sit here and think that the Vikings and Packers are better than the Seahawks, but are they? These are the 2018 Vikings, not the 2017 Vikings, and the 2018 Vikings were flattened by the Bills at home. The Packers just lost in Detroit, and Aaron Rodgers might be limited all year because of a knee injury.
Tampa Bay is 2-2 but has the worst defense in the league. Detroit, Dallas and Philadelphia are 2-3 and all have flaws, just like the Seahawks. I guess the point of bringing this up now is that, unlike the Mariners, the Seahawks have picked a good year to be in a playoff race, if you can call it that in early October.
A 9-7 record might be good enough to make it this year, and after watching them on Sunday, it’s easier to think they could get there. Here’s where you could stop me in my tracks. If I were writing columns in Buffalo, I might have said the same thing about the Bills after they shocked the Vikings in Minneapolis. No one thinks the Bills are going the playoffs, but who knows in the NFL? Things can change dramatically from year to year, and the Bills are 2-3 after getting a game-winning field goal from Stephen Hauschka to beat the Titans Sunday.
But honestly, don’t you feel more hopeful about the Seahawks than at any point in their previous four games, even the victories over Dallas and Arizona? Maybe the Cowboys’ game, but you could make a case that they were fortunate to beat the Cardinals.
Seemingly everyone thought they would get blown out by the Rams. Instead, the Seahawks looked just as good as the best team in the league. If you dropped in from Pluto and didn’t know a thing about either team and watched the game, that would have been your assessment. The offenses looked equal, and so did the defenses, not necessarily in a good way.
That’s the other thing – as terrific as the Rams are on offense, they’ve got some weaknesses on defense. The Seahawks rushed for nearly 200 yards, and Russell Wilson threw three touchdown passes. I guess the pregame prognosticators who said the Seahawks couldn’t win if they got in a shootout with the Rams were right, but just barely.
Even in a loss, the Seahawks appear to have found a winning recipe with their offense, cashing in with the pounding running from Chris Carson and Mike Davis opening it up for explosive plays in the passing game. The defense is bound to improve with the return of K.J. Wright in the coming weeks and continued development from Tedric Thompson, who got his first start Sunday, replacing Earl Thomas at free safety.
Thompson missed a few tackles but also came up with a big goal-line stop of Todd Gurley and a scary hit on Brandin Cooks that knocked the Rams’ receiver out of the game and into concussion protocol. Was it a legal hit? Looked like it to me since Thompson led with his shoulder, but you might feel differently about that. Officials didn’t throw a flag on the play and either missed it or didn’t think it was targeting.
If you think this playoff chatter is nonsense, fivethirtyeight.com, a site that charts odds of things happening, gives the Seahawks a 34-percent chance of making the postseason. That’s a 1-in-3 shot. Going into the season, I would have thought 1-in-a-million was a better guess.
After this Sunday’s game in London against the Raiders and a game Oct. 28 in Detroit, the Seahawks finish with six of their last nine games at home. And as I’ve mentioned before, you have to like their chances of winning all four matchups against Arizona and San Francisco this year.
Can they get to 9-7? From what you saw on offense on Sunday, yes. From what you saw on defense, maybe not. Then again, the Rams make a lot of defenses look lost. They have scored more than 30 points in every game this season.
What’s most encouraging – while their defense is developing, the Seahawks showed that they can stay in and eventually win high-scoring games as well. That will take some of the pressure off the defense, and time-consuming drives with running the ball and moving the chains will help too.
Yes, it was a loss to the Rams, but signs of a consistently winning formula showed up Sunday at CenturyLink Field.