Seattle Seahawks: 4 Reasons 'Hawks Will Emerge as NFC West Champions
At 4-2, Pete Carroll and the Seahawks are currently locked in a three-way tie for first place in the NFC West with Arizona and San Francisco, while St. Louis remains just one game behind.
So who will emerge from the West?
The vast majority of football fans and analysts have the 49ers undoubtedly claiming the division.
However, unlike most, I have taken Seattle to win the NFC West.
Why, you say?
Glad you asked. Here are my reasons for picking Seattle to wear the NFC West crown come season’s end.
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For Seattle, it all starts with the defense, or as Seahawks fans call them, the “Legion of Boom.”
Defensive end Chris Clemons, along with interior linemen Alan Branch and Brandon Mebane, have been an unbelievable force to deal with for opposing offensive linemen. Between the three thus far, they have 8.5 sacks and 53 total tackles.
The Seahawks have also quietly assembled one of the best secondaries in football. In the past four weeks, Seattle has shut down MVP Aaron Rodgers, Sam Bradford, Cam Newton and picked off Tom Brady twice to help seal their Week 6 win against New England.
Their success against quarterbacks has been extremely apparent, but it is how they play against the run that is truly spectacular.
Through Week 6, Seattle has allowed only 3.3 yards per carry to running backs and just two rushing touchdowns.
K.J. Wright and Kam Chancellor have been instrumental in stopping the run, each with 45 tackles behind the Seahawks’ stout defensive front.
If Seattle is able to keep opposing running backs off balance and maintain an aggressive pass rush, the Seahawks will have a chance to win every game.
With a defense that allows the second-fewest points in the NFL at 15.5 points per game, rookie quarterback Russell Wilson will not have to face the pressure of outscoring a much more formidable offense.
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Seattle’s offense has been pounding along with the help of the most physical running back in the NFL, Marshawn “Beast Mode” Lynch.
The past two weeks have been tough on Lynch, however. The holes haven’t been there, and he hasn’t gotten the open space he wants.
Regardless, the six-year pro out of Oakland, CA is still among the elite runners in the NFL and helps the Seattle offense tremendously, even on his off games.
The mere possibility that Lynch will find a gap and break away from the pack keeps defenders honest long enough to give Wilson time to throw.
As Lynch almost always takes up most of the attention of defenses, it opens up opportunities for Russell Wilson and the Seahawks’ passing game.
Clearly shown in Week 6, while Lynch had his worst game of the season, Wilson was able to exploit the Patriots’ secondary for the first three-touchdown game of his young career, not to mention a Seahawks victory.
While San Francisco will surely be a tough matchup for Lynch as it always has been for him, if he is able to gain some yards early and wear down the 49ers’ defensive line, the Seahawks’ chances of winning become exponentially better
The 12th Man
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Playing on the road is hard enough as it is. The travel and weather conditions can take a toll on your team.
Travelling to Seattle to face the 12th Man is a whole ‘nother beast.
For the last decade, CenturyLink Field in Seattle has been highly regarded as the loudest stadium in all of football and one of the toughest places to play.
Thanks to the 12th Man and the way the stadium design directs noise towards the field, opposing offenses have an extremely difficult time audibling and hearing snap counts, thus causing an irregular amount of false-start penalties.
According to HarvardSportsAnalyisis.com, the Seahawks’ home-field advantage at CenturyLink Field has amounted to an additional 79.7 points per season, best in the NFL.
The Seahawks have been tough to beat at home, going 56-25, including 5-1 in the playoffs, since 2003
The home-field advantage the Seahawks have could be the decisive edge that Seattle needs to take home the NFC West title.
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While the NFC West has proven that it is no longer in the gutter of the NFC, the records each team holds thus far have been somewhat deceiving.
San Francisco deserves to be 4-2. Its defense is one of the best in the league, and its offense has been unstoppable at times.
That was all good and true until this past weekend, when the New York Giants came to town and beat down senselessly on the 49ers, 26-3. The Niners have officially been exposed. The Giants offense unleashed its will both in the air and on the ground, and the 49ers offense showed its true colors.
Against the 23rd-ranked defense in the NFL, Alex Smith threw three interceptions, and the San Francisco rushing game ran for just 80 yards.
The Arizona Cardinals are going to be in big trouble following the rib injury to starting quarterback Kevin Kolb that will likely sideline him for the next few weeks.
After starting the season 4-0, the Cardinals have fallen victim to the Rams and Bills the past two weekends, and it doesn’t get any easier from here. In their next four games, Arizona will meet the Vikings, 49ers, Packers and undefeated Falcons, the four of which have combined for a 17-7 record.
The already 28th-ranked passing offense must now rely on unproven quarterback John Skelton to lead the way against some of the best teams in the NFL, and the lack of a running game won’t help him either.
On another note, does anyone really think the Rams are going to keep this up without their best offensive weapon, Danny Amendola? The Rams passing game was among the worst in the NFL even while Amendola was healthy.
I’ll admit, the Rams’ defense has been greatly improved, specifically with Cortland Finnegan now roaming the secondary, but their defense still isn’t good enough to win games. Without an offense that can put points on the board, the Rams will fall way out of the race in a blink of the eye.
The Seahawks are sure to pull away from the outclassed Rams and Cardinals in the next few weeks. The only real competition Seattle will face will be the 49ers. However, the Seahawks have an advantage in the running game and match up extremely well on defense against San Francisco.
In a close race that will come down to their Week 16 matchup in Seattle, the Seahawks will prevail as NFC West champions.