NFL Prediction: Will the Seahawks Make the Playoffs?
The Seattle Seahawks have been a model of success for the past three seasons. Under coach Pete Carroll and with QB Russell Wilson under center, the team has managed three straight playoff appearances, with two of those berths culminating in Super Bowl appearances (with one championship ring to show for it). With a power running game and a terrorizing defense, it’s almost like the Seahawks have become the New England Patriots of the Pacific Northwest in recent years (in terms of success).
In 2015, things haven’t been going so smoothly for the two-time defending NFC Champions. After losing their first two games of the season, Seattle managed a blowout victory over the Chicago Bears and a tight win over the struggling Detroit Lions. Then came last week, when they held a 17-point advantage on the road against a very good Cincinnati Bengals team going into the 4th quarter. The Seahawks fell apart in that contest and lost in overtime, putting their record at 2-3 through the first five weeks of the season.
Now, this isn’t the first time Seattle has stumbled out of the gates to begin their season. Just last year, they opened up with just a 3-3 mark before surging throughout the rest of the season and capturing the No. 1 overall seed in the playoffs before reaching the Super Bowl once again. So maybe there isn’t anything to worry about with this talented club, but we think otherwise.
With key injuries, missing pieces, and a tough schedule ahead of them, it is more than possible that Seattle could be left out of the postseason. To see if this unbelievable thought could actually come to fruition, let’s analyze the key things in the Seahawks way on their path to the 2015 playoffs.
We all know that Seattle has a talented roster, especially on defense. Michael Bennett is an absolute terror on the defensive line; Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas form what is likely the best safety duo in the NFL; and Bobby Wagner leads a great linebacking corp. With all of this talent, you’d expect this unit to be nothing short of dominant week in and week out. While they’ve been just that at times in 2015, they’ve shown their holes as well (just look at that 4th quarter against the Bengals). In all likelihood, Seattle’s D will only get better as the season goes on and will be the reason that the team reaches the postseason.
Offensively, the Seahawks have several talented players that can absolutely change the game, but sometimes things simply don’t seem to mesh. Wilson got a new weapon in tight end Jimmy Graham over the offseason, but (while Graham has made some plays) that hasn’t worked out as well as the team would’ve hoped to this point. Really, this offense lack a truly reliable number one receiver, which hurts them at critical points in games. Of course, Seattle has always been able to get by with a terrific running game and even with Marshawn Lynch dealing with injuries early this season, Thomas Rawls has stepped up. The biggest problem with this unit is their line, which has allowed 22 sacks of Wilson. That has to improve if the offense wants to be able to support their defense.
Seattle’s schedule doesn’t get any easier going forward, following their 2-3 start. They will face an undefeated Carolina Panthers’ team this upcoming weekend before finishing off their pre-bye week schedule with the struggling San Francisco 49ers and Dallas Cowboys in back-to-back weeks. After their bye, they will have two contests against the NFC West leading Arizona Cardinals, another against the Pittsburgh Steelers, a road contest against the Minnesota Vikings, and a rematch with the team that beat them in the season opener in the St. Louis Rams.
Obviously, the schedule for the Seahawks is far from easy. One saving grace, however, could be that they play a majority of those games at home, where they are (historically) tough to beat. In fact, all of Seattle’s losses have come on the road in the early going this season while both wins have come at home. Still, with three losses already, the room for error is minimal to say the least for the mighty Seahawks.
Talent wise, this team still has everything it takes to win each and every time they take the field. Also, they’ve proven they can deal with adversity in the past, which is a testament to the way they prepare and are coached. Also, the odds makers still give the Seahawks a pretty good chance at making the postseason, as their odds sit at 47% going into their next game.
In terms of wins and losses, we expect the Seahawks to finish in the 10-6 range by seasons end, losing at least once to the Cardinals, dropping one to the Vikings or Steelers, and we also see them slipping up against the rival 49ers in one of their two contests. 10-6 is most likely a good enough record to win a wild card berth, so in that manner, Seattle should be safe. If they do make the postseason, nobody will be standing in line to face this battle tested roster.
*Any and all stats and game or team information is courtesy of ESPN.com.