John Froschauer/AP
John Froschauer/AP

Why the NFL’s Best Team Won’t Win the Super Bowl

Despite Seattle being just as strong as it was in 2013—if not outright better—there’s one convincing reason it won’t lift the Lombardi again. Plus, the Rams’ sad turn, Arizona uncovers a gem and 20 thoughts after the NFL’s dress rehearsal

RENTON, Wash. — One after one, they fell out of the sky, these perfect or near-perfect throws downfield from Russell Wilson, always landing close to, or in the hands of, a sub-4.4 sprinter like Percy Harvin or wispy rookie Paul Richardson. I mean, always on target. Such beautiful deep balls, and isn’t Wilson supposed to be a system quarterback or game manager, or whatever negative connotation you can think of when you don’t want to acknowledge he’s a top 10 quarterback in the league after two seasons and one Lombardi Trophy?

“His ball’s so good it looks like it’s coming out of a JUGS machine,” Richard Sherman said.

There’s nothing not to like here. Maybe the offensive line, which worries the smart football people in the building. But nothing else. If the Seahawks stay relatively healthy, they should be favored to be the first team since the Patriots (2003, 2004) to repeat as champs.

But I’m not picking them. History is the reason. Stuff happens. It always does. And the game is justsoclose. Since New England’s second Super Bowl win a decade ago, and not including the ’13 Seahawks, this is the total playoff victories of the eight Super Bowl champions the following year: 

Zero.

Of the 27 teams I witnessed in person this summer, Seattle’s the best I saw. But the reality of repeating is that it’s become the toughest thing to do in sports.

I can’t give away my pick here; it’ll be in Sports Illustrated this week, in the annual pro football preview. I feel good about the pick, but I also feel that, of the 27 teams I witnessed in person this summer (at 22 camps, four games and one joint practice session), Seattle’s the best I saw. Stubbornness is a good reason why one of the other 31 teams will be my call, but the reality of repeating is that it’s become the toughest thing to do in sports. Think of it: For eight straight years, the defending champ has either not made the playoffs or hasn’t gotten past its first playoff game.

By what I saw in camp with the ’Hawks last Monday, I just might be blissfully unaware. This team’s stacked. The biggest thing might be the health of Harvin, who is as dangerous a non-quarterback as there is in football. Watching him run around the field on a pristine August day in Seattle, you almost forget what a mess Harvin was last season, when his year was wrecked by a torn labrum in his hip that required surgery. He was never right until Super Bowl Sunday. Harvin sure looks right now.

CAMP EPICENTER
Get team-by-team previews and camp reports, along with other features and analysis from The MMQB's writers, in the 2014 Training Camp Hub.
“That was the big frustration,” Harvin said. “Not practicing one day, trying to practice the next day, not feeling right, sitting out a few days, maybe being 60 percent for a few days. Frustrating. This year, I’m flying all over the place. Totally different world.”

“Iron sharpens iron,” Richard Sherman said. “Him practicing against our defense, Russell practicing against our defense and working with Percy, I think we’re going to be improved.”

Pete Carroll hasn’t focused on the R word. “Teams not repeating—that’s not topical to us,” he told me. “I just asked them to have the best offseason of their lives and to come back ready. They have. It’s all about putting your work in to be better. Just get better. Practice better, study better, play better. Do we maintain the same kind of intensity we had last year? I think so. But you’ve got to have the right guys. Like, Russell pulls his receivers together today before a drill and says, ‘Guys, okay, this next drill, full speed, catch every ball, it’s important. Let’s get better.’ ’’

More Seahawks: The MMQB’s Seattle training camp page

Hard for any team that won the Super Bowl by 35 points to look better the next year. But if Harvin plays every week—which is no lock, with his recent injury history—I could well be eating my prediction in five months. Which, as you know, will be nothing new.

And now for some stories from the end of my camp trail. My trip ended Saturday night with the completely forgettable Dallas-Miami game.

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381 comments
GillesVaudois
GillesVaudois

A signing bonus is money gone when the player signs. Literally money just for the signature. If teams are in such hurry to give those away, that's because it makes financial sense somewhere. Why teams waste this much money on potential disasters, might have to do with executives not paying the money out of their own pocket. If they couldn't afford to make those mistakes, they wouldn't take the chance. Why a reporter would choose to blame the system, and go as far as to wonder why such a bonus should still be paid when the player fails afterwards, is the real mystery here.

