Trouble Brewing In Cincinnati This Weekend

I’ve got some serious doubts about the Seahawks’ chances against the Bengals on Sunday.  I’m less concerned with it being a “short week”, or a 10am start, and more concerned with this game being on the road, and against a really good team.

The Seahawks’ road schedule this year is NOT doing us any favors.  Outside of the division, we go to Green Bay, Cincy, Dallas, Minnesota, and Baltimore.  And, the only reason why the Dallas game looks easy now is because Romo won’t be playing; otherwise, that’d be yet another shitbird to throw on the pile!  Still, if we’re not careful, knowing that we already lost to the Rams and Packers, I could easily see us going 3-5 on the road this year; MAYBE 2-6 if we blow one of those in-between games against the Cowboys or Vikings.  So, while I know the Bengals are in the AFC, and AFC losses don’t count like the other losses, I’d still say this one is pretty important for getting us to our goal of a first round playoff bye.

So, what do we have to look forward to?  Well, Andy Dalton is playing the best football of his life through these first four weeks.  123.0 passer rating, 9 touchdowns against 1 interception (plus a rushing touchdown for good measure), only 2 sacks all damn year!  I’d say he’s living a charmed life, which is pretty fortunate for him, considering many were predicting this would be the year he’d be supplanted as the Bengals’ starter.  On top of that, all of his receivers are healthy, and all of his non-running back receivers are averaging at least 13 yards per reception.  And, speaking of running backs, they’ve got two really good ones.  When you factor in how good their offensive line is, they might have (quarterback aside) the greatest collection of offensive talent in the entire NFL.

Which is fine, when you consider the Seahawks might have the greatest collection of defensive talent in the entire NFL (or, at least the NFC), but our guys won’t be able to shut down their guys on every single drive like we’ve done for the past two weeks.  Which means, our offense is going to have to try to do something against their defense.

The Bengals aren’t super impressive on defense – they’re 19th in yards per game – but they’re 9th in points per game, giving up only 19.3.  Converting red zone opportunities into touchdowns as opposed to field goals will be the most important factor in determining this game’s outcome.  And, of course, a big part of whether the Seahawks will be successful or not depends on how much time Russell Wilson will have to throw.  Considering the Bengals are 6th in the league in sacks with 11 over four games, I’d say we’re in a wee bit o’ trouble.  Carlos Dunlap, a defensive end, leads the team with 3.5 sacks.  Geno Atkins, one of the best defensive tackles in the league, isn’t far behind with 3.0 sacks.  These are the two guys who are going to cause the bulk of the damage, and as such, will probably make our lives a living hell (remember how Aaron Donald and the other Rams D-linemen destroyed us in week 1).

I’m not giving the Seahawks much hope in this one.  We’re going to need the O-line to take a mammoth step forward, and I just don’t think they have it in them right now.  This game just smacks of being like a lot of our recent AFC road games.  We’ll keep it close, sure.  But, in the end, we won’t have the horses and we’ll fall to 2-3.

Seattle Sports Hell’s Quarterly Power Rankings

Because I got tired of doing this thing every week.

It’s pretty hard to know who will win in any given game, but the objective here is to review what teams have done in an attempt to predict what they’ll do in the future.  Oh what a difference a week makes!  This time last week, I had the Arizona Cardinals in my Top 3, looking pretty unstoppable.  Then, this past Sunday, they lost at home to the Rams (who somehow managed to lose to the Redskins and the Steelers in a game where Ben Roethlisberger got injured and Mike Vick had to play meaningful snaps late in the game), and suddenly the once-perfect Cardinals look far more vulnerable, and are ranked accordingly.

I’m going to try to do a better job of taking a look at who a team has beaten, as well as my own gut feelings, to give more of a well-rounded view of where things stand.  Let’s take a look at the Top 8.  Teams listed in single parentheses () are those who that team beat; teams listed in double parentheses (()) are those who that team lost to.

  • New England:  3-0, (Pit, Buf, Jax)
  • Green Bay:  4-0, (Chi, Sea, KC, SF)
  • Cincinnati:  4-0, (Oak, SD, Bal, KC)
  • Denver:  4-0, (Bal, KC, Det, Min)
  • Atlanta:  4-0, (Phi, NYG, Dal, Hou)
  • Seattle:  2-2, (Chi, Det), ((St.L, GB))
  • Arizona:  3-1, (NO, Chi, SF), ((St.L))
  • New York Jets:  3-1, (Cle, Ind, Mia), ((Phi))

I don’t know if there’s necessarily a good reason to have the Patriots listed ahead of the Packers, this would be more my gut feeling.  The Pats have looked like absolute world-beaters, so they get my top spot.  I like Cincy over Denver based on strength of schedule, though I’m sure they’ll end up losing to the Broncos when they go out on the road in late December.  Enjoy it while it lasts, Cincy!  It only seems fair to have Atlanta in the Top 5, though really, who have they beaten?  Listing Seattle at 6 just SCREAMS “me being a homer”, especially when you consider the teams we beat (at home) have a combined 1 victory.  I still have some respect for the Lions (they’ve had a brutal schedule so far), and to be quite honest, the Cards get knocked down a peg for losing at home to the Rams, so suck it.  The Jets cap off our top 8 almost exclusively because their defense is top notch, and their quarterbacking play isn’t so horrendous.  A lot to like out there.

