Originally posted on The Sports Post  |  Last updated 8/25/13
In 2012, the Seattle Seahawks surprised many people. It started back in the summer when head coach Pete Carroll named third round pick, Russell Wilson, the team's starting quarterback. Then it extended into the season after they started a mediocre 4-4. The Seahawks went on to win seven of their final eight games, scoring an averageof 34 points per game in that stretch. Even more, the Seahawks didn't lose a home game last season, giving up just 11.9 points per game to opponents that entered Century Link Field. They even made a run during the postseason and came two points shy of playing for an NFC Championship. In a division that was heavily favored by San Francisco going into the season, the Seahawks shocked the football world, so much to the point that they have steadily stolen the “favorite” status that the 49ers held tightly last summer. Fast forward to 2013, and the Seahawks have become the sexy pick to win it all this season. Now second-year quarterback Russell Wilson has a lot to do with that type of prediction. He noticeably got better throughout the season, and definitely gives Seattle a steady starting quarterback for the first time since Matt Hasselbeck took them to the Super Bowl in 2006. Beast Mode, aka Marshawn Lynch, provides a sure thing in the backfield for the Seahawks, and with receivers Golden Tate, Sidney Rice, Doug Baldwin, and new addition Percy Harvin, the Seahawks offense should be able to score enough points to win many games, especially with their great defense. That defense, which led the NFL in points allowed last season (15.3), returns pretty much all of their starters, and even brought in a few new faces in Cliff Avril and Antoine Winfield. They should be near or at the top of the league again defensively. Many expect Seattle to win the NFC this season. Regardless of how good their team is, if a team is winning all of their home games, they have a great shot at a playoff berth and a run at the Super Bowl. However, their most notable addition, Percy Harvin, went down with a hip injury that required surgery and will cost him at least half of the regular season. That has put a thorn in the side of the Seahawks title aspirations. However, Wilson is talented enough to spread the ball around to Tate, Rice and Baldwin. Lynch will likely be heavily relied upon again to create offensive balance, and provide a downhill running style that will be difficult for defenses to stop. Lynch has been dominant over the last two years, but never more than he was last season. when he rushed for a career-high 1,590 yards while topping 300 carries for the first time in his career. Not sure if Lynch will need to carry the load as much with another year under Wilson's belt, but having him at their disposal bodes well for the Seattle offense. The Seattle defense hit their stride in that final 8-game stretch to end the season, allowing just under 12 points per game. They were a cohesive unit that played incredibly well at home. But even as good as they were, they got even better this summer by bringing in Cliff Avril from the Detroit Lions and Antoine Winfield from the Minnesota Vikings. Avril, who had 9.5 sacks last season, should come in and compete for the starting spot at defensive end. Winfield, a veteran safety, should provide leadership for a pretty young defense, and help on the backend, relieving Cam Chancellor and Earl Thomas when needed. [Do you have what it takes to dominate weekly fantasy football leagues? Sign-up for FanDuel.com using promo code TSP for a 50% deposit bonus!] Those two are merely additions to a already stellar unit. Big Brandon Mebane and Red Bryant anchor the interior of the defensive line. They have very talented young linebackers in Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright. And their defensive secondary, which features the likes of Richard Sherman, Brandon Browner, Chancellor and Thomas, is quite possibly the best in the NFL, with a rare combination of youth and talent. The defense is truly the strength of this team, and many expect nothing less in 2013. The reason Seattle is such a popular choice to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl this season is because the gap between the offense and defense has decreased, as the offense should perform that much better this season. The loss of Harvin hurts, but compare that to division rival San Francisco, who lost Michael Crabtree, and that loss stings a little less. Both players will miss a great deal of time during the season, but Seattle has its same three receivers from last season. Crabtree was Colin Kaepernick's favorite target last season, so that loss hurts San Francisco more. Yet Seattle still looks like a team primed to make a run this year. If they can maintain their defensive dominance, and continue to make winning impossible for opponents traveling to the great Northwest, the Seahawks have a great chance to be the NFL's last team standing in February. By: Kenny Bunch Twitter: @CertiPHIedDEUCE

This article first appeared on The Sports Post and was syndicated with permission.

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