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Online Seahawks Lines & Predictions - Seattle Future Odds - Free NFL Betting Previews

2006 Seattle Seahawks Season Preview

2006 Seahawks NFL News - September 2nd
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2006 NFL Previews - By Tony Moss, NFL Editor

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"None of the past five Super Bowl runners-up have returned to the playoffs in the following season." The NFL pundits will roll out that factoid well into the fall, pointing to the 2006 Seattle Seahawks as they do so, though few will actually

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delve deeper into the stat when recounting it to their viewers, listeners, or readers.

They'll have you believe that Super Bowl losers effectively coil up into a ball of misery soon after watching their opponents raise the Lombardi Trophy, that the sting of the defeat has a major carry-over effect to the following campaign.

And maybe it does, though that's hardly the complete story.

Last year's Eagles had the T.O. saga to deal with, and Donovan McNabb's sports hernia was but one of many injuries that the team endured. The '04 Panthers were down to their fifth running back, and still made a late run at the playoffs. The 2002 Rams had similar ailments, losing both quarterback Kurt Warner and running back Marshall Faulk for large stretches of the season.

The Raiders' and Giants' Super Bowl teams (both of which were trounced in the big game) had more or less been default entries in years when no dominant team emerged from their conference. That they failed to reach the postseason in the next year had less to do with a Super Bowl hangover and more with the ever-shifting sands of NFL parity.

Which brings us to the Seahawks. If Seattle fails to become the first runner- up to get back to the postseason since the 2000 Tennessee Titans, it won't be because they lack the talent or the desire. A team that went 13-3 and stormed through the NFC West a year ago appears stronger on paper heading into 2006, and the bitter taste of its loss to the Steelers figures to strengthen, not weaken, team resolve.

Preseason predictions for success in the NFL are always contingent on health, and an injury to a Hasselbeck or an Alexander would certainly alter the landscape for Mike Holmgren's team, just as it did for those Eagles, Panthers, and Rams of recent vintage. But based on all available information, Seattle looks set to break the mythical "loser's curse" and return to the playoffs in 2006.

Which means the pundits will have to find themselves a new factoid for 2007.

Below we take a capsule look at the 2006 edition of the Seattle Seahawks, with a personnel evaluation and prognosis included therein:

2005 RECORD: 13-3 (1st, NFC West)

LAST PLAYOFF APPEARANCE: 2005, lost to Pittsburgh, 21-10, in Super Bowl XL

COACH (RECORD): Mike Holmgren (63-49 in seven seasons with Seahawks, 138-86 overall)



OFFENSIVE STAR: Shaun Alexander, RB (1880 rushing yards, 15 receptions, 28 TD)

DEFENSIVE STAR: Lofa Tatupu, LB (104 tackles, 4 INT, 3 sacks)

OFFENSIVE TEAM RANKS: 3rd rushing, 13th passing, 1st scoring

DEFENSIVE TEAM RANKS: 5th rushing, 25th passing, 7th scoring

FIVE KEY GAMES: N.Y. Giants (9/24), at Chicago (10/1), at St. Louis (10/15), Green Bay (11/27), at Tampa Bay (12/31)

KEY ADDITIONS: WR Nate Burleson (from Vikings), TE Will Heller (from Buccaneers), TE Matt Murphy (from Texans), OL Tom Ashworth (from Patriots), DE Kemp Rasmussen (from Panthers), DE Darryl Tapp (2nd Round, Virginia Tech), DT Russell Davis (from Cardinals), DL Chris Cooper (from 49ers), LB Julian Peterson (from 49ers), CB Kelly Jennings, (1st Round, Miami (FL)), S Oliver Celestin (from Jets), P/PK Ryan Plackemeier (7th Round, Wake Forest)

KEY DEPARTURES: WR Joe Jurevicius (to Browns), WR Alex Bannister (released), WR Jerheme Urban (released), TE Ryan Hannam (to Cowboys), G Steve Hutchinson (to Vikings), T Wayne Hunter (released), DE Rodney Bailey (to Steelers), LB Jamie Sharper (released), CB Andre Dyson (released), S Marquand Manuel (to Packers), P Tom Rouen (released)

QB: Back for a sixth season as the Seahawks starter is quarterback Matt Hasselbeck (3459 passing yards, 24 TD, 9 INT), who led the NFC with a career- high 98.2 passer rating in 2006, in turn earning his second Pro Bowl citation. Hasselbeck's season was all the more remarkable in that he was missing No. 1 receiver Darrell Jackson for 10 games, and was without No. 2 Bobby Engram for three. Behind Hasselbeck is Seneca Wallace (173 passing yards, 1 TD, 1 INT), who threw his first career touchdown pass in the regular season finale against Green Bay last season. At some point, the team will probably want to move 2005 third-round draft choice and Georgia product David Greene up the depth chart, but barring anything unforeseen, 2006 will not be that year.

