Nothing went right for Seattle this past weekend. Not only did they lose at home to Arizona and dropped another divisional game, the 49ers rescued their division title hopes with a late pick 6 by Navarro Bowman against the lowly Atlanta Falcons on Monday night.
So that means week 17 flipped from being a game the Seahawks could've healed up and played the back-ups for an extended period of time to a game where they probably have to win to avoid a drop from the 1 seed to the 5 seed. Yes, Arizona has a great chance to beat San Francisco, but I'm not going to rely too heavily on that.
Seattle has to beat the St. Louis Rams to win the NFC West (sound familiar?), only unlike 2010 they're starting Russell Wilson and not Charlie Whitehurst, and instead of a horrible defense they have arguably the best in the NFL. But the supposed best regular season in franchise history could end up with another wild card spot with another home loss, and more glaringly another division loss.
Pete Carroll has proven to be a very good coach for the Seahawks, but since the NFC West stopped sucking in 2011 (read: Harbaugh arrived and Arizona's defense surged), his record against divisional opponents has been average. 3-3 in 2011, 3-3 last year, and 3-2 this year with both losses coming this month with a chance to clinch the division. That makes for 9-8 over 17 games, and in all 8 of those losses they failed to score more than 20 points. Compare that to the 49ers, who are 12-4-1 vs. NFC West opposition under Harbaugh, and undefeated at home. If the division is lost this year, it'll be easy to point out that the 49ers would have finished the season with a 5-1 NFCW record compared to 3-3 for Seattle, and it will once again expose what is becoming an annual problem for the Seahawks.
Yes, divisional games are tricky regardless of venue, but it's been an overlooked sticking point in Pete Carroll's Seahawks tenure. These match-ups make up 37.5% of your entire regular season, and in the best division in football you really can't afford to fall behind too much. Arizona is learning the hard way, as they're still just 2-3 in the division and on the outside looking in.
Historically, St. Louis has been completely incapable of putting up points against Pete Carroll's Seahawks. Even in their two wins (both at the dome thingy they have) they only scored 20 and 19 respectively. In Seattle, they've literally not scored more than 13 dating back to Carroll's first year. The 2013 Rams are just 2-5 on the road and 0-5 against the NFC. Their other road divisional games ended in one-sided losses to the 49ers and Cardinals where their offense mustered a combined 23 pts. Seattle's first match-up ended 14-9 in St. Louis, and I expect the defense to step up once again. It's up to the offense to actually get going again, so on that note this is probably the most important game of Darrell Bevell's career too. The offense has been held to less than 300 yards five times this year, and four of them have been within the division (SF twice, Arizona once, St. Louis once).
Win this game, win the #1 seed, and get a much needed rest. Lose? The doubt starts to creep in even more and the season edges nearer to being a classic Seattle sports disappointment.