The Seattle Seahawks are coming off a 9-7 season in which they failed to make the playoffs for the first time since 2011, snapping a 5-year run. It also was the first time since 2011 that they failed to win at least 10 games.

The big question that everyone is asking, is whether or not the window has closed for the Seahawks, who are just three years removed from making back-to-back Super Bowl appearances. One thing is for sure, the 2018 Seattle team will have a drastically different feel to it.

The offense is still centered around star quarterback Russell Wilson, who might be the only thing keeping this team from a major rebuild. Wilson won’t turn 30 until late November and is in the prime of his career.

The concern is whether or not the supporting cast is good enough to get this team back to being a serious contender in the NFC. The offense will still rely on the mobility and big plays of Wilson in the passing game, but expectations are for a renewed focus in the running game behind new offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer and new offensive line coach Mike Solari.

It will be interesting to see if Schottenheimer and Solari can work their magic. Last year Wilson led the team with 586 rushing yards. The next best was Mike Davis with 240. There was also just one rushing touchdown scored by someone not named Wilson. Injuries to promising rookie Chris Carson and backup C.J. Promise played a big part in their struggles, as did the failed experiment with free agent pickup Eddie Lacey.

The expectation is for Carson to retake the starting gig, but I don’t think it’s a sure thing. Seattle surprised just about everyone when they used their 1st round pick on San Diego State’s Rashaad Penny. You have to believe they expect him to play a big role right away for them to reach on him that early.

The Seahawks welcome back Wilson’s favorite target in Doug Baldwin, but lost wide out Paul Richardson and tight ends Jimmy Graham and Luke Wilson in free agency. Those are some big losses. Richardson, Graham and Wilson combined for 116 catches, 1,376 yards and 20 of Wilson’s 34 touchdown passes. Free agent Ed Dickson will be the new starter at tight end, while youngsters such as Tyler Lockett and Amra Darboh will be counted on at wide receiver. Seattle is also taking a chance on veteran wide out Brandon Marshall, though there’s no guarantee he will make the team.

The one thing that has really held back Seattle’s offense over the years is their offensive line. It’s been several years where this has been the weakest unit on the roster, yet it’s one the Seahawks have been unwilling to put much stock into. The only addition made this offseason was the signing of D.J. Fluker, who is expected to start at right guard. It is worth noting they did land left tackle Duane Brown in a late season trade last year, so they are in a little better shape than in year’s past. However, it still looks like one of the worst offensive lines in the league.

If you thought they lost a lot on offense, it’s nothing compared to what has taken place on the defensive side of the ball. Seattle cut corner Richard Sherman, traded away defensive end Michael Bennett, didn’t resign Sheldon Richardson, lost Cliff Avril to a serious neck injury and might not have safety Kam Chancellor (also suffered a serious neck injury – may never play again). On top of all that, All-Pro safety Earl Thomas is holding out in his final year and could be traded at any point.

Seattle is confident they can make it work with all of those departures, but a lot is going to have to go right for that to happen.

The top two players back on the defensive line are defensive end Frank Clark and third-year defensive tackle Jarran Reed. Tom Johnson was added in free agency to pair alongside Reed at defensive tackle, while Dion Jordon and Rasheem Green will try to replace the production of Bennett.

The good news is that Seattle does have two studs back at linebacker in K.J. Wright and Bobby Wagner. The bad news is there’s little to no depth at the position behind these two. Barkevious Mingo was added in free agency to start on the strong-side and could be pushed by fifth round rookie Shaquem Griffin.

What was once the most feared secondary in the NFL is just middle of the pack. Seattle desperately needs Thomas on the field for this unit to have any chance at succeeding. Bradley McDougald was re-signed to fill the void left by Chancellor at safety, while Byron Maxwell, Shaquille Griffin and Justin Coleman will be the primary corners.

2018 Seahawks Schedule & Projected Odds

Below you will find the early odds released by Vegas for Weeks 1-16, as well as my projected number for Week 17. Using the lines we are able to give a game-by-game win probability, which we used to come up an expected win total.

WeekOpponentEst. OddsWins
1at Broncos+20.47
2at Bears MNFPK0.50
3Cowboys-1.50.53
4at CardinalsPK0.50
5Rams+10.49
6at Raiders+1.50.48
7BYEBYEBYE
8at Lions+1.50.48
9ChargersPK0.50
10at Rams+70.25
11Packers TNF+10.49
12at Panthers+30.41
1349ers SNF-10.51
14Vikings MNF+20.47
15at 49ers+3.50.36
16Chiefs SNF-30.59
17Cardinals-60.71

Projected Wins: 7.71

Over/Under Wins Prediction: OVER 8

It’s hard to remember the last time Seattle went into a season with these low of expectations. Just about everyone has slammed the door on the Seahawks reign as one of the top teams in the NFL. Call me crazy, but I’m going to take a shot on Seattle eclipsing their win total of 8 games.

It’s no secret that to have success in the NFL you need to have at least an above-average quarterback. Seattle has one of the best signal callers in the NFL in Wilson and for that’s the biggest reason why I don’t think it’s a stretch for this team to go 9-7 or better. As long as Wilson is healthy, he’s going to keep this team competitive. If they figure out a way to get the running game going and the defense exceeds expectations, this could easily be a double-digit win team.

Odds to Win the Super Bowl: +6000

Do I think the Seahawks will win the Super Bowl this year? I don’t. However, I do think Seattle is showing some decent value if you are looking to take a gamble on a long-shot to win it all.

Oddsmakers have 21 other teams listed with better odds to win the Super Bowl than the Seahawks and they are just slightly ahead of the likes of the Buccaneers (+7000), Colts (+7000), Redskins (+7500) and Browns (+8000). The Titans, who I think are a worse version of Seattle are sitting at +4500.

If you have a quarterback as talented as Wilson you have a chance at winning the title and at +6000 it might just be worth a shot.

Odds to Win the NFC: +2000

Similar story here with the value we are getting on Seattle to win the NFC. There are 10 other NFC teams with better odds to make the Super Bowl out of this conference. You have a team like the 49ers, who have proven nothing and are sitting at +1200.

Odds to Win the NFC West: +400

The Rams are the clear-cut favorites to win the NFC West at -130 and that shouldn’t come as a surprise. Los Angeles went 11-5 in the first year under Sean McVay and appear to have only gotten better in the offseason. San Francisco has the second best odds to win the division at +275, followed by the Seahawks at +400 and the Cardinals at +1200.

While I agree that Arizona is a non-factor, I don’t agree that the 49ers are that much better than Seattle. It’s definitely a long shot for the Seahawks to overtake the Rams, but they would be my bet if I had to take one of the other three teams.