RENTON - The Seattle Seahawks' situation could provide inspiration for those fans looking for an underdog in the NFL's postseason.
Or, as Seahawks defensive tackle Colin Cole believes, it could also create a heap of resentment.
“Everybody in America is against us,” Cole said. “What can you say? There’s no other way to say it but us against the world. Everybody’s picking against us just like they did last week, so it’s all up to us what we do.”
So you’re not feeling like a lovable underdog, Colin?
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“Most people like an underdog, but most people like a sure thing, too,” Cole said. “It’s the defending Super Bowl champion going against the first team to make the playoffs with a losing record. Who would you go for?”
Other than the players in the Seattle locker room, few expect the Sea-hawks to compete – let alone win – Saturday when they play host to the reigning Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints. The Seahawks are as high as 250-to-1 long shots to win the Super Bowl now that the playoff matchups have been determined – longer odds than the 50-to-1 bettors would have gotten at the beginning of the regular season.
Seattle also is an 11-point underdog against New Orleans, the first time in recent memory a playoff team has been that much of an underdog at home.
“We’re not apologizing for anything,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said about his team making the playoffs in his first season in Seattle. “We battled like crazy to get this, as did the other teams in our division. So we’re the last guys standing here, and we’re proud of that.”
The 11-5 Saints will travel 2,100 miles to Seattle on Thursday and have a walk-through practice at Qwest Field. New Orleans already beat Seattle, 34-19, earlier this season, but the Saints say they are not taking anything for granted.
“It doesn’t make any difference (that we beat them earlier this season),” said New Orleans receiver Robert Meachem. “They’re going to give you everything they’ve got, just like we’re going to give everything we have.”
At 7-9, the Seahawks are the first team to make the NFL playoffs with a losing record in a non-strike year.
However, seven teams have advanced to the playoffs with 8-8 records since 1985, including two as division champions in Cleveland (AFC Central champs in 1985) and San Diego (AFC West champs in 2008).
Looking for a reason to expect a minor miracle and a Seattle upset? The past three teams to advance with .500 records – St. Louis and Minnesota in 2004 and San Diego in 2008 – have won their opening-round playoffs.
The Seahawks also can look to NFC West division rival Arizona for inspiration. At 9-7, few gave the 2008 Cardinals a chance to advance far in the playoffs, but they made an improbable run to the Super Bowl and came within a last-minute drive by Pittsburgh from winning the crown.
“Arizona got in a couple years ago and they just got stronger as a team each week,” Seahawks safety Lawyer Milloy said.
“The game isn’t won in the blogs or in the analysts’ booths. It’s won on the field. So that’s how we’ll approach it.”
Added Seattle safety Jordan Babineaux, who played on Seattle’s Super Bowl team five years ago: “It doesn’t matter – records mean nothing. It’s the best team that day.”
The Seahawks made a couple of roster moves on Tuesday. Tight end Chris Baker (hip) and offensive lineman Chester Pitts (head) were placed on the season-ending injured reserve list. The Seahawks have not made any moves to fill those vacant spots on the active roster. Seattle also signed running back Andre Anderson and tight end Nick Tow-Arnett to the practice squad. Running back Chris Henry (leg) was put on injured reserve, and linebacker Vuna Tuihalamaka’s contract was terminated to make room for the new practice-squad members.
PLAYOFF PARTY CRASHERS
The Seattle Seahawks are the first team in NFL history to make the playoffs at 7-9 in a non-strike season. However, seven teams have gotten in at 8-8 since 1985, including two division champions. Three even won an opening-round game. Here’s a closer look
Cleveland1985AFC Central champsLost to Dolphins, 24-21
New Orleans1990Wild cardLost to Bears, 16-6
N.Y Jets1991Wild cardLost to Oilers, 17-10
Dallas1999Wild cardLost to Vikings, 27-10
Minnesota2004Wild cardDefeated Green Bay, 31-17; lost to Philadelphia, 27-14
St. Louis2004Wild cardDefeated Seattle, 27-20; lost to Atlanta, 47-17
San Diego2008AFC West champsDefeated Indianapolis, 23-17; lost to Pittsburgh, 35-24
HERO OR ZERO?
A look at a player who can influence Saturday’s playoff game between the Seahawks and the New Orleans Saints:
OFFENSE: Julius Jones
Remember him? He was with the much-maligned running back with the Seahawks who was cut in early October when Seattle acquired Marshawn Lynch. Now, Jones will return to Qwest Field on Saturday and could possibly play more than a few snaps against his former team. That’s because the Saints announced that leading rusher Chris Ivory (716 yards, 5 TDs) has been put on the injured reserve list with a foot injury, and Pierre Thomas (269 yards, 2 TDs) has apparently aggravated his troublesome sprained left ankle. New Orleans still has Reggie Bush but prefers not to use him as a featured running back. The Saints also re-signed DeShawn Wynn, who is familiar with their system. Thomas did practice, but was limited. The Saints may have no choice but to turn to Jones. Could he have sweet revenge against the Seahawks?
Ryan Divish, staff writer