Geno Smith, Kenneth Walker, and the Hawks weren’t expected to compete this year — let’s discuss how they found themselves in first place in the NFC West.
Before the 2022 NFL season began, the Seattle Seahawks had +2000 odds to win the NFC West according to FanDuel Sportsbook, by far the worst odds in the division. After a Week 3 loss to the lowly Atlanta Falcons, they got as long as +5500.
As of this writing, they’re first in the division with +550 odds to win the thing. What a difference a month makes — in this case, a tenfold difference.
Yes, this was not supposed to be a competitive year for professional football in the Pacific Northwest. When Seattle traded all-time franchise great Russell Wilson to the Denver Broncos in March — netting first- and second-round picks in the 2022 and 2023 drafts along with Drew Lock, Noah Fant, Shelby Harris, and an additional fifth-round pick — it was supposed to mark a transitional, rebuilding process for the club. Geno Smith, with a career 13-21 record as a starter, was viewed as no better than a placeholder until the Seahawks drafted someone better.
To pour salt in the proverbial wound, the NFL scheduled Wilson’s return to Seattle as a member of the Broncos on the opening Monday night of the season.
Then, a funny thing happened.
The Seahawks not only beat Russ 17-16 in week 1 but are off to a 4-3 start and leading the stacked NFC West behind Smith, receivers Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf, and running back Kenneth Walker III. They’re currently No. 5 in the league at 26.1 points per game, 10th in rushing yards per game, and are a not-too-crazy +210 to make the playoffs right now over at FanDuel Sportsbook. The 48 points they scored in a Week 3 win over Detroit stand as the most posted by a team in a single game this season to date.
A second-round pick this year out of Michigan State, Walker was originally supposed to be a complementary back to starter Rashaad Penny, but during an Oct. 9 loss to New Orleans, Penny suffered a broken fibula that ended his season, thrusting the 22-year-old neophyte into the spotlight.
Walker answered the call by rushing for 88 yards and a touchdown on just eight carries in that game against the Saints before truly coming to life the following week as Pete Carroll’s full-time starter.
Just four days later in Arizona, Walker ran 21 times for 97 yards and a TD in a 19-9 win over the Cardinals, and on Sunday in Los Angeles against the Chargers, Walker had a true breakout performance, rumbling for 168 yards on 23 carries with two touchdowns, including a 74-yard exclamation point midway through the 4th quarter of a 37-23 romp. Walker ran at a clip of 22.09 miles per hour on that TD run, the fastest ball carrier in the NFL this season, as noted by Next Gen Stats. It was also the 3rd-longest rush for the entire NFL season to date.
“It’s a great feeling because this is rare. It doesn’t really happen much in football,” Walker said. “So, like, when you get the opportunity, you got to make the best of it.”
Walker’s 265 combined rushing yards against Arizona and Los Angeles are the most in a Seattle player’s first two starts in franchise history. He already has as many rushing touchdowns as Saquon Barkley, Ezekiel Elliott, and Dalvin Cook, and is tied with Penny and Jacksonville’s Travis Etienne for No. 3 among backs with a 6.1-yard per-carry average. Seattle’s 86.1 run grade according to Pro Football Focus ranks No. 5 in the NFL.
Meanwhile, at 32 years old, Smith is putting up a tremendous statistical season that sees him among the league leaders in a number of key categories:
- No. 1 in the league with a 73.5 completion percentage
- No. 3 with a 107.7 passer rating
- No. 4 with a 66.8 QBR
- No. 5 in yards per pass attempt at 8.0
- No. 5 in adjusted yards per pass attempt with 8.36
- Tied for No. 6 with 11 touchdown passes
- Tied for No. 6 with a 1.4% interception rate
- No. 7 with 1,7212 passing yards
- No. 8 with 5.1% of his passes going for touchdowns
- No. 10 with 158 completed passes
Additionally, the Hawks rate No. 6 in the NFL with a 77.1 passing grade according to Pro Football Focus.
There are, of course, some caveats worth noting within this Seahawks start. Their defense has allowed 26.6 points per game, fifth-worst in the league, and they join Tennessee as the only division leader with a negative total point differential. Though Marquise Goodwin caught a pair of touchdown passes on Sunday, Metcalf was carted off the field in the first quarter with a left knee injury. Seattle’s remaining schedule has four divisional games, the surprising Giants and Jets at home, and a game at Kansas City — not exactly a picnic, hence their 10-to-2 odds to win the division.
But for now, Smith and Walker are shining and Seattle is riding high in first place while far, far outpacing preseason expectations.
“Seven weeks in and look where we are,” head coach Pete Carroll said after Sunday’s win. “Who would have thunk it?”
Seahawks Futures Odds After Week 7
Odds as of Oct. 24 at FanDuel Sportsbook.
- To win NFC West: +550
- To win NFC title: +4800
- To win Super Bowl LVII: +10000
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