Clayton: Seahawks are No. 5 seed, but they might be better than the NFC’s 5th-best team
Philadelphia’s win over Washington on Monday night continued the trend of the Seahawks getting help to make it into the playoffs as one of the NFC’s wild-card teams.
Prior to Monday, Washington held a tiebreaker over the Seahawks dude to their in-conference records. That vanished with the loss, however, and the Seahawks have vaulted into the No. 5 seed with a one-game lead in the standings over Washington. Down two quarterbacks (Alex Smith and Colt McCoy) with broken legs, Washington continues to trend downward as a playoff contender.
While the New Orleans Saints and Los Angeles Rams are lapping the field in the NFC playoff race, the thought is that the Seahawks might be more than just the fifth-best team in the conference. They’ve beaten the Dallas Cowboys, who have the best chance to win the NFC East, and are just one game behind the Chicago Bears, who could win the NFC North and got a victory over the Seahawks in Week 2.
The Bears have a great defense, but is their overall roster better than Seattle’s? That’s still to be determined.
The Seahawks’ 43-16 win Sunday over San Francisco was pretty convincing that this is a playoff team, at least. The Seahawks have a crucial home game Monday night against the Minnesota Vikings, a while a victory won’t lock up the No. 5 seed, it would sure put the Seahawks in a great position to clinch it before Week 17.
Here’s what we learned as the Seahawks head into the final quarter of the regular season.
• Losing D.J. Fluker to a hamstring injury can hurt, but the offensive line has a chance to get by with Jordan Simmons at right guard. Simmons did well in his one-game fill-in. He’s big. He’s powerful. He’s a decent athlete. The only missing part is experience.
What won’t be easy is going up against one of the best defensive lines in the league Monday night. The Vikings are good, and former Seahawk Sheldon Richardson won’t be easy to block. As long as the running game gets over 150 yards, the Seahawks will buy more time to get Fluker back in a couple of weeks.
• Tyler Lockett continues to get better and better each week. He’s up to 44 catches for 713 yards, but the big thing is his nine touchdowns. His 84-yard kickoff return against the 49ers brought his return average up to 28.2, sixth-best in the league. Lockett has been locking into big plays.
In the meantime, Doug Baldwin is in catch-up mode after knee problems caused a slow start. He has 37 catches for 288 yards and two touchdowns.
• Even though he’s not asked to throw a lot of passes, Russell Wilson is having an impressive season. He’s only made 326 attempts in 12 games, but he has 29 touchdown passes and just five interceptions. He’s also up to 2,716 yards so it’s not out of question for him to have another 4,000-yard season. And for those worried about his running, those numbers are rising. He has 245 rushing yards on 45 attempts.
• You would have to say the offense is doing well even though it ranks 19th in yards. The scoring average is up to 26.6 points per game.
• Even though the defense has dropped to 19th in yards allowed, it is able to make big plays at the right time. Seattle has been great in the red zone in the past month. Bobby Wagner is coming off his best game in the win over San Francisco, but he’s also having his best season. And with the return of Mychal Kendricks from the suspended list this week, the Seahawks are much deeper and better at linebacker.
John Clayton hosts a show from from 10 a.m. to noon each day on 710 ESPN Seattle. Read his columns on 710Sports.com and listen to podcasts of the show.
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