The Seattle Seahawks have a tendency to win the NFC West, cede it to a team for two years and then take it back. After a four-year run of dominance by the Seahawks, the Arizona Cardinals broke through and won the division twice. Seattle promptly took the crown back before losing it two more times to San Francisco.
This means that the Seahawks are due to win the division again. And we should probably feel bad for the St. Louis Rams and their fans.
While Seattle may be due to win the division, it’s not guaranteed. If they want to reclaim the NFC West crown from the archrival 49ers, the Seahawks need all their players to perform at the highest level.
But they especially need this from Richard Sherman.
Sherman’s performance has been fantastic this season. His four interceptions have tied him for the league lead and his play in general has cemented his status as the No. 1 player in the NFL at his position.
Despite injuries and suspensions, the Seahawks defense is still one of the best—if not the best—in the league. This defense has helped the team win some ugly games. Recent victories over St. Louis and Tennessee were two of the grittier ones.
However, the coming weeks will be a challenge for the defense—especially with the offense not exactly clicking of late. For Seattle to dominate, Sherman needs to shut down the top receiver on the opposing team.
Later this season, the New Orleans Saints visit the Pacific Northwest for the first time since the “Beast Quake.”
Challenging road games on the Seahawks' slate include matchups with Atlanta, San Francisco and the New York Giants. Seattle will be looking for revenge against the Falcons after last season's heartbreaking loss whereas the 49ers will be intent on redeeming themselves against the Seahawks.
In order to capture a division title, Richard Sherman needs to shut down these four receivers.
1. Jimmy Graham
One thing all of these teams have in common is a premier receiver. The Saints like to throw the ball to Jimmy Graham...a lot. The former Miami Hurricane’s numbers are spectacular this season—49 catches, 756 yards and 10 touchdowns.
His 6’7” frame could be a problem for the Seahawks' linebackers, which is why Sherman could be called into duty to keep Graham in check.
Having Sherman slow down Graham will be crucial if Pete Carroll’s squad wants to keep the Saints out of the end zone.
2. Victor Cruz
New York will inevitably have nothing to lose. That and a fumbling running game—We’ve got a fumbling pun, ladies and gentlemen!—will probably lead to Eli Manning throwing the ball a good deal. Victor Cruz will be the main recipient of all those passes.
Expect Sherm to cover the Giants' best receiver for most of the game. Stopping Cruz from the get-go will stop any kind of momentum the Giants will be able to build.
3. Roddy White
Despite losing Julio Jones for the season, the Falcons still have Matt Ryan throwing the ball. Atlanta would love to have Roddy White healthy and ready to go against one of the NFL’s best—or just healthy and ready in general.
The point is that, barring a ridiculous explosion by Harry Douglas, Sherman will probably draw White as his assignment for the game.
4. Anquan Boldin
Anquan Boldin probably wants a little payback—or at least a little more on-field production. Sherman shut Boldin down in Week 2, holding him to one catch for seven yards just a week after the former Cardinal obliterated Green Bay’s defense to the tune of 13 catches, 208 yards and a touchdown.
Receivers Michael Crabtree and Mario Manningham could also be healthy for the game, further heightening Sherman's importance.
Sherman, The Legion of Boom and the rest of the Seahawks defense have been instrumental in Seattle getting off to its best start in team history. Especially with the offense working out the kinks, the defense will be counted on more than ever to prevent teams from scoring.
Sherman will be at the forefront of all this as he looks to take away each team’s best receiver.