By Chris Cluff
If the Seahawks’ 4-3 record seems like a disappointment to some fans, it’s only because of the way the Seahawks have gotten there and the lingering sting of a punchless 13-6 loss in San Francisco last Thursday.
But it is no surprise at all. The Hawks were pegged for a 4-3 start, beating Arizona and St. Louis and losing to Green Bay and New England. The passing game has been the major deficiency, as expected — even more so because rookie Russell Wilson was named the starter over Matt Flynn. Wilson and his pedestrian receiving crew are the 31st-ranked passing attack, and the Hawks are also 31st in scoring at just 16.6 points per game.
Despite those major flaws, they have managed to be in every game, thanks to their stellar defense.
After playing four of the first seven on the road and beating two playoff powerhouses at home, the Hawks have a pretty friendly final nine games — if they can figure out how to score touchdowns.
After they go to Detroit this week, they have a couple of home games leading into their bye. They go on the road for two more and then finish with three of the final four at home — all three against NFC West foes.
Here’s a look at the back nine.
Week 8: Oct. 28, at Detroit Lions, 10 a.m.
The Hawks haven’t been to Detroit since 2006, when they played there twice — in the Super Bowl to finish the 2005 season and in the next season opener (a 9-6 win). This game will be a reunion of sorts as Detroit has a few Sea Lions (Nate Burleson, Rob Sims, Lawrence Jackson, Will Heller). While the Seahawks had the weekend off to rest and will have a full week to prepare, the Lions will be coming off a short week after their game tonight against Chicago. Prior to that game, the Lions had been a very inconsistent team, and every game had been decided by eight points or less. Figure the same when the Hawks come to town.
Prediction: Lions 24, Seahawks 17
Week 9: Nov. 4, vs. Minnesota Vikings, 1:05 p.m.
Seattle offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell and wide receiver Sidney Rice face their old team, which has been one of the league’s biggest surprises at 5-2. Adrian Peterson has made an amazing comeback from a torn ACL, rushing for 652 yards — the same number as Marshawn Lynch. The Hawks certainly will need the 12th Man for this one, which figures to be every bit as tough as the home games against Green Bay and New England were.
Prediction: Seahawks 20, Vikings 17
Week 10: Nov. 11, vs. New York Jets, 1:05 p.m.
The circus comes to town on Veterans Day, and Pete Carroll’s defense should put the clamps on his former USC QB, Mark Sanchez, and the Jets’ clown show. Sanchez, Tim Tebow and Rex Ryan’s dysfunctional troupe shouldn’t stand a chance in Seattle. And give Leon Washington a return TD against the team that dumped him.
Prediction: Seahawks 31, Jets 13
Week 11: Bye
Week 12: Nov. 25, at Miami Dolphins, 10 a.m.
The QB drama will be high for this one. Matt Flynn, who in March figured to be starting for one of these teams, will instead watch two rookie QBs take the snaps. Ryan Tannehill has made the Dolphins surprisingly competitive at 3-3, but the Seattle defense should take advantage of his rookieness. The question is: Will the Dolphin defense do the same to Wilson?
Prediction: Seahawks 20, Dolphins 13
Week 13: Dec. 2, at Chicago Bears, 10 a.m.
The Hawks should be feeling right at home at Soldier Field. This is the fourth time in three years they will have gone to Chicago. They have won two of the previous three and would have won the other if Matt Hasselbeck had gotten any help from his receivers in the frozen playoff game in January 2011. Carroll’s players know they can win in Chicago, but can they with a rookie at QB?
Prediction: Bears 24, Seahawks 17
Week 14: Dec. 9, vs. Arizona Cardinals. 1:15 p.m.
The last time the Seahawks hosted the Cardinals in December was in 2007, when Seattle blasted them 42-21. The Cards started strong this season (4-0), but have faded (0-3). These teams are very similar, but figure Lynch and the 12th Man flip the script from the opener.
Prediction: Seahawks 23, Cardinals 13
Week 15: Dec. 16, at Buffalo Bills, 1:05 p.m.
This should have been Lynch’s return to Buffalo, but the schedule makers instead placed this game in Toronto. The Bills have no defense, and if Seattle’s passing game improves at all, the Hawks should handle this one.
Predictions: Seahawks 27, Bills 17
Week 16: Dec. 23, vs. San Francisco 49ers, 1:15 p.m.
The 49ers will be coming off a Sunday night trip to New England for this big division game in Seattle. The Seahawks’ passing game will have had an entire season to get it together, and Carroll will be more motivated than ever to stop Frank Gore and finally beat Jim Harbaugh. The Hawks could have around nine wins, and if the 49ers haven’t run away with the division, this game could be huge in deciding it.
Prediction: Seahawks 24, 49ers 20
Week 17: Dec. 30, vs. St. Louis Rams, 1:15 p.m.
The Rams are certainly better under Jeff Fisher, as their 3-4 record proves, but they have not won in Seattle since 2004 and the Hawks should be playing their best by this point. With the faith that they will develop a passing game to go with the running game and defense, we’re giving the Hawks the win and an 11-5 record.
Prediction: Seahawks 24, Rams 17
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Chris Cluff worked as a sports editor and writer for The Seattle Times for 11 years and has written two books on the Seattle Seahawks. Since leaving the Times, he has written about the Seahawks and Seattle sports for Bleacher Report and the blog he shares with a fellow sportswriter, outsidethepressbox.com. His work can be found on Examiner.com.