Bold Predictions for the Seattle Seahawks in 2011
Last season was one for the record books for the Seahawks.
Well, technically, anyway.
The 2010 Seattle Seahawks were the first team in league history to win a playoff game with a losing record. The team went 7-9, and thanks to a playoff system that rewards division winners home games in January regardless of their record, the 7-9 Seahawks played host to the defending Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints, who went 11-5.
The Saints were the road team because they didn't win their division—that title went to the 13-3 Atlanta Falcons. So because they were a wild card team, they had to travel to one of the most hostile environments in the league.
That game would go down as one of the best upsets of the year in sports, but unfortunately, the clock struck midnight on the Seahawks in the next round against the Chicago Bears.
This season, the Seahawks will try to defend their NFC West title in what should be another weak year in the division.
Here are six things that Seahawks fans can expect to see this season.
Tarvaris Jackson Will Silence Critics
Tom Dahlin/Getty Images
The Seahawks were widely criticized for replacing Matt Hasselbeck with Tarvaris Jackson. While many deemed Hasselbeck the face of the franchise, he needed to go.
Hasselbeck has been worthless in Seattle for the past three seasons. From 2008-2010, Hasselbeck threw 34 touchdowns and 44 interceptions with a quarterback rating averaging 68.7. Some "face of the franchise," huh?
I'm personally a fan of the more athletic quarterbacks rather than the traditional ones who sit back in the pocket. (Maybe that's because I go to Oregon, where in our zone-read offense our quarterback is a threat to run every play.) But it's no secret Hasselbeck wasn't what you would call athletic.
Unlike Hasselbeck, Jackson is a threat to run. In 12 games in 2007, Jackson gained 260 yards on the ground and three rushing touchdowns.
Jackson never got his chance to shine in Minnesota, and his new opportunity to become the face of the Seahawks is exactly what he needs.
The confidence of being the starting quarterback with no indecisive 40-year-old hogging the spotlight will pay off big for Jackson and he'll turn in the best season of his career.
Sidney Rice Will Return to 2009 Form
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Sidney Rice's numbers took a dip after the 2009 season in which he had 1,312 receiving yards and eight touchdowns.
In 2010, Rice had just 280 receiving yards and two touchdowns, but he also only played in six games. If he had played a full season, he would've had close to 800 yards with around five touchdowns. Still a decline, but not as bad as his stat line looks now.
However, this year Rice will return to his 2009 form and will rack up more than 1,000 receiving yards by becoming Tarvaris Jackson's favorite target.
Mike Williams Will Repeat His 2010 Performance
Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images
Some people speculate with Sidney Rice coming in, Mike Williams won't be as much of a factor in the Seahawks offense. That won't be the case in 2011.
Tarvaris Jackson will find a way to keep Williams involved in the offense. While he may not have a monster year, it is entirely possible for him to repeat his performance from 2010. Williams will also catch more touchdowns this year as well.
Fans Will Witness Beast Mode 2.0
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images
Marshawn Lynch will be even better this season.
Last season, Lynch appeared in 12 games for the Seahawks after joining the team from Buffalo. In those 12 games, Lynch ran for 573 yards and six touchdowns.
This year, Beast Mode will be back in Seattle and will play one of the biggest roles on the offense. He won't be a 1,000-yard rusher, mainly because the Seahawks like to split the carries between Lynch and Justin Forsett. He will outrun Forsett, though.
Look for Lynch to run for at least 750 yards and 10 rushing touchdowns. When the Seahawks host another playoff game, he will also cause another earthquake.
The Seahawks Defense Will Be Better Than Expected
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images
The Seahawks have enough quality players on the defensive side of the ball to give the team a chance to win.
Chris Clemons will continue to be a monster on the defensive line. Last year, Clemons had 49 tackles, 11 sacks and a forced fumble. His numbers will be just as good, if not better in 2011.
Aaron Curry will be the heart of the defense. In 2010, Curry had 73 tackles and 3.5 sacks. As the 25-year-old's career progresses, he will only become a stronger and better player.
Walter Thurmond will improve in his second season. The 23-year-old out of Oregon is currently listed as the starting cornerback opposite of Marcus Trufant. Thurmond appeared in 14 games as a rookie, with 37 tackles. Those numbers will only go up.
Earl Thomas will be one of the key's to Seattle's defense. In his rookie campaign, Thomas made 76 tackles with five interceptions. He will cash in another solid season and play an even bigger role on the defense.
The Seahawks Will Win the NFC West Again
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images
The Seahawks won't have the best record to boast, but they will have a winning record that will be good enough to give them a second straight NFC West title.
The Seahawks improved their offensive line and receiving corps, they are set at running back, and Jackson will fit in while being reunited with Darrell Bevell.
The defense might be shaky at times with an unproven secondary and the departure of defensive leader Lofa Tatupu, but it will get by and give the Seahawks chances to win.
The Seahawks will go 9-7, barely squeezing by the St. Louis Rams, who will go 8-8.