SEATTLE – Think the Seahawks will return to the playoffs this season? You might be in the minority.
But you are not alone.
Though most national pundits aren’t expecting much from Seattle this season, Q13 Sports Director Aaron Levine is among those who are far more optimistic.
“I think the team has a baseline of 8-8 and can work up from there,” he said. “With the potential to be a 9, 10 maybe even an 11 win team.”
Predictions nationally range from bad to worse, with most analysts focused more on who the Seahawks no longer have on their roster rather than who they do.
After missing the playoffs for the first time in five years last season, the Seahawks return without longtime iconic defenders Richard Sherman (cut), Michael Bennett (traded), Cliff Avril (retired) and Kam Chancellor (injured).
They also did little to silence their critics in the preseason, stumbling to their first 0-4 record in team history.
But All Pro safety Earl Thomas returned to the team this week, and Levine says the improvement on offense, particularly the line, could outweigh any early missteps by an inexperienced defense.
“There’s a strong misconception among the national media as to what kind of effect the changes along the offensive line are going to make,” he said. “When the running game flourishes, that only opens things up for Russell Wilson.”
Nate Davis of USA Today disagrees. He points directly to the loss in personnel as to why he sees a disastrous season ahead for the Hawks.
“Richard Sherman nailed it when he said, ‘They’ve lost their way,’” he wrote. “Russell Wilson could generate 100 percent of the offense this year, and it won’t be enough for a roster that’s crumbling around him.”
His guess on the Seahawks’ record? 4-12.
Sports Illustrated’s Peter King was a little more generous with a 7-9 pick for Seattle. But the veteran NFL scribe lamented the end of an era.
“The Seahawks as we knew them are no more, and we should all mourn that,” he wrote. “As great as Russell Wilson is, there’s simply not enough around him, and Seattle is headed to its first losing record with Wilson under center.”
Pete Prisco of CBS Sports didn’t offer commentary, but he predicted every game of the NFL season and every team’s record. In conclusion, he listed the Seahawks at 5-11.
Pete Carroll’s worst record with Seattle is 7-9 and his worst as an NFL coach is 6-10 with the Jets. The Seahawks as a franchise have lost 11 or more games just four times in 42 seasons. So a 4 or 5 win season would be historically bad.
“I think those predictions are way off and it’s not coming from a homeristic point of view,” Levine said. “They have certain pieces. They certainly don’t have the list of future Hall of Famers that they had last year, but they are going to surprise people.”
Perhaps ESPN reporter Brady Henderson took that into account when he picked the Seahawks to finish 8-8 this season. As opposed to the national pundits, Henderson covers only the Seahawks for ESPN, so he might also have a bit more insight into the team.
He points to a tough schedule based on opponents’ 2017 winning percentages and an emerging San Francisco squad as potential roadblocks.
His conclusion: “The Seattle Seahawks are going to have a hard enough time making it back to the playoffs with a roster that lost a considerable amount of talent this offseason.”
For Carroll and the team’s part, they continue to talk up the young players on the team, saying that many critics will be surprised with how quickly they fill the roles of veterans.
“There’s a lot of guys who’ve done a lot of good stuff on this roster and we’re not closing our minds to anything,” the coach said recently.
The good news for the Seahawks and their fans is that the team’s ultimate fate will be decided on the field and not by preseason prognosticators.
“At the end of the day,” quarterback Russell Wilson said, “you gotta go make plays.”
USA Today – 4-12
CBS Sports – 5-11
Sports Illustrated – 7-9
ESPN – 8-8
Athlon – “Around .500,” 3rd in NFC West