Packers hold off Seahawks 28-23 to reach NFC title game

Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson runs for a first down during the second half of the NFC divisional game against the Packers on Sunday, Jan. 12, 2020, in Green Bay, Wis. (Matt Ludtke, Associated Press)

SEATTLE — Assuming you’ve recovered from the comeback that never was last Sunday, you’re already counting down to the Seahawks’ 2020 season-opener. And if you’re an average 12, you’re also fretting about every scenario that could possibly unfold.

There is, after all, plenty to be excited about with this team. But there is plenty to be concerned about as well.

So for you glass half-fullers, here are some reasons to be optimistic next season. And for those who have already broken the glass in panic, here are some reasons to be pessimistic as well.

Optimism: They have Russell Wilson

In 2018, none of the six highest-paid quarterbacks in football made the playoffs. This caused some concern that Wilson signing a record $140 million deal would make it difficult for the Seahawks to surround him with support. But any financial fear that contract may have spawned disappeared once Wilson took the field. If not for Lamar Jackson’s spectacular season for the Ravens, No. 3 likely would have won NFL MVP.

There is little reason to think that the 31-year-old Wilson will regress. He was awesome last season, yes, but not atypically awesome given his history. The Seahawks can win any game as long he is on the field.

Pessimism: They might not have been all that good last season

When you tie an NFL record (nine) for most wins decided by one score, one of two things are true: 1) You’re gritty as hell. 2) You’re lucky as hell.

Pro Football Reference’s algorithm essentially said that the Seahawks are an 8-8 team (8.2-7.8 to be specific). When you look at how they only beat the NFL-worst Bengals by one point, or how they got abused by the 5-10-1 Cardinals in Week 16, this makes sense. So even if the Seahawks add a couple pieces and improve on paper, they can still take a step back in the standings.

Optimism: Wilson is surrounded by talented skill players

Before running back Chris Carson went down with a season-ending hip injury against Arizona, he was fourth in the NFL in rushing. And before receiver Tyler Lockett got ill in the middle of the season, he was on pace to break Steve Largent’s single-season franchise record for receiving yards. Receiver DK Metcalf, meanwhile, looks like a future Pro Bowler, particularly after the 160-yard game he had in the playoff win against Philadelphia.

We’ll see how running back Rashaad Penny, who averaged 5.7 yards per carry last season, recovers from his ACL tear. But as of now, the guys who touch the ball for the Seahawks are among the best in the league.

Pessimism: Questions on the O-line linger

Left tackle Duane Brown made the Pro Bowl two years ago, but he will also be 35 before the season starts next year. Left guard Mike Iupati is a free agent who is unlikely to return. Center Justin Britt is talented, but also expensive for a guy coming off an ACL tear, and right tackle Germain Ifedi, like backup left tackle George Fant, is a free agent. In other words, talented as their quarterback and running backs may be, it’s questionable as to whether they’ll have anyone who can block for them.

Optimism: Jadeveon Clowney wants to play for a contender

The defensive end made it clear after Sunday’s loss to the Packers that he has no interest in simply collecting a fat check. Clowney wants to win a Super Bowl and thought the Seahawks were going to do it — meaning he might be willing to come back at a reasonable price. When healthy, nobody impacted Seattle’s defense like Clowney did. He turned the Seahawks into a playoff team when he joined last season, and could turn them into a championship team if he returns.

Pessimism: Their pass rush could also be non-existent

Yes, Clowney wants to play for a contender, but that doesn’t mean he’s a lock to come back. And when you consider that Ziggy Ansah and Jarran Reed are free agents, and that first-round pick L.J. Collier looks like a bust, quarterbacks might be able to read the sports page cover-to-cover and still have time to zip a pass against the Seahawks. Defensively speaking, it’s a pass-rusher’s league, and Seattle might not have anyone exceptional who can do it.

Optimism: They have Pete Carroll coaching and John Schneider GMing

Given the Seahawks’ youth, strength of schedule, and injuries, getting 11 wins plus a playoff victory signifies one of Carroll’s best coaching jobs to date. And from securing Clowney just before Week 1, to acquiring defensive back Quandre Diggs midway through the season, Schneider used a combination of audacity and creativity to keep this group competitive all season. This is becoming the norm, and can’t be taken for granted.

Pessimism: They have Pete Carroll and John Schneider drafting

OK, that might be a little harsh, as the pair have managed to find gems such as Carson, Lockett, Frank Clark and Michael Dickson, among others, over the past five drafts. But they have also missed mightily on early picks such as Malik McDowell and Collier. You can have confidence that the duo will find someone impactful in the draft, but you can also be skeptical of them finding that someone with their first pick.