Are we done complaining about the officiating and losing to the 49ers? I can see your point. The Seahawks were flagged for some questionable calls during their franchise record-breaking night for penalties – 14 for 148 yards. And I know an 8-5 team shouldn’t lose to a 3-10 team, especially one that the Seahawks defeated 43-16 two weeks ago.
But don’t forget that the 49ers benefited from two questionable calls themselves for roughing the passer and unsportsmanlike conduct when a running back flipped the ball in the direction of a Seahawks player’s face. And for whatever it’s worth, the 49ers were only 4-point underdogs at kickoff, so their victory was not all that surprising to the guys in Vegas who set betting lines.
Besides, the Seahawks still have two chances to clinch a playoff berth, and both games are at home – Sunday night against the Chiefs and Dec. 30 against the Cardinals. Even if they lose to Kansas City – and the Chiefs are 2 1/2-point favorites – don’t you think the Seahawks will take care of the 3-11 Cardinals?
Then again, you might remind me that the Cardinals beat the Seahawks in Seattle on the last day of the season last year. And the NFL proves week in and week out that nothing is out of the question. Look what happened Sunday night in L.A., where the Rams lost as two-touchdown favorites to the Eagles. Plus if the Seahawks lose to the Chiefs and still need to beat the Cardinals to reach the playoffs, I’d be concerned about their tightening collars. You could also point out that Arizona nearly beat Seattle in their first meeting in Glendale in Josh Rosen’s first start.
According to fivethirtyeight.com, the Seahawks still have a 95-percent chance to make the playoffs, so if they don’t, I guess you could call them the Mariners.
Worst case, let’s say they finish 8-8 and don’t make the playoffs. I’d still say you could argue that they had a good season, exceeding some people’s expectations — mine, for one — for even being a postseason contender. I thought they’d go 8-8 but never thought they’d be 8-5 on their way to 8-8. If the worst case happens, I still think you can still see positives in the development of younger players building a foundation for future championships. Don’t forget that the Seahawks also have three first-year assistant coaches who will grow with them.
Middle-case scenario, they make the playoffs but lose their first game to either Chicago or Dallas. If this happens, you can easily call the season a success.
Best case is the one that most of us are still hanging on to, and for good reason. Aside from the penalties, I didn’t see anything in the San Francisco loss that made me think the Seahawks don’t have a chance to win one or two playoff games and maybe even make it to the Super Bowl. And if you want to continue to harp about the penalties, how often have they ever had a game with that many yellow flags? Answer: Never. So it’s more of an aberration than the start of a trend.
Look around the NFC. Do you see a team that Seattle can’t beat? Maybe New Orleans, I’ll give you that, but the Saints still lost to a Cowboys team that lost to the Seahawks and scored zero points against the Colts on Sunday. And have you seen the supposedly second-best team in the NFC lately? The Rams were held to two field goals in Chicago last week and lost to the Eagles this week. That same Rams team beat the Seahawks by two points in one game and five points in the next.
More important than just getting into the playoffs is getting in as the No. 5 seed. I’d much rather see the Seahawks face Dallas than Chicago in the first round. If you get past the first game, take your chances in the next one at New Orleans. Or if you’re fortunate enough, maybe the sixth-seeded Vikings or Eagles will win their first-round game and have to play the Saints. In that scenario, the Seahawks would take on the suddenly seemingly vulnerable Rams in the second round.
However it shakes out in the next two weeks, what we’re talking about is better than the alternative. I thought we’d be discussing areas where the Seahawks need to improve to get back to being Super Bowl contenders again, yet here they are already in a supposedly transitional season that could still be one of their best ones ever.