Dec 2, 2013; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) passes against the New Orleans Saints during the second quarter at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
We hear about it every season and see proof of it almost every week: Parity. Google it and Parity is defined as:
The state or condition of being equal, esp. regarding status or pay.
While one could argue the league has never been more divided between the “haves” and “the have nots”, another could argue the league has never been more even. The top teams like the Broncos, Chiefs, Seahawks, Patriots, and Panthers proudly stand on one side of the spectrum, while the Jaguars, Buccaneers, and Texans sadly occupy the other side.
It’s clear: The “A” students appear to be very far apart from the “F” students. It’s the teams in the middle that are tough to nail down. The middle happens to be the place the Dallas Cowboys currently reside.
While the top teams in the league are fairly easy to point out, each team is clearly flawed. Whether the flaws prove to be fatal or not remains to be seen, but the flaws are apparent, and they allow a team like the Cowboys to beat any one of them.
In the next couple days we look at some of the “Top Teams” in the league and see why this really is, Anyone’s Game.
Let’s begin at the top…
Dec 2, 2013; Seattle, WA, USA; New Orleans Saints running back Mark Ingram (22) is tackled by Seattle Seahawks defensive tackle Brandon Mebane (92) and middle linebacker Bobby Wagner (54) during the first quarter at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
The Seattle Seahawks
The Seahawks are perhaps the most complete team in the NFL. Boasting a 11-1 record they officially get bragging rights ¾ through the 2013 season.
Depending how you prefer to rank defenses (yards vs points), the Seahawks sit at or near the very top. This is no fluke either.
Last season the Seahawks help the top spot for almost the entire season and have dominated teams with their highly aggressive Single High Safety scheme. Their defense thrives on a strong pass rush and man coverage.
The best way to overcome a defense of this caliber (and against their primary defensive scheme) is to win matchups by TEs and HBs. Not simple check-downs to receivers sitting in softspots, but rather running routes and connecting in stride. This of course is easier said than done considering these are the very players teams are forced to keep in the backfield to assist with pass protection.
On the outside the CBs are dominant. Back shoulder passes provide the best chance of success as does crossing routes. Both of these passes come with a word of caution as they run the risk of interception against this very physical secondary.
Dec 2, 2013; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) dives out of bounds while being chased by New Orleans Saints free safety Malcolm Jenkins (27) during the second quarter at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports
The offense is successful providing a very strong run game with a big-play passing game. Everyone knows about “Beast-Mode” between the tackles but the receivers on the outside are just as frightening. Percy Harvin and Golden Tate are threats at any moment to take it the length of the field.
QB, Russell Wilson, is a duel threat highly-athletic passer. Mature beyond his years he plays it by the book and opts to pass whenever possible. The only true weakness of the offense resides in his ability to check down and read the whole field. He often locks in on 1 or 2 receivers and misses other opportunities.
Together with the best homefield advantage in football (sorry KC but it’s true) the Seahawks are built to beat anyone – but they aren’t unbeatable. With an 11-1 record they will most likely lock down the top spot forcing other teams to beat them on their turf.
The Cowboys do not match up well with Seattle and would have an extremely tough time beating them if they faced one another in the playoffs. San Francisco and Carolina present the biggest challenge to Seattle in the NFC with their similarly strong defenses and ball-controlled offenses.
How they Matchup: Seattle beats the Cowboys 9 out of 10 times
Next up – we look at the top of the AFC