Moore: Did Seahawks’ chances of winning NFC increase this weekend?
Did a weekend without the Seahawks make you feel better or worse about their chances to win the NFC West and finish with the No. 1 seed in the conference?
Or maybe you’re somewhere in between. That would be understandable since the Saints beat the Bucs 31-24 and are also 4-1 but hold the tiebreaker advantage over the Seahawks. At this point, nearly one-third of the way through the season, New Orleans appears to be the odds-on favorite to finish with the best record in the NFC. Teddy Bridgewater is 3-0 since taking over for Drew Brees, who could return from his thumb injury in the next two to three weeks.
San Francisco is the NFC’s only remaining unbeaten team at 3-0, but we’ll find out more about the 49ers Monday night when they host Baker Mayfield and the Browns. The Niners were projected to win seven to nine games so you wouldn’t expect this pace to hold up.
The Packers are right in the thick of it as usual, matching the Seahawks’ record at 4-1 after beating the Cowboys 34-24 on Sunday.
So conference-wise, that would produce a Final Four of San Francisco, Seattle, New Orleans and Green Bay right now. I’m leaving out the 2-1-1 Lions for two reasons:
• I don’t expect their pace to continue because of the rugged division they’re in, the NFC North, where every team has a winning record so far.
• I can’t stand their coach, Matt Patricia. As reasons go, this isn’t a good one, I fully get that, but the football gods tend to frown on jerks like him.
And I’m guessing it will be hard for you to look at this Final Four without thinking that one of the six 3-2 teams could crash the party and replace San Francisco. Of those teams – Chicago, Minnesota, Carolina, Dallas, Philadelphia and the Rams – I would make the strongest case for the Rams followed closely by the Cowboys and the Vikings.
But as I mentioned last week, do you really believe any of these conference contenders are better than the Seahawks? Granted, you just about have to say that New Orleans is since the Saints beat the Seahawks 33-27 last month at CenturyLink Field.
Yet I don’t look at the Saints as any kind of lock for the No. 1 seed. If the Seahawks were in the AFC, I wouldn’t be writing a post like this because everyone knows the Patriots are head-and-shoulders above everyone else in that conference.
The goal is to get to the Super Bowl and take your chances for redemption against the Patriots, who I’m hoping will be 18-0 when the Seahawks face them. Remember what happened the last time they were 18-0? They didn’t make it to 19-0 thanks to the Giants.
At the risk of repeating myself, the point is this: The NFC is wide open this year – as in really wide open. Typically a team with as many flaws as the Seahawks – so-so pass rush thus far, so-so secondary, so-so pass protection – would have a shot at a wild-card playoff spot, maybe even a division title but wouldn’t qualify as a top-seed candidate.
This year it figures to be a mad scramble to the end with an 11-5 record maybe being good enough to earn the No. 1 seed with help from some tiebreakers. Who’s to say the Seahawks won’t be involved in that race to the finish?