Originally posted on NESN.com  |  Last updated 12/17/12
A little over a month ago, the Seattle Seahawks had seemingly plateaued and appeared ready for a sharp and sudden plummet back to reality, and presumably the NFC West cellar. But, oh, how things have changed. Coming off a pair of tough losses heading into the second half of the season, Seattle sat with a middling 4-4 record and a treacherous road ahead of them. The same team that had begun the season looking like a playoff contender was suddenly being rubber stamped with the pretender label. Seven weeks and six games later, though, the Seahawks have returned to their place in the contenders circle. While the Atlanta Falcons, Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers all maintain their place among the NFC’s Super Bowl favorites, the Seahawks have quietly climbed back into the conversation. They are earmarked with labels like underdog and dark horse — titles that Pete Carroll‘s team openly embrace. With one of the league’s best defenses — a notion only further cemented in two consecutive blowout wins — a running back capable of carrying a full workload and a rookie quarterback deserving of more Rookie of the Year consideration than he’s afforded, the Seahawks have a championship-caliber feel. They have all the elements necessary to win in January, which should have their NFC playoff brethren worried. While Chris Clemons, Richard Sherman and company steady the NFL’s lowest-scoring defense — allowing just 15.6 points per game — Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch have been the catalysts behind one of the league’s most well-balanced offenses, averaging nearly 190 passing yards and 160 rushing yards per game. Wilson, even as a rookie, has become one of the NFL’s most efficient passers, completing just shy of 63 percent of his passes and throwing 21 touchdowns to just nine interceptions. Meanwhile, Lynch ranks second among running backs, trailing only the bionic legs of Adrian Peterson, with an already career-best 1,379 yards on the ground while averaging an impressive 5.1 yards per attempt. Efficiency is clearly key to keeping the Seahawks’ well-oiled offensive machine running smooth, and turnovers are a big key to that. Seattle’s offense has given the ball away just 17 times this season, which is fourth best in the NFC, while their defense has forced 28 turnovers, which also ranks them fourth in the NFC. But during the Seahawks’ current six-game stretch, where they’ve gone 5-1, they’ve forced opponents into 17 turnovers while turning the ball over just four times on their own. Now, that’s some kind of efficiency. With a rookie under center and no real star power to speak of across their defense, the Seahawks don’t exactly have the sexy look of a typical Super Bowl contender. But as the old adage says “don’t judge a book by its cover.” And while the cover of this book may not be so appealing to the untrained eye, it contains all the right elements to be a best seller. There’s still two weeks left in this NFL season before the playoffs kick off. But if the Seahawks’ recent play, which includes a pair of 50-point whoppers, are any indication of their direction then every NFC foe should want to steer clear of them come playoff time. These Seahawks may not seem dangerous, but they appear to be peaking at just the right time. Have a question for Luke Hughes? Send it to him via Twitter at @LukeFHughes or send it here.
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