General manager John Schneider, head coach Pete Carroll and the Seattle Seahawks are trying to do something no other team in franchise history has been able to do—win 14 regular-season games.
With two weeks remaining, the organization is exactly two wins away from accomplishing that monumental feat.
The Seahawks also can finish the regular season with a three-game winning streak and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. And if we know anything about the 12th Man’s impact on the ‘Hawks, it’s staggering.
Even though both games will be hard-fought battles, there’s no question that the Seahawks have the upper hand. Not only haven't they lost at home since 2011, but they have the most potent defense in the NFL and the most talented roster in the league.
Winning both of their remaining home games also would give the Seahawks an opportunity to build playoff momentum at home. Momentum is important because it triggers increased confidence, team cohesion, positive attitudes, opponents’ weaknesses and opponents’ mistakes. Those are only a few examples, but you get the point.
Ask the New York Giants what momentum did for them after they finished the 2011 regular season with a two-game winning streak and a 9-7 record. They went on to win four playoff games in a row and their hot streak netted the franchise its second Vince Lombardi Trophy in five years.
The same thing can be said about the 2012 Baltimore Ravens. Despite losing four of their final five regular-season games, they caught fire in the playoffs and four games later, they were celebrating their first Super Bowl victory since 2000.
Yes, the Giants and Ravens both entered the playoffs as wild-card contenders, but that shouldn’t take anything away from the Seahawks and how important momentum is to them. We all know that Seattle has improved on the road this year, but let’s be real, it still prefers to play at CenturyLink Field whenever the opportunity presents itself.
Nonetheless, we can’t automatically assume that every team views momentum the same way. Some teams look to build continuity and momentum over the course of a few weeks while other teams prefer to focus on the season one week at a time.
The Seahawks have made it very clear that they are trying to set a 1-0 mentality, week in and week out. They don’t want to talk about the playoffs or the Super Bowl. Tthe only thing they want to talk about is winning that week.
Quarterback Russell Wilson elaborated on Seattle’s 1-0 mentality last week, via Sam Spiegelman of BigBlueView.com, when he said, “Our goal is to go 1-0 every single week. That has been our mentality all year.”
That type of mentality forces the Seahawks to stay focused on the task at hand.
As I mentioned, Seattle’s task this week won’t be an easy one, but its momentum and level of focus should be plenty high because Arizona head coach Bruce Arians provided the Seahawks with bulletin board material.
Here’s what Arians told Darren Urban of AZCardinals.com concerning the Seahawks’ and 49ers’ dominance in the NFC West: “I don’t see the dominance that everybody else talks about. One of those teams may be (dominant). It still has to be played on Sunday.”
Arians is right—the games still have to be played out on Sunday, but maybe he should have chosen his words more carefully. Arians has yet to beat either NFC West foe in his first season as head coach.
As it stands, the only NFC West team that the Cardinals have beaten are the St. Louis Rams. Furthermore, they are 0-2 in the division on the road. Arizona lost, 27-24, in Week 1 at St. Louis and in Week 7 fell to Seattle, 34-22.
The last thing the Seahawks need going into any game this season is extra motivation. Most of Seattle's players already play with a chip on their shoulder, especially defensive backs Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor and Byron Maxwell.
If we take everything into consideration, we can safely assume that Seattle’s Week 16 contest is its regular-season Super Bowl. A win on Sunday ensures a division crown and would assure the Seahawks home-field advantage and a first-round bye in the playoffs.
The NFC West crown would be special for the Seahawks, because they haven’t won their division since 2010. Still, home-field advantage and a first-round bye are the only things on their minds and they mean much more to the team’s overall momentum.
At least one pundit feels momentum is nothing more than a myth. Jason Lisk of TheBigLead.com did extensive research on the hottest and coldest playoff teams since 1978. He sorted teams by point differential over the first 10 games of the season compared to the final six games of the season.
What Lisk found was that teams that got hot at the end of the regular season went 16-19 in the postseason while teams that were cold went 19-18. Being a hot teams to close out a campaign may put you at a historical disadvantage numerically, but more often than not, numbers don't tell the whole story.
Which team poses the biggest threat to the Seahawks in the playoffs?
There are too many variables to accurately compare the hottest and coldest teams entering the playoffs. As observers, the only thing we can do is examine the opportunities that the Seahawks have from now until the end of the season.
Without a doubt, Seattle is in prime position to use its momentum to run the table in the playoffs, but it has to remember that each game will present different forms of adversity.
If the Seahawks can manage to overcome those hurdles and keep momentum in their favor, they will give the city of Seattle its first Super Bowl championship.
Based on what we have seen this season in the Pacific Northwest, the Seahawks' 1-0 mentality has helped them seize the moment on a weekly basis.
All-Pro safety Earl Thomas reiterated those thoughts when he spoke to reporters on a conference call on Wednesday, via Bob McManaman of AZCentral.com:
It’s not so much the game, it’s just a moment. It’s a big moment. It’s a big opportunity. That’s how we take it every time out. It’s a championship opportunity. We win this game (Sunday), we lock up a lot of stuff.
Thomas’ championship attitude reaffirms that the Seahawks aren’t overlooking anyone. The only thing they are doing is taking care of business one week at a time and building momentum in the process.
Rest assured Seahawks fans, the best is yet to come.