The battle for the top: Seahawks are in a tough neighborhood

The Seahawks are at risk of losing the homefield advantage in the NFL playoffs.
Crosscut archive image.

Seahawks Coach Pete Carroll, left, talks with Arizona Coach Bruce Arians after a Seahawks' loss at home.

The Seahawks are at risk of losing the homefield advantage in the NFL playoffs.

About this time every year we are made aware of a loud noise  . . . "there arose such a clatter . . . "

When we all leap to see what was the matter, traditionally we are asked to imagine a jolly old elf. I bought it until this year, when I realized the din was the four NFC West teams beating the bejeezus out of one another.

The conclusion of the NFL regular season Sunday includes the final division collisions: The 12-3 Seahawks host the 7-8 St. Louis Rams and the 11-4 San Francisco 49ers visit the 10-5 Arizona Cardinals. The thrashes should generate clatter akin to dropping a mile of train tracks off the Space Needle.

Hide the chillruns.

"This division used to be the laughingstock of football," said Seahawks safety Earl Thomas on Wednesday. "Now everybody knows this is the best division. It’s a great competition. Every game is hard. Like the Big 12."

The University of Texas homeboy is entitled to his bias. But if college football were played this harshly, university presidents would be in orange coveralls awaiting charges of student abuse. There is no dispute that, with a collective record of of 40-20, the NFC West is the gnarliest neighborhood in pro football.

"I've been in this division eight years," said FB Michael Robinson. "It's been the same: Tough defense and running the ball. Same style, different performance (this year)."

When the 7-9 Seahawks won the division title in Pete Carroll's first year of 2009, the first losing team in NFL history so honored, the Seahawks and the division were mocked as serfs unfit to mop the castle floors.

“Yeah, it’s come a tremendous distance," Carroll said last week. "(We had) to put up with the yuks about being 7-9 and winning the division years ago. Who’s laughing now?

"There’s also kind of an attitude about our division too — a very physical, tough kind of pride. It’s been kinda fun to watch it.”

If the Seahawks win Sunday, it is well understood that they are division champs and the NFC's No. 1 seed, which earns the coveted home-field advantage as well as a first-round bye in the playoffs. It also would mean they finished divisional play at 4-2, which may be the highest form of merit badge on the brag rag.

But if Sunday the Seahawks lose and the Cardinals win over the Niners — evidence of the season makes both outcomes plausible — there will be a remarkable symmetry: San Francisco would finish 4-2 in the division, Seattle and Arizona would be 3-3 and St. Louis 2-4.

Crosscut archive image.

Please support independent local news for all.

We rely on donations from readers like you to sustain Crosscut's in-depth reporting on issues critical to the PNW.


About the Authors & Contributors