Russell Wilson broke nearly every QB record for the Seattle Seahawks last season. What's on tap for 2016? He is given a total of 3,880.5 yards for the season, -125 favorite on NFL odds.
Wilson's Seven-Game Stretch For The Ages
Wilson already has had an incredibly successful 2016. Why? Because he married the ultra-gorgeous singer Ciara in England in July -- Wilson claimed the couple was abstaining from sex until they were married. Apparently, they took the purity plunge for religious reasons. The two joked about their sex life post-marriage almost immediately on social media. So really anything Wilson does with the Seahawks this year is a letdown!
But it's been quite a 12 months or so for Wilson. He had by far his best season in 2015 in completing 68.1 percent of his passes for 4,024 yards, 34 touchdowns and a rating of 110.1. All four were Seahawks records and Wilson's career highs, and the rating led the NFL.
And with all due respect to Carolina quarterback Cam Newton, the NFL MVP, no player was better in his team's final seven regular-season game last year than Wilson. The Seahawks entered a Week 11 game against San Francisco off a surprising 39-32 home loss to Arizona that dropped Seattle to 4-5 and in danger of missing the playoffs for the first time since 2011 -- the only time the team has missed out under Coach Pete Carroll. Wilson struggled in that Cardinals loss, completing just 14-for-32 for 240 yards with a touchdown, interception and season-low 67.2 rating.
Then Wilson took things into his own hands.
*-Nov. 22 vs. 49ers, a 29-13 win: 24-for-29 for 260 yards, three touchdown, no picks and rating of 138.5.
*-Nov. 29 vs. Steelers, a 39-30 win: 21-for-30 for 345 yards, five touchdowns, no picks and a rating of 147.9.
*-Dec. 6 at Vikings, a 38-7 win: 21-for-27 for 274 yards, three touchdowns, no picks and a rating of 146.0.
*-Dec. 13 at Ravens, a 35-6 win: 23-for-32 for 292 yards, five touchdowns, no picks and a rating of 139.6.
*-Dec. 20 vs. Browns, a 30-13 win: 21-for-30 for 249 yards, three touchdowns, no picks and a rating of 128.3.
*-Dec. 27 vs. Rams, a 23-17 upset loss: 25-for-41 for 289 yards, two touchdowns, one pick and a rating of 88.4.
*-Jan. 3 at Cardinals, a 36-6 win: 19-for-28 for 197 yards, three touchdowns, no picks and a rating of 123.7.
So the Seahawks went 6-1 in that stretch to earn a wild-card berth and Wilson's rating in it was an incredible 132.8 even though the Seahawks were missing injured players during that stretch such as running backs Marshawn Lynch and Thomas Rawls and top tight end Jimmy Graham. Wilson completed 71 percent of his passes in the seven-game run, averaged 8.78 yards per attempt and threw 24 touchdowns against one interception. On third down in that stretch, his completion percentage was a whopping 79.0 and his rating 144.7.
Wilson became the first player in NFL history to finish a season with at least 4,000 passing yards and 30 touchdowns while also running for at least 500 yards (he had 533). You might have thought the Panthers' Newton had accomplished that in winning his first NFL MVP Award, but he was short on the passing yardage with 3,837.
Still, the season ended in disappointment for Wilson and Co. The Seahawks were lucky to win at Minnesota in the wild-card round as Vikings kicker Blair Walsh missed the winning 27-yarder in the final seconds. Wilson was only 13-for-26 for 142 yards, a TD and pick in that game but it was brutally cold. In the divisional round, the Seahawks fell behind 31-0 at halftime against Carolina and lost 31-24. Wilson was 31-for-48 for 366 yards, three TDs and two picks as he nearly led a huge second-half comeback.
The Seahawks are +400 favorites on BetOnline NFL odds to win their third NFC title in the past four seasons this year.
What To Expect In 2016?
Under Carroll, the Seahawks have been a run-first team behind the bulldozing Lynch. Carroll likes to control the ball and win the time of possession battle to wear opposing defenses down. But Lynch has retired now so this looks like Wilson's team at this point, which that final seven-game stretch pretty much showed.
Wilson now has a rising superstar receiver in Doug Baldwin, whom the Seahawks recently locked up to a big new extension. Baldwin blew up last year in catching 78 passes for 1,069 yards and a league-high-tying 14 touchdowns. Baldwin had 11 of those TD catches over the final six weeks, which were more than five teams! He became the only wide receiver since targets were first tracked (1992) to post a 1,000-yard season and catch at least 80 percent of his targets -- he was targeted 104 times.
Baldwin's explosion came when Graham went down with an injury. He was lost for the year in that Nov. 29 win over Pittsburgh. Graham had been Wilson's most-targeted receiver and is healthy now. So that only helps Wilson. The one negative for Wilson would be a very questionable offensive line, but he has proven very capable of throwing under pressure or on the move.
NFL Free Picks: These 'over/under' totals I usually lean 'under' because if there's any major injury, you obviously win the wager. But assuming full health for Wilson, I'm going 'over' on his yardage here. Wilson should throw more in 2016 than any before. But Seattle still will run the ball plenty so he won't lead the NFL in yardage. An MVP Award, however, is very possible.