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December 15, 2014 at 5:59 AM

Seahawks Second Thoughts: Seattle starts as 7-point favorite on Arizona

I’ll start with this question — I wonder if any team has ever been tied with the best record in the NFL this late in the season and been a touchdown underdog at home?

That’s what the Arizona Cardinals are Sunday when they host the Seahawks, listed here as being as much as a 7.5-point underdog.

And yes, we all know why — Arizona has a really uncertain quarterback situation, likely to go with third-teamer Ryan Lindley, going against a defense playing as well as any in the NFL.

Still, this has to be a rare time that few will expect a team that has led its division all year and has had the best record in the NFL — or tied for it — almost the entire season to be such a big underdog in a key game at home.

Just something else to add to what should be a really fun week of lead-up to a game that pretty much serves as the NFC West championship game.

Here are a few more random morning-after thoughts. …

  • As the defense has come on the last few months, so have the comparisons to last season. And in one stat — yards per game — the Seahawks are now better than a year ago, allowing 272.4 yards per game. Last year’s team set a franchise-record at 273.6 per game. This year’s team is still a little behind last year’s in yards per play at 4.8 compared to 4.4. The yards per play is second in the NFL behind Denver at 4.7.
  • The surge of the last few weeks — just 27 points allowed in the last four games — also has Seattle now standing second in the NFL in points allowed per game at 17.3. Detroit is first at 17.0. As I wrote earlier, Seattle is threatening to be the first team to lead the NFL in fewest points allowed for three seasons since the Vikings did it from 1969-71. That was the famed Purple People Eaters defense.
  • The Seahawks are also first in the NFL in pass defense at 184.3 per game and fifth in run defense at 88.1.
  • The Seahawks remain first in the NFL in rushing yards at 168.8 which would be a franchise record bettering the 161.2 of 2012, and 31st in passing at 192.8 (ahead of only the Jets at 168.9).
  • In what is starting to feel like something of an oddity, given how well the defense is playing overall, Seattle is stuck on 10 interceptions for the season after not forcing a turnover of any kind on Sunday. That’s tied for 22nd in the NFL. Seattle had 28 interceptions last season — eight alone by Richard Sherman, which led the NFL. Sherman leads Seattle this year with three.
  • Seattle had a season-high six sacks against the 49ers and now has 16 in the last four games. Seattle has just 28 or the season, which still ranks just 24th in the NFL. But obviously the pass rush has gotten a lot better of late. That had been forcing a few more interceptions in recent weeks, but didn’t on Sunday.
  • For a while, it seemed Russell Wilson really might break the 1,000-yard rushing mark for this season. But the last three games have slowed down his pace, including getting 27 today, his lowest since being held to a season-low 12 in the loss to Dallas. I hesitate to say “just” in front of his rushing numbers since Wilson isn’t necessarily looking to run a ton. The 49ers have been one team thats seemed pretty detrained to take it away from him through the years — he’s never had more than 35 against them in the seven games (including playoffs) he has played against San Francisco. But after today’s game, Wilson is at 754 yards and with two games left doesn’t seem a logical threat to get to 1,000 now — he’d have to average 123 when his career high is 122, which game earlier this season against Washington.
  • Almost everyone thinks that’s the last time we’ll see Jim Harbaugh coach the 49ers at CenturyLink Field, If so, he leaves with a 1-4 record in his five trips to Seattle, and losers of each of the last four winning only in 2011. Seattle’s combined point totals for and against Harbaugh at home? 130-59. Not sure I even need to bother to look it up to assume that’s by far the worst of any venue for Harbaugh, who is 43-18-1 as San Francisco’s head coach in the regular season (four regular season losses coming against Seattle — I’m including the NFC title game in the point total stat above).
  • Speaking of Harbaugh and his future, Tim Kawakami has a really lengthy list of possible replacemens that includes both Seattle coordinators — Darrell Bevell and Dan Quinn. This won’t be the last story┬áspeculating that┬áthose two might be head coaching candidates somewhere.

 

 

Finally, Cooper Helfet sounding confident both that he will be back next week and that the Seahawks will get done what they need to in Arizona:

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