RENTON, Wash. – Seattle’s past two games have created a divide between two schools of thought.
In one camp are those who think the close wins over the last two weeks prove that even when the Seahawks don’t play well, they can still win. The implication: Only good teams are capable of that.
In the other camp are those who think the Seahawks’ nail-biting wins against struggling St. Louis and winless Tampa Bay signal red flags that will bite them later. That camp doesn’t think the Seahawks look like a Super Bowl team.
Which raises a larger question: What, exactly, does a Super Bowl team look like?
If the last 10 years have shown anything, it’s that characterizing a Super Bowl champion is nearly impossible. There have been teams that won 14 games (Patriots), teams that won only nine (Giants), teams that lost a game by 30 points (Ravens) and teams that lost three straight (Steelers).
This is not an excuse for the way the Seahawks have played the past two weeks. Seattle has issues. The defense has given up too many rushing yards lately, quarterback Russell Wilson continues to take too many hits and the Seahawks haven’t put away lesser competition.
“In the midst of this push to get going in the second half of the season,” coach Pete Carroll said, “we’ve got to play better.”
But how a team plays in the regular season – either good or bad – doesn’t carry much weight in the playoffs the past 10 years.
In fact, over the last decade, only one team that finished with the best record in the regular season (the 2003 Patriots) also won the Super Bowl. In that same time, three wild-card teams have won the Super Bowl.
Championship teams haven’t been immune to losing streaks. The Giants had a four-game losing streak in 2011. The Steelers lost three straight in 2005. So did the Saints in 2009.
What about momentum? At least teams that got hot in the playoffs had to be playing well heading down the stretch, right?
Those three Saints losses in 2009 all came in the final three weeks of the season. The 2012 Ravens lost three of their final four games, including the season finale.
What we’re left with, once the playoffs get rolling: a whole lot of uncertainty.