2. Seattle Seahawks (Last year’s record: 11-5)
The Seahawks made the playoffs last year as the 5th seed in the NFC at 11-5. They were able to dispatch of the Eagles on the road but fell short at the Packers in the divisional semifinal. Russell Wilson and Co. look to rebound and build on last season as they begin 2020 with renewed optimism.
Seattle made a good decision to sign free agent Greg Olsen, formerly of the Carolina Panthers to a 1-year contract. At an advanced age of 35, it is unknown how much Olsen will have left. However, he will be a good veteran presence on a team that lacks many of those. Greg will form a committee with fellow tight ends Jacob Hollister and Will Dissly.
One area where Seattle may be looking for help is on the defensive line. Last year, the Seahawks traded for Jadeveon Clowney, and he made a good impact. He was a disruptive force up front as he caused numerous pressures in the 13 games he was healthy in. However, it does not show in the stat sheet as he had only 31 total tackles and 3 sacks. Yet, he was a key part of the Seahawks defensive scheme.
Clowney at the moment is still a free agent and is said to be seeking $20 million annually. Seattle has an offer for him for about $18.5 million, but it is unknown if he will accept it. If Clowney returns, Seattle will get a huge boost defensively.
In the 2019 season, Seattle was also a top 5 rushing team as they were 4th with 137.5 rushing yards per game. The Seahawks were very committed to the running game as their lead rusher Chris Carson ran for 1,230 yards and his backup Rashaad Penny ran for 370 yards. However, the engine running the Seahawks was their QB, Russell Wilson.
Wilson was in the MVP conversation throughout the year as he threw for 4,110 yards along with 31 touchdowns and only 5 picks. His leading receiver was Tyler Lockett who was on and off for most of the season but cleared 1,000 yards for the 1st time in his career.
One of the best features of Wilson in his career has been improvising depending on the situation. He has the IQ and wherewithal to know when to extend a play, throw it away or run for a first down. Wilson has always had a team-first mentality and his leadership is a strong reason why his teams are never out of games.
On the defensive end, the Seahawks have had one of the best duos in their linebacking core for years in star player Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright. Wagner had a team-high 159 tackles and 3 sacks and Wright had 132 tackles. Their ability to plug up the middle and consistently stop the running backs from reaching the next level limited big plays for opposing teams on the ground.
However, one place where the Seahawks are susceptible is through the air especially in the secondary. The Seahawks were 27th in the league in passing defense as they gave up 263.9 yards per game. Though corners Tre Flowers, and Shaquill Griffin racked up a lot of tackles, they were beaten on coverage multiple times causing huge gains and big plays for the opposition.
Though Seattle has had a quiet free agency period, it can drastically improve with the signing of Clowney. Their success will ultimately come down to Russell Wilson’s elite play and their ground game. As long as he stays healthy, Seattle will reach the playoffs yet again with an 11-5 record like in 2019.