By Eric D. Williams The News Tribune
RENTON — With four games left, the Seattle Seahawks still have their eyes focused on main goal set before the season starting — winning an NFC West division title.
And Seattle’s impressive victory over Chicago last week on the road helped keep alive that possibility.
“It’s real big,” Seahawks defensive tackle Brandon Mebane said about his team’s win over the Bears. “We’re just taking one game at a time to get to our major goal, which is to win the division.”
At 7-5 overall, the Seahawks essentially are 1.5 games behind division leader San Francisco (8-3-1).
But if the Niners lose two of their last four games, including a Dec. 23 tilt in Seattle, and the Seahawks win out, the NFC West title could be theirs for a second time in three years.
The Seahawks also have the benefit of having one of the easier schedules remaining among playoff contenders in the league.
Seattle plays three of its last four games in the comfy confines of CenturyLink Field — NFC West division foes Arizona, San Francisco and St. Louis — where the team is 5-0 this season.
And Seattle’s only road game is against a 5-7 Buffalo team, in what will almost be a neutral site in Toronto.
The Seahawks also face just one team with a winning record in San Francisco. The Niners host Miami on Sunday, followed by a trip to New England to face the Patriots, a road game against Seattle and the season finale at home against NFC West rival Arizona.
San Francisco’s contest against the Patriots is the most likely game where the Niners could stub their toe — since 2001 the Patriots have a league-best 23-1 record in December.
“It’s still out there,” Seattle head coach Pete Carroll said about winning a division title. “We’ve got a lot of games left in the division. San Francisco has a great thing going there. And if they can take care of their business, then they’ll leave everybody else behind. But they’ve still got to win the games, and we do too.”
That said, Carroll also wants his team to resist the urge to look too far ahead. The Seahawks have won three of their last four contests, and face an Arizona team that lost eight straight. But Carroll said his team is focused on Sunday’s game at home against the Cardinals on Sunday.
“All that stuff, that’s not a conversation for me,” Carroll said. “I don’t think it’s worth talking about. The big accomplishment in Chicago gets nullified if you don’t come back and play well the following week.”
The Cardinals are in the midst of an eight-game losing streak, and of the main reasons for Arizona’s struggles is poor quarterback play. Arizona head coach Ken Whisenhunt replaced starter John Skelton with rookie Ryan Lindley four weeks ago due to poor performance, even though his team was ahead 13-3 on the road against NFC power Atlanta. The Cardinals went on to loss the game, 23-19, and Lindley hasn’t exactly set the world on fire since taking over the starting job. A sixth-round draft pick out of San Diego State, Lindley is 0-2 as a starter, completing just 48.5 percent of his passes with no touchdowns, five interceptions and 448 passing yards. Lindley has a 40.4 passer rating. Whisenhunt hasn’t announced whether Lindley or Skelton will start. And Kevin Kolb is not available because of injured ribs … While Arizona’s offense has struggled this season, the defense remains one of the best in the NFL. Led by Tacoma native, defensive coordinator Ray Horton, the Cardinals have forced 24 turnovers this season, and are No.7 in the league in total defense, giving up an average of 324.7 yards a contest. … Larry Fitzgerald leads the Cardinals with 56 receptions for 650 yards and four touchdowns.
Arizona defensive back Kerry Rhodes denied reports that Cardinals defensive tackle Darnell Dockett spit in his face during an argument on the sidelines at the end of Arizona’s 7-6 loss to the New York Jets on Sunday.
“Yes, we had a disagreement on the field but, no he did not spit in my face,” Rhodes said. “Absolutely did not. I’m not going to get into all the details because I think those are things you keep within the team. But Darnell and I talked after the game, we’re both moving on and I’ll leave it at that.”