While Packers Nation celebrates and Bears Nation salivates, the Seahawks would be happy with establishing a Seahawks Municipality. East Coast bias, disrespect, ignorance, call it what you will. The Seahawks are a far cry from America's Team. They don't have storied history of winning. They are not made up of MVP candidates or fantasy football studs. This is a team that has been in the debate for worst in the entire NFL for the last two seasons, and were closer to getting worse than getting better when the final game ended last year. Even the team's coach, Pete Carroll, is an NFL anti-body. Watch the average tough guy try to assess Carroll, and it's like someone is shoving a used jock strap in their face. Howie Long was doing his best to pay him a compliment, but even that came across as back-handed when he called Carroll the, "Tony Robbins of the NFL."
In case you hadn't noticed with all this ludicrous lockout talk, the NFL is a business. A team like Seattle makes league pocketbooks pucker. Executives thirst for the customary Packers vs. Bears match-ups. Urlacher, Rodgers, snow, and Heartland heroics make it Easy Street for all involved. The Seahawks victory over the defending champs last week was barely more than a glitch in The Matrix. Everybody noticed it for that split-second, and then quickly got back to life as they know it. Nobody invested any time scratching beneath the surface. Why should they? The game was a fluke to them, and any time they spent on Seattle would just be wasted after the team made their quick exit this week.
The Bears enter this game healthy, hungry and heavily favored. The obvious storyline is that they will physically punish their Northwest opponents into submission. Enough breaks and calls will go their way to move on to the penultimate game. The thing is, the Seahawks have defied the obvious storyline all year long.
This was a team with massive roster turnover, little talent, and two completely new schemes on offense and defense. Winning 4-5 games was a reasonable expectation. Even with the weakness in the NFC West, a division title was a serious long shot. They sprinted out to a 4-2 record with some quality victories in games they would not have won in years past, like San Diego and Chicago. Just as fans had reason to raise their hopes, the team spiraled out of control with a series of humiliating defeats. Teams like Green Bay, who have spent years developing depth, can weather injuries like what the Seahawks faced. Seattle had no business doing so. Mixed in with the tortuous defeats were shocking outbursts of fantastic offense or inspired defense. Predicting when these outbursts would happen was nearly impossible. The team eventually found a way to rise up to secure a historically unlikely division title in the season's last game.
Soon after, they beat the only quarterback in the NFC that rivals Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers and Brees are irrepressible. Just ask Atlanta. Except, Brees is watching the playoffs now. The Saints entered the playoffs with many picking them as the hot team that would find its way back to the Super Bowl. Seattle took them down in one of the biggest upsets in the history of the NFL and with arguably the best running play in the history of the playoffs. Again, these Seahawks don't seem to be taking cues from the same script as everyone else.
In the first game against Chicago, Seattle slayed a series of demons. They won a road game, against an above .500 opponent, after a bye week, with a 10 AM start. This is a team that has infamously not lost a game by less than 15 points all season, but also secretly wins by an average of more than 13 points. They have not lost a game all season that was decided by less than 15 points. When given a chance to win, they win.
The Seahawks will once again face long odds. They are the road team. They are over 10 point underdogs. Their offensive and defensive lines have just recently stabilized. They may need to come from behind to win. The thing is, they've already overcome those things before.
The Bears? They haven't been heavy home favorites. Their QB has never won a playoff game. They haven't faced adversity since they gave up a bunch of sacks early in the year. What happens if they trail early? What happens if the ball bounces Seattle's way for once, or a controversial call goes in the Seahawks favor? What happens if the Seahawks are the ones that come out and punch them in the mouth? As crazy as those things may seem, they are no more crazy than what we've already witnessed.
This Seahawks season has already been a runaway success. A foundation and belief system has been established. Two young wide receivers have been signed to extensions. Two young rookies have established themselves as future Pro Bowlers. A defensive scheme has proven it can work with just a little more talent and depth. These are your 2010 NFC West Division Champs. Anything they do in this game will just be another chapter in the path back to the Super Bowl. Much of Seahawks Town/City/County will go to bed tonight nervous about the game. Not me. Are you nervous when reading a thrilling book or watching a gripping movie? I am as eager as anyone to see what happens next, but I already know I'm going to like how this story ends. Whether it comes this year, or soon after, this Seahawks team will demand respect. Do you hear that Jay Cutler, Chicago Tribune and Sun-Times, Terry Bradshaw, and the rest of you? That is the sound of inevitability. The Seahawks are coming, and you're not going to like it.