The Seahawks are going to the playoffs for the fifth straight year, but this team is missing one thing the others had in spades: a running attack.
Seattle has been ranked among the top four rushing teams in the league since 2012. It's something Seahawks fans are accustomed to.
Seattle will go into these playoffs ranked 25th in the league (out of 32 teams) in rushing. Their problems moving the ball on the ground were apparent Sunday against the 49ers when they only mustered 87 yards against the worst rushing defense in the league.
Several things have played into this: Poor offensive line play; Russell Wilson injured his ankle in Week 1 and knee in Week 3; Thomas Rawls missed much of the season due to injury; C.J. Prosise has been out for the same reason.
Oh -- and no Marshawn Lynch. That's kind of a thing.
Want to hear the good news? A strong rushing game is not a prerequisite for making it to the Super Bowl these days. Sure, maybe it was important back in the days of Franco Harris, John Riggins, and Emmitt Smith. But over the past 10 years -- an era in which teams are passing much more -- 13 of the 20 Super Bowl participants weren't ranked in the top 10 in rushing. Three of those teams were dead last in the NFL. And one of those last-place rushing teams ended up winning the Lombardi Trophy.
Super Bowl XLI
Bears: 15th; Colts: 18th (Colts won)
Super Bowl XLII
Giants: 4th; Patriots 13th (Giants won)
Super Bowl XLIII
Steelers: 23rd; Cardinals: 32nd (Steelers won)
Super Bowl XLIV
Saints: 6th; Colts: 32nd (Saints won)
Super Bowl XLV
Steelers: 11th; Packers: 24th (Packers won)
Super Bowl XLVI
Patriots: 20th; Giants: 32nd (Giants won)
Super Bowl XLVII
49ers: 4th; Ravens: 11th (Ravens won)
Super Bowl XLVIII
Seahawks 4th; Broncos: 15th (Seahawks won)
Super Bowl XLIX
Seahawks: 1st; Patriots: 18th (Patriots won)
Super Bowl 50
Panthers 2nd; Broncos: 17th (Broncos won)
Of course, this all puts more pressure on Russell Wilson to get the ball to his receivers. That 32nd-ranked Giants team that won Super Bowl XLVI was led by Eli Manning, who had a phenomenal postseason.
Just as importantly is whether the offensive line can protect Wilson long enough to do it. And although the eye test says Wilson was sacked an inordinate amount of times, the 41 sacks on him this season are actually the fewest he's taken since his rookie year.
The difference is he had a running game to lean on before to keep the Seahawks from being one-dimensional. Wilson doesn't have that this year.
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