Seattle tied a team record with 13 regular-season wins in 2013 and captured the NFC West for the first time since 2010. Russell Wilson continued his ascent into the elite category of quarterbacks by throwing for 3,357 yards and 26 touchdowns to just nine interceptions. His rating of 101.2 was seventh in the NFL. No bad considering Wilson didn't have projected No. 1 receiver Percy Harvin for pretty much all of the regular season due to hip surgery. Golden Tate led the team with only 898 yards receiving. Running back Marshawn Lynch was sixth in the league with 1,257 yards rushing and tied for first with 12 touchdowns.
The defense was clearly the best in the NFL, leading the league in yards allowed (4,378), scoring (14.4 points per game) and against the pass (273.6) thanks to the best secondary on the planet. Seattle allowed more than 20 points in just three games. That groups was even better in the playoffs, holding high-powered New Orleans to 15 points in the divisional round and the record-setting Broncos to eight meaningless points in the Super Bowl blowout.
Key Offseason Moves
The Seahawks might have some financial issues when they finally have to pony up and pay Russell Wilson top dollar when he's eligible for his first big extension off his rookie deal. But for now the team is in great shape. Seattle re-signed its best defensive free agent, end Michael Bennett. He led the club with 8.5 sacks last year and took a little less to return; the Bears, for one, offered Bennett more money than Seattle did. Receiver Sidney Rice, limited to eight games last year, also took less to re-sign with the champs. Offensively the big loss was Tate signing with Detroit, but Seattle figured it could let him walk because it will have Harvin presumably for a full season in 2014. The terrific secondary lost two players in Brandon Browner and Walter Thurmond and the defensive line said goodbye to run-stuffer Red Bryant and end Chris Clemons (4.5 sacks).
Week 1: Thursday, Sept. 4, Green Bay, 8:30 p.m.
Week 2: Sunday, Sept. 14, at San Diego, 4:05 p.m.
Week 3: Sunday, Sept. 21, Denver, 4:25 p.m.
Week 4: BYE
Week 5: Monday, Oct. 6, at Washington, 8:30 p.m.
Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 12, Dallas, 4:25 p.m.
Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 19, at St. Louis, 1 p.m.
Week 8: Sunday, Oct. 26, at Carolina, 1 p.m.
Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 2, Oakland, 4:25 p.m.
Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 9, NY Giants, 4:25 p.m.
Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 16, at Kansas City, 1 p.m.
Week 12: Sunday, Nov. 23, Arizona, 4:05 p.m.
Week 13: Thursday, Nov. 27, at San Francisco, 8:30 p.m.
Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 7, at Philadelphia, 4:25 p.m.
Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 14, San Francisco, 4:25 p.m.
Week 16: Sunday, Dec. 21, at Arizona, 8:30 p.m.
Week 17: Sunday, Dec. 28, St. Louis, 4:25 p.m.
The Seahawks play the sixth-toughest schedule with an opponents' 2013 winning percentage of .561. Playing in the ultra-tough NFC West, likely the best division in football, is a big part of that. Seattle opens the season on Sept. 4 against visiting Green Bay as a 6-point favorite on NFL odds. It's their first meeting since the memorable "Fail Mary" game on a Monday night in Week 3 of the 2012 season in Seattle when Tate "caught" a game-winning 24-yard Hail Mary TD pass from Wilson for a 14-12 Seattle win. Green Bay is 2-3 all-time in Seattle.
Some of Seattle's games are the highlights of the entire NFL schedule. There's a Super Bowl rematch in Week 3 at CenturyLink Field against the Broncos and their fortified defense. There's Wilson against his fellow 2012 draftee Robert Griffin III in Week 5. The last time RGIII saw the Seahawks he blew out his knee in the wild-card game that '12 season. Both games with the arch-rival 49ers are must-see TV, including Thanksgiving night in San Francisco's new Levi's Stadium. The home team has won the past five matchups between these two. The Niners visit Seattle in Week 15 as the Seahawks' final three games are all in the division. The last two times the Seahawks have won the NFC West, they finished by beating visiting St. Louis in Week 17 and the Rams will be at CenturyLink Field for the 2014 finale. All in all, Seattle has eight games against 2013 playoff teams.NFL free picks: Under 11 wins. It's not so much that the Seahawks aren't possibly as good as last season, but that the schedule looks very tough. Even if Seattle goes 8-0 at home, which is far from a lock, going 2-6 on the road isn't impossible.