With five division games remaining, Seattle still has math on its side. But history works against the Seahawks, who wouldn’t be a playoff team if the season ended today.
With their series of fourth-down failures Sunday in Kansas City, the Seahawks have placed themselves in an almost – but not quite – unique (also dire) position among defending Super Bowl champions. More on that tickler later.
First, at 6-4, the Seahawks stand three games behind the Arizona Cardinals (9-1) in the NFC West.
Since the Seahawks will confront the Cardinals twice in the season’s remaining weeks, including Sunday at CenturyLink Field (1:05 p.m. on FOX), and also face 6-4 San Francisco twice (as well as Philadelphia and St. Louis), they mathematically still have an opportunity to win the division, or position themselves for a playoff run.
Good luck with that. Arizona has reeled off six wins in a row. After starting 4-4, the 49ers have won two in a row. Seattle has to face the Eagles in Philadelphia. St. Louis has already defeated Seattle and Sunday held Peyton Manning and the Broncos to a touchdown in a 22-7 win. If the playoffs started today, the Seahawks would be preparing for next spring’s draft.
On the other hand, if the Seahawks win out, they will finish 12-4, a game worse than their 13-3 mark last year, which was good enough to edge the 49ers (12-4) in the NFC West race. A 12-4 record might be good enough to win the division this year.
But while the math still adds up for the Seahawks, they are in no condition either in terms of talent or health to make much hay over the final six weeks. History also trumps their chances.
Since 2002, when the Seahawks moved from the AFC West to the NFC West, there have been 96 division races spread across both conferences. The leaders entering Week 11 (Arizona in the NFC West), have gone on to win division championships 86 times – 89.5 percent. So scratch any home-field advantage, even if the Seahawks reach the postseason.
Ominously for this year’s Seahawks, every NFC West team since 2002 that led at the Week 11 mark went on to claim the division title, including six editions of the Seahawks: 2004 (6-4 at Week 11 to a 9-7 finish), 2005 (8-2 to 13-3), 2006 (6-4 to 9-7), 2007 (6-4 to 10-6), 2010 (5-5 to 7-9), 2013 (9-1 to 13-3).
The following (out of 96) division races were the exceptions, where the leader entering Week 11 failed to hold first place:
|2002||AFC East||Mia 6-4||NYJ 9-7||Miami missed; Jets lost divisional round|
|2002||AFC West||Den 7-3||Oak 11-5||Broncos missed; Oakland lost SB|
|2003||NFC North||Minn 6-4||GB 10-6||Vikings missed; Pack lost division round|
|2006||NFC East||Dal 6-4||Phil 10-6||Dallas lost WC; Eagles lost div. round|
|2008||AFC East||NYJ 7-3||Mia 11-5||Jets missed; Dolphins lost WC round|
|2008||AFC West||Den 6-4||SD 8-8||Broncos missed; SD lost div. round|
|2011||AFC West||Oak 6-4||Den 8-8||Raiders missed; Denver lost div. round|
|2012||NFC East||NYG 6-4||Wash 10-6||Giants missed; Redskins lost WC|
|2013||NFC North||Chic 6-4`||GB 8-7-1||Bears missed; Packers lost WC|
|2013||NFC South||NO 8-2||Car 12-4||NO and Car both lost in division round|
With five division games remaining, the Seahawks could, if healthy, join the list. But . . . no team that trailed a division leader by as many as three games entering Week 11 rebounded to finish in the first place.
In fact, only two – 2008 San Diego Chargers (AFC West) and 2012 Washington Redskins (NFC East) – even made up a two-game deficit to win a division race. The Chargers lost in the divisional round of the playoffs, and the Redskins were bounced by the Seahawks in the NFC wild card game.
Seattle’s 6-4 record can also be viewed through this nutshell:
To paraphrase Lloyd McClendon: No ice cream for the Seahawks this year.
Good news, bad news
The good: By rushing for 204 yards at Kansas City Sunday, as an encore to their 350 last week against the New York Giants, the Seahawks matched the franchise record for consecutive 200-yard team rushing games, done twice previously.
Seattle further matched the club mark for most total rushing yards in those games with 554, also the Seahawks’ total in games Dec. 9 and Dec. 16, 2012. A minimum of 200 yards rushing in consecutive games:
|1993||Dec. 19||AZ||212||L 30-27||C. Warren 168, R. Mirer 18|
|1993||Dec. 26||Pitt||267||W 16-6||J. Vaughn 131, J. Williams 86|
|2012||Dec. 9||AZ||284||W 58-0||M. Lynch 128, R. Turbin 108|
|2012||Dec. 16||Buff||270||W 50-17||M. Lynch 113, R. Wilson 92|
|2014||Nov. 9||NYG||350||W 38-17||M. Lynch 140, R. Wilson 107|
|2014||Nov. 16||KC||204||L 24-20||M. Lynch 124, R. Wilson 71|
The bad: In their history, the Seahawks have rushed for 200 or more yards in a game 44 times. Only five times, including Sunday, did they fail to win. Two of the five defeats, Dec. 19, 1993 vs Arizona (30-27), and Oct. 29, 1995, also vs. the Cardinals (20-14), came in overtime.
Prior to Sunday, according to Elias Sports Bureau, a defending Super Bowl champion gained 200 or more rushing yards in a game 95 times. The Seahawks not only became the 96th, but the first since the 1985 San Francisco 49ers to lose such a game. That 49ers team actually lost two that year, including a 28-21 loss to Minnesota (49ers rushed for 217 yards), whose defensive backs were coached by Pete Carroll.
KC’s Charles joins all-opponent team
Aside from their three fourth-quarter flops on fourth down, the Seahawks lost Sunday because they couldn’t contain Jamaal Charles, who ran for 159 yards and Kansas City’s first two touchdowns.
Charles ran for 173 yards and a TD in a 42-24 victory over the Seahawks Nov. 8, 2010, and is now one of three opposing backs with two games of 150 or more rushing yards against Seattle. Denver’s Terrell Davis had a pair in 1998, and San Francisco’s Frank Gore exceeded 200 yards in 2006 and 2009.