The Seattle Seahawks (12-4) are the NFC West division champions for the second year in a row after a 20-6 victory over the St. Louis Rams on Sunday (6-10).
With the Green Bay Packers defeating the Detroit Lions (30-20), Seattle also becomes the number one seed in the NFC clinching home field advantage for the second year straight.
Seattle’s offense got off to a slow start being shutout in the first half for the first time in the Russell Wilson era. Their defense kept them in the game once again allowing only two field goals in the first half and shutting out the Rams offense in the second.
The Seahawks defense dominated with two interceptions and a forced fumble in the second half. Linebacker Bruce Irvin returned an interception thrown by Rams quarterback Shaun Hill 49 yards for a touchdown. Jordan Hill had the other interception and Earl Thomas forced a fumble on the Seattle one-yard line essentially sealing the deal for the Seahawks.
It was far from Wilson’s best performance as he ended the day 17/25 with no touchdowns and an interception. Pro Bowl running back Marshawn Lynch ran for 60 yards on 14 carries with one touchdown. Rookie wide receiver Paul Richardson who started for the injured Jermaine Kearse added five receptions for 60 yards. Although the performance by the offense was far from pretty, when your defense plays at such a high level it takes a lot of pressure off.
Century Link Field and the 12th man will host their first playoff game of the year Saturday, January 10th. The Seahawks were 7-1 at home this season with their only loss occurring in week six against the Dallas Cowboys. The Seahawks are 4-1 in playoffs in the Wilson era and 2-0 at home.
After getting off to a slow start this season, many wondered if the Seahawks were suffering from a Super Bowl hangover and questioned whether they’d even make playoffs. Seattle silenced doubters ending the season on a six-game win streak.
Their defense, who underwent harsh criticism after the slow start, finished number one in the league in opponent passing yards, rushing yards, total yards allowed and points per game allowed. During their six-game win streak the Seahawks defense allowed an average of 6.5 points per game.
While it is rare for a Super Bowl champion to repeat, with home field advantage and momentum on their side it’s hard to argue they’re not a favorite. Only eight teams have won back-to-back Super Bowls with the most recent being the New England Patriots in 04/05.