Defending Superbowl Champion Seattle Seahawks have had quite the roller coaster of a season, already. In the off season there was talk of a possible dynasty in the making. The team was the youngest to ever win a Superbowl, most of the players were returning, and the front office had built strong through the last few drafts. Now the Seahawks enter the toughest six game stretch of the season.
Opening night in the NFL was in Seattle last September, as The Hawks kicked off the new season with a bang. They dominated the Packers and looked to pick up where they left off last season. After a few tough losses, including one at home to the Dallas Cowboys, things were starting to look bleak. One of the guys brought into be a big spark to the offense was Percy Harvin. Harvin sat out most of the 2013 season due to a hip injury. This year he was healthy, but could not seem to give the team the boost it needed. After becoming a thorn in the locker room, the Seahawks traded him to the New York Jets for virtually nothing.
The injuries for the Seahawks are also piling up. Tight end Zach Miller has missed the entire season, and just today he was put on the season ending, injured reserve list. Strong Safety Kam Chancellor has missed several games due to a groin injury, but looks to be back for the next game. Linebacker Bobby Wagner has also missed significant playing time to a toe injury.
One of the most significant injuries, that could have season altering effects, is defensive tackle Brandon Mebane going down with a hamstring injury, ending his season. The Seahawks have been one of the best at stopping the run this season. Mebane’s play has been a major factor in the run game. Mebane does not have the gaudy stats that a lot of people look for to determine a lineman’s success. Mebane has been taking on two offensive linemen for most of the season which allowed for linebackers and safeties to stuff the run. The Seahawks allow under 80 yards a game, which is fourth best in the league.
Without Mebane, the Seahawks picked up RaShaun Allen from the Vikings practice squad, to fill Mebane’s roster spot. Allen is a tight end who has been good at run blocking. Without Miller at tight end, that will help things on the offensive side of the ball. Kevin Williams will get most of the snaps in place of Mebane on the defensive line.
Sitting at 6-3 the Seahawks are entering a tough stretch of the season. This Sunday they head to Kansas City to take on the Chiefs, who were a playoff team last year and are one game behind the Denver Broncos at 6-3, as well. After that, the gauntlet only continues: home against the first place Arizona Cardinals, on the road on Thanksgiving against the 49ers in Santa Clara, on the road against the Philadelphia Eagles, home against the 49ers again, and down to Arizona to face the Cardinals again.
The Seahawks have the toughest final schedule in the NFL, facing six teams that were in the playoffs last season in a row. The final game against the St. Louis Rams will not be an easy game either. The Rams already beat the Seahawks once this year, and the two teams always play each other extremely tough, and hard hitting.
For the Seahawks to make the playoffs this season they are going to have to win their remaining games at home, and find a way to win at least two on the road. Sitting one game behind the Cardinals, and one game ahead of the 49ers, there is no room for error. If the Seahawks are able to get past this tough stretch of the schedule, there can be little doubt that they are ready for the playoffs. The stretch gets started this Sunday with a 10am kickoff.
Commentary by Andy Lapic