Going into the NFL playoffs the Seattle Seahawks were labeled as undeserving, under-achieving, and most often, under .500.
After becoming the first team with a losing record to make the playoffs, winning their division clinching the NFC West crown by defeating the St. Louis Rams the final week of the regular season, almost immediately critics were calling for a change to the playoff format. A 7-9 team hosting a playoff game? Nonetheless against the defending Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints? There was no way in many analysts and fans minds that Seattle could even give the Saints a battle. Boy, did the city of Seattle and their “12th man” prove them wrong.
I am proud to say I am one of the few who took Seattle over New Orleans last weekend. While I received plenty of criticism leading up to the game, I saw something in the Seahawks I didn’t see in the Saints; a team playing with nothing to lose.
With the playoff format change supporters temporarily silenced after Saturday’s game, if the Chicago Bears blow out the Seahawks this weekend, the ranting will be ear-deafening. But I don’t see that happening. Why? Just like last week, Seattle is playing with nothing to lose. They should really have all the confidence in the world. They have now won back-to-back games for only the second time all season. The season finale against the Rams was basically a playoff game, and so the Seahawks are playing their best with their backs up against the wall.
Veteran Seattle quarterback Matt Hasselbeck had one of his best performances in his career last week throwing four touchdown passes after only throwing 12 throughout the regular season. He is a seasoned player who has plenty of experience in big games and has been the leader of this franchise for the past decade. When the Seahawks beat the Bears in Chicago back in week six by a score of 23-20 (something that pundits conveniently forget), Hasselbeck went 25-of-40 for 242 yards with a touchdown. Not anything to drool over, but to limit your mistakes and not turn the ball over against a stellar Chicago defense is all your team can ask for and enough to win the game.
The key to this game for the Seahawks besides limiting penalties and turnovers, will be ball control. If they can keep the Bears defense on the field and sustain drives like they did against New Orleans, Seattle will win this game. Marshawn Lynch will need to be ready for another big performance as well. If Lynch can keep Brian Urlacher and company on their toes, Hasselbeck will eat them up with the play-action pass just as they did against the Saints.
I know what you’re thinking. 'This guy is crazy, does he actually believe Seattle can beat Chicago?' Yes I do. And I am not counting them out of the Super Bowl either. This has the makings of a Cinderella Story, and Matt Hasselbeck and the Seattle Seahawks will be trying on the glass slipper this Sunday. - Andrew Erickson
Andrew writes for EE Sports World and is a coach for the 2010 State Champion Emery South Dakota High School football. He’s been on the air at KMT Radio in Mitchell, SD since 2007 and also runs and maintains the Highs School team website.
You may email Andrew directly @ firstname.lastname@example.org
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