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Take 2

A different spin on sports by The Seattle Times staff and readers.

January 2, 2014 at 10:06 AM

Seahawks fly high atop national media rankings entering NFL playoffs

The Seahawks are perched atop most of the media’s NFL power rankings from around the country entering the playoffs.

An impressive performance against the St. Louis Rams in Seattle’s final regular-season game apparently convinced most of the media that the Seahawks’ defense hasn’t lost its mojo and can make up for any offensive shortcomings.

By my count, 11 of 15 the power rankings I found at midweek have the Seahawks ranked No. 1, two have them No. 2, one has them third and another fifth. The Denver Broncos are the consensus No. 2, with the San Francisco 49ers No. 3 in many of the rankings. The Carolina Panthers and New England Patriots make up the rest of the NFL’s consensus top five, with the New Orleans Saints No. 6.

Here is where the media ranks the Seahawks and what they’re saying about them entering the weekend.

Terry Blount, ESPN.com

Seahawks this week: No. 1

Last week:  No. 1

Who’s No. 2: Broncos

Where 49ers are: No. 4

What they said: The Seahawks retained their top spot in the final ESPN.com power rankings of the season. Now we find out if they deserve it.

Brian Billick, Foxsports.com

Seahawks this week: No. 1

Last week: No. 4

Who’s No. 2: Broncos

Where 49ers are: No. 3

What they said: 49ers own the NFL’s longest active winning streak and have the most momentum into the postseason, but having to travel to Seattle will be this team’s downfall.

Frank Schwab,Yahoo.com

Seahawks this week: No. 1

Last week: No. 1

Who’s No. 2: Broncos

Where 49ers are: No. 4

What they said: It probably wasn’t the worst thing for the Seahawks to play a meaningful game in Week 17. They got the No. 1 seed and will be well rested after the bye without being too rusty.

Mike Florio, Pro Football Talk/NBCSports.com

Seahawks this week: No. 2

Last week: No. 2

Who’s No. 1: Broncos

Where 49ers are: No. 5

What they said: They suddenly have to worry about losing to the Packers at home.

Elliot Harrison, NFL.com

Seahawks this week: No. 2

Last week: No. 2

Who’s No. 1: Broncos

Where 49ers are: No. 4

What they said: After another quality outing from the defense, the Seahawks have home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. My guess is you heard that already, so maybe we’re not breaking news here. Well, here’s something you didn’t know: Seattle allows opponents to score touchdowns on just 35.3 percent of red-zone trips, best in the NFL. Inside the 30, the Seahawks have held opposing quarterbacks to a passer rating of 60.0 — also best in the NFL, by a HUGE margin. The league average? 96.3.

Pete Prisco, CBSSports.com

Seahawks this week: No. 3

Last week: No. 3

Who’s No. 1: Broncos

Where 49ers are: No. 4

What they said: As they ready for the playoffs, they have to be concerned with their passing game the past four weeks.

The Associated Press (selected by 12 media members)

Seahawks this week: No. 1

Last week: No. 1

Who’s No. 1: Broncos

Where 49ers are: No. 3

What they said: ”The Seahawks are still the favorite in the NFC,” said Herm Edwards of ESPN. ”They are tough to beat in Seattle. `The 12th Man’ is still alive.”

Hank Gola, New York Daily News

Seahawks this week: No. 1

Last week: No. 1

Who’s No. 2: Broncos

Where 49ers are: No. 3

What they said: It was obvious which two teams finished the regular season as the two best in each conference. But how to choose between the Seahawks and Broncos for the No. 1 spot in the Daily News NFL power rankings?

We’ll borrow the baseball adage that good pitching beats good hitting and give the edge to the Seahawks. They did just about everything right on both sides of the ball and special teams. While no one completely shut down Peyton Manning and the Denver offense, the worrisome defense provided the difference in ranking the teams.

Seahawks (are) built  to win. Most balanced team in the league.

Brad Biggs, Chicago Tribune

Seahawks this week: No. 1

Last week: No. 1

Who’s No. 2: Broncos

Where 49ers are: No. 3

What they said: Percy Harvin finally might take the field, and that would be a powerful weapon for the postseason.

Mark Maske, Washington Post

Seahawks this week: No. 5

Last week: No. 5

Who’s No. 1: Panthers

Where 49ers are: No. 2

What they said: Reaching the Super Bowl would feel like a foregone conclusion if they hadn’t lost at home to the Cardinals on the second-to-last weekend of the regular season. That gave hope to their NFC rivals that it is possible to win in Seattle.

Rob Glauber, Newsday

Seahawks this week: No. 1

Last week: No. 1

Who’s No. 2: Broncos

Where 49ers are: No. 3

What they said: The road to MetLife Stadium goes through Seattle thanks to the Seahawks’ romp over the Rams. Looks like the 49ers might be Seahawks’ only threat in the NFC playoffs – if the 49ers can get that far.

Rick Gosselin, Dallas Morning News

Seahawks this week: No. 1

Last week: No. 1

Who’s No. 2: Broncos

Where 49ers are: No. 5

What they said: Let’s see how far the NFL’s best defense can carry the Seahawks. Seattle led the NFL with 28 interceptions and 39 takeaways.

Jeff Schudel, The Morning Journal (Lorain Ohio)

Seahawks this week: No. 1

Last week: No. 3

Who’s No. 2: Broncos

Where 49ers are: No. 3

What they said: If defense wins championships, then the Seahawks, with the stingiest defense in the league, should win the Super Bowl.

Matt Miller, Bleacher Report

Seahawks this week: No. 1

Last week: No. 2

Who’s No. 2:  Broncos

Where 49ers are: No. 3

What they said: If you had to pick a Super Bowl favorite today,Seattle would be a smart choice.

Jason Chilton, SB Nation

Seahawks this week: No. 1

Last week: No. 1

Who’s No. 2:  Broncos

Where 49ers are: No. 3

What they said: A vintage stomping of the Rams wrapped up a 13-3 campaign and the NFC’s top seed for DangerRuss and the Legion of Boom. Seattle should  (need) … every bit of the league’s biggest home-field advantage to get past a surging Niners squad. From there, it’s a well-timed cold weather Super Bowl date. The Seahawks may have the only pass defense capable of truly clamping down the Denver passing game, and General Winter should lend enough of an assist to bring the Lombardi Trophy to the Pacific Northwest.

Want to be a reader contributor to The Seattle Times’ Take 2 blog? Email your original, previously unpublished work or proposal to Sports Editor Don Shelton at dshelton@seattletimes.com or sports@seattletimes.com. Not all submissions can be published. The Times reserves the right to edit and publish any submissions online and/or in print.

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