O’Neil: Seahawks have the edge in wild card round
Welcome back, Seattle.
Plan on sticking around long?
Because to be honest, this is a year when it’s hard to tell who’s in it for the long haul in these NFL playoffs.
For the past four months, the Seahawks have shown that they’re capable of staying step for step with the league’s top teams. They’ve beaten the Chiefs, the Cowboys, and their two losses to the Rams both came down to the final minute.
But the Seahawks have shown they’re also eminently capable of shooting themselves in the foot and then tripping all over themselves whether it was the 14 penalties committed in a loss at San Francisco or the debacle of a special-teams performance that nearly sunk Seattle in an utterly ugly win over Arizona.
So what it’s going to be, Seattle? Will this be a one-and-done trip in the playoffs or are you going to survive and advance? Because that’s going to take a consistency that Seattle hasn’t shown this season. At least not yet.
It shouldn’t be entirely surprising that we’re waiting for these Seahawks to come of age. Of the 53 players on Seattle’s active roster, 36 have joined the team since the Seahawks’ last playoff appearance in 2016. It’s more than just the personnel that has changed, though. It’s the personality.
Two years ago, the Seahawks were a team drawing on its championship heritage for a fifth consecutive playoff berth. The question wasn’t how good that team was, but how much it had left in the tank. Turned out Seattle had enough for a victory over Detroit in the first weekend of the playoffs before losing on the road in the divisional round for the second consecutive year.
Two years later, the Seahawks are not a team looking to recapture the momentum they once had, but a team that has been reborn after rediscovering its running game. A team whose offensive line has gone from a back-breaking liability to an actual honest-to-goodness strength.
Yes, the Seahawks are back and they have everything they need to stay a while. They have a player in Bobby Wagner who may be the very best middle linebacker in the league and a quarterback in Russell Wilson whose efficiency is almost lethal. After all, the Seahawks attempted the fewest passes of any team in the league this season yet Wilson threw 35 scoring passes, tied for third-most in the league.
That’s the edge that Seattle has in this game. Wilson is the kind of quarterback the Cowboys are hoping Dak Prescott will become.
And he very well may. But not yet. The Seahawks beat this Cowboys team back in Week 3, and I think they’re going to do it again. Seattle 24, Dallas 20, and the key to this game is going to be the turnovers. Namely, Seattle can’t commit any.
They didn’t in that Week 3 victory and they can’t on Saturday in Dallas because while the Seahawks have proven they’re capable of beating anyone this season, they’ve also demonstrated they can beat themselves, too.