New England Patriots fans might not want to hear this after Pete Carroll’s failed stint as the franchise’s coach — one in which many believe he ruined a potential Super Bowl-winning team built by Bill Parcells. But here it is: Carroll could have the start of a dynasty in Seattle, and his Seahawks’ odds are set at 9-2 at Bovada to repeat as NFL champions Feb. 1, 2015, at Super Bowl XLIX in Glendale, Arizona.
Seattle’s No. 1 defense now must be mentioned alongside all-time great units like the 1985 Bears and 2000 Ravens after it dominated Denver’s top-ranked offense Sunday night at MetLife Stadium. Record-setting Peyton Manning never looked comfortable. He threw two interceptions, one of which was returned for a score by Seattle linebacker and game MVP Malcolm Smith. That 69-yard touchdown with 3:21 left in the first half made the score 22-0 and essentially clinched the game. Manning threw for 280 yards and completed a Super Bowl-record 34 passes, but largely in garbage time.
It is incredibly hard to repeat in the NFL these days, with the 2004 Patriots the last to do so. No team since has managed to get back to the Super Bowl the year after winning it. Incredibly, no team has repeated as the NFC champion since the 1997 Packers. Seattle does have the look of being a dominant force for a few years to come, though.
The Seahawks are the second-youngest Super Bowl champions in NFL history in terms of average age. The franchise quarterback (Russell Wilson), running back (Marshawn Lynch) and receiver (Percy Harvin) are in place. The only expected major free-agent loss on that side of the ball this offseason is receiver Golden Tate, but a healthy Harvin should help fill that void.
Some guys on defense are going to command big paydays soon — Richard Sherman, for one — but the only big free agent is defensive end Michael Bennett. The team is planning to do what it takes to re-sign him.
One thing working against Seattle is a killer schedule (and NFC) in 2014. They play in the deepest division in football, the NFC West. The Seahawks also play the Broncos, Green Bay Packers, Philadelphia Eagles, Kansas City Chiefs and San Diego Chargers — all playoff teams.
The way Denver looked Sunday, the San Francisco 49ers probably were the NFL’s second-best team this year, and their odds are set at 15-2 to win Super Bowl XLIX. San Francisco played Seattle evenly in the NFC title game and might have won if Colin Kaepernick’s pass wasn’t picked off in the final seconds. The Niners have suffered heartbreaking last-second playoff losses each of the past three years. They will be very hungry.
The Broncos are 8-1 behind San Francisco, and that, of course, assumes Manning does play next season, which he will as long as his neck is OK. Manning will be 38 in March. In addition, Super Bowl losers have returned to the big game only seven times the next season and won it just twice.