In a close call, it’s clear who controls the NFC West
Since arriving from Cincinnati, Carlos Dunlap has been quiet for the Seattle Seahawks. All that changed in the closing seconds of Thursday night against the Arizona Cardinals. On a must-convert fourth down play, the veteran defensive end clobbered Kyler Murray, cementing a 28-21 victory for Seattle.
Dunlap’s game-sealing sack will rejuvenate the 12th Man fanbase who could have doubted the club entering Week 11. Now sitting at 7-3, the Seahawks regain sole possession of the NFC West and hope to keep it that way entering the final month of action.
With a run game returning, an MVP-caliber quarterback still getting it done and more sound defensive play, the battle for the division title heads through Seattle. And don’t expect Russell Wilson and Co. to make a trip to the “Hawks Nest” pleasant for anyone involved.
A balanced offense helps Seattle contend
Wilson over the past several weeks has been missing an element on offense. That falls in the run game which has been hampered by injures. Despite missing lead back Chris Carson, Seattle gained Carlos Hyde and the former Texans runner put on a show.
Hyde finished with 79 yards on 14 carries and scored late in the third quarter. Two big runs set Seattle up for scores in the red zone, including an 11-yard touchdown pass to Tyler Lockett. Wilson, although limited in yards, was pinpoint accurate, going 23-of-28 for 197 yards and two scores.
The defense continues to come together at the right moment, forcing Murray to feel the pressure at the right moment. In their last outing, the Seahawks managed to tally a pair of sacks on the former No.1 overall pick. With Dunlap now active, they added a third in the fold. Murray also looked out of sync after taking a hit early, finishing with 269 passing yards and 15 more on the ground.
In the final drive, recent defensive additions started to step up. Quandre Diggs, whom the team acquired last season, rushed over to save a touchdown against Andy Isabella while Dunlap delivered the final blow.
As the final month approaches, Seattle’s toughest game comes against the Rams in Week 16. Barring any setbacks on either side, the Seahawks should easily take down the NFC East and the Jets before closing the year out against divisional opponents. On the flip side, Arizona still has three divisional outings, including two against the Rams’ defense that limited D.K. Metcalf until the fourth quarter.
Getting healthy at the right moment and finding their defensive niche, Seattle could transform their overall persona heading into postseason football. For now, it’s clear that even with problems on both sides of the ball, they hold the best chance to represent the division a third straight time at the Super Bowl come February.