It was Carolina last season who went on the road to play one of the league’s best teams, the 12-4 Seattle Seahawks, after making it through the Wild Card weekend. This year, it’s Seattle who will be heading out to play the league’s best Carolina Panthers in their house.
Seattle started slow this season after blowing what would have been their second consecutive Super Bowl on the goalline on the final play of the game. At first, Seattle’s struggles to most looked as nothing more than some poor chemistry in the wake of an offseason dominated by contractual drama with Kam Chancellor and Russell Wilson. After losing to Carolina and falling to 2-4, the problems looked deeper. Seattle’s offensive line was among the worst in the league, Wilson looked mortal, Jimmy Graham seemed normal, and the secondary looked more as the Legion of Bluster.
Seattle turned it around despite the early adversity. Graham went down for the season and, looking from their play against Minnesota, the offensive line still isn’t any good. They’ve done it in the most expected of ways, suffocating defense mixed with a little miraculous Russell Wilson.
Since their loss to Carolina in Week 6, Seattle’s defense has been dominant. Seattle allowed a mere 15.2 points per game over the last 10 weeks of the season. They’ve been stingy with more than points too, fielding the best defense against and the run. Oddly, they’ve done all this without an all that dominant pass-rush, which is ranked 17 with only 37 total sacks.
The offense has carried its share of the water in their run to the playoffs. Ranked 4th in points and yards per game, and 3rd in rushing yard per game, Seattle’s offense has been surprisingly prolific. Wilson has been precise, maintaining a 68% completion rate and putting up points without Marshawn Lynch as the workhorse.
After sub-zero winds nearly extinguished Seattle’s hot streak, they are now heading south to face the league’s hottest team--the Carolina Panthers.
The stage is set, the the scene is familiar, but story is reversed. Seattle is the late surging team hoping to topple the league’s best team in their house after surviving Wild Card Weekend. Given their history, Carolina won’t take this opponent lightly. If the past is indicative, this is going to be a dogfight, where the winner goes into the NFC Championship battle-worn and sharpened by heightened competition.
By the Professor, aka Tony Dunn
Follow him on Twitter @Cat_Chronicles