Head Coach: Pete Carroll
2014 record: 14-5 overall, 5-1 NFC West
2014 Postseason results: Beat Carolina Panthers 31-17 in the Divisional Playoffs, Beat Green Bay Packers 28-22 (OT) in NFC Championship, Lost Super Bowl XLIX 28-24 to the New England Patriots
Odds to win Super Bowl 50: 9/2
Odds to win NFC Championship: +285
Odds to win NFC West Division: 2/7
Regular season wins: over 11 -130 / under 11 Even
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With 26 seconds left in the Super Bowl last year, the Seattle Seahawks were one yard away from winning their second straight championship. What happened next will haunt Seattle fans forever. Instead of handing the ball to Marshawn Lynch, one of the best running backs in the league, the Seahawks decided to throw the ball on second and goal inside the one. New England Patriots’ cornerback Malcolm Butler intercepted Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson’s throw. The Patriots would hold on for the 28-24 win.
Seattle, coached by Pete Carroll, went 12-4 in the regular season last year and won the NFC West for the second straight season. After a lackluster 3-3 start, Seattle would win 9 of their last 10 games to close out the regular season. Seattle tied with the Green Bay Packers and Dallas Cowboys for the best record in the NFC. Seattle would win the tiebreaker and have home field advantage in the playoffs. The Seahawks beat the NFC South champion Carolina Panthers 31-17 in the Divisional playoffs. Seattle would beat the Packers 28-22 in overtime in the NFC Championship game. In that game, the Seahawks trailed 16-0 at halftime and 19-7 with just over two minutes to go in the fourth.
This year, Seattle is favored to win the Super Bowl. Seattle is trying to become only the third team in NFL history to play in three or more consecutive Super Bowls. Most of the team returns in tact, and the Seahawks added some key pieces.
Seattle averaged 376 yards per game on offense, including 173 rushing and 203 passing yards. The Seahawks were #9 in total offense and led the league in rushing. However, the passing game was #27. Seattle was #10 in scoring at 24.6 points per game. Coordinator Darrell Bevell returns for his fifth season running the offense.
Quarterback Russell Wilson just signed a four year contract extension worth 87.6 million with 60 million dollars guaranteed. That is certainly a well deserved pay raise from the 2.2 million in career earnings he has so far. Wilson threw for 3,475 yards with 20 touchdowns and 7 interceptions, and also rushed for 849 yards on 118 carries with 6 touchdowns. He did throw four interceptions and lost a fumble against the Packers in the NFC Championship game, and threw the interception in the waning moments of the Super Bowl. Normally, he is reliable though. B.J. Daniels will serve as the back-up.
Some conspiracy theorists claimed that Carroll and Bevell deliberately wanted Wilson to throw the game winning TD pass against the Patriots so he would be the hero instead of Lynch. I don’t really believe that. Lynch has ruffled some feathers with his refusal to speak to the media and the absurd lengths he goes to avoid that task. His antics can be a distraction for sure, but since a 2009 misdemeanor weapons charge he hasn’t been accused of any crimes. Beast Mode is still one of the top running backs in the league. Last year he had 280 carries for 1,306 yards with 13 touchdowns, and had 37 catches for 367 yards with 4 touchdowns. Robert Turbin had 74 carries for 310 yards with no touchdowns, and also had 16 catches for 186 yards and 2 touchdowns. He is questionable with a hip injury. Christine Michael will also get some carries. Fullback Derrick Coleman didn’t have a carry last year but did catch a touchdown pass.