  • New York Giants:  2-2, (WA, Buf), ((Dal, Atl))
  • Buffalo:  2-2, (Ind, Mia), ((NE, NYG))
  • Carolina:  4-0, (Jax, Hou, NO, TB)
  • St. Louis:  2-2, (Sea, AZ), ((WA, Pit))
  • Minnesota:  2-2, (Det, SD), ((SF, Den))
  • Kansas City:  1-3, (Hou), ((Den, GB, Cin))
  • San Diego:  2-2, (Det, Cle), ((Cin, Min))
  • Washington:  2-2, (St.L, Phi), ((Mia, NYG))

Back-to-back heartbreaking losses to the Cowboys and Falcons were followed by back-to-back really strong wins against the Redskins and Bills.  The Giants are a team who are a couple of unlucky breaks away from 4-0, and the division they’re in is kind of a mess right now.  The Bills might be this year’s enigma team of the AFC (like the Rams in the NFC), or they might have just pounded on a couple of bad teams in Indy and Miami.  Their defense isn’t quite as dominant as we anticipated, but on the flipside their schedule going forward is pretty weak, so if they can continue beating up on bad teams, they might have 7-8 more wins to throw onto the pile.  Carolina couldn’t be more properly rated, outside of the Top 10.  This is a paper tiger 4-0 record if I’ve ever seen one.  They played against three shitty QBs (Bortles, Mallett, Luke McCown) followed by a rookie in Winston.  Their schedule gets remarkably more difficult in the games ahead.  As for the Rams, what can you say?  They’re 2-0 in the division right now and at this pace should end the season 6-10.

I’m having a tough time getting a proper read on the Vikings.  The 49ers are pretty solid on D and the Broncos are probably the best defense in the league.  I still like the talent on this team, but they’re far from perfect.  The Chiefs have had a pretty rough go from the schedule gods early on, with losses to three of the best four teams in the league.  As things get easier, I’d expect the 1-3 record to turn around in a hurry.  The Chargers lost a couple games on the road, to far-away lands of Cincinnati and Minnesota.  I’m not ready to bury them yet, but they better prove they can win a few on the road before I declare them ready for the playoffs.  And don’t look now, but the Redskins are better than we thought!  I’ll throw out that stinker of a Thursday night game, because all of those games on Thursday nights are stinkers.  They’ve played okay defense and gotten just enough out of their quarterback.

  • Oakland:  2-2, (Bal, Cle), ((Cin, Chi))
  • Baltimore:  1-3, (Pit), ((Den, Oak, Cin))
  • Pittsburgh:  2-2, (SF, St.L), ((NE, Bal))
  • Indianapolis:  2-2, (Ten, Jax), ((Buf, NYJ))
  • Detroit:  0-4, ((SD, Min, Den, Sea))
  • New Orleans:  1-3, (Dal), ((AZ, TB, Car))
  • Dallas:  2-2, (NYG, Phi), ((Atl, NO))
  • Miami:  1-3, (WA), ((Jax, Buf, NYJ))

There are going to be lots of ups & downs with a team like the Raiders, hence why they lost to the Bears over the weekend.  Just be glad there are any ups at all.  Baltimore’s yet another team that got hit over the head with the Difficult Early Schedule stick.  It’s promising they were able to pull out a tough one against the Steelers, but at the same time, it’s probably better to temper expectations with that team, given their difficulties on defense and atrocious wide receiver corps.  Pittsburgh is a team I like to do great things this year, but I’ll like them a lot more when Roethlisberger gets healthy.  Indy is a complete trainwreck right now, having managed two wins over two of the worst teams in the league.  I’d say it’s time to temper expectations there too, but have you SEEN their division?

The Lions had a rough early schedule, especially having to play three of their first four on the road.  But, they’re rewarded with 6 of their next 8 games at home.  If they’re going to do ANYTHING after this winless start, they better go on a huge run at home.  The Saints are closer to the Ain’ts than I’ve seen in quite some time, and I don’t think there’s much helping this team.  They might steal a few wins against some crappy teams, but this isn’t much more than a 4- or 5-win team.  The Cowboys will go up this list in a hurry if/when they get Romo and Dez back and start winning some games.  Miami has no one to blame but themselves, as their early schedule hasn’t been all that difficult.  I know I’d hate to lose a home game to London (where there were considerably more Jets fans than “home” team Dolphins fans), but that ugly loss on the road in Jacksonville really sealed Joe Philbin’s fate.

