The Seattle Seahawks have flown (no pun intended) under the radar this season, but they've had a great year to date.
Led by field general Matt Hasselbeck and a vastly underrated defensive unit, this team has the pieces in place to advance far into the playoffs—and to contend for a spot in the 2008 Super Bowl.
If the Seahawks want to make it deep into the playoffs, they'll have to rely on the sure-armed Hasselbeck.
The ninth-year pro out of Boston College is a fantastic pocket passer. Hasselbeck sports a 91.9 passer rating this season, with a 62.9 percent completion rate and a 24-10 TD-to-interception ratio.
Look for his solid play to determine just how far the Seattle offense gets in the postseason.
The running game, however, will be a handicap for the Seahawks. Former stud Shaun Alexander has struggled with injuries this season, and some may even argue that backup RB Maurice Morris has been a better runner, as he sports a 4.5 yards per carry average.
The Seahawks have only seven rushing touchdowns on the season; putting that into perspective, Shaun Alexander scored 27 on his own in 2005.
To put it bluntly, the running game has been abysmal. Luckily for the Seahawks, though, they have a great receiving corps to pick up the slack.
It starts with top WR Bobby Engram. A former go-to in the slot, Engram has blossomed into a reliable possession receiver. Former Super Bowl MVP Deion Branch and DJ Hackett are also on this unit, making for a trio of deadly weapons.
Branch and Hackett have both dealt with injuries this season, and will have to step up in a big way for this offense to succeed in the postseason.
Nate Burleson has been the beneficiary of some extra catches lately, and on most teams would be a No. 2 wide receiver.
Defensively, Seattle is quite stout, and they deserve more credit than they receive. The unit is led by one of the best linebackers in the game in Lofa Tatupu and one of the best shutdown corners in Marcus Trufant.
Both Tatupu and Trufant create havoc for opposing offenses. And don't forget about pass-rushing OLB Julian Peterson and DE Patrick Kerney. They've combined for 22.5 sacks on the season.
Darryl Tapp, a second-year defensive end out of Virginia Tech, has also been a nice contributor on the line.
So why will the Seattle Seahawks win the Super Bowl?
It all starts with the defense.
You have to love the group that Mike Holmgren has put together in Seattle. These guys are relentless, and don't receive nearly the credit they deserve. They could be overlooked in the playoffs, and a team will pay.
They have a great quarterback and receiving tandem.
The Seahawks won't be able to get much going on the ground, but they can certainly air it out. If they fall behind early, they have the tools to catch up at nearly any point in the game.
Mike Holmgren has been here before.
The coach has been to the playoffs 11 times since becoming a head coach in 1992, which means he knows how to approach big games. Holmgren is a playcalling mastermind who should be able to get the most out of his players when it matters.
But if one thing holds this team back, it's...
The running game.
Without a doubt, the running game is the limiting factor for the Seahawks. If they can't run the football effectively with Shaun Alexander or Maurice Morris, they'll make an early exit from this year's playoffs.
Also, that soft NFC West schedule certainly won't help the 'Hawks prepare to run the football in big-time games.