Are the surging Seahawks the best team in the NFL?
"Who has been playing better than us the last few weeks?" the Seahawks defensive end asked following yet another blowout victory.
If, after watching the Seahawks thump the San Francisco 49ers 42-13 Sunday night, the only answer you can come up with is, nobody, you just might be right.
Yes, as crazy as it would have sounded to suggest this a few weeks ago, the Seattle Seahawks, who clinched a playoff berth with the victory, look like they are the best team in the NFL right now.
"We've come a long way, we really have," said Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll. "We have come along way in the course of the season."
So you weren't impressed by a 58-0 win over the lowly Arizona Cardinals. Or maybe beating up on Buffalo in a quasi-road game didn't sell you on Seattle's greatness. But there is no denying what Seattle did to San Francisco on Sunday. A week after the 49ers went to New England and knocked off the Patriots, who previously were the hot team everyone was calling the best in the league, the 49ers have to fly home wearing their worst loss in two seasons under head coach Jim Harbaugh.
Since an impressive overtime victory in Chicago, the Seahawks have outscored their opponents 150-30. That just doesn't happen in the NFL, no matter the opposition.
"Anybody we play, when we go into the game and we're right, and we play offense, defense and special teams, this is what we expect," Bryant said. "Not trying to be cocky, but we work hard, extremely hard. We prepare just as hard as anybody in this league, and we're on our stuff, this is the outcome you get, so I'm not surprised. ... This is the National Football League, and you don't get no gimmes. It's hard to win."
The reason Seahawks have good reason to be excited about this team isn't just that they've thumped three straight opponents and won six of their last seven, it's that they are and incredibly balanced, complete team. Early in the season, it looked like the defense was going to have to carry the Seahawks, but the steady improvement of rookie quarterback Russell Wilson and the offense and the continually strong play of the defense as special teams gives Seattle the potential to be incredibly dangerous in the playoffs.
"We knew we were capable of doing this," Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin said. "We had no doubt. Even in Week 1, we knew we had the talent to do what we're doing now. It took time because we're a young team. We had mature, we had to grow together, grow that trust out there on the field. That was the most important thing."
And there's the really scary part about this. As Baldwin points out, this team is young; the players are still maturing, still learning how to play together. The 2005 Seahawks are the best team in franchise history, but this one is closing the gap every week, and it is no longer crazy to wonder if they can go just as far as that team.
"We feel good, but it's just one step toward our ultimate goal, which is holding up the Lombardi trophy at the end of the season," Baldwin said.
Lombardi Trophy? Sure, why not dream big. The Seahawks are, after all, playing like the best team in the NFL these days.
Or are you going to be the one to tell Big Red Bryant he's wrong?
Herald Writer John Boyle: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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