The Seattle Seahawks are back from their 0-2 start and are in the thick of the NFL playoff race now. The win they got this past week against the Detroit Lions was huge; now they have a tiebreaker against another NFC playoff hopeful and are 4-3.
The NFC has many good teams and it will be a struggle to secure a wildcard, and I don’t think Seattle will catch the LA Rams before the season is over, so winning the NFC West is out of the question.
One thing standing in the Seahawks’ way is how tough the schedule is getting right now. Seattle’s next four opponents are a combined 27-7-1 this season. That is ridiculous! Seattle faces the LA Chargers, LA Rams, Green Bay Packers and Carolina Panthers over the next four weeks. Let’s break it down game by game and see what the Seahawks need to do to stay alive.
LA Chargers (5-2)
The Chargers are the only AFC team in the next four weeks, so a loss to them hurts the least. Because they are in the AFC, we aren’t fighting them for a playoff spot.
Nevertheless, for the Seahawks to win they need to stop Philip Rivers. Rivers has been putting up big numbers for so long we take it for granted. He hasn’t thrown fewer than 26 touchdowns in a year since 2007, his second year as a starter. And he already has 17 touchdown passes this year.
Then you have to stop Melvin Gordon. This will be harder because although Seattle’s run defense has improved through the year, it is still a weakness. Gordon is averaging more than five yards per carry and has nine touchdowns this season.
Their defense has been above average this year but hasn’t been terrific. The Seahawks should be able to impose their will on them in this game.
Seattle is on a hot streak right now and their contest against the Chargers will be a good game, but the Seahawks at home are too tough.
Prediction: Seahawks 27 Chargers 24
LA Rams (8-0)
The Rams will present the toughest game in this stretch by far. They are the only undefeated team left in the NFL and they already beat Seattle on its home field earlier this year.
The Seahawks need to stop Todd Gurley. He already has more than 1,100 total yards and he has scored 15 touchdowns in eight games. Gurley is having an amazing year and there is little people have been able to do to slow him down. And even if you slow him down, Jared Goff can pick you apart with crossing routes and play action passes. It is the same way they beat Seattle earlier: Goff gets you into the red zone and Gurley scores.
Seattle will need a big day out of its offense to keep up with the Rams. But, this time it needs just a little more out of the defense and special teams to make it harder on the Rams offense this time around.
Prediction:Rams 31 Seahawks 29
Green Bay Packers (3-3-1)
The Packers probably have the worst overall team in this stretch of games, as evidenced by their record. But they have the most talented quarterback in the NFL with Aaron Rodgers. He can come back from any deficit with any amount of time on the clock. It is unbelievable how he carries that team through everything. Rodgers has the Packers fifth in the league in passing yards this season and has only thrown one interception.
This will be pretty much the only focus of this game: How Rodgers does against Seattle’s young secondary, because I can’t see the Packers defense stopping the Seahawks running attack especially with Ha Ha Clinton Dix gone.
Prediction: Seahawks 21 Packers 15
Carolina Panthers (5-2)
Carolina has been a little surprising this year. The Panthers are in a really tough division with the Atlanta Falcons and New Orleans Saints, but their defense is holding them a close second to the Saints. They are plus six in turnover differential and couple that with a top-notch rushing attack you get a very strong NFC contender.
Cam Newton and Christian McCaffrey are the main runners with more than 300 yards and 4.5 yards per carry each this year. They can give you a lot of different looks with the two of them, especially with McCaffrey’s receiving skills. He has caught 12 more balls than the next guy, so he is a threat from anywhere on the field and will need to be accounted for even if he’s on the sideline.
Prediction: Panthers 14 Seahawks 13
Now, I’m sure you’ve noticed I haven’t really said much about what the Seahawks will do against these teams. That’s because I think they’ve found an identity: They are going to play strong defense, run the ball and be efficient passing the ball. This is their formula, so it seemed repetitive to say it four times.
I think Seattle goes 2-2 in this stretch and then can really run through the rest of their schedule apart from Minnesota and Kansas City later in the year. They can still make the playoffs, but a loss to the Panthers is going to be hard to get past.