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NFL playoffs: How your team can make it

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Feb 1, 2015; Glendale, AZ, USA; Seattle Seahawks free safety Earl Thomas (29) celebrates with cornerback Richard Sherman (25) during the third quarter New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLIX at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Feb 1, 2015; Glendale, AZ, USA; Seattle Seahawks free safety Earl Thomas (29) celebrates with cornerback Richard Sherman (25) during the third quarter New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLIX at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

1

Seattle Seahawks

NFC, West

The Seattle Seahawks had a few minor surgeries done to the roster, but the patient has come out looking fine. Seattle general manager John Schneider was aggressive before free agency, trading center Max Unger and a first-round pick to the New Orleans Saints for All-Pro tight end Jimmy Graham. After years of having few viable pass targets, Graham immediately becomes the best for Russell Wilson his young career.

Still, this team is about Marshawn Lynch and its dynamic defense. There were rumors that Lynch might call it a career after the Super Bowl, but Lynch appears to have plenty left in the tank. Last year, Beast Mode ran for 1,306 yards and 13 touchdowns, helping to drive Seattle to their second straight NFC title. The 29-year-old back has gained over 1,000 yards in each of the last four seasons.

On defense, the Legion of Boom lost a member with corner Byron Maxwell leaving via free agency to join the Philadelphia Eagles. However, former Eagles corner Cary Williams has replaced him, while Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor and Richard Sherman remain in tact. Up front, the return of defensive tackle Brandon Mebane and the stability provided by inside linebacker Bobby Wagner will keep the defense strong against the run.

Barring major injuries derailing the season, Seattle will once again win the NFC West and take its best shot at reaching the Super Bowl. Should the Seahawks get there, it would be the first NFC team to make three consecutive appearances. Only the Miami Dolphins (1971-73) and Buffalo Bills (1990-93) have ever accomplished that impressive feat.

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