As you likely know by now, the San Diego Chargers beat the Seattle Seahawks yesterday. While it simply means both teams are 1-1, it was a semi-stunning result because the Seahawks hadn’t lost for seemingly years (in reality, they lost twice at the end of the 2013 regular season). The central storyline of the game was “Wow, it was hot on the field,” and the other storyline was “Richard Sherman got exposed.” Here was Sherman’s response on that, which is also predictable:
This doesn’t mean a whole hell of a lot in the grand scheme of things. The fact is, the Saints are 0-2, the Packers are 1-1 (and have already been routed by the Seahawks), and Colin Kaepernick does not currently look like a QB that can lead a team to the Super Bowl. If the Seahawks get home-field in the NFC, they’ll probably win the NFC. They don’t lose at home. But … there is a bit of a formula developing for how to beat them. Consider:
- Seattle’s major losses in the last couple of years were as follows: NFC Divisional playoffs vs. the Falcons; last year vs. the Colts, 49ers, and Cardinals; and yesterday. (There are others, but that’s a good start.)
- In that playoff game vs. the Falcons, ATL had a higher time of possession (by three minutes) and Tony Gonzalez was 6/51 and 1 TD.
- In that first loss last year (vs. the Colts), the Seahawks had a higher time of possession and they mostly contained the TEs, but T.Y. Hilton did catch 2 TDs and go for 140 yards on five catches.
- In that 49ers game, Vernon Davis had a touchdown, and SF controlled the clock (five-six more minutes of possession).
- And in that Arizona game (a rare loss at home), the Cardinals killed them on possession (15 minutes more) and they won despite Carson Palmer throwing four INTs.
- Yesterday, the time of possession was staggeringly in favor of the Chargers (70 percent of the game) and Antonio Gates went wild on ’em.
Look, the Seahawks are still a good team — honestly, they’re a great team — and even after yesterday, you’d say they’re the prohibitive favorite to win the NFC, if not the entire NFL. But there’s a bit of a road map to beating them now: first of all, hope the game is on the road (check). Second of all, eat up clock and keep their defense, however great it is, on the field having to make plays across long drives (check). Third, keep finding your TE across the middle and in the slot/seam. He may get knocked around by Kam Chancellor and others in the Legion of Boom, but if he makes a few solid gains and keeps the clock rolling, you will have a shot at winning.
The NFL season is only 1/8th over, so we can’t go out and say “So-and-so team has the blueprint to upend Seattle in the NFC,” but we can say the blueprint is there. Their O-Line is great and Russell Wilson seems like a real deal and a true leader, but he’s also not necessarily a guy who’s going to get the team down the field 80 yards in 1 minute (which is something that Peyton Manning, who Wilson owned in the Super Bowl, could do). If you get them off their game and he has to make those huge yard-chunk plays to get back in it (which happened on more than a few drives yesterday), you do have a shot.