The Seahawks are headed to Green Bay this week for the divisional round of the playoffs, their seventh time in 10 seasons under Pete Carroll and John Schneider that they've been one of the final eight teams standing in the postseason. The Seahawks will kick off their week of practice on Wednesday, which makes now a great time to answer questions from you, the fans. And remember, if you want to take place in next week's mailbag, you can tweet your questions to me (@johnpboyle) or submit them online at Seahawks.com/SeahawksMailbag.
@BumperStainReal asks, "Do you think the Seahawks have a legitimate chance at the Super Bowl? If so, what are your keys to victory for them?"
A: When there's only eight teams left in the tournament, yes, every team has a legitimate chance at reaching the Super Bowl. You don't get this far by accident in the NFL; you've got to be a pretty good team to find yourself two wins from the Super Bowl, so yeah, there's a real chance at it. That being said, it won't be easy. The Seahawks are on the road against a 13-3 Packers squad this week, then could end up in San Francisco to face the NFC's top seed the following week if they win (though a home game is also possible, more on this later). The good news for the Seahawks is that they've been really good on the road this year, going 8-1 including last weekend's wild-card win in Philadelphia. And as linebacker K.J. Wright noted last week, "If you've got Russell (Wilson) back there at quarterback, you've got a great chance of winning."
No single position in the NFL can affect the outcome of a game more than a quarterback, and if Wilson keeps up the level of play he showed in Philadelphia, the Seahawks will be very dangerous for as long as they're in the postseason.
If you're looking for another key to victory, I'd point to the pass rush, which has been inconsistent this year, but at times has looked really dangerous, including last weekend's game in which the Seahawks recorded a franchise postseason record seven sacks.
Don Wahl from Graham asks, "If the Seahawks make it to the Super Bowl this year, they'd be 10-1 on the road. Has any team in NFL history accomplished this?"
A: Sunday's win in Philadelphia was Seattle's eighth road win, postseason included, this season, making them the sixth team in the last 25 years to be 8-1 or better on the road.
As to the question of a 10-1 road season, that has been done once, by the 2007 New York Giants, who lost their road opener, then won seven road game in a row in the regular season before winning three straight road playoff games to get to Super Bowl XLII, where they beat the Patriots in the Super Bowl. The 2005 Steelers won nine road games, postseason included, going 6-2 in the regular season before winning three road games to reach Super Bowl XL, and well, we'll stop there.
@bob_from_cali asks, "How much of Russ being Russ again Sunday night was him taking over, or was it the game plan?"
A: The Seahawks knew the Eagles had a really good run defense and were aggressive both in how they defend the run and how much the blitz. As a result, yes, the game plan called for taking a lot of shots down the field. There was a definite element of Russell Wilson taking over in what was a great performance for him, but the Seahawks were counting on being able to make things happen in the passing game, and offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer came up with a good game plan to make that happen.
This game was also a good example of what Pete Carroll means when he talks about wanting a balanced offense even if it might not look like that on the stat sheet. Carroll's commitment to balance isn't so much about having even run/pass numbers every week, it's about having an offense that can find ways to win in different situations. And much like last year's win in Carolina in which the Panthers stopped the run, but Seattle won on another big day from Wilson, Sunday's win in Philadelphia called for the passing game to take over when the Eagles made it hard to run the ball.
@UnintendedMax asks, "What is the most cheese you have ever grated at one time?"
A: Hmm… Maybe a couple of pounds when we were making a bunch of egg casserole for our older daughter's birthday party a couple years back… Oh, I get it, this is a joke because the Seahawks are playing a team whose fans are known as cheeseheads… Well you got a serious answer anyway, so I hope that was informative.
@davidsharkansky asks, "What is the status of Duane Brown and Mike Iupati for the divisional round?" @FreundtLuis and @Garrett4Christ also asks about the status of those two starting linemen.
A: Carroll said Monday that they didn't yet know the status of either player heading into this week, though neither has been ruled out as of now. Iupati, who was held out with a neck injury, has been battling a stinger for multiple weeks, but Carroll said it didn't quiet down last week enough for him to get cleared. Brown, meanwhile, is two weeks removed from knee surgery. We'll see what Carroll says when he talks to the media on Wednesday, but it sounds like the status of both players won't be known until late in the week, if not game day.
It would be big for a short-handed Seahawks offense to get those two back if they can play. In addition to playing without Brown and Iupati last weekend, the Seahawks have also been without center Justin Britt since the middle of the season; they lost starting tight end Will Dissly in Week 5 and have been without backup tight end Ed Dickson all year; they saw their top three running backs land on injured reserve late in the season; and including Josh Gordon's suspension, they were without three of their top six receivers last week.
Richard Smith from Lewiston, Idaho asks, "Have two teams ever played each other twice in the same stadium in a single season and had the identical final score in both games?"
A: It is indeed quite strange that the Seahawks won 17-9 in Philadelphia both in Week 12 then again in the wild-card round. Has that ever happened? I have no idea, nor can I think of a good way to look that up, but the odds of it have to be pretty slim.
@codergirl03 asks, "If the Vikings beat San Francisco, would that mean the Seahawks would get a home game?"
A: That is correct. The Vikings are the NFC's No. 6 seed, while the Seahawks are the 5 seed, so if both of those teams win on the road, the Seahawks would host the NFC championship game at CenturyLink Field. While a handful of wild-card teams have advanced to the Super Bowl over the years, a 5 seed has not hosted a conference championship game since the 12-team playoff format began in 1990.
@FlescherNick asks, "Is Ugo Amadi going to have a greater snap count this week?"
A: Amadi has taken over the nickel cornerback roll late in the season, at first because Akeem King, who had been playing there, moved to left corner for two games to replace an injured Shaquill Griffin, but Amadi kept that spot in the past two games with Griffin back.
Amadi played only 25 percent of the defensive snaps last week, which lines up pretty closely with Seattle's nickel usage all year as they have stuck to their base defense more often this year than in the past, but it's worth noting he had a couple of nice plays on third down stops, including good coverage on a deep ball that went incomplete, and a tackle short of the first-down marker on third-and-long check-down pass.
Whether that role grows this week will likely depend on the personnel the Packers employ, but the Seahawks like what they have seen from having three linebackers on the field this season, so it's hard to see them straying too far from their base-heavy looks, especially against a Packers offense that features a strong running game.
@lowkey_253 asks, "Why haven't we seen any snaps from Turbin yet?"
A: It wasn't much, but Turbin did play two offensive snaps in Philadelphia Sunday. And him not playing shouldn't be seen as a reflection of something he's doing wrong, it's just not that common for the Seahawks to get three running backs heavily involved in any given game, and right now Travis Homer and Marshawn Lynch are the top two backs. And in the past two games in particular, the Seahawks haven't had a ton of rushing attempts. In Week 17, Lynch and Turbin's first game back with Seattle, the Seahawks fell behind the 49ers early two weeks ago leading to more pass attempts than might have been the plan had the game been closer; and last week the Eagles were very effective against the run, so the Seahawks only handed the ball off to Lynch and Homer a combined 17 times. If the Seahawks could have a game where they're playing from ahead and/or running the ball more effectively, then there's a good chance Turbin could get a series or two.
Go behind the scenes with team photographer Rod Mar as he shares moments from the Seattle Seahawks' wild card game against the Philadelphia Eagles. Eye on the Hawks is presented by Western Washington Toyota Dealers.