Seahawks don't want to be considered underdogs
If the Seattle Seahawks cared about what oddsmakers think, they'd see that for the second straight week they are decided, 10-point underdogs in the NFC playoffs, even after pulling off a stunning upset last weekend.
Don't try convincing Seahawks coach Pete Carroll that playing the underdog card is a viable motivational tactic.
''I think it's different than what most people go on,'' Carroll told reporters. ''The story lines that you guys come up with all the time are kind of the ones that we don't use.''
Maybe it's simply because he became so used to never being an underdog in his time dominating the college game at Southern California, but the phrase ''underdog'' isn't being uttered much around the Seahawks headquarters.
Sure, it's a bit odd to not play the disrespect card, especially in a win-or-go-home setting the Seahawks will face Sunday against Chicago in the NFC divisional playoff. But those aren't the motivational tactics Carroll relies on, even if his players find that a bit strange.
''Every game, no matter how much the people on the outside say that we have no chance, he makes sure that we know that we have a chance,'' Seattle tight end John Carlson said.
Tuesday was the one-year anniversary of Carroll leaving behind his decade of dominance at USC and returning to the NFL. In that time, he's changed nearly everything about the franchise, from the nearly 300 roster moves to the slogans that surround Seahawks headquarters.
Whether it's ''I'm In'' or ''Win Forever,'' Carroll's message has resonated with the younger players. And while it might seem corny, veterans understand what he's trying to accomplish.
''It's good for the younger guys who don't have the experience and I learned to understand that,'' said defensive end Raheem Brock, who has reached the playoffs in each of his nine NFL seasons. ''Everybody hasn't been in my situation where I've been in, going to the playoffs so many times. ... The younger guys have never been in this situation and they need to hear things like that and they need to understand the situations we go through.
''All the things he says, they're helping.''
Hence the idea of not bringing up the underdog factor heading into a place the Seahawks won earlier this season, 23-20 in Week 6.
Carroll seems to be relishing the situation. It's an opportunity to test his philosophies against conventional beliefs, while at the same time making up for a dubious regular season that landed Seattle in the playoffs as the first division winner with a losing record.
It's opposite of what Carroll experienced at USC, when one loss early in the season often ended his hopes for a national title because of the BCS format. While it's overly cliche, the idea of wiping the slate and starting over when the playoffs begin is true in the NFL.
''You can extend your opportunities by winning games and the tension and the buildup and the excitement and the fun all mounts as you go through that - that's what is different than the non-playoff system,'' Carroll said. ''When you play one bowl game it's just a one-shot deal and now you go to the polls to see what happens. But I never really liked that part of it, I'd just play it and see what happens because you're competing.''
The Seahawks could be perfect examples. They would need to advance to the Super Bowl to ensure at least a .500 record, but no matter the outcome this week against the Bears, they appear to have taken significant steps forward in Carroll's first year.
''I'm really pleased with where we are right now,'' Carroll said. ''The fact that we've responded at this time of the year and our guys are really in it right now, they're championing the cause, they're talking the right talk, and we're focused like we want to be focused - there's no question.''