MarshallLaFleur
MarshallLaFleur

Peter King needs to understand the difference between statistics and probabilities.  Also the mathematical law of Regression towards the mean.  These mathematical principles will show that the Seahawks are much more likely to win back to back super bowls, not less likely.

People have a tendency to see patterns where there are none that actually push them to think that the probabilities of something happening are going to stick with the way they have in the past.  That is actually backwards.  As things on one extreme, in this case not having back to back Superbowl wins, it is actually more likely that a future super bowl will have one.  This is the law of Regression towards the mean.  

This law can be easily demonstrated by the rolling of a standard 6 sided die.  Probability wise the average die roll is going to be 3.5  of course it is impossible to roll a 3.5 and it is just as likely to roll a 1 as it is to roll a 3.  If a d6 is rolled 3 times you could end up with a 4, 5, and 6.  Statistically it means that your average roll is a 5.  Probability wise your average roll is still going to be 3.5.  Odds are that the next 3 rolls are going to be lower than the current average of 5.  That doesn't mean that you can't roll a 5 or a 6 and continue to have a high statistic, it is just that the probabilities of it are lower and it is much more likely that the over all average roll is going to eventually even out.  

Where this goes in to play with football is that analysts, who know football quite well but statistics not so much, tend to adjust the probabilities to meet the historical statistics instead of expecting the statistics to line up more with probabilities.  Now to contradict myself slightly, this can in fact have a real effect on the game and that is because of the human factor.  Each player is a human and has emotions, expectations, and aspirations.  If a player on a team is told about the incorrect probabilities and buys in to them they may end up having an expectation to lose.  I think that has had an effect on some previous teams that they didn't expect to win the next superbowl because they already had a ring.  Inside their minds, psychologically, they set themselves up for failure and throw off the probabilities of another ring.  This brings me to why I think the Seahawks will be the one to end that trend.  You just can't get under their skin.  They have the determination and don't follow the post-superbowl curse myth that ESPN likes to throw around.  I'm not going to guarantee that the Seahawks will win the next Superbowl.  I'm just saying that probability wise they have the best chance of any NFL team and have the mentality to do so.

pauljfeeley
pauljfeeley

no stories on the Patriots?  this old dude has lost it

Divinewind
Divinewind

Most of you Hawk fans are basing everything on if the Seattle D stays healthy and remains the top D or a top three D in the league. Wilson is just average, so forget about the O opening up with him as QB. Seattle's O line which is very good and with the top flight run game intact Seattle can make a run of it again but if you are depending on the average Wilson....forget it! You will see soon enough what he is when the D weakens and Lynch is gone and the O line loses more players. Andrew Luck he isn't Seattle fan!

Zevhagadol
Zevhagadol

Vegas has Seahawks at 6-1 or 16.7%. Not far from the 15% someone posted based on history. 

Likely Seahawks will open up the offense; Carroll has signaled it; receivers look good, fast and a lot stronger than last year; Wilson has digested the second year, weathered a rough patch; he seems even better in the preseason. Imo Wilson is vastly underrated. I see a similarity to Brees' growth from 2005 to 2006 where he was turned loose.Brees went to a new team with a different approach. Carroll/Schneider have built a team capable of a different offense approach.


This is not your father's Seahawks. The Game Manger label will have been long forgotten after 2014 season. Hawks 2014 will be substantially different and better than Hawks 2013. I'd think they are 4-1 to repeat (is it re-Pete?)

rkrause63
rkrause63

I do have to say that it is interesting that the logic that seems to preclude Seattle from winning does not seem to have an affect on Denver in the media, even though a Superbowl loser winning the next year is considerably rarer than a repeat winner.  Plenty of picks for Denver but Seattle is destined to succomb to the repeat curse.  Irony at its finest. 

hunger
hunger

This is not analysis. This is just Peter picking some trivia (that we all already knew) to try to be original.  Peter, if you are not going to make your picks based on analysis, does that mean that you are just picking your teams out of a hat (or something else). You don't have to dig very far to see that most SB champs lose alot of their talent after players go search for the big paycheck. The Seattle situation is different because they are an improved team this year after already being dominant last year.

Obviously, anyone can get hurt, but why base your picks on that?

bcmarble
bcmarble

People that truly believe Seahawks will not repeat, are the same people that put all their hope into some vague statistic.  Team X has never beat Team Y in an outdoor stadium, in 40 deg temperature, in the central time zone, in the month of December, when the wind is blowing from the SW, when coming off a bye week.  When its never happened, people tend to think it never will, even when faced with reality.  Makes an interesting factoid, but its nothing Vegas would ever base their odds off of.

