Led by third-round draft pick and rookie quarterback Russell Wilson, the Seattle Seahawks came within a field goal of going all the way to the NFC Championship Game last season. Now, in 2013, with the addition of several big-time players on both sides of the ball and the expected improvement of Wilson, the Seahawks are in prime position to go to the Super Bowl and win it all.
Coming off four consecutive seasons with a sub-.500 record, the Seahawks surprised many people in the NFL last year when they went 11-5 and made the playoffs.
This year, they won't be sneaking up on anyone.
Though they finished strong last year, the Seahawks have done anything but rest on their laurels this offseason, and with several big additions, they now have arguably the most talented roster in the entire NFL.
After fielding an offense that ranked just 27th in passing yards per game last year, the Seahawks made the biggest splash of the offseason by trading three draft picks (including a first rounder) to the Vikings for dynamic playmaker Percy Harvin. His presence should be a huge boon to their passing game.
The 25-year old receiver was well on his way to the best season of his NFL career last season before an ankle injury cut his season short, but he'll be ready to go for the start of this season and you can bet he'll soon become Wilson's favorite target.
Harvin's presence will be felt not only on offense, but on special teams too.
Though the most notable of all their offseason moves, Harvin was hardly the only big addition the Seahawks made.
The Seahawks also signed defensive tackle Michael Bennett and defensive end Cliff Avril. These signings are especially important since they'll be without Chris Clemons (Torn ACL) and Bruce Irvin (Four-Game Suspension) to start the season.
The Seahawks already fielded a defense that allowed the fewest points in the NFL last year, and these additions along the defensive line should only make them better. After ranking in the middle of the pack with 36 sacks last season, the Seahawks defense looks primed to make a jump into at least the top 10 in that category this season.
Teams often build along the defensive line to hide deficiencies in the secondary, but that isn't the case for the Seahawks.
Seattle has what is likely the best secondary in the league, led by 2012 First-Team All-Pros Earl Thomas and Richard Sherman. Fellow defensive backs Brandon Browner and Kam Chancellor are excellent in their own rights, as each made the pro-bowl in 2011.
One of the scariest propositions for the rest of the NFL is that Seattle only got better as last season wore on. Much of this has to do with the improvement of Wilson, who posted a solid, but unspectacular, 82.4 quarterback rating in the first half of the season. This number jumped all the way 120.3 in the final eight games of the season, though, as the Seahawks finished strong with a 7-1 record.
For a team that ranked third in the NFL in rushing thanks to Marshawn Lynch and a strong offensive line, having a strong passing attack is just icing on the cake.
Immediately following last postseason’s Divisional Game loss to the Atlanta Falcons, Wilson was already looking forward to the next season.
"When the game was over, I was very disappointed," the young quarterback said, "But walking back into the tunnel, I got so excited about next year. The resilience we showed was unbelievable."
By all accounts, Wilson has one of the better work ethics in the entire NFL, and you can bet he's using last year's early exit from the playoffs as motivation to improve his game this offseason.
Based on Russell Wilson's improvement over the course of last year, the expected improvement he'll make over the offseason and their trio of big offseason acquisitions, the Seahawks will head into the 2013 NFL season with big expectations.
It will be Super Bowl or bust for the most talented team in the NFL, and I expect them to make it there and take home the Lombardi Trophy for the first time in their 37-year history.