I’ve gone on record as stating that the Seahawks’ playoff chances ended with the discouraging loss last Sunday to the Cleveland Browns. That doesn’t make the remaining ten games irrelevant. Today’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals is far from meaningless. In my opinion, it is an important indicator of the progress the team has made over the past year. I would go so far as to say that today the Seahawks are in a must win situation.
The team shouldn’t begin playing for next season, but it is important that the coaching staff and management have a clear, focused view of what the team currently has so they can properly address needs in the draft and free agency. This isn’t like last year, when the team had so many needs to address that it didn’t matter what direction the team took in the offseason. Regardless of what they did, the Seahawks were going to address an area of need.
With the exception of the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Seahawks have been competitive this season, even in defeat. The team played poorly in the first half against the San Francisco 49ers and the Atlanta Falcons, but came back in the second half and, even though they lost both games, put the outcome in some doubt. Last season, when the Seahawks were defeated, they lost in embarrassing fashion and the games were well over when the game clock expired.
A victory in today’s game is vital in order for the team to maintain a positive attitude. The Seahawks aren’t going to be expected to win the next two games at Dallas and at home against Baltimore. If the Seahawks lose today, they could be looking at a 2-7 record in a couple of weeks. Optimism would be hard to come by.
Even though the Bengals are 4-2, they shouldn’t be considered among the best teams in the AFC just yet. Their schedule to this point has been extremely soft. Even though they beat Buffalo and played San Francisco tough, three of their four wins are against Cleveland, Jacksonville and Indianapolis, three of the weakest teams in the NFL. Plus they lost to a bad Denver team. I liken the Bengals to last year’s Seahawks team, which also took advantage of a favorable early schedule to start 4-2, only to fail miserably the rest of the season.
Before the season, I felt that this was a game the Seahawks could and should win. Despite the generally poor play of the offense and the numerous injuries the team has suffered on both sides of the ball, nothing has changed my mind in that regard. That is why the Seahawks must win today. In order to become a good team, you have to win the games you are expected to. This is one of those games.