RECORD: 15-3, NFC West champions
COACH: Pete Carroll; 76-61 overall at New England and Seattle; 5-4 in playoffs since hired in 2010
Carroll, a three-time NFL head coach, and first-time general manager John Schneider teamed to turn around the Seahawks. Carroll had short, unsuccessful stints as head coach of the New York Jets and New England Patriots. He rose to national prominence as a dynasty-building architect of Southern Cal's resurgence from 2001-2009, when he posted an 83-19 overall record not including victories vacated due to NCAA violations.
--STORY OF THE SEASON
Seattle established itself as a rugged, take-no-prisoners outfit with a toothy defense and physical, ball-control offense.
The Seahawks bulldozed to an 11-1 start and scraped through a sloppy December to secure the No. 1 seed in the NFC postseason, an epic advantage given their "12th Man" reputation at CenturyLink Field.
Quarterback Russell Wilson, a two-time Pro Bowl pick and the only player in NFL history with a passer rating over 100 in his first two seasons, is tasked with facilitating the Seattle offense. Wilson is agile and keeps plays alive in the pocket with a short-area burst to scoot away from trouble.
His offensive line buckled often, but Seattle was able to fall back on their lead option, running back Marshawn Lynch, who averaged 4.2 yards per carry with 12 touchdowns. Lynch has 2,847 yards in the past two seasons, and his powerful style brings defenders in bunches, providing single coverage outside.
Defenses don't fear putting cornerbacks in single coverage against the Seahawks' top two receivers, Golden Tate (64 receptions for 898 yards and five touchdowns) and Doug Baldwin (50-778-5). That tandem wasn't the planned top options in Seattle.
The Seahawks dealt draft picks to the Minnesota Vikings with the idea of making Percy Harvin a do-it-all offensive threat and primary receiver. But preseason hip surgery limited Harvin to one game in the regular season and in his postseason return, Harvin suffered a concussion Jan. 12 in the divisional round win over the New Orleans Saints.
The one constant -- Seattle's smothering defense.
The Seahawks led the NFL in scoring defense at 14.4 points allowed per game and had 43 sacks, led by newcomers Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril, free-agent additions who helped the Seahawks survive the loss of cornerbacks Brandon Browner (one-year suspension) and Walter Thurmond (four-game suspension), and Pro Bowl safeties Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas.
Seattle also had a league-best 39 takeaways and NFL-high 28 interceptions and has two wins at MetLife Stadium, site of Super Bowl XLVIII, including a 23-0 drubbing of the Giants on Dec. 15.
9/8/2013: W, 12- 7 at Carolina Panthers
9/15/2013: W, 29- 3 San Francisco 49ers
9/22/2013: W, 45- 17 Jacksonville Jaguars
9/29/2013: W, 23- 20 at Houston Texans
10/6/2013: L, 28- 34 at Indianapolis Colts
10/13/2013: W, 20- 13 Tennessee Titans
10/17/2013: W, 34- 22 at Arizona Cardinals
10/28/2013: W, 14- 9 at St. Louis Rams
11/3/2013: W, 27- 24 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
11/10/2013: W, 33- 10 at Atlanta Falcons
11/17/2013: W, 41- 20 Minnesota Vikings