When it comes to the Seahawks, be afraid. Be very afraid.
It was early in Seattle's game against Minnesota on Sunday and Russell Wilson sent a message. It was a message delivered not solely to the Vikings. It was a continuation of a message he's been sending to the entire NFL over the past month: I'm back. We're back. Watch out.
On 3rd-and-short, in the first quarter, on a drive where Wilson threw darts from the pocket, he was under pressure and scrambled left. Defensive end Danielle Hunter had a straight shot on Wilson and closed fast. Wilson did a spin move—like Jordan or Tarkenton, take your pick—and absolutely juked Hunter out of his cleats, then ran for the first.
It was classic Wilson as he extended the drive. It was a gorgeous, athletic play. There would be more to come. Many more.
The Seahawks did two things in their 38-7 atomization of the Vikings. They exposed the Vikings as one-dimensional, addicted so much to Adrian Peterson that if he fails, the team can do little else. This is not a knock against quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. It's a knock against subpar playmakers in the passing game.
It's still a passing league and as historic as Peterson is, he is still stoppable. An offense needs to pass to win, and the Vikings can't do that. At the end of the first quarter, Minnesota had minus-five passing yards.
The Seahawks' other accomplishment was more about them. They are, officially, the most dangerous team in football not named New England or Carolina. And even then, if I were the Panthers, I'd be a little nervous.
We've seen this Seattle movie before. Seahawks start slow. There is some type of drama or injury. Then, some player comes out of nowhere (Thomas Rawls or Tyler Lockett this year—take your pick). A spark is ignited. A switch is flipped. There is suddenly nuclear fission. The team that looked dead rises, like a ski-masked villain. They march and march and march, and in their wake are broken dreams and busted noses. They reach a Super Bowl. Roll credits.
The catalyst in this instance, as he has been so many times, is Wilson. This incarnation of Wilson has seen him throw from the pocket with astounding accuracy. At the end of the first half, when the Seahawks led, 21-0 (and it wasn't really that close), ESPN's Jim Trotter left us with this stat:
That is Tom Brady-like.
The Seattle defense—once formidable, then soft and now stingy—is playing top-notch football again. At halftime, Peterson had five carries for 10 yards. The truly impressive thing the Seahawks did was how they often brought Peterson down with one tackler when he hit the open field.
It was remarkable to watch the Seahawks toy with Minnesota. Just paw and bounce them around the field. The Vikings are now an 8-4 football team. Seattle made the Vikings look like the Rams.
So the only question is: Can the Seahawks keep this up? The answer is: Hell yes they can.
Be afraid, NFL. They have that swagger again. That cohesiveness again. This is a battle-tested group that has proved it can morph into something special on almost a moment's notice. They are 5-1 in their last six games.
What makes this incarnation of the Seahawks among the more dangerous is how their offense has opened up. Wilson's pocket passing has been so accurate, he's become a top-three to -five passer (again). Lockett is becoming a star.
We are seeing the usual transformation of the Seahawks into a formidable, nasty team that can beat anybody, anywhere, anytime. Not saying they will. Saying they can.
Seattle's schedule is also a cakewalk until the last game of the regular season. They are at the Ravens (Seahawks win), home against Cleveland (bigger win), home against the Rams (have you seen Nick Foles?) and then at Arizona.
The Seahawks won't win the division, but I don't think it matters because this team is on a massive roll. Maybe the biggest one this group has ever experienced, and that's saying something.
During the second quarter Sunday, Wilson completed a gorgeous pass between two Vikings defenders to Lockett. The football looked like he had dropped it from the top of a ladder. Wilson would score on the drive by running it in. Once again, he's a multi-dangerous threat.
That was followed by another gorgeous pass from Wilson for a score to Doug Baldwin. Seattle had a 21-0 lead. In the third quarter, Wilson had a 53-yard touchdown run called back because of a holding penalty. On a subsequent 53-yard touchdown pass to Baldwin, one of the Vikings' defensive linemen absolutely smashed Wilson just as he released the ball. Wilson stood tall in the pocket and delivered the strike anyway.
This statistic from ESPN says a great deal about how Wilson is playing right now. It was his third consecutive game with at least three touchdown passes. The only other Seahawks quarterback to do that was Dave Krieg in 1983.
Entering the game, Wilson was completing nearly 68 percent of his passes. In the first half, he completed 78 percent.
Yeah, they're back. And if they make the postseason, no one will want to play them.
Be afraid. Be very afraid.
Mike Freeman covers the NFL for Bleacher Report.