The bottom line is this: If the Seattle Seahawks win the rest of their home games they will be in the Super Bowl the first Sunday in February. That was made clear Monday night when the Hawks laid a convincing 34-7 beat-down on Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints. It's all in the hands of the Seahawks at this point. Champs or Chokes will be determined over the next month and a half.
Head Coach Pete Carroll had to smile when he saw the weather forecast for Monday night. The Saints, world-beaters at home, are known to not play well outside and in cold weather. That and Seattle's impressive home field advantage was more than the squad from the Crescent City could overcome.
Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson directed a balanced Seahawks attack, completing 22 of 30 passes for 310 yards. He had three touchdown passes without an interception. His counterpart, Brees, was much less effective. The 12 year pro out of Iowa was just 23 for 38 for only 147 yards. That is the fewest passing yards gained by the Drew Brees/Sean Payton combo since they first got together almost a decade ago.
Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch was largely held in check by New Orleans, who came into the game with the league's sixth ranked defense. "Not a problem" was Wilson's apparent answer, who turned in one of the best statistical games of his two year career. The former Wisconsin Badger, drafted late (3rd round) in part because of his diminutive stature, was large and in charge on the turf of Century Link Field. Under his leadership the Hawks converted on 7/13 third downs in the dominating performance.
Next up for the Hawks is a return engagement with San Francisco in the Bay Area. Though the Hawks will certainly want to beat their NFC West foes, a win in San Francisco is hardly essential to what the Seahawks wish to accomplish. The 49ers have lost four games and are struggling to even make the playoffs. The Seahawks, and their victory lap, are the least of San Francisco's concerns at this point. The Hawks would figure to be a solid favorite next Sunday.
For New Orleans, beyond the five hours that it will take to fly back to the Big Easy, there is no time for pondering what went wrong in Seattle. The resurgent Carolina Panthers are next up, and they will present a serious challenge to Sean Payton's charges.