SCOREBOARD Richard Sherman MICHAEL THOMAS/GETTY IMAGES SPORT 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 PLAYOFF FINISH SB DIV - DIV - REGULAR SEASON W-L 13-3 11-5 7-9 7-9 5-11 POINTS PER GAME 26.1 25.8 20.1 19.4 17.5 POINTS ALLOWED PER GAME 14.4 15.3 19.7 25.4 24.4 YARDS PER GAME 339.0 350.6 303.8 297.8 316.8 YARDS ALLOWED PER GAME 273.6 306.2 332.2 374.2 356.4 TURNOVERS 19 18 23 31 31 TAKEAWAYS 39 31 31 22 23 Seahawks Defense Seattle might have the greatest defense ever. The 1985 Bears may be offended, thinking we are calling the 2013 Seahawks the greatest D ever, when in reality, we are putting the 2014 Seahawks on watch as perhaps the best defense in NFL history. Seriously, can you name a better defensive line in the 21st century than Michael Bennett, Tony McDaniel, Brandon Mebane and Cliff Avril? Bennett and Avril combined for 16.5 sacks, while McDaniel and Mebane’s D-line ranked 11th in stuffs behind line of scrimmage. How about a linebacker corps as good as Bruce Irvin, Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright? The Seahawks rated seventh in run defense, forcing offenses to take to the air, which leads to… The shutdown secondary comprised of Richard Sherman, Byron Maxwell, Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas. Sherman takes away the left side of the field, Chancellor the middle (remember his hit on Demaryius Thomas in the Super Bowl?), while underrated Maxwell and superstar Thomas take away the rest of the field. Now put these 11 men together, or better yet, count subs on the line (Kevin Williams), the linebacker crew (Malcolm Smith), etc. and then stack this D against the best of the 20th century, too. It would be tough to find a D that could post a -25.9 percent DVOA in today’s NFL, holding 2013 foes to 14.4 points per game in today’s pass-happy NFL. But all-time great and Super Bowl XLVIII victim Peyton Manning (Broncos lost, 43-8) would no doubt cast his vote for Seattle. Colin Kaepernick, whose 49ers scored 39 points in three games against the Seahawks, would probably agree. Drew Brees and Seattle’s third playoff victim would even agree, especially after their 15-point performance in the 2014 postseason. Defensive Player to Watch Not since Deion Sanders has the NFL seen a cornerback who erases players and one side of the passing field—Seattle’s left side—like Richard Sherman. The 6-3, 195-pounder goes after jump balls like an All-Pro receiver and comes down with enough interceptions (8), tips and deflections (18) to rate as an All-Pro defender. Believe the hype. Sherman is as good as he says he is and no one else today compares. Maybe Darrelle Revis as a Jet. Perhaps a young Charles Woodson. Arizona’s Patrick Peterson can make an argument. But you have to find a time machine to find someone even close to Sherman’s greatness. According to Key Additions: CB Phillip Adams Key Subtractions: WR Golden Tate, DT Clinton McDonald, CB Walter Thurmond, DE Red Bryant, DE Chris Clemons, TE Kellen Davis, T Breno Giacomini, T Paul McQuistan Rookies: WR Paul Richardson, T Justin Britt, CB Cassius Marsh, WR Kevin Norwood ProFootballFocus.com, Sherman only allowed two catches for 10 yards in all three games of the 2014 NFL Playoffs. He also only allowed a 41.8 passer rating against his matchup in the 2013 regular season and 2014 postseason, according to PFF. Seahawks Special Teams The Seahawks hope to improve on their fifth-place finish in special teams status, with kicker Steven Hauschka providing good kickoffs and also field goal/extra point results as usual (33-for-35 on field goals; 44-for-44 on extra points), while Jon Ryan keeps performing as an elite punter (42.7 average on 74 punts; only 21 returned for 82 yards). The biggest change in 2014 will be seeing Seattle’s two most exciting playmakers—Harvin and Sherman—handle kick and punt return duties, respectively. Sherman has only returned one punt in his career, while Harvin has a 28.2 kickoff return career average, taking five back for touchdowns in 115 attempts. Prediction Chances are the Seahawks will field a top 5 offense and a top 5 special teams unit, along with another historic No. 1 defense in 2014. Add that all up and it appears Seattle is headed for another division title in the NFC West at worst and perhaps yet another Super Bowl championship.
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