The Seahawks had a rare on-field respite in Week 14, but now it’s back to work: Three NFC games to determine their postseason position.
After improving to 9-4 with a 40-3 win over the New York Jets, the Seahawks sit one game behind Green Bay and New Orleans in the race for the top seed and accompanying bye. They also have a huge game against the Rams (9-4) in Week 16 that will help determine the division winner; Seattle needs to win that to have a chance at the division, though Week 17 still would loom large.
If the Seahawks don’t fix their offense this week, they are in deep trouble the rest of the way. As in, they could go 1-4 in December and January, finish 9-7 and miss the playoffs.
Washington’s upset win over erstwhile undefeated Pittsburgh on Monday showed the team formerly known as Redskins will be maybe the toughest of the NFC Least clubs the Hawks face. WFT has perhaps the best defensive line in the league, and comeback QB Alex Smith has gone 3-1 as the starter.
The Hawks will go to DC after hosting the winless Jets this week. Then come the tough division games against the Rams in Seattle and the 49ers in a place to be determined (the 49ers are playing this month in Arizona). Those last three games will be challenges for a Seattle team that has been struggling on defense all season and has lost its offensive power over the past month.
A third of the way through one of the most bizarre seasons ever (and we’re not just talking about the pandemic), the Seahawks are 5-0 and among the favorites to win the Super Bowl. And that’s despite having the league’s worst defense (by the standard measure: yards).
The Packers (4-0) have been more impressive so far, but the Seahawks might be more dangerous because they are a big-play team on both sides and should get better on defense as the season goes.
By DVOA, the Hawks are considered the No. 3 team in the league, behind Baltimore and Tampa Bay (buoyed by the No. 2 defense). Los Angeles is fourth, Kansas City fifth and Green Bay sixth. Those teams look to be Seattle’s biggest competition for a Super Bowl title.
Tennessee’s virus outbreak is no surprise. It was inevitable that teams would have problems as the NFL pressed to play. It’s why we thought the NFL should sit out 2020.
But, the season has started, made it to the quarter pole with only one game (TEN-PIT) pushed to another week, and now the league has to figure out how to finish. While Tennessee faces TBD consequences for breaking league COVID rules, along with an uncertain playing future this week and beyond, the schedule is starting to become a topic that needs to be addressed (it should have been before the season started, but the reactive NFL doesn’t work like that).
Due to issues in Tennessee and New England, those teams’ games tentatively have been bumped to early next week – with next Thursday’s game also possibly affected.
This is just the first major issue of what always figured to be a significant concern. And the question is now at hand: What happens if teams end up playing different numbers of games due to the inevitable cancellations?
As this oddest of NFL seasons begins, the Seahawks look strong enough to contend for the Super Bowl again – assuming (1) they aren’t hit by a bunch of COVID afflictions, (2) their lines hold up and (3) they learn how to play offense in the playoffs.
After adding Jamal Adams, Quinton Dunbar, Greg Olsen, Carlos Hyde, Phillip Dorsett and Jordyn Brooks, the Hawks look very solid at DB, TE, RB, WR and LB – and of course QB. But their pass rush is still a major question mark, they look really thin at defensive tackle and center is a big unknown.
As states begin to reopen, the NFL and players association are discussing ways to safely bring teams back together and eventually stage games — and, while we doubt there will be minicamps in June, it seems like training camps might be able to begin on time in July.
With teams limited to virtual meetings (see the Seahawks’ tight ends) this offseason, coaches are missing out on key on-field prep time. The lack of physical work is putting everyone behind their usual timelines, and those adding new elements (e.g, coaches, quarterbacks and receivers) will find themselves even further behind once camps begin.
So, teams that have few major changes should have a jump on the rest — which could help in the first few weeks of the season.
The Seahawks were supposed to be watching the Browns on Monday night — their homework for this week — but it was pretty hard to miss the team that dominated Baker Mayfield and company.
“That night was San Francisco’s night,” Pete Carroll said of the 49ers’ 31-3 win. “It didn’t matter what happened, really. The ball kept coming their way and they kept making the plays. They looked great.”
The Hawks play at Cleveland this week, but in a month they will be facing the 49ers in what figures to be a major Monday night showdown — impacting both the division and conference races.
Seattle’s 2019 season will be defined in prime time in November and December.
The Seahawks got a very balanced schedule, highlighted by alternating home and road games through the first 14 weeks and four straight night games in the second half of the season.
The Hawks will play five prime-time games overall, including two against the division rival Rams.
Seattle also has four 10 a.m. games, but Pete Carroll doesn’t care (ask him). His teams are 13-11 in 10 a.m. starts (playoffs included) since Russell Wilson arrived, and they have won seven of the last nine (all three in 2018).
The Seahawks have signed eight guys over the last week, but only one would be considered an improvement over what they had last year. In other words, they are still just getting started trying to make this club better.
At this point, the Hawks are basically the same team that won 10 games last year. To get better — and have a chance at the necessary home field next season — they absolutely have to add a couple of defensive linemen before the draft arrives. Once they do that, we will see whether they actually have improved.
Meanwhile, let’s see how their status quo approach compares to the moves of their 2019 opponents: