Stricken with memories of losing its franchise quarterback to injury in week two, giving away a fourth quarter lead in week three, and getting dismantled by the Colts in week four, the Seahawks’ week five outlook was mediocre at best.
To make matters worse, Seattle's week two loss came against division rival San Francisco, who seemingly turned into the NFC West favorite overnight. San Francisco was favored in its week five matchup with the Atlanta Falcons, meaning that a loss to Jacksonville on Sunday could drive a nail in Seattle's proverbial coffin.
Entering week five, the San Francisco 49ers stood atop the NFC West at 3-1, while Seattle sat two games behind with a paltry 1-3 record.
It seemed that a Seahawks' loss could initiate a domino effect to end the Seattle Seahawks' 2009 season.
Then, the unexpected happened.
A Seattle Seahawks' victory wasn't wholly unexpected. In fact, the Seahawks were favored by 1.5 entering the contest. It's safe to say, however, that no one foresaw the one-sided victory that played out on Sunday.
Matt Hasselbeck returned with a vengeance, throwing four touchdown passes for the first time since December 2007. And Seattle's defense stifled a Jacksonville offense that had posted 30+ points in each of the last two weeks in a 41-0 rout.
Down the coast, QB Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons drummed the San Francisco 49ers 45-10, dropping the Niners to 3-2 on the season.
Suddenly, the Seattle Seahawks’ 2009 season didn't seem so bleak. After falling two games back through four weeks, and losing their offensive captain to a back injury, the Seahawks seemingly reversed their fortunes in one October afternoon.
This reversal of fortune isn’t all about the Seahawks. It also has to do with the worst division in the NFL not called the AFC West; the consistently mediocre NFC West.
Seattle’s 2-3 record is not much to talk about. In fact, it places them in the lower half of the NFL (19th out of 32 teams). This record looks better, however, when viewed in light of Seattle’s berth in the NFC West.
The Houston Texans, Jacksonville Jaguars, and Washington Redskins also sit at 2-3 on the year. Unlike the Seattle Seahawks, however, all three of these teams trail their respective division leaders by a staggering three games.
Conversely, the Seahawks trail the NFC West leading San Francisco 49ers by only one game.
Why are the previously mentioned teams unfortunate enough to be three games out with the same record? Quite simply, they play in better divisions.
Houston and Jacksonville play in the AFC South, which features the 5-0 Indianapolis Colts. Washington plays in the NFC East, which features the 5-0 New York Giants, the 3-1 Philadelphia Eagles, and the 3-2 Dallas Cowboys.
Compare these divisions to the NFC West, which features a could-be high school team in St. Louis, last year’s Super Bowl darlings in Arizona, and a youth movement in San Francisco, and Seattle’s 2009 forecast turns sunny with a chance of playoffs.
A long season awaits the Seattle Seahawks. Undoubtedly, if Seattle plans to compete in 2009 it needs to establish itself against division rivals Arizona and San Francisco. If it can do this, a .500 record against the rest of the league might be enough to reach the 2009 postseason.
Is it fair? No, but it’s what leaves the Seattle Seahawks thinking Thank God for the NFC West!
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