Found December 29, 2012 on NorthWest Sports Beat:
Uno Mas in the Traffic Jam that is the NFC West Playoff Picture Last Sunday night, the Seattle Seahawks gave their fan base an early Christmas gift with the complete dismemberment of the San Francisco 49ers. The 42-13 annihilation was—once again—a complete effort from each side of the ball. Russell Wilson again shined, adding four scores for the second week in a row. The defense was suffocating to say the least, giving Colin Kaepernick no windows for ball placement, and the special teams blocked an early Akers field-goal attempt that was returned for six by none other than media favorite, Richard Sherman. Russell Wilson is coming off a great game against the 49ers (Photo: Seth Perlman/AP) The 42-point outing makes a total of 150 points in the last three weeks, which is tied for the third-greatest streak in NFL history, only behind the 1950 LA Rams and 1941 Bears. The Seahawks enter the final week of the season as the hottest team in the league, and the most dominant team at home on the season at 7-0. Here is what I’m watching for. Wide Eyes and No Surprise The hype and swagger surrounding the Seahawks as of late makes them seem untouchable. They have beaten the best teams in the league—in convincing fashion—with fearless efforts and surprising confidence considering their youth. While these are all positives, it does bring the worry of overlooking the St. Louis Rams to the surface. When the Rams enter a conversation, they are typically considered one of the bottom teams in the league and a guaranteed victory for their opponents. What many fail to recognize is the turnaround Jeff Fisher has brought to the St. Louis franchise. Although overshadowed in the impressive NFC West, the Rams are currently 7-7-1, and sit at 16 in the ESPN power rankings ahead of the Saints, Steelers, Buccaneers, Lions, and several other more intimidating teams. Another scary number? The Rams are undefeated in the NFC West. Yes, they have beaten the Seahawks, swept the Cardinals, and came up 1-0-1 against San Francisco. These Rams are nothing to sleep on, and Seattle must bring a focused effort come Sunday. U Mad, Bro? He back. He bad. And yes, he mad. Sighs of relief flooded the Pacific Northwest Thursday morning when the results from Richard Sherman’s appeal were announced—he won. Claiming errors and contamination in the testing process, Richard Sherman put the faulty NFL testing system on display for the world to see. This means he will be eligible for the game this Sunday, as well as the postseason, where he will be reunited with his other half—Brandon Browner. This is great news, but Sherman still has a very large chip on his shoulder. Being snubbed from the Pro Bowl selections wasn’t something that went unnoticed. His stats are insane, as he leads the NFL in passes defended, QB rating against and second in interceptions. You mad, Bro?. (Photo NWSB Instagram) Oh yea, he is also the only player in NFL history to record five-plus interceptions, three forced fumbles and two touchdowns in one season. Yet both Bears cornerbacks—Charles Tillman and Tim Jennings—along with Arizona’s Patrick Peterson, made the Pro Bowl over the Shermanator. It won’t matter anyway, considering he will be too busy in the postseason to play in the joke of an event. We’ve seen Sherman dominate on a regular basis, and I can’t wait to see how he plays with this in the back of his mind. Pedal to the Floor The numbers from the Seattle offense over the last three weeks have been off the charts, and there is no reason they should deflate. I’ve given my praises for Darrell Bevell again and again, and he continues to impress. The week-by-week improvements from Russell Wilson have without a doubt been a major contributor to the explosion of this offense, but the key factor is Darrell Bevell. He has built a system around Wilson’s abilities that grows as Russell grows. Each week you see a new addition to the game plan, a new addition that the defense has never seen, and thus hasn’t prepared for. Remember at the beginning of the year when Wilson was attempting 12 to 15 passes per game and handing the ball to Marshawn Lynch out of the power-I? Those days seem decades in the past, but really were not too long ago. Now, you find Rusell and Marshawn Lynch in the shotgun more often than not, throwing in the read-option and even the pistol! These formations and play schemes are something you would typically see in a Fiesta Bowl, yet they are trumping defenses on Sunday afternoons and nights. With the Rams defense being middle of the pack in every aspect—15th in pass defense and 17th in rush defense—there is no reason to think the Seahawks won’t continue their rampant success. Human Bicep, Rise Marshawn Lynch has to be upset. Although he was elected to the pro bowl, he was outvoted by Frank Gore! Really? Gore has 1,146 yards and seven touchdowns on the season, with an average of 4.8 yards per carry. Lynch has 1,490 yards and 11 touchdowns on the year, with an average of five yards per carry. The numbers aren’t even close, yet the popularity contest shows its ugly face again. I don’t see Lynch taking this to heart, however, because nothing seems to bother the guy. He doesn’t talk to the media, he doesn’t complain and he just goes out every day and punishes defenders. With the postseason just around the corner, I do expect a limit on Lynch’s carries. This opens the door for another Robert Turbin showcase. In Robin Turbin’s only full-game experience, he proved why he was a great steal in the fourth round as e rushed for 108 yards on 20 carries. He hits the hole like Beast Mode, yet shows ability in his receiving game and surprising agility. Turbin has yet to find the end zone in his rookie campaign, but I expect that to change this Sunday. Human Bicep, Rise! Let’s Go Cardinals! While the Rams will not be overlooked, there is still a whirlwind of other events occurring the same day that will decide the NFC playoff picture. When reading the playoff scenarios, your brain begins to hurt with all of the possible outcomes. The possible outcomes for Seattle are as follows: - They cannot finish lower than the fifth wildcard seed Is it strange to root for the Arizona Cardinals? - If they defeat the Rams, the Packers lose to the Vikings AND the 49ers lose to the Cardinals, Seattle would be the No. 2 seed, giving them a first-round bye and home-field advantage (fingers crossed) - If Green Bay wins, but Seattle wins and San Fran loses, the Hawks would get the No. 3 seed and get home-field in the first round - Nevertheless, if San Fran wins, Seattle is the fifth seed. No avoiding it. Essentially, we need Arizona QB Ryan Lindley to have the game of his life and lead his fellow Cardinals to victory against the 49ers Sunday to give Seattle a more comfortable spot in the playoffs. If San Fran wins, Seattle will be the fifth seed and will play the fourth seed in the first round. The possible outcomes for their opponents are as follows: - If Washington defeats Dallas on Sunday, they will be the No. 4 seed and Seattle will travel to the nation’s capital to take on RGIII and the Redskins - If Dallas wins, they will take the division and the No. 4 spot. The Hawks will travel to the $1 billion stadium to take on Tony Romo and the gang So while we will be rooting for the Seahawks on Sunday, we are also hoping Arizona lends a helping hand and gets a unlikely victory in Candlestick. If not, we will take on the ‘Skins or the ‘Boys. No matter the outcome, I don’t think anybody wants to play Seattle while they are on this kind of a roll. Let’s Go Hawks!!! 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