Is there a more surprising team in the NFL playoffs than the Seattle Seahawks? After making two huge moves in the offseason, trading quarterback Russell Wilson to the Denver Broncos and releasing linebacker Bobby Wagner, two of the franchise’s longtime star players, it appeared this season would be a rebuilding year for the Seahawks and their incessantly loud fans.
But then Geno Smith happened. The journeyman quarterback who replaced Wilson guided Seattle to a 9-8 record and the No. 7 playoff seed in the NFC while being selected to the Pro Bowl for the first time in his eight-year NFL career. Smith was a backup quarterback in his first seven NFL seasons, spent with the New York Jets (2013-16), New York Giants (2017), Los Angeles Chargers (2018) and Seahawks (2019-present).
Given a chance to start this season, Smith has passed for 4,282 yards, breaking Wilson’s single-season team record of 4,219 yards set in 2016. Helped by the return from the Wilson trade, the Seahawks have an outstanding rookie class led by cornerback Tariq Wilson, a Pro Bowl selection, nickel corner Coby Bryant, who caused four fumbles and had two sacks, 1,000-yard rusher Kenneth Walker III, and special teams specialist Dareke Young.
Perhaps the experts and fans outside Seattle shouldn’t have underestimated the Seahawks. After all, they’re in the playoffs for the 10th time in Pete Carroll’s 13 years as coach. They haven’t missed the playoffs in back-to-back seasons with Carroll as coach, and they’ve finished first or second in the NFC West 11 times in 13 seasons. That’s quite a resume.
Of course despite Smith’s surprising season and the great rookies, the Seahawks had to have help to make the postseason. After struggling to an overtime win over the Los Angeles Rams in their regular-season finale, the Seahawks needed a Detroit Lions victory over the Green Bay Packers that night at Lambeau Field to eliminate the Packers from the playoffs and open the door for Seattle.
The upstart Lions defeated Green Bay, possibly sending Aaron Rodgers into retirement, and the Seahawks found themselves in the postseason.
Not a good finish
The fact that the Seahawks barely beat the injury-riddled Rams in a must-win game and they finished the season by going 3-5 after getting off to a 6-3 start makes it seem very unlikely that they’ll play more than one game in the postseason.
They’ll be on the road Saturday to face the No. 2 NFC seed San Francisco 49’ers, who have won 10 straight games and some consider the favorite to win the NFC championship and play in the Super Bowl.
The 49ers beat the Seahawks twice during the regular season in NFC West games. The third time probably won’t be a charm for Seattle, if history is any indication. There were 23 previous instances since the 1970 NFL/AFC merger where a team won two division games against its playoff opponent during the regular season.
In those 23 games, the sweeping team went 14-9. In the 18 games where the sweeping team was at home, the record was 12-6.
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