In the lull of the summer NFL vacation comes one thing to fill the void — the annual pre-season magazines.
As we did a year ago, over the next few weeks we’ll detail what some of them say about the Seahawks, starting with The Sporting News (that’s the cover of the regional version available locally) which last year correctly predicted a Seattle win over Denver in the Super Bowl.
TSN doesn’t foresee quite that same success for the Seahawks this year, instead picking the 49ers to win it all, beating the Colts in the Super Bowl.
TSN writes that “it’s Colin Kaepernick and the passing game that has them on the brink. It’s also what can make them better, against the Seahawks’ secondary or otherwise.”
TSN picks the Seahawks to lose to beat the Eagles in a wildcard playoff game but then lose to the 49ers in the divisional round, a game it sees as being played at San Francisco with the 49ers also picked to win the NFC West.
The capsule preview of the Seahawks states:
“The reigning champion will be the hunted,, and will find out just how hard it is to repeat based on their tough division competition alone. Seattle’s main goal should be getting to the conference/league championship rematch with San Francisco.”
TSN does have really high expectations for one Seahawk, picking free safety Earl Thomas as its choice for NFL Defensive MVP (Aaron Rodgers is its choice as Offensive MVP).
Like many of the pre-season magazines also feature, TSN has some comments from an unnamed opponent, breaking down the Seahawks. Here’s what that person said:
“As talented as the Seahawks are, they don’t try to bury you. Pete Carroll loves to let his team grind it out with the run game, confident his offensive will wear down the opponent while that defense holds steady. It’s not tough to keep it close for the first three quarters against Seattle if you don’t turn the ball over.
“You can’t get anxious against these guys. For (Russell) Wilson’s strengths, one of his most important is the ability to avoid turnovers, yet he’s still able to convert third downs. Still, that offensive line isn’t much more than average and there have been games they’ve simply been overwhelmed by pass pressure.
“It will be interesting to see if the team’s temperament changes as Marshawn Lynch gets close to age 30, because he’s really the heartbeat of that offense. But more than anything, you can’t commit turnovers (against Seattle). If you give that offense a short field, they’ll bury you and in a hurry.”
The point about Lynch is an obvious one made by everyone. The Seahawks would counter that as Wilson continues to get more experience they will be able to put even more on his plate, especially with a WR corps that on paper appears to potentially be better and more varied this season. Seattle coaches also are optimistic the offensive line will be better this season due to improved health of vets and maturation of younger players.
TSN also has a similar unnamed scout’s take on Wilson. It states:
“It seems that every week a team’s game plan calls for it to make the opposing quarterback move off his spot. But with Russell Wilson, he’s actually at his best on the move. That’s what makes him such a tough matchup.
“Last December, Arizona was able to apply pass pressure while also keeping Wilson contained in the pocket. The result was Seattle’s only home loss with Wilson at quarterback. Not many people have a front like Arizona’s, though, and Wilson is a better pocket passer than people think. He may not be 5-9, but he’s got a real high release and can really throw it.
“But containment is the first priority, because when he moves, he’s so elusive and so accurate that he’ll leave you scratching your head.”
Arizona, recall, was also able to increasingly contain Seattle’s running attack as that game wore on. Lynch had 46 yards on six carries in the first quarter of that game but was held to 25 on 12 in the final three quarters, including being unable to get it in two attempts from the 3-yard-line late in the first half in what might have been the critical sequence of that game — Lynch had two yards on first-and-goal from the three and no gain on second down, with Wilson then throwing incomplete on third down. Seattle then missed a field goal on fourth down, keeping the game tied at 3-3 at halftime. Simply put, Arizona dominated that game up front with its defense, a formula that usually works no matter who the quarterback is.
TSN’s preview also includes odds for each team by The Linemakers for total wins and for getting to the Super Bowl. The Linemakers sets Seattle’s win total at 11 and odds to get to the Super Bowl at 4/1. It writes:
“Coming back strong the year after winning a Super Bowl is a tall task. Seattle looks a little too sound defensively to misfire in 2014, but the schedule is more difficult and the division is also improved. The Seahawks should be playoff-bound, but more than 11 wins seems like a big ask.”
TSN pegged the Seahawks right a year ago. Seattle fans will hope they are a little off this year.