These Seattle Seahawks might be better than a year ago

SEATTLE -- Even Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll couldn't resist an I-told-you-so moment.

It came after the Seahawks won the NFC West title and again clinched home-field advantage for the playoffs with a 20-6 victory over the St. Louis Rams in the regular-season finale.

"All you guys kept talking about how we couldn't do this," Carroll said. "You can't come back from all this stuff, [people said]. You can. We just did. We got back as division champs."

After falling to 6-4, the Seahawks ran the table through the toughest part of their schedule and are right back where they wanted to be: the No. 1 seed in the NFC and playing at home throughout the playoffs. Are they better now than the Super Bowl winners of a year ago? Could this team beat the one from the previous season?

"It's different circumstances, but this is a little bit better," quarterback Russell Wilson said. "You're 3-3, and people were doubting you, but there was no doubt in our locker room. To come back and show that resilience, I would pick this team."

Sunday was a bit of a microcosm of Seattle's 2014 season. The Seahawks were down 6-0 at the half, after giving up two turnovers and watching quarterback Wilson scramble under constant pressure.

But the Seahawks rallied with big play after big play and took charge of the game in the second half. The defense continued one of the most impressive six-game runs in NFL history.

For the fourth time in the past six games, the defense did not allow a touchdown. The defense has given up a total of only 39 points in those six games.

So how good is this team? The Seahawks were 13-3 entering the playoff last season, but that team was 11-1 before losing two of its last four games.

The 2014 team was 3-3 before winning nine of the last 10, so it's entering the playoffs with more momentum than a year ago.

The Seahawks weathered the emotional storm and the shock that came with the Percy Harvin trade Oct. 17. They made it through several key injuries, including middle linebacker Bobby Wagner's missing five games before coming back to earn his first Pro Bowl selection.

"When everybody doubted us, we showed them we're not going anywhere," Wagner said. "I feel we're peaking at the right time. We have a lot of steam coming into this playoff run, and it's going to be scary for whatever teams have to come in here."

Wide receiver Doug Baldwin said there is a different feeling entering the playoffs this season.

"It's sweeter because of the way we came together and trusted each other," Baldwin said. "It's something special man, it really is."

Seattle has outscored its opponents 134-39 over the past six games. The defense now has led the league in fewest points allowed for the third consecutive season, which makes them only the third team in NFL history to accomplish the feat.

The most recent such team was the famed Purple People Eaters of the Minnesota Vikings in 1969-71. The other team that did it was the Cleveland Browns from 1955-57 under Paul Brown.

"I think we can be better," said Seattle linebacker Bruce Irvin, who had his second pick-six of the season Sunday with a 49-yard touchdown return in the fourth quarter. "The defense already is better than last year."

This team climbed out of the abyss when many people thought the rope had ripped.

"I think we're better just because we've had to go through more adversity than last year," nickleback Jeremy Lane said. "Everyone thought we were down, and we came back stronger."