As is custom, when the schedules are released, we as fans tend to pour over them like they’re ancient sacred scrolls. I usually like to take a look at how many primetime games the Seahawks have, followed by any 10am starts, and then I just cruise around for a while looking for anomalies. 3-game road trips, extended homestands, whether the first half or the second half looks tougher on paper. Then, I’ll bitch about where we have our BYE week for an hour and a half and then go about my day.
I think when most of us saw 2016’s schedule, our eyes were immediately drawn to the matchup you see this weekend. Seattle at New England, Sunday night, 5:30pm. There are other big games on the slate, there are DEFINITELY more important games, against divisional opponents and major conference rivals. But, Seattle at New England is special. Obviously, because it’s the first time we’ve played one another since the Super Bowl That Shall Not Be Named, but beyond that, you’re talking about the two premiere franchises in the NFL. The Patriots have been good forever; the Seahawks have been dominant since 2012. Lots of teams have waxed and waned since 2012. Most every team, from Denver, to Green Bay, to Carolina, to Pittsburgh, to Baltimore, to Indianapolis to Arizona to the entire NFC East have had up and down seasons in that short span. Only the Seahawks and Patriots have won at least 1 game in the playoffs every year since 2012. Any well-run franchise can make the playoffs on a down year, in a down division, but it takes consistent greatness to not only do that, but have some success in the post-season. Obviously, the Patriots have been doing that for a lot longer than the Seahawks, but they’re the team to aspire to be. The Seahawks have been the closest thing to a dynasty since these Patriots. Hence, the two best-run franchises in the NFL.
Regardless of how good you thought the Seahawks would be, when these schedules were released, you probably did what a lot of us do: you went game by game and ticked off the wins and losses. And, I’ll bet dollars to donuts, if you’re not some deluded homer, but you ACTUALLY gave this game serious, objective consideration, you probably ticked this game off as a loss for the Seahawks. Maybe I’m wrong! Maybe more people have more faith in this team than I realize; or maybe I’ve just become snowblind from all the sugary praise Tom Brady and the Patriots receive from every nook and cranny of this planet. But, I know what I’ve read from other people, and my hunch is that a lot of people thought the Seahawks would lose this game before the season even started.
And, now that we’re flippin’ 8 games in – at the exact midpoint of our season – in spite of the fact that we’re currently in the 2-seed in the NFC and a VERY respectable 5-2-1, I feel like people are giving the Seahawks even less of a chance than they were before, when hopes were at their highest and we weren’t yet constantly bombarded with injury updates from our favorite, most important players. Certainly, Vegas gives us no shot; we’re 7.5-point underdogs, which is kinda crazy if you think about it. If the Seahawks lose on Sunday by more than 7 points, it will only be the third time that’s happened since the start of the 2012 season. Think about THAT! I’m as skeptical as anyone that the Seahawks will find a way to pull this out, but if I’m a betting man, and I’m putting my money on this game, I’m ABSOLUTELY putting my money on the Seahawks to cover this spread, and there wouldn’t be a worry in my pretty little head! Shit, if this line holds, part of me wouldn’t mind flying direct to the nearest sportsbook and putting my life’s savings on
black the Seahawks to cover; easiest got-damn $77 I’ve ever made!
But, I’m here, and I’m not going anywhere, so fuck Vegas. Let’s talk about the game and how the Seahawks can pull one out of their asses.
Now, I’ll admit, it doesn’t look good. The O-Line hasn’t progressed at all, the running game is worse than I’ve ever seen it (maybe literally of all time, maybe since I was a little boy watching this team; this might be worse than even the Julius Jones years!), Russell Wilson is moving better, but isn’t all the way back yet, the defense has been savagely over-worked, hindering our ability to stop the run and get off the field on third down, and oh yeah, while Kam Chancellor looks like he’ll be back, Michael Bennett is still out. It’s already tough to get a pass rush going on Tom Brady, because he’s so quick and decisive with the football; now we’re trying to do it without our very best pass rusher, the one guy who can slip through the line and make the other team’s guard/tackle look like a statue.
So, I ask again, is it even possible for the Seahawks to beat this team?
I gotta tell you, it looks grim. The Pats are coming off a BYE to boot, so they’ve had two weeks to prepare for this game. I don’t know about you, but I shudder at the thought of Bill Belichick having an extra week to expose our team. I would think our talent will be enough to force a couple punts here and there, but we should probably gear up for the Pats to hit the endzone at a minimum of 3 times. My guess is probably in the 4-5 range. This team can score quick, so I think they’ll have no problem getting into the 30’s in this one. And that’s with the Seahawks defense playing assignment-perfect football.
What’s going to have to happen here is a good ol’ fashioned shootout. We were done a solid by the Pats trading away Jamie Collins a couple weeks back, as well as Chandler Jones before the season. Obviously, it’s not a prerequisite for the other team to have dominant players to be able to get pressure on our quarterback, but it can’t be a bad thing to have those guys playing for other teams this weekend.
While I think the Seahawks might try to buck trends and get a running game going (likely without Christine Michael for the most part), I just don’t think this unit is good enough yet. As such, I’d look for this one to be on Russell Wilson’s shoulders.
Now, fortunately, he’s looking about as good as he’s looked all year. Buffalo was a nice warm-up game for us, and for him, but he’s going to have to go above and beyond. I’m talking a 400-yard passing day, I’m talking about 4 TD passes, and I’m talking about a gut-churning finish like we’re all used to seeing by now. I have a feeling this game will start out sour early, and it’s going to require a furious comeback in the second half, but in the end I think the Patriots have just enough flaws on defense – and the Seahawks just enough talent on offense – to shock the world and steal a game they have no business winning.
Either that, or the offense will never get going and we’ll lose by 20. Sunday night has the real possibility of being horrible and embarrassing for us! WINTER IS COMING, EVERYONE!!! WE’RE ALL FUCKING DOOMED!!!