Previewing & Predicting The 2013 Seattle Seahawks

Last year, I got to my predictions column late.  Past week 1 late.  It was kind of a sorry development, but what are you gonna do?  The season was already started by this time last year.  Anyway, I didn’t think very highly of the Seahawks heading into the 2012 season.  I didn’t think very lowly of them either, which is how you get to an 8-8 record.  Honestly, I would’ve predicted 9-7, but since I got to my post a week late – and the Seahawks crapped the bed in Arizona that first week – I downgraded to 8-8.

The Seahawks, as everyone knows, finished 11-5, going 7-1 over the second half of the season, and 1-1 in the post-season, ending up in the Divisional Round of the playoffs.  Those last 10 games were as epic of a run as you can get without actually making it to the Super Bowl.

But, enough about last year.  That was damn near a year ago, for Christ’s sake!

This year, the sky is the limit.  At worst, the Seahawks will be 11-5.  At best, I’m sorry, but at best you’ve gotta say 16-0.

Before we get into official predictions, let’s take a look at the make-up of this team:

Part 1 – Roster

How do the Seahawks differ from this time last year?  Well, for starters, our backup quarterback is new (or old, I can never tell).  Tarvar takes over for Matt Flynn, and to be honest with you, it’s probably a downgrade.  Obviously, we don’t know how good Flynn can really be (and, reports indicate that he can’t even win the fucking starting job on the RAIDERS of all teams), but I guess that’s the point.  We know what Tarvar is – he’s a near-.500 quarterback – and we don’t know what Flynn is.  Flynn could be great in small doses, Flynn could be great in large doses, or he could be terrible no matter the serving size.  If you’re a salary cap-head, then you like Tarvar because he saves you money.  So, maybe in the long run this is an upgrade?  Whatever, who cares, moving on.

At running back, Lynch and Turbin return, ostensibly in the same roles they occupied as last year.  Christine Michael replaces Leon Washington, which is an improvement at our #3 running back spot, but hurts us in the return game, as Michael is not a returner.  Derrick Coleman takes over for Michael Robinson, which is a soul-crushing blow.  But, on the flipside, he’s younger, cheaper, and under team control for longer.  Considering Robinson only played somewhere around 30% of our offensive snaps in 2012, I can’t imagine this one little move at fullback is going to make that much of a difference.  Finally, Spencer Ware is either going to be a special teams replacement for Robinson, or he’s going to spend the bulk of the season on the Inactive List on gameday.  We’ll see.

Rice, Tate, Baldwin, and Kearse are all hold-overs from last year.  Kearse, of course, spent most of 2012 on the Practice Squad, but came on late in a special teams capacity.  I wouldn’t expect a TON out of him, but then again he is going to be our starting kick returner, so buttons.  He did, after all, return that one kick in the pre-season for a touchdown.  If he turns out to be a monster in that aspect of the game, I might cream in my pants.  Harvin starts out the season on the PUP list and will hopefully return sometime in November.  Stephen Williams – the pre-season phenom – is holding his seat for the time being.  It’s hard to see this team keep five active receivers going every game (remember, you can only play 45 of your 53 guys every gameday), but then again, can you really keep this guy off the field?  I’d like to see the Seahawks throw one long bomb jump ball to him every half; I bet he comes down with half of them, and in so doing earns his weekly paycheck.

This year, we’re only keeping the two tight ends, instead of last year’s three.  The lone holdover is the uber-talented Zach Miller.  He’s our starter and our muse (our flame).  Anthony McCoy, as you’ll recall, is lost for the season on IR.  Evan Moore, thankfully, is no more.  In his place, we actually have a guy worth a damn in Luke Willson.  Even though Willson is a rookie, he looks like the real deal and the future at the position we’ve been trying so hard for so long to draft.

Our starting O-Line remains intact, which is probably the most important thing outside of quarterback you want to remain intact.  Okung, McQuistan, Unger, Sweezy, and Giacomini are the guys, with James Carpenter getting worked in (over time, to be the full-time replacement at left guard).  Lemuel Jean-Pierre returns as our backup center, Mike Person returns as our backup … something.  Michael Bowie and Alvin Bailey are a couple of rookie projects who came on strong this pre-season.  Gone is John Moffitt, traded to Denver for being not worth the time or effort.

