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Playoff Scenarios, Michael Bennett’s Sack Dance And More In This Week’s Seahawks Q&A

The NFC West champion Seattle Seahawks are back to work after a weekend off, and with a Saturday game coming up, everything is a day early on this week’s schedule, which means it’s already time for this week’s Seahawks Twitter Q&A. As always, thanks to everyone who took the time to ask a question this week, and apologies if I wasn’t able to get to your question this time around.

@christodafur asks, “Who has the best chance in the NFC to clinch the No. 2 seed?”

A: As things stand now, the Seahawks are the No. 2 seed in the NFC, which means if they win their final two games, they will earn a first-round bye and a home game in the divisional round regardless of what other teams do.

The biggest threats to the Seahawks for the No. 2 seed should they lose another game are Detroit and Atlanta, who both lead their respective divisions with 9-5 records. But again, if the Seahawks can take care of business at home against Arizona this week and at San Francisco in Week 17, they can earn the No. 2 seed no matter what the Falcons and Lions do these next two weeks.

With Dallas winning Sunday night to improve to 12-2, the Seahawks can’t move into the No. 1 spot, because either the Cowboys will win the NFC East and be the No. 1 seed, or if they lose out and the New York Giants win out, the Giants would be division champs at 12-4, a record the 9-4-1 Seahawks cannot top. And as a quick reminder, even though the second-place team in the NFC East could end up with a better record than the Seahawks, that team wouldn’t be seeded ahead of Seattle, as Wild Card teams are always the final two seeds in the postseason behind the four division champs, regardless of their records.

@MacPherson9999 asks, “Can the Seahawks beat the Cowboys when they inevitably meet in the NFC championship game?” And @MonkTraneParker asks, “If we play Dallas right now, do we have a chance?”

A: First off, I like your guys’ optimism already penciling the Seahawks into the NFC championship game. The team can’t look ahead like that, but I suppose there’s no harm in us doing so, right? So can the Seahawks beat the Cowboys if that matchup does occur? Of course they can. As the Seahawks showed in New England last month, when they’re on, they are good enough to beat even the league’s top teams on the road, but winning a playoff game at Dallas certainly wouldn’t be easy. The Cowboys are 12-2 for a reason, and if they do hang onto their lead in the NFC East, they’ll have home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. If a Seahawks-Cowboys matchup were to transpire, it would be a lot of fun to see one of the NFL’s top offenses, led by a great offensive line and a pair of rookie stars in quarterback Dak Prescott and running back Ezekiel Elliott, face off against one of the league’s best defenses.  

@Jcastanoart asks, “What is Michael Bennett’s status, and what are the exact rules on the sack dance?”

A: The good news in terms of Bennett’s status is that he does not have a concussion, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said Friday. He did injure his neck making an impressive tackle for loss on Rams running back Todd Gurley, but a day after the game, Carroll said “Mike felt good this morning” and noted that the extra time off following a Thursday game should help the defensive end recover.

As for Bennett’s sack dance, which drew a flag for unsportsmanlike conduct, it’s probably safe to assume his infraction fell under the part of the unsportsmanlike conduct rule that prohibits “sexually-suggestive gestures” and “prolonged gyrations” in player celebrations.

In other words, Bennett pulled a “McCringleberry.” Here we’ll let Carroll explain that reference to the Comedy Central sketch comedy show, “Key & Peele.”

“Here’s what I’m going to tell you," Carroll said on 710 ESPN Seattle Friday. "I want you to go to 'Key & Peele.' Look it up. And they tell it all. They told it all. They know the whole thing. They know exactly what the deal is. They’ll tell you the whole story. I’m not going there. I don’t know why I don’t want to go there, because I probably should, but just go to Key & Peele.”

Obviously Bennett and other Seahawks don’t want to hurt the team with unnecessary penalty yards, but even Carroll was joking about the flag a day later because, well, it was pretty darn funny.

@wolfy22222 asks “Any prospect of the Seahawks coming to the UK soon?” And @Challies11 asks, “Will the Seahawks ever come to London?”

A: The NFL announced its slate of London games for the 2017, and those four games do not include the Seahawks, so if the Seahawks are eventually going to play there, it’ll have to wait until 2018 or beyond. For travel reasons, west coast teams have played in London less frequently, though the Rams and Cardinals will play there next season. But while geography might make the Seahawks somewhat less likely to go to London, the league’s continued growth overseas—there will be one more game in London next year than this year, and the NFL played a regular-season game in Mexico this season—would seemingly make it more likely for the Seahawks, and every team, to play outside of the U.S. at some point.

@JoshPyle12 asks, “Do you think Bobby Wagner will finally be recognized as a premier linebacker and win defensive player of the year?”

A: I’d say earning Pro-Bowl honors each of the past two years, as well as first-team All-Pro honors in 2014 and second-team in 2015 is a sign that Wagner has been recognized as a premier linebacker. As for defensive player of the year, Wagner should definitely be in the running for his standout play this season. Wagner currently has a league-best 145 tackles, and needs just nine more to break Terry Beeson’s franchise record set in 1978.

