FORT LAUDERDALE, FL - FEBRUARY 05: Commissioner of the NFL Roger Goodell speaks to members of the media during the NFL Commissioner Press Conference held at the Greater Ft. Lauderdale/Broward County Convention Center as part of media week for Super Bowl XLIV on February 5, 2010 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
The 6-5 Seattle Seahawks travel to Chicago, for the fourth time in three seasons, to face the 8-3 Chicago Bears. Apparently NFL Commissioner, Roger Goodell, has been too busy turning the league into flag football in recent seasons to notice this scheduling oversight. Granted, one of the visits occurred during the 2010 NFC Playoffs, but it seems reasonable to have Bears visit Seattle at some point doesn’t it?
This is a pivotal game for the Seahawks playoff aspirations. Seattle is currently tied with Tampa Bay and Minnesota for the sixth seed in the NFC but if the playoffs started today, the Seahawks would qualify for the postseason on tiebreakers.
The magic number of wins needed to make the playoffs in the NFC this season appears to be nine, and the 6-5 Seahawks have three home games remaining. A road victory, a feat Seattle appears incapable of achieving, may not be necessary to reach the postseason, but obviously, a win in Chicago would leave the Seahawks in a fantastic position heading into the final quarter of the season.
How reasonable is it for Seahawks fans to expect a win in Chicago this weekend?
Seattle is 6-17 on the road since Pete Carroll became Lord-King of the franchise in 2010, a record that hardly inspires confidence. It’s hard to pinpoint any one thing as the reason behind Seattle’s road woes. Russell Wilson struggled in losses to St. Louis and San Francisco. The defense, the supposed strength of the team, blew 4th quarter leads against Detroit and Miami and the offensive line attempted to set a NFL record for penalties committed in the season opening loss in Arizona. The Seahawks’ lone road victory this season, at Carolina, only came after providing the Panthers with every opportunity possible to win the game. Had Cam Newton not set quarterback play back a decade with his performance in that contest, Seattle would be winless on the road this season.
Despite their struggles, there’s little reason for the Seahawks to waive the white flag. The Bears offensive line is just that, offensive, and we all know how supportive Bears quarterback Jay Cutler can be when his teammates are struggling to block. Cutler is capable of going nuclear at the slightest hint of adversity. The man has single handedly redefined the term “self-implosion” during his career. Frustrating Cutler will be the key to any success Seattle experiences.
There’s another reason for Seattle to be optimistic heading into this match-up. Russell Wilson. The rookie quarterback sensation has been nothing short of spectacular in recent weeks. Since week 5 of the NFL season Russell Wilson’s QBR score of 82.4 trails only one other quarterback in the NFL. You might recognize the name, Tom Brady. Let that statistical nugget simmer in your brain for a second.
Wilson has thrown 12 touchdowns passes over his last six games. For comparison, fellow rookie Andrew Luck, the greatest quarterback prospect since John Elway according to ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr., has thrown 13 TD’s all season. Wilson’s eight interceptions are also five fewer than Luck has thrown this year. What Russell Wilson is accomplishing is truly remarkable. If Seattle wasn’t the Siberia of the NFL Wilson would be receiving far more media attention.
What if Wilson travels to Chicago and lights up the Bears defense en route to a surprising Seahawks road win? We’ll he become a Tim Tebow like cult hero in Seattle? With one major caveat, a cult hero that’s actually capable of throwing a football. It’s in play. Wilson-ism is an already budding religion in the area. Things might get downright wacky in Seattle if the rookie keeps improving.
The beauty of the NFL is that as painful as last weekend’s loss in Miami felt, all those negative feelings could be washed away with four good quarters of football this weekend in Chicago.