After winning back-to-back NFC titles, the Seattle Seahawks were the betting favorites to make it a threepeat when last season opened. As they should have been. But really we all should have known better. It's rare enough these days for a Super Bowl loser to simply make the playoffs the next season, much less return to the big game.
Seattle's players and coaches said all the right things entering the 2015 season that there would be no Super Bowl hangover after perhaps the most devastating loss in the game's history to New England. But there clearly was a hangover as Seattle started 0-2 -- partly because star safety Kam Chancellor was holding out -- and was 4-5 after a home loss to Arizona in Week 10. Just making the playoffs looked tough.
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However, then quarterback Russell Wilson put together the best stretch of his career -- shoot, one of the best stretches in NFL history -- and Seattle lost just one more game to finish at 10-6, good for second in the NFC West and the conference's second wild-card spot. It was the club's fourth straight double-digit winning season and fourth playoff berth in a row.
I thought Seattle caught a huge break when Green Bay was upset by Minnesota in Week 17 of the regular season because that gave the Vikings the NFC North title over the Packers. So the Seahawks got to visit a weaker Minnesota team, in my opinion, than going to Green Bay. Well, things did work out for Seattle in a 10-9 win on a very cold day in Minneapolis, but it took a shocking miss from Vikings kicker Blair Walsh for the Seahawks to advance.
It was almost like that win took all the wind out of Seattle's sails as it went to Carolina and fell behind 31-0 at halftime in the divisional round. Wilson nearly led a big comeback in the second half, but the season ended in Charlotte. A good year for most NFL clubs but a disappointment for the Seahawks, who expect Super Bowls every season.
Seattle was 5-3 on the road last season, 4-3-1 against the spread and 3-5 "over/under." It plays three away games this year against 2015 playoff clubs. The road schedule looks considerably tougher than at home. I predict a 5-3 away mark again. The Seahawks have a wins total of 10.5, with the over a -140 favorite. Odds listed below for the home team.
Sept. 18 at Rams (+4): Seattle should be 1-0 after beating visiting Miami in Week 1. The Rams will be on a short week as they visit San Francisco the previous Monday (at least travel not an issue after). Of course, this will be the Rams' first regular-season game back in Los Angeles. Seattle's final trip to St. Louis was Week 1 last year, and that's when you knew things might be different as the Seahawks were upset 34-31 in overtime. Since-retired Marshawn Lynch was stuffed on a fourth-and-1 in overtime -- Seattle wasn't in field goal range yet. Chancellor's replacement, Dion Bailey, was burned for the tying touchdown late in regulation. Key trend: Seahawks have failed to cover their past two at Rams as at least a 4-point favorite.
Oct. 2 at Jets (+2): Seattle is off a home game vs. San Francisco and ahead of its bye week. New York is off a Week 3 trip to Kansas City. The Seahawks visit MetLife Stadium for the first time since crushing the Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII. Including that game, Seattle is 3-0 all time at MetLife and has outscored opponents 102-33. Key trend: Seahawks 6-4 ATS in past 10 before a bye (any location).
Oct. 23 at Cardinals (-1): Sunday night game. Seattle hosts Atlanta the week before. Arizona is on a short week, hosting the Jets on Monday in Week 6. It's the first game of the season for Seattle against a 2015 playoff team. The Seahawks won 36-6 in Arizona in Week 17 last year, but that game meant nothing to either side. Wilson threw three touchdown passes. Key trend: Seahawks 3-4 ATS as a road dog in series.
Oct. 30 at Saints (+5): The only back-to-back road game for Seattle. New Orleans is off a trip to Kansas City in Week 7. The story here will be the return of Seahawks tight end Jimmy Graham to New Orleans for the first time since he was shockingly traded by the Saints. Seattle has won three straight in the series, last 23-15 at home in the divisional playoffs following the 2013 season. Key trend: Seahawks 3-2 ATS in New Orleans.
Nov. 13 at Patriots (-2): Sunday night game. Seattle on a short week as it hosts Buffalo on Monday in Week 9. Double advantage for New England as it comes off its bye week. This is one of the most-anticipated games of the year as Seattle looks for payback for that crushing Super Bowl XLIX loss in Glendale, Ariz. Think Pete Carroll will be asked about not handing the ball off to Lynch at the goal line during the week? Key trend: Seahawks 6-3-1 ATS in its past 10 as a dog anywhere of at least 2 points.
Nov. 27 at Buccaneers (+5): Seattle off a Week 11 home game vs. Philadelphia. This looks like a huge trap game with the long travel and a huge home game with Carolina the following week. Tampa is off a trip to Kansas City the previous Sunday. Seattle was a mammoth home favorite at home on Nov. 3, 2013 but barely escaped with a 27-24 win over the then-terrible Bucs, who are much better now. Key trend: Seahawks 6-4 ATS in past 10 as road favorite anywhere of at least 5 points.
Dec. 11 at Packers (-2): Seattle is off that game with the Panthers, so it's tough to see the Seahawks then winning in Lambeau, where it's not likely to be balmy this time of year. Green Bay is home to Houston in Week 13. Seattle lost in Green Bay 27-17 in Week 2 last year. The Seahawks led 17-16 with about 10 minutes left. Wilson had a crucial fourth-quarter interception. Key trend: Seahawks have lost six straight overall at Lambeau including playoffs (1-4-1 ATS).
Jan. 1 at 49ers (TBA): No Week 17 lines posted yet. Best possible divisional opponent for Seattle to finish with. It comes off what should be a crucial Week 16 home game vs. Arizona. San Francisco is in Los Angeles the previous Saturday. The Seahawks won 20-3 at the 49ers in Week 7 on a Thursday in 2015 despite Wilson throwing two picks and getting sacked five times. Lynch rushed 27 times for 122 yards and a TD. Key trend: Seahawks 3-2 ATS as a favorite in San Francisco (as they should be).
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Read more articles by Alan Matthews
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