  • Philadelphia:  1-3, (NYJ), ((Atl, Dal, WA))
  • San Francisco:  1-3, (Min), ((Pit, AZ, GB))
  • Chicago:  1-3, (Oak), ((GB, AZ, Sea))
  • Cleveland:  1-3, (Ten), ((NYJ, Oak, SD))
  • Houston:  1-3, (TB), ((KC, Car, Atl))
  • Jacksonville:  1-3, (Mia), ((Car, NE, Ind))
  • Tennessee:  1-2, (TB), ((Cle, Ind))
  • Tampa Bay:  1-3, (NO), ((Ten, Hou, Car))

The Eagles are a disaster; HOW did they beat the Jets???  The 49ers’ offense is a joke and Kaepernick is well on his way to finishing his career as a mediocre backup.  The Bears need Cutler just to look somewhat respectable, and they’re killing any shot they had at the #1 overall draft pick by playing him (who thought I’d ever say that?).  The Browns look somewhat spry, but ultimately should go nowhere.  The Texans look the opposite of spry.  They probably have to play Mallett, just to see what they have in him (as we all know what Hoyer is capable of), but they’ll never win with him and would honestly be better off giving Hoyer a go and seeing if he’s enough to get them over the hump that is Indy’s floating carcass.  The Jags are the Jags, and that’s all they’ll ever be.  The Titans looked great in week 1, until we all realized they beat up on the NFL’s Junior Varsity squad.  The Bucs should be pretty awesome in a few years, if they can keep piling up on #1 overall draft picks.

Defense, Referee Incompetence Defeat Lions

Let’s say you’re hungover, or you got the flu, or it’s just a bout of food poisoning; at some point, vomit is coming into the equation.  Maybe you’re in a car for some reason, maybe you’re in the office, maybe you’re just on the couch.  You’re there, you’re sick, and then it hits you:  I’m about to throw up.  It’s coming.  You get the cold sweats, you try to talk yourself into willing this feeling away, but it’s undeniable.  You’re at the point of no return.  You find yourself doing that thing where you swallow some saliva quickly and repeatedly, as if the opposite of puking will somehow prevent puking.  But, no dice.  Whatever’s in your stomach is going to be leaving your stomach in a hurry, and it’s all you can do to get yourself to a toilet before you erupt everywhere.

That’s where I was last night, figuratively speaking.  It didn’t hit me so much on the fumble return for a touchdown, though I knew at that point something was really amiss.  Here we were, with eight and a half minutes left in a game we were CLEARLY dominating, and we could only muster a 3-point lead?  Unacceptable.  But, you know, a long clock-killing drive for a score would put everything right with the world.

Except, there we were with that 3 & Out on the very next drive.  THAT’S when I knew we were going to gag this fucking game away.  We chopped off two minutes, but that would merely be two minutes we couldn’t get back when we needed it the most at the end of the game.  I KNEW we were going to give up a scoring drive to the Lions, and I had a sinking feeling it was going to be a touchdown drive to take the lead.

Had they scored, we would’ve had approximately two minutes left in the game.  Not counting the 55 yards we got to run out the clock at the end of the game, the Seahawks still managed 290 yards on the Lions up to that point.  So, it’s not like we COULDN’T have come back and re-taken the lead there at the end, but the Lions’ hypothetical score would’ve made it 17-13.  Meaning we’d need a touchdown to win it.  While I’m pretty solid on our ability to get the ball to midfield, and maybe even down near the redzone, I’m also pretty sure that with the way they were getting after Russell Wilson, it would’ve taken a miracle on par with that back judge not seeing K.J. Wright’s batting of the football out of the endzone as intentional for us to win that game 20-17.

This offensive line is a menace.  Normally, it’s a problem with us running the football.  While 110 yards on the ground isn’t anything to write home about, the 3.5 yard per carry average is pretty unsettling.  But, that was nothing compared to the pass protection as a whole breaking down on multiple plays per drive.  When Russell Wilson didn’t have humongous men in his face almost instantly, I’m sure he was having flashbacks to just the play before when he did!  The line wasn’t 100% of the problem, but it was enough of a problem to get in Wilson’s head, and lead to some very uncharacteristic mistakes.  I’m not watching the game closely enough to really make this statement stick, but it sure seemed like Justin Britt was getting his ass handed to him on the reg.  If that’s true, if he’s as bad as I perhaps imagined him to be, I think we’re looking at a 2nd round draft bust.

Unfortunately, I don’t think there’s anyone on the team who’s any better.

Losing this game would’ve been the biggest disaster we’ve seen ’round these parts since Ride The Ducks was in service.  But, aside from the O-Line, I don’t see a lot wrong with the Seahawks.  One might be able to argue we’re actually ahead of where we were at this time last year; but one could also argue that the problems with this year’s O-Line VASTLY outweigh anything and everything that was going bad with the 2014 squad.

Aside from the two nearly back-breaking fumbles, Russell Wilson had a pretty great day.  20 of 26 passing for 287 yards and a TD, to go along with another 40 yards on the ground.  And the defense was out of this world, with Wagner and Chancellor looking possessed out there.  It’s a little annoying we weren’t able to get as many hits on the quarterback as you’d like to see (also, zero sacks), but with the way we were getting after him and rushing the vast majority of his throws, I have to think we crushed the “hurries” stat.

Also, you have to like what we’re seeing on special teams.  Hauschka is money in a league being torn asunder with terrible place kicking.  Jon MVP Ryan blasted a 70-yard punt and continually had the Lions pinned back.  And, with the way teams are trying to avoid Tyler Lockett (including pooching kickoffs to our up-backs), it’s easy to forgive him for the muffed punt.

