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THE CHEAP SEATS with STEVE CAMERON: Seahawks' NFC playoff foes filled with flaws

| December 21, 2020 1:05 AM

He grinned like a thrilled teenager.

Russell Wilson was doing a quick post-game interview, still standing on the turf at FedEx Field in suburban Maryland.

Russ seemed oblivious to the fact that he had thrown for just 121 yards on 18 of 27 tries — and was nicked for what could have been a critical interception — in Sunday’s way-too-scary 20-15 victory over Washington.

Nor did Wilson seem the least bit bothered that the Seahawks offense couldn’t produce a single point in the second half.

That stuff is for film study some other time.

Russ was excited for one pretty basic reason…

The win clinched a spot in the NFC’s playoff shoot-out, and that’s all the Seahawks could accomplish on this particular trip.

And about that five-point survival act against a Washington team that’s 6-8?

“It’s the NFL,” he said. “There are no easy games. No easy moments.”

AS WILSON’S hurry-up TV chat was concluding, Seattle’s franchise quarterback was still smiling broadly.

“Hawks in the playoffs,” he said, beginning to remove his headset and dash for the locker room.

“Go Hawks!”

Indeed.

Most of the Northwest would second that motion.

Meanwhile, the gentleman himself would never mention it out loud, but on Sunday things became official.

The Seahawks will have made the playoffs in all nine seasons during what someday will be remembered the “Russell Wilson Era.”

The question now becomes…

What can this year’s team do with this latest playoff opportunity?

Last year, the Hawks won a wild-card road game at Philadelphia, then lost despite a late, late rally at Green Bay.

This time around?

Well, that’s a hell of a question.

In this weird, Covid-clouded season, the Super Bowl somehow seems possible — maybe even plausible — for more teams than most of us can ever remember.

For one thing, an extra wild-card entrant has been added in each conference, and only the top finisher gets a first-round bye.

In case you’re wondering, the Seahawks (10-4) could only grab that No. 1 position by winning their final two games against the Rams and 49ers – and having Green Bay lose its last two, to Tennessee and Chicago.

Perhaps, but you wouldn’t bet your first-born child on it.

Here’s an oddity to go with that…

The Rams’ stunning loss on Sunday to the previously winless Jets doesn’t really matter in the chase to win the NFC West.

Basically, Seattle has to beat the Rams this coming weekend (and close the deal against San Francisco in the regular-season finale) to secure the division title that was just 1 yard away in a memorable showdown against the 49ers last year.

NOW, PLEASE recall my mention of how strange this season has been, because that trend could spill over into the playoffs.

For one thing, home field “advantage” is now just the slightest of edges, since various venues will allow very few fans.

Or none at all.

With the defense now playing “Pete Carroll football,” the Seahawks — if they can keep key guys healthy — really are a solid team on both sides of the line.

That could be good enough, because…

The league appears lopsided this year, with most of the really explosive outfits waiting over in the AFC.

Here in the NFC, though, despite Green Bay’s near-lock at getting the bye, and the presence of Aaron Rodgers, the field offers a collection of teams that are just flawed enough that any of several could land in the Super Bowl.

New Orleans is probably the most complete and rugged squad, but there are health questions about quarterback Drew Brees and wide receiver Michael Thomas.

The Packers’ offensive line has gone to pieces at times, and the defense can be gashed.

Tampa Bay has Tom Brady and an aggressive defense, but hasn’t managed any consistency.

Ditto the Rams, only without Brady.

The bottom line is that nobody really stands out as a team where you say, “Sorry, I can’t imagine the Seahawks taking out those guys.”

Maybe that’s why Wilson was smiling so broadly in that post-game interview.

The Hawks are legit in this coming free-for-all.

Legit…

And maybe more than that.

Email: scameron@cdapress.com

Steve Cameron’s “Cheap Seats” columns appear in The Press on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. “Moments, Memories and Madness,” his reminiscences from several decades as a sports journalist, runs each Sunday.

Steve also writes Zags Tracker, a commentary on Gonzaga basketball which is published each Tuesday.