Jim21
Jim21

Good luck Seahawk fans. I watched them decimate the Bears in the 3rd preseason game and there was a noticeable difference in talent. The Bears have a good core of skill-position players on offense but the defense is all on the wrong side of 30 at too many critical positions. Also, the entire team is made up from FA acquisitions on one year deals. That says more about the late Jerry Angelo as GM than anything. 


The Seahawks are built from the ground up through the draft and have a nice core of young in-their-prime players that would seem to be together for quite a while. 


The Hawks are going to be a fun team to watch this year. 

Stuart Mesnik
Stuart Mesnik

Repeating is so difficult because every game the Super Bowl champ plays next year becomes mega important to each opponent. It's a way for each opponent to see how they measure up to the defending champ (almost like a mini playoff game each week). It's a very tough road.

scoutxx
scoutxx

The NFL's best team didn't win the Superbowl last year, so...

RobKnorr
RobKnorr

History is a horrible indicator of future results when it comes to predicting football games.

More accurate predictors are things such as strength of roster (starting talent as well as depth), strength of schedule, and strength of their opponents.


History actually has little to no predictive value whatsoever. 


Point is, if Peter King thinks that the Seahawks have the best team, then that is a MUCH better indicator of possible future results than history is.

How do (ostensibly intelligent) people not understand this?  

Wombat
Wombat

I would just like to say that if the odds of repeating a Super Bowl win is measured by the loyalty of the fan base the the Seahawks will win in a walk! Just reading this forum here shows me that Russell Wilson hasn't been this protected since he was in utero... 

PO'D in boca
PO'D in boca

Buffalo made a huge mistake with EJ and i said it from the day he was drafted as a die hard FSU fan and a lifelong Bills fan watched this kid all thru college there was nothing that made me say Wow, hes a good person and comes from a good family. the Bills tried to make a splash with the media hyping the ultra mobile QB's at the time i said it was a fad and still believe it being so the NFL you need to use your feet second, throw 1st, and somewhere in there have to be smart, now with that draft, RG3 is being challenged by Cousins, Andrew Luck a big mobile guy w smarts and big arm got his team to playoff twice, he will only get better when the line in front of him gets better than watch out.

EJ, has a decent line that has gotten better, he either needs to push the ball up field or sit on the sidelines and watch, we won games last year with a 3rd string QB.

take a page from SF's JH there is no job safe!!!


Maronne grow a set your also playing for your career here, stop coaching like a minor leaguer another hire i thought was a joke


only way we stay in news cause  JA Bon Jovi trying to move our team


a angry rant, i hope im wrong but another 8-8 year in the horizon 

DavidMessinger
DavidMessinger

Seattle is a team that is better than the 2013 and 2012 playoff teams in many ways and still have good depth ...whether they make it back to the SB, who knows a lot can happen over a season.  I will say this about Seattle after seeing them last year in training camp and following this year closely...they may actually have a pretty good O-Line this year...and better depth there...they have one of the best backup QB's in the league...and their receivers and RB's are better than last year...they still have really good special teams...and their D is still very good...even without Clemmons, Red, Clinton and Thurman...rather than concern themselves with the SB...they believe that every week is a championship opportunity...that approach payed dividend in 2013...I like the ROI in 2014 as well.

Chris P1
Chris P1

Well.....I don't know about that....I'm not saying that Seattle WILL repeat, but I wouldn't rule it out, either. A strong defense with a lot of good young players on the roster is a pretty good formula for success. Their division doesn't look to be as good as last year, either.

DavidGreene
DavidGreene

Picks:  New Orleans over Seattle in NFC Championship.  Denver over New England in AFC Championship.  Denver tops New Orleans by a TD in the Bowl.

Matthew W
Matthew W

Helmet meet Russel Wilson's knee ala Brady in the season opener in 2008. 


A team favored to go back to the Superbowl has their dreams dashed in a heartbeat.....


It happened to the Pats and its happened to others, so PED Cheathawks beware!

duckfan59
duckfan59

@Divinewind Just the fact that you're calling Wilson "average" demonstrates how clueless you are.

BigSchtick
BigSchtick

@Divinewind Another poster without a clue.

The offensive line is and has been average to below average.

Seattle D is two deep. They can and have survived injuries.

Wilson is average? What stat are you referring to? By the way his QB rating is 150 this preseason.

Lynch has two stellar back ups, one that many think will be a star.

Thanks for playing.

