On par with the ascension of the Denver Broncos and the complete collapse of the Tennessee Titans is the threatening-on-complete-resurgence of the Seattle Seahawks.
Now, how is that possible, considering that the NFC West contenders are sitting in third place with a 2-3 record? Stick with us for a moment and we'll tell you.
Take a look at the other teams in the division -- the San Francisco 49ers, St. Louis Rams, and Arizona Cardinals, who the Seahawks host this weekend -- and tell us if that roll call puts a fright into you.
Didn't think so.
Given the Niners' recently history of incomplete seasons, The Bad News Bears-esque stink going down in St. Louis these days, and the fleeting success of the hometown Cards, you won't find any other team in the league that has a larger shot of making surprising noise in its division this season than Seattle. (And, no, we're not talking about the artificial sounds that the team was accused of pumping into opponents' ear holes in 2005.)
The Seahawks especially looked capable of NFC West-winning glory last week when they volcanically owned the Jacksonville Jaguars to the tune of 41-0. In that October 11 pasting, the 'Hawks D limited the Jags to 199 total yards and Matt Hasselbeck threw for four touchdowns in leading Seattle to its largest shutout victory at home in a quarter-century. All this despite the fact that the signal caller rolled up all late to Qwest Field because he was taking painkilling injections to help with a rib fracture suffered in week two.
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The 2-2 Cardinals, on the other hand, nearly choked colossally last Sunday against the Houston Texans. Though they improved to .500 -- the team's other shaky win coming against Jacksonville on September 20 -- this is not a well-oiled machine. Play like they have been all preseason and regular season, and Seattle can notch a win against Arizona into its butt-kicking belt.
Overall, this could be a high-scoring affair since both teams like to sling the rock. When the Cardinals have the ball, they'll need to neutralize Seattle's effective pass rush, which is currently the fourth best in the league for sacks. This is especially true in predictable passing situations, in which a pressurized Kurt Warner tends to catch a case of fumble-itis. Seattle's offense can exploit the Cardinals' porous pass defense (ranked 32nd overall) with play-action tosses to Nate Burleson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh. But that's only if the Seahawks' hot-and-cold rushing attack -- led by Julius Jones and ex-Cardinal Edgerrin James -- can create some semblance of existing against the league's number-one rushing D.
Kick-off is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. Sunday. TV: FOX. Radio: KTAR-FM 92.3. More info: www.azcardinals.com.