The Seattle Seahawks, at full strength, are one of the best squads in the NFL. As currently constituted, they are far from that peak level but should still represent the NFC as one of the six best teams in the conference. Instead, inconsistencies have held them squarely on the playoff bubble, at risk of missing the postseason for the first time since 2011.
The first six weeks of the season, Seattle was the epitome of underachieving. It scored 21 total points in its first two games, lost its first two road games and failed to reach 17 points in three of its first five games. The offense, led by fringe MVP-candidate Russell Wilson, was awfully one-dimensional.
The Eddie Lacy experiment failed. Chris Carson got hurt. C.J. Prosise got hurt. Thomas Rawls never got healthy and then disappeared from the depth chart. The rotation kept churning as the offense looked for some balance beside Wilson. Enter Mike Davis. Davis has looked competent in the past two games but now has a rib injury of his own. If the defense was playing like it did early in the year, this unbalance would be palatable. Now, it is not.
The Seattle defense had been the class of the NFL for years. It looked like the same old story through seven weeks, as one offense after another got stifled. Seahawks opponents averaged fewer than 16 points per game, and that included a 33-point outburst by Tennessee in Week 3.
Then Deshaun Watson came to town, the Legion of Boom began to disintegrate from injuries, and the second half of the year has been up-and-down at best. Seattle still ranks among the top half of the league defensively, but it is a far cry from the heights the 12th Man is used to.
It wouldn’t be so bad if the offense wasn’t also inconsistent. Because of bad weeks mixed in with good ones, the Seahawks overall grade out accurately with where they currently stand: a borderline playoff team. But the talent and experience on this squad means they should be better than that.
Why does Doug Baldwin disappear? He had two catches apiece in Weeks 11 and 12, which immediately followed two games where he totaled 203 yards. Then the next two games, against two high-caliber defenses, Baldwin was solid yet again. He goes up and down like no number one receiver should.
Even Wilson has seen his season rise and fall one week to the next. This happens to the best players in the league, but it is happening to Wilson at exactly the wrong time. He followed up a superb performance against Philadelphia with three picks and arguably his worst game of the year against Jacksonville. The defense followed suit, swallowing up the Eagles and then getting sliced apart by Blake Bortles and the Jaguars.
A difficult schedule remains as Seattle currently sits on the outside of the playoff picture looking in. Tied with Atlanta at 8-5, Seattle loses the tiebreaker thanks to a head-to-head loss. And the Seahawks still have three tricky games remaining. A rematch against Los Angeles is first, followed by a trip to Dallas for the return of Ezekiel Elliott, and then a divisional matchup against Arizona to round out the season. 2-1 may be the best Seattle can hope for, and with the crowded wildcard field, that may not be enough.
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