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2012 NFL Preview: Can Seahawks push 49ers for division title?

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TSN.ca Staff
9/3/2012 12:53:22 PM
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Reasons to Believe
1. The Kid Can Play - Yes, it's only a few preseason games, and yes there have been a few rookie mistakes. But Russell Wilson sure has looked good under centre. Through three total NFL preseason games, Wilson has completed 35 of 56 passes for 464 yards, five touchdowns, one interception, and he has the NFL's best preseason quarterback rating at 119.4. He can throw, he can run and he looks poised in the pocket. What more do you want from your quarterback?

2. Take your pick - Seattle's secondary showed a serious knack for ball-hawking last year, finishing fourth in the NFL with 22 interceptions. Overall the team tied for fifth in the giveaway-takeaway department and as the old adage goes, if you win the turnover battle, you win the game.

3. Beast Mode - Marshawn Lynch had the best year of his pro career last season and keyed the Seahawks offence. Running behind a solid offensive line coached by Tom Cable Lynch should be able to repeat that type of production and help take some of the pressure off Wilson. Throw in the fact that Robert Turbin is looking like a powerful second option and the run game looks secure.

Reasons to Doubt
1. Relying on a Rookie - Is it hypocritical to have the same guy in the reasons to believe and reasons to doubt sections? Probably. But that's what you get with a rookie third-round pick starting at quarterback. As good as he has looked, Russell Wilson is still a first-year NFL player and with that comes first-year NFL mistakes. At the quarterback position those mistakes will be magnified. Wilson certainly looks to be a great quarterback for the future, but putting lofty expectations on him this year just isn't fair.

2. Receiver Reliability- There are major questions at receiver for Seattle. Projected number one Sidney Rice had a terrible first season in Seattle limited by injuries and had off-season surgery on both his shoulders. Kellen Winslow and his wonky knees apparently didn't work out. The team took a pair of shots in the dark with Braylon Edwards and Terrell Owens but neither impressed in pre-season and Owens was amongst the team's cuts. Doug Baldwin had an impressive rookie season in 2011 and is likely the most reliable bet for solid production.

3. Tough Opening Schedule - The Seahawks are going to face some pretty stiff competition and tough scheduling right off the bat. Their first eight opponents are the Cardinals (road), Cowboys, Packers, Rams (road), Panthers (road), Patriots, 49ers (road) and Lions (road). Of the easier matchups for the Seahawks in that bunch all the games are on the road where the Seahawks have traditionally been very bad. The schedule gets alot more friendly in Week 9 but the Seahawks could already find themselves well behind the eight-ball by that point.

What to Expect
The Seattle Seahawks actually have a pretty high ceiling for success this year but a lot of things would need to go right for that to happen. The team could push the 49ers for the division if Russell Wilson can be a solid quarterback in his rookie season... if Sidney Rice and Kellen Winslow can stay healthy... if Marshawn Lynch stays motivated after a new deal... if the offensive line stays healthy... if the defence can make the jump from pretty good to good. That's too many ifs to have high expectations and also means the Seahawks floor is pretty low. What if Wilson flounders, Rice gets hurt, Lynch is lazy and the defence falls off? The most likely scenario is the team will hover at or near .500 just as they have the last couple seasons.

Marshawn Lynch (Photo: Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)

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(Photo: Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
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