The St. Louis Rams were the only team in the NFC West to fail to pick up a victory in week 15, which effectively eliminated them from playoff contention. Sure they are still mathematically alive, but no realistic individual should believe that this team will make the playoffs. While not everything that happened in the game against the Vikings was bad, it was certainly difficult to find the silver linings. As I look back at the game it isn’t even that they played that poorly, save that 4 minute or so stretch where the Vikings scored 17 points, it just looks so bad because we all expected better. Think about that for a few minutes, let it set in that you and I as Rams fans actually had solid hope that they could play their way into the playoffs. Jeff Fisher’s first year as head coach has had its ups and downs, but he and Les Snead have done a fantastic job of reshaping the way other teams and the fans view the Rams. There are still glaring holes in this Rams team but the fan base has faith in the GM and Head Coach for the first time in nearly a decade, and there is still an outside chance the Rams could finish the year with their first winning record since 2003. Also congratulations to the Arizona Cardinals for breaking out of their funk and picking up a win against the Detroit Lions. The other two teams in the division picked up huge wins over the weekend to set up a showdown in Seattle on Sunday Night Football. So what are the Seahawks fans and local media chattering about?
58 and 50. The Seahawks put up 50+ points in back to back weeks and are quickly becoming branded as the hottest team in football. I personally would point to the Denver Broncos who are riding the NFL’s longest winning streak, behind an impressive defense and one of the greatest QB’s of all time, but it is hard to deny that the Seahawks aren’t playing some darn good football right now. Sure the Seahawks put up 50+ against two of the lower tier teams in the NFL, but those are still professional football teams and the Seahawks flat out whipped them. Seattle dominated the Bills on the ground rushing for 270 yards at 8.4 yards per carry with Rookie QB Russell Wilson picking up 3 rushing TDs. Seattle’s defense forced 3 turnovers including a pick 6 by Earl Thomas in the third quarter.
Read Option. Seattle started to use the “read-option” in their road win against the Chicago Bears and since then it has paid huge dividends. Russell Wilson showed how effective he can be with the ball in his hands as he rushed for 92 yards and 3 touchdowns on 9 carries. Marshawn Lynch chipped in with 113 yards and 1 touchdown on 10 carries. The read option has also improved what was already a potent play action passing game for the Seahawks. Russell Wilson had another incredibly efficient passing day throwing for 205 yards and a touchdown on 14/23 passing, which was good enough for a 104.4 passer rating. So far the read option scheme is getting results for the Seahawks, but they will face a very tough test this week as they face the NFL’s top defense. Harbaugh should have a good scheme ready for the read option offense since it wasn’t that long ago he was coaching against it on a regular basis at Stanford. In my personal opinion the read option is another gimmick type offense, sort of like the wildcat only run with an actual quarterback. Eventually these gimmick type offenses get figured out by the defensive coordinators around the league and they fizzle out after about 4-6 games. Of course the Seahawks still have an effective traditional offense too, so I expect them to ride out the read-option as long as they can before going back to a traditional offense again.
NFC West Crown. Seahawks fans everywhere had to be screaming at their television sets as the 49ers jumped out to a huge lead against the mighty Patriots at Gillette Stadium. Some of them may have even changed the channel when the 49ers held a 28 point lead in the third quarter, if they did they missed one wild football game that is for sure. The 49ers victory over the Patriots dealt a huge blow to the Seahawks aspirations as division champions this season. The 49ers victory over the Patriots in Gillette Stadium also showed the 49ers can win anywhere, even traveling across country to face the team with the best home record in the last decade. The Patriots have gone 72-15 (83%) at home since they opened up Gillette Stadium in 2002 including the loss to the 49ers on Sunday Night Football. That fact is even more relevant since most Seahawks fans cite 2 reasons why they will win their final 2 games of the season, number 1 being they haven’t lost at home yet, and number 2 being the “12th man”. The fact is that even if the Seahawks do win their final two games of the season they will still need the Arizona Cardinals to upset the 49ers at Candlestick Park in the final week of the season, which seems highly unlikely to happen. Of course I do expect the 49ers to win at Seattle on Sunday Night and clinch the NFC West title with an eye towards the number 2 seed and a first round bye. In fact it is possible that the Seahawks could lose their final two games and miss the playoffs altogether, that scenario is almost as likely as one that has the Rams making the playoffs but hey anything is possible. Thanks for reading and as always Go Rams!!!