After getting off to a bumpy start going 3-3 in their first six games the Seattle Seahawks will have a chance this Sunday to claim the number one spot in the NFC West.
Last Sunday the Seahawks (10-4) officially eliminated division rivals the San Francisco 49ers (7-7) from playoffs, their defense once again getting the best of Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers offense. Kaepernick was sacked six times for a loss of 36 yards in Seattle’s 17-7 win.
In the battle of young quarterbacks Kaepernick has been bested by Russell Wilson and company four out of five games including last years NFC championships. Only time will tell but fans could be witnessing the beginning of the next Tom Brady-Peyton Manning rivalry.
When Kaepernick first took over for Alex Smith in 2012 he appeared to be the next big thing. Fast forward a couple years and Wilson now holds the record for most regular-season wins by a quarterback in their first three seasons and most importantly, a Super Bowl ring.
While Kaepernick can be flashier at times, Wilson is more effective. Kaepernick has thrown for more yards this season, 3,051 compared to Wilson’s 2,897, but Wilson has thrown for fewer interceptions, six compared to Kaepernick’s 10, more touchdowns, 18 compared to Kaepernick’s 16 and completes a higher percentage of his passes, 62.6 percent compared to 60.5.
While the numbers slightly favor Wilson the biggest difference comes in the ability to get the job done in crunch time and win when your back is against the wall. Not to take away from Kaepernick as he has found much success in his young carrer including a trip to the Super Bowl two years ago but lately it has been Wilson who’s come out on top in the games that matter most. Sunday’s game was the latest example as it was a must win for both teams and once again Wilson was the winning quarterback.
Wilson’s ability to win games has led to comparisons to New England Patriots quarterback Brady and what he was able to accomplish early in his career. Comparisons that don’t come from putting up a stellar stat line every week, but the ability to win and win the games that count the most. Wilson won’t always blow you away with deep passes and Aaron Rodgers type numbers, but he makes the plays that are smart and efficient doing exactly what needs to be done to win, not a mistake more, not a point less.
Not all the credit for Seattle’s success can go to Wilson however because behind Wilson is running back Marshawn Lynch, the anchor of Seattle’s offense. On the back of Lynch, Seattle has become the best rushing team in the NFL averaging 168.8 yards per game. Lynch himself is averaging 80.9 yards per game, fourth in the league.
Furthermore you can’t mention the Seahawks without mentioning their defense. Ranked number one is opponent passing yards allowing only 184.3 yards per game through the air and fifth in opponent rushing yards allowing on average 88.1 yards per game, Seattle’s defense looks as impressive as ever since the return of middle linebacker Bobby Wagner.
Wagner made his return against Arizona on November 23rd after missing five games with a toe injury. Despite the sluggish start Seattle’s defense has been clicking on all cylinders as of late. The Seahawks defense is allowing the fewest yards per game in the NFL, 272.4, and the second fewest points per game at 17.3. Additionally, they have only allowed 27 combined points their last four outings.
As it stands Seattle trails Arizona in the NFC West by one game. Having defeated the Cardinals once this season if they pull out the victory in Arizona Sunday they will hold the number one spot after trailing all year. The Cardinals will be forced to start third string quarterback Ryan Lindley after losing Drew Stanton to a knee injury last Sunday.
This game now has bigger implications for Seattle thanks to the Buffalo Bills upsetting the Green Bay Packers last Sunday as Seattle owns the tiebreaker if the two teams end with the same record. A win in Arizona Sunday and against St. Louis in the final game of the season will ensure the road to the Super Bowl once again goes through CenturyLink field and the 12th man.