Seahawks playoff scenarios: from practical to inconceivable
Since the Seahawks’ win against Chicago in overtime, a game they effectively won twice with two long touchdown scoring drives, the Hawks have taken us on the hottest winning streak in franchise history. The 2012 Hawks are for real right now and bring to mind the 1986 team that finished the season with five straight wins, beating its opponents by an average score of 35-14.
This team has a chance to match that streak Sunday against the St. Louis Rams at CenturyLink Field, where the Hawks are undefeated this season. The difference is that unlike the ’86 team, the ’12 Seahawks have qualified for the playoffs and have outscored their last four opponents by an even more impressive average of 43-12.
It’s official, the Seahawks have become the team that nobody wants to face right now and it comes at a perfect time. The Hawks showed up on ESPN’s power rankings as the No. 6 team in the NFL. Three of the teams ahead of Seattle are teams the Hawks have already beaten – Green Bay, New England and San Francisco. Of the other two – Atlanta and Denver – one doesn’t scare me and the other is an AFC team that the Seahawks would only face in the Super Bowl.
I realize that it’s difficult to go 13-2 as the Falcons have but Atlanta fails the eye test of a hot playoff team right now. Yes, they shut out the New York Giants two weeks ago, but the Giants are a team on the decline and have lost their last two games by a margin of 67-14. The Falcons’ most recent win was over a Detroit team that recently lost to the Arizona Cardinals 38-10. That’s the same Cardinals team that lost to the Seahawks 58-0 the week before that. If the Seahawks were to go into Atlanta right now, I would expect them to win.
The most likely outcome of this weekend, assuming that the Seahawks take care of the Rams on Sunday, is a trip to the nation’s capital to face the Washington Redskins in the first round of the playoffs. If the Redskins can beat the Dallas Cowboys at home, we’ll be watching two of the best young quarterbacks in the NFL go head to head. A Russell Wilson vs. RGIII matchup would pit two of the top Rookie-of-the-Year candidates against one another. Certainly the Redskins are a force and rank No. 9 in ESPN’s power ranking, but again I would expect the Hawks to beat them on the road.
But there’s still a scenario alive that would treat Seahawks fans to a first-round bye and at least one playoff game at CenturyLink Field. If the Minnesota Vikings are able to beat the Green Bay Packers at home this Sunday and the lowly Cardinals can get a win over the 49ers in San Francisco, the Hawks would be the No. 2 seed in the NFC and would host at least one playoff game.
Of those two scenarios, the Vikings beating the Packers is totally realistic whereas the Cards beating the Niners is a pipe dream. The Vikings are the second hottest team in the NFC and riding a three-game winning streak, including a win at Houston, the No. 1 seed in the AFC. They could easily get a win over the Packers at home as they work to get their running back, Adrian Peterson, over 2,000 yards rushing.
But the Cardinals beating the 49ers is not likely with quarterback Brian Hoyer at the helm. Hoyer has thrown one touchdown and two interceptions in his career. Santa Clause came last Tuesday.
But we can dream, right? Since we’re dreaming, let’s dream big. Believe it or not, there’s a scenario alive in which the Seahawks would host the NFC Championship game just as they did in 2005. If the aforementioned sequence of events plays out and one of the other playoff teams knocks off the Falcons, the road to the Super Bowl would pass through Seattle. The Seahawks’ No. 2 seed would be boss and if that were the case, I’d say pack your bags for New Orleans, folks, because this team would be headed back to the big dance.
Realistically, the Hawks don’t need some fantasy to come true in order to get to the Super Bowl. Head coach Pete Carroll has this team believing they can beat anybody as long as they play their game.
I predicted a blowout win over San Francisco during the pregame radio broadcast and felt something special was about to happen. Those feelings haven’t changed. This is an extraordinary team and they’ve come together at the perfect time.
These guys aren’t done.