Only a foot or so away from being stuck in third place in the NFC West as they headed to Cleveland for a game against the Browns Sunday, the Seahawks could instead be atop the entire NFC by the end of this weekend if a few things break their way.
And it really wouldn’t take all that much.
Should Seattle beat the Browns while the 49ers lose at Los Angeles, the Saints lose at Jacksonville and the Packers lose to the Lions on Monday night and, voila, the Seahawks would have the best record in the NFC at 5-1 (just ahead of the 49ers’ 4-1, with every other team in the conference in that scenario having at least two losses or a loss and a tie).
Three of those things are favored to happen — the Seahawks are a 1.5-point favorite while the Saints and 49ers are each slight underdogs (2.5 and 3 points, respectively).
The only “upset’’ would be Detroit winning at Green Bay. But the Lions, at 2-1-1, have been a surprise so far, and they swept the Packers a year ago.
It’s a far more likely scenario than Russell Wilson finding Tyler Lockett the way he did for that first-quarter touchdown a week ago. Maybe even a higher percentage shot than Greg Zuerlein — who is 44 of 55 in his career on field goals from 40-49 yards — misfiring on a 44-yarder that has Seattle sitting at 4-1 right now instead of 3-2.
Not that you’ll get the Seahawks looking that far ahead, especially after the events of Friday and the news that standout left tackle Duane Brown may not play while continuing to deal with a biceps injury, leaving Seattle with a remade offensive line going against pass rusher supreme Myles Garrett.
Things, the Seahawks know, can change really quickly in the NFL.
Seattle’s opponent Sunday, the Cleveland Browns, are proof of that as well.
A week ago, Cleveland thought maybe it was on its way to fulfilling all the preseason hype garnered by a 5-2 finish to the 2018 season, sparked by rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield.
The Browns spent the offseason as the latest “hot thing,’’ sort of like the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2017 — or the Seahawks themselves in the summer of 2013.
“Expectations, and Exuberance, Are High for the Cleveland Browns,’’ read a headline on the front page of the New York Times Sunday sports section in August detailing how maybe this would be the season the Browns would break a 17-year playoff drought.
After a halting beginning to the season, it all seemed to come together for the Browns in Baltimore on Sept. 29 as they gained 530 yards on Earl Thomas and the Ravens and pulled away for a 40-25 win.
But just as quickly, it all fell apart last Monday as the Browns allowed 275 yards rushing to the 49ers in a mistake-filled 31-3 loss.
So, which Browns will the Seahawks see in Cleveland?
If coach Pete Carroll is optimistic about most things, pessimism always creeps in when it comes to that week’s opponent.
“You look at them at their best,’’ Carroll said. “You look at them when they’ve been on it. .. there’s plenty of stuff to be attracted to to figure it out.’’
Indeed, the Seahawks are likely to get the Browns best shot. Cleveland has a bye next weekend, then plays at New England.
A loss to Seattle and the Browns could be 2-5 by the end of October and on their way to serving as yet another cautionary tale for lauding a team (the Browns were also the cover boys on Sports Illustrated’s preseason preview) that has yet to do anything.
They could also serve as the latest exhibit for Seahawks fans of being thankful for what you’ve gotten, even if at times you wish you’d gotten more.
When Seattle was the “hot thing’’ in the summer of 2013 in a scenario similar to that of Cleveland’s — a blazing finish to the previous season behind an electric rookie quarterback who appeared to be a future star — the Seahawks made good on their promise, busting out to an 11-1 start and then winning the Super Bowl.
(The Browns even followed the Seattle blueprint by making a big trade for a big-time receiver, Odell Bechkam Jr. filling the role that in 2013 was played by Percy Harvin.)
That’s one of only two times in their history the Seahawks have started a season 5-1. They can make it three on Sunday, and then have some fun while they wait to see if a few other things might fall their way to make the weekend that much better.