Clayton: It’s advantage Seahawks in NFC West as they enter the stretch run
Nov 24, 2020, 4:46 PM
Everyone knew the Seahawks’ five-game stretch after the bye week was going to partially define the season.
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The Seahawks started 2020 with a 5-0 record, but they knew trouble was ahead. They had five games against teams that had winning records. Three of the games were on the road. Three were within the NFC West. This wasn’t going to be easy, and it wasn’t.
Seattle finished the stretch 2-3 and sitting tied with the Los Angeles Rams for the NFC West lead, though the Rams have the tie-breaker because of their win over the Seahawks. Now the Seahawks enter the easiest part of the schedule.
They face three teams in the NFC East starting with the Monday night game against the Philadelphia Eagles. They face the New York Giants, New York Jets and the Washington Football team. Where the San Francisco 49ers had to make the long trip to Metlife Stadium in New Jersey to face the Jets and Giants in back-to-back weeks, the Giants and Jets have to make the long trip to Seattle in back-to-back weeks.
Because the Seahawks have a chance to go 4-0 in these next four games, they could go into Week 16 when they host the Rams with an 11-3 record. What we did learn during the last five weeks? The Rams right now may have a hard time staying with them. In the next four games, Los Angeles plays San Francisco, Arizona, New England and the Jets before it gets to Seattle. There is a good chance the Rams could lose one or two of these games.
Seattle learned how good the Rams have become. They are great on defense, good enough on offense, and they are factor. But if they lose a game or two, they might have to come to Seattle facing the possibility of being eliminated from the NFC West title race. The Rams also close the season with a second game with the Cardinals.
As it stands, we pretty much know the playoff picture. It will be three teams from the NFC West (Seattle, Rams and Arizona), two teams from the NFC South (New Orleans and Tampa Bay), plus Green Bay and someone from the dreaded NFC East. There are not enough tough games for any of these teams to have a big dropoff. All should win 10 or more games except for the NFC East teams.
What’s interesting is that you have older quarterbacks such as Tom Brady, Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers in the South and North, while in the West it’s the younger quarterbacks of Kyler Murray, Russell Wilson and Jared Goff (and who cares in the NFC East).
Basically, the Seahawks have a four-game stretch in which they should win and should be able to get themselves ready for the Rams. Over the past couple of weeks, the defense has improved. Defensive end Carlos Dunlap has 3.5 sacks in three games. That’s more then Jadeveon Clowney, who had three of the Seahawks’ 28 sacks last year, has had 2019 and 2020 combined. Dunlap has already helped to the get the Seahawks to 25 sacks in 10 games. They may not get 40, but they are on the right path.
Things should get better in the secondary with the return of cornerback Shaquill Griffin. Safety Jamal Adams continues to look great. Plus, the Seahawks could have cornerback Quinton Dunbar back for the Rams game.
The other important thing is that the running game should be good. Carlos Hyde played well against the Cardinals and Chris Carson should be back for the Eagles game. That will help Wilson from having to do too much and eliminate that recent four-game stretch where he had 10 turnovers.
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