At some point, either the O-Line needs to gel, or they need to get guys in there who will make it gel.  Once we get that squared away, we should be right on track for another deep playoff run.

And, look at it this way, if the game didn’t end with the refs botching the call, you know what we’d have to listen to all week?  WHY ISN’T JIMMY GRAHAM GETTING THE BALL MORE???  In spite of the fact that in half of these games, he’s been the team’s leading receiver.  But, you know, whatever.

The Mariners Blew Their Chance For A (Protected) Top 10 Draft Pick

All we needed to do was lose yesterday (or, have the White Sox win a third straight game, but it’s not fair to expect them to do ALL of our dirty work), but what did we do?  Got a quality start out of Vidal Nuno, and competent-enough bullpen work from two guys I’ve never heard of, before Tom Wilhelmsen struck out the side in the ninth for his 13th save of the season.

In the end, at 76-86, the Mariners tied the White Sox for 10th-worst record in baseball.  But, since the White Sox had a worse record than the Mariners in 2014, they get the tiebreaker, and we draft 11th.  That is, if we make it through the whole offseason without signing a free agent with a qualifying offer.  Otherwise, we won’t draft in the first round at all.  Which, fine, whatever.  It’ll probably be another bust anyway.  Who cares, right?

In the end, it’s another 4th place finish for the Mariners in the A.L. West.  I suppose we can hang our hats on the A’s finishing dead last.  And, we can hang our hats just a tad bit higher due to the Anaheim Angels blowing it down the stretch, falling a game short of a one-game playoff to get that second wild card spot (like the Mariners of 2014).  If there’s anything I love, it’s when the Angels suffer a crushing late-season disappointment.

The playoffs consist of the Yankees and Astros duking it out in the wild card game, with division winners Toronto, Kansas City, and Texas lurking about.  In the N.L., the Cubs and Pirates get to play in the wild card game, with the Mets, Cardinals, and Dodgers as division winners.  I don’t anticipate watching a ton of playoff baseball, but I see myself rooting for the Blue Jays and Royals in the A.L., and the Mets and the Cubs/Pirates out of the N.L.

For shits and giggles, let’s rank the playoff teams from those I like the best to the worst:

  1. Chicago Cubs
  2. Pittsburgh Pirates
  3. Toronto Blue Jays
  4. Kansas City Royals
  5. New York Mets
  6. St. Louis Cardinals
  7. Los Angeles Dodgers
  8. Houston Astros
  9. Texas Rangers
  10. New York Yankees

At the very least, can the baseball gods just promise us we won’t get the Subway Series Part II?

I’ll be back with more depressing Mariners posts as the offseason drags on.  Here’s something to whet your appetite:  It’s been 14 years since the Mariners have made the playoffs.  That constitutes the longest active playoff drought in all of Major League Baseball.  In fact!  Did you know that among the four main professional North American sports (MLB, NFL, NBA, NHL), the only playoff drought longer than the Seattle Mariners is the Buffalo Bills (who last made the playoffs in 1999)?  And, I don’t want to alarm anyone, but the Bills have as good a chance as anyone to end that drought this very year.  Hooray?

The Seahawks Face The Lions On Monday Night

With no Seahawks game on Sunday, I’m free to obsess about my fantasy football team, who’s already in a deep, dark hole thanks to Steve Smith getting injured in last night’s slugfest between the Ravens and Steelers.  In an effort to distract myself from what will surely be the first loss of many for Catalina Wine Mixer, I’ll try to focus on the real, important game on Monday night.

The Lions come to town!  Matthew Stafford, Calvin Johnson, the return of Golden Tate, a criminally underused running game, a Suh-less defense.  It should actually be a pretty entertaining contest, even though the oddsmakers are predicting a Seahawks blowout.

What we’ve got going for us is that their offensive line is also a total and complete mess, hence why they struggle rushing the ball even though they’ve got an exciting rookie runner in Ameer Abdullah.  The Seahawks SHOULD have little trouble keeping their ground attack at bay once again, while at the same time generating significant pressure on their quarterback.  The fact that this is being played in Seattle only bolsters that argument.

What we’ve also got going for us is that their defense isn’t anything special.  So, in short, what I’m telling you is that this is pretty much every single Detroit Lions team we’ve ever seen since Barry Sanders retired.  Haloti Ngata is a big ol’ widebody and might pose some challenges to our running game.  But, he’s a significant step down from Ndamukong Suh in every way there is to be a defensive tackle, so I’m not too worried.  My worry MAY increase if Marshawn Lynch is sidelined again, but I liked what I saw from Rawls last week.  And, of course, the real question is whether our O-Line is improved enough to handle even a mediocre defense that the Lions may throw at us.  Don’t be shocked if, yet again, our offense starts slowly and frustrates for most of the first half.

Let me put it this way:  if I’m in a sportsbook while this game is going on, I’d put a large wager on the Seahawks being down at halftime (or, at the very least, not covering the halftime spread), parlayed with the Under.  Then, at half, hit up the sportsbook to bet the Seahawks to cover and the game to just crack the Over.  It’s a risky bet, but if I’ve seen any Seahawks games the last few years, I think it’s a winning one.