On the D-Line, Clemons, Bryant, and Mebane all return.  Clemons avoided the PUP list, as he is a specimen of the gods and will hopefully start practicing within the next couple weeks.  Everyone else is brand new.  Avril & Bennett are our two big free agent splashes.  Both are kinda hurt, but both should be okay to play out of the gate (if not, then expect one or both to be Inactive right along with Clemons for Week 1).  Tony McDaniel is a less-heralded signing, but his impact will be just as important as he will be our starting 3-technique defensive tackle.  Jordan Hill is a rookie who survived pre-season mostly healthy.  He’ll get regular playing time in the defensive tackle rotation.  Jesse Williams, unfortunately yet predictably, landed on IR with his bum knee.  O’Brien Schofield and D’Anthony Smith are cast-offs from other teams who we know little about.  Schofield spent most of the pre-season in Seattle and was fine, I guess.  Smith came over after the cut-downs to 53 and has been injured most of his career.  Questionable move to say the least, but obviously John Schneider and Pete Carroll know something we do not.  Rounding out the group, we have Benson Mayowa, an undrafted rookie out of Idaho who led the team in sacks in the pre-season.  He looks like he’s got some real moves, but unless injuries deplete this team early, it’s hard to see him getting a lot of playing time.

At Linebacker, K.J. Wright and Bobby Wagner return, ready to kick some more ass.  Malcolm Smith also returns and figures to get some playing time at the strong-side spot.  Bruce Irvin has converted to the strong side, but of course he’s suspended for the first four games.  It’ll be interesting to see – A. whose spot he takes upon returning in week 5, and B. how he fares as a pass-rushing linebacker.  The team found room for special teams lord & savior Heath Farwell, so look for that unit to continue demolishing other teams.  Allen Bradford was around last year, but never played.  Now, he’s our backup middle linebacker and might find a way to work himself into a rotation if he keeps up the good work.  Rounding it out, we have John Lotulelei, who will probably never play unless he stands out on special teams.

In the secondary, Marcus Trufant has been replaced by Walter Thurmond, who was injured for most of his career.  Antoine Winfield was let go because our younger guys were just plain better.  Jeremy Lane and Byron Maxwell could be starters for other teams, which is what makes this unit the best in football.  At safety, Winston Guy was let go.  He was kinda flashy, and he blitzed a lot last year, but he didn’t really do a whole lot and shouldn’t be missed.  Chris Maragos is super fast, so he shouldn’t be too much of a step back if Earl Thomas can’t play.  Kam Chancellor and Jeron Johnson round out the group of safeties; Brandon Browner and Richard Sherman complete the set.

Kicker, punter, and long snapper all return.

Part 2 – Analyzing The Roster

Working our way backward, the Special Teams looks as good as it ever has.  Steven Hauschka, as I’ve mentioned before, has been a man possessed this pre-season.  Jon Ryan is Jon Ryan, putting in consistent MVP-quality work.  Clint Gresham hasn’t botched any snaps that I can recall, so bully for him.

In the secondary, you can’t help but be excited for Walter Thurmond.  He’s finally healthy and finally able to show what he can do for this team.  He’s a HUGE upgrade over an aging Marcus Trufant, and that’s important because nickel corner was one of our main areas of concern going into 2013.  To be fair, this team could play a Dime package all day every day and I wouldn’t lose sleep.  Maxwell looks like he could make the Pro Bowl THIS year if he was given a chance to start.

At linebacker, you have to believe this team also improved.  Leroy Hill is gone and they’ve done some shuffling.  K.J. Wright moves to his old spot at the weak-side, so that’s great.  You always want more speed, especially at the linebacker position.  Wagner, with a year under his belt and a chip on his shoulder to prove he doesn’t belong in Luke Kuechly’s shadow, also looked like a man possessed this pre-season.  I expect a huge jump in his play in 2013, rivalling the jump Richard Sherman made from his rookie to his second year.  On the strong side, replacing Wright, we’ve got the combo of Malcolm Smith and eventually Bruce Irvin.  It looks like the team wants the strong side ‘backer to be more of a pass-rush threat, hence the Irvin move.  I love the idea.  Any way this team can get more pressure on the QB that isn’t just sending a safety on a blitz that takes forever to materialize, I’m all for it.  The depth at this position is infinitely better than it was last year too.  Bradford could start on almost any other team, and Lotulelei looks like he could develop into a force if given the chance.

Along the D-Line, you have to have concern, I’m not gonna lie.  Can McDaniel and Hill make up for the loss of Alan Branch and Jason Jones?  When he was healthy, Jones was fairly effective.  And Branch was a starter for the past couple years.  If they can just maintain and not take a step back, I’d be happy.  Also, how long will Mebane be able to stay healthy?  He’s no spring chicken.  Depth at tackle is also a concern.  The Seahawks gave away a couple of decent depth guys in Jaye Howard and Clinton McDonald.  In their place, we have newcomer D’Anthony Smith, and Michael Bennett on passing downs.  Bennett should be solid, but I just don’t know.

