While watching the Seattle Seahawks dismantle the Atlanta Falcons this past Sunday, I slipped into a daydream.
It’s a frigid night in Seattle, and the Seahawks are in the midst of a bitter struggle with the New Orleans Saints. With time winding down in the fourth quarter, the Hawks are down six, but they’ve got the ball. After a back and forth game against his adversary Drew Brees, Russell Wilson marches the offense down the field and into scoring position one more time.
Then they hand it to the Beast. Marshawn Lynch sheds a tackle, spins, and then breaks another tackle. There’s nothing but green turf in front of him now as he rumbles into the end zone.
And CenturyLink Field explodes. The sound of all-organic, genuine elation is a deafening one, but nobody cares. Spectators embrace total strangers like they’re family, because in that moment they might as well be.
No, I wasn’t daydreaming about Seattle’s Monday night matchup with the Saints on December 2nd.
I was fantasizing about a frigid January night, where for the second time in their history, the Seahawks would have a chance to host the conference championship, with a ticket to the Super Bowl on the line. I was dreaming that, throughout the final seven weeks of the regular season, the Seahawks clinched the number one seed in the NFC, and thus home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
And while watching this Seattle team last Sunday, I actually felt justified in my fantasy. That’s something that really couldn’t be said all year. Sure, given the sky-high expectations the team had coming into this season I had dreamt about a number one seed. But now I can actually say it.
I certainly wasn’t saying it after the Seahawks struggled against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the St. Louis Rams. They just didn’t look like a championship team. And prior to that, when the season wasn’t even half over, it was simply too early to discuss the playoff picture, especially seeding.
It’s not too early anymore. They dominated Atlanta in every phase. With six games to play the Seahawks are 9-1, alone atop the NFC. Four out of those six games they play at home, where they haven’t lost the past two seasons.
Two games stand out as holding added significance, and they happen to fall on back to back weekends. First, coming off a bye the Seahawks will host the Saints for that December 2nd Monday night battle. As it stands right now, the Saints are the only two-loss team in the NFC, and are next in line to try and overthrow the Hawks from the top of the conference.
Six days later, the Seahawks travel to San Francisco to take on the 49ers. It figures to be a challenging game for Seattle, and it will likely hold playoff implications as well. Depending upon how the next few weeks unfold, Seattle could be in a position to put the division away. Or, heaven forbid, San Francisco could be in a position to retake control of the west.
The best part for Seahawk fans? This upcoming Sunday, the Saints host the 49ers. If the 49ers lose, Seattle’s lead in the division may widen. If the Saints go down, then the Seahawks could be a whole two games up in the loss column over the second place team in the conference.
Of course, the Seahawks have to keep taking care of business. If they expect to end the regular season as the top team in the conference, they have to beat teams like Minnesota (2-7), Arizona (5-4), and St. Louis (4-6), all of whom they play in Seattle. Outside of San Francisco, the only other road game Seattle plays is a week later when they visit the Giants (3-6) in New York.
You certainly never know in the NFL. But with a somewhat favorable schedule, and a number of injured Seahawk contributors set to return in the coming weeks, it looks good for the Seahawks.
Any avid NFL fan knows how big of an advantage it is for Seattle to play at home versus on the road. Seattle is widely regarded as the hardest place to play in the NFL. Seahawk fans have become known not just for causing false-starts, but earthquakes.
Russell Wilson has never lost a game on his home turf in Seattle. With a strong Seattle finish, Wilson might just get a chance to compete for a Super Bowl bid on that very same turf.