I am truly confused.
You see, under most circumstances I am loathe to claim media bias or an agenda when explaining the analysis of a team – any team. You see, fans tend to vastly overestimate the investment of the media as it pertains to their team. Lots of writers, reporters and insiders out there that take their jobs very seriously and try their best to deliver a solid product don’t care at all about the individual teams they cover. They only want get to the truth and provide insight.
This is where my confusion comes in.
The preseason NFL predictions are hitting the shelves and it seems as though the national powers that be have some sort of collective amnesia about the defending Super Bowl champs. I don’t believe for a second that the Seahawks are bulletproof or that there aren’t reasons for concern or doubt about Seattle’s ability to be the first team in a decade to repeat, but it’s curious that expert after expert finds reason to throw their lot in with another team.
Consider that when the seven-member CBS panel made its picks, three of their staffers took the Broncos to win it all, with a single vote apiece for the Packers, Saints, Patriots and – wait for it – 49ers. Not one of their Super Bowl matchup picks even call for Seattle to make it back.
It would be easy to lean on NFL history and point to the fact that teams that win the Super Bowl rarely repeat as champions. It’s only happened eight times in history. But if history is your mile marker than how is it that over 40 percent of the CBS panel went with Denver when only two teams have won the Super Bowl after losing it the previous season? The 1971 Cowboys and 1972 Dolphins are the only teams to accomplish that feat. In that context, the Steelers have repeated as champs as many times as all the teams to lose a Super Bowl and return to win one the following year – combined.
Makes it tough to put much stock in the history argument.
If you’d like another take, read Peter King’s column on his visit to Seattle and his thoughts on the Seahawks. “Of the 27 teams I witnessed in person this summer, Seattle’s the best I saw,” he wrote. Yet when it comes to projecting the chances for Seattle to repeat, King not only isn’t on board but can’t seem to come up with a reason why, aside from the aforementioned fate of teams not named Seahawks.
“There’s nothing not to like here. Maybe the offensive line, which worries the smart football people in the building. But nothing else. If the Seahawks stay relatively healthy, they should be favored to be the first team since the Patriots (2003, 2004) to repeat as champs. But I’m not picking them. History is the reason. Stuff happens. It always does. And the game is justsoclose. Since New England’s second Super Bowl win a decade ago, and not including the ’13 Seahawks, this is the total playoff victories of the eight Super Bowl champions the following year: Zero.”
At least Phil Watson of Sports Illustrated attempted to build a solid list of five reasons that are actually related to the team. His “5 Reasons the Seahawks Won’t Repeat” column is slightly less lazy but not necessarily any more right-headed.
He starts with health and then lists five players that will be ready for Week 1. Reason No. 2 is defections, which actually may have some merit. At the 3 spot is the imaginary “Disease of More”, which isn’t really an item so much as a made-up concept to complete Top 5 lists. No. 4 is “Richard Sherman: Megastar” and more of the notion that creating a straw man argument about the cornerback will somehow magically change who he is. I’d encourage Watson to check with Mark Kiszla of The Denver Post about how that particular endeavor ends. Finally, reason No. 5 is “Beastmode nearing the wall”. Again, there might be something there, but playing to NFL trends while ignoring the individual (as opposed to the whole team) doesn’t really qualify as a reasoning, either.
What I haven’t been able to find in all of these columns are the average roster ages of teams that have repeated as Super Bowl champs (hint: young) or the fact that the Seahawks didn’t extend a single starter over the age of 29 this offseason. There’s been no mention that, while preseason stats are sketchy at best, the Seahawks through three weeks are first in total defense, second in rush yards and third in scoring (which sounds vaguely like a winning strategy even to a know-nothings like myself).
Also absent is anything about the evolution of the Seahawks’ offense – which, contrary to what some would have you believe, did exist last season – and the fact that quarterback Russell Wilson will likely get better in his third season. Heck, I couldn’t even find anyone that pointed out that Las Vegas and the folks that literally make their living making such predictions have the Seahawks as the odds-on favorite to win it all this year.
Maybe it’s the fact that I have lived in a city with a defending Super Bowl champion. Perhaps it’s just the notion I got last year that I was watching something special during training camp and the preseason here in Seattle. It could be that I have been in town just long enough to become a bit of a homer myself. But the fact that so few seem to think that one of the youngest, deepest, most balanced and most talented Super Bowl champs in years has a shot to win it all again is confusing indeed.