Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
Since the Seattle Seahawks clinched the No. 1 seed and home-field advantage with a win over the St. Louis Rams on Sunday, an entire city has failed to contain its excitement. Seahawks fever is an epidemic in the Pacific Northwest that has affected every crevice from Mount St. Helens to the Space Needle.
The only trouble is that the Seahawks also clinched a first round bye and will not be playing this weekend. So who should the 12th man root for?
On January 11, Seattle will welcome one of three possible opponents: the Green Bay Packers, the San Francisco 49ers, or the New Orleans Saints. In the last two years, the Seahawks have gone 4-0 against those teams at Century Link Field. The 12th man may vary on the desired opponent for the Divisional Round, but here are the pros and cons of facing each team.
GREEN BAY PACKERS
What must happen: PHI win, GB win
Pros: At 8-7-1, the Packers snuck into the playoffs as the NFC North Champions. The defense is atrocious, giving up 372 yards and 26.8 points per game, ranking 25th and 24th in the league respectively. Green Bay faced the second easiest schedule in the entire league and was only able to muster eight wins. The Packers faced three teams that made the playoffs and lost all three contests. Rodgers strong passing attack could be negated by the notorious Seattle secondary.
Cons: Aaron Rodgers missed parts of eight games this season. He and Randall Cobb returned for the Week 17 win over the Bears. While Rodgers looked rusty at times, he still was the key contributor to the win and will have shaken off the rust by the Divisional Round. With Eddie Lacy, the Packers finally have a run game to go with a vaunted passing game. The last time Green Bay came to Seattle resulted in what some call the “Fail Mary” which is sure to be rehashed ad nauseum.
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS
What must happen: PHI win, SF win
Pros: San Francisco is the biggest threat to a Seattle Super Bowl appearance, so it may be better to face the 49ers coming off the bye with an extra week of preparation. This would be the most hyped game of the postseason for the Seahawks, so getting it out of the way is optimal. San Francisco has to travel to the bitter cold of Green Bay, and with a win will have a quick turn around to a Saturday game in what may also be inclement weather. In the past two seasons at the CLink, the Seahawks have beat the 49ers twice by a combined score of 71-16.
Cons: San Francisco is the biggest threat to a Seattle Super Bowl appearance. These teams are very similar in styles of play and split the season series. The 49ers are one of only three teams to defeat the Seahawks and would be coming in on a seven game win streak. The two small areas of weakness on the season for Seattle were the offensive line and, at times, the run defense, which fit right into strengths for San Francisco. Most importantly, no 12th man would ever want to root for a 49er win.
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
What must happen: NO win
Pros: In a nationally televised Monday night game, Seattle destroyed New Orleans to the tune of a 34-7 win. Drew Brees could not get anything going against the Legion of Boom, throwing for a season low 147 yards. Jimmy Graham had only three catches for 42 yards. The Saints biggest strength is negated by the best passing defense in the league. New Orleans went only 3-5 on the road, losing their last three.
Cons: Drew Brees is a future Hall of Fame quarterback and can singlehandedly win a football game. K.J. Wright may still be out, weakening the linebacker depth chart against Jimmy Graham, Pierre Thomas and Mark Ingram. As evidenced by late season losses to San Francisco and Arizona, it is difficult to beat a good team twice in the same year.
So there is no Seahawks game this NFL weekend? No problem, the 12th man still has plenty to root for!