If the NFC appears to be crumbling a bit from the competition as the season goes on, consider it a positive for the Seattle Seahawks.
Maybe they got their crumbling out of the way already.
Losses can be lessons just as wins can be guideposts, and the Seahawks appeared to learn about themselves in the past two months of reasonably explainable losses and unimposing wins.
The four teams that defeated them (two in overtime) at the midpoint are a combined 25-4. That suggests Seattle can compete with the best.
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The teams they beat are a meager 7-23. That suggests, at the least, they take care of business when they have to, but also be threatened by some of the lesser clubs.
So don’t schedule any parades yet. The first half of this season amounted to staying close enough that nothing yet can be ruled out.
That’s especially true in the NFC this season. Six of the 16 teams have records above .500. Those six have played a total of 44 games thus far. Combined, they have just two wins over teams that currently have winning records.
Green Bay beat the Rams and the Rams beat the Cardinals.
The reality in the NFC is that decent teams are going to have to start proving they can beat other decent teams.
So as a team that tends to perform best after midterms, with five of the eight games at home, the Seahawks can still contend, especially if they get some help from other conference teams who might end up slipping back toward them.
It all makes next Sunday’s game against Arizona at CenturyLink Field the most important of the season.
A Seattle win leaves the Seahawks just a game back in the loss column and would at least briefly forestall the growing sentiment that the Cardinals are the new divisional big shot.
The Cardinals lead the division with six wins, but they’ve come over teams with a combined 13-35 record. They’ve lost to the Rams (at home) and to the Steelers (without starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger).
And, the Cardinals’ schedule shows they’ve yet to play Cincinnati and Green Bay — a pair of teams that already put losses on the Seahawks’ record.
Seattle’s opponents the rest of the way, including the pair of games with Arizona, are 31-32. Arizona’s remaining opponents are 36-24. The way should be easier, then, for the Seahawks.
St. Louis leads the Hawks in the division standings, too, at 4-3 (with one of those wins over Seattle). But the Rams also have to play games at Cincinnati and at Minnesota (5-2), and have to come to Seattle in late December.
Green Bay’s 29-10 loss at Denver gave evidence of the AFC dominance at this point, as most consider the top three teams in the league to be from the AFC — New England (7-0), Denver (7-0) and Cincinnati (8-0).
The Packers have to travel to Carolina (7-0 ) this week and also to Arizona in December, and have two games still remaining with Minnesota.
A loss by the Packers to Carolina drops them to 6-2. A Green Bay win means there are no more undefeated teams in the NFC.
The Vikings? They have to play the Packers twice along with Atlanta (6-2) and Seattle.
The Falcons? They’ve lost two of their last three and still have two games against Carolina.
Arizona doesn’t come to town for another week, but it’s not too early to point out this is the biggest game of the season for the Seahawks. Their middling play in the first half made it so.
It will be the start of a second half that will separate the real contenders from those who have spent the past couple months beating up on lesser threats.