Monday night was supposed to be a test for the Seattle Seahawks, as they were playing their biggest competition for the top seed in the NFC playoffs on national television. The Seahawks are rarely televised outside the Pacific Northwest, and fans everywhere wanted to see what the hype was about. Now they know. The Seahawks dominated the New Orleans Saints in every facet of the game, winning 34-7 , which is a score that is actually kind to the Saints.
From the opening kick it was clear that Seattle was capable of doing whatever it wanted, with Russell Wilson completing 22/30 passes for 310 yards and 3 TDs. He spread the ball around to nine different receivers, and the Saints could not figure out how to slow him down. The line gave him plenty of time, and Wilson used his legs to great effectiveness again, rushing 8 times for 47 yards. Wilson did this without top receiver Percy Harvin again, and things should get even better when Harvin is healthy.
Running back Marshawn Lynch was actually held in check, with 16 carries for just 45 yards. However, the Seahawks have shown the ability to be a grind it out, power team as well as one that can beat defenses through the air. Lynch has 970 yards and 9 TDs rushing this season, averaging 4.3 YPC. The Seahawks’ offense can beat you however they please, and that is very scary for potential playoff opponents.
What is even scarier, however, is the Seahawks’ defense. All the talk this week was about the suspensions of Brandon Browner and Walter Thurmond and whether or not Seattle could hold up against Drew Brees and the Saints’ passing attack. Turns out they were going to be just fine. Earl Thomas, Richard Sherman and the rest of Seattle’s stellar defense smothered the Saints, and Brees completed 23/38 passes for just 147 yards and 1 touchdown. As a team, the Saints ran the ball 17 times for just 44 yards, and they averaged a pathetic 3.4 yards per play.
To be clear, this is not to knock the Saints, who are a very good team and still probably the second best team in the NFC. This is simply to illustrate how good the Seahawks actually are. They rank 11th in total offense, 2nd in scoring offense, 1st in total defense, 2nd in scoring defense and 2nd in turnover differential. There is nothing they can’t do and nothing they aren’t good at.
Anyone who thinks that the Saints, San Francisco 49ers or Carolina Panthers can go into Seattle and get a win in the playoffs is kidding themselves. Sure anything can happen in one game, but there don’t look to be many chinks in Seattle’s armor. As for AFC contenders like the Denver Broncos, New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs, it is very hard to believe that any of those teams could beat the Seahawks, even on neutral field.
Seattle’s dominant performance last night was an eye opening display of their exceptional abilities as a team, and it made one fact abundantly clear: the Seahawks are the best team in the NFL, and it’s not even close.