Instead, they surprised most observers by jumping out to a 6-3 record and finishing with a wild-card playoff spot in the NFC.
Starting quarterback Geno Smith, who had been nothing more than a decent backup signal-caller prior to this season, had a career-best year, completing a league-high 69.8 percent of his passes while throwing for 4,282 yards and 30 touchdowns.
However, the reward for this overachievement is a wild-card date with the San Francisco 49ers, the hottest team in the NFL who are currently on a 10-game winning streak.
Head coach Pete Carroll was honest about his feelings when it came to getting the Niners to start the postseason.
— OurSF49ers (@OurSf49ers) January 10, 2023
“Unfortunately, we’re playing the Niners,” Carroll said. “And they’re loaded and healthy and on a roll, and about as hot as you can possibly get, and doing it in a really commanding fashion too, with a young quarterback who’s doing so well. Just kind of bucked the odds that everybody would think you could do that.”
By all outward appearances, it looks like Seattle is overmatched against San Francisco.
The Niners have the best defense in football, and their offense has gotten stronger over the last several weeks, especially after rookie quarterback Brock Purdy replaced the injured Jimmy Garoppolo in Week 13.
In two matchups with them during the regular season, the Seahawks were handled easily, losing in Week 2 27-7 and then in Week 15 at Lumen Field 21-13.
Perhaps the worst news for Carroll’s crew is that their biggest weakness defensively is defending the run, and the Niners boast one of the best dual-threat running backs in Christian McCaffrey.
In addition, Elijah Mitchell has returned from his second MCL sprain of the season, and he scored two touchdowns in Week 18 versus the Arizona Cardinals.
McCaffrey and Mitchell have given the 49ers a nasty one-two punch in the backfield, and it has opened up their passing game very nicely.
Perhaps the Seahawks can win if they make Purdy look like a rookie who was the 262nd pick in the draft, but other than that, this feel-good season looks like it is about to end for them.NEXT: Geno Smith Set A True Ironman Mark This Season