— Seattle Seahawks (@Seahawks) January 10, 2014
How big is this opportunity?
And extremely rare.
The Philadelphia Eagles were the NFC’s #1 seed for three consecutive seasons between 2002 and 2004.
In the nine seasons that followed, no team has ever repeated as #1.
Home field advantage is not common. As good as the Seahawks are, it’ll be incredibly difficult to repeat what happened this year.
Jim Harbaugh has been with the Niners for three seasons. They’ve gone 13-3, 11-4-1 and 12-4 and never been the #1 seed.
Winning the NFC West is not going to get any easier. With each team getting gradually stronger, it’s going to become harder and harder to put together a 12-14 win season.
That’s why this is such a rare opportunity.
It’s taken eight years for the Seahawks to get back to top spot. To be in a position where they’re two home games away from the Super Bowl.
That is a dream scenario for this team. And now it’s reality.
Making the most of it? That’s the hard part.
Seattle has already beaten the three remaining NFC playoff teams.
They defeated tomorrow’s opponents, New Orleans, handsomely in week 13. They demolished San Francisco in week 2. They ground out a tough road win in Carolina to open the season — a victory that’s often overlooked.
All they have to do is play two solid games to make it to the big one. Limit the mistakes. Hit some big plays. Run the football. Play good defense.
The things they’ve done most weeks for the last two years.
If it only it were that simple.
At a time when the city’s baseball team consistently underwhelms and the basketball team is playing in Oklahoma — Paul Allen, Pete Carroll, John Schneider, this team and the rest of the staff have given people a reason to believe.
Today Seattle is filled with Seahawks jersey’s, flags bearing 12. Nobody is working. Everybody is talking about football.
What an opportunity.
What a chance to provide a lifetime of memories.
And all they have to do is play two solid home games, for a shot at immortality.
If only it were that simple.
The Saints are a good football team. They have an elite quarterback. And while they haven’t travelled particularly well in recent weeks, they are a very dangerous opponent.
Maybe even Seattle’s most dangerous opponent.
San Francisco and Carolina play extremely good defense. They run the ball. They have playmaking quarterbacks who are a real threat on the move.
But Colin Kaepernick has struggled badly in his two starts at Century Link. He hasn’t been able to get into a rhythm, he’s forced passes, the atmosphere has knocked off his timing and he’s made mistakes.
I suspect Cam Newton will find it equally as tough. He shares some of Kaepernick’s qualities, but also some of his weaknesses.
Poise isn’t necessarily a characteristic you’d pin on either player. Not that they haven’t stepped up in some big games this year — because they have.
Yet in Seattle, you have to take it to another level.
Drew Brees has been in these types of situations. He’s played — and won — in this stadium. His victory here, funnily enough, was against the odds on a winless Saints team.
And while New Orleans’ defense isn’t scary in the slightest, the offense can score points.
The Seahawks don’t want this to be a shoot out. If they can control the scoring, they’ll fancy their chances to out-last their opponent. If the Saints ask a few questions by scoring regularly, it could be too close for comfort.
Brees is the x-factor here.
He has the potential to avoid getting flustered, to make key plays, to fight through the noise.
He is dangerous.
And yet it’s still on the Seahawks to deliver.
If they play a good game on defense, Brees will struggle to avoid throwing another two picks — just like he has in New Orleans’ last three road games.
They should do a better job than the Eagles against the Saints run game.
The offense needs to be creative. I think New Orleans will — again — try to shut down the run. They limited Marshawn Lynch to under 50-yards last time. If that happens again, Wilson has to prove he’s as good as we all believe.
If the Seahawks play their brand of football, do their jobs — that should be enough.
And again… if only it were that simple.
Home field advantage in the NFC is rare.
Here’s the opportunity.
Go take it.