1 Is this the best Seahawks defense ever?
Five straight wins while allowing averages of 6.6 points and 193 yards per game suggests so. The league’s top rankings in run defense and overall defense also suggest this is the best Seattle’s ever been, even better than last season. But if the Seahawks don’t win three more games in a row to get to the Super Bowl again, how can this season’s team ultimately be better than last year’s? If they do get there, then absolutely this is the best one.
2 Will the door hit Jim Harbaugh on the way out of San Francisco?
Implausible and unacceptable that a coach who took a formerly wayward franchise to three straight NFC title games and into a Super Bowl is about to get canned simply because he doesn’t get along with the general manager and the owner. But then when I recall the same GM, Trent Baalke and owner Jed York let Ray McDonald play all season during a domestic-violence allegation and only released him during a second, sexual-assault investigation days after Seattle eliminated the 49ers from the playoffs, it fits. Harbaugh’s better off at Michigan, Oakland, the local Five Guys — anywhere but with those two guys, who will be looking at themselves in a mirror in a few days wondering what they’ve done.
3 Are the Cardinals doomed because of poor hygiene?
Throughout Ryan Lindley’s pratfall against the Seahawks last week, Arizonans were falling back on the comfort Drew Stanton would return at quarterback for the playoffs. Uh-oh. Now comes the report Stanton, while recovering with an outside medical source from a knee injury, contracted an infection that required arthroscopic surgery to eliminate this past week and thus the first fill-in for injured quarterback Carson Palmer may miss the postseason. This is an 11-4 team with an anvil dropping on its collective heads – unless Lindley in the playoffs makes the Cardinals feel any better.
4 Should the NFL not let a division winner below .500 host a playoff game?
That’s what Atlanta and Carolina are playing for today in the Georgia Dome. The winner next week hosts a wild-card team that is going to have a least four more wins than it does. But, hey, the NFL put the Buccaneers, Saints, Falcons and Panthers together. And no one in Seattle needs to gripe. Four seasons ago the 7-9 Seahawks were the league’s first sub.-500 division winner and hosted New Orleans, the defending Super Bowl champions, in the first playoff game. “BeastQuake 1” would never had happened without this rule, so hold your tongues now, eh?
5 Who is going to be New England’s biggest threat in the AFC playoffs?
Yes, blog readers will know I’m biased, but it’s Pittsburgh. Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell make the Steelers the first team ever with a 4,500-yard passer, a 1,500-yard receiver and a 1,300-yard rusher. Roethlisberger has 36 touchdowns against eight interceptions for the league’s highest-rated offense. If Pittsburgh’s previously creaky, now-streaky defense stays at least warm, the Steelers have more weapons than Denver does to bring down the Tom Bradys.