The End Is Near Seattle Sports Hell Power Rankings

I pre-wrote a whole thing about how the Patriots are depressingly the best team in the AFC, and a breakdown of all the teams who might keep them out of the Super Bowl (because, Jesus Christ, could we all use a Super Bowl free from the Patriots).  Then, they went and looked like dogshit against the Dolphins last night, and it didn’t seem very timely, so we’ll move on.

For the record, I still think the Patriots deserve the top spot in the rankings, as they were due – just like every other team who’s lost recently – to drop a game before the playoffs.  I’m more than convinced they’ll take down the Steelers this week, so yeah.  On to the rankings:

  • New England (10-3)
  • Carolina (9-4)
  • Minnesota (10-3)
  • New Orleans (9-4)
  • Pittsburgh (11-2)
  • Jacksonville (9-4)
  • Philadelphia (11-2)
  • L.A. Rams (9-4)

In spite of my questioning of Cam Newton, I was very impressed by what they were able to do against the Vikings this weekend.  Giving up nearly 40 points to the Ravens?  Now you know why I have so little respect for the Steelers.  Philly gets dropped bigtime as they face a Nick Foles future.

  • L.A. Chargers (7-6)
  • Atlanta (8-5)
  • Seattle (8-5)
  • Baltimore (7-6)
  • Green Bay (7-6)
  • Detroit (7-6)
  • Dallas (7-6)
  • Tennessee (8-5)

Look for the Chargers to jump into the Top 8 next week.  Green Bay continues to climb the ladder as Brett Hundley continues to find a way to beat crappy teams.  Dallas is in an interesting position, particularly if they can win one more and get Zeke back.  Look for the Titans to fall out of this grouping as they continue to look terrible.

  • Kansas City (7-6)
  • Buffalo (7-6)
  • Miami (6-7)
  • Arizona (6-7)
  • Oakland (6-7)
  • N.Y. Jets (5-8)
  • Washington (5-8)
  • Cincinnati (5-8)

Everyone is all hyped up on the blizzard bowl between the Bills and Colts, but I feel like if I had to watch the whole affair, it would’ve been torture.  I saw the overtime period, and that was exactly the right amount.  It’s crazy how the Cards keep hanging around, even though they’re still definitely out of the playoff hunt.  Ugly loss for the Bengals to end their playoff hopes.

  • San Francisco (3-10)
  • Denver (4-9)
  • Chicago (4-9)
  • Tampa Bay (4-9)
  • Houston (4-9)
  • Indianapolis (3-10)
  • N.Y. Giants (2-11)
  • Cleveland (0-13)

Exciting times for the 49ers, as they get to not only enjoy a quality draft pick, but a ton of hype heading into next year, as they’ll certainly be the darlings of the dark horse circuit in pre-season predictions.  The Bears stole one with their defense, and it wouldn’t surprise me if they did it again before the year is out.  Tough, hard-luck loss for the Colts, who probably would’ve won that game if there wasn’t 90 feet of snow.  Boy, that Giants offense is brutal, Eli or no Eli.  REALLY tough, hard-luck loss for the Browns, who might reverse run the table.  Josh Gordon looks good though!

The Seattle Russell Wilsons Beat The Eagles

There are four games to go, so obviously a lot can happen.  There are a lot of hot takes out there, and people are going to be bringing ’em this week when they talk about how Russell Wilson should be in the MVP conversation, but I’m here to tell you that through 12 games, Russell Wilson IS the MVP.  There is no team that depends on a single player the way the Seahawks depend on Wilson.  An argument could be made for Aaron Rodgers and Green Bay, but no one ever votes for the guy who gets injured for the majority of the season, even though the evidence is clear as day on the field (watch literally any Brett Hundley-started game), but I would argue Wilson means more.  Where Wilson goes, so go the Seattle Seahawks.  It may not be what everyone wants, but it’s what we’ve got, and it’s time to embrace that fact.

Wilson was again fabulous last night, as the Seahawks won 24-10.  227 yards passing, all 3 TDs, a 118.6 rating, and 31 yards on the ground.  The Seahawks converted 50% of their third downs and maybe more importantly, were in control the entire way, as they jumped out to a 10-0 first quarter lead and cruised to the finish.

There was a real Team Effort vibe to this win, as it didn’t come easy.  Yeah, the Eagles were held to 10 points, but they racked up 425 yards, and there were a number of impact plays that could’ve swung the game in any direction.  Most infamously was probably the first drive out of halftime.  The Seahawks were up 10-3, and the Eagles got the ball to start.  The running game was churning along, and Wentz led them right down the field (including a quarterback sneak on 4th & 1 when they were in field goal range).  Wentz kept the ball and looked like he was going to punch in a 5-yard TD run, but Sheldon Richardson knocked the ball out and Michael Wilhoite made sure the ball went through the back of the endzone for a turnover.  Score there, and the game is likely tied with most of the second half left to play.

