SEATTLE – Remember the viral photo on social media of “The Dress,” for which some people saw black and blue while others insisted it was white and gold? Fans probably have similarly contrasting views of the Seahawks right now.
One might see them as the top squad in the NFL – a 5-0 battering ram bound for a second Lombardi Trophy. But another might see the Seahawks as Lady Luck’s pet project who will start racking up defeats as soon as she loses interest.
So who’s right?
Well, the optimists certainly have plenty of ammunition – starting with the quarterback. Russell Wilson is a likely Hall of Famer off to the best start of his career. His 19 touchdown passes and 129.8 passer rating are tops in the NFL, and his poise appears to be at its peak.
On his final drive Sunday night, he completed two passes on fourth down – including the game-winning touchdown throw – when an incompletion would have given Minnesota a victory. And that game – in which Wilson threw three touchdown passes – was probably his worst performance of the season.
But that seems to be the new reality, as DK Metcalf has blossomed into one of the league’s best receivers in his second year. Like LeBron James joining forces with Anthony Davis as the Lakers rolled to the NBA title, Wilson may be playing with the most potent weapon of his career. Metcalf, who caught both of those fourth-down passes on the final drive, is third in the league in receiving yards (496) and first in yards per catch (22.5).
Additionally, the Seahawks’ past two wins have come without All-Pro safety Jamal Adams, who was their biggest offseason acquisition. They have former All-Pro nose tackle Damon “Snacks” Harrison working his way back into game shape. They have upcoming games against the winless Jets, the winless Giants along with Philadelphia and Washington, which have a combined two victories. They aren’t on the road to success so much as the runway.
But that’s where the pessimists might chime in. That’s where someone might say, um, the Seahawks have the league’s worst team defense. They have given up a league-high 370.4 passing yards per game – and haven’t faced any NFL quarterback rated in the top 13.
What would happen in a playoff game against Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees? As NBC broadcaster Cris Collinsworth noted on Sunday, there wasn’t a marquee pass rusher on the field for the Seahawks – which might be why none of their wins has come against a team with a winning record.
The Seahawks needed to stop quarterback Cam Newton at the 1-yard line to beat the Patriots in Week 2. They needed to intercept Dallas QB Dak Prescott in the end zone to get the win in Week 3. They needed to stuff the Vikings on fourth-and-inches before Wilson’s spectacular drive in Week 5. This team should be 3-2, could be 2-3 or even 1-4 if the Dolphins didn’t settle for five consecutive field goals. Are they going to be able to hold up in the NFC West, where the Rams are 4-1, the Cardinals are 3-2 and the 2-3 Niners are a season removed from a Super Bowl appearance?
But the optimists would say, “Don’t give me this ‘should be’ or ‘could be’ crud. Let’s talk about what the Seahawks are.” It’s not like these tight wins are new. Last season, Seattle was 5-0 in games decided by four points or fewer and 10-2 in games decided by one score. It is 4-0 in one-score games this year. At some point you have to think this is less about the Seahawks simply getting lucky on the 50/50 situations and more about them being 100% confident on the biggest downs.
Those are the types of wins that prepare you for the postseason, where down-to-the-final-drive games are inevitable. Can you really question the Seahawks’ mettle?
To which the pessimist could reply, “No, but I question their consistency.” It seems as though “Russell for MVP” comes up at some point every season.
Wilson was the favorite by the midway point last year. But over his final seven games, he posted a passer rating over 100 just once, and Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson won the award.
Seattle’s offense has been bailing out its defense all season, but there’s a precedent suggesting it could drop off.
One team. Two ways to look at it. The cool part is that it’s impossible to look away.
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