RB: Shaun Alexander (1880 rushing yards, 15 receptions, 28 TD) answered all remaining questions about both his ability and desire last season, when he led the league in rushing and set the NFL single-season record for touchdowns. In March, the 29-year-old three-time Pro Bowler was rewarded with an eight-year, $62 million contract that is expected to keep Alexander in Seattle for the remainder of his career. Maurice Morris (288 rushing yards, 1 TD), who notched the first 100-yard game of his four-year career in a blowout of the Texans last October, will again spell Alexander. Josh Scobey figures to make the team as a return man for the second straight year. At fullback, Mack Strong (78 rushing yards, 22 receptions) begins his 13th season on the active roster. Backup fullback Leonard Weaver (80 rushing yards, 1 reception) suffered a high ankle sprain in the team's final preseason game, perhaps opening the door to rookie David Kirtman (5th Round, USC) to make the roster.

WR/TE: After being limited due to injuries to Darrell Jackson (38 receptions, 3 TD) and Bobby Engram (67 receptions, 3 TD) last season, the Seahawks made a point of upgrading this area in the offseason. That upgrade comes in the form of Nate Burleson (30 receptions, 1 TD with Minnesota), who started just nine games last season due to injury but turned in his first career 1,000-yard season in 2004. At just 25, Burleson has a chance to be a permanent fixture in the Seahawks lineup for years to come. Jackson missed the entire preseason following knee surgery, but is expected back for the regular season. The fourth receiver will be D.J. Hackett (28 receptions, 2 TD), a 2004 fifth-round draft pick who proved himself as a backup last year. Peter Warrick (11 receptions) is clearly not the same player who caught 79 balls for the Bengals in 2003, but will probably remain on the roster as well. Seventh-round draft choice Ben Obomanu (Auburn) and ex-Dolphins practice squad member Maurice Mann were believed to be fighting for the sixth and final receiving job as the preseason concluded. The Hawks have a problem at tight end, as Jerramy Stevens (45 receptions, 5 TD) was expected to miss the start of the regular season with a knee injury, and his would-be replacement, Itula Mili, was shelved indefinitely by a knee problem of his own. Ex-Buccaneer and Dolphin Will Heller (1 reception, 1 TD with Miami) might be the team's Week 1 starter, and former Texan Matt Murphy (2 receptions with Houston) could be kept on for insurance.

OL: The Seahawks suffered a major blow to their offensive line when three-time Pro Bowl guard Steve Hutchinson was lured away by the Vikings in a tricky free agent maneuver. Minnesota tendered Hutchinson an offer that required him to be the highest-paid player on the offensive line, knowing that Seattle, which was already paying handsomely for perennial Pro Bowl left tackle Walter Jones, would be unable to match it (the Hawks used the same tactic to lure Nate Burleson from Minnesota). Stepping into Hutchinson's spot at left guard will be Floyd "Pork Chop" Womack, who has served mostly as a backup at tackle and guard during five years with Seattle. The rest of the line remains intact with center Robbie Tobeck, right guard Chris Gray, and right tackle Sean Locklear all coming off seasons in which they started 16 games. Chris Spencer, a 2005 first-round draft pick who is being blocked by the veteran Tobeck, fellow holdover Ray Willis, and ex-Patriot Tom Ashworth figure to be among the reserves. The team will also have to find a spot for fourth-round pick and guard Rob Sims (4th Round, Virginia Tech), who will otherwise be subject to waivers.

