I know the headline is an obvious statement but it needs to be said.
When the Seahawks enter the University of Phoenix Stadium on Sunday to face the Arizona Cardinals, it has to be as though they are playing in the Super Bowl.
We as fans, need to stop worrying about the offensive line and what the defense gives up. Nothing we can do about it anyway. But if there was ever a time this city needs to rise above any doubt about the Seahawks, now is the time.
The 12’s are what’s gonna get this team the lift they need to make their 3rd straight Super Bowl appearance.
I know, the shoddy showing they had against the Rams makes it difficult. But this team has always had a rough time against the Rams, which has a very good defense and now looks like they have a marquee running back in Todd Gurley.
We also know that the Seahawks, at least over the last few years, rarely lay an egg two weeks in a row.
They march into Phoenix to face a Cardinal team that is the number one offensive team in the NFL. The Hawks have some solace in the fact when they played them in Week 10 and were down 22-7 at the half, they came back against this team to take a 29-25 lead early in the fourth quarter.
It is my belief the reason why the Hawks lost this game is because the defense was gassed. They played their hearts out to hold down the offensive juggernaut known as the Cardinals until 1:48 left in the game when Andre Ellington ripped off a 48-yard touchdown run that sealed the game.
Despite the loss, the Seahawks went on a record setting 5-game stretch to vault themselves into playoff contention, beating the 49’s and Steelers at home, Vikings and Ravens on the road and then dismantling the Browns at home before self-destructing against the Rams last week.
Right now, the Seahawks are the Number 6 seed going into the playoffs. That points to heading to hallowed ground, facing the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. Perhaps not the best scenario but not the worst either. Seahawks and Packers have had games filled with controversy and while going 4-6 against them over the past 10 games, the point differential between the two teams is 12 points over that span.
Another possible opponent would be the Minnesota Vikings of which the Hawks have a 6-4 record over the past 10 games. The last game played between these two teams was the Week 13 38-7 blowout in Minnesota. They focused on stopping Adrian Peterson and dared Teddy Bridgewater to beat them. The result was holding Peterson to 18 yards on eight carries and the only reason the Hawks didn’t shut the Vikings out was the 101-yard kickoff return by Cordarrelle Peterson in the third quarter.
The third possible playoff opponent would be the Washington DC based team. They have a 4-6 record against them over the last 10 games but have beaten them twice at FedEx Field in Landover, including a 24-14 playoff victory in 2013.
Regardless of who the Seahawks play in the opening round, the Seahawks cannot take this game against the Cardinals lightly. Pete Carroll has stated in the press they are looking at this game as a championship game and won’t be holding anything back.
Hawks are going to have to rely on Christine Michael, Bryce Brown and Fred Jackson to get the running game going as well as QB Russell Wilson using his legs to keep the Cardinal defense honest.
The offensive line will need to get back to the caliber of play during that 5 game stretch and allow Wilson the time he needs to connect with receivers Doug Baldwin, Jermaine Kearse, Cooper Helfet, Tyler Lockett and perhaps Anthony McCoy.
The defense will need to get through the Arizona O-Line and make Carson Palmer uncomfortable. Sacks would be good but I am looking for the Hawks front four to get him off his spot and force him into making bad decisions which would play into the heart of the Seattle D, the Legion of Boom.
It’s going to be a good game and I don’t see Bruce Arians pulling any of his starters to save them for the playoffs…unless the Seahawks put the game out of reach by the 4th quarter. As much as I would love that scenario, I don’t see it happening.
But I do see a Hawks victory, 38-35 with Steven Hauschka kicking the game winning field goal with no time left on the clock.