It’s early, but Seahawks have good start on winning home-field advantage for playoffs
Through the first four games, the Seahawks are looking like the class of the NFC.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Seattle’s improbable 23-20 overtime win at Houston last Sunday was lauded for the intangibles displayed by the Seahawks — heart, character, resilience, perseverance.
The tangible impact of the victory, though, might ultimately prove more important.
Seattle survived what looms as one of its toughest two or three games of the season with a remade offensive line and a defense that for a half simply didn’t play well against a talented team that threw just about all it had at the Seahawks.
And by the time the weekend ended, the Seahawks had about as clear a path to securing home-field advantage throughout the playoffs as even the most optimistic fan could have hoped for after four games .
Remember, throughout the offseason the opening four-game stretch — which included games against the 49ers and Texans — was being labeled as a potential minefield for the Seahawks. There were issues on the defensive front with the uncertainty of the health of Chris Clemons, and the four-game suspension of Bruce Irvin.
The offensive line issues that crept up — injuries to starters Russell Okung, Max Unger and Breno Giacomini — created an additional hurdle.
The hope, though, was that the Seahawks had constructed a roster that could overcome the defensive-line cloudiness as well as any other impediments.
So far, so good.
Seattle is one of just two unbeaten teams in the NFC, taking a huge step toward securing its ultimate regular-season goal — playing its playoff games at home, where the Seahawks have won 10 in a row dating to 2011 and would be favorites to keep on winning.
As Peter Schrager, an NFL columnist for FoxSports.com, wrote this week: “If the Seahawks lock up home-field advantage, it’s over in the NFC.’’
That was the recipe in 2005 when the Seahawks made their only Super Bowl appearance, beating Washington and Carolina at home to advance to Detroit.
And it’s not just that Seattle is winning but that the other supposed top teams in the NFC are losing. Of the other five NFC teams that last year made the playoffs, none has a winning record.
San Francisco, the Super Bowl representative out of the NFC last season, is 2-2, battling its own injury issues and already has lost to the Seahawks.
Atlanta, the team that beat Seattle in the divisional playoffs last year, is 1-3, saddled with a bad running game and a worse defense (the Falcons are 29th in the NFL in yards allowed per play).
Washington, the team Seattle narrowly defeated in the wild-card round, is also 1-3, with a defense that ranks 31st in the NFL. Quarterback Robert Griffin III hasn’t hit his 2012 stride yet and appears at less than full strength after the knee injury suffered in the loss to the Seahawks.
Green Bay, the NFC North winner a year ago, is 1-2 and beset with a defense that ranks among the worst in the NFL — no team in the league has allowed more passing yards than the Packers.
And Minnesota, which won the other wild-card spot last year, is 1-3, also terrible on defense and battling injuries at quarterback (and with regular starter Christian Ponder hardly a sure thing, anyway).
Only three other NFC teams even have winning records — 4-0 New Orleans and 3-1 Detroit and Chicago.
The Saints and Lions were each 2011 playoff teams who look revived, and the Bears’ experiment of hiring quarterback guru Marc Trestman as coach to get Jay Cutler on track seems to be working.
The Lions and Bears, though, each have shaky defenses (each has allowed more than twice as many as the 47 points Seattle has).
New Orleans, with a point differential of plus-53 that is second in the NFC only to Seattle’s plus-62, looks more legit, and along with the 49ers — assuming they are reverting to expected form — loom as the most realistic threat to the Seahawks in the NFC.
Then there’s this: The Saints come to Seattle for a game on Dec. 2.
Things, certainly, can change greatly from week to week in the NFL. Right now, though, Seattle could hardly have wished for more.
Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or firstname.lastname@example.org