Rost: How do the Seahawks stack up against the rest of the NFC West?
Even the most ardent Seahawks fans would agree that the NFC West will be a gauntlet this season. Those same fans are likely still counting on the Seahawks to make it out as the division champs, but one prominent NFL reporter isn’t so sure.
Albert Breer, senior NFL reporter for Sports Illustrated’s Monday Morning Quarterback, joined 710 ESPN Seattle’s Jake & Stacy Thursday to talk about the state of the league and share his thoughts on a few of the latest headlines. When asked to give his blunt assessment of Seattle’s odds in the NFC West, Breer didn’t hold back.
(Warning: you’re not going to love this.)
“I think the 49ers right now have the best roster in the NFC West,” Breer said, “and I think a lot of where they end up is going to be contingent on health. What does Nick Bosa look like coming off the ACL? How does Jimmy Garoppolo recover from the ankle injury and come back knowing that he’s got the third overall pick breathing down his neck? So, when I look at it from a talent standpoint, I think right now San Francisco. That team getting to the Super Bowl two years ago wasn’t a fluke. If they can stay healthy and a couple things break right, I think that can be a 13 or 14-win team. And I think that where the division goes is going to hinge on what happens with a couple of things in San Francisco.”
That San Francisco is Breer’s pick shouldn’t be too shocking; the 49ers are among the favorites to win the Super Bowl. Just last week I wrote about how both the 49ers and the Los Angeles Rams own better odds than Seattle despite the latter winning the division in 2020.
As for the Hawks, Breer doesn’t think they’re far behind.
“I think Seattle is right back in that 11 or 12-win range. You’d like to think maybe the secondary comes together a little bit there. That Jamal Adams, they’ve learned how to use him a little bit better. That Gabe Jackson makes a difference on the offensive line. So, I think the Seahawks have reason to believe they should be right back where they were last year and I think the Rams are sort of right in that group with them, with Arizona chasing the other three. So, I would tell you I think San Francisco going in should be the favorite.”
Hawks need a boost from stars (and a little surprise)
Look to the second-half slump on offense and an uninspiring Wild Card loss as reason behind doubts that the Hawks will repeat as division champs. Throw in a relatively quiet offseason (save the Russell Wilson headlines) compared to big acquisitions for the 49ers, Rams, and Cardinals, and you’ve got a recipe to be overlooked.
Players on this team would tell you that’s not a bad thing at all – and it doesn’t have to be – but if the Seahawks want to repeat as division champs, they’ll need three things: top production from their biggest stars, surprise performances from unheralded players, and an offensive solution from new hire Shane Waldron. (I understand that health and chemistry on either side of the line of scrimmage is vitally important but we’re going to assume that’s the case if you get those great performances, so roll with me here.)
The NFC West is chock-full of talent and coming out on top for Seattle means consistency from some of its biggest names. Russell Wilson is the division’s best quarterback and threw for a career-high 40 touchdowns last season, but against defenses headed up by Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey or Chandler Jones and J.J. Watt, he’ll need to be better than his career-high 13 interceptions. Safety Jamal Adams brought phenomenal return for Seattle’s pass rush but will be needed even more in coverage against a Sean McVay offense where the upgrade at quarterback also brings massive arm strength. And for the first time in his career, Bobby Wagner could be playing without K.J. Wright, and will need to account for youth and inexperience on either side of him.
It’s easy to overlook a team that has clear weaknesses on paper, so throw in a little surprise here as well. A strong season doesn’t just mean a solid year from Wagner and Wilson; it also means that gambles on young talent at corner will pay off, which makes Ahkello Witherspoon, Tre Brown, and D.J. Reed particularly interesting watches this season.
Speaking of surprises, Breer certainly left the door open for one in the West.
“There are a couple of variables that could swing that one way or the other – and the Seahawks and Rams aren’t far behind where I think the 49ers should be.”