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July 21, 2014 at 9:37 AM

Monday links: Peter King rates Seahawks No. 1, and more

Welcome to the week when it all begins. Roughly 96 hours from now, the Seahawks will be prepping to take the field at the VMAC for the first time this season.

When they do, they will remain the team to beat, in the eyes of venerable football writer Peter King of SI’s MMQB. King today released his pre-season rankings and has the Seahawks at the top, writing:

“I like the approach of the coach and the defense (“We’re going to win again, and we don’t care who knows it”) and, from being with Russell Wilson a bit this offseason, I know his approach. He’ll enter camp this week thinking he’s got to beat out Tarvaris Jackson for the starting job.”

That sentence from King touches on what is an interesting dynamic coach Pete Carroll has been able to create — making the players feel as if they are the best in the NFL while alternately getting them to play every snap in practice as if their careers are on the line.

King’s rankings also reiterate what is a general feeling among many who cover the league — that the NFC is ahead of the AFC right now. Notice that King’s top four teams are all in the NFC — Seattle. Green Bay, San Francisco and New Orleans.

And yes, going by King’s ratings, the two best teams in the NFL will kick it off at CenturyLink on Sept. 4.

In other news. …

— Some really fun numbers stuff here from Mike Tanier.  One I really liked is this:

A team will only use its most common “starting lineup” on offense for an average of 8 percent of plays in a year. It will only use its most common “starting defense” an average of 5.5 percent of plays for the year.

I wasn’t surprised the numbers were low, but I was surprised they were THAT low. The numbers reinforce anew, though, that the emphasis that we on the outside all put on who will win a specific starting job can sometimes be misplaced, especially for positions other than quarterback and maybe offensive line, another spot where there is less rotating. As we saw with the Seahawks last year, though, most other spots rotate often based on play call and situation, and a bigger deal at many positions is assessing who is in the rotation and where, and not so much specifically who is atop the depth chart.  Tanier notes that the Seahawks were one of the teams to use 16 different offensive starting lineups last season. In fact, 39 different players were listed as starting at least one game for Seattle during the regular season last year (including kickers). One who didn’t — OL Alvin Bailey — then officially started the Super Bowl when the team began in a formation featuring an extra tackle.

Richard Sherman’s celebrity softball game Sunday appeared to be a fun time for all. You can read about it here and here.

Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk says the NFL’s apparent new emphasis on illegal contact and defensive holding — which we noted on Friday — is undoubtedly aimed at the Legion of Boom.

— ESPN 710′s Jim  Moore with 10 reasons why the Seahawks will repeat.

— ESPN’s voters want Paul Richardson to return punts.

— Nice Q-and-A here with Phil Bates, including his thoughts on his mini-camp scuffle with Sherman.

Michael Bennett was busy Sunday — in the morning he attended a youth football camp in Ferndale that also featured Jake Locker and then hustled down to Seattle in time to take part in the Sherman softball game.

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