With one round of the playoffs down, the Seahawks find themselves in a familiar position: Playing deep into January, with a Super Bowl slot on the line.
But before they can have visions of the Lombardi Trophy in their minds, there are two landmines that remain. First up is the Atlanta Falcons – and we’ll preview that game on Thursday – and if they survive the showdown in Hotlanta, either the Green Bay Packers or the Dallas Cowboys.
So, let’s have a little fun. Let’s assume, for just a moment, that Seattle puts it all together on Saturday; the run game clicks, Russell Wilson is sharp, and the defense channels their inner-2014 and shuts down the high-flying attack of Matt Ryan and Co.
Should Seattle advance, regardless of the outcome of the other game, it would set up an incredible NFC Championship showdown.
Since we’re not playing in the game, and are afforded the right to look ahead, let’s scout the potential matchups for the Seahawks (again, SHOULD they advance).
The story of the 2016 Cowboys has been written so many times during the past six months that it’s almost impossible to find a new avenue to explore. By now you know the arc: Underachieving franchise spends three years building an elite offensive line; their star quarterback gets broken in half, derailing their 2015 season; they draft two rookies (Ezekiel Elliott and Dak Prescott) who ride into the gates of Jerry World on golden horses; team takes a time machine back to 1992, wins 13 games, and everybody in the country hates them again.
And they've been a fascinating team to watch.
Perhaps no owner in sports (dials into Mark Cuban’s office; no answer) incites hatred and discomfort more than Jerry Jones, billionaire-owner of the Cowboys. It’s this man who pulls those emotions out of fans more than anyone. Because through some shrewd maneuvers, steady coaching, and smart, forward-thinking draft logic, the Cowboys are (gasp!) mostly likable, and win the tried-and-true way: in the words of Shea in Irving, they run the damn ball.
But despite their 13-3 record, and invincible feeling, the Cowboys would appear to be a better matchup for the Seahawks. As good as Dak Prescott has been, he would still be a rookie quarterback with an average receiving corp.; that plays into the hands of the Seahawks, who have been vulnerable against the pass since mid-November. Elliott and the offensive line would be a problem, and the game would be in Dallas, but the Seahawks would take their chances stopping the run, and facing a young and inexperienced team.
No words should strike fear in the hearts of Seahawks' fans (again, with all due respect to Atlanta) more than “Green Bay.” The Packers are the hottest team in the league, led by the best player, and absolutely obliterated the Seahawks not long ago.
Earlier this season, when his Packers were in danger of missing the playoffs, and he was one playing like a rookie, Aaron Rodgers said he and his team - despite numerous reports of in-fighting - would win out.
So far, they have. And they're not showing any signs of slowing down.
The saving grace for Seattle would be that they would get the Packers at home; outside of that, not much else would sit in their favor. Green Bay’s passing attack is lethal: Rodgers finished 4th in the NFL in passer rating, despite his overhyped slow start; he then threw for 362 yards, four touchdowns, and no interceptions last week. Even without Jordy Nelson, who may be out with injured ribs, the Packers’ passing attack is enough to beat anyone.
On top of that, Green Bay wouldn’t be intimidated by the Seahawks, or the 12th Man, or the pressures of the potential Super Bowl appearance.
If Seattle is to advance this weekend, as crazy as it sounds, they may be rooting for a date on the road with the best team in football. That sounds better than the alternative.