After pummeling the Denver Broncos 43-8 February to secure the first Super Bowl championship in franchise history, the Seattle Seahawks came into 2014 with a target on their backs.
They were once again projected as one of the top teams for the new season, due in large part to their vaunted “Legion of Boom” defense and lethal quarterback-running back duo of Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch.
Pete Carroll’s squad was supposed to be tested early, in the first game of the season against the Packers, but as has happened so often the past two years, the Seahawks were clearly the best team on the field. They dominated the Packers in every facet of the game, easily winning 36-16.
One particular play epitomized their superiority. The Seahawks had the ball 4th-and-1 at the 15-yard-line, easily in field goal range. The score was 29-16, so a field goal would have made it nearly impossible for the Packers to come back. There was less than three minutes left in the game, but Carroll decided to go for the knockout punch.
Wilson made an excellent play-fake to Lynch, bringing the defense up, and then threw a short pass to fullback Derrick Coleman. He ran it in for the score, putting the game on ice for good.
That’s the kind of aggressiveness that has brought the Seahawks to the top, and it will help keep them there.
And then there are the Broncos, desperately wanting to avenge for last year’s Super Bowl debacle.
The Broncos made a lot of changes this offseason, seemingly in an attempt to compete with the Seahawks. They signed DeMarcus Ware to help with the team’s pass-rush, Aquib Talib and T.J. Ward to solidify the secondary, and Emmanuel Sanders to add yet another weapon to their already loaded offensive attack.
They also got Von Miller back, who missed the Super Bowl because of an ACL injury.. Even with his defensive presence, the Seahawks still churned out nearly 400 yards of total offense.
The Seahawks took it to the Broncos from the beginning, and even though Peyton Manning led a game-tying drive to take the game to overtime, Seattle didn’t waste any time winning the game in the fifth quarter.
Wilson was brilliant all game, but especially in overtime, orchestrating an ultra-efficient 13-play drive that covered 80 yards and ended with a bruising Lynch touchdown run. Manning and his high-powered offense didn’t even get on the field in overtime, and the Broncos went back to Denver with another loss.
There are only three undefeated teams in the NFL after three weeks of play, and the Seahawks aren’t one of them. But then again, only three out of 32 teams have the luxury of calling themselves undefeated.
The NFL is filled with an abundance of good teams, but only a handful of elite ones. The Seahawks are on that list for sure, as are the Broncos and maybe even the Eagles. But after that, it gets murky. The 49ers and Packers have both lost two games, and the Bears and Panthers haven’t looked great either.
The Seahawks, however, have been the epitome of consistency.
Sure, they lost to the Chargers two weeks ago, but that was on the road against a pesky San Diego team that is no slouch this year.
All in all, the Seahawks have all the pieces to not only win another Super Bowl this year, but possibly become a dominant dynasty for years to come.
Wilson is one of the best young quarterbacks in the game and continues to get better. Lynch has been worked hard the past three seasons, but the Seahawks have youngsters Robert Turbin and Christine Michael to serve as change-of-pace backs and give Lynch as much rest as he needs.
Percy Harvin is back as their number one receiver. He has game-changing speed and can attack the defense in a multitude of ways, catching passes or running the ball on jet sweeps.
Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse are talented young receivers as well, and Zach Miller is a veteran tight end who gives the defense yet another threat to worry about.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Seahawks are undoubtedly the premier unit in the league. Most notably in the secondary, where they have the best cornerback in the league, Richard Sherman, and the best safety, Earl Thomas.
The other two defensive backs aren’t too shabby either. Safety Kam Chancellor is a physical specimen, standing 6’3” and 230 pounds with terrific speed. He is one of the hardest hitting defensive backs in the league, and he was one of the main reasons the Seahawks were able to shut down Jimmy Graham in the divisional round of the playoffs last year.
Here’s what NFL Analyst Bucky Brooks has to say about Thomas:
"Thomas is a forceful presence against the run, displaying a non-stop motor and relentless spirit that routinely place him around the ball. He is a fearless hitter with a penchant for delivering big shots on runners in the hole. As a pass defender, Thomas is an aggressive ballhawk who flies to the football. His attacking style has produced 15 career interceptions in four seasons, including five in 2013."
Brooks also writes about Chancellor:
"The 6-foot-3, 232-pounder drops the hammer on receivers venturing over the middle, as evidenced by the teeth-rattling shot delivered on Demaryius Thomas in Super Bowl XLVIII. The Pro Bowler also boasts sneaky athleticism, fine instincts and keen awareness."
Both Thomas and Chancellor were ranked very high on Brooks’ rankings of the best safeties in the NFL.
That scary defense coupled with the Seahawks’ electric offense is downright scary, and don’t forget about their special teams.
Steven Hauschka and Jon Ryan form one of the best kicker-punter duos in the league, and Harvin is a big play waiting to happen on kickoff returns.
Seattle is the most complete team in the NFL. They have the ability to dominate any opponent in every aspect of the game, and losses are going to be very rare for this team as the season progresses.