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Focus on: Another bye week
The Seahawks players were off on New Year’s Eve. They’ll be off on New Year’s Day, as well.
It’s part of their reward for earning the NFC’s top seed in the playoffs, which comes with a bye in this week’s wild-card round and also home-field advantage throughout the postseason.
Coach Pete Carroll is using the week to give his players some rest – they’ll also be off Saturday and Sunday; but also to maintain their competitive edge – they’ll have “Bonus Day” practices on Thursday and Friday.
“This week is really important,” Carroll said. “There are a lot of issues here to deal with. One is to get good rest and also to maintain our tempo of the style of play.”
First, the rest. Then, that tempo maintenance. Then, more rest.
In those bonus practices, the starters will work against each other – rather than a scout team that is running opponent plays.
“The entire practice will be offense versus defense,” Carroll said. “So we’ll get great competitive moments and all of that. And then when we get to the end of the week, when we figure out who we’re playing, we’ll take a look at all of the options as coaches.”
Option one: The No. 6-seed New Orleans Saints play the No. 3-seed Eagles in Philadelphia on Saturday. If the Saints (11-5) beat the Eagles (10-6), the Saints will come to CenturyLink Field on Jan. 11 because the Seahawks will host the lowest-seeded remaining team.
Option two: If the Eagles win, they will play the No. 2-seed Panthers (12-4) in Carolina on Jan. 12, and the Seahawks will host the winner of Sunday’s game in Green Bay between the No. 5-seed San Francisco 49ers (12-4) and No. 4-seed Packers (8-7-1).
“We’ll be looking ahead and it gives us an opportunity to adjust some things and fix some things and self-scout in great depth, and all of that will come into play,” Carroll said.
It helps that each of the Seahawks’ possible opponents in the divisional-round game has played at CenturyLink Field recently. The Seahawks beat the 49ers (in Week 2) and Saints (in Week 13) this season, and the Packers (in Week 3) last season.