The Seahawks were doubted heading into the 2018 season after losing cornerstones Richard Sherman, Michael Bennett, and Kam Chancellor. Some "experts" even had the Seahawks picking high in the draft, with platforms like USA Today picking them to finish 4-12 last season.
Of course, we all know what really happened, as Seattle did what they do best and that's play like everyone personally offended a family member on their way to 10 wins and their sixth playoff appearance in seven years.
Still, even after the unexpected success of a year ago, 2019 will be no different when it comes to doubters circling around the Seahawks like vultures. Seattle once again experienced fairly significant roster turnover this offseason, and experts site the losses of Earl Thomas and Doug Baldwin as rationale for the team fading next season.
While these departures are real concerns, however, the Seahawks were 8-4 in the regular season after Thomas' season ended with a leg injury. Seattle also won two of the three games Baldwin missed with a variety of injuries.
When will these experts learn?
Peter King of Pro Football Talk NBC Sports has the Seahawks ranked 13th in his latest power rankings, released after Seattle signed edge rusher Ezekiel Ansah to a one-year deal. The slights didn't end there. Not only did he rank Seattle at a mediocre spot, he has the Los Angeles Rams at number four and then the San Francisco 49ers six spots ahead of Seattle at number seven.
Looking at the 49ers, he cited the impending return of a healthy Jimmy Garoppolo, which will undoubtedly give the team a boost. But going from 4-12 to the seventh-best team in the NFL is quite the leap and having them leapfrog the Seahawks in the NFC West is even bolder.
King justifies his 13th-overall ranking of the Seahawks with their lack of proven pass rushers behind the newly signed Ansah as well as a retooled secondary.
Vinnie Iyer of Sporting News has Seattle right around the same spot, at number 12, but he has them ahead of the 49ers (15). He too has has his reservations about Seattle this season.
"Russell Wilson got paid, but he might not have his venerable, go-to guy in Doug Baldwin anymore. The rebuilding defense also lost Earl Thomas, Frank Clark and Justin Coleman. Shocker, but there will be more on Wilson, even in a run-heavy offense, to keep them above .500."
One correction is that Wilson will not have Baldwin anymore. All these concerns are valid, but that doesn't mean the Seahawks will labor to stay above .500.
This is nothing new to the team tucked away in the Pacific Northwest, with the nearest opposing team over 800 miles away. They are used to being doubted, poked, and prodded for holes.
The starting 22 for Seattle in 2019 will largely include unproven players, but that does not necessarily mean they will be an average team. Ezekiel Ansah is a Pro Bowl-level defensive end and headlines a group that includes a first-round draft pick in L.J. Collier. Bobby Wagner remains the best linebacker in the entire NFL. Shaquill Griffin will enter his third season at corner and the up-and-coming Tre Flowers will be opposite him in his second year as a starter.
Arguably one of the best free agent signings to date in the John Schneider era, Bradley McDougald, will have a crop of young safeties to lead and develop, including second-round pick Marquise Blair.
The wide receiver corps will look much different, but Tyler Lockett gives Russell Wilson a reliable number one target with Baldwin now gone and second-round pick D.K. Metcalf could be a dynamic presence right away.
Seattle also returns 80 percent of its rushing yards in the backfield, four of their five starting offensive linemen, and the top five tacklers from a season ago. This team is built to compete, not to flounder around .500.
Health be willing, this Seahawks squad will once again make these pundits scratch their heads at the end of the season.