The Seattle Seahawks looked as good as any team in the NFL when they came barreling down the stretch in 2012. If not for a late drive by Matt Ryan that knocked the Seahawks out of the playoffs in Atlanta, they might not have been stopped. The subject now for our NFL analysis is whether this was just one very impressive hot streak that won’t necessarily roll over into 2013, or whether it was a sign of things to come.
As a football traditionalist, I love the fact that Seattle is one of the few remaining teams that build their success around running the ball and playing defense. Seattle ran it more times than any other offense, with the tough and physical Marshawn Lynch piling up nearly 1,600 yards on the ground. Robert Turbin is a good change-of-pace back and it all makes life a lot easier for quarterback Russell Wilson.
Defensively, teams don’t try and run on Seattle a lot, but the Seahawks did not rank well in terms of yards-per-rush allowed. Some of that is undoubtedly explained by the fact that most good teams don’t have a lot of rush attempts against them, because the opponent is usually playing from behind.
That might explain, for example, why Seattle’s run defense isn’t tested as often as Cleveland’s, but it doesn’t explain why the Seahawks’ opponents ranked 31s in the NFL in rush attempts. I would look for Seattle to be tested here more frequently.
And you may as well try and run on the Seahawks, because passing is going to be tougher. This was already a very good pass defense, with Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner on the corner. Seattle went out and added defensive end Cliff Avril on the free agent market. Avril had 9 ½ sacks in Detroit and he’ll strengthen the area the pass defense was lacking in—pressure on the quarterback.
The most hyped offseason change though, has already blown up in Seattle’s face. Percy Harvin, brought in to give the passing attack a deep threat, is already gone for the year. Harvin’s injury can’t come as any surprise, given his brittleness while in Minnesota, but for it to have happened before training camp broke was disheartening for the Seahawks.
Wilson made huge strides in the second half of last season, transitioning from game manager to game change with his mobility and leadership. But when even Tom Brady is hindered by the lack of a deep threat, what does that say about Russell Wilson? I love the kid, but I’m not high on Golden Tate, or the health of Sidney Rice. And those are the targets.
Seattle faces big expectations this year, with an Over/Under win number of 10.5 being posted in Las Vegas. That number looks awfully good to me, and I expect it’ll fall within a half-game. But I see 10 wins as more likely than 11, and I see 9-7 as more likely than 12-4, so that points me to the Under.