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In trading for Duane Brown, the Seahawks have upped the ante in the NFC

Duane Brown will be blocking for Russell Wilson for the rest of the season. (Stephen Brashear/Associated Press)
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The Seattle Seahawks, until Monday, were a good but flawed team in a season in which the NFC is lacking honest-to-goodness powerhouses.

The Seahawks have a still-formidable defense, even if it didn’t appear that way during Sunday’s triumph at home over the Houston Texans in a captivating quarterback duel between Seattle’s Russell Wilson and Houston’s rookie sensation, Deshaun Watson. The Seahawks’ offense remained a work in progress, leaning heavily on Wilson’s improvisational mastery behind an offensive line that had been too often neglected in recent years.

That changed with Monday’s trade for Duane Brown, the three-time Pro Bowl left tackle of the Texans.

The Seahawks are not quite ready to step aside for the Rams in the NFC West

The Seahawks sent cornerback Jeremy Lane and draft picks, reportedly a fifth-rounder next year and a second-rounder in 2019, to Houston for Brown, who played his first game of the season Sunday in Seattle against the Seahawks. A day later, he became a member of the Seahawks.

He had held out in a contract dispute and then reported to the Texans just before the controversy erupted over the recent comments made by the team’s owner, Robert McNair, during an NFL owners’ meeting. Brown was among the Texans players who were the most vocal in their public criticism of McNair’s comments, in which McNair reportedly said that owners “can’t have the inmates running the prison.”

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It was clear there was a chance that the Texans would part with Brown before the NFL’s trade deadline at 4 p.m. Tuesday. It also was clear the Seahawks probably were in the market for a left tackle. The deal should surprise no one, especially given that the NFL no longer is the no-trade league that it once was. Making trades, even during the season, has become a far more accepted form of roster-bolstering, and this was a blockbuster for Seattle.

The Seahawks have been criticized over the years for ignoring their offensive line and leaving Wilson pretty much on his own while devoting their resources to other areas of their roster. Wilson and the defense have made things work well enough to take the Seahawks to two Super Bowls and keep them in solid contention since then. Still, they have gone two seasons without a Super Bowl appearance.

They have a record of 5-2 after Sunday’s 41-38 triumph over the Texans, tied with the Los Angeles Rams atop the NFC West. The Seahawks beat the Rams earlier this season and say they aren’t ready to move aside just yet for the latest challenger to their division supremacy.

Just when it seemed the right time to acknowledge that the Philadelphia Eagles, with their 7-1 record and the MVP-ish exploits of second-year quarterback Carson Wentz, are the Super Bowl front-runner in the NFC, the Brown trade might force a reevaluation.

The Eagles aren’t perfect, but they’re above and beyond the NFC’s best team

Wilson now has a legitimate left tackle. He has been a very good quarterback, and at times an elite quarterback, without a formidable offensive line in front of him. Now he has something quite a bit closer to that. He has more help on offense. The defense remains quite good, even with what Watson was able to do Sunday.

Watch out for the Seahawks. They have upped the ante in the NFC Super Bowl chase. They could be very difficult to beat.

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