Now that week seven is complete, all four NFC West teams have made it through their respective bye week and played six games. While we are not at the official halfway point of the season, now seems as good a time as any to assess where the rest of the division stands.
The NFC West has become the 49ers division to lose as their five wins are more than the rest of the division combined (3). While they are heavy favorites to win the NFC West, their three divisional opponents remain somewhat dangerous. The 49ers do not play their remaining five divisional games until the final seven weeks of the season. Much can still change between now and then for these teams. Furthermore, even if the 49ers roll to the division title, those divisional games could prove extraordinarily valuable if the team is playing for positioning.
The Seattle Seahawks are a tough team to pin down. They sit at 2-4 following an indescribably ugly 6-3 loss on the road against the Cleveland Browns. This came two weeks after they rolled into the Meadowlands and handled their business with the New York Giants, winning 36-25. The win was highlighted by strong performances from Charlie Whitehurst, Marshawn Lynch and rookie Doug Baldwin.
The Seahawks did not see quite such a performance this past Sunday. Against the Browns, Charlie Whitehurst was 12 of 30 for 97 yards and an interception, Marshawn Lynch was a late scratch moments before the game due to back spasms, and the Seahawks receivers really didn't have an opportunity to get going. The defense contained the Browns, but I'm not sure we can really take a whole lot from that.
This season, the highlight of the season has been a solid rushing defense. Football Outsiders ranks them third in the NFL in rush defense. Of course, FO also ranks them 27th in pass defense, so there is only so much value to be gained from that.
They've given up a fair number of rush yards, but much of that has come because opposing teams were running out the clock. The rushing defense efficiency is what has been solid. They did a good job containing Frank Gore in the opener, but given the development of the 49ers rushing attack in recent weeks, it will be interesting to see how the 49ers do rushing the ball against this defense in week 16.
The Seahawks offense has actually shown a bit of life from time to time (prior to the Cleveland game), particularly in slowly developing some kind of passing attack. Tarvaris Jackson has actually been a moderately decent quarterback at times. He has not shown any consistency but he has quietly developed into a semi-dangerous threat on the field. He missed Sunday's game with a pectoral issue but could be back for next week's game against the Bengals.
As the Seahawks look ahead to the rest of their schedule, they have their work cut out for them:
Week 8 - vs. Cincinnati
Week 9 - @ Dallas
Week 10 - vs. Baltimore
Week 11 - @ St. Louis
Week 12 - vs. Washington
Week 13 - vs. Philadelphia
Week 14 - vs. St. Louis
Week 15 - @ Chicago
Week 16 - vs. San Francisco
Week 17 - @ Arizona
If they lose to the Bengals and the 49ers beat the Browns, the Seahawks drop to four games back only halfway through the season. Their schedule does not give them a whole lot of wiggle room unless they have some kind of offensive break through.
The Seahawks have had arguably two significant "high points" if you will. The win over the New York Giants improved them to 2-3 and had them on the verge of climbing back into some kind of contention. Prior to that, in week one they were at one point within two points of the 49ers in the fourth quarter. In both instances they lost all positive momentum. The 49ers blew them up with a pair of Ted Ginn touchdown returns and they followed up their Giants victory with that stinker against Cleveland.
I was going to simply say they are an inconsistent team, but in reality, they are probably somewhere below that. They are decent at times, but more often they are bad. That seems to be the simplest way of describing the 2011 Seattle Seahawks.