The NFL reaches the halfway mark later today when the first 1:05 p.m. game wraps up. Given that the 49ers are on a bye, I spoke with the other three NFC West blogs to get their thoughts on the current status of their team. We have our own impressions of the opposition, but it helps to get their perspective as well.
We're starting things off with the division-leading Seattle Seahawks. They stand 7-1, with three straight wins under their belt. They are coming off their "worst" win of the season, a game in which they edged out the St. Louis Rams 14-9. There are no bad wins, but the Seahawks looked fairly abysmal in getting the victory. The defense looked fine against the pass, but other than that, the Seahawks couldn't do much of anything.
And yet, they remain the team to beat in the NFC West. The 49ers schedule puts them in a position to win the division, but they will have to beat Seattle (among others) to do so. This isn't a shocking revelation, but given some of the Seahawks recent inconsistencies, some might think they are not as good as they actually are.
I spoke with Danny Kelly from Field Gulls to get a few quick thoughts on the Seahawks. He provided a quick look at the good, the bad and looking ahead.
The defense. Seattle's defense has performed well thus far this season, from the defensive line, to the linebacking corps, to the defensive secondary. Seattle has the top-ranked defense per Football Outsiders DVOA and are currently third in opposing points per game at 15.6, third in the NFL in sacks with 26.0, and tied for first with 13 interceptions. If Seattle can stay healthy on defense and continue to rotate their depth players in to keep starters fresh, they'll be setting themselves up well for a run in the second half of the year.
The offensive line has really struggled with injuries to both tackles - LT Russell Okung is still a few weeks away and RT Breno Giacomini's status is up in the air - and as a result, rushing effectiveness and pass protection has been down. In fact, Seattle's pass protection has been among the league's worst. Russell Wilson has had little time in the pocket to set and throw, and has been forced to improvise and scramble way too often. It's really affected the efficiency and rhythm of the offense, and that definitely showed up last week against the Rams as they could only manage 135 yards.
Seattle will need to clean some things up on the offensive line if they hope to grab a playoff berth and go anywhere once they've done that. If Wilson is continually harassed and hit so often for the rest of the year, things could begin to spiral out of control. That said, with Russell Okung returning and Percy Harvin getting closer to making his debut, things could begin to look a little better on that side of the ball. Overall, Seattle has set themselves up well for the 2nd half at 7-1, but things don't get any easier as they try to hold on to their slim lead in the West.