It's not too early for Seahawks to think about home-field advantage

Staff writerSeptember 22, 2013 

SEAHAWKS

Seahawks wide receiver Stephen Williams celebrates with Seahawks wide receiver Sidney Rice following Rice's touchdown reception in the first half of Sunday's NFL game agains the Jacksonville Jaguars at CenturyLink Field in Seattle on Sept. 22, 2013.

TONY OVERMAN — Staff Photographer

Of the Seahawks’ undefeated record, quarterback Russell Wilson pointed out that the team still has a long way to go, but “we control our own destiny.”

Ignoring the larger existential implications of how much anyone controls “destiny,” Wilson is once again on point. The only consideration, he said, is to go 1-0 each week.

Here’s how that’s working out: Three games into the season, the Seattle Seahawks already own a two-game lead in the NFC West Division.

And of the other five NFC teams that joined the Seahawks in the playoffs after last season, three (Green Bay, San Francisco, Atlanta) are 1-2 and two (Washington, Minnesota) are 0-3.

With the 45-17 win over Jacksonville on Sunday, the Seahawks are 3-0, and although much of the conference is crumbling around them, they say it’s premature to look around at the standings or make grand presumptions.

Then I’ll do it for them. The biggest challenge the Seahawks will face this season is the two consecutive road trips, at Houston and Indianapolis, that are next on the schedule.

If they can even split the next two, they’re a threat to run the table and easily earn home-field advantage through the playoffs.

No, it’s not making too big a deal out of a win over Jacksonville, the worst team in the NFL. It’s an assessment based on a collection of cumulative factors.

1: The team has now outscored opponents by an average of 36-10 over its past seven regular-season games. The Seahawks have won 10 straight at home and have six more on this season’s docket.

2: The conference opposition is not as daunting as might have been expected. Chicago and New Orleans are the conference’s only other 3-0 teams, and the Saints have to play at CenturyLink on Dec. 2.

And after the Houston-Indy swing, the remaining five road games are against teams that now are a combined 4-11.

3: When the Hawks get to the second half of the season, they’re expecting the return of Pro Bowl receiver Percy Harvin (hip) and tackle Russell Okung (toe). And after Week 4, they’ll bring back suspended linebacker Bruce Irvin.

4: Getting off to a strong start while missing guys has the benefit of improving depth and reducing vulnerability to late injuries. This week, rush-end Chris Clemons and cornerback Brandon Browner returned from injuries.

In the absence of Clemons and Irvin, pass rushers such as Cliff Avril, O’Brien Schofield and Michael Bennett had the chance to develop. On Sunday, the Hawks capitalized in nickel situations by using all those guys to shape an effective pass rush.

Of the young Seahawks getting the chance to showcase their talents, rookie tight end Luke Willson (five catches 76 yards) said the key to quick advancement is “to try to follow the lead of the vets. You do what they do, then there’s no letdown when you get in there. It’s still Seahawks football, if you will.”

Rookie back Christine Michael left his first footsteps on an NFL field, and picked up 37 yards on nine carries. Even veteran quarterback Tarvaris Jackson showed his readiness, completing seven of eight passes for a touchdown and a 158.3 passer rating.

The show of depth was an example of how the roster has been constructed and then upgraded along the way. The best illustration? Wilson’s four-touchdown performance took him to the top of the NFC rankings in passer rating (109.6).

Across the field, the Jaguars got a nice effort from punter Bryan Anger. But remember that Jacksonville picked Anger five spots ahead of Wilson in the 2012 draft.

Those are the kind of decisions that change the course of franchises. Up or down. That’s really how a team controls its own future.

“This is where we want to be,” center Max Unger said of the 3-0 record. “We don’t go into the season thinking we’re going to win them all, but we’re in the position we wanted to be at the start of the season.”

While also offering the “it’s early” disclaimer, cornerback Richard Sherman said of the divisional lead: “We’re going to make it more. … It’s never enough.”

dave.boling@thenewstribune.com; @DaveBoling

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