If this was Chip Kelly’s final game as head coach of the San Francisco 49ers, he went out with something positive to add to his resume. Though the Seattle Seahawks won 25-23, they trailed the 49ers 14-3 early and struggled to put together touchdown drives, resulting in a cavalcade of field goals and continued frustration for fans who expected this to be their best season since 2013. The defense also allowed a few more explosive plays without Earl Thomas, resulting in a decent performance by San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
That being said, the Seahawks are 10-5-1 and will be the three seed in the NFC playoffs (at this time the Saints need a miracle to win). Seattle will begin postseason play next weekend against the loser of the Lions-Packers game.
On offense, Russell Wilson had an okay game, finishing 19-of-32 for 258 yards and a touchdown. He finishes the season with a franchise record 4,219 passing yards, as well as 21 touchdowns with 11 interceptions. Doug Baldwin finished with over 1,100 yards (career-high) while Jimmy Graham went over 900 yards, a franchise record for tight ends. But there was no running game to speak of on Sunday, with Alex Collins leading the way with 55 yards, 26 of which came on a single play. He looked good overall.
On defense, there were a few highlights, including Frank Clark’s 10th sack of the season. The second-year defensive end also had a forced fumble and a long fumble recovery. Bobby Wagner, the NFL’s leading tackler, had 11 tackles and two sacks. Ahtyba Rubin had the big forced fumble that was recovered by Clark.
Fans may have expected more going into the year and certainly Seattle looks like a team that could struggle against the Dallas Cowboys, Atlanta Falcons, and Green Bay Packers with the way they’re playing, maybe also the Detroit Lions and New York Giants, but they are going to the playoffs. And 20 teams aren’t. Some of the teams that are will be starting Tom Savage, Connor Cook, or possibly Matt Moore at quarterback. Of the 11 teams that make the playoffs and don’t win the Super Bowl, most of them won’t have won a Super Bowl within the last few years. The Arizona Cardinals aren’t going to the playoffs, have never won a Super Bowl, and their franchise running back suffered a serious knee injury on Sunday. The Carolina Panthers aren’t going to the playoffs and it’s possible they blew their best opportunity to win a Super Bowl with Cam Newton. The Denver Broncos aren’t going to the playoffs and they’re still searching for a quarterback to build around. The 49ers and LA Rams aren’t going to the playoffs and could be starting from scratch, leaving the NFC West open as a revolving door for Seattle to get into the postseason for the next few years. The San Diego Chargers aren’t going to the playoffs and fans in San Diego probably realize they’ve seen the last of their team, barring a two-hour car ride north.
Seattle is going to the playoffs. They’ve won 10+ games in five straight seasons, something they’ve never done before. They get at least one more game. It will be at home. And then whenever their season ends, an aggressive front office will probably start making big moves to solve what went wrong this year. There are probably four teams in the postseason who I’d really have a hard time picking the Seahawks to beat. They might only face two of those teams. They need two upsets. But either way, it’s January, 2017 and Seattle still has a chance.
I’ll take that chance. So would the 20 teams not going to the playoffs.