From everyone I’ve read, this game (more than most) should hinge on turnovers.  Matthew Stafford is a slob with the football, throwing interceptions like he’s dropping a plate full of spaghetti & meatballs on my God damned brand new carpet!  On the flip, the Seahawks have 0 interceptions and only 4 recovered fumbles in the first three games.  I wouldn’t worry about our defense in the creating-turnovers regard (the Bears were playing offensive football like old people fuck, and the Packers are the Packers and Aaron Rodgers doesn’t get picked off at home), but I think it’s also a little misguided to just expect the Seahawks to pick off Stafford 2-3 times in this game.

You know what you get with a game in Seattle.  You know you have to be extra extra EXTRA careful with the football, or you’re going to get steamrolled.  You also know that you’re most likely not going to connect on anything deep (especially when you can’t get Michael Bennett to jump offsides due to all the crowd noise).  So, as we’ve seen with almost everyone who’s played against us, expect a lot of shorter throws to open receivers.  Expect Stafford to complete a high percentage of those throws, leading to a lot of 2nd/3rd & shorts.  If we get any picks, then either Matthew Stafford is a complete moron (which, you know, don’t rule it out), or more likely the ball was probably tipped up into the air.

Either way, turnovers or no turnovers, this is still a dangerous Lions offense.  Yes, they’re 0-3, but they had to go all the way out to San Diego in week 1, then they had to go on the road to Minnesota in week 2, and they had to face the Broncos at home last week.  The Chargers are like the Lions in a lot of ways, with the Lions blowing a huge lead in the second half thanks to some shoddy defense.  The Vikings are probably better than we all expected, and they’ve got an up & coming defense that should carry them pretty far this year (at least in the hunt for a Wild Card).  And, the Broncos have one of the best defenses in football.  It’s going to take an A-Game out of our defense to match what the Broncos were able to do last week.

I’ll be really interested to see how the Seahawks look in this one.  So far, we’ve looked like crap for the first two weeks (albeit, on the road, and without a full defense), then we played probably the worst football team in the league last week at home.  This will be a good test to see where we are.  Are we closer to the teams who botched it on the road?  Or, are we closer to the dominant force we saw who shut out the Bears?  This game could go a long way towards shedding some light on how good this team really is.  If we blow it at home and fall to 1-3, we are in SEVERE trouble.  But, if we win – even in a close, ugly game – I’ll feel a lot more comfortable about our chances going forward.

As it stands, I’m pretty confident the Seahawks will prevail.  I’m sensing that this will be one of those standout Russell Wilson performances we tend to see so much in primetime games.  I wouldn’t even be shocked if we see a 300-yard passing/100-yard rushing day out of our quarterback, with the wealth spread out generously among Graham, Baldwin, Kearse, and Lockett.

The Mariners Must Lose This Weekend!

This whole crappy season comes down to this:  a 3-game series against the Oakland Athletics.  This isn’t quite as dire as 2008, when we swept the A’s in the final 3-game series and lost out on the chance to draft Stephen Strasburg #1 overall (settling for Dustin Ackley), but it’s close.

If the season ended today, the Mariners would draft 11th.  What does that matter?  Well, if the Mariners can figure out a way to get into the Top 10, that draft pick would be protected in the event that the Mariners try to go out and sign a bigtime free agent this offseason – which I have to think they’d want to do.

So, who stands in our way (besides ourselves, of course)?  Well, the top 7 draft picks are pretty well secure.  We can get as high as the 8th draft pick, or as low as the 16th (I think).  I’ll admit I’m not really up on tiebreakers for this sort of thing.

Here’s what I know:  the Mariners are 75-84 with three games to go.  The White Sox are 74-84, with four games to go.  They host the division-winning Royals tonight, then they host the Tigers for three this weekend.  The Tigers, as chance would have it, are 73-85, with three games to go (I believe one of their games was rained out and won’t be made up, because the Tigers are out of the race).  If the Tigers go 2-1, they would have a winning percentage of .465; if the Mariners go 0-3, we would have a winning percentage of .463.  If the Tigers go 3-0, they’d be .472; if the Mariners go 1-2, we’d be .469.  If the Mariners go 2-1 or 3-0, there’s no way the Tigers will end up with a higher winning percentage, so that can’t happen.

Getting back to the White Sox.  Let’s say they finish 2-2.  If they do that, they’ll be 76-86.  Now, if this article is still accurate (see published date of 2009, but I can’t find anything more recent), for draft order purposes, if two teams have the same record, they look at the previous year’s record to determine who gets the higher draft pick.  The White Sox had a losing record in 2014; the Mariners had a winning record in 2014.  As such, if we tie the White Sox in record this year, they will draft ahead of us.  So, if the White Sox finish 2-2, the Mariners would have to go 0-3.  If the White Sox finish worse than 2-2, they’re guaranteed to draft ahead of us.  If the White Sox finish 3-1, the Mariners could finish 1-2 and come out ahead; if the White Sox finish 4-0, the Mariners could finish 2-1.

