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Fast Start Essential to Seahawks' Success in 2016

Since winning the Super Bowl two seasons ago the Seattle Seahawks have been on a slow downhill trajectory that’s seen them get a little bit worse each season. Anchored by head coach Pete Carroll and quarterback Russell Wilson, they’re still firmly in the mix as a Super Bowl contender, and might have a few legit excuses for not reaching their potential last season.

The season couldn’t have started much worse with Kam Chancellor holding out for a new contract until Week 3, and they struggled out of the gate to a 2-4 record. On offense, the injuries piled up with Jimmy Graham suffering a season-ending injury in Week 12, along with running backs Marshawn Lynch and Thomas Rawls combining to miss 12 games.

They got their act together after Week 6, and went 8-2 the rest of the way, earning a wild card berth, but ultimately they didn’t have enough to compete with the Panthers in the NFC divisional round.

Here’s a look at their odds for the upcoming season:

Super Bowl +1100

Seattle trails just the Packers and Patriots on the Super Bowl futures oddsboard as they attempt to add a second Lombardi trophy to the franchise’s trophy case. Digging into some historic numbers, the average win total of a team the year before winning the Super Bowl over the last 25 years is 10.64. After finishing 10-6 last season, they fall into that range.

As they proved during their Super Bowl-winning season when they started 11-1 and clinched the top seed in the NFC, a strong start is essential to setting yourself up for success in the playoffs. They followed that season up with a mediocre 3-3 start in 2014, then the 2-4 start last season. It’s great that they’ve earned a reputation as a great second-half team, but it also puts them in a position where they can’t give their starters the occasional play or series off in games down the stretch. Last year’s slow start also cost them any hope of a first-round bye, forcing them into a frigid wild card game with the Vikings, and they were eventually served up on a silver platter for the Panthers.

So, how does the early part of their schedule shape up this season? Pretty damn good! They’ll face the Dolphins, Rams, 49ers, Jets and Falcons in the first five weeks, with three of those games coming at home. Those teams combined to go 36-44 last season with only the Jets posting a record above .500. This should put them in an excellent position to get off to a strong start. Keep this info in mind for their +475 price to win the NFC as well.

NFC West -110

In three of the last four seasons, this division has been decided by one game or less. Seattle are favorites to win the division, with the only other threat being a significant one in the Cardinals who won the division last season. Comparing each team’s schedule, Arizona will get a massive break in Week 1 when they host the Patriots who will be without Tom Brady due to his suspension. Seattle, meanwhile, will travel to New England for a Sunday nighter in mid-November.

One advantage the Seahawks have over the Cards, however, is that they only travel to the East Coast three times this season compared to four times for Arizona.

OVER/UNDER Win Total 10.5

Prior to last season’s 10-6 record, the Seahawks had finished OVER the 10.5 win mark in three straight seasons. Two losses to the lowly Rams prevented them from topping the number last season, and this season's result could come down to how they fare against less than average teams as 11 of their regular season games come against teams that didn’t make the playoffs last season.

Russell Wilson for MVP +800

Eight of the last 10 MVP winners have been quarterbacks and Wilson sits tied on the MVP oddsboard with Cam Newton at +800, behind just Ben Roethlisberger and Aaron Rodgers. At 27 years old, he’s entering the prime years for an athlete and has improved as a passer in each of his four seasons. For Wilson to win the award, the Seahawks will have to call his number a few extra times in the red zone as he had just one rushing touchdown last season. For comparison's sake, he only had 83 fewer rushing yards than last year’s MVP, Cam Newton, but Newton rushed for 10 touchdowns.

2016 Seattle seahawks Futures Odds
Super Bowl+1100
NFC Championship+475
NFC West-110
Win Total10.5

Odds as of August 19 at Bovada