As I've said in this space before, I expect the Seahawks to win the NFC West in 2009. However, our franchise's history suggests that if that happens, it will be another one of those years that we win a division title with a 9-7 record, like we did in 1988, 1999, 2004, and 2006.
Coming off a 4-12 year, there certainly isn't any shame in that game. But why am I pretty sure that we won't steamroll into the playoffs at 13-3 or 12-4?
This is why.
For those of you too lazy to study that link to Pro Football Reference, the point is this: The Seahawks have never had a season-to-season improvement of more than +4 wins.
1977 --> 1978? 5-9 --> 9-7.
1992 --> 1993? 2-14 --> 6-10.
2004 --> 2005? 9-7 --> 13-3.
A 5-win improvement from 4-12 to 9-7 would be the biggest leap forward in team history. Right now I have us down for a 10-6 regular season, and if things break our way that's certainly possible.. The talent is there, and our injury situation should at least "regress to the mean." We can also look to recent examples like Miami and Atlanta, who respectively had 10-win and 7-win improvements from 2007 to 2008.
But 9-7 is more likely for the Hawks than 12-4 in 2009... With the Cards likely to suffer a bit of a post-Super Bowl hangover, the Niners being wildly overhyped, and the Rams just plain sucking, 9-7 would likely mean a division title and another winnable home playoff game.
That sounds pretty damn good to me.