Saturday loss could be costly blow to Seahawks' title hopes
Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) is tackled by Arizona Cardinals' Sio Moore as he releases the ball in the second half of an NFL football game, Saturday, Dec. 24, 2016, in Seattle. (AP Photo/John Froschauer)
December has been a huge month for Seattle sports fans, with the Sounders winning the MLS Cup and the Washington Huskies crowned Pac-12 champions on their way to facing Alabama in the College Football Playoff on New Year’s Eve.
Unfortunately for the Seahawks, they find themselves in trouble as the NFL playoffs loom in the wake of a devastating Christmas Eve loss to the rival Arizona Cardinals.
Seattle scored twice in the final three minutes to rally from 31-18 down, missed the extra point to keep it tied at 31, and then watched as Arizona went 50 yards in the last minute to win it on a 43-yard field goal as time expired.
It was the Seahawks first home loss of the season (and, in fact, they were the last NFL team to lose at home).
Here’s why Saturday night’s thriller could prove to be a costly blow to Seattle’s title hopes: each of the three times the Seahawks have made it to the Super Bowl, they did it by being a 1-seed, getting a bye, and winning two home games.
Now, just a path to the second seed (behind Dallas) has become clouded.
The Seahawks need a win at San Francisco, combined with a loss by Atlanta (home versus New Orleans), and Detroit to lose at least one of its last two.
A drop to a 3-6 seeding means no bye in the wild card round, plus having to go on the road in the divisional round.
On Saturday, the Hawks D was uncharacteristically shaky and the offensive line collapsed. The O-Line should probably return the TVs they got from Russell Wilson for Christmas.
Both of last year’s Super Bowl teams (Denver and Carolina) have been eliminated from playoff contention.
Seattle’s biggest obstacles in the NFC playoffs will be the Cowboys, the Giants (Dallas’ only two losses), and perhaps the surging Packers (who aren’t even in yet).
On the AFC side, the Patriots have emerged as a clear favourite ahead of the Steelers. The rest of the AFC playoff teams have major issues at quarterback.
To reach the Super Bowl and meet an AFC opponent, it’s increasingly apparent the Seahawks are going to have to morph into an unfamiliar role: road warriors.
They better start this Sunday afternoon in Santa Clara.