The Seahawks took a calculated gamble by trading away disgruntled wide receiver Percy Harvin, who only last year had signed a $67-million deal after being traded for two draft picks, including a first-rounder. But the move to deal Harvin to the Jets on Oct. 17 has worked out just fine for the defending Super Bowl champions.
Seattle was 3-2 at the time of the deal, and after an upset loss to the Rams two days after the trade, they have won seven of eight. At 10-4 and with a game in Arizona tonight against the 11-3 Cardinals, the Seahawks can win the NFC West if they beat Arizona and then the Rams at home in the regular-season finale.
Wide receiver Doug Baldwin has been the main beneficiary of Harvin's departure; 40 of his 56 catches and all three of his touchdown receptions have come after the trade. And Seattle has shown much more willingness to stick to their ground & pound approach with tailback Marshawn Lynch and a smothering defense that has picked it up a notch with the return of linebacker Bobby Wagner.
Young QBs sparkle
No surprise that Andrew Luck is succeeding in the early going of his NFL career. The No. 1 pick in 2012 was ticketed for stardom from the beginning. Russell Wilson? Not so much. The Seahawks took him in the third round the same year, but he is proving every bit as good as a high first-round pick.
Luck and Wilson are now the only quarterbacks in the Super Bowl era to lead their teams to at least 10 wins in each of their first three seasons.
"We've got a lot of football ahead of us," said Wilson, who won his 34th start last week, the most by a quarterback in his first three seasons in the Super Bowl era. "Hopefully, we can keep winning and keep finding ways to win."
In the hot seat
The Jets finish their season next Sunday in Miami, where many believe that Rex Ryan will be coaching his final game for New York. It could also be the last game on the Dolphins' sideline for Joe Philbin.
Though still mathematically in contention for a playoff spot at 7-7, the Dolphins' need two wins and plenty of help to get in. And if they fail to reach the playoffs, it could be the end for Philbin after three seasons. He's just 22-24 so far, and with quarterback Ryan Tannehill showing only modest improvement, it appears the Dolphins will be looking elsewhere to find another coach to work with the young passer.
Other coaches either on the hot seat or gone: Jim Harbaugh of the 49ers, who is leaving mostly of his own volition and will choose between the NFL and his alma mater Michigan; Tony Sparano of the Raiders, Marc Trestman of the Bears, Jay Gruden of Washington, and Mike Smith of Atlanta.