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Seattle Seahawks: 2015 Final Act

Saturday, December 19, 2015

 

Seattle finishes their 2015 regular season on the road, with two home games leading up to their regular season finale. As long as they win two of their next three games, they are a 2015 playoff team. Even if they lose two of their next three the odds are in their favor to snag the final wild card, but let’s hope three games against teams with losing records does not create such depressing results. 

If Seattle goes 3-0 in their final games, something grand could happen, but it would take an immense amount of help from an unlikely contributor. 

If Seattle goes 3-0 over their final three games, and Arizona goes 0-3, Seattle and Arizona would share matching 11-5 overall records, 4-2 division records, 6-1 like-opponent records, and 8-4 conference records. 

Strength of victory would be the deciding factor in that case, which currently places Arizona in first place as the opponents they have beaten have a higher combined winning percentage than those that Seattle has beaten. 

What Seattle needs to do, is win out, and hope that the combined winning percentage of New Orleans and Cincinnati is lower than the combined winning percentage of Pittsburgh and Dallas when all of the dust settles at the end of week 17, and they might need even more help than that. 

Currently the Bengals and Saints have a combined winning percentage of .577 while Pittsburgh and Dallas have a combined winning percentage of .462. IF Pittsburgh and Dallas win more games over the next three weeks than Cincinnati and New Orleans do, it is mathematically possible for Seattle to claim the division based on strength of victory, but it’s going to be a close race. 

Even if every person in the 12th Man uses their New Years Eve wish to see Seattle win the division on January 3rd, I don’t see this happening. Arizona has looked too strong and Dallas and Pittsburgh have had too many injuries to make this happen, but don’t let that deter you, keep hope and the dream alive!

Seattle, for their part, has a relatively easy road to 3-0 in the next three weeks, even with a running game in neutral thanks to injuries to Marshawn Lynch and now Thomas Rawls. Until Lynch returns you will see Russell Wilson handing off to a committee of Bryce Brown, Christine Michael, and Fred Jackson - Not exactly a trio of runners designed to instill fear in the heart of defenses across the league, but they should be able to get the job done.    

Wilson and Doug Baldwin will need to shift this offense in to high gear, as they have been during Seattle’s recent surge over the last month. 

In his last five games, Baldwin is averaging 6 catches 103 yards and 1.8 touchdowns, with an absurd 17 yards per reception. To put that into perspective, Odell Beckham  Jr. is averaging 15.5 yards per reception this season. This is a massive improvement over Baldwin’s first half to the season, where he recorded six games with fewer than 40 yards and had just two games with a touchdown.  

Baldwin has faced a mixed bag of passing defenses in the last month, building his numbers against secondaries ranked between 7th and 31st against the pass, and between 10th and 27th in passing touchdowns allowed.  

Russell Wilson has been equally masterful in his last five games, compiling a 69% completion percentage with 1,411 yards and 17 TDs to just 1 INT. He has also run the ball 29 times over that same stretch, adding another 153 yards and a score on the ground with zero fumbles. 1500 yards and 18 touchdowns to just one turnover in the last month plus is tough to ask of anyone, and Wilson has been making it look easy, against defenses ranging from 8th to 31st.  

Wilson will have a good chance to build on those numbers and prove their value, as his next three opponents rank from 12th to 22nd against the pass and 5th through 25th in touchdowns allowed through the air. 

Arizona and St. Louis are likely to be the toughest tests, but Seattle will need to keep their foot on the pedal regardless of who they are facing. While the Browns may not feature a first-rate offense, they do have playmakers that can make a fun afternoon turn sour if they are not given the right level of respect and attention in the film room. 

St. Louis is the game Seattle has been looking forward to since week 1, when they lost an overtime battle with the new look Rams, who have since put a healthy Todd Gurley on the field, benched Nick Foles, and fired first year offensive coordinator Frank  Cignetti Jr. Seattle will have Kam Chancellor back, and may be without Lynch. 

The rematch with Arizona will look very similar from the Cardinals’ point of view, as they will hold all the keys Seattle needs to get through the door, whereas the Seahawks will be without Jimmy Graham and could be missing Lynch and Rawls, so it will be tough to tell what sort of game we will be in for. If Seattle loses one of the games before that one, there may not be much to play for at all as Arizona will have clinched the division and both sides could be resting their starters. 

Whether or not Seattle can meet Arizona in the desert with the division on the line, the Seahawks should be on their way to a fourth straight playoff berth since Russell Wilson joined the team, and fighting for a third straight Super Bowl appearance.

With the right amount of skill, health, preparation, and luck, the Seahawks will have everything they need to survive the end of the regular season and beyond.

GoLocalPDX partner Oregon Sports News: Since 2011, Oregon Sports News has provided entertaining, hard-hitting local sports news & commentary every weekday. To read more from this author, check out Oregon Sports News by clicking here.

 

Related Slideshow: 12 of the Greatest Sports Movies of All Time

Hank Stern ranks his top twelve favorite sports films. 

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#12 Rollerball

Some of the non-athletic scenes in this dystopian classic show their age, but Rollerball is a strangely prescient film that anticipated both the corporatization of sport and fans’ limitless taste for violence. Bonus points for the ominous intro music.

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#11 A League of Their Own

A comedy that looks back to the antithesis of corporate sport – a women’s baseball league during World War II with many memorable lines to choose from (e.g.,”There’s no crying in baseball.”)

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#10 Remember The Titans

Yes, filmmakers took liberties with some of the facts dealing with the integration of a high school football team in Virginia. But there’s a reason football teams often screen this film on the eve of big games. It’s a damn inspirational tale.

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#9 The Natural

This film has grown on me over time. Originally, it seemed slow and schmaltzy. Now, it seems well-paced and charming. Then and now, the re-created scenes of pre-World War II ballparks arrive like perfectly preserved postcards from the past.  

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#8 The Longest Yard

Not the remake with Adam Sandler and Chris Rock. But the hilarious original with Burt Reynolds and Eddie Albert as a wonderfully villainous warden who pits the guards against the inmates in a grudge football game that includes former Green Bay linebacker Ray Nitschke and other ex-football players like Sonny Sixkiller and Joe Kapp, both stalwart Pac-8 quarterbacks long, long ago.  

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#7 Slap Shot

The Hanson brothers. Enough said.

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#6 Rocky

Often imitated, but never replicated. The definitive underdog boxing story featuring Sylvester Stallone before he became a self-caricature in multiple sequels. Impossible to hear the theme song without being motivated to get off the couch.

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#5 Seabiscuit

A fantastic book as well as a great movie. Like “The Natural,” Seabiscuit captures its Depression-era setting for modern-day viewers taken back to an era when horse racing actually meant something in America. 

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#4 Requiem for a Heavywei

A too often-forgotten film these days but a wonderful boxing drama that shows the sport’s underside with memorable  performances by Mickey Rooney, Jackie Gleason and Anthony Quinn.

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#3 Hoosiers

Want to know something about small-town America in the 1950s and about Indiana basketball? This hoops movie does all of that with a healthy dose of redemption throughout. 

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#2 Bull Durham

There’s a pretty good case to be made this movie played a huge part in the rebirth and re-marketing of minor league baseball. As written by former minor leaguer Ron Shelton, there are many great scenes to choose from but this one is a favorite. 

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#1 Raging Bull

A rags-to-riches-to-rags story of boxer Jake LaMotta meets the actor born to play him, Robert De Niro. Not a false moment in this black-and-white powerhouse.

 
 

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