Only two teams in NFL history have gone to three consecutive Super Bowls. The Seattle Seahawks may have the right ingredients to become the third. Not only do I like Seattle to upset the 15-1 Carolina Panthers on the road in the divisional playoffs, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see them keep rolling right into Super Bowl 50.
1. Russell Wilson is the hottest quarterback in a quarterback-driven game: You can’t win nowadays without a stud under center, and Wilson is rolling. The man had 24 touchdowns, one interception and a 132.8 passer rating during the final seven weeks of the regular season. Sure, he came back to earth a bit on wild-card weekend, but can you blame him? It was like minus-403 degrees. Wilson is the league’s best improviser and a threat every time he touches the ball.
2. They’re getting healthier: Not only are the Seahawks the only winning team from wild-card weekend that got through their first playoff game without any major injuries, but they could get key starters Marshawn Lynch and Luke Willson back on Sunday. With Kam Chancellor also getting healthier on the defensive side of the ball, Seattle might be as healthy as its been all season in Charlotte. Meanwhile, the Panthers are working without two of their top three cornerbacks.
3. The pressure is elsewhere: Seattle has been here, done this. Nobody will blame them if they lose this weekend, especially considering everything they’ve endured during a bit of an off season. They’ve accomplished so much the last couple years that they have nothing to feel but confidence and composure. Meanwhile, the first-place Panthers have everything to lose, and there’s a lot more pressure on Green Bay and Arizona as well.
4. They’re very, very good on the road: Which is important because they won’t play another game in Seattle, no matter how far they go. The Seahawks have been known as this super-special home team for years, but 2015 was different. After losing an overtime road game to the Bengals in Week 5, the Seahawks have won six straight games away from home. And amazingly, they’ve given up only one touchdown and 6.0 points per game on D during that stretch.
5. The football gods appear to love them: Yeah, I know. Fell just short in the Super Bowl. But that’s a game Seattle was lucky to be in considering how badly Green Bay botched the fourth quarter of last year’s NFC championship game. The Seahawks most definitely wouldn’t be alive right now if Vikings kicker Blair Walsh hadn’t missed the football equivalent of a two-foot putt late in Sunday’s game, but that just goes to show that Seattle’s got karma right now. Consider, too, that Sunday was an off game for the Seahawks. The law of averages indicates that a strong like that will bounce back with a much better performance in Carolina.