Offensive change, hard-charging Lynch spur Seahawks' streak
They started the season 2-6. But a big change in offense and the explosive play of running back Marshawn Lynch have the Seahawks looking at a possible playoff berth.
A change for the better
KPLU sports commentator Art Thiel credits the Seahawks for making a dramatic change to their offense in the middle of the season, after losing six of their first eight games. They're now 6-7 after winning four of their last five games.
In a column for Sportspress Northwest, Art describes how the Seahawks switched from an up-tempo, no-huddle offense that had stopped working for quarterback Tavaris Jackson to a running game featuring the powerful Lynch.
It's put less pressure on a young offensive line that's been plagued by injuries.
"The running game is a much easier thing to block than the passing game. And they're getting so good at it that opponent defenses know it's coming and still can't stop it. And then when they do stop it, the Seahawks have developed enough of a safe and secure passing game that Jackson's throws are much less prone to interception."
Marshawn Lynch an 'inspiration'
The key to all of this is Marshawn Lynch. Art describes him as "hard-hitting, edgy and an inspirational runner."
He's now tied former Seahawks running back Shaun Alexander's team record of nine consecutive games with a touchdown. And Art says Lynch is approaching a 1,000-yard rushing season, which the Seahawks haven't had since 2006 with Alexander.
"The team has just embraced Marshawn's work ethic - to the point where they're making a lot of extra effort on his behalf. He's pounding, pounding, pounding. Breaking the first tackles. Getting downfield. And the players love it. They want to go downfield and block for him when they see a guy working that hard."
Hawks playoff bound again?
The Seahawks have three more games this season. Art says they need to win them all to have their best shot at the playoffs. He thinks they have a good chance of beating Chicago on Sunday. The Bears are 7-6 and are expected to be without their starting quarterback and running back.
Art says the big test will be on Christmas Eve when the Seahawks take on the San Francisco 49ers, who lead the NFC West with a record of 10-3. The Seahawks end the season on New Year's Day in a game against Arizona that Art says they could win.
It's all in the numbers
Art says the Hawks may not make it to the playoffs even if they win all of their remaining games. That would make them 9-7. The irony is the Hawks went to the playoffs last year at 7-9 - the first team to make the post-season with a losing record.
Even if they don't make it to the playoffs, Art says the Hawks have made great strides.
"I would've never imagined this drama being part of December. I predicted that they were going to be 5-11. They've already got a sixth win. So, they are exceeding my expectations and I think most people and also playing a brand of ball that has a big future, I think, for the Seahawks."