Wagner’s play, along with that of weakside linebacker K.J. Wright, has this year more than ever been a big part of Seattle’s defensive success as those two have both played some of the best football of their respective careers.

“I think it’s so cool to watch (Wright) and Bobby playing together,” Carroll said. “They both made some great plays (Thursday) night and they kind of just take turns. It’s helping us play really good defense.”

Wagner was named one of the top 10 candidates for DPOY honors in this article on NFL.com last week, so he’s definitely on the national radar, as well he should be in a year where the Seahawks have remained one of the league’s top defenses despite injuries to key players like Kam Chancellor, who missed four games earlier this season, Michael Bennett, who missed five, and Earl Thomas, who is on injured reserve.

@olyhomer asks, “Is today Monday or Tuesday for the Seahawks?”

A: Today is a pretty typical Monday for players, but the change in the week starts Tuesday, when what would usually be an off day for players becomes their Wednesday. From there, it’s a normal week, just a day early, so Tuesday is Wednesday, Wednesday is Thursday, etc.

@jaycclee asks, “Is it just the Rams’ talented front that contributed to the bad running game on Thursday?”

A: While the Los Angeles Rams have struggled to win games this season, their front-seven remains one of the best in the NFL, and that group gave the Seahawks trouble in the running game Thursday night, as they frequently have in previous meetings. Seahawks players and coaches will certainly feel like they could have performed better in that area Thursday, but the Rams do deserve credit.

Looking at the big-picture, however, there might be less cause for concern with the running game than the numbers Thursday would indicate. Yes, the Seahawks averaged just 2.4 yards per carry last week, and that included a 26-yard run by Jon Ryan on a fake punt, but that was one game after a very strong month of running the ball. After ranking 30th in the NFL in rushing through nine games with 77.7 yards-per-game, the Seahawks averaged 163.8 yards-per-game and 6.1 yards-per-carry over their next four. You can’t completely ignore what happened with the run game on Thursday, but given the Seahawks’ history of struggling offensively against the Rams, it’s not unreasonable to think they can look more like the team they were over the previous month than the one they were last week in terms of the running game.

@LarryNorrisJr asks, “How is Jon Ryan doing?”

A: The Seahawks punter sustained a concussion in last week’s game, and while his status likely won’t be known until later in the week—we’ll hear more from Pete Carroll on Tuesday—the good news is that he has a bit more time to recover and get through the concussion protocol since the injury happened on Thursday.

Ryan was feeling well enough to go to brunch on Friday, his wife reported.

@KBottom2 asks, “If Jon Ryan is unable to play Saturday, who will take over the punting responsibilities.”

A: While Carroll joked that the Seahawks could have a punt, pass and kick competition this week, and noted that several players, including Russell Wilson and Jermaine Kearse, volunteered to punt, it’s more likely that the Seahawks would look to sign a free agent punter to fill in if Ryan couldn’t go.

@DanCohen17 asks, “Who is the emergency/backup holder?”

A: One of the interesting elements of having one specialist on the roster to do a specific job is seeing what happens if that player becomes unavailable in game, such as when cornerback Kelly Jennings once served as the team’s long snapper in 2009 after Kevin Houser left the game with an injury. Following Ryan’s injury, Russell Wilson was practicing his holding on the sideline, so presumably he would have been the guy had the Seahawks attempted a field goal or extra point. Whether that remains the case with a week to prepare remains to be seen, but hopefully for the Seahawks’ and Ryan’s sake, he’ll be available so we won’t have to find out the answer to either of the previous two questions.

@37Lloyd asks, “Do the Seahawks plan on wearing those color rush uniforms again?”

A: No, we won’t be seeing those action green uniforms again this year. The NFL allows teams to wear an alternate jersey twice during a season—in the Seahawks’ case, wolf grey—plus their color rush jersey one time on Thursday Night Football.

@danemona96 asks, “Who has been the best addition to the team, whether it be free agent or draft pick?”

A: The Seahawks weren’t super active in free agency, spending most of their money re-signing their own free-agent players, but a couple signings did turn into starters, with Bradley Sowell starting nine games at two tackles spots, and Tony McDaniel starting 11 at defensive tackle. The McDaniel signing was a particularly successful one considering how late he joined the team, signing in mid-August after his agent turned a Leavenworth vacation into a tryout with his former team.

As for draft picks, Seattle’s top two picks have made the biggest contributions, with right guard Germain Ifedi starting 11 games since returning from an ankle injury, and defensive tackle Jarran Reed starting three games and having a regular role in the defensive line rotation. Third-round pick C.J. Prosise has shown a ton of potential when healthy, but unfortunately the running back is currently sidelined with a shoulder injury. Undrafted rookie and former college basketball player George Fant is also contributing sooner than most could have expected, taking over the starting job at left tackle despite barely playing football in college. On special teams, cornerback Neiko Thorpe has been a huge addition as well.

Team photographer Rod Mar shares exclusive behind-the-scenes images from the Seahawks' Week 15 win over the Los Angeles Rams, a game that saw Seattle debut its Action Green Color Rush uniforms at CenturyLink Field.

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