O’Neil: Seahawks playing for home-field advantage even though they’ve struggled in Seattle
The Seahawks are in great position to earn home-field advantage in the NFL playoffs.
They just have to make sure that home field is still an advantage because so far this season, that has been a question – Seattle is 3-2 at CenturyLink Field heading into the game against Minnesota on Monday night.
It wasn’t all that long ago the league stopped scheduling prime-time games in Seattle because of the Seahawks’ propensity for blowing out opponents. They beat the 49ers 42-13 in December 2012 and followed that up with a 29-3 victory over San Francisco on a Sunday night game in Week 2 the following season. Throw in Seattle’s 34-7 victory over New Orleans at CenturyLink Field on a Monday later in that Super Bowl year and the league had seen just about enough of the Seahawks smoking opponents in Seattle in prime time.
In 2014, Seattle had exactly one home game schedule in prime time, and that was the season-opener against Green Bay where the Seahawks raised the championship banner. The Seahawks won that game 36-16, and their next four prime-time games were all on the road.
Home field was considered a prohibitive advantage for Seattle back then. In Russell Wilson’s first five seasons in Seattle, the Seahawks were 34-6 at home. Since then, they are 13-8, which includes a 3-2 mark this year.
It’s not necessarily the defeats that have been the most troubling this season, however. The losses were to the Saints and Baltimore Ravens, who are two of the very best teams in the league, tied for an NFL-best record of 10-2. Seattle has actually looked worse in the home games it has won, whether it was the one-point victory in Week 1 against Cincinnati or the overtime victory over Tampa Bay, and while the Seahawks beat the defending division champs in the Rams, they needed a missed field-goal attempt at the end of the game to do it.
It makes sense that home-field doesn’t provide the same edge it used to for the Seahawks. After all, it’s the offense that is now leading the way, and a home crowd usually helps the defense more because it interferes with the opposing offense’s ability to communicate.
But if Seattle is going to break through this logjam at the top of the NFC and emerge as a conference favorite in the playoffs, it will need to find momentum at home.
It should help that the Seahawks’ defense has played its best these past two games and should get Jadeveon Clowney back on the field after he missed last week’s following treatment on his injured hip. The Vikings, meanwhile, won’t get receiver Adam Thielen back from his hamstring injury.
At 9-2, Seattle has a chance to not only win the division but earn a first-round bye in the playoffs that is so critical to a team’s Super Bowl chances. Earning that home-field advantage will depend upon Seattle’s home field actually being an advantage for the Seahawks not only in tonight’s game against the Vikings but the regular-season finale against the 49ers.
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