Divinewind
Divinewind

@Zevhagadol  Open up the offense? With Russell Wilson as your QB....surely you jest!

He is of average talent. Seattle's powerful D....good for better field position and a top flight RB with an excellent O line is the reason the Seahawks are a top notch team. We will see soon enough how average Wilson is when the D and O line weaken and Lynch is gone. (within two years)

Mech
Mech

@rkrause63 Seattle "dont get no" respect from the media. Thats ok we are used to that. The level of hypocrisy is a little high when I turn on the tv and they talk about (like you say) the good chance that Denver will be in the superbowl and completely ignore Seattle because (I guess) of the repeat curse. Seattle has only one Prime time appearance on tv this year and yet they are the champs. At the end of the season I will again hear how there is no stopping Manning and his award winning offense and again the Seahawks will blow them out.

duckfan59
duckfan59

@scoutxx Really? How do you figure? Who do yo think the "best team" was?
The Seahawks play in the best division in the NFL, only lost once at home all season and destroyed the Broncos in the Super Bowl by 35 points.

And, actually, the team that wins the Super Bowl is, by default, the "best team" since games are won on the field, not on paper or in fantasy football stat land.

Joebuckster
Joebuckster

@RobKnorr Actually, you're wrong. He's not talking about 'predicting football games' - he's talking about predicting the LAST football game of the season (and he's taking the field vs the incumbent). The best team in football (on paper) typically doesn't win the Super Bowl. It's all about match ups in the playoffs, unpredictable things happening, and injuries. How do you discount the fact that not a single Super Bowl champ in 8 years has even WON a playoff game?? Pretty compelling stuff, but ignore it if you like. 


You're not as intelligent as you think you are, but that's 'par for the course' for average intellects...

Buck2185
Buck2185

@Wombat  Especially since the loud mouthed, punk,POS Richard Sherman started buying his whole team Adderall.........

davidhd
davidhd

@Wombat well said, and you're exactly right. I am a Seahawks fan in the Seattle area, and I've never seen such enthusiasm. It's almost scary. 

nicolasgist
nicolasgist

@PO'D in boca Sorry buddy, but 8-8 would be a miracle for the Bills this year.  With an improving division, little talent on both sides of the ball, a bad QB, and a terrible OC (especially with how they use Spiller), I'm picking them as a bottom three team.  4-12 might be generous.

davidhd
davidhd

New Orleans would be lucky to duplicate the one score loss they suffered the last time they played Seattle. Seattle would have to play with Tarvaris Jackson at QB and Pete Carroll at CB to lose to the Saints.

BigSchtick
BigSchtick

@Matthew W Wait, I thought Seattle just needed a game manager and that is was only because of the defense that they won the Super Bowl?

By the way Matthew Karma is a beetch. Be careful crossing the street today.

duckfan59
duckfan59

@Divinewind @Zevhagadol This is just the partial resume of the "average" Russell Wilson:


NFL records and achievements
  • 2012 Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Year
  • Most passing touchdowns in a season by a rookie (26, tied with Peyton Manning)
  • 2× Pro Bowl (2012, 2013)
  • Most passing yards in a playoff game by a rookie (385 yards)[87]
  • Most regular season wins by a quarterback in his first two seasons (24); most total wins in first two seasons (28, including playoffs)[88]
  • Super Bowl XLVIII Champion (2014)

AmishPacker
AmishPacker

@Mech @rkrause63 Actually, Mech, I'm not sure where you are getting your information from. Seattle has 4 prime-time games this year. Week 1 opener, Week 5 MNF, Thanksgiving night, and Week 16 SNF. You get plenty of respect. You guys are still listed as number 1 defense and a top 10 offense. Most analysts are picking you guys to repeat. So I'm not sure where the "we don't get no respect" (watch double negatives please) comes from.

If you mean respect, like respect the players, well you have arguably the most annoying fans in the league and your players talk a lot of smack before the game even starts (see your saints game last year where you just ran up to saints players and got in their face during warm-ups). You are kind of known as the dirtiest team in the NFL, you don't get the type of reputation idly.


Most fans of a team that just won a super bowl think their team is underrated and that they should be heralded as a dynasty and greatest all time immediately. They are usually wrong, as this article points out. But either way, if you are gonna complain about your teams attention, at least get your facts straight.

RobKnorr
RobKnorr

@Joebuckster @RobKnorr First, I am not sure why you felt that an ad hominem attack was called for, but, since I happen to know my I.Q. test score, I am exactly as intelligent as I think I am.


