As the Seahawks (3-2) get ready to embark on the final two-thirds of the season, they are sitting in the driver’s seat in the NFC West and are viewed as the likely winners of the division.
After Sunday’s games, FiveThirtyEight gives them a 56 percent chance to win the division and 66 percent chance to make the playoffs. Those numbers basically match what Football Outsiders had entering the weekend. Both models put the Hawks at about 10 wins, which is where we had them to start the season and where we still think they will end up.
Let’s take a look at the rest of their schedule:
WEEK 7: At NY Giants (1-5)
The storyline: The last two times the Seahawks played New York, they blew out the Giants on the way to the Super Bowl — 23-0 in 2013 and 38-17 in 2014. The Giants won 11 games in 2016 but are off to an injury-filled 1-5 start. Last weekend alone, they lost Odell Beckham Jr. and Brandon Marshall. They finally got their first win Sunday night in Denver, so it’s hard to tell which team the Hawks will see in New York. The Giants were giving up 139 rushing yards per game before holding Denver to 46. They also were averaging a mere 77.8 rush ypg until running for 148. We originally had this as a loss, and the Hawks are 1-2 on the road and have not been lights-out coming off byes, so it still could be. But we prefer the “blow out the Giants, go to the Super Bowl” theme.
Prediction: Seahawks, 23-13
WEEK 8: Houston (3-3)
The storyline: Rookie QB Deshaun Watson is Russell Wilson incarnate, and those comparisons will no doubt rule the lead-up to this game. In four games with Watson at QB, the Texans have scored 157 points. But they are only 2-2 because they lost shootouts against Tom Brady’s Patriots and Alex Smith’s Chiefs. The Texans suffered a major double whammy in Week 5 as both J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus were lost for the season. It was a big blow to a unit that already was having problems, giving up 26 points per game before holding Cleveland to 17. The last time the Seahawks faced the Texans was in early 2013, when the Hawks rallied from a 20-3 deficit to win in overtime. Without Watt and Mercilus, the Texans’ defense isn’t as good as that one. And Watson will find Seattle harder to score on than his first few foes.
Prediction: Seahawks, 24-20
WEEK 9: Washington (3-2)
The storyline: The Redskins look like a strong wild-card contender (the Eagles are pulling away in the NFC East). Washington is a top-10 team running the ball and stopping the run. The Hawks have beaten Washington the past two times, in the 2012 playoffs and the 2014 season. But Jay Gruden might have Washington’s strongest club since that 2012 group. Fortunately for Seattle, this one is at home.
Prediction: Seahawks, 20-17
WEEK 10: At Arizona (3-3)
The storyline: Adrian Peterson suddenly gave Arizona a running attack, gaining 134 yards and scoring twice in his first game. If he can keep it up, the Cardinals could be dangerous again. This is the fourth prime-time game between these teams in the past five years, and they are hoping to do a lot better than the embarrassing 6-6 tie in Arizona last season. Chandler Catanzaro and Steven Hauschka both missed simple field goals that could have won the game — and both are now gone. The Cardinals replaced Catanzaro with Phil Dawson, and the Hawks added Blair Walsh, who has been stellar so far (9 of 10 on FGs). The Cardinals are very strong against the run, which has been a Seattle weakness for two seasons now, but the Cardinals also are giving up 26 points per game. One way or another, Russell Wilson will be happy not to see Calais Campbell (now anchoring Jacksonville’s defense) in his face every other play. The Seahawks haven’t lost in Arizona since Wilson’s rookie year, so they should be favored again.
Prediction: Seahawks, 24-17
WEEK 11: Atlanta (3-2)
The storyline: Dan Quinn’s Falcons took an unexpected loss to Miami to drop to 3-2, but they are still one of the NFC’s top clubs — a younger, better version of the Seahawks, as proven by Atlanta’s 36-20 playoff win last season. The Seahawks beat the Falcons 26-24 in a controversial game in Seattle last season, and this Monday night game figures to be every bit as close.
Prediction: Falcons, 27-24
WEEK 12: San Francisco (0-6)
The storyline: After another close loss, the 49ers now have lost five straight games by a field goal or less. The Hawks beat them 12-9 in Week 2. Will Seattle’s offense be any better 10 weeks later? Will rookie QB C.J. Beathard get the 49ers a win or two before this game?
Prediction: Seahawks, 24-14
WEEK 13: Philadelphia (5-1)
The storyline: The Eagles are in the second year of the Doug Pederson/Carson Wentz era and will come to Seattle for the second straight year. The Seahawks won 26-15 in 2016, but Wentz & Co. have turned into a top-five offense. If the Hawks are still sporting the same lame offense at this point in the season, the Eagles will win this one.
Prediction: Eagles, 24-20
WEEK 14: At Jacksonville (3-3)
The storyline: The Jags have been a very stingy defense (16.6 ppg) entering this week. The Rams scored 27, but two touchdowns were on special teams. Wilson will have to face Calais Campbell here instead of against Arizona. Will Luke Joeckel be back for this one? And will the O-line be able to keep Campbell off Wilson? The Jags also are running it well with rookie Leonard Fournette. If the Hawks don’t shore up that part of their defense (127 ypg), the Jags could grind out a close win. But the Jags also have not been able to stop the run, and you have to figure Blake Bortles will not be able to beat Seattle’s defense.
Prediction: Seahawks, 20-16
WEEK 15: L.A. Rams (4-2)
The storyline: The Rams rebounded from their loss to Seattle in Week 5 with a win over Jacksonville. If they can sustain their play all the way to this meeting, this game might be a huge factor in determining the NFC West winner. Wilson is 4-1 against the Rams in Seattle, including a 24-3 win last December, so the Hawks should have the edge.
Prediction: Seahawks, 26-17
WEEK 16: At Dallas (2-3)
The storyline: The Cowboys have gotten off to an uneven start, with Zeke Elliott’s suspension looming over them and Jerry Jones making threats to bench players who protest inequality in America. The Cowboys also have one of the worst scoring defenses, giving up 26.4 ppg. Elliott should be available for this game — suspension or no. But will the defense improve? Either way, it’s hard to see Seattle winning here.
Prediction: Cowboys, 27-24
WEEK 17: Arizona (3-3)
The storyline: Bruce Arians’ team has won in Seattle in three of the past four years, which is a bad trend for a game that might be very significant on the final weekend.
Prediction: Cardinals, 30-27