The Seahawks have the best record in the NFL, and are now officially the favorites to win Super Bowl XLVIII (according to Las Vegas, at least). They have the league's #2 scoring offense, #2 scoring defense, and legitimate candidates for NFL MVP (Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch) and DPOY (Earl Thomas). In my 30 years as a Seahawks fan, I've never seen us field a more talented team, or one with a better chance of winning a World Championship.
Then why has the mood among the Twelve Army turned so dour?
Walter Thurmond III evidently couldn't reign in his affinity for the wacky tobaccy, and he's accepted a four-game suspension. Brandon Browner is apparently facing a year-long suspension for a similar violation, which would certainly end his tenure as a Seattle Seahawk. Two main issues arise from these suspensions: A) The on-the-field impact on the Seahawks and B) the public-relations problems the suspensions create for the team.
On the field, the Seahawks should be able to weather the losses of WTIII and Browner, just as they've survived the loss of MANY key starters for long stretches of this season. Losing Russell Okung didn't torpedo the season, nor did losing Sidney Rice, or Percy Harvin, or Max Unger, or Zach Miller, and on and on and on. Byron Maxwell, Jeremy Lane, and/or whomever we sign to buttress the secondary will fill in nicely until Thurmond returns in time for the post-season. Frankly, given that we still have Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas III and Kam Chancellor, the Hawks could probably put ME out there as the 4th DB and still field the NFL's best secondary.
This is also a good time to remind everyone that we don't NEED home field advantage to reach the Super Bowl. Yes, it would make our path to XLVIII much easier, but it's no longer a pre-requisite that Seattle needs the #1 seed to win a Championship. Barring a spectacular implosion, the Seahawks will at least get a first-round bye and a home game in the divisional round. If we are at full-strength by the start of postseason, we'll be able to beat any team in ANY arena (still- go ahead and get HFA anyway, boys... I already have my flight booked for Seattle NFC Championship weekend).
Then there's the matter of "perception." I'm not going to pretend to have any deep insight into why so many Seahawks have drawn suspensions over the past few seasons. I DON'T think it's because we're some evil outlaw franchise, or that Pete Carroll has instituted some nefarious training program involving Adderall, Marijuana, and Skittles. The larger point is that I DON'T CARE what outsiders think about our team. As long as Russell Wilson is holding the Lombardi Trophy on February 2, the rest of the country can grumble and murmur about us being "cheaters" as much as they'd like.
They'll bitch and moan when we beat the Saints next week. They'll whinge when we whip the Niners again in two weeks. They'll HOWL when we win it all... and it will be sweet music to my ears.
What do you think, sirs?