Change we can believe in
The Seahawks aggressively upgraded their offense by trading for top-tier tight end Jimmy Graham, furnishing quarterback Russell Wilson with one of the game's most dominant red-zone targets. Adding the former Saints star has allowed Seahawks coordinator Darrell Bevell to draw up a newfangled "jumbo" package featuring Graham, wideout Chris Matthews and No. 2 tight end Luke Willson inside the 20-yard line. The Wilson-Graham combo should serve as a major boost for this passing game.
We also can believe in the future of this team. No club in the NFL has done a better job locking down core players to long-term deals. After signing star defenders Earl Thomas, Richard Sherman, Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett to new pacts in 2014, Seattle's active front office forged contracts for Wilson, Bobby Wagner and Marshawn Lynch this offseason. We expect safety Kam Chancellor to be next. With so many building blocks in place, Seattle has the requisite talent to compete for Super Bowl titles deep into the future.
The Seahawks must overcome injuries in the secondary and hope that Cary Williams can equal the play of departed cornerback Byron Maxwell. There's no guarantee that cornerback Jeremy Lane, who suffered a hideous arm injury in the Super Bowl, will even play this season. In his absence, Will Blackmon and Marcus Burley will compete for slot duties. No team does a better job coaching up their cover men, but the talent drain is a factor.
The Seahawks have settled on Russell Okung, Justin Britt, Drew Nowak, J.R. Sweezy and Garry Gilliam along the offensive line. I'm convinced Seattle will pay for the loss of center Max Unger, shipped out in the Graham trade. His replacement, Nowak, has never played in a regular-season tilt. After watching Seattle's shuffled line allow six sacks, 12 quarterback hits and 27 hurries over three preseason outings, the up-and-down blocking looms as an issue in the Pacific Northwest.
Training camp surprise
Third-round wideout Tyler Lockett will make an immediate impact on special teams. He looked sensational in the preseason, with a wild 103-yard kick return against the Broncos and a 67-yard punt return touchdown against the Chargers. He doesn't figure to make a big impact as a wideout right away, but Lockett should handle the majority of return duties and continue to put Seattle into fine field position with his open-field magic.
What we'll be saying in February
Predicted finish: No. 1 in NFC West, No. 1 in the NFC, No. 1 overall in Around the NFL's Power Poll