2015 Seattle Seahawks Predictions: 1st NFC West (2014 record: 12-4)
Head Coach: Pete Carroll
NFC West Division Odds: -500
Super Bowl Champion Odds: +300
Season Win Totals Over-Under Odds: Over 11 (-125), Under 11 (-105)
Key Additions: Jimmy Graham (TE), Cary Williams (CB), Frank Clark (DE/OLB)
Key Losses: Byron Maxwell (CB), Max Unger (C), Malcolm Smith (LB)
The Seahawks were one bone-headed play call away from becoming the first repeat NFL champion in a decade. Instead, they had to travel back to Seattle with their tails tucked between their legs and find a way to recover from that inexplicable gaffe. Enter TE Jimmy Graham, a perfect complement to the offensive weapons that remain in place.
The squad that limited the opposition to just under seventeen points per game returns almost completely intact. The lone exception is the tradeoff of former Eagle Cary Williams for Byron Maxwell at corner. They’re very similar, but nobody will notice because the rest of the secondary is dominant; nobody can match the triumvirate of Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor, and Earl Thomas. The rest of the defense returns and is equally outstanding – and they get a (literally) big piece back from a late-season injury. DT Brandon Mebane missed the last couple of months and the playoffs with a bad hammy; Carolina and Green Bay were able to run successfully in his absence, and he’ll be a welcomed returnee.
The Hawks also added another pass rushing threat by drafting Frank Clark for some added depth. Nobody was able to step in for Michael Bennett when he was injured against the Pats and it was evident that another pass rushing threat was needed. Mission accomplished. With a healthy Bennett, LB Bruce Irvin, DE Cliff Avril, and Clark, there should be no problem pressuring opposing quarterbacks. The front seven is equally effective against the run; meaning this unit will again rank near the top of the charts.
Trading for Graham was, believe it or not, only the second biggest move that was made on the offensive side of the ball. The biggest was bringing back stud RB Marshawn Lynch, he who SHOULD have had the ball at the end of the Super Bowl. Nobody runs harder than Lynch, and he is the rare individual who will still play like a beast after getting the big contract.
Same goes for QB Russell Wilson, who is going to be out for retribution after his ill-timed interception to close out the Seahawks season. Graham will be a big upgrade to the average receiving corps; Doug Baldwin is merely OK as the top option, and Jermaine Kearse is largely unproven. The hope is that Chris Matthews, who had a big game in the Super Bowl, can step up and be a regular and productive contributor.
The biggest weakness on the team is usually masked by the power of Lynch and the mobility of Wilson; the offensive line is barely serviceable, save for All Pro Russell Okung. They had hoped to find Unger’s replacement in the draft but weren’t so lucky. Perhaps the fact that the rest of the unit remains intact will help them, but we wouldn’t count on it.
There are three tough roadies against Green Bay, Baltimore, and Dallas on the schedule, but it’s more than balanced out by the ridiculously easy home schedule. The division took a big hit, as the Niners and Rams don’t look to be threats. This team could reach a dozen wins and yet another Super Bowl. Over