The only other team with a worse record than the Mariners right now – who we could theoretically overcome – is the San Diego Padres.  They are currently 73-85, with 4 games to go.  The Padres also had a losing record in 2014, so if we end up with the same record as them, they too will draft ahead of us.  The Padres play their home finale tonight against a hapless Milwaukee Brewers team.  Then, the Padres go to Los Angeles to play three games against the division champion Dodgers.  The Dodgers still theoretically have something to play for, I guess, as they could overtake the Mets for 2nd-best record in the NL among division winners, but I don’t know what that would get them.  I don’t feel like these games would be a huge priority for them, but what do I know?  If the Padres finish the season 2-2 or worse, they will draft ahead of the Mariners.  We need them to go 3-1 (while we go 0-3), or we need them to go 4-0 (while we go 1-2) for us to pass them for the higher draft pick.

In short, these are the scenarios for the Mariners to hop into the Top 10 (remember, the Tigers play the White Sox in the weekend series):

  • Tigers finish 2-1, Mariners finish 0-3
  • Tigers finish 3-0, Mariners finish 1-2 or 0-3
  • White Sox finish 2-2, Mariners finish 0-3
  • White Sox finish 3-1, Mariners finish 1-2 or 0-3
  • White Sox finish 4-0, Mariners finish 2-1, 1-2, or 0-3
  • Padres finish 3-1, Mariners finish 0-3
  • Padres finish 4-0, Mariners finish 1-2 or 0-3

The only way the Mariners can win 2 games and still get into the Top 10 is if the White Sox finish 4-0.  If the Mariners win all three games this weekend, we will be guaranteed to draft outside of the Top 10.

Let’s hear it for tanking!  For our part, we’ve shut down Felix Hernandez, James Paxton, and Taijuan Walker for the season.  There have been rumblings this week that Nelson Cruz and Robinson Cano would both sit out the weekend series due to nagging injuries.  So, you know, the organization is TRYING to tank, which you have to appreciate.  The starters this series are Iwakuma on Friday, Elias on Saturday, and Nuno on Sunday.  On the flipside, the A’s are trying to stay in the Top 4 – or maybe climb into the Top 3 – in draft order, and they’ve got two no-name pitchers starting Friday & Saturday, with TBD going on Sunday.

It’s a bucket ride to Hell over the weekend.  Let’s hope we’ve got what it takes to lose like champions.

Jerry Dipoto Is The New Mariners GM

One month to the day that Jackie Z was fired, Twitter started to blow up with word that his replacement had been found.  It was subsequently confirmed by the team, with a press conference taking place yesterday.  Jerry Dipoto – former Angels GM – is your new Mariners GM.

Forgive me if I’m not falling all over myself with joy.  Truth be told, the move that needs to be made – the move that’s needed to be made for well over a decade – is the organization wresting control from one Howard Lincoln.  Preferably, such a move would come via the powers that be unceremoniously firing his sorry, goldbricking ass, followed by locking him in the stocks so every Mariners fan – one by one – can pass by to hurl insults and throw fresh feces in his face.  But, really, I’d even accept his quiet resignation and/or retirement, just so long as he’s out of the way and not running the show anymore.

I don’t know what to make of Dipoto’s background.  He was the GM for the Angels for 3 and a half years.  Last year, the Angels won the division before being swept by the Royals in the ALDS.  But, how much of that was on the dime of his predecessor’s hard work and shrewd personnel choices?

Jerry Dipoto didn’t draft Mike Trout.  He DID bring in Josh Hamilton.  He also signed Albert Pujols (a trainwreck at first, but has somewhat returned to form the last couple years) as well as C.J. Wilson (moderately successful, when healthy).  I have no idea who he drafted, and I really don’t care to know, because they’re Angels and fuck them.  I care about the fact that he has at least led an organization to the post-season, which is really my only concern for the Mariners at this point.

Will he be the guy to get us back to the playoffs?  I tend to have my doubts.  This organization is so fucked from top to bottom, it’s impossible to see a way out of the abyss.  None of our hitters can make contact.  None of them can take a walk.  Our bullpen is a mess, and we’re squandering the best years of Felix’s career.  As usual, there are too many holes on this team to count, and not enough money or available players out there to fill them.

Coming into 2015, the Mariners needed to fill out the DH spot, the corner outfielders, the back-end of the rotation, while hoping that our young infielders took a step forward.  What did the Mariners accomplish in 2015?  Well, we filled the DH spot with Nelson Cruz, and that’s about it.  PLUS, the bullpen fell apart, all the youngsters flopped, and we need to fill all three outfield spots going into 2016.  It’s an impossible task, so I hope everyone is prepared for continued sucking.

Look for this numbnuts organization to retain Lloyd McClendon.  I say that not to bash on the guy – I thought he brought some needed stability at the position of field manager, and I think he gets the most out of his players, even in a lost season like this one – but because he comes with a built-in scapegoat.  The next two years are very likely going to be miserable at the Major League level, as the organization tries – once again – to fill out the farm system.  They might not be in full sell-off mode, but I could definitely see moves being made to look toward the future.  And, therefore, when we punt these next two years, the Mariners can THEN fire Lloyd McClendon and tell the public, “He wasn’t the right man for the job.”  Dipoto will be able to hire His Kinda Guy (because of course it’s not the organization’s fault we will have had losing seasons in 2016 and 2017), and at that point the clock will be ticking.  Dipoto will have a 2-year grace period, followed by a 2-year hot-seat period, followed by him being out on his ass again and this whole process starting all over.

