Jan 10, 2023 - Sports

How Seahawks defied expectations

Seattle Seahawks celebrate on the field after a game-winning field goal

Head coach Pete Carroll and kicker Jason Myers of the Seattle Seahawks celebrate after Myers' game-winning field goal in overtime against the Los Angeles Rams at Lumen Field on Jan. 8. Photo: Jane Gershovich/Getty Images

From dismal losses to thrilling wins, the Seattle Seahawks took fans on a rollercoaster ride this season.

The big picture: Ranked at the bottom of the league pre-season, the Seahawks defied expectations, slipping into the playoffs — and a chance at the Super Bowl — at the last moment.

  • The Hawks' secured their postseason berth Sunday, when they beat the Los Angeles Rams in a dramatic 19-16 showdown and the Green Bay Packers lost to the Detroit Lions.

What's next: The Seahawks take on bitter rival, the No. 2 seed 49ers, in the wildcard playoff game in San Francisco on Saturday.

The intrigue: Nobody expected the Hawks to be very good in their first post-Russell Wilson season.

  • The Bleacher Report rated the team 29th among the National Football League's 32 teams.
  • Sports gamblers banked on them being the worst team in the NFL, according to a preseason Caesars Sportsbook report, and Seattle was one among only four teams that saw bets placed on them to finish the season with zero regular season wins.

Turns out, Geno Smith's got mad skills and the team's running game and pass defense aren't too shabby either.

  • By November, the Hawks had exploded into the top ten rankings.
  • "No defense in the league has improved more since the first four weeks of the season than Seattle's," wrote The Athletic, which called Smith "the best story in the NFL so far this season."

But, but, but: Compared to the National Football Conference's top-ranked team — the Philadelphia Eagles, with 13 wins to 3 losses — the Hawks' 9-8 record shows their inconsistency.

  • Among all 14 teams in the playoffs, Seattle currently has the lowest odds to win the Super Bowl, according to DraftKings Nation.

What we're hearing: "Every week's been a nailbiter," Richard Fiorentino, a Seahawk fan for four decades, told Axios Seattle. "But Geno and the Seahawks showed up and surprised the world. I 100% believe they can make it to the bowl."

How they did it: The NFL's two conferences — the American Football Conference and the National Football Conference — each send four division winners to the playoffs, plus three wildcards (the teams with the next best records).

  • The Hawks didn't win a division title, but Sunday's win — combined with some bad luck for the Packers — let Seattle snag the last of the NFC's three wildcard spots.

Be smart: Here's how to watch Saturday's playoff game against the 49ers.

  • Kickoff is at 1:30pm.

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