-By Sean Larson-
The Seahawks have a long flight back from Tampa Bay after losing 38-15 Sunday. But this isn't about what happened in Tampa Bay. This isn't about the fact that Seattle has been in a total free fall, losing seven of their last nine games. This is about one thing, and one thing only; playoffs.
Regardless of what has happened this season, it all comes down to 60 minutes in Seattle on January 2nd. The winner of next week's matchup between the St. Louis Rams and the Seattle Seahawks will clinch the NFC West title, and will earn the right to host a playoff game the following weekend, while the loser's season will come to a cruel end. This is all thanks to the Rams, who eliminated the 49ers Sunday with a 25-17 win in St. Louis. If the Rams had lost today, the Seahawks would not only need to beat the Rams next week, but would also need Arizona to beat San Francisco. But now, these two teams control their own destiny.
Before the season started, if you had told Seahawks fans that they would be in position to win the division going into the final game of the year, they would have probably looked at you funny. If you had told the same thing to a Rams fan, they would have thought you were just plain crazy. Yes, these two teams that will fight for the division title next weekend are the same teams that finished 3rd and 4th in the division last season (The Seahawks finished 5-11, while the Rams finished 1-15). The source to the turnaround is easy to spot on both sides. The Seahawks got rid of Jim Mora, who had lost the respect of his team, and replaced him with a passionate coach that truly understood his players. Enter the Pete Carroll era. He made an immediate impact in the NFL Draft, as many experts said that Seattle had the best draft in the league, landing college stars such as Russell Okung, Earl Thomas, Golden Tate, and Walter Thurmond. The turnaround of the St. Louis Rams can also credit their turnaround to their draft. With the #1 pick, they selected Sam Bradford, the coveted quarterback from Oklahoma. He would immediately become the face of the franchise, and as of now, he is one of only two quarterbacks in the league who has taken every single snap for his team. Bradford led the Rams to a miracle turnaround, and in just one year, they have gone from being the laughing stock of the league to division contenders.
As if the stage wasn't big enough next week in Seattle, the NFL just announced the game will be moved from the original 1:15 PST kickoff time on Fox to 5:20 PST on NBC. It is the first primetime game for the Seahawks all season. Not only will a division crown be at stake, but the entire nation will be watching. For these two teams, destiny awaits.