The Seahawks are now past the half-way point in their 2011 season and sit at 2-6. Whether that's a surprise to you or not, I wouldn't know, but regardless, here we are.
The First Half:
The wins: The Seahawks beat Arizona 13-10 in Week 3 at the CLink. Arizona is now 2-6 after narrowly beating the Rams on Sunday. The Hawks only other win thus far came at New York, and can probably still be something to be proud of as the Giants sit in first place of the NFC East at 6-2, and just beat the Patriots in their own place. We can talk about flukes and injuries and make excuses and all that but I'll take that win.
The losses: On the other hand, the Hawks' six losses have come to some good teams, save for Cleveland. They lost to San Francisco at Candlestick in Week 1 after Ted Ginn returned a punt and a kickoff for TDs late in the game. That game is looking less terrible nowadays considering the Hawks were in it until the final four minutes or so and San Francisco now sits at 7-1. Think about how different the season might have been if the Hawks had squeaked that one out. I mean... it might be pretty similar, but it might not. Butterfly effect y'all!!
In Week 2, the Hawks were blown out by the Steelers. No one expected us to win that game and for the most part I think all Seattle fans have forgotten about it. The Steelers are 6-3, even after losing a heartbreaker to Baltimore last night, and are still probably a contender to emerge from the AFC this season.
I don't think that before the season, though it looked tough looking forward, anyone expected the first two games to be so brutal in hindsight at the mid-way point, with those teams combining now for a 13-4 record.
As I said above, the Hawks won in Week 3 then hosted Atlanta in Week 4. The Hawks nearly beat the Falcons but came up short on a 61-yard field goal attempt to end the game, losing 30-28. The Falcons are now 5-3 after winning three straight, including a victory on the road at Detroit. It wouldn't surprise me if ATL threatens New Orleans for the division title this season in a very tough NFC South.
After winning in New York in Week 5, the Seahawks have now lost three straight, coming up short against Cleveland, Cincinnati, and Dallas. Cleveland's loss stings the most I'd think, considering the defense gave up a mere six points on the road. The Browns are 3-5, with their wins this season coming so far against the Dolphins and the Colts (and the Seahawks). Not necessarily the company you want to be in at this point.
Cincinnati looks like the real deal, boasting a nigh-elite defense and a formidable offense, and after beating Matt Hasselbeck and the Tennessee Titans yesterday on the road, sit at 6-2 atop the AFC North (above Baltimore and Pittsburgh). Right now, losing to the Bengals, though frustrating, doesn't seem shameful but we'll get a better picture of just how good this Cincy team really is after they begin facing off against the Steelers and Ravens in divisional matchups.
The Cowboys now sit at 4-4 on the season and in second place in the NFC East. The Hawks overall strength of schedule thus far has been pretty tough - Seahawks opponents, at the NFL midway point, have combined for a 39-26 record (.600) and three of the Hawks eight opponents thus far are leading their divisions heading into the second half. 2-6 might seem like a terrible setback from last year's 4-4, but all things considered I can see significant improvements in a lot of areas.
First and foremost, the Seahawks are staying in games this season. Though a few of the scores this year may look lopsided, the Hawks have found themselves in games in the fourth quarter, a stark improvement over games last year when the Hawks lost badly to Denver, St. Louis, & Oakland on the road, and were blown out at home against the Giants.
In six losses this year, the Seahawks have stuck with five of those teams up until the end. Two return touchdowns doomed the Seahawks against San Fran in a game that was within two points with under four minutes remaining. The Atlanta game finished with the Seahawks kicking a field goal for the win that fell short and left. The Browns game finished with a field-goal's worth point differential. The Seahawks were within one score (20-12) against the Bengals with five minutes to go. You may think I'm reaching and that's fine, but staying in games until the end is progress in my book and as this team improves those close losses will turn into wins.
The Second Half:
If anything, the Seahawks have been a second half team this season. They face some pretty tough teams down the stretch but also have some very winnable games. The Hawks host Baltimore, travel to St. Louis, host Washington, Philly, St. Louis, then travel to the frozen tundra in Chicago week 15. They return home to host San Fran in Wk16 then finish off the year in the desert.
The Ravens are 6-2 on the year and beat the Steelers last night in their place. Yikes. On the other hand, they've lost to Jacksonville and Tennessee and went down 24-3 against the Cardinals before mounting a furious comeback victory so if anything that says they're mortal.
St. Louis has been bad this season but they also recently beat the Saints, soundly. They lost on Sunday to Arizona on a Patrick Peterson punt return touchdown in OT but I wouldn't look past this team by any means. The Seahawks aren't good enough to look past any team, really, but when we're talking divisional matchups anything can happen.
The Redskins are 3-5 right now after starting the season 3-1. They've beaten the Giants, Cardinals, and Rams but have lost to Dallas, Philly, Carolina, Buffalo and San Francisco. They're another team that plays inconsistently and I really don't think you can ever know what to expect. Shanahan loves to run, and he's now going to be leaning on Roy Helu Jr, a rookie running back, and John Beck, an inexperienced quarterback. I'm glad the Hawks will be starting their three game home-stand hosting this one, but again, not a team you can expect to get a W against.
Four days later, the Hawks will face off against the Eagles on Thursday night football and this will be a day I'll mark with a big circle on my calendar. Because it's my girlfriend's birthday. But also because it should be a fun test for this young Seahawks team. I doubt many people expect Seattle to threaten the now-clicking Eagles.
Philly sits at 3-4, with an early win against the Rams dampened by consecutive losses to Atlanta, New York, San Francisco, and Buffalo. The Eagles bounced back and have won two in a row - against Washington and Dallas, and face off against Chicago tonight.
Speaking of Chicago, there's another game to circle on the old calendar, now that it's pretty much a given divisional games don't matter much for the Seahawks. The Hawks will look to avenge last year's playoff loss at Chicago and everybody loves beating Jay Cutler and Mike Martz. It will be no easy task though against a team that sits at 4-3 and very much in the playoff hunt in their division.
The Seahawks second half opponents have a combined record of 20-35, if you count St. Louis twice. Regardless, it's looking like an easier stretch than what they faced in the first-half but a lot of things can change between now and even two weeks out.
Last year, the Seahawks went into the half-way point at 4-4 but could only manage to beat Arizona, Carolina, and St. Louis in the second half. I have no idea where they'll find wins this season, but the end of the season will be interesting more so to watch the development of the defense and the improvements on offense. It will be interesting to watch the playoff picture emerge for other teams in the hunt and the draft seeding emerge for other teams like Seattle that are decidedly not in the hunt.