In a 16 game season, every game is important. I could write it every Sunday for the rest of the season and probably be right. This game is important and this following game is important and, well, this interdivision matchup for first place is definitely important. And a month from now, when Seattle travels to Glendale to face the Cardinals in a rematch, that will be a very important game. I won't even have to Flavor Flav it.
But this game probably isn't that important, at least not for this season. The Seahawks could lose by 40 points today and still wrestle first place from the Cardinals next week at Qwest. The 2006 Seahawks, the last Seahawks team to back into a playoff spot, traveled to Chicago and lost 37-6. That loss didn't keep Seattle out of the playoffs. It didn't keep Seattle from taking the Super Bowl bound Bears to overtime in the Divisional Round. Many have penciled this in as a loss, and if Seattle loses, no whoop, it's just one loss to a team that's sure to suffer its share. Seattle will win the West by beating NFC West teams. Or lose it. And if it wins the West, today's game will not matter, will not matter even if it anticipates a rematch.
The Seahawks have built in excuses, modest expectations and a easy path to a playoff birth. Why roll out of bed for this blood bath?
Probably no good reason.
This isn't a must win. This isn't a particularly significant contest. Lose, make the playoffs, miss the playoffs, and today's outcome will not matter much to the Seahawks next contender. All the stakes are symbolic this week.
This week is about achieving a winning record.
This week is about winning on the road against a fringe contender, or at least, like those 2001 and 2002 Holmgren era teams that were good before they were successful, this game is about playing tough on the road against a fringe contender.
This week is about evidence that this team is improving, that talent was shipped off for a greater long term gain, that Pete Carroll and John Schneider can take a 5-11 team that underperformed a 4-12 team and make it better. Maybe that means Chris Clemons rains sacks off the weak side, or Earl Thomas shuts down the deep passing attack, or Marshawn Lynch attacks the Bears aggressive and banged up linebacker corps and revives the run game. Whatever the components of the performance, it means Carroll, Schneider, the talent bearing their stamp, the coaches they hired or retained, give us hope for better Sundays to come.
But I'd settle for meaningful second half football. It's been nearly two years since Seattle played an out of division game on the road that wasn't over before the end of the third quarter. I can only pencil in so many road losses before there's a kind of morbid certainty about the process. I'd settle for something unexpected.