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The Seattle Seahawks’ Road to Super Bowl 50

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

 

Well, that’s it folks! The NFL season is officially over and the Seattle Seahawks are back in the playoffs! Feel free to enjoy a reserved congratulatory handshake with the person next to you, as reigning NFC champion fans should. They finished the season at 10-6, which was good enough for the number six seed in the NFC and a Wild Card spot.

I remember a time not long ago when making the playoffs as a Wild Card was cause for dancing in the streets. However, those have become a distant memory, as Seattle has made four straight postseasons, including back-to-back Super Bowls in the last two years (winning in 2013). But this is a very different year. If Seattle wants to get back to the Super Bowl they’ll have to do it by winning on the road all the way until the end. 

Winning on the road is no easy feat in the NFL. In fact, only six teams have ever won three straight playoff games on the road, then won the Super Bowl, (played on a neutral field) to take the Lombardi Trophy home. Most recently, the Green Bay Packers did it in 2010, and most memorably the Pittsburg Steelers did in 2005, against the Seattle Seahawks.

Seattle has arguably had the best home-field advantage of any team in the league these last few years, but this year the 12th man will have to travel if they want to impact games. First up, ‘Hawks, fans is a trip to Minnesota! That’s right, a return trip to the frozen NFC North where we last saw the Vikings decimated on their own field to the tune of a 38-7 loss to Seattle.

The Seahawks have opened up as five-point favorites next Sunday, even though they're on the road. History has shown, however, that it’s hard to beat a team at home twice in a season and Minnesota will surely be better prepared this time. When last the two teams met, the Vikings seemed to have a game plan that didn’t involve star running back Adrian Peterson, giving him only 12 touches that day, which was by far his fewest of any week this season. 

This time around you can bet they’ll give Peterson the ball until they’re sure it won’t work, and they’ll do their very best to use him to dictate the pace of the game and control the line of scrimmage. That’s all a lot easier said than done, as Seattle’s defense doesn’t seem willing to give up running yards to anyone, not even Peterson.

The team is coming off a 36-6 win over the division winning Arizona Cardinals and were able to take their opponent to the woodshed without starting players, Marshawn Lynch, Kam Chancellor, Russell Okung and J.R. Sweezy. It’s likely all four of those players will be available for Sunday’s playoff game in Minnesota, so the Seahawks should be as healthy as they’ve been all year.

Other impressive notes from the Arizona game include Russell Wilson setting new franchise records with 4,024 passing yards and 34 touchdowns and Tyler Lockett continued his historic rookie season with 139 punt return yards. What does that sort of return game do for a team? Well, The Seahawks’ average starting point for each possession was the on the 47-yard line. That sort of advantage from the line of scrimmage makes it nearly impossible for opposing defenses.  

This Seattle team is a bit of an anomaly, as they’re both guaranteed to be a road team trough-out the playoffs, and probably the least favorable matchup for every other team in the NFC as well. And you guessed it, loyal-reader, they’re my pick to make it to the Super Bowl again this year.

No playoff team should ever be overlooked, even the Vikings. But the Seahawks are in a great position to get through the first round unscathed. After that they’d be headed to Carolina to take on the Panthers. And even that is probably looking a little further into the crystal ball than we should at this point. For the record, though, I can seriously see a scenario where we get a rematch of Super Bowl XL, Steelers Vs. Seahawks. Would there be a sweeter Super Bowl to win this year? I think not. 

Most years I'd say you could call me a homer for picking a sixth-seed to make it to the very end. However, this road team has been there the last two years, is finally getting healthy and looks like the best team in the NFC. Just for fun, here are my predictions for the first round of the playoffs. It’s looking to be one fantastic football weekend.

NFC

Seattle 34 Minnesota 17

Green Bay 27 Washington 24 (In Overtime)

AFC

Pittsburgh 31 Cincinnati 28

Kansas City 21 Houston 17

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.

 

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