The regular season kicks off in less than two weeks, so SBNation's mothership has endeavored to put together short season previews for each NFL franchise. Here's what I had to say about your Seattle Seahawks.
1. Who is the easiest player on the roster to root for?
This is a softball of a question but it's actually kind of hard to answer because really, how do you choose between the prototypical, ultimate role model of everything you'd ever want to be or want your kids to be in Russell Wilson and the most hilariously weird, quirky, bizarrely badass and beastmodey Marshawn Lynch?
I literally don't know how you could ask me to choose between those two. Can't do it. Won't do it! But yes, Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch are both really easy to root for, for very different reasons.
2. If you could buy a ticket to just one game this year...
That's not easy either, because right off the bat I'd have to say the Week 2 matchup with the Niners. Both teams are going to be amped up, it's the Hawks' home opener, it's a nicely developing rivalry between two of the league's better teams, and the Niners will not have forgotten the last time they were at CenturyLink and lost 42-13.
That said, that game is pretty damn early in the year and things tend to be a little more interesting when the Playoffs are on the line.
For my money, I'm paying to go see the the Saints on Monday Night Football on December 2nd (and if we're lucky, the triumphant return of Percy Harvin squeeeeeee) or I'm going all in for the Week 17 matchup at the CLink against the Rams. With the NFC West likely to be beating up on each other all year, I could see that Week 17 matchup being meaningful for a Playoffs berth or Playoffs seeding.
3. Which veterans could be cut before the season due to salary cap issues?
The main two that we've been monitoring are FB Michael Robinson and OG/OT Paul McQuistan. Both are likely to make the final roster, but there's some question as to whether the Hawks might take their chances with younger, cheaper players at those spots in order to roll more cap space into next season. Other candidates include role players in Heath Farwell, Chris Maragos, and Clinton McDonald. The Hawks are pretty maxed out in payroll right now so it's still up in the air as to whether or not they'll look to trim that down and roll cap into 2014.
4. Which second year player is going to make the biggest leap?
Apart from the obvious in Russell Wilson, I think two guys are poised to really make a big jump are middle linebacker Bobby Wagner, the runner up for the defensive rookie of the year last year, and Bruce Irvin, who finished with 8 sacks and is making a move to outside linebacker in 2013.
Irvin will miss the first four games due to suspension, but he's a dynamic, exciting player that I believe will acclimate nicely to his new position. I'm guessing his elite athleticism will lead him to carve out a big role in the defense and he may end up getting more sacks rushing from different spots and different angles in year two that he was able to grab in year one.
Bobby Wagner should assume full control as the quarterback of the defense, and with a year of experience under his belt, should improve on his great rookie season. He's maybe the fastest linebacker in the NFL and conversely, the game will only slow down for him as he learns more pro schemes.
5. Predict the order of finish in your division.
If I had to guess, I'd say 1. Niners 2. Seahawks 3. Rams 4. Cardinals, with the one and two spot neck and neck until the very end of the year. It may come down to which team fares better in the division, and I could obviously see the Seahawks win the West. It's going to be a battle though.
6. What are the odds of your head coach getting fired?
This isn't going to happen. Carroll has turned the franchise around, has two playoffs appearances in three years, and now has a 24-year old potential franchise quarterback to run the show for the next decade. Carroll is in no danger of being fired. We're more worried that he'll get too old to coach anymore at this point.
7. What franchise or NFL records could be broken this season?
The Seahawks' single-season passing touchdowns record is held by Dave Krieg, and that stands at 32. That could be in danger, considering Russell Wilson threw for 26 in his rookie season - particularly after being held back over the first half of the year. Krieg also holds the Seahawks record for highest yards per attempt with 8.8 in 1983, and Wilson came close in 2012 with 7.9 YPA. I could see him closer to 9.0 YPA in 2013 if he continues to master the play-action vertical throwing offense the Seahawks like to utilize.
Finally, Krieg also holds the single-season record for completion percentage by connecting on 65.61% of his passes in 1991. Wilson completed 64.1% of his passes in 2012, and I could easily see that number improve past 65%, 66%.
The Seahawks' record for highest per-rush average on a season is held by Shawn Alexander and his YPC in 2005 was 5.08. I could easily see Marshawn Lynch break his mark of 5.0 YPC last year and cement himself in the record books in that category.
8. What do you expect your season-end record will be?
My prediction right now is for the Seahawks to finish 11-5. I think they're a talented team and would normally have the capability and talent to go 13-3 or possibly even 14-2, but they have a very difficult schedule and play in the league's toughest division. There are going to be some close match ups, injuries will happen, they'll lose games they shouldn't, and will likely regress in some areas, but ultimately 11-5 is a range I feel comfortable predicting. I do think they'll make the Playoffs.
9. Which rookies will see regular playing time this year?
Christine Michael is a guy that has played with explosiveness in the preseason so it would seem like a real waste to not give him some carries in year one. Tight end Luke Willson figures to have a big role in an offense that features a lot of two tight end sets, and with backup TE Anthony McCoy lost for the year with an achilles injury, he is slotted in for a lot of snaps.
On defense, it's looking like DT Jordan Hill will have a role in the nickel defense as a pass rusher from the interior, and he's good enough that he could work his way into some base looks as well.