Then, there were a couple of Eagles drives that resulted in punts, when they had 4th & short opportunities to convert near midfield.  Seattle scored a field goal on the opening drive of the game, and the Eagles responded with a punt from their own 47 yard line, when Wentz could’ve easily snuck the ball across for the 1 yard they needed (he would go on to do just that a couple other times in this game, with predictably successful results).  Right before the half, the Eagles had the ball 4th & 2 from the Seattle 46 and punted.  Then, they DID go for it on 4th & 3 from the Seattle 25, in the second half, down 17-3, but failed.  And again, after trading scores to make the game 24-10, they went for a 4th & 6 from the Seattle 40 and failed.  Convert any of those opportunities, and you have to wonder how this game would’ve turned out.

I remain convinced the Seahawks would’ve won regardless, as I thought our offense had a good handle on this game, but the biggest What If came when the Eagles brought the game to within 17-10, on a drive that was ALL Carson Wentz (showing what a thorn in our sides he’ll surely be for years to come, including an insane 51 yard pass on 3rd & long as he was falling to his right, nearly sacked).  The Seahawks had a 3rd & 8 from around midfield.  Wilson kept it for 6 yards and lateralled to Mike Davis for another 17, but on replay it looked like the ball ended up going forward, which would’ve not only taken back the first down, but would’ve added a 5-yard penalty that surely would’ve resulted in a Seahawks punt.  We ended up scoring a touchdown to go up 14, and essentially sock away the victory, but punt there and all the momentum is going Philly’s way.  Why they never challenged that, I’ll never know.  I get that you already blew one of your challenges earlier, but that play was SO HUGE!  I’d rather lose the challenge if it even POSSIBLY means getting the ball back.

It’s tough to know what this game means in the grand scheme of things.  Obviously, we’re talking about a primetime game and a victory over the consensus best team in football, but so much was going in Seattle’s favor:  being at home, Philly being due for an ugly loss, Seattle being due for a really clean game (only 5 penalties, no turnovers, no huge breakdowns in protection, and even a respectable game from the running backs).  But, this changes nothing.  The Seahawks are still a game back of the Rams.  The Falcons and Panthers lost, so now we’re currently in the 5-seed.  But, we’re still two games back of the top seed in the NFC, and if we turn right around and lose to the Jags this Sunday, it’ll be all for naught.

We’ve been here before in recent seasons.  All the hype is behind Seattle, as the rest of the NFL collectively says, “Here we go again with these Seahawks!”  It’s December, the team has a terrific record in the month of December, and even though we might only be a Wild Card team, we’re that proverbial “Team You Don’t Want To Face In The Playoffs”.  Even though you absolutely wouldn’t care if you faced the Seahawks, as long as you’re the home team, but whatever.  This is all familiar territory, and we all – as Seahawks fans – lose our collective shit, salivating over the next four weeks and all the possibilities.  Hey!  12-4 COULD be a top 2 seed!  HEY, just win out and the Rams go on the road for the playoffs!  And so on and so forth.

And you know what happens next?  The Seahawks go out the very next week and lay an egg.  Last year, it was the last game in November, but it was the Bucs game, where we could only muster 5 points in a demoralizing 14-5 defeat.  The year before, it was a primetime game in Arizona, that we lost 39-32, but ironically kickstarted a 5-game winning streak.

I’m just saying, don’t let the Jags sneak up on you.  This is EXACTLY the type of defense that should suck any momentum right out of this team.

Enjoy the win for now, but don’t get too caught up in all the hype.  There’s a lot of ways this thing can turn to shit.

The Triumphant Return Of The Seattle Sports Hell Power Rankings

The early theme through 7 weeks in this NFL season is how there aren’t any elite teams.  While it does feel that way, I also think we could be singing a different tune after another 7 weeks.  Mostly, I just think it’s an overreaction to the fact that the Patriots’ defense stinks, Aaron Rodgers is injured, and a 25 year old Peyton Manning isn’t walking through that door to help carry some unfortunate team into the playoffs.

I mean, Kansas City looks like the clear best team in the AFC right now, and does anyone trust the likes of Alex Smith in a do-or-die playoff game?  He certainly looks better than he ever has before, but can he pull his team back from a 2-score deficit against a competent defense?  I know I have my doubts.

Another theme, more locally focused, is that the vast majority of the NFL-covering public is ignoring the Seattle Seahawks.  Which is pretty understandable.  The Seahawks feel like more or less the same story being told over and over again for the fifth straight year.  The media likes a new, exciting story.  Carson Wentz!  Dak Prescott!  Jacksonville’s defense!  Deshaun Watson!  The Los Angeles Rams!

