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The Seattle Seahawks continued their level of consistency since the arrival of head coach Pete Carroll, reaching the playoffs for the sixth season on the bounce.
The club reclaimed the NFC West crown after losing their title to the Arizona Cardinals in the 2015 campaign, but an indifferent run of form towards the end of the season saw them miss out on clinching a first-round bye in the post-season.
Seattle brushed aside the Detroit Lions with ease at home, dominating Jim Caldwell’s side with a 26-6 victory in the wildcard round.
However, their position as the three seed sent the club to Atlanta to face Matt Ryan and company, which culminated in defeat at the Georgia Dome, ending their push for the Super Bowl.
Unusually for the Seahawks, their usually stout defense was exposed by Ryan and his offense, although Carroll’s men were without All-Pro safety Earl Thomas.
Their offense performed well in patches, but Russell Wilson cannot to continue to carry the team by himself. As a result, changes will need to be made to strengthen his options and protection in front of the quarterback.
We’ll now look back at their 2016 season; and see what changes can be made for next term.
The Seahawks began the season at home to the Miami Dolphins, but did not have the contest all their own way as Adam Gase’s men put in a spirited performance.
The two sides exchanged blows and the Dolphins even spurned an excellent chance to take a dominant early lead only for Kenny Stills to drop a sure touchdown.
Ryan Tannehill put the visitors ahead late in the fourth quarter, but Wilson was able to rally his side to win the match with just 38 seconds remaining with a strike to Doug Baldwin.
However, the Seahawks were unable to build on their lead as the Los Angeles Rams stifled Wilson and company throughout their contest, winning a defensive battle 9-3 at the Coliseum.
Matches against the San Francisco 49ers and the New York Jets offered Seattle a chance to get back winning ways and near enough their best form. Carroll’s men too their chances in both contests to secure comfortable wins, entering their bye week in week five at 3-1.
A challenge lay in wait after the bye in the form of the Falcons. The Seahawks looked to be easing to victory by holding 17-3 lead, only for Ryan to lead a comeback in the second half. Strikes to Julio Jones, Mohamed Sanu and Levine Toilolo put the visitors ahead.
However, the home side’s offense rallied enough to secure the win, with the aid of a poor pass interference call on Jones late on.
The match was more renowned for a incident on the sideline, involving Richard Sherman, who vented his frustration at his side’s display with his coaches and team-mates. To this day his volatility remains a concern for the Seahawks going forward.
Seattle played out a run of close matches, beginning with their bizarre encounter against the Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium.
A fourth-quarter field goal from Steven Hausckha tied the match to send it to overtime before he and Chandler Catanzaro both nailed kicks to further extend the game.
However, the game ended on a low point for both kickers as they missed two simple efforts to win for their respective sides.
Carroll’s men then allowed 14-6 lead to the New Orleans Saints to slip on the road, losing the contest 25-20 before fending off a late challenge from the Buffalo Bills at home. The defense just managed to hold Tyrod Taylor and company with a late stand inside the redzone.
The Seahawks proved their calibre with a fine victory over the New England Patriots, avenging their Super Bowl XLIX defeat. Wilson put on a clinic to carve apart Bill Belichick’s side before the defense held Tom Brady and his team-mates on the goalline to prevent overtime.
A win over the Eagles followed to put the club on a path to the playoffs, but a putrid offensive display against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers halted their charge.
Wilson returned to his best form with a demolition of the Carolina Panthers – once again earning revenge for a playoff defeat. However, the win came at a cost with Thomas ruled out for the campaign with a leg injury.
The loss of the All-Pro loomed large as Aaron Rodgers was able to pick apart the Seahawks in a dominating performance at Lambeau Field, leaving Carroll’s men in a battle for a first-round bye.
Seattle got back on track with a comfortable win over the Rams, capitalising on their opponents’ horrendous offensive play in a 24-3 win, but the Seahawks could not build on their momentum with the Cardinals exposing their secondary in a 34-31 victory at CenturyLink Field.
The defeat was hugely damaging as it prevented the club from claiming the second seed, putting them on the road after the wildcard round, despite beating the 49ers in their final game.
The Lions proved to be no match in the first round of the playoffs, with Wilson and Thomas Rawls powering their side to victory. However, the duo were unable to cover up their defensive deficiencies against the Falcons, allowing former assistant Dan Quinn to advance with his side.
The Seahawks’ offensive line was an embarrassment at times last term, resulting in Wilson suffering an injury early in the campaign that affected his play. He recovered from his MCL problem, but he cannot keep taking hits the way he does – if he and the club want him to have a long career.
Seattle have addressed the issue with a move for former second-overall pick Luke Joeckel, although he was a disappointment at the Jacksonville Jaguars. Oday Aboushi has also been signed, but the front office will have to use one of their early selections in the draft to further bolster the line.
The ‘Legion of Boom’s’ depth was exposed by injuries to Thomas and Kam Chancellor last season, resulting in a move for Bradley McDougald from the Buccaneers.
With uncertainty over when Thomas will return it should provide some security at the back, while the draft is deep with talented cornerbacks and safeties – which will intrigue Carroll and general manager John Schneider.
The Seahawks bolstered their running back corps with a move for Eddie Lacy, taking their total at the position to nine players. Between him, Rawls, CJ Prosise and Alex Collins there is plenty of talent for Darrell Bevell to use next term.
Tyler Lockett’s return from injury will be huge for the club next season as he was showing signs of becoming a consistent threat before he broke his leg. The wideout corps led by Baldwin could use some youth given that Lockett and Paul Richardson have had issues with health. Other than that the roster seems pretty set for another run at the Super Bowl.
Consistency has been Seattle’s downfall over the past two seasons. The club came so close to being recognised as a dynasty when they reached the goalline in Super Bowl XLIX, only to be thwarted by Malcolm Butler, but they have managed to maintain their core of their team.
Wilson is continuing to grow into his passing role rather than being a running-based team. With Rawls and Prosise back to full health next season it should alleviate pressure on the quarterback, giving their offense a potentially scary dual threat.
Their defense was exposed last season with their depth as Thomas was not replaced sufficiently. They’ve managed to add some pieces to provide security in the secondary, while there are enough promising young players ready to take the next step.
Therefore backing Carroll’s men at 11/2 6.50 +550 5.50 5.50 -0.18 to win the NFC Conference with TopBet sportsbook makes a great deal of sense as there is an unpredictability with the Dallas Cowboys and the Falcons following their unexpected surge to the one and two seeds last term.
The Seahawks are a dangerous side in the post-season and it is always very hard not to look past them to win the Vince Lombardi trophy, and at 12/1 13.00 +1200 12.00 12.00 -0.08 there is a price worth taking.
Seattle Seahawks To Win NFC Conference
Odds: 11/2 6.50 +550 5.50 5.50 -0.18
Seattle Seahawks To Win Super Bowl
Odds: 12/1 13.00 +1200 12.00 12.00 -0.08