It can be enjoyable to look back at how the NFL season was supposed to go, and hold it alongside how things actually unfolded.
It’s less enjoyable if you’re the Los Angeles Rams, I suppose, but a fun exercise nonetheless.
Despite an infuriatingly bumpy midseason, the Seattle Seahawks busted all expectations this year. Here’s a look at some of the ways the NFC West held up or did not.
It also comes with one bizarre surprise.
538 predictions are first up, with the Rams as 65% favorites to make the playoffs.
The Seahawks did not fit in the screenshot, with a predicted 7-10 record, and 21% chance make the playoffs.
Fast forward to today:
Rams eliminated, Cardinals eliminated, and the San Francisco 49ers still really good. But those pesky little Seahawks have a 22% chance to make the playoffs. Remarkable how differently the season can go for a dozen teams across the league, and yet Seattle finds itself with that same sliver of hope to make a playoff spot.
Another projection that stood out came from the Mike Clay report:
5-12 for the Seahawks, 10 wins for the Rams, 9 or 10 for the Broncos.
Among the biggest differentials, Clay projected the Seahawks to have a negative 94-point differential, third-worst in the NFC. Instead, they sit at plus eight.
Incidentally, Clay picked Seattle to have the fourth pick in the upcoming draft, which may prove to be exactly correct, but for reasons Clay did not see coming.
We haven’t given the Arizona Cardinals any love in this piece, so here’s my favorite bulls-eye from the folks over at CBS Sports:
NFC West bold prediction: Cardinals finish in last place
After watching the Cardinals make the playoffs last season, I’m predicting that they totally collapse this year.
Perhaps the greatest revelation in all this - one which sadly many of us shouldn’t have needed, yet we did - is that Pete Carroll is a really good coach. It takes five seconds of evaluating Kliff Kingsbury or Nathaniel Hackett, pondering the roster talent across these three franchises, and noticing the directions each team took this season to conclude that the Seahawks are still in good hands.
And at the end of the day, I’m sure next season will be no different, with plenty of doubt to throw Seattle’s way heading into 2023.
But surpassing expectations is far more enjoyable than crumpling beneath them.