Sleepless in Seattle: Watch Out for the Seahawks in the Playoffs

Share

seahawks

The NFL has seen its fair share of Cinderella stories in recent years. In 2007, the sixth-seed New York Giants upset the 18-0 New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLIV. Then there was the 9-7 Arizona Cardinals, who hosted a playoff game and appeared in the franchise’s first Super Bowl ever. However, there is one underdog story that the NFL has never seen; that is a sub-.500 team making the playoffs….until now.

By: Justin Mertes-Mistretta

Not only are the Seattle Seahawks (7-9) in the playoffs, they have also “earned” a home game in the wild-card round. During the regular season there was much discussion of whether or not a team with such a poor record should even be allowed to participate in the playoffs, let alone host a playoff game. Interestingly enough, the complaints came to a screeching halt once the match-ups were decided. This may be due to the fact that the Seahawks will be playing host to the defending Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints.

Rarely will you ever see a road team favored by double-digits in the playoffs, but that is exactly the case for the Saints (-11 to be exact). No one, and I mean no one, is giving the Seahawks a chance this Saturday. I’ve scoured the web to find NFL analyst’s predictions on the game. I’ve gone on ESPN.com, CBSSportsline.com, NFL.com, you name it and I’ve checked it. I was so desperate to find someone who had faith in the ‘Hawks that I resorted to random fan blogs. I bet even Paul the Octopus picked the Saints (to refresh your memory, this was the octopus that went undefeated picking the FIFA World Cup this past summer).  I feel like Tom Hanks in Cast Away screaming, “WILSON!!!,” in hopes of finding someone, anyone. I’m alone on an island. I literally can’t find a single life form who picked the upset. Find me someone other than a Seattlian who did, I dare you.

Can you really blame anyone for not going out on a limb? This team didn’t just lose nine games, they lost each of those games by 15 points or more. They also barely made the playoffs after an ugly 16-6 victory over the St. Louis Rams. They did the latter with their starting QB Matt Hasselbeck out with a hip injury.

So what could I possibly see in this team?

On paper, this team is outmatched in nearly every single category: record, points scored/allowed per game, turnover margin, you name it and the Saints most likely hold the advantage. But, did you know that Drew Brees is 0-2 on the road in the playoff. Even better, Matt Hasselbeck (who was recently declared the starter over Charlie Whitehurst) has the most playoff experience of any NFC QB (nine games). Sure, he is 35 years old and has struggled a bit this year (12-17 td/int ratio) but he has been here before. Also, he did throw for 366 yards in Week 11 at New Orleans.

12th man

This Seattle team was inconsistent all year, but at home they were actually a very respectable 5-3. Two of their three home losses came to the Chiefs and Falcons, who both won their respective divisions. To boot, Seattle is 3-0 in home playoff games at Qwest Field. Also noteworthy, as of right now, the weather in Seattle looks cold and rainy/snowy. This can only hurt the “dome squad,” Saints. The final home-field advantage comes in the form of noise. Every stadium claims that they are the loudest, but how many teams have handed out a game ball to the crowd? Beware of the 12th Man, that’s all I have to say.

Let’s also not forget that this  year’s Saints team is just not the same as last year. During the ’09 Playoffs the stars aligned in New Orleans and “Who Dat?” marched all the way to a Super Bowl victory. This year, with no home-field advantage, they may be hard-pressed for a repeat. It isn’t getting talked about, but the Seahawks are catching this Saints team at just the right time.

Meaningless or not, the Saints played their starters for the majority of Week 17, losing at home to the Buccaneers. In the process, they lost there top two RBs, Pierre Thomas and Chris Ivory, for the season. This leaves ex-Seahawk Julius Jones and versatile, yet unworkhorse-like RB Reggie Bush to handle the load this Saturday.  They are also faced with “doubtful” tags on both CB Malcolm Jenkins and rookie TE Jimmy Graham, not to mention that their top receiving option, WR Marques Colston, is also listed as “questionable.” This team is hurting in more ways than one.

drew brees

Granted, this team still has Drew Brees behind center, but he has been less heroic than you might think. He’s thrown for a career-high 22 interceptions on the season. Remember back to Week 7 when he threw four picks in an absolutely hideous 17-30 loss to the Cleveland Browns at home. Brees has thrown at least one interception in all but one road game this year.

Should the Saints be favored in this game? Of course. They are the more talented team and SHOULD win the game. Unfortunately that is not how the playoffs work, especially in the NFL. To win a playoff game alone is hard enough, but to win on the road with a banged-up team regardless of the opponent is a tall order.

If you are a gambler, take the ‘Hawks +11 and do a cartwheel. I rarely give out betting advice, because frankly Vegas knows what they’re doing. But I think I’m ahead of the curve on this one, or at the very least alone on the curve.

Don’t overlook this team just because they are 7-9. Last I checked they are in the playoffs and I’m sure Pete Carroll, motivator of all motivators, will have his team ready to play.

Call me crazy, but when Seattle beats the Saints, why stop there? It’s the playoffs; it’s all about momentum. Depending on the result of the other wild-card game, they would either head to Chicago (who they beat 23-20 in Week 6) or face Atlanta at home. If they face Atlanta at any point in the playoffs, the Seahawks would have beaten the only team (Saints) to beat the Falcons at home. Just sayin’.

We’ve seen underdog stories before, but none quiet like this. Usually when a team is considered to be such a long shot, history is not on their side. In this case, the Seahawks have already started rewriting the history books by just being here.

Anyone else want to hop on the Seahawks bandwagon? There’s plenty of room!

Follow Justin Mertes-Mistretta at MertesMist_tsb. You can also read more articles from Justin at percysperspective.com.

Powered by

Speak Your Mind