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NFL countdown: Russell Wilson carrying Seahawks

This is the 24th in a series of 32 NFL team betting previews in 32 days leading up to the league’s Sept. 10 season opener. We’ll count down the teams from the lowest season win total to the highest.

No matter the state of the Seattle Seahawks, quarterback Russell Wilson keeps them in contention.

Westgate sportsbook vice president of risk Ed Salmons said he just wishes the coaching staff would make it easier on Wilson.

“They have a top-three quarterback in the NFL, but every game they screw around in the first half running the ball,” Salmons said. “Then at the end, they say, ‘Russell, go win the game.’”

Most of the time, he does. Wilson is 86-41-1 in his first eight seasons, never missing a start. Seattle won at least 10 games and made the playoffs in seven of those seasons. (They finished out of the postseason at 9-7 in 2017.)

But for all of the Seahawks’ success, they have not advanced past the divisional playoffs since losing to New England in the Super Bowl after the 2014 season on Wilson’s infamous interception at the goal line with 20 seconds left.

That relative decline has coincided with the dismantling of the “Legion of Boom” defense that propelled Seattle to a Super Bowl title and runner-up finish the next season.

“The defense isn’t the same,” Sunset Station sportsbook director Chuck Esposito said. “This isn’t the Legion of Boom you’re familiar with.”

The Seahawks gave up the 26th most yards in the NFL last season (381.6) and 22nd most points (24.9). That was a major reason Seattle ended up with only a +7 point differential and has been marked by analytics experts as a candidate to regress this season. The Seahawks were 9-2 in games decided by seven points or fewer.

“They had an 11-win season, but the point differential was indicative of 8-8,” Salmons said.

The Seahawks tried to address the defense by trading two first-round picks for All-Pro New York Jets safety Jamal Adams.

Regardless, Seattle’s season will still rest on Wilson’s shoulders. If the past few years are an indication, that would mean a highly competitive team that isn’t quite Super Bowl-caliber.

“They can’t rely just on Russell Wilson,” Esposito said.

Contact Jim Barnes at jbarnes@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0277. Follow @JimBarnesLV on Twitter.

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