By Chris Cluff
The Seahawks’ defense and running game have been strong all year, so it figures that they have a number of guys in the running for postseason honors.
Last year, the Hawks placed four players in the Pro Bowl — running back Marshawn Lynch, safeties Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor and cornerback Brandon Browner.
This year, per ESPN’s Mike Sando, seven players are among the top five at their positions in Pro Bowl voting. Lynch and punter Jon Ryan are second, Chancellor is third, end Chris Clemons and Thomas are fourth, and center Max Unger and kick returner Leon Washington are fifth.
Lynch is the NFL’s No. 2 rusher, behind Adrian Peterson. Ryan has the third-best average in the league (49.0 yards). Clemons has seven sacks, which is tied for 10th (Bruce Irvin also has seven). Unger has anchored the league’s No. 7 rushing attack. Washington is eighth in kick returns (28.3) and 15th in punt returns (9.1).
Surprisingly, cornerback Richard Sherman and defensive tackle Brandon Mebane are not among the top five.
Sherman has been one of the best corners in the league all season, and he was just named the NFC defensive player of the week after forcing two turnovers against the New York Jets last weekend. He is tied for third in the league with four interceptions, including a touchdown saver against the Jets.
After an awesome start, Mebane has cooled down over the last month as the Seattle defense has been gashed both through the air and on the ground. He is still having his best season. He is fifth on the team with 41 tackles and also has three sacks and three batted passes.
Players still have a month to make their cases for postseason honors. Fan voting ends Dec. 17, players and coaches vote Dec. 20-21. The league will announce the rosters Dec. 26.
Lynch for MVP?
What are the chances of Lynch joining Shaun Alexander as the second NFL MVP in Seattle history? The Hawks would have to get on a major run, and Lynch would have to overtake Adrian Peterson for the NFL rushing lead.
In 2005, Alexander led the NFL and set a team record with 1,880 rushing yards as the Seahawks ran their way to the Super Bowl behind the best line in franchise history. The MVP award was really a reflection of the dominance of Walter Jones, Steve Hutchinson, Robbie Tobeck, Chris Gray and Sean Locklear.
Lynch has 1,005 yards, which puts him on pace for 1,608. That would be third in Seahawk history behind Alexander’s 2004 (1,696 yards) and 2005 seasons.
Unless he also scored a bunch more touchdowns (he has five), it’s doubtful he would make a run against Peterson or quarterbacks Matt Ryan, Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady.
- Sidney Rice on Golden Tate’s 23-yard TD pass to him vs. the Jets, according to Sando: “After it left his hands, I give him a 10. It was a spiral, and I scored. Before that, I give him a two. His throwing motion was the worst. I thought we traded for (Tim) Tebow for a second.”
- The Seahawks have not had a winning record after Week 10 since 2007, when they started 5-4 and went 10-6 on their way to the playoffs. They beat Washington 35-14 in a home playoff game and then got blown out in Green Bay 42-20. They almost surely will need 10 wins this season to make it as well.
- If the playoffs started this week, the Seahawks would be the sixth seed (thanks to their win over Minnesota) and play at San Francisco. Of course, a lot is still to be decided, including the NFC West. The Hawks (6-4) are a game and a half behind the Niners (6-2-1) in the division and host them Dec. 23.
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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.