Monday, December 30, 2013

The Playoffs Run Through Seattle

Seahawks    27
Rams            9

The 2013 NFL regular season came to an end yesterday and the once ambiguous playoff picture is now crystal clear.  Seattle's first playoff game will take place January 11th at CenturyLink and will either be against San Francisco, New Orleans or Green Bay.

For the second time since Pete Carroll took over the team in 2010, the Seahawks are NFC West Champions. This time, Seattle locked up the #1 seed in the NFC and home field advantage throughout the playoffs-- but the Rams didn't let them have it without a fight.

The Seahawks offense continued its recent trend of starting off incredibly slow and relying primarily on the defense to keep the team in games. If you ask me, the only difference between yesterday's game against St. Louis and last week's game against Arizona was Seattle's commitment to Marshawn Lynch.

Lynch, who finished 3 yards shy of a 100-yard rushing performance, continuously wore down the Rams defense with each carry.  Darrell Bevell panicked against the Cardinals in the previous game, opting instead to put the game on Russell Wilson's shoulders. In this game, on the other hand, as the Beast was fed-- the Rams defense grew increasingly frustrated.

That frustration culminated in a hailstorm of personal fouls against St. Louis and lead to the ejection of Kendall Langford, who inadvertently struck an official while arguing. The Rams had 12 penalties for 87 yards-- impressive considering Seattle is the NFL's most penalized team.

Russell Wilson did not have his best game-- but Golden Tate may have. When nothing else seemed to work, Wilson kept going back to Tate who carried the team through the first half of the game. Tate finished with 8 receptions for 129 yards and a touchdown.

If I can say one thing definitively about the 2013 Seattle Seahawks, it's this: this team's defense is the best I've ever seen.

From top to bottom, Seattle's defense has been dominant against every opponent they've faced.  In Seattle's 3 losses this season, they only lost by a combined 15 points and never lost a game by more than one score.

It's not as if Seattle hasn't faced adversity, either. The Seahawks defense had to overcome injuries, suspensions and a new coordinator-- but they made it look effortless.

Two players that deserve a tremendous amount of praise all season, but particularly yesterday, are Byron Maxwell and Malcolm Smith. Maxwell was thrust into a starting role following the suspensions to Brandon Browner and Walter Thurmond.  His interception yesterday was his 4th of the season-- keep in mind he's only started 5 games. Smith returned an interception for a touchdown early in yesterday's victory, his second of the season, and has filled the void left by LeRoy Hill admirably.

One thing this season has shown me is that the NFC West is most assuredly on the uptick.  The Seahawks and 49ers are once again in the post season and Arizona was a few plays away from joining them. The Rams played tough all year and will continue to reap the benefits of the RGIII trade with Washington-- they hold the #2 and #13 pick in next years draft.

It's safe to assume that the West will be the class of the NFL for the next few years, but that doesn't matter right now.  What matters is that our Seattle Seahawks are NFC West Champions. Their destiny is in their own hands.  Most importantly, this team looks like they have what it takes to go all the way.

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