DL: Seattle quietly led the NFL with 50 sacks in 2005, and welcomes back nearly all of the d-line principles that helped spark that performance. Ends Bryce Fisher (47 tackles, 9 sacks) and Grant Wistrom (52 tackles, 4 sacks) and tackles Rocky Bernard (52 tackles, 8.5 sacks), Marcus Tubbs (40 tackles, 5.5 sacks) and Chuck Darby (30 tackles, 2.5 sacks) all had their pass rushing moments a year ago, and all return. Craig Terrill (18 tackles, 2 sacks), who appeared in each of the team's 16 games a year ago, is also back. The prominent newcomers up front are end Daryl Tapp, a second-round draft choice out of Virginia Tech who had 10 sacks as a Hokie in 2005, and tackle Russell Davis (5 tackles with the Cardinals), a five-year starter in Arizona who missed 13 games with a torn biceps last season. Davis, who missed must of the preseason with an injured foot, was in danger of being cut, as was holdover Joe Tafoya (29 tackles, 1 sack), who missed camp time with a bum shoulder. New Seahawks Kemp Rasmussen (17 tackles with Carolina) and Chris Cooper stood to gain if Davis and Tafoya were excised.

LB: After enduring a revolving door at linebacker in 2004, the Seahawks received some consistency at the position last season, and were better for it. Middle linebacker Lofa Tatupu (104 tackles, 4 sacks, 3 INT) was a Pro Bowler as a rookie, and should only get better. Another rookie, Leroy Hill (72 tackles, 7.5 sacks), wreaked havoc as a pass rusher on the strong side. D.D. Lewis (62 tackles) was hardly a weak link on the weak side, but the Seahawks had a chance to upgrade there and did. Julian Peterson (82 tackles, 3 sacks with 49ers), a two-time Pro Bowler who no longer fit the scheme in San Francisco, is among the league's elite players at his position and was a monster in the preseason. He'll thrive over the course of a full season in Seattle. Lewis will provide the Hawks an experienced backup, and Isaiah Kacyvenski (20 tackles), Niko Koutouvides (12 tackles), and Kevin Bentley (31 tackles) will help mainly on special teams.

DB: The Achilles heel of the Seattle defense a year ago was the secondary, and the team made efforts to upgrade this area. The Seahawks used their first- round draft pick on cornerback Kelly Jennings (Miami (FL)), and signed ex- Bears safety Mike Green (39 tackles, 1 INT with Chicago), though Green will miss the entire season with a broken bone in his left foot suffered during training camp. Jennings and holdover Jimmy Williams (33 tackles, 2 INT) will back up incumbent cornerback starters Marcus Trufant (64 tackles, 1 INT, 1 sack) and Kelly Herndon (54 tackles, 2 INT), who need to be more consistent and make more plays. Michael Boulware (73 tackles, 4 INT, 2 sacks) returns at strong safety, and the free safety will likely be Ken Hamlin (26 tackles), who appears all the way back after missing the final 10 games of 2005 with a broken skull suffered an incident outside of a Seattle-area nightclub last season. Holdover Jordan Babineaux (74 tackles, 3 INT) represents insurance for Hamlin, and can also back up either corner position. Either former Jet Oliver Celestin (21 tackles with Jets) or holdover Etric Pruitt (7 tackles) will likely be the final defensive back kept.

SPECIAL TEAMS: Five different players have punted for Seattle in the regular season over the past two years, prompting the team to use a seventh-round pick on 6-foot-3, 253-pound Ryan Plackemeier (Wake Forest) to handle those duties. Plackemeier averaged 47.2 yards per punt as a senior at Wake, and can also kick off and hold for Josh Brown (18-25 FG). Brown was a solid 5-of-8 on kicks of over 50 yards last season. Peter Warrick (4.8 punt return avg,) and Josh Scobey (22.5 kickoff return avg.) are both in line for return duties this season. Montreal-born J.P. Darche will begin his seventh season as the Seahawks' long-snapper.

PROGNOSIS: Those who might pick the Seahawks to fall off the pace after last year's Super Bowl run will have trouble backing up that prediction with anything resembling logic. Seattle still has elite-level talent on both sides of the football, and the addition of players like Burleson, Peterson, Jennings, and Plackemeier mean this team should be better, not worse. Also, significantly, the Seahawks are still a member of the NFC West, where there is not a legitimate challenger to their supremacy. Once again, Seattle should roll through the West and set themselves up for a first-round bye and home playoff game or two. Once in the postseason, they'll be susceptible to defeat at the hands of a Carolina or perhaps one of the heavies in the NFC East. But a trip back to the Super Bowl should remain as a realistic goal well into January.

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