Being one of two conference teams to achieve a first round playoff bye is a significant achievement. It’s a chance for guys to rest up and get healthy and get some more practice time in. And when it’s up, the team gets to host a Wild Card winner.
Yet it’s also an opportunity for teams to lose that drive to win. They don’t necessarily get altogether complacent, but their drive slackens just enough for them to possibly be surprised at home for the Divisional round.
That is something the Seattle Seahawks need to be cognizant of during this bye week. They almost choked and gave San Francisco the NFC West when they were shocked by Arizona in Week 16. Fortunately they took care of business at home against the Rams, looking more like the team the 12th man has been cheering for all season. Hopefully the Arizona game will be the surprise that usually claims top teams in the playoffs. For a recent example of what I’m talking about, think back to the 15-1 Packers getting trounced by the Giants in Lambeau. How great would it be if the Arizona game was the shock to put Seattle on the right track so as to not get surprised by a lower seed in the playoffs?
As much as I detested watching Seattle lose that game and give San Francisco a chance to steal the division, it looks like it was the kick in the pants Seattle needed. Against the Rams they played classic football, running the football and playing stout defense. Russell Wilson got back on track too, so it looks like all the pieces are back to efficient levels before the playoffs. Well, all pieces except Percy Harvin.
Harvin returned to practice this week, which was exciting news for guys like Wilson and Richard Sherman, but I’m not getting my hopes up that he’ll be playing next week. It’d be great, because a big-play guy like Harvin would greatly help Seattle’s chances of dominating. The way I see it, Seattle’s done just fine without him this season, so they’ll still be fine in the playoffs if he has to sit. On the other hand, he’d certainly be an asset to Russell Wilson and special teams.
I’m sure the fans and Seahawks themselves are restless to begin the run to the Super Bowl, but there’s no way to avoid this lull. Fans need to stay patient, and the Seahawks cannot slack off. If they lose focus, there’ll be another Arizona game on Seattle’s hands. Only this time, there won’t be a Week 17 for redemption.