Second half starts and ends with Arizona

Seahawks-Cardinals logos Way back in April, we said a 4-4 start would be the worst case for the defending NFC champions. Well, unfortunately, here the Seahawks are.

Pete Carroll understatedly called their record “nothing to be shouting about.” Hell, it’s barely anything to whisper about.

“But,” he pointed out, in his oddball way of speaking, “it did put us in a position where we have a second half to really go forward. We have all of the matchups in the games that we need to play in the division to settle issues and go for it and take it as far as we can.”

He has to hope that is farther than the last time the Hawks started 4-4. In 2012, they rallied to finish 11-5 and had to hit the road for the playoffs, where they beat Washington and lost agonizingly in Atlanta (kinda like they have lost some of their games this season).

It’s just how Carroll’s slow-starting team typically does it. Since Russell Wilson became quarterback, the Seahawks have gotten better as the season has progressed. They are 20-12 (.625) in the first half and 20-4 (.833) in the second.

Last year, they rallied from 3-3 to finish 12-4, and Carroll thinks they are in a similar spot this year.

“I don’t think it feels much different than it did last year,” he said. “I think it’s very similar. It’s unfortunate that it takes us a while, but I think this is an opportunity to observe what it’s like to be where we’ve been and to come back.

“If we’re able to put the second half together like we plan on, then we’ll be really proud of that.”

The Seahawks won’t leave Seattle for the rest of November, playing three straight home games after this bye week.

The second half starts with a Sunday night game against division-leading Arizona in Week 10. And, appropriately, it ends with a game in Arizona — one that could well determine the NFC West winner.

Let’s take a look:

Week 10: Arizona
This Sunday night game will determine whether the Seahawks have any chance of winning the NFC West. The Cardinals are 6-2, two games up on Seattle, and they have their bye this week as well. Both teams will be well-rested for this huge division battle. If the Hawks win, they will just need to stay in step with Arizona until the teams meet in the season finale. If the Hawks lose, they can kiss the division goodbye.

Week 11: San Francisco
The 49ers (2-6) appear to be positioning themselves for a top-five draft pick, trading Vernon Davis and benching Colin Kaepernick this week. The Seahawks dominated them 20-3 in Santa Clara in Week 7 and should wallop them by even more in Seattle, where the Seahawks have won the past three by an average of almost 22 points.

Week 12: Pittsburgh
Ben Roethlisberger is back, although he came up short against the undefeated Bengals. The Steelers (4-4) have not been to Seattle since 2003, the year before Roethlisberger was drafted, so he has never played surrounded by the 12th Man. And many of those fans will be eager to welcome him, recalling the Super Bowl XL Controversy. It would be appropriate if Mike Holmgren raised the 12th Man flag.

Week 13: At Minnesota
The Vikings (5-2) have won three straight, including a last-play win over Chicago in Week 8. The Vikes and Hawks last met in 2012, when Adrian Peterson and Marshawn Lynch both had big days in Seattle’s 30-20 win in Seattle. The Vikings have a better QB this time in Teddy Bridgewater, but the Hawks will need to win this game if they fancy themselves a Super Bowl contender.

Week 14: At Baltimore
This game is scheduled to air on NBC, but it might be flexed to a day game (a move that would have to be made 12 days in advance). The Ravens are 2-6, with recent losses at San Francisco and Arizona, and the Seahawks should walk away with a win.

Week 15: Cleveland
The last time the Hawks played the Browns, in Cleveland in 2011, Tarvaris Jackson was injured and Charlie Whitehurst proved his inability to start for the Hawks in a 6-3 loss. The Hawks have a QB this time, and the Browns might be lucky to score six points in this one, too.

Week 16: St. Louis
The Rams are in the hunt at 4-3 and certainly should not be forgotten. They won 24-22 in Arizona in Week 4 and have held the Browns and 49ers to six points each in the past two games. The Rams have not won in Seattle since 2004, and they have finished the last three seasons with losses at the Hawks. But this appears to be Jeff Fisher’s best Rams club, especially with rookie RB Todd Gurley plowing the way, and just because this game is in Seattle does not mean it is a gimme.

Week 17: At Arizona
This game could very well be flexed to NBC if it is a showdown for the NFC West. Other than the two games vs. Seattle, the Cardinals finish with games vs. Cincinnati, at San Francisco, at St. Louis, vs. Minnesota, at Philadelphia and vs. Green Bay. They could easily go 4-3 leading to the home finale vs. the Hawks. That would make them 10-5, meaning Seattle would need to go 6-1 to make this the NFC West showdown.

Carroll thinks they can do it.

“As we come out of this break, we should come out strong and be ready to go,” he said. “It’s a big month of November … starting with a great game against Arizona.”

And ending with one, too.

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