It’s Not Just Russ, the Seattle Seahawks Are Becoming a Force in the NFC

It’s Not Just Russ, the Seattle Seahawks Are Becoming a Force in the NFC

SEATTLE, WA - DECEMBER 02: Running back Chris Carson #32 of the Seattle Seahawks rushes against the Minnesota Vikings at CenturyLink Field on December 2, 2019 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

They are not the Seattle Russell Wilsons. 

The MVP candidate might be the Seahawks’ best player, and he’s certainly their most famous employee. But in Seattle’s 37-30 Monday Night Football victory over the Minnesota Vikings, the Seahawks declared to a national audience that they’re a top-tier contender for plenty of reasons—only one of which is the fact Wilson is a superstar in his prime. 

Seattle overcame an all-time flukey Minnesota touchdown in order to beat the Vikings despite the fact banged-up No. 1 wide receiver Tyler Lockett was held without a catch. It was a reminder that the team is experienced, well-coached, resilient and mentally strong, which is scary considering they now lead the NFC West and are on track for a first-round bye in the playoffs. 

They racked up 24 first downs to Minnesota’s 17, they were penalized just once, and they registered three-plus takeaways for the fourth time in their last five games. 

They now rank behind only the New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers with 27 forced turnovers this year, which might surprise those who still view the post-Legion of Boom Seattle defense as a liability. That unit might no longer be as star-studded as it was half-a-decade ago, but new pass-rusher Jadeveon Clowney has emerged and he’s well-supported by Bobby Wagner, Mychal Kendricks and Shaquill Griffin. 

They recorded just 10 sacks as a team in their first six games of the season, but they had eight in their last two games before hitting Kirk Cousins eight times on Monday night. 

With that unit making plays and the running game excelling, Wilson doesn’t have to be perfect. And the running game was indeed effective again on Monday night. The Seahawks have now won five consecutive games, all by one score, and backs Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny have rushed for a combined 684 yards in those five outings. 

A total of 176 of those yards came Monday against a Minnesota run defense that ranked third in DVOA at Football Outsiders entering Week 13, allowing Seattle to control the ball nearly twice as long as the Vikings (they rank in the top five in the NFL in that category). 

The Seahawks are the only team in the NFC with eight 140-yard games on the ground this season, and seven of those performances have come in their last eight games. And what’s amazing is they’ve played three top-five run defenses in that span. Not only did they compile 218 rushing yards in order to control the Vikings (who rank fifth against the run), but Carson averaged 6.6 yards per carry and went over 100 yards against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (who rank second) and Penny averaged 9.2 yards per attempt and amassed nearly 130 yards against the Philadelphia Eagles (who rank fourth). 

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - DECEMBER 02: Running back Rashaad Penny #20 of the Seattle Seahawks carries the ball against the defense of the Minnesota Vikings at CenturyLink Field on December 02, 2019 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Image

Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

If those guys can keep it up, imagine how much fun they can have against teams like the Carolina Panthers and Arizona Cardinals down the stretch? And it’s worth noting that fellow NFC playoff-contending foes San Francisco and Green Bay have also struggled to slow down opposing running games. 

Don’t get me wrong: The Seahawks are far from perfect. The defense has yet to consistently generate pressure over a string of games, and they’re vulnerable on that side of the ball if they aren’t getting to the quarterback or forcing turnovers at what is arguably an unsustainable rate. 

But they also keep winning without a top-notch passing game. Lockett hasn’t been himself since suffering a scary injury in Week 10, and that has seemingly affected Wilson. The 31-year-old is still experiencing a career year, but he’s no longer the MVP frontrunner and he’s now gone three consecutive games without posting a triple-digit passer rating (after doing so in eight of his first nine). 

Wilson was just 1-for-5 on deep passing attempts Monday night, and he’s completed just five of 20 such attempts during his recent three-game rut. That’s in stark contrast to the first nine weeks of the year, in which he compiled 32 completions and a silly 126.0 passer rating on deep balls.

He’ll very likely rebound, at which point NFC playoff contenders Minnesota, Philadelphia and San Francisco will likely regret that they didn’t take advantage of Seattle when Wilson wasn’t at his best. 

It might be too late then, because the Seahawks have only gained stature and confidence of late. They might have always known that they’re a strong all-around team, and that Wilson didn’t need to do as much heavy lifting as it appeared.

Breaking Sports News

via Bleacher Report – Front Page

December 2, 2019 at 10:02PM

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