The sport of professional baseball is so boring and predictable, I honestly wonder why I still bother following it.  Welcome to Seattle, Jerry Dipoto.  I hope you like soul-crushing failure, because you’re going to have a front row seat to the worst four years of your life.  At least you don’t have a stupid-as-fuck last name that’s impossible to spell.

Huskies Had Chances, Couldn’t Capitalize Against Golden Bears

Cal’s a pretty good team, but I don’t think they’re one of the better teams in the Pac-12.  What did they do in their non-conference slate except beat up on a couple of also-rans (Grambling & San Diego State) before winning a close one against a Texas Longhorns team having another down year?  I’d say the best thing Cal has going for itself (and the sole reason why it finds itself ranked after this weekend) is the relatively easy early schedule.  Next week, they host Wazzu, and then the shit really hits the fan (@ Utah, @ UCLA, vs. USC, @ Oregon).  It wouldn’t shock me in the slightest to see them at 5-4 after those games.

What I’m trying to get at is:  they’re lucky they faced Washington now, because if this game was being played in November, I bet the Huskies win that game.

Cal is who they are:  they’ve got a fairly impressive quarterback (who nevertheless doesn’t seem to ever show up all that well against the Huskies), a couple nice weapons on offense, but all in all they’re just a moderately good football team.  Nothing about their defense really scares anybody.  They’ll be exposed as the frauds they are in short order.

Which, for the record, is what you could say about every Husky team that’s gone undefeated in their non-conference schedules since 2009.

Even though the schedule is pretty difficult going forward (after this week’s BYE), and even though he struggled in this game, I like Browning’s potential going forward.  Remember, this was just his first real conference game.  And, in spite of a whole lotta sloppiness, this team found itself with a chance to take the lead late in the game.  With some more maturity and experience, this is the type of game we’ll win with more regularity going forward.

I also liked how the defense responded in the second half after falling behind by 20.  We forced a fumble that was returned for a touchdown, then held them to two punts and a field goal the rest of the way.  This defense is rock solid right now, and should be a great strength for us in the next couple years.

From the stat sheet, you’d say Dwayne Washington had a nice game on the ground.  But, you’ve got to remember that 71 of his 109 yards came on one crazy 5-play, 5-run drive for a touchdown in the first half.  If you take that drive out, the Washington running game was pretty pathetic:  21 runs for 37 yards.  Once again, the offensive line wasn’t up to snuff, and will need to gel in a hurry if we don’t want to see a streak of 5-6 very ugly games.

Dawgs get a BYE this week, then go to USC on Thursday, October 8th.  They can be beaten, but it’s going to take a very clean game.

The Seahawks Shut Out The Bears

It was a drubbin’, but it wasn’t THAT much of a drubbin’.  I mean, shit man, it was only 6-0 at halftime!  The first four drives totalled all of 37 yards, and the only reason we got that first field goal is because we stole that gimmicky St. Louis Rams fake-out punt return.  It wasn’t until – of course – the 2-minute warning, when we FINALLY got the ball moving down the field.  We got all the way down inside the 10-yard line, but unfortunately couldn’t punch it in on three straight throws.  For the record, I didn’t mind the play-calling on this particular end-of-half series.  Two of the three plays involved 1-on-1 matchups where we had a significant size advantage (Jimmy Graham and Chris Matthews).  On the first, the defender just made a great play; on the second, Wilson rushed the throw because we snapped the ball with 5 seconds left on the clock and still wanted to preserve the field goal try.

So, that’s pretty much all you need to know about the first half.

All you need to know about the Chicago Bears yesterday was that Jay Cutler and Alshon Jeffery were out, replaced by Jimmy Clausen and Some Guy.  The Bears had 10 possessions and punted the ball 10 times.  Even when one MIGHT make the argument that the Bears were within striking distance of making a comeback, while at the same time having the ball at or near midfield, they abjectly refused to go for it on 4th & short.

To call the Bears’ offense vanilla is to malign the most boring flavor of ice cream there is.  The Bears weren’t vanilla on offense yesterday, they were rice cakes on offense.  They were packing peanuts.  They were plain Cream of Wheat with unsalted soda crackers on the side.  Which helped to make this game probably the most boring of the three blowout afternoon contests yesterday.

Which was GREAT for me and my fantasy team, going up against someone who had the Seahawks as their defense.  No turnovers?  No defensive touchdowns and only one return touchdown?  Only two sacks?  Yeah, that Chicago offense was ALL RIGHT!

But, if I’m a Bears fan, I’d be absolutely furious.  John Fox gave up on that game before it even started.  He didn’t even try to score any POINTS, let alone win the game!  He was perfectly happy running the ball for minimal yardage, and dinking & dunking in the passing game, with no inkling whatsoever to try to convert many of the 4th & shorts they were presented all day.  I mean, why not just forfeit?  Could’ve saved you a flight.  It would’ve been less ugly than what we saw out there yesterday.

