JOHN CLAYTON

Despite recent struggles, Seahawks still in position for a top playoff seed

Nov 2, 2016, 9:37 AM | Updated: 9:38 am
Seattle leads the division by 1.5 games over Arizona, which has a tough schedule and injury issues....
Seattle leads the division by 1.5 games over Arizona, which has a tough schedule and injury issues. (AP)
(AP)

The trade deadline passed quietly Tuesday without a Seahawks trade.

That was expected. They weren’t going to make a deal for a left tackle like San Francisco’s Joe Staley or Cleveland’s Joe Thomas. They wanted to make the best of what they can get from their current roster. With blocking being a problem and the running attack almost non-existent, not upgrading that position probably caught most people around the country by surprise.

But you can understand why Seattle’s front office and coaching staff aren’t panicking. They don’t need to panic. The Seahawks’ remaining schedule and their positioning is strong even though their offense is currently weak.

Pete Carroll has confidence that Tom Cable can get the Seahawks’ young offensive line to sort out its problems. C.J. Prosise offers some hope in the backfield. Christine Michael has been solid. Thomas Rawls is expected to return in the next two weeks.

The most favorable situation with the Seahawks is their remaining schedule. Despite Russell Wilson’s injuries, the Seahawks have the third-best record in the NFC, which has plenty of problems and not one great team at the moment.

The Vikings have problems with their offensive line and with scoring points. After watching the past two games, coach Mike Zimmer has to worry if quarterback Sam Bradford can make it through the rest of the season healthy. Green Bay has problems at running back. The Cowboys are cruising through their schedule with Dak Prescott, but he’s still a rookie quarterback.

Winning the NFC West is the key to the Seahawks’ season. They learned last year that it’s very difficult to go to Super Bowl as an NFC wild-card team. Winning three games on the road in the playoffs in this conference is almost impossible.

Here’s where the Seahawks have an advantage:

Home schedule. They should be favored to win their five remaining home games. They host the Bills on Monday night, when the home crowd should be at its loudest. The Eagles come to Seattle two weeks later with a rookie quarterback, Carson Wentz. By the time the Seahawks play the Panthers in December, Carolina might not be a playoff contender and the networks might flex the game out of prime-time and into the afternoon. The Rams and Cardinals will come to Seattle as underdogs in late December. The Seahawks have a great chance to go 8-0 at home team this year based on the way the schedule falls.

Road schedule. The Seahawks will be underdogs at New England next week and at Green Bay in December. They will be favored in road games against Tampa Bay later this month and San Francisco in the regular-season finale. They should at least go 2-2 on the road and finished with a 3-4-1 road record.

Putting all that together, the Seahawks have a great chance to end the season with an 11-4-1 record. If they can split the games at New England and Green Bay, they could get to 12-3-1.

But even at 11-4-1, they would be in great shape. Arizona and Los Angeles already have four losses and their schedules aren’t easy. The Cardinals, for example, have to play five of their last seven games on the road. They just lost left tackle Jared Veldheer for the season and safety Tyrann Mathieu for more than a month. The next loss for both teams puts them at a disadvantage to win the division if the Seahawks finished 11-4-1.

For the Seahawks to think Super Bowl, though, they really do need to be a No. 1 or No. 2 seed. They need to have a bye week to give Wilson an extra chance to get healthy.

The key is that it’s possible.

Want more John Clayton? Listen on-demand to his weekday and Saturday shows as well as his “Cold Hard Facts” and “Clayton’s Morning Drive” segments on 710 ESPN Seattle. Also, check out his all-new “Schooled” podcast and look for his columns twice a week on 710Sports.com.

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