O’Neil: Seahawks are on pace with last 2 Super Bowl champs, but are they back on track?
The offense was nothing short of ruthless the first month of the season, the quarterback piloting it with a precision that put him at the top of the MVP consideration.
That changed in October and November when a series of stumbles cast doubt on the trajectory of the season before the defense stabilized things in the home stretch of the regular-season schedule.
But enough about the 2019 Kansas City Chiefs and quarterback Patrick Mahomes.
Oh, you thought I was talking about this season’s Seahawks? Well, that storyline fits Seattle, too, though no one can be certain of the conclusion yet. But if anyone out there thinks the Seahawks have blown their chance of winning a championship, it’s worth pointing out that the last two teams to win the Super Bowl were 9-4 after 13 games just like the Seahawks as they head into Sunday’s game against Washington. In fact, the Seahawks are showing exactly the type of defensive improvement that carried the last two Super Bowl winners into the postseason.
In 2018, the Patriots gave up 23.6 points over the first 10 games, 14.8 points the final six.
In 2019, the Chiefs gave up 23.9 over the first 10 games, 11.5 the final six.
In 2020, the Seahawks gave up 28.7 points over the first 10 games, 12.3 over the past three.
It’s not Seattle’s defense that is going to be tested this week, though. Nope. It’s the offense that scored more than 30 points in each of the first four games of the year with Russell Wilson jumping to the forefront of the MVP conversation. A spate of turnovers slowed the offense’s roll until the Seahawks racked up a season-high 40 points in last week’s game against the Jets.
Washington is a whole different challenge, though, having won four straight because of a defense that is quite simply the only chance that team has, especially with quarterback Alex Smith a question mark after leaving last week’s game with a strained calf. Washington is 6-0 this season when holding its opponent to fewer than 20 points, and 0-7 when the opponent scores 20 or more.
A month ago that would have sounded like light work for Seattle. The Seahawks scored more than 30 points in their first eight games and never had fewer than 27 points. At least not until a Nov. 15 loss at the Rams where Seattle was held to 16 points and the Seahawks’ only touchdown was scored on their first possession. That wasn’t even the low-point in a five-game stretch where Seattle’s offense began to slip out of gear. The Giants held Seattle to 12 points on Dec. 6, Seattle’s special teams being responsible for two of those points.
That brings us to last week’s scoring binge against the Jets when Seattle racked up its most points in any game this season and enjoyed its most lopsided victory in eight years. Sunday’s game in Washington should provide a pretty good indication of whether that win was a result of the Jets ineptitude or a sign that Seattle steadied itself after wobbling through the middle of its schedule.
What the past two seasons have shown us is that how a team plays in October and November isn’t nearly as strong an indicator of playoff success as how that team plays in January.
The fact that the past two Super Bowl winners were 9-4 at this point of the season isn’t proof that the Seahawks are on the right track so much as it shows that Seattle still has time to get it right before the playoffs begin.