We all know how frustrating the first six weeks of the season were for the Seahawks. A 2-4 start that included three leads lost in the 4th quarter stirred up national and local sports fans as they asked the question — is the Seahawks reign in the NFC over? That’s all water under the bridge now. It’s a New Year and, once again, there is playoff football to watch for Seahawks fans. After torching the Arizona Cardinals 36-6 on the Cardinals’ home field, the Seahawks find themselves as the sixth-seed in the NFC. Looming is another early morning contest against the Minnesota Vikings (10 a.m., Jan. 12) in Minneapolis, the first of which ended with a dominating 38-7 win for the Hawks.
Evaluating Some Key Stats:
Point Differential for the Seahawks — At home: +54, On the road: +92.
This bodes well for a Seahawk team that will, for the first time since Russell Wilson’s rookie season, compete on the road in the playoffs. Not to mention the fact that the Hawks started 0-3 on the road, only to finish with five straight road wins. The victory margin in those five games? 21.6 points.
Russell Wilson and his Doug Baldwin connection — 80.4% completion rate.
When you’re driving you must yield to pedestrians. Doug Baldwin has been called pedestrian, and the secondaries of the world are yielding to him and Russell Wilson. The two are doing whatever they want, including 12 TD’s for Baldwin since Nov. 15, to give him 14 total. That’s good for the NFL lead in touchdown receptions this regular season. Wilson is finding others too with 4,024 passing yards, 34 passing touchdowns and a 68.1 completion percentage, all of which are single season Seahawk franchise records. Oh, and he’s the only quarterback in NFL history to throw for 4,000+ yards, 30+ touchdowns and rush for 500+ yards in a season. Is that good?
The Defense — allowing 17.3 points per game, 81.5 rushing yards per game and 210.3 pass yards per game.
These stats all equate to a once again dominant defense and, for the fourth straight year, the NFL leader in scoring defense. The only one of those stats that doesn’t lead the league is the passing yards per game and the Hawks are second. The numbers of Wilson, Baldwin, etc. are all great but when the weather gets cold and you have to go on the road, smash mouth football tends to have an upper hand. If defenses win championships, the Seahawks are in good shape.
The matchup with the Vikings:
Minnesota relies on the run to open up the pass. Viking running back Adrian Peterson led the league in rushing with 1,485 yards despite missing all of last season. With respect to Beast Mode, it’s a popular belief that Peterson is the best back in the league. When the Hawks traveled to Minnesota earlier in the season, they bottled Peterson up for just 8 carries and 18 yards. Both of which are season lows for Peterson. In that game, Teddy Bridgewater (Viking Quarterback) had his worst game of the season prior to this Sunday’s win over the Packers to clinch the NFC North. Bridgewater threw for just 118 yards, an 11.6 QB rating and didn’t find the end zone once against the stifling Seahawks defense. With all that said, the recipe is simple: stop Peterson and force Bridgewater to beat you. For my money, Bridgewater can’t do that. But this is the NFL and, as Al Pacino would say, anything can happen on any given Sunday. On this given Sunday though, the Hawks are getting healthier (they expect Lynch, Chancellor, Sweezy, Willson and Okung back) which will only fuel the already burning fire the Seahawks are forcing the league to endure. If Lynch can handle the new direction the offense is going and guys like Chancellor can seamlessly re-enter the fold, I don’t see a lot of reason why the Seahawks won’t find themselves with another playoff meeting with a foe they’ve already seen in the regular season.