Russell Wilson is one of those quarterbacks that can all by himself change a game. Just as he saves plays with his intelligence and elusiveness, he adds wins to the Seattle Seahawks season-long results.
Wilson led the Seahawks to a Super Bowl victory to complete the 2013 season, and guided them back to the Super Bowl the following year. Tom Brady and Wilson staged a titanic battle to complete the 2014 season. Super Bowl XLIX went back-and-forth from start to finish. A game that turned on a controversial play-call that resulted in a Patriots interception to preserve a 28-24 victory. Since that stinging setback, the Seahawks have not returned to the Super Bowl despite Wilson leading Seattle to the playoffs in five of the ensuing six seasons.
What should concern fans of the Seahawks is the success peaked with a Super Bowl win, followed by a Super Bowl loss, and then five straight eliminations in the National Football Conference playoffs. In charting this trajectory, one would conclude it was headed in the wrong direction when also factoring into the equation that last season they were eliminated in their first postseason game by the Los Angeles Rams on their home field.
When Wilson was enjoying his best success in Seattle, the Seahawks also had a rock solid defense with a number of outstanding defenders coming into their prime at the same time. The Seahawks are still good, but nowhere near the standards set by the “Legion of Boom” during their Super Bowl years.
If Wilson is to lead the Seahawks to another Super Bowl victory, he needs a supporting cast of characters around him to contribute to that cause. Head Coach Pete Carroll has a coaching pedigree that lends to the success of the team, but is his coaching and Wilson’s quarterbacking enough?
If they can’t do it by themselves, and they can’t, is the Seattle squad around Wilson and under the guidance of Carroll capable of fending off stiff competition? The team’s press releases will champion their cause, but the Seahawaks have two major obstacles in getting out of the NFC playoffs … the Los Angeles Rams and San Francisco 49ers might prevent them from even getting in.
Unless the ground shifts beneath us, the best division in the NFL this season will again be the NFC West. If any of the four teams grouped here were to win the Super Bowl, which includes the Arizona Cardinals, they would have good reasons for getting it done. The Cardinals missed the playoffs last year, then added defensive stud J.J. Watt to their stop unit and bring back Kyler Murray for his third professional campaign. A quarterback’s third professional season is often when an NFL star's quality reaches its potential.
Will the Super Bowl winner this year come from the toughest division?
History shows that teams that are most challenged by competition during a regular season are the same squads best prepared to win competitive postseason games. Whichever team comes out on top in the NFC West we can assume has overcome some stiff challenges … most assuredly best preparing them for the rigors of playoff football.
I like the chances of the Super Bowl LVI winner coming out of the NFC West, but I have red flags on two of the teams, the Seahawks and Cardinals.
Arizona just doesn’t appear to have the coach on the sideline that is going to be celebrating a Super Bowl victory. Perhaps it is a bias on my part against Kliff Kingsbury because in college he had Patrick Mahomes on his team and only managed a 5-7 campaign in Mahomes’ final collegiate season at Texas Tech. In the NFL, he has made the Cardinals competitive, but not yet dominant.
Still, Arizona has the talent to compete in the toughest division, maybe even earn a Wild Card berth, but not a Super Bowl.
Scratch the Cardinals because they are not yet there, and dismiss notions of a Seattle win because they are past being on top.
Which leaves us the other two NFC West squads, the Rams and 49ers, still alive on our charts to win it all next February at Southern California’s SoFi Stadium.