The Seahawks are in the driver’s seat to win the NFC West. Let’s break down exactly how they’ll put the rest of the division behind them where they belong.
I’ll admit it, I didn’t expect the Seahawks to be in contention this season. While I never gave a prediction for the season, I expected them to finish no worse than last year’s 7-10 and no better than 10-7. Yes, that’s considerably better than the national consensus put them, but not exactly a division winner.
And yet here we are. The Rams have been abysmal so far. The Cardinals have returned to their long-established standard of mediocrity. Zona fan, if you wandered in here by accident, let me remind you of your five playoff appearances in the past 24 years. You have 11 postseason appearances in 102 years, so pipe down.
At least Rams fan doesn’t have to consult an octogenarian to find someone who remembers a redbird championship. They’ve got 31 postseason runs and are – as much as I hate to say it – the reigning Super Bowl champs. Not that they’ll be returning this year.
Seahawks will put the Niners behind them to take the division
That brings us to the Niners. As much as I dislike admitting it, they definitely have a postseason pedigree. They’re just a few games behind the Rams with 28 playoff runs, and of course, they absolutely dominated the ’80s and ’90s. From 1981, San Francisco only missed the playoffs three times in two decades, with five Super Bowl wins. While they haven’t been as successful as the Hawks when combating Pete Carroll, they’ve still had a few good seasons. Okay, enough history, 12s; let’s get to the matter at hand.
As you know San Francisco and Seattle are both 6-4, with the 49ers ahead by virtue of the drubbing they handed out to the Hawks back in week two. That was by far the worst performance by the Seahawks this season. As Matthew Holm wrote, our team looked like a Jim Mora squad. Jim Mora’s only squad, to be clear. It took the Hawks a few weeks to right the ship, but Seattle missed their chance to hold the division lead by sleepwalking through most of the Munich game.
Looking ahead, the Hawks are in much better shape than the Niners. The critical rematch will be at home on December 15th. While San Francisco is on a three-game winning streak, Seattle is coming off a bye week and had won four straight before the loss to Tampa Bay. What’s truly telling are the three opponents the teams will face before their matchup. The current combined record of Seattle’s opponents is 9-22. The Raiders, Rams, and Panthers have only managed three wins each, so that’s not exactly a murderer’s row.
The Raiders have surrendered 17 more points than they’ve scored, which isn’t that bad. But when you see their wins came against the 1-8-1 Texans, and the other two versus the 3-7 Broncos, they’re not very impressive. Meanwhile, the Rams have given up 59 more than they scored. Their wins are over the 5-6 Falcons, the aforementioned 4-7 Cardinals, and the 3-7 Panthers.
Those Carolina kitty cats have given up 49 more than they put on the board. They probably have the best victories, posting wins over the 4-7 Saints, the 5-5 Bucs, and the Falcons. You’ve no doubt put your mathy skills to work, and noticed none of those nine wins came against a team with a winning record.
Now take a gander at who the Niners are facing. All three contests are at home, but they’ll be facing a significantly tougher slate. First up will be the 4-7 Saints. I know, I know; New Orleans is mediocre at best, but they do have a win over the Hawks, and are fresh off a win over the Rams. The difficulty gets dialed up considerably after that as the Niners will host the Dolphins. Miami is currently 7-3 and will be coming off a bye week and a home game versus Houston – so basically a double bye.
They are one of the few teams in the league that arguably have a better passing attack than Seattle. And Jeff Wilson will certainly be looking for a little revenge against his former team. The 49ers will close that run against the Buccaneers, currently 5-5. But with games versus the Browns and Saints leading into their San Francisco visit, Brady’s Bunch will very likely be making their own playoff push.
At worst, the Seahawks should enter the showdown still tied with the 49ers. Okay, I know they could lose all three games, but let’s get real. It’s far more likely that Seattle will go 3-0 or at least 2-1. San Francisco is likely to go 1-2 or 2-1 at best. The Niners defense is definitely their strength, but they only rank 11th in passing yards allowed. Miami is second in passing yardage and Tampa Bay is fifth. The Hawks have everything set up to take control of the division race.
That being said, they’ll need as big a cushion as they can get. They’ll face the Chiefs, Jets, and Rams to close out the season. That’s a far tougher slate than the Niners, who will take on the Commanders, Raiders, and Cardinals. Still, ya gotta have faith in the Seahawks!