Forget the fact that the Seahawks’ 16-6 playoff-clinching prime-time victory over the disappointing Rams will deprive them of a top-10 selection in the 2011 draft. By beating up on the Rams Sunday evening, Seattle went from being guaranteed the eighth overall pick in the draft to no better than the 21st overall pick, leading some skeptics to declare that the team would have been much better off if its season would have ended once and for all last night.
But to many observers’ amazement, the future is nothing but now for the first postseason participant in league history with a losing record, following a win due primarily to a sterling defensive effort that made Rams Rookie of the Year candidate Sam Bradford look like a deer in the lights of a noisy Qwest Field.
Most teams will normally win handily when holding an opponent to a mere 184 yards and only 2-of-14 third-down conversions, which is what the Seahawks did to the Rams Sunday evening. But nothing has come easy for a Seattle team that at times this season has flat-out looked like the worst team in the league, getting outscored by a whopping 97 points.
The early betting line for their home playoff game this Saturday against the defending Super Bowl champion Saints that will usher in the 2010 NFL “second season” pegged the Seahawks as 10-point underdogs, even though the Hawks will be enjoying a home-field advantage.
The linemakers have placed the odds of Seattle winning the Super Bowl at 125-1, setting the stage for what will go down as one of the biggest playoff upsets ever if they can somehow ambush the Saints in a rematch of New Orleans’ 34-19 victory in Week 11.
The PFW spin
Is it possible that the Seahawks could actually surprise the Saints this Saturday? Absolutely. It’s also possible that I will win a million-dollar lottery — I actually once did find four $100 bills lying on the ground in the parking lot of the Dominick’s down the street from my house — and, miracle of all miracles, the Cubs will win the World Series in my lifetime.
Seriously, the perfect storm could indeed result in an upset for the ages. But for starters, the Seahawks would have to make a firm commitment, one would think, to veteran Matt Hasselbeck as the starting QB this Saturday over Charlie Whitehurst, who turned in a very serviceable winning effort against the Rams but not serviceable enough to deserve a second straight start.
Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll will probably take his sweet time making a final decision on his starting QB, but it’s very much worth noting that Haseelbeck gave a Saints pass defense that has been among the best in the league this season its biggest headache of the year in Week 11. torching it for 366 yards, which is 53 more yards than the second-highest total it has surrendered this season. Obviously, if Hasselbeck’s hip is still really hurting him, it would be a different story. But unless he needs crutches to walk, he needs to be under center to give the Seahawks any chance at all against the Saints.
It wouldn’t hurt, meanwhile, if the numerous Saints players that are nursing wounds at the moment remain at far less than full strength. Included on the list of key injured Saints players are WR Marques Colston (knee), RBs Pierre Thomas (ankle) and Chris Ivory (foot), TEs Jimmy Graham (ankle) and Jeremy Shockey (groin) and, on the other side of the ball, FS Malcolm Jenkins (knee).
It’s also worth pointing out that Saints Pro Bowl QB Drew Brees has been uncharacteristically sloppy the last two weeks, although Seattle’s Swiss-cheese secondary has to have him licking his chops.
In spite of all of these very faint reasons for optimism, however, it’s really, really hard to imagine the Seahawks’ season extending beyond next Saturday.