More important to the Seahawks than trying to get whatever measure of revenge for a Super Bowl defeat is reaffirming that they are still on the Patriots’ level.
Get ready for lots of flashbacks to the 2015 Super Bowl during the NBC-TV coverage when the Seahawks play at New England on Sunday night (there was apparently an interception or something at the end of the game).
More important to the Seahawks than trying to get whatever measure of revenge for a Super Bowl defeat that a team could glean from a regular-season game (not much) is reaffirming that they are still on the Patriots’ level.
While Seattle is in good shape for the postseason, leading the NFC West by two games and holding the second spot in the NFC playoffs, the Seahawks’ foundation has been a little shaky of late.
Seattle has gone 2-1-1 in its past four games, each victory coming at home in a game that went down to its opponent’s final possession.
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The offense, struggling to make up for Russell Wilson’s injuries, is averaging just 332.1 yards a game, 26th in the NFL, and is even worse in rushing at 30th, with an average of 75.4 yards a game that is on pace to be the lowest in team history.
The defense, forced to play almost an entire extra game of snaps over the last three weeks due in part to the offense’s struggles, has allowed 31 of the past 53 third downs by its opponents to be converted and has slipped to ninth in total defense at 332.6 yards a game — Seattle hasn’t allowed more since Pete Carroll’s first year in 2010. The Seahawks have allowed 362 or more yards in each of the past four games and an average of 401.25.
There are lots of caveats — no Kam Chancellor the past four weeks or Michael Bennett the past two on defense, for instance.
But the Las Vegas oddsmakers — undoubtedly also looking at the fact that the Seahawks played Monday night and now have to travel across the country to play against a 7-1 team coming off a bye — have sized up the game and made New England a 7½-point favorite.
It’s a New England team that is already well on its way to a 14th consecutive 10-win season (the 49ers hold the record at 16 from 1983-98) and ranks No. 2 in the NFL in scoring defense (16.5) and sixth in scoring (27.1).
The Seahawks haven’t been this big of an underdog since a Thursday night game at San Francisco on Oct. 18, 2012, when the 49ers were a 7½-point favorite (the 49ers won 13-6 in the seventh game of the Wilson era).
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, whose mantra is that every game is a “championship opportunity,’’ didn’t deny that there’s value in seeing how Seattle stacks up against the Patriots.
“Sure, they’re the top team in the league right now,’’ Carroll said. “They have the best record, they’re healthy and they’re rolling. It’s a great matchup opportunity for us. Whether it has anything to do with the end of the year, I don’t know. This is a great opportunity to go on the road when they’re coming off the bye, they’re ready to go and we’ll see where we fit with this team.’’
Then, Carroll added, “If we should be so fortunate to get to play them later on, that would be awesome.”
Sunday, obviously, won’t determine that, but it could go a long way to showing what the Seahawks need to do to get there — or if maybe despite their issues they are still on that same level.
That the two teams are meeting for the first time since playing in one of the most memorable Super Bowls ever just 21 months ago, though, will be hard to ignore, much as the Seahawks spent the week insisting they would do.
“You win some, you lose some, but hopefully you win a lot more than you lose,’’ Wilson said of whether remembering the Super Bowl defeat will come into his thoughts this weekend. “You’re just looking forward to the next opportunity. That’s not even our focus. We’re looking forward to this week. It’s a new year, it’s a new game and we’re excited about that.”