For what it’s worth, the Seahawks were much more impressive in the second half.  Tyler Lockett kicked things off right after halftime with a kickoff return for a touchdown, the longest in franchise history at 105 yards.  So, that’s something!

Thomas Rawls ran for 104 yards in extensive duty while the ailing Marshawn Lynch gave it a good try, but ultimately couldn’t make it through the game.

Jimmy Graham found the endzone again for the second time in three games, grabbing 7 balls for 83 yards.  Jermaine Kearse had a solid afternoon, with 6 catches for 76 yards.  Russell Wilson had a tidy game, going 20 for 30, with 235 yards and a 101.4 passer rating.

No one really stood out on defense; it was more of an all-around solid team effort.  They also probably didn’t stand out because I was distracted for most of the game while I was playing with my new iPhone 6s.  That thumb print scanner is dope as fuck.

Remember when the Huskies beat up on Sacramento State and all I could talk about was how there was nothing much to learn about a game like that.  Same deal here.  The bigger test is coming next Monday night, when Detroit comes to town.  Looking forward to it.

Shut The Fuck Up About Jimmy Graham Not Getting The Ball Enough

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m more concerned about the Seahawks being 0-2 (and how that’s a hole you don’t necessarily want to be in) than I am about a lack of production out of Jimmy Graham.  It’s like, have you SEEN the Seahawks play football before?  Are you not totally aware by now that they like to spread the ball around to as many receivers as possible?  And, when they’re not doing that, they’re trying to run the ball as much as possible because they have one of the best running backs in the game?

HELLO!  Anybody home?

I’m sure everyone (like myself) found their assholes clench up a little bit when they heard reports this week about Jimmy Graham being upset about not getting the ball enough.  But, what is that really?  Just another diva playing the role of Squeaky Wheel in an attempt to have the quarterback look his way more the following week.  It’s been this way since the dawn of time (or, I suppose, whenever Michael Irvin came into the league).  He’s not going to hold out, he’s not going to start pulling himself out of games or start picking fights with teammates like Percy Harvin.  Because he’s got too much pride and self respect to act the fool like a certain ex-Seahawk.  Jimmy Graham wants to win football games, whereas Harvin wants everyone to pay attention to him and kiss his ass like a spoiled brat.

What are the Seahawks doing?  What could they possibly be thinking?  Oh, I don’t know, how about not getting into a situation like the one we were in this time last year!  Is September of 2014 really too far back to remember?  Well, here’s a refresher:  all we heard about in the off-season and pre-season heading into last year was how Darrell Bevell was configuring the offense to showcase the unique talents of one Percy Harvin.  In the first game against the Packers, it was a phenomenal success.  The Pack had no answer for him, through the air or on fly sweeps.  It looked like a brilliant marriage.  The following week, he had a couple big plays against the Chargers in a losing effort, but only 1 reception on offense.  Things deteriorated to the point where we had the Dallas debacle, followed by him being traded that week, and the rest is history.

In case you’ve forgotten, the Seahawks’ offense looked pretty mediocre after that game against the Packers last year.  That is, until Harvin was let go and we stopped force-feeding him the ball all the time on all those fucking bubble screens that were progressively less effective every time we used them.

You really have to ask yourself:  do you want the Seahawks’ offense to perform at its most efficient and effective?  Or, do you want Russell Wilson to throw the ball to Jimmy Graham 12 times a game, regardless of whether he’s wide open or in triple-coverage?

Look, sometimes, the option just won’t be available.  Sometimes, Graham will be covered too well, either by one defender or multiple.  Sometimes, the pressure will get to Wilson too fast, resulting in him having to run for his life, while the opportunity to throw to an open Graham goes by the wayside.  And, shit, sometimes Wilson just won’t see him, because there isn’t a good passing lane and he’s not 6’5.  But, just because Graham is on the Seahawks doesn’t mean he’s going to turn into a poor man’s Anthony McCoy.  He’s GOING to get his opportunities.  I’d just rather he get them in the natural flow of the offense.

I’d also like the offense to design quality plays to effectively get him open and involved in mismatches, but that’s another issue entirely.

And another thing:  we’re two games in.  Not only that, but it’s not like Graham has gotten NOTHING thus far in these two games.  Against the Rams, he had 6 catches on 8 targets, for 51 yards and a touchdown.  For a tight end, on this team, that’s an amazing fucking day!  If he expects anything more than that on a regular basis, then his thinking heading into this season was probably WAY out of whack!  Yes, against the Packers, he had 1 catch on 2 targets, and that’s not what you want out of your top pass-catching weapon.  But, at the same point, is that something we’ve never seen anywhere else?  Look at #1 receivers all around the league, from Julio Jones to Calvin Johnson to … well, not Antonio Brown, but MOST receivers have a shit day every now and then.  It happens!  One game out of two is not a sign that the Seahawks don’t know what the fuck they’re doing with Graham.  It just means – as I said above – that the Packers did a good job covering him, and Wilson didn’t have an opportunity to get him the ball when they weren’t covering him so well.  Shit happens, get over it.

Winning football games is all that matters.  Not how well Graham performs for your fantasy football team.  If you didn’t have enough sense to stay the fuck away from drafting Jimmy Graham, then you only have yourselves to blame.