By Dave Thomas
As the final regular season NFL games take place this coming Sunday, the Seattle Seahawks are one of 12 teams that will be playing past Jan. 3. As with all the other teams, the question is – how long?
The back-to-back NFC Champion Seahawks have not exactly looked like a playoff team at times this year, especially prior to a five-game winning streak which positioned Seattle as a post-season team. Now that they’re in the post-season dance, the Seahawks will look to replicate the last two years, a pair of campaigns that ended up with a first-ever Super Bowl crown and a heartbreaking loss to New England a season ago.
Cardinals Have Something To Play For
As for their opponent this Sunday in the desert, the Seahawks will face an Arizona team that still has a shot at finishing with the NFC’s top spot.
Sitting at 13-2, the Cardinals are having one of their best seasons in club history. As Arizona fans remember all too well, the Cardinals were also rolling a season ago before starting quarterback Carson Palmer went down with a late-season injury. The end result was a quarterback situation which spiraled out of control, leaving the Cardinals on the losing end of their playoff game against Carolina. Seattle would go on to defeat Carolina and also Green Bay en route to winning the NFC crown.
Flash forward to the 2015 campaign and Palmer is once again enjoying a stellar season.
Arizona is also getting superb play from its defensive unit, something which was on display last Sunday in a 38-8 romp at home over Aaron Rodgers and Green Bay. With Carolina being upset at Atlanta last Sunday, Arizona positioned itself as to where it can grab the top spot in the conference with a win over the Seahawks and a Carolina upset loss versus Tampa Bay.
Meantime, Seattle (9-6) could end up as the sixth and final seed in the NFC playoffs if it loses at Arizona. On the other side of the coin, the Seahawks could grab the fifth seed with a win over the Cardinals and a Minnesota loss at Green Bay (the Vikings and Packers play Sunday with the NFC North crown on the line).
Return Of Lynch Would Help Wilson
According to Seattle Head Coach Pete Carroll, things are still up in the air as to whether or not starting running back Marshawn Lynch will see the field in the very near future.
Lynch (417 yards rushing on the season), who continues to rehab from abdominal surgery, would obviously be a huge spark for a Seattle team which is also without its leading rusher, rookie Thomas Rawls (season-ending ankle injury).
If Lynch can’t go this week or in the opening round of the post-season, look for quarterback Russell Wilson to once again face the burden of moving the offense.
Wilson, who has put together one of his best NFL seasons, does have a number of weapons at the wide receiver position, though, Seattle has also dealt with injuries on that front too.
The top honors for Seahawk receivers this season go to Doug Baldwin, who has amassed 73 receptions for 1,023 yards and 14 TD’s).
Come Sunday, Seattle will look to gain its 10th victory of the season and carry that winning feeling into the post-season.
Dave Thomas has been covering the sports world since his first job as a sports editor for a weekly newspaper in Pennsylvania back in 1989. He has covered a Super Bowl, college bowl games, MLB, NBA and more. His work can be found on Examiner.com.