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Seahawks take on role of underdogs once again

NFL: Arizona Cardinals at Seattle Seahawks Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

The Seattle Seahawks had been a powerhouse unit from 2012-2016. winning 56 games in five seasons, including five trips to the playoffs, five years with at least one playoff win, two Super Bowl appearances, and one ring. It was one of the most dominant stretches by a team in the last 50 years, as even if it “only” resulted in a single championship, the Seahawks were impossible during that stretch to put away easily. Not once were they truly beaten handily without a chance to win in the fourth quarter.

In 2017, that was not quite the case.

Though Seattle was not bad last season (9-7 with a convincing win over the Super Bowl champions late in the year), there were games that fit better in the 2011 version of the Seahawks than the version of the team we’d all grown accustomed to since. That included a 42-7 loss to the LA Rams and an inconsistent offensive output that resulted in perhaps the NFL’s worst rushing attack.

And because of that, the rest of the world has responded with: “The run is over. Or at least on hiatus for 2018.”

As Warren Sharp pointed out on Twitter this week, the Seahawks are only favored in three games in 2018. That’s a stark difference from where they were from 2012-2017, the first six seasons of Russell Wilson.

Per Sharp’s chart, the Seahawks are favored by 1.5 points against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 3, by 1 point against the San Francisco 49ers in Week 13, and by 3 points against the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 16.

The Rams are apparently already favored by a touchdown for when they host Seattle in Week 10, even though the Seahawks won in Los Angeles last season.

If you go to Sharp’s website, you’ll see that a major piece of the issue isn’t the quality of the Seahawks roster (though I’m sure the losses of Richard Sherman, Michael Bennett, Cliff Avril, Sheldon Richardson, potentially Kam Chancellor is a part of it for bettors), so much as the difficulty of their schedule. Sharp has Seattle with the third-toughest schedule in the NFL, ahead of only the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Arizona Cardinals.

It’s not so much that the Seahawks face a lot of elite opponents, but they don’t seem to be getting many breaks. Not as of May, at least. Sharp has the Seahawks facing only three “bottom-10” opponents, and only the Cardinals, Cleveland Browns, and Chiefs face fewer. Seattle will also be tested immediately by their schedule, as their first two games are on the road, as well as three of the first four, and five of the first seven.

If the Seahawks are still in contention after the first 11 games, they have four of their final five games at home. At that point, they may be favored again. Like they used to be.

Like it matters, even though it doesn’t.

Being “favored” or being the “underdog” certainly could have some psychological effect, but we don’t know to what degree. I know a lot of fans prefer the underdog role, even as they contradict themselves by getting upset from power rankings, because it’s a cooler story. Unless you win pole-to-pole and get lumped in with the greatest teams of all-time, like the 2013 Seattle Seahawks are. And isn’t that nice too?

Winning is nice. That’s what matters. This is just gauging the temp of how people feel about the Seahawks right now, and faith has certainly left CenturyLink for the time being. That time being four months before Seattle travels to Mile High Stadium to face the Denver Broncos in Week 1.

We’ll see how people feel about the Seahawks by then.