The Seattle Seahawks benefited immensely during their bye week, rising to first place in the NFC West by virtue of a Rams loss.
Week 5 Result: Winning the bye week
Seattle got their “best case scenario” this week: a week off when their starting quarterback is recovering from multiple injuries, and a loss by the former division leading Rams.
Next Up: At home vs the Atlanta Falcons (4-1)
There’s still a lot of football left, but this could be a preview of the NFC Championship Game. The Falcons are off to another hot start, after opening 5-0 in 2015 before falling to 8-8. At this early stage of the season, Matt Ryan is the lead horse in the NFL MVP discussion, and is on pace to break the NFL record for passing yards. Obviously there is a lot of room for skepticism given the Falcons performance late last season, but for now this looks like an outstanding matchup.
The big storyline going into the game will be the No. 1 offense in the NFL, Atlanta, vs the No. 1 defense, Seattle. Much will be made of the Richard Sherman vs Julio Jones matchup. Jones exploded with a 300 receiving yard performance two weeks ago, but followed up with only two catches for 29 yards in Week 5. Matt Ryan will not force feed Jones if coverage is good, and Atlanta has a lot of other underrated weapons in the passing game.
A bigger deciding factor in the game will be the Seahawks surging offense against a very poor Falcons defense, ranked 26th in the NFL. Seattle’s first two weeks were ugly, but the following weeks look a lot like the team that averaged 32 points per game over the back half of 2015.
The biggest headline, Russell Wilson’s health after sustaining sprains to his right ankle and left MCL, was a non-factor when the Seahawks last played. Yes, Wilson’s mobility was severely limited, rushing for -5 yards, but he demonstrated an ability to play from the pocket that made such worries irrelevant. With an extra week to get healthy, those injuries aren’t likely to make an impact moving forward. Wilson is, in fact, one of the most durable quarterback’s in the NFL, having never missed a practice or game in 4 seasons.
The Seahawks continue to test the old school football-ism that “games are won and lost in the trenches.” While their D-Line continues to win the trench battle, their O-Line is the worst in the NFL according to Pro Football Focus.
One surprising roster development this season that the Seahawks did not carry a fullback on their roster. For the last several years, the position was manned by former 49ers Will Tukuafu and Michael Robinson. This season, TE Luke Wilson has lined up in the backfield frequently, playing the role of fullback when called upon.