Week 6 was eventful for the division-leading Seattle Seahawks and the rest of the NFC West. It's time to get you caught up on everything you need to know as the Seahawks prepare to take on the Arizona Cardinals in Week 7.
The Seahawks played what will be their only home game in a five-week stretch and outlasted the Tennessee Titans by the score of 20-13. It was a sloppy game, but the Seahawks made the plays that they needed to make to get the victory.
Now the Seahawks have to go back on the road on a short week. Seattle travels to Glendale to take on the Cardinals on Thursday Night Football in Week 7.
Here is the weekly recap of all things pertaining to the Seahawks:
Three out of the four teams in the division won last week, with the only loss coming to a divisional foe. This means that Seattle's win did little to grow its lead in the NFC West.
Seattle's division lead remains at just one game over San Francisco, with Arizona and St. Louis both two games back.
After a bit of a slow start, the NFC West has turned into the tough division that many experts expected it to be. All four teams are at .500 or above, and the division has a combined 15-9 record. No other division is without a team with a losing record, and only the AFC West (17-7) has a better combined record than the NFC West.
The Seahawks have played just one of their six games inside the division. That means that half of Seattle's 10 remaining games will be against divisional foes.
That begins over the next two weeks. Seattle travels to Arizona to take on the Cardinals on Thursday, and then travels to St. Louis to take on the Rams on Monday in Week 8.
The Cardinals are beginning a three-game homestand this week that sees them play Seattle, Atlanta and Houston. This is an important stretch for them if they hope to stay in the race for the division title, especially since they are already two games back of Seattle.
Pete Carroll addressed the media on Monday in his weekly press conference, via the team's website, and as usual a good deal of the time was spent discussing Seattle's injuries.
The biggest of the new injures belongs to defensive end Chris Clemons, who hyper-extended his elbow. Pete Carroll said that it was going to be very unlikely that Clemons was able to get back in time to play this week because of the Thursday night game.
The other piece of big news is that the Seahawks are expecting to get tight end Zach Miller back this week. This is very good news for the Seahawks, and opens the door for more creativity on offense with Seattle's two-tight end sets.
Carroll mentioned wide receiver Percy Harvin again, and said that he was "really close to returning." Unfortunately, that doesn't mean that we'll be seeing him on the field on this week. Teams typically only have one full practice on weeks in which they play on Thursday, which doesn't give them much time to work Harvin into the offense.
Right tackle Breno Giacomini isn't as close to returning as Harvin appears to be. He had to have his knee drained and won't be back on the field anytime soon for the Seahawks.
The big question that remains unanswered is whether or not middle linebacker Bobby Wagner's ankle will have improved enough to play this week. Carroll said that the team won't know until just before the game if Wagner's ankle will be ready to play.
Bobby’s making progress that the trainers don’t even understand for the kind of sprain he has. So I don’t know what he’s going to do, but he’s up running around already on an ankle that should have taken longer than that, so we’ll see what happens.
What Must Improve
With the offensive line continuing to show improvement, and the defense back to playing in its usual dominant way, the big issue from the previous weeks are getting resolved. Unfortunately, a new problem has taken their place.
Quite simply, the Seahawks put the ball on the ground far too often last Sunday. The Seahawks fumbled the football five times and were very fortunate that only two of them were picked up by the Titans.
While this game was the worst of the year in terms of fumbles, this isn't a new problem. The Seahawks already have 13 fumbles on the year, which is an average of more than two per game.
This is a trend that needs to stop, and Carroll agrees.
Luckily for the Seahawks, they don't have any players with a history of fumble problems. Most of the fumbles can be eliminated just by having the receivers and backs put more emphasis on protecting the football.
While that'll eliminate most of the fumbles, it won't remove them all. Quarterback Russell Wilson leads the Seahawks with five fumbles, and all of them have come on plays when he's been hit from behind.
While Wilson has been better about hanging onto the football recently, the only way to eliminate this problem is to generate a drastic improvement in the team's pass blocking.
Backup left tackle Paul McQuistan clearly hasn't been up to the task. He currently ranks last out of all NFL offensive tackles in pass-blocking efficiency, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required).
The Seahawks desperately need starter Russell Okung to return from his foot injury. Unfortunately, he's on short-term injured reserve and cannot return before Week 11.
In this case, there is simply no easy fix for the Seahawks.