With the Seahawks, what do you have?  A boringly elite defense (they don’t generate a ton of turnovers or a ton of sacks; they mostly just grind you down and force you to be perfect to slowly bleed them), a shaky offensive line, and a quarterback who – aside from a half season without Jimmy Graham – hasn’t really figured out the whole Pocket Passer thing to the degree that a Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers has.  It’s the same thing virtually every season, and while it’s a recipe for success, it’s also just not a sexy story to keep championing.  Ho hum, the Seahawks are a playoff team and a Super Bowl contender, same as they’ve been since 2012.

Ordinarily, I think this would bother me a lot more, mostly because I think a lot of teams get short shrift in the media in lieu of over-coverage of teams like the Patriots, Steelers, Cowboys, Giants, and Jets.  But, I’m actually okay with it.  For starters, the Seahawks haven’t really earned the type of coverage I’m talking about; come back when you’ve beaten a good team in convincing fashion.  Also, I think this is the type of season where the Seahawks could benefit from a lack of a target on their backs.

Yes, the narrative is that there are no elite teams, but is that really true?

I think, before too long, the Seahawks could be the clear best team in the NFL.  Frankly, the defense is already there, waiting for the offense to catch up.  And, make no mistake, we’re all bemoaning the struggles of this offense, but they HAVE made strides as the season has gone along.  More importantly, if they can just clean up a few things (drops, missed throws, protection issues), it’s not hard to see this as a team that scores 30+ points per game.

AND, if they do that, and don’t get destroyed by the injury bug, I think the Seahawks will be your answer to the league’s most elite team.

Of course, it won’t mean anything if the Seahawks fail to get the #1 seed in the NFC, and if the Seahawks falter at some point in the playoffs.  See, that’s another issue with the Seahawks we’ve seen over and over and over again:  they always turn it on in the second half.  Which is great!  That’s when you WANT your team to get hot!  But, they could win the rest of their regular season games by an average of 50-7, and it could still all come crumbling down with one bad matchup in the playoffs.  One crappy half of football in the Divisional Round, and POOF, another season ends without a championship.  Getting the #1 seed reduces the chances of that, as the Seahawks are unquestionably better at home than on the road, particularly in the first halves of games.  At that point, you’re just two wins from the Super Bowl, at which point anything goes.

On to the rankings:

  • Philadelphia (6-1)
  • Kansas City (5-2)
  • Seattle (4-2)
  • New England (5-2)
  • Pittsburgh (5-2)
  • Minnesota (5-2)
  • L.A. Rams (5-2)
  • Houston (3-3)

A lot of this is based on projections.  I do think the Patriots are flawed – especially on defense – but I agree with most prognosticators that they’ll get their issues figured out.  I know I wouldn’t bet against them making the AFC Championship game against either KC or Pittsburgh.  I think the Vikings look tough – particularly on defense – but I’ll never trust their quarterback situation.  I think the Texans are better than their record and could be poised to go on a big second half run.

  • New Orleans (4-2)
  • Dallas (3-3)
  • Washington (3-3)
  • Oakland (3-4)
  • Denver (3-3)
  • Buffalo (4-2)
  • Detroit (3-3)
  • Atlanta (3-3)

These are all good teams, but probably none of them are Super Bowl contenders.  MAYBE the Cowboys if they get Elliott back for the playoffs, and their defense gets its shit somewhat together.  And while the Saints don’t necessarily look for real, I think their defense is still marginally improved, and with that offense, it might be all they need to win a division title.  Also, good move getting rid of AP and working with a better 2-man running back rotation.

  • Tennessee (4-3)
  • L.A. Chargers (3-4)
  • Carolina (4-3)
  • Jacksonville (4-3)
  • Tampa Bay (2-4)
  • Baltimore (3-4)
  • Miami (4-2)
  • N.Y. Jets (3-4)

These are fringe playoff teams who have a ton of flaws.  One, MAYBE two of these teams will go on a roll and crack the playoffs, but for the most part I think they’ll disappoint.  Also, Jacksonville’s defense looks legit, and Fournette looks like a stud, but the offense as a whole leaves a lot to be desired.  And no, I’m not buying Miami as a 4-2 team.

  • Green Bay (4-3)
  • Cincinnati (2-4)
  • Chicago (3-4)
  • N.Y. Giants (1-6)
  • Arizona (3-4)
  • Indianapolis (2-5)
  • San Francisco (0-7)
  • Cleveland (0-7)

I would have Green Bay even lower in the rankings, except I think there’s an outside chance they hang around in a mediocre division/conference just long enough for Aaron Rodgers to return for the last game or two and sneak them into the playoffs.  Can they win 4 games with Brett Hundley?  Cincy looks like a mess.  Trubisky has training wheels attached to his training wheels.  And for some reason everyone is shocked that Cleveland passed over yet another quality rookie quarterback in favor of someone who sucks.