Progress can be judged in a variety of ways. A team’s record can improve. They can make the playoffs. They can go farther in the playoffs. Seattle did all of those things in 2012, and also demonstrated statistical improvement that had them, once again, among the most improved teams in the NFL.
Each year, I compare the final power rankings of the past season to the previous one. The results are meant to illustrate which teams are rising or falling from year-to-year. This most often helps find teams that are laying in the weeds–teams that are gaining ground without fan fare, or losing ground without public awareness.
St. Louis, for example, checks in as the 5th-most improved team this year. Few fans outside the NFC West recognize the Rams as a team on the rise. Similarly, New England, Green Bay and Houston all took steps back. Even though their overall strength was still near elite, they weakened this year.
Seattle checks in as the 3rd-most improved team this season, largely on the strength of the third-largest improvement in passer rating (77.6 to 100.6), an over five point gain on offense and over four point reduction on defense.