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Clayton: Why an odd but great Seahawks season added up to playoffs

Though many of the games weren’t pretty and so many were so close, the 12-4 season for the Seahawks was a great one.

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The big thing is winning the NFC West. Trying to go to the Super Bowl as a wild card is tough. Though home teams were only 128-127-1 this season, the 14 playoff teams were 79-33 with 13 of them having winning records at home, showing it still matters. Only the Chicago Bears, who backed into the playoffs at 8-8 because of a Week 17 loss by the Arizona Cardinals, finished below .500 at home (3-5).

The Seahawks went 7-1 at home, which is no surprise. The shock is that they did it without fans in the stands. The only bad game was the loss to the New York Giants, but the team bounced back from that to finish with four straight wins. Sure, the offense struggled in the second half of the season, but the only defense that they faced that wasn’t good was the New York Jets.

What was predictable was where the Seahawks were heading after their 5-0 start. Those games were non-division. It was easy to figure they were going to go 8-2 or 9-1 in non-division games. The key was going 4-2 in the NFC West, which they accomplished with wins over the Rams and 49ers in Week 16 and 17, respectively. That didn’t happen last year so the Seahawks finished as an 11-win wild card team.

The season was strange. The Seahawks outscored teams in the first half 214-156, a 58-point advantage. Things slowed down in the third quarter when they outscored teams 65-53. That allowed them to build up enough of a lead to go soft on defense and give up yards to keep plays in front of them, hoping to run out the clock. As a result, they have been outscored 147-127 in fourth quarters.

Their 88-point differential for the season is the ninth-best in football. The top 10 teams all made the playoffs.

After the horrible defensive start in the first half of the season, the Seahawks, believe it or not, finished as the fourth-best defense in the final eight games. They gave up 305.4 yards per game over that stretch. The 207.9 yards allowed through the air was the seventh-best in the league in the second half of the season.

Sunday’s win against the San Francisco 49ers was a crazy one. The offense got off to a very slow start. The 49ers did a good job stopping the run, forcing Russell Wilson into more of a passing offense. The passing allowed Tyler Lockett to get to 100 catches for the season, and while DK Metcalf didn’t have a great day he ended up getting the most yards ever by a Seahawks wide receiver in a season.

The concerns of the game were the injuries to safety Jamal Adams and defensive tackle Jarran Reed. Adams suffered a shoulder injury and Reed hurt his oblique. The Seahawks will have to wait until late in the week to see if they can play in Saturday’s wild-card round game against Los Angeles.

The Rams have their own concern. Quarterback Jared Goff had thumb surgery last week. It is not known if he will be able play Saturday. John Wolford did a decent job in place of Goff to beat the Arizona Cardinals 18-7 on Sunday, running a different offense. Wolford is more mobile than Goff and had a few more designed runs, but the Rams didn’t get a touchdown drive. They had three field goals, a safety and a Troy Hill pick-six for a touchdown.

Let the playoffs begin.

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