Now that the Seattle Seahawks have clinched the NFC West division title, their fourth straight, and secured a spot in the playoffs, they must look ahead to what they do in their remaining three games.
It would be extremely difficult for the
Seahawks, currently with the No. 3 seed, to get the second seed in the conference.
That spot is owned by Green Bay, Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren's former team.
For the Seahawks to get the second seed and a first-round bye in the playoffs,
they would have to win their three remaining games -- not an impossibility
given they play Carolina, Baltimore and Atlanta -- and the Packers would have
to lose two of their remaining three, which would be difficult since they
play St. Louis, Chicago and Detroit.
Regardless of the chances, Holmgren said, he is not going to allow his team
to take its foot off of the gas pedal. It may behoove them to rest some of
their players, or at least prevent some of them, like quarterback Matt Hasselbeck,
from getting injured.
But that is not the tack that Holmgren is going to take, not after searching
for so long this season for something that works.
"We have three games left in the regular season, two on the road,"
Holmgren said. "We have to finish the regular season strong. I think
we have built up something, and we are building on something that we established
halfway through the season, and now we must continue to keep doing that."
Five weeks ago, the Seahawks were a middling .500 team without a true identity
and wondering where they were headed because the formula that had been successful
in the past was not working.
Then Holmgren switched his focus to the pass, the offense began to click and
has only gotten better, evidenced by Hasselbeck's 22-for-33, 282-yard, four-touchdown
performance against the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday.
With a five-game win streak, Holmgren does not want to fix what is not broken,
even if that means the possibility of somebody getting injured.
The season is reminiscent of 2005, when the Seahawks went to the Super Bowl.
That year, they started out 2-2, then reeled off 11 consecutive victories
before losing a meaningless season finale. It was a springboard for their
run to Detroit.
Holmgren would like to repeat that formula, though he is still tweaking an
offense that is not yet set in the backfield. Last week in Philadelphia, Shaun Alexander returned for the first time in three weeks and got the bulk of the
carries. Against Arizona, Alexander got just 10 carries while Maurice Morris
garnered 13, though Alexander was the leading rusher on the strength of a
25-yard jaunt, his longest of the season.
Though Sunday's victory was dominating, there are other things Holmgren would
like to see fixed, and he will use these final three games to work on them.
The offensive line still is having mix-ups, to the point that Holmgren had
to meet with them on the sideline during games. The kicking is, as Holmgren
said, "an adventure," with Ryan Plackemeier getting off a 21-yard
punt and an extra point botched. And they need the run game to be more consistent
late in games, when they are trying to ice the outcome.
--DE Patrick Kerney had his third three-sack game of the season and now leads
the NFL with 13.5 sacks, 10 of which have come in the last five games.
--CB Marcus Trufant had three interceptions, including one for a touchdown,
and now is second in the NFL in interceptions, behind only San Diego's Antonio Cromartie.
--Newly-acquired RB Josh Scobey had a safety in his first game.
--FB Leonard Weaver's 46-yard reception on a screen pass was a career long.
--QB Matt Hasselbeck's 131.6 passer rating was the fourth-highest of his career.
--WR Bobby Engram had 55 receiving yards, allowing him to move into fifth
place all-time in franchise history, ahead of John L. Williams.