Watch]]Browns Cleveland vs Seahawks Seattle Live NFL

Watch]]Browns Cleveland vs Seahawks Seattle Live NFL

Remember when the Seahawks were 2-4, the sky was falling in the Pacific Northwest and people were seriously doubting whether Seattle would even have a chance to defend its Super Bowl title?


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Fast-forward two months and the situation couldn't be more different as they prepare to host the Cleveland Browns on Sunday afternoon. The high-flying Seahawks are one of the league's hottest teams and in firm control of their playoff destiny. They've won four straight and six of seven games since bottoming out in mid-October, and now have a commanding hold on the fifth seed in the NFC playoff picture.

This late-season push by Seattle shouldn't come as a surprise. They have made a habit of starting slow and finishing strong. Last year, the Seahawks were 3-3 through their first six games and then went 11-1 before losing in the Super Bowl. In 2012, they were a .500 team in the first half of the season but won seven of their final eight games en route to a 11-5 record.

The only difference between this year's club and its predecessors is that the wins are piling up because of a potent offensive attack instead of its typically suffocating defense. The fewest points the Seahawks have scored during their four-game win streak is 29, and including their 39-32 loss to Arizona in Week 10, are averaging 34.6 points over their last five games. It's the first time in franchise history they've scored at least 29 points in five straight games.

The scariest part of Seattle's rise is that the team is being carried by quarterback Russell Wilson, who is in the midst of the hottest stretch of his career. He is on a historic tear over his last four games: he's completed 75.4 percent of his passes for 1,171 yards (9.9 yards per attempt) with 16 touchdowns and no interceptions.

Wilson is the first player in NFL history to put together four consecutive games of at least three passing touchdowns, zero picks and a completion rate of 70 percent or better. He is also the only quarterback in the Super Bowl era to compile a four-game streak with a passer rating of at least 135.0 and 20 attempts in each game.

Wide receiver Doug Baldwin has been the main beneficiary of Wilson's incredible run. In the last three games, Baldwin has 17 receptions for 321 yards (18.9 yards per catch) and eight touchdowns. That's the same number of scores he had in the 2013 and 2014 seasons combined.

With an explosive offense to match its already-stout defense, Seattle is now one of the most dangerous teams in the league and has a legit shot to knock off any of the top seeds in the conference. The Seahawks can take the first step toward an inevitable playoff berth by beating the Browns on Sunday and getting some help from other teams.

Cleveland, meanwhile, has been eliminated from the postseason party but there is still plenty of intrigue surrounding this team. Johnny Manziel has been given the reins to the offense, and has a four-game audition to show the Browns that he can lead them in 2016 and beyond.

He passed his first test with flying colors, throwing for 270 yards and a touchdown in last week's win over the 49ers. Manziel brought a real spark to the offense, and aside from a bad interception in the first half, looked poised, confident and in control. Now the challenge for Manziel is to build on that success, and ultimately show the Browns that he has the talent and character to be a franchise quarterback.

December 21, 2015 at 4pm - 7pm
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