Seattle Seahawks: Why Seahawks Will Finish over .500
After consecutive victories over the St. Louis Rams and Baltimore Ravens, the Seattle Seahawks could find themselves in position to do something almost nobody thought they would: Finish with a winning record.
Improbable? Maybe so. Audacious? You bet.
But outlandish? Certainly not.
The young, upstart Hawks have something to prove and a confidence in the locker room that has become infectious. Will they be able to put it to good use over the next six weeks?
Let's find out.
After playing six road games in their first 10 contests, the Seattle Seahawks return home for four of their remaining six games.
The newly renamed CenturyLink Field has long offered one of the best home-field advantages in the NFL. Including playoffs, the Seahawks are 67-32 (.670 win percentage) all-time since moving to their new home. This season the Hawks are 2-2 at home.
Strength of Schedule
As of Week 11, the Seattle Seahawks' remaining opponents have just a .466 win percentage.
While that is slightly above the Seahawks' own .400 win percentage, it would be hard to argue they are not trending upwards recently.
Perhaps more telling is that of the Seahawks' remaining six games, only two are against teams with a winning record (the San Fransisco 49ers, 9-1, and Chicago Bears, 7-3). If you take out those opponents, the Seahawks' remaining strength of schedule plummets to just a .300 win percentage.
Remaining home games against the Washington Redskins (3-7), and St. Louis Rams (2-8) appear to be very manageable. And while before the season began, the Seahawks' Week 13 matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles looked like a future "L," the Eagles will come limping into CenturyLink Field with no better than a 5-6 record (but more likely a 4-7 record after facing the New England Patriots). If the Seahawks can shock the Baltimore Ravens and New York Giants, they can certainly deal a knockout blow to the struggling Eagles at home.
That accounts for a possible four more wins, bringing the Seahawks to 8-6 with games against Chicago and San Fransisco unaccounted for. If the Seahawks can manage just one more upset against one of these teams, they will have exceeded—in improbable fashion—their 7-9 record from a year ago, finishing 9-7.
With the Bears in serious jeopardy after losing Jay Cutler to a broken thumb and the 49ers being on the road, don't count the Seahawks out of either of these games.
Players Buying in
Pete Carroll is finally starting to see this hand-picked roster play with the style he envisioned: a run-oriented, ball-control offense, buoyed by a smothering defense bent on limiting the opponents' time of possession.
"...how good we are, it'll speak for itself," Red Bryant said after a dominant performance against the St. Louis Rams.
The confidence of the players is growing exponentially, as they begin to actualize their hard work with wins against tough opponents. All this has to be validation to both the players and the coaches about their approach.
"Our style [is] there," Carroll said.
Improving Offensive Line Play
Although the offensive line has suffered two devastating injuries in the past week (RG John Moffitt and RT James Carpenter both out for season), the overall line play has been encouraging to say the least recently.
It's important to remember three-fifths of the Seattle Seahawks' projected line is still playing, and playing well. C Max Unger, LG Robert Gallery and LT Russell Okung are gaining valuable experience and continuity together on the left side. During the past three games (including last week without Moffitt and Carpenter) the Seahawks are averaging 136 yards rushing—a significant improvement from their 95 yard-per-game average on the season.
Reserves Paul McQuistan and Breno Giacomini actually filled in quite capably against the St. Louis Rams, and while the Seahawks hardly ran over the Rams, the newcomers did little to discourage fans and coaches (aside from false starts).
The Seahawks are really beginning to establish their identity on the ground. Look for that to continue as the season unfurls.
Improving Defensive Play
The Seattle Seahawks' defense is turning the corner—while not allowing opposing running backs to do the same.
The Seahawks are holding teams to less than 3.5 yards per carry—third best in the NFL this season. They've allowed just five rushing touchdowns (also third best), and are holding teams to just 100 yards rushing per game.
But what's even better is their recent production. In four of their last five games, the Seahawks have limited their opponents to under 325 total yards for an average of 264.5 yards per game. The league's best opponent yards-per-game average over the entire season is held by the Houston Texans with 269.7 total yards allowed per game.
It's only a small, somewhat contrived sampling, but it illustrates just how dominant this defense has been in the second half.
The identity of this team is being forged from the blood, sweat and tears of the defense. Look for the production to skyrocket as the season continues.