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Seahawks' defense helps seize NFC's top seed

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The Seattle Seahawks captured the NFC's No. 1 seed on Sunday, rallying back from a halftime deficit to lock up the NFC West title with a 20-6 victory over the St. Louis Rams.

1. If not for a pair of turnovers and a failed fourth-down conversion, the Seahawks would have won this one in a laugher. The defense remains the NFL's most suffocating, having surrendered a total of three touchdowns in the past six games. They became the first team to lead the NFL in fewest points allowed for three consecutive seasons since the 1969-71 Minnesota Vikings. The road to the Super Bowl runs through CenturyLink Field, where Seattle is 16-2 over the past two years.

2. The "Legion of Boom" wrecked Drew Brees, Colin Kaepernick and Peyton Manning en route to last year's Super Bowl victory. Although they have been stingier in their current stretch, it should be noted that the dominance has come against Drew Stanton, Mark Sanchez, Colin Kaepernick (twice), Ryan Lindley and Shaun Hill -- four of whom opened the season on the bench. The Seahawks are the NFC's heavy favorites by dint of home-field advantage and postseason experience, but the Cowboys and Packers certainly won't view them as invincible.

3. The Cardinals became the 10th consecutive team to lose the week after playing Pete Carroll's squad. It's a testament to their physicality, which has left opponents with a hangover going back to early last season.

4. You know about the NFL's best secondary and Pro Bowl middle linebacker Bobby Wagner, but there are new faces behind the Seahawks' current run. Bruce Irvin has been a terror coming off the edge of late. Second-year defensive tackle Jordan Hill has emerged as an effective interior pass rusher on third downs, recording 5.5 sacks in the last six weeks. Additionally, Wagner, defensive end Michael Bennett and cornerback Byron Maxwell have raised their level of play from last season.

5. Russell Wilson took some big hits from an impressive Rams front seven that limited him to just 1.2 yards per carry. It can't be counted as a blueprint for stopping the Seahawks' offense because the best playoff teams lack difference-making talents such as Robert Quinn, Aaron Donald and Alec Ogletree up front.

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