Division title still within sight, say Seahawks

Staff writerDecember 5, 2012 

With four games left, the Seattle Seahawks still have their eyes focused on their primary goal set before the season started: winning the NFC West Division title.

And Seattle’s impressive victory over Chicago last week on the road helped keep alive that possibility.

“It’s real big,” defensive tackle Brandon Mebane said about his team’s win over the Bears. “We’re just taking one game at a time to get to our major goal, which is to win the division.”

At 7-5 overall, the Seahawks are 11/2 games behind division leader San Francisco (8-3-1).

But if the 49ers lose two of their last four games, including a Dec. 23 tilt in Seattle, and the Seahawks win out, the NFC West title would be theirs for a second time in three years.

The Seahawks also might benefit from having one of the easier schedules remaining among playoff contenders.

Seattle plays three of its last four games – NFC West division foes Arizona, San Francisco and St. Louis – in the noisy comfort of CenturyLink Field, where the team is 5-0 this season.

And Seattle’s only road game is against 5-7 Buffalo, in what will almost be a neutral site in Toronto.

One final bonus: So far the 49ers are the only team left on the schedule with a winning record.

San Francisco hosts Miami on Sunday, followed by a trip to New England to face the Patriots, a road game against Seattle and a season finale at home against Arizona.

San Francisco’s contest against the Patriots is the most likely game where the 49ers could stub their toe — since 2001 the Patriots have a league-best 23-1 home record in December.

“It’s still out there,” Seattle coach Pete Carroll said about winning a division title. “We’ve got a lot of games left in the division. San Francisco has a great thing going there. And if they can take care of their business, then they’ll leave everybody else behind. But they’ve still got to win the games, and we do too.”

That said, Carroll also wants his team to resist the urge to look too far ahead. The Seahawks have won three of their last four contests, and face an Arizona team that’s lost eight straight. But Carroll said his team is focused on Sunday’s game at home against the Cardinals.

“All that stuff, that’s not a conversation for me,” Carroll said. “I don’t think it’s worth talking about. The big accomplishment in Chicago gets nullified if you don’t come back and play well the following week.”

SEAHAWKS’ NEXT OPPONENT

ARIZONA CARDINALS

1:25 p.m. Sunday, CenturyLink Field

Against the Seahawks: Seattle meets the Cardinals for the 28th time. Arizona holds a 15-12 edge in the series and has won eight of the past 12 meetings. The Cardinals took the matchup between the two teams earlier this year, a 20-16 win in the season opener down in the desert. However, Seattle has won the past two games at CenturyLink Field.

Stats and stuff: The Cardinals have lost eight consecutive games since starting 4-0, and one of the main reasons for Arizona’s struggles has been poor quarterback play. Coach Ken Whisenhunt benched John Skelton and inserted rookie Ryan Lindley four weeks ago because of poor performance — even though his team was leading NFC power Atlanta 13-3 on the road. The Cardinals went on to lose that game, 23-19, and Lindley hasn’t exactly set the world on fire since taking over the starting job. A sixth-round draft pick out of San Diego State, Lindley is 0-2 as a starter and has completed 48.5 percent of his passes for 448 yards, no touchdowns and five interceptions. He has a 40.4 passer rating. Whisenhunt hasn’t announced whether Lindley or Skelton will start against Seattle. Kevin Kolb is not available because of injured ribs. … While Arizona’s offense has struggled this season, the defense remains one of the best in the NFL. Led by defensive coordinator Ray Horton, a Tacoma native, the Cardinals have forced 24 turnovers and are No. 7 in the league in total defense, giving up an average of 324.7 yards per game. … Larry Fitzgerald leads the Cardinals with 56 receptions for 650 yards and four touchdowns.

Quotable: “Yes, we had a disagreement on the field, but no, he did not spit in my face. Absolutely did not. I’m not going to get into all the details because I think those are things you keep within the team. But Darnell and I talked after the game, we’re both moving on, and I’ll leave it at that.” — Arizona defensive back Kerry Rhodes, commenting on reports that teammate Darnell Dockett spit in his face during an argument on the sidelines at the end of the Cardinals’ 7-6 loss to the New York Jets on Sunday.

CARDINALS’ SCHEDULE

Sept. 9 Cardinals 20, Seahawks 16

Sept. 16 Cardinals 20, Patriots 18

Sept. 23 Cardinals 27, Eagles 6

Sept. 30 Cardinals 24, Dolphins 21

Oct. 4 Rams 17, Cardinals 3

Oct. 14 Bills 19, Cardinals 16

Oct. 21 Vikings 21, Cardinals 14

Oct. 29 49ers 24, Cardinals 3

Nov. 4 Packers 31, Cardinals 17

Nov. 11 Bye

Nov. 18 Falcons 23, Cardinals 19

Nov. 25 Rams 31, Cardinals 17

Dec. 2 Jets 7, Cardinals 6

Dec. 9 at Seattle

Dec. 16 Detroit

Dec. 23 Chicago

Dec. 30 at San Francisco

Eric D. Williams: 253-597-8437 eric.williams@ thenewstribune.com blog.thenewstribune.com/seahawks @eric_d_williams eric.williams@ thenewstribune.com

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