Seattle Seahawks: Team's Future Weighs Heavily on NFC West Title Game

Chad KlassenCorrespondent IDecember 31, 2010

SEATTLE, WA - DECEMBER 19:  Quarterback Charlie Whitehurst #6 of the Seattle Seahawks passes against the Atlanta Falcons at Qwest Field on December 19, 2010 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

The Seahawks play their biggest game of the year on Sunday night, and it’s not because the NFC West is on the line.

Seattle’s future as a competitive NFL team is in the balance when they host the St. Louis Rams in prime time on Sunday Night Football.

Surely Paul Allen wouldn’t mind welcoming the Saints or Falcons, purely for the millions of dollars the game would add to his bottom line.

But forget about this season for a minute and the chance to host a playoff game. At 6-9, not only would the Seahawks have the black eye of becoming the first division winner with a losing record, but the franchise would also lose out on a top pick in the draft.

Interestingly enough, most of the fans agree. In a poll by the Seattle Times this week, Seahawks supporters actually want their team to lose and forfeit a shot at the postseason.

That’s because they could drop 10 spots in the draft if they beat the Rams. A division title will give the team one of the final 12 picks in the first round, whereas a loss could hand Seattle a top-10 selection.

And the one player everyone’s been talking about is local quarterback Jake Locker.

It’s no secret the team needs a major upgrade at that position with an aging Matt Hasselbeck and a backup in Charlie Whitehurst who simply doesn’t belong in the NFL.

Locker would be a good fit in the Emerald City. He led Washington to its first bowl win on Thursday since the 2001 Rose Bowl and obviously has close connections in the community.

Not to pump the tires of a local kid, but the Huskies starter is also a highly-touted prospect. Many scouts are projecting Locker as a top-15 selection in April.

Some may argued that if the opportunity to make the postseason is there for the taking, then go for it.

They would say the Cardinals, 2008 winners of the NFC West, made it all the way to the Super Bowl, and therefore there’s a chance, somehow, for this year’s victor.

But with the 2010 version of the NFC West, where the teams are a combined 13-27 outside the division, there is not. Zero. None. Zilch. End of story.

In 2008, when Arizona finished 10-6, they had a Hall of Fame quarterback in Kurt Warner and an opportunistic defense.

There isn’t any of that working in Seattle’s favor. St. Louis at least sports a solid pivot – Rookie of the Year candidate Sam Bradford—and a tenacious defensive line that will create havoc for Whitehurst and their potential first-round opponent.

And consider the 34 points allowed in both Seahawk losses to New Orleans and Atlanta—there’s absolutely no hope beyond this Sunday.

But if the Seahawks fans don’t want it, Ram supporters certainly will take the title. It would be their first playoff berth since 2004, when they took out Seattle 27-20 in the wild-card round.

St. Louis would also capture its first division title in seven years—a win-win situation, you could say, for fans in the NFC West.