Thanks to their 26-23 victory over the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday, the Seahawks finished with 12 or more wins for just the fifth time in franchise history.
Quarterback Russell Wilson and the Seahawks offense sputtered for three quarters before coming alive in the fourth quarter, scoring three touchdowns.
The Seattle defense, meanwhile, continued its second-half surge, but Pro Bowl safety Jamal Adams suffered a shoulder injury and his status for Saturday’s wild-card game against the Rams is in question.
But before we move on to the playoffs, let’s round up the final NFL power rankings of the regular season.
Here’s where national media rank the Seahawks:
NFL.com: No. 7
The Seahawks enter the playoffs with questions about their offense — that is not something anyone expected at the season’s midpoint. Back then, Russell Wilson and DK Metcalf were turning the field into their own personal playground, while the defense was hemorrhaging yards and points at an historic rate. The power dynamic slowly shifted in the second half, though it’s fair to wonder how much of Seattle’s rise on D can be tied to a soft schedule of opposing QBs. The offense, which had only 108 yards midway through the third quarter on Sunday, will need to be better. And the defense might need to find a way to get it done against the Rams without star safety Jamal Adams, whose status is in doubt after he suffered a shoulder injury against the Niners.
Bleacher Report: No. 6
The Seattle Seahawks didn’t back into the playoffs, per se. The NFC West champions defeated the San Francisco 49ers 26-23 in Week 17 to finish the regular season at 12-4, although their offense was stuck in neutral most of the afternoon.
However, Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll told reporters that he isn’t worried about Russell Wilson and Co. headed into the postseason.
“You guys (the media), you’re wondering about it, but I’m not worried about it,” Carroll said. “We are going to keep playing and try to play really good football, not give it to them and play championship ball and see how far that takes us.”
Wilson has no shortage of weapons at his disposal. Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf set franchise records this season for catches and receiving yards, respectively. The defense has been light-years better as of late than it was earlier in the season.
Still, (analyst Gary) Davenport believes there’s a lot the Seahawks will have to tighten up to make a run in the playoffs.
“If the Seahawks are firing on all cylinders offensively, they can absolutely hang with the Saints and Packers,” he said. “And they probably have enough to get past the Jared Goff-less Rams even if they aren’t. But we haven’t seen Seattle’s best in several weeks, and the margin for error is about to get much slimmer.”
“Seattle’s defense improved at the right time,” (analyst Brent) Sobleski countered. “After the unit surrendered a historically bad 30.4 per game through the first eight contests, it turned things around. The Seahawks got healthy, added a few pieces and allowed only 16 points per game over the second half of the campaign. Russell Wilson and Co. just needed a little help to make Seattle a difficult out. With both sides of the ball playing well, the Seahawks ride into the playoffs having won six of their last seven.”
Pro Football Talk: No. 6
They get a postseason home game, but not an ideal matchup with the Rams coming to town.
CBS Sports: No. 4
They found a way against the 49ers (and have) the third seed. They face a tough first-round game against the division-rival Rams, but L.A. might be without Jared Goff.
SI.com: No. 8
Russell Wilson’s MVP campaign fell apart around midseason, but the defense finding its bearings may be even more important to a Super Bowl run. (And we still know what Russ is capable of in any given game.)
The Ringer: No. 7
The Seahawks notched their first 12-plus-win season since 2014 on Sunday, narrowly defeating a banged-up 49ers squad 26-23 to lock up the no. 3 seed in the NFC. That win puts Seattle on a collision course with the no. 6 seed Rams, one of two intradivisional matchups on wild-card weekend. And while the Seahawks defense continued to show signs of life in the win, Russell Wilson was again frustratingly off target or downright timid for large swaths of the game. Through three quarters, Seattle’s offense had totaled just 79 net passing yards and seven first downs, mustering a pair of field goal drives as the team fell behind 16-6 by the early fourth quarter.
But with his back up against the wall, Wilson came alive in the final frame, leading the Seahawks offense on three consecutive touchdown drives to build a 10-point lead. Despite that valiant comeback effort, the Seahawks offense as a whole put together an ugly slog of a performance and made things far too difficult on themselves. In other words, things went pretty much according to Pete Carroll’s design.
As they’ve done for the vast majority of Carroll’s tenure in Seattle, the Seahawks seemed more interested in using their early-game possessions to probe for weaknesses, assess defensive reactions, and protect the football at all costs instead of scoring points. Carroll all but confirmed that was the case after the game, noting that “there’s a patience to it that nobody wants to see, but we are feeling OK about it.” He added, “We just have to make sure we come out of it and we get the points we need to win.”
That’s a maddening approach for some … who’d prefer that the Seahawks try to score more than the absolute bare minimum number of points, but it’s also a philosophy that’s brought Carroll plenty of wins. In Carroll’s mind, the best and most consistent way to succeed is to win the turnover battle. The Seahawks accomplished that on Sunday, creating one takeaway while not giving the ball up. But Carroll’s conservative approach has meant a whole lot less Letting Russ Cook and a whole lot more of Pressuring Russ to Not Turn the Ball Over. That equals sacks. That equals fewer deep shots. And it makes this team tough to watch.
I’m expecting more of the same against the Rams’ excellent defense on Saturday, and I’m all but certain the game will come down to the final possession. That’s what Carroll wants, and he expects his squad to come out on top more often than not.
USA Today: No. 7
This may be the rare Seattle team under Pete Carroll that peaked way too early … but at least they’re drawing a Rams squad in a similar predicament.