Seahawks own the NFC's best record

ROB LONGLEY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 10:17 AM ET

If it were the Manhattan Seahawks or the Boston Seahawks or even the Chicago Seahawks, chances are this team would be getting far more attention.

That's the view of Seattle Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren, anyway.

"People on the East Coast think we're from Siberia," Holmgren said recently. Not for long, one has to believe.

Riding an 11-game win streak and an NFC-best 13-2 record to match the AFC-leading Indianapolis Colts, the Seahawks are just too good or too accomplished to ignore.

And now that much of the drama has been removed from the coming final week of this NFL season, looking ahead to potential playoff matchups is the way to go.

Only the Dallas Cowboys and Kansas City Chiefs can work their into the playoff mix this weekend, and both need serious help. The rest of the dust to be settled will be for wagering, seeding and draft order purposes only.

So among the juiciest of the looming playoff pairings that await are, in no particular order: Indianapolis Colts vs. New England Patriots, which could happen in the divisional round, the first playoff game for the Colts.

The Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Cincinnati Bengals, an enticing wild-card matchup between two AFC powerhouses.

And, just about anyone the Seahawks might meet.

Part of the attraction with the good story brewing in the Pacific Northwest is that nobody knows quite what to make of the Seahawks.

You can't, for example, read too much into Saturday's defeat of the Colts, who were not motivated, resting starters and distracted by the loss of coach Tony Dungy's son.

Then there is the schedule.

A team can only beat who they play, but being in th NFC West, the Seahawks got fat on two helpings each of the Arizona Cardinals, St. Louis Rams and San Francisco 49ers.

Add to the fact they are tucked away in the upper northwest corner of the U.S. there is the out of sight, out of mind factor. Many wouldn't even consider the Seahawks among the top three candidates if they resided in the AFC.

Oddsmakers already have installed the NFC as an 11-point underdog for the Super Bowl, and that's with knowledge that Seattle would appear to be the front-runner.

On the other hand, the Seahawks have too many qualities to ignore.

Running back Shaun Alexander has emerged as a serious MVP candidate. He already has equalled Priest Holmes' single-season record for touchdowns (27) and has all but locked up the league rushing title.

Alexander has rushed for 1,807 yards, a brilliant number that is even better than it looks given he has sat out most of the fourth quarter in three blowout wins.

Much is made of the Seattle offence, which leads the league in scoring with 435 points. What most don't know is the Seahawks have yielded just 248 points.

Only three teams in the league have surrendered less. Can you say balance?

The popular view is the NFC seems to be there for the Seahawks to take, even with a team that hasn't won a playoff game since 1991.

Seattle will be the only NFC team returning to the conference tournament from last year after both the Philadelphia Eagles and Atlanta Falcons bombed out.

So go ahead, pick a team that might beat them?

The New York Giants are a potential candidate given that they lost 24-21 in Seattle, an overtime contest in which kicker Jay Feely missed, count 'em, three field goals.

The big problem with the G-men is that they have performed poorly on the road and with the struggles of quarterback Eli Manning are starting to look one dimensional.

Now that quarterback Rex Grossman has given them at least a dash of offence, the Chicago Bears are a threat.

What a storyline it would be for the NFC championship to see how well Brian Urlacher and that fearsome Bears defence could slow down Alexander.

The best script of all, though, would be a Super Bowl date with the Colts.

It may end up feeling like Siberia that week in Detroit, but by then everyone will know where the Seahawks are from.


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