Predictions are, admittedly, not necessarily worth the paper that they are printed on. Still, we have a fascination with looking into the future and speculating what might happen.
The remaining schedule for the Seattle Seahawks has some definitive hurdles, but when you think about three home games and three opponents that are below average, you can’t help but think that an 11-5 finish is still a very real possibility.
In late October, I wrote that Russell Wilson could lead the Seahawks to an 11-5 record. At the time the team was 4-3.
That article included a poll, which asked people to predict the Seahawks’ final record. Over 2,500 voted, and almost 53 percent concluded that the ‘Hawks would finish 10-6.
Only 19 percent predicted an 11-5 record. For now, I am going to stick with the original prediction.
Two losses in the last five games is not exactly a sign that this team is ready to dominate, particularly when you look at the teams that defeated the Seahawks. Still, at 7-5, the Seahawks are in a solid position to make the playoffs.
There is much work to do if Seattle is going to finish the season with a five-game winning streak. Still, winning the next four games is not out of the realm of possibility.
The Seahawks should be able to handle the Arizona Cardinals, as long as Larry Fitzgerald does not follow in the footsteps of Brandon Marshall. The good news is that Fitzgerald has struggled mightily as of late. Now would be a bad time for him to experience a revival.
Now that Brandon Browner has been officially suspended and will begin his suspension immediately (via ESPN), it will be interesting to see how Seattle adjusts.
At the risk of overusing a sports cliche, the contest with the Buffalo Bills could best be described as a “trap” game. Seattle will have a long trip across the country. The road record is still subpar. To top it all off, there may be a temptation to look ahead to the grudge match with the San Francisco 49ers. Oh, and Seattle might also be missing Richard Sherman by that point.
For all of those reasons, playoffs hopes may hinge on the performance in Buffalo. Everyone is going to circle the Niners game for obvious reasons. However, the Niners game may have less relevance if Seattle loses to the Bills and teams like Washington and Tampa Bay keep winning.
Much will be written about the showdown with the 49ers in the coming weeks, but needless to say this is a winnable game against the hardest opponent left on the schedule. It is hard to imagine Jim Harbaugh taking his foot off the gas at any point during the season, but the game on December 23 could look very different depending on what happens in the next two weeks.
Assuming the Seahawks win the next two games, they would go into the game with San Francisco at 9-5. San Francisco should be able to beat the Dolphins at home this week, but they must then go on the road and play a compelling Sunday night game against the New England Patriots. If the Niners cannot get past the Pats, they would roll into Seattle at 9-4-1 (Thank you, Rams).
In that scenario, the game between Seattle and San Francisco could put the division crown on the line, whereas an 8-6 Seattle team might not represent a maximum sense of urgency.
Brandon Browner will not be around for that game and Sherman may also be gone. That will obviously hurt, but the key to stopping the Niners may still revolve around containing the run and then moving the ball effectively when Seattle is on offense. It is not unrealistic to suggest that the Seattle receivers may catch a few more balls this time.
At the risk of oversimplifying, the game with St. Louis will have similar properties as the Arizona game. Both are teams that are below average in terms of record, but could theoretically present a problem since they are divisional rivals and could be motivated to play a spoiler role.
The key in those two games will be for the Seahawks to avoid a mental lapse. In addition, the team cannot assume that fourth quarter heroics and crowd noise will automatically will them to victory.
Based on the way that the season has gone, a 10-6 record is probably a lot safer prediction. However, let us be optimistic for now and keep 11-5 as a strong possibility. This team has all the tools to finish strong, and Russell Wilson seems to be growing in confidence every week.
One game at a time, right?