Alas friends, we have finally made it.... we have reached the final week of the 2015 regular season. After clinching a playoff spot in week 15, the Seahawks still have at least two more football games to play. Depending on the outcome of Seattle and Arizona and the Minnesota-Green Bay matchup on Sunday night, the Hawks will be competing for the #5 or #6 seed. Upon the conclusion of Sunday Night Football, the Seahawks will know exactly which team they're playing in the wild card round.
Here's a helpful little playoff graphic the Seahawks put together for us:
Without further ado, let's dive in - here are three things to watch!
Last week, Okung was out with a calf injury against the Rams -- and his absence showed. The Seahawks' offensive line struggled throughout the entire game -- letting Russell Wilson get hit a total of 17 times. That's too much. Yes, the Rams' defensive line is one of the best in the league and Arizona doesn't boast the same level of play at that position -- but that was concerning. Arizona possesses a strong and physical defense, and if the Seahawks want to do any offensive damage, it'll have to start up front.
If Okung doesn't start, the performance of his replacement in pass protection and run blocking, will be key. Alvin Bailey is most likely to get the nod if Okung can't go.
I don't typically highlight opposing quarterbacks, as they're an obvious watch, but Palmer has just been ridiculous this year. With a strong case for the MVP, Palmer is ranked #1 in both DVOA and DYAR for the quarterback position by Football Outsiders. Palmer also leads the league in YPA at 8.87 coupled with a 64.45% completion percentage. The Seattle defense will have to contain him to give Russell and the offense a shot to win this game.
The Pass Rush
Not really discussed much from last week was the absence of any pressure whatsoever on Case Keenum. The Seahawks' pass rush was nonexistent. Kris Richards will have to dial up some blitzes and unique plays in order to put the pressure on Palmer and the Cardinals' offense if that issue persists. The Cardinals have many weapons on offense -- and if Seattle wants a chance, they'll need make Carson Palmer uncomfortable.