With the 2010 NFL season well underway, the Seattle Seahawks are starting to emerge as the strongest team in the NFC West. Although the division may be the weakest in the NFL, that favors Seattle.
The Seahawks' upcoming game with division foe St. Louis suddenly becomes more important than it would have seemed at the beginning of the season. If the Seahawks can beat the Rams, they will likely be alone in first place with a bye week upcoming. They are currently tied with the Arizona Cardinals, who face the San Diego Chargers on Sunday.
If the Seahawks can solidify their hold on first place with a victory over their second division opponent this season.
Although the Rams are currently 1-2, they shocked the Washington Redskins on Sunday and showed they may not be a pushover after all. If the Seahawks take this game lightly, they could conceivably find themselves in a three-way tie in the NFC West with both Arizona and St. Louis.
Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck should be getting more offensive line protection in the coming weeks. Left guard Chester Pitts, who has been out over a year, has been practicing with the team and expects to be back, if not for the Rams game, after the bye week against the Chicago Bears. Rookie Russell Okung, who has been out since the preseason with an ankle sprain, may take a little longer to return. Okung practiced with the team as well, but coach Pete Carroll is taking a slower approach with him.
"We'd love to get him some playing time just to start the process of bringing him back because he just has played so little that we really can't expect too much."
Okung has had a total of five practices with the Seattle Seahawks. As a rookie Carroll can take the time bring him back slowly.
The Seahawks also shored up their receiving game by signing veteran wide receiver Brandon Stokley. The Denver Broncos released Stokley during training camp, citing a nagging groin injury Stokley had been battling.
This will reunite Stokley with Seattle offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates who was in Denver during some of Stokley's best receiving seasons. Stokley is also familiar with how Bate's runs an offense, so he should be able to contribute right away. Whether he plays against St. Louis is questionable, but depending how practice goes this week he may be available for some third down situations.
The Seahawks have a favorable schedule this year, with games against the New Orleans Saints, the Atlanta Falcons, and possibly the New York Giants being the only matchups of note outside their division. If the Seahawks can successfully reconstruct their offensive line and continue to play solid football, look for them to take the NFC West crown this year.