Seattle Seahawks Back to Full Strength, Appear Poised for NFC Championship Game

Michelle Bruton@@michelle_nflFeatured ColumnistDecember 29, 2014

Bruce Irvin, linebacker de los Seahawks de Seattle, anota luego de interceptar un pase en el encuentro del domingo 28 de diciembre de 2014, frente a los Rams de Saint Louis (AP Foto/John Froschauer)
John Froschauer/Associated Press

The Seattle Seahawks ensured that the road to the playoffs in the NFC will go through their city, with a 20-6 win over the St. Louis Rams at home on Sunday that made them the conference's No. 1 seed. 

It was the sixth consecutive win for the NFC heavyweights after they fell to the Kansas City Chiefs, 24-20, in Week 11. Since that loss, the Seahawks have gotten hot at exactly the right point in the season, stringing together wins against division rivals Arizona, St. Louis and San Francisco as well as the Philadelphia Eagles

To say it's been a dominant stretch, even compared to the end of the Seahawks' championship-caliber 2013 season, is to put it lightly:

Early on against St. Louis, it appeared Seattle might have fallen into a trap—the Seahawks didn't score at all in the first half while Russell Wilson threw an interception and no touchdowns, putting Seattle behind by six heading into the third quarter. 

But the Rams were also unable to take advantage of Seattle's mistakes, and that meant the Seahawks didn't have far to go to come roaring back.

This time, it was St. Louis that was kept off the board for an entire half, while Seattle went on to score 20 points on the strength of their run game led by Marshawn Lynch, their special teams unit led by Steven Hauschka and their dominant defense, underlined by Bruce Irvin's 49-yard interception returned for a touchdown. 

The defense also forced three Rams turnovers in the second half. As Josh Alper of Pro Football Talk points out, Seattle's defense allowed only 39 points over their dominant final six-game win streak.

They scored, on the other hand, 134 points, on both offense and defense. In that time, Wilson threw for seven touchdowns and two interceptions, as offense and defense both worked together to swiftly take opponents out of the picture. 

Seahawks Point Totals, Final 6 Games of 2014
Total Pts AllowedTotal Pts Scored
39134
Pro-Football-Reference.com

Wilson didn't throw a touchdown in the entire game against the Rams, but he finished with an efficient 68 percent completion rate and 239 yards.

Meanwhile, Lynch and Robert Turbin helped the Seahawks amass 132 rushing yards, and that's exactly what will make this team so dangerous in the playoffs, especially at home.

Even when Wilson isn't playing at his best, the fact that the Seahawks are so strong in all three phases of the game and that they can beat teams on the ground and through the air will make them a formidable opponent. 

SEATTLE, WA - DECEMBER 28: Outside linebacker Bruce Irvin #51 of the Seattle Seahawks runs an interception back 49 yards for a touchdown as tight end Lance Kendricks #88 of the St. Louis Rams gives chase during the fourth quarter of the game against the S
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

It will also likely carry them to the NFC Championship game, where they will attempt to repeat as Super Bowl champions. 

"If you're not playoff ready after these last bunch of games, then nothing can get you playoff ready," head coach Pete Carroll said in his postgame press conference. "Just six weeks ago we were three games out of the lead, and so to win the division today, to be NFC West champs, is really a big deal."

At this point, heading into the playoffs, the Seahawks look close to unstoppable. They are No. 1 in the league in total defense and also top the league in rushing offense. 

It's that hard-nosed combination that opponents may find impossible to stop come January, after a fully rested Seahawks team will face the lowest-seeded remaining team after the Wild Card Games between the Detroit Lions and Dallas Cowboys and the Carolina Panthers and the Arizona Cardinals

It seems likely, given the scenarios, Seattle could find itself facing off against Detroit in the divisional round. 

Seattle has a distinct advantage over Detroit on offense, ranking at least 10 spots ahead of the Lions in all categories. On defense, however, the two teams are much more evenly matched:

Statmilk

While Seattle's defense looks up to the challenge of slowing the Lions' offensive attack, the Seahawks offense may find itself unable to wrestle past Detroit's stout defense. 

Editor's note: The original version of this article featured the possibility that Seattle could play Dallas in the divisional round. This has been removed since it isn't possible.

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