Seahawks living up to season's hype

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SEATTLE — Normally, the bye week is a necessary stress reliever for football fanatics. It’s an absolute must because this game of overreaction wrenches every emotion imaginable. You always want more, but when the break arrives, you realize it’s good for your health.

The 2013 Seahawks are different, however. This is the bye, but there is no break, not in terms of interest. They’re 10-1, the first team in the NFL to reach double-digit victories. They’re not without their flaws, but they’re an overpowering team with a clear opportunity to win a championship. Though many anticipated this scenario when the season ended last January, the Seahawks have managed to be even better than those visions in a lot of ways. Or maybe they’ve just met expectations so well that reality seems like a fantasy.

So far, the Seahawks have been the rare Seattle team worth every drop of their hype. No city gets excited about its teams as quickly as Seattle does, and that often leads to disappointment. That has been especially true since 2008, the perfect-storm year when Seattle sports hit rock bottom.

Since then, you’ve been waiting for one of the Big 3 — Mariners, Seahawks and the University of Washington — to lead the revival. But that has only led to more angst.

When the Mariners traded for Cliff Lee in 2010, they were supposed to become a playoff team. They wound up losing 101 games.

When Jake Locker returned as a fifth-year quarterback for Washington in 2010, the Huskies began a Heisman Trophy campaign and dreamed of a dominant season. They started the year 3-6, Locker broke his ribs, and the Huskies needed everything they had to muster a 7-6 record.

The Washington men’s basketball team has had promising rosters, such as the 2011-12 team that featured future first-round NBA draft picks Terrence Ross and Tony Wroten Jr. But those Huskies didn’t even make the NCAA tournament despite winning the Pac-12 regular-season title.

Seattle flops all over the place, including the premature excitement earlier this year that the NBA and NHL appeared to be coming to town. It didn’t happen because, like rebuilding teams that have crumbled, there is usually a long process involved.

Patience has been a curse word around here.

But here are the 2013 Seahawks, a team perfect for unabashed hope. They’re like dessert for the overzealous. It’s late in the season, but the Seahawks have a long way to go to fulfill championship aspirations. Still, they’ve shown themselves to be far more prepared for the challenge than the others.

There’s a difference between hype and proclaiming transparent excellence. It has been clear since the second half of the 2011 season that the Seahawks were building something special. The only question was how far they could take it, and when Russell Wilson proved to be a star quarterback, it became obvious that this would become dominant.

You saw it. You trusted it. And the Seahawks have lived up to it so far.

Now, it’s standing-room only on the bandwagon.

The bandwagon is so full because the Seahawks are something you can believe in, which fans around here desperately needed.

They’re a team that hasn’t turned a dream into a disaster. They’re a team that you can judge without qualifiers. And they’re a team that does things its own way, a trendsetter in a uniform, copycat league.

There are dozens of reasons not to get too carried away at this point. Atlanta had the NFC’s best record last year and didn’t advance to the Super Bowl. Neither did Denver in the AFC.

Here’s a crazy stat about being the regular-season NFC big dog: Only one of the past six No. 1 seeds in the NFC has advanced to the Super Bowl. The exception was the 2009 New Orleans Saints, who went on to win Super Bowl XLIV.

The Seahawks have the league’s best record after 11 games. That’s it. In the past three seasons, how many teams with the best record after 11 games have advanced to the Super Bowl? Zero. Houston (10-1) couldn’t do it last season. Green Bay (11-0) couldn’t do it in 2011. New England and Atlanta, both 9-2, couldn’t do it in 2010.

These aren’t statistics intended to make you panic. They’re just proof of how much work remains.

But the Seahawks are the healthiest they’ve been all season. Coach Pete Carroll has been careful to put his team in position to peak at the right time. This is a young team that should have plenty of gas left.

“I feel like we’ve accomplished a lot to get to this point in some regards,” Carroll said. “And in other regards, we haven’t done anything yet.’’

The Seahawks have made believers of a fan base that was mourning just five years ago.

But as you reflect during this break, it’s impossible to ignore how close they are to doing something truly special.

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