Seattle Seahawks: What You Need to Know Heading into Week 16

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Seattle Seahawks: What You Need to Know Heading into Week 16
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It was another great week for the Seattle Seahawks and their fans. The team shut out the New York Giants 23-0 and is now on the verge of clinching home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. 

The Seahawks appear to be peaking at just the right time. They've blown out four of their last five opponents and are mostly healthy at the moment. Now the Seahawks return home to play their last two regular-season games at CenturyLink Field. 

Here is the weekly recap of all things pertaining to the Seahawks:

Division Standings

NFC West Standings
Team W L GB Pt Dif
Seattle Seahawks 12 2 -- 175
San Francisco 49ers 10 4 2 121
Arizona Cardinals 9 5 3 51
St. Louis Rams 6 8 6 -8

Seattle now has a two-game lead in the NFC West with just two games remaining. Unfortunately, if Seattle and San Francisco were to end up with the same 12-4 record at the end of the season, the 49ers would hold the tiebreaker over the Seahawks.

This is because the only way they end up tied is for Seattle to lose both of their remaining two games, giving them a 3-3 record inside the division. The 49ers would have to win both of their two remaining games, giving them a 5-1 record inside the NFC West. That difference in division record would give the 49ers the division crown. 

One win for the Seahawks, or one loss by San Francisco, and the Seahawks will clinch the NFC West title. 

Playoff Picture

NFC Playoff Standings
Rank Team Record Notes
1 Seattle Seahawks 12-2 NFCW
2 New Orleans Saints 10-4 NFCS
3 Philadelphia Eagles 8-6 NFCE
4 Chicago Bears 8-6 NFCN
5 Carolina Panthers 10-4 Lost vs. Saints
6 San Francisco 49ers 10-4 Lost vs. Panthers and Saints
7 Arizona Cardinals 9-5
8 Green Bay Packers 7-6-1
9 Detroit Lions 7-7
10 Dallas Cowboys 7-7

The Seahawks currently sit on top of the NFC with two more wins than any other team. They also hold the tiebreak over the Carolina Panthers and New Orleans Saints because of their head-to-head wins against both of those teams. That means that the 49ers are the only remaining team that can catch the Seahawks for the best record in the NFC. 

After Seattle, the playoff picture is far from set. Carolina and New Orleans play this week, and the winner of that game likely claims the No. 2 seed. The loser will most likely be in competition with San Francisco to see which team will be the No. 5 seed wild-card team and which will be the No. 6 seed. 

The odd team out in all of this is the Arizona Cardinals. It is possible, though unlikely, that they could end up with an 11-5 record and still miss the playoffs. Arizona does hold the tiebreaker over Carolina, which could end up helping the Cardinals get into the playoffs if they can get to 11 wins. 

Injury Report

Pete Carroll addressed the media on Monday, via, and injuries were a major topic of discussion. 

Fortunately for Seattle, the Seahawks finished last week's game in New York without any significant new injuries. Pete Carroll said that safety Earl Thomas has a thigh bruise and cornerback Jeremy Lane has a "stinger," and that is all. 

Linebacker K.J. Wright had surgery on the broken bone in his foot, and it remains a possibility that he might be available to play in the Super Bowl if the Seahawks make it that far. 

Cornerback Brandon Browner remains "day-to-day" with his groin injury. Throughout this season, that has been Pete Carroll's code for "he's not playing this week." It might not be true in this case, though, as Carroll said that the team won't have any update on Browner until Wednesday. Browner and the team also expect to hear the results of his suspension appeal at some point this week. 

The big question continues to be the status of wide receiver Percy Harvin. Harvin continues to struggle to get his hip healthy and is unlikely to play this week. The Seahawks would be happy at this point just to have Harvin ready for the playoffs, but even that is uncertain. As with Browner, Carroll said that the team should have an update on Harvin's status by Wednesday afternoon. 

What Must Improve

Against the Giants, Marshawn Lynch took the handoff on Seattle's first play from scrimmage and gained 10 yards. After that, he had just 37 yards on 15 carries. That is just 2.47 yards per carry.

Keep in mind that Lynch averages 2.53 yards after contact per carry, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required). This means that the average point of contact on those runs was just behind the line of scrimmage. There is no context that could possibly make that acceptable. 

Seattle's running game is too important to its offensive success to let this continue. Even if it involves benching an established starter like right guard J.R Sweezy or right tackle Breno Giacomini, the Seahawks must improve their run blocking.

Highlights from Sunday's Shutout 

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