Seattle made a huge trade when they acquired tight end Jimmy Graham from the New Orleans Saints. The Seahawks traded former All-pro center Max Unger away for Graham. Graham had 85 catches for 889 yards and 10 touchdowns last year for the Saints. He instantly becomes the best red zone target for Wilson, and perhaps best receiver overall. Receiver Doug Baldwin had 66 catches for 825 yards with 3 touchdowns. Jermaine Kearse had 38 catches for 537 yards with a touchdown. Tight end Luke Willson had 22 catches for 362 yards and 3 touchdowns. Paul Richardson had 29 catches for 271 yards and a touchdown. Richardson is doubtful with a knee injury. Ricardo Lockette and tight end Cooper Helfet each had two touchdown catches last year. The Seahawks also drafted Receiver Tyler Lockett in the third round out of Kansas State. He will get some targets and will be a valuable asset in the return game.
Patrick Lewis takes over as the center for Unger, and Alvin Bailey replaces James Carpenter at left guard. Carpenter is now with the New York Jets. Left tackle Russell Okung, right tackle Justin Britt, and right guard J.R. Sweezy return as starters though. The Seahawks drafted tackle Terry Poole (4th round, San Diego State), and guards Mark Glowinski (4th round, West Virginia) & Kristjan Sokoli (6th round, Buffalo) to bolster the depth.
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Seattle allowed 267 yards per game, including 186 passing and 82 rushing yards per game. The Seahawks allowed 15.6 points per game. Seattle was #1 in total defense, passing defense, and points allowed. The rush defense was #3 in the league.
The Seahawks have had the best defense in football for several seasons. With great success, teams will want to raid your assistants. It happened in 2012 when Gus Bradley became the head coach for the Jaguars after serving as the Seahawks defensive coordinator. The Atlanta Falcons hired last year’s coordinator Dan Quinn as their head coach. Carroll promoted defensive backs coach Kris Richard as the new coordinator.
Defensive end Michael Bennett is back after making 7 sacks last year. Cliff Avril returns at the other end and had 5 sacks last year. The Seahawks drafted ends Frank Clark in the second round out of Michigan and Obum Gwacham in the sixth round out of Oregon State. Tony McDaniel and Jordan Hill are back as the tackles. Hill had 5.5 sacks and an interception. The tackles will also get back former starter Brandon Mebane from a hamstring injury, and also signed nose tackle Ahtyba Rubin from the Cleveland Browns. Jesse Williams will miss the entire season as he undergoes treatment for kidney cancer.
All three starters return for the linebackers. Outside backer Bruce Irvin had 6.5 sacks and two interceptions, both of which were returned for touchdowns. K.J. Wright starts on the other outside position and led the team with 107 tackles. Bobby Wagner had 104 tackles in the middle. The linebackers lost free agents Malcolm Smith to the Oakland Raiders and O’Brien Schofield to the Falcons.
Safeties Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor are both All-pro. Cornerback Richard Sherman had four interceptions. Cornerback Byron Williams signed with the Philadelphia Eagles. His replacement in the Legion of Boom will come from free agent signees Will Blackmon from the Jaguars and Cary Williams from the Eagles. Seattle also drafted cornerback Tye Smith and strong safety Ryan Murphy.
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Kicker Steven Hauschka made 31 of 37 field goals last year. Punter Jon Ryan averaged 44.1 yards per punt last year and landed 28 punts inside the 20. He also threw a touchdown pass on a fake punt against the Packers that got the Seahawks back into the NFC Championship game. Lockett will return kicks and Kearse will return punts.
Seattle opens the season with road games against the Rams and Packers, before the home opener against Chicago. October brings home games against the Lions on a Monday night and Panthers, plus road games at the Bengals and 49ers on a Thursday. The Seahawks travel to the Cowboys to open November before going on the bye in week nine. The rest of November includes home games against Arizona, San Francisco and Pittsburgh. In December, Seattle has road games at Minnesota and Baltimore, plus home games against Cleveland and St. Louis. The Seahawks close the season at the Cardinals.
This team is still an elite team and will go deep into the playoffs. Seattle addressed their weakness at receiver with the acquisition of Graham. The defense will still be the best in football. The game against the Packers will likely decide home field advantage in the playoffs as it did last year. I think the Seahawks lose to the Packers twice at Lambeau this season, much like the Packers lost twice in Seattle last year.
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