Seattle is still clinging to some slim playoff hopes as they take the field tonight for a home game with St. Louis. The Seahawks are 5-7, and with both NFC wild-card spots currently held down by 8-5 teams (Atlanta & Detroit), its possible 9-7 will enable a team to sneak in. That storyline is the only thing that makes tonight’s game even remotely tolerable.
The Rams had their moment in the sun back in October when they shocked New Orleans, but beyond that a win over Cleveland is all they have to show. And it’s looking like third-string quarterback Tom Branstetter will get the call tonight at Qwest Field. Ideally St. Louis would look to run the ball behind Stephen Jackson and get the pressure off the backup. And I’m sure they will try and do that, but stopping the run is the one area where Pete Carroll’s defense does pretty well. I look for Seattle to take away Jackson, force Branstetter to throw and then it’s going to get ugly in an environment that’s as loud as any in the NFL. Defensive end Chris Clemons will tee off and I expect the Seahawks to get 4-5 takeaways tonight.
Before dismissing the possibility of the Seahawks making it to 9-7, consider their remaining schedule. They’ve got a tough road game in Chicago, but we’ve seen with Jay Cutler on the sideline how beatable the Bears have become—come on, Kansas City just won in Soldier Field and they fired their coach a week later. After that it’s San Francisco at home, and if the Cardinals can stop the run and pressure the passer in order to get a win over the 49ers, then why can’t the Seahawks? The season then ends with a road battle at Arizona, another team who’s currently 6-7 and trying to play their way in. All it takes is just one of the Falcons/Lions duo to lose two of the next three, and that season finale Seattle-Arizona game could suddenly have some playoff meaning. The odds are still strongly against it, but there’s just enough of a possibility that I’ll tune into this game tonight.