Second, he is in fact talking about predicting football games...do you not consider the "LAST football game of the season" a football game? I do!


I agree that it's all about the matchups in the playoffs, but apparently you fail to realize that, saying that supports MY point, which is that history has little to do with making future predictions about football games, but the strength of roster, schedule and opponent do.


I am aware of the history of recent champions failures to repeat, I am also aware that the biggest reason for that wasn't because of the added difficulty of repeating, but rather the fact that several of those teams weren't as good the following season as they had been previously. 


Bottom line is that, if you're going to say that the Seahawks are the most talented (best) team in football, then pick AGAINST that team just because of history, that is really terrible logic.

BigSchtick
BigSchtick

@Joebuckster @RobKnorr 

Hmm Joe, where does he mention the "field"? He said he is picking another team, just not the one he thinks is the best.

The best team typically doesn't win the super bowl?

You're not as intelligent as you think you are, but that's 'par for the course' for average intellects...

davidhd
davidhd

@Joebuckster @RobKnorr I agree with Rob, and so does Vegas. Just because there has been a trend of super bowl winners losing the next season, Peter goes illogical and says Seattle won't do it, right after listing the reasons why they should. Have the past 8 super bowl winners fielded an equally talented, possibly even better team the next year? Have the past 8 winners been coached by Pete Carroll, a guy who won multiple college titles and knows how to handle success? Have the past 8 teams been as young as Seattle, with a QB still improving, and with all of its pro bowl talent still in its prime?


Everybody wants to "pick the field" because Seattle repeating seems unlikely, but that isn't what Peter is doing. He's actually going to pick a team. ESPN picked Denver, largely for the same reason Peter might, and that's just as bad as picking Seattle, from a historical perspective. Super bowl losers are even more historically unsuccessful than winners, and Peyton Manning just showed us how great a super bowl QB he is, and Denver's supporting cast is full of holes, even after signing a CB and a LB that are pretty good. If you want history, look at the history of teams with top scoring defenses, top running games, and a roster full of pro bowl level talent on both sides of the ball. Those teams do pretty well. Seattle is fully equipped to make another run, and they're already playing better than they were at the end of last season, so go ahead and pick a lesser team based on history, but I'm taking Seattle to repeat. 

EdwardC.Cooper
EdwardC.Cooper

Impressive my man!(Or woman)? Anyhow… Awesome stats!

davidhd
davidhd

@RobKnorr @Joebuckster RobKnorr, you're the only guy making any sense on this page, and I appreciate having at least one other guy on here who understands basic reasoning. 

AmishPacker
AmishPacker

@davidhd @Joebuckster @RobKnorr I can see your point as to teams keeping their roster. But other super bowl teams have kept their rosters and still gotten no where the next year. The giants and the packers are the big ones that come to mind. Packers had a great super bowl run, no one could stop them. Then they kept the same roster next year and went 15-1. Lost at home to the giants, who ended up winning the whole thing. The giants that barely made the playoffs, but got hot at the right time and went to win the super bowl. Until last year, we had a very impressive streak where a wild card team made it to and sometimes won the super bowl. History is a very good indicator. No indicator should be singled out, but you can't discount it.

As far as Seattle being better than last year, I think that will be the case for Russel nad perhaps Harvin if he can stay healthy which would make Rice maybe valuable again, which he hasn't been since his days with Favre.  But otherwise, you guys lost way more talent than you brought in. Everyone you brought in is either a draft or an leftovers from another team like a Packers OL (if you need a packers released OL... things must be bad on your line). You kept msot of your key players but lost some big ones like Golden Tate (terrible receiver but good jump ball) Breno Giacomini, Red Bryant and Chris Clemons were monsters whom you lost, Clinton McDonald, Brandon Browner, and Walter Thurmond. You were talented enough on defense to survive some of those losses but that D-line is gonna rest a lot on Avril if it has a shot at being as dominant. I see a lot of teams taking advantage of this and going with the run on you as you do on others. You will still likely win the division and possibly 1st seed. But as or more dominant than last year? Sorry, I don't see it. Still one of the best teams though.

RobKnorr
RobKnorr

@davidhd @Joebuckster @RobKnorr Thank you davidhd, you perfectly restated my position.

Peter King's entire reasoning for picking against what he considers the best team is based on a logic fallacy.

BigSchtick
BigSchtick

@PhillyPenn You forgot to add "pal",  "Bro". Just curious if you have an original thought Philly.

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