The football regular season kicks off Thursday night in Seattle, and the Seattle Seahawks will be keen to pick up where they left off in February. Winning back-to-back Super Bowls is extremely hard to pull off, but the following three reasons will illustrate my firm belief that the Seahawks are a team who can and will accomplish the feat.
1. The core roster is still here
Super Bowl teams can hardly keep all the pieces of a championship team together after winning one. Other NFL teams poach free agents, promising more lucrative contracts. In Seattle, though, general manager John Schneider has been able to keep the essential staff intact, particularly on defense. Schneider was able to extend Legion of Boom stars Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas, and they kept defense end Michael Bennett, who had a great season. A few smaller pieces here and there were taken away (Clint McDonald, Walter Thurmond) but Seattle’s defensive starters are still hanging around and ready to win again.
Beyond the starting eleven on defense, the backups look more than promising. O’Brien Schofield, Brock Coyle, Cassius Marsh, Jeremy Lane, and numerous others had great preseasons and are more than capable of supplementing the number one defense from last year.
Let’s flip to offense. Russell Wilson and all his receivers are back, minus Golden Tate. Tate’s departure is a distant memory now, as rookie Paul Richardson and a healthy Percy Harvin are going to replace him, and Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse are poised to put up great numbers this year. Marshawn Lynch and his backup running backs are still lethal, and the offensive line has held up well. There may be a learning curve for right tackle Justin Britt, but he’ll continue to grow and impress.
2. Improved passing game
Wilson had an efficient preseason to say the least, and with seven receivers and several tight ends, he’s got plenty of weapons in his arsenal to use. Wilson ‘s passing accuracy during the preseason was special to behold. He zipped passes into tiny windows like Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees does. He led quick but long scoring drives right out of the gate. He also eluded pressure with his lightning quickness and didn’t try to do too much. There’s a lot of trust in Russell Wilson’s ability from the coaching staff, and with the number of talented receivers he has, Wilson will be getting plenty of opportunities to torch defenses through the air.
3. No other team, especially in the NFC, is as balanced as the Seahawks
Sure, there are plenty of great teams in the NFC that could challenge Seattle on their way to the Super Bowl, but none of them are as well-equipped as they are. I’ll take it by division.
In the NFC West, the Cardinals and Rams are still building up their teams. They are talented teams, certainly, but not all the pieces are together yet. St. Louis needs a quarterback, a true flanker, and some upgrades on offensive line. The Cardinals were only in the middle of the pack in terms of offensive production, but they are close to contending.
In the NFC East, the Eagles have a great offense but their defense negated that offense by allowing almost as many points as the offense could score. The Cowboys and Redskins are clearly not contenders, and the Giants’ offense can’t score enough points. They didn’t even average 20 points a game last season. Against the Seahawks defense, Eli Manning looked foolish, throwing a few picks and looking scared in the pocket. There’s no one here as balanced as Seattle.
The NFC North boasts the Packers and Bears as possible threats. The Lions and Vikings are a ways away from contending, but if Detroit could allow less than 20 points more than five times in a season, they’d be in the conversation right now. The Bears have a multitude of weapons on offense, but Jay Cutler can’t win the big game, and fans recently saw Seattle’s offense trounce Chicago’s defense. The Packers have Aaron Rodgers, and he can put up points. The defense has been mediocre for years. Beyond Clay Matthews, they can’t rush the passer, and the secondary is full of youth, especially at safety this year.
The NFC South possesses great talent, but the Buccaneers are re-identifying themselves with Lovie Smith’s hiring. The Falcons offense is good when healthy, but that’s hard for them to do. Their defense, meanwhile, is getting old and one of the worst in the NFL. It still needs fixing. The Panthers have a great defense, but Cam Newton has no great receivers, lost it in the playoffs, and their offense last year was average at best (18th in the league).
But what about the Saints? They were tenth in scoring, just two spots behind Seattle. They were the fourth-best defense, three spots behind Seattle. They are balanced, but not as balanced. Beyond that, the Saints are only comfortable when playing in New Orleans. To truly stand in Seattle’s way, they would have to play the Hawks in the Superdome. To do that, they would need to beat Seattle out for home field advantage, and I don’t see that happening. New Orleans has a tougher overall schedule, with some AFC and NFC North battles that could wear them down. Seattle doesn’t have as many tough tests, and will thus take away the Superdome from the Saints for the playoffs once again.
As for their Super Bowl opponent, I think it’s fairly simple. Last year, the Seahawks demolished the very best AFC offense. With the same squad as last year, I see no reason why Seattle can’t do the same to this year’s best of the AFC.
The Seattle Seahawks are an extremely formidable team, and I can’t wait to see them hoisting another Lombardi trophy next February.