It was a quiet week in the NFC West, with just two teams in action. The Seattle Seahawks managed to pick up another win and move to 8-1, but needed overtime to complete their 21-point comeback against the 0-8 Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The Seahawks must now head back out on the road this week to take on the 2-6 Atlanta Falcons. It'll be the fifth road game in seven weeks for Seattle. That'll leave just two road games remaining and just one more trip away from the West Coast this season.
Here is the weekly recap of all things pertaining to the Seahawks:
|NFC West Standings|
|San Francisco 49ers||6||2||.750||218||145||73|
|St. Louis Rams||3||6||.333||186||222||-40|
The Seahawks took advantage of the San Francisco 49ers' bye week to increase their lead in the division. Seattle's lead is now up to 1.5 games, which is a nice cushion for the Seahawks as the NFL gets deeper into its season.
The Arizona Cardinals were also off last week. At 4-4, the Cardinals are no longer contenders for the division title, but they are still within reach of a wild-card berth. If they are going to get there, they need to string together a few wins so they can overcome the Detroit Lions and Carolina Panthers.
With six losses already, the St. Louis Rams have almost been completely eliminated from playoff contention. To get to the 10-win mark that is typically needed to get into the playoffs, the Rams would be need to win their remaining seven games.
|NFC Playoff Standings|
|2||New Orleans Saints||6||2|
|5||San Francisco 49ers||6||2|
|8||Green Bay Packers||5||3|
A Seahawks win, coupled with both a New Orleans Saints loss and a 49ers bye, means that Seattle now has two more wins than any other team in the NFC. That's a huge advantage to have at this point in the season.
While it's true that one of those extra wins is because the Seahawks have played an extra game, it is still significant. No win in the NFL can be taken for granted. This means that any team hoping to take the top seed from the Seahawks must win when Seattle has its bye in Week 12 if it is going to keep pace. Having that extra win in their pocket is a nice asset for the Seahawks.
The Seahawks' overtime win was costly from an injury standpoint. Seattle came away from the game with plenty of questions about the health of the team. When Pete Carroll addressed the media on Tuesday, this topic was the primary emphasis for the discussion.
Per the Seahawks' Twitter feed, both center Max Unger and defensive end Red Bryant are experiencing concussion symptoms. If either is going to play this week in Atlanta, he'll first have to pass through the league's battery of concussion tests. Neither should be expected to play, but there is still a small chance.
Wide receiver Percy Harvin is unlikely to be added to the roster this week, according to Jessamyn McIntyre of 710 ESPN Seattle. He didn't practice at all last week, and the team is taking it slow with his surgically repaired hip. At this point, it is becoming increasingly likely that his first action will be in Week 13 after Seattle's bye week.
Quarterback Russell Wilson appeared to have injured his non-throwing arm in the game. His status isn't in doubt, per John Boyle of the Everett Herald, but the Seahawks cannot afford to let their quarterback take so many hits.
Right tackle Michael Bowie injured his knee, and left guard James Carpenter also missed time with a currently unknown injury. Both players returned to the game, and neither is expected to miss any time this week.
There was some positive news as well. Both right tackle Breno Giacomini and left tackle Russell Okung will begin practicing this week, per Tim Booth of The Associated Press and Jessamyn McIntyre, respectively. If there are no setbacks, both should be ready to play next week against the Minnesota Vikings.
What Needs to Improve
The blocking by the offensive line took a major step forward last week. After being the team's biggest Achilles' heel for most of the season, the line had its best game of the season against the Buccaneers. This might be the first time all season that the blocking isn't even a consideration for this section.
Instead, the Seahawks have had another serious problem pop up. For the second week in a row, Seattle has simply been unable to stop the run.
In Week 8, the Rams were able to rush for 200 yards and averaged 5.4 yards per rush. Seattle's defense had no answers and were lucky that the Rams inexplicably didn't stick to running the ball inside the red zone.
At the time, it was easy to dismiss that performance as a one-time aberration. After the second straight game of getting gashed against the run, it is time for the Seahawks to wake up and find a solution.
Without starting running back Doug Martin, Tampa Bay and backup Mike James ran over the Seahawks last week. James ran for 158 yards. The Buccaneers amassed 205 yards on the ground while averaging 5.4 yards per carry.
Compounding the problem for Seattle is that neither of these teams has been good at running the football prior to its game against the Seahawks. The Rams ranked 30th in the league in yards per carry and 29th in rushing yards heading into the game against Seattle.
The Buccaneers were ranked 22nd in yards per carry and 23rd in rushing yards. That means two teams that were in the bottom third of the league in running the football were able to move the ball with ease on the ground against the Seahawks.
What is causing this particular problem isn't easy to figure out. The Seahawks have had no injuries in their front seven, and there has been no significant scheme changes. In fact, they've been getting healthier as the season has gone along.
There is no easy solution to this problem that is readily apparent.
Video of the Week
(Highlights from Seattle's thrilling playoff game last year in Atlanta)