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Seahawks Enter Playoffs As One of Biggest Wild Card Era Longshots

Seahawks Enter Playoffs As One of Biggest Wild Card Era Longshots article feature image
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Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images. Pictured: Pete Carroll.

Entering the regular season, the Seattle Seahawks were 200-1 to win the Super Bowl.

Of the 32 NFL teams, Seattle’s Super Bowl odds ranked 30th — only the Atlanta Falcons (250-1) and the Houston Texans (300-1) had worse odds.

Looking across sports, here are some teams listed at 200-1 entering their respective seasons this year:

  • NBA, Washington Wizards: 250-1
  • MLB, Cincinnati Reds: 200-1
  • NHL, Montreal Canadiens: 200-1

It’s also worth mentioning that entering the 2022 college football season, the TCU Horned Frogs, who made it all the way to the National Championship game, were 200-1 entering the season

The question I had entering this year’s NFL playoffs was just how unlikely were the Seahawks’ chances of making the playoffs based on those 200-1 odds when compared to other longshots throughout the years.

In the Wild Card era (since 1990), there have been 51 teams to be listed at 200-1 odds or higher to win the Super Bowl entering the regular season.

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Of those 51 teams, here are how they performed that season:

  • Made Super Bowl: 0
  • Made Conference Championship: 0
  • Made Divisional Round: 0
  • Made Wild Card: 3
  • Missed Playoffs: 47
  • Over .500 SU (Reg. Season): 5
  • Under .500 SU (Reg. Season): 46

The 51 “longshot” teams averaged 4.9 wins during the regular season, with Seattle this year almost doubling that average, finishing 9-8 SU.

Let’s now take a look at the four longshots to make the playoffs and how they fared.

2022 Seattle Seahawks

Super Bowl Odds: 200-1
Make Playoffs Odds: +600
Record: 9-8
Playoffs: Wild Card (+9.5 at SF)

The funny thing about the Seahawks is their odds opened at 40-1 after the Super Bowl with Russell Wilson as their quarterback. On March 16, they traded Russ and moved to 80-1.

By July, they were up to 150-1 and ended up closing at 200-1 entering the year. During the season, the Seahawks’ odds got as high as 500-1 to win it all between Weeks 4 and 6, as they started 2-3 SU.

Entering the year, Seattle’s +600 odds to make the playoffs were the fourth-worst of any franchise.

2020 Washington Football Team

Super Bowl Odds: 300-1
Make Playoffs Odds: +700
Record: 7-9
Playoffs: Wild Card (+10 vs. TB — L, 31-23)

Washington opened the offseason with 100-1 odds, which eventually ballooned to closing odds of 300-1 entering the season.

A year prior, Washington finished 3-13 and ended up firing Jay Gruden. Going into 2020, they hired Ron Rivera, switched quarterbacks (to Alex Smith) and then drafted DE Chase Young.

Washington won the division with an under-.500 SU record and became the first team in NFL history to make the playoffs after a 2–7 start. Not only that, they were also only the third team in league history at the time to win a division with a losing record, joining the 2010 Seahawks and ’14 Carolina Panthers — the latter of which Rivera also coached. You can now add the ’22 Tampa Bay Buccaneers to the list.

Behind their fourth quarterback of the season, Taylor Heinicke, Washington ended up losing — but covered the spread — against Tom Brady and the Buccaneers in the ’20 postseason.

2017 Buffalo Bills

Super Bowl Odds: 200-1
Make Playoffs Odds: +700
Record: 9-7
Playoffs: Wild Card (+8.5 at JAC — L, 10-3)

This marked the official move from Rex Ryan to Sean McDermott and also ended the pretty good three-year run with the Bills for Tyrod Taylor, who went 22-20 SU with 51 passing touchdowns and just 16 interceptions.

In the final week of the regular season, the Bills finally ended what would have been their 18-year playoff drought (previously the longest active drought in the NFL and the longest active playoff drought among the four major professional North American sport leagues) with the Bills winning 22–16 over the Miami Dolphins. They also received help in the form of the Cincinnati Bengals upsetting the Baltimore Ravens.

The Bills faced the Jacksonville Jaguars in the Wild Card round and lost 10-3, but covered the 8.5-point spread.

2008 Atlanta Falcons

Super Bowl Odds: 200-1
Make Playoffs Odds: +600
Record: 11-5
Playoffs: Wild Card (+1.5 at ARI — L, 30-24)

Similar to Buffalo in 2017, this was the move at head coach from Bobby Petrino to Mike Smith and the move at quarterback from Joey Harrington — … and Michael Vick —  to Matt Ryan.

Mike Smith was named 2008 NFL Coach of the Year and Matt Ryan earned the Offensive Rookie of the Year Award.

The Falcons accomplished a really amazing feat as well in 2008. They entered the season at 200-1 to win the Super Bowl — the worst odds of any NFL team, and ended up making the playoffs.

They faced the Arizona Cardinals in the Wild Card Round and lost to the eventual NFC Champions.

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