On the ends of the line, it’s just as concerning.  Red Bryant returns, and he looks as healthy as ever, so that’s good.  But, he’s still a mountain of a man, and those guys don’t tend to stay healthy for very long.  Clemons we’ve talked about, but it’s still encouraging that he’ll be back soon.  Avril is a little less encouraging, as he hasn’t played at all in pre-season.  The Seahawks robbed Peter to pay Paul a little bit by moving Irvin out of the LEO end spot.  Unless Clemons and/or Avril return soon, this could be a real weakness for the team.  Remember, Greg Scruggs could play both inside and outside, and he’s gone for the year too.  Unless Schofield or Mike Morgan (who I failed to mention above in the roster section) step up in a big way, I think this team is going to be hurting for sacks.  Then again, the first two games are against Carolina and San Francisco, so we should probably worry less about sacks and more about contain.  Either way, it could be rocky for this unit early.

I’m not worried about the O-Line.  If there’s anything I’m rock solid on this year, it’s that.  Even the injury bug doesn’t concern me, because the depth looks good, and Tom Cable is a wizard.

Seeing Luke Willson perform the way he did in the pre-season makes me a LOT more comfortable about the tight end position.  Let’s see if Zach Miller has what it takes to stay on the field for the full go.  If not, then I’m probably going to spend the rest of the season hyperventilating.

I absolutely LOVE what we’ve done with the wide receivers on this team.  Braylon Edwards was never going to be a player worth having.  I’d take Stephen Williams over him any day.  Ben Obomanu was solid on special teams, but he’s worse than Jermaine Kearse.  And when Harvin returns, he’s like a million billion times better than Charly Martin.  Most improved lineup on the team by FAR.

I just kinda like what they did with the running backs.  In a perfect world, football teams would keep 54 players and Michael Robinson would still be on this one.  But, you know, you’ve gotta move on.  Hopefully Derrick Coleman is the next Michael Robinson.  If that’s the case, then we truly are the king of kings.  Also, look for Christine Michael to supplant Turbin before season’s end.  And in a couple years, when Michael is our starting back and Ware is our big tough guy backup, we’ll continue to suck the dicks of John Schneider and Pete Carroll for their foresight and vision.

Russell Wilson.  All you gotta say about the quarterback position.  Stud.  Winner.  Champion.

Part 3 – The Schedule

Week 1 – @ Carolina, 10am:  This is where it pays off having played Russell Wilson the full season last year.  He (along with some shaky late-game defense) cost us that first game in Arizona.  This year, with that in mind, count on Wilson not letting us lose in week 1.  Honestly, I don’t think this will even be close.  Maybe the offense starts out sluggish early, but I think the defense comes to play and we lean on them all game long.

Week 2 – vs. San Francisco, 5:30pm:  Home opener, Sunday Night Football on NBC, the crowd absolutely fucking INSANE … this is where the Seahawks show the 49ers what power football is all about.  Another one I don’t think is all that close.

Week 3 – vs. Jacksonville, 1pm:  Can you say 3-0?  Anyone who has the Seahawks defense in fantasy football can bank on scoring anywhere from 30-60 points, depending on how you score it in your league.  This is the reason why we all drafted them at least three rounds too early.

Week 4 – @ Houston, 10am
Week 5 – @ Indianapolis, 10am:  I’m lumping these together because I’m a coward.  The Seahawks will go 1-1 in these two games, but I just can’t figure out which they’ll win and which they’ll lose.  If you look at it objectively, Houston has a great running game and an okay passing game.  When you figure that our defense is great against the pass, but only so-so against the run, you have to look at that game and figure it’s the loss, right?  Meanwhile, Indy can’t run for shit and they pass 50 times a game.  Nevertheless, my gut is telling me we beat the Texans and lose to the Colts.  Luck is a gamer, he gets better as the game goes on, and I could see this being one of those games like we had against the Lions last season.  High scoring, little defense, and Indy pulls it out at the end with a late TD.  Meanwhile, the Seahawks win ugly in Houston, something like 14-10.

Week 6 – vs. Tennessee, 1pm:  Another easy win.  This will be the game I attend this year, because tickets were reasonably easy to get, weren’t prohibitively expensive, and honestly I don’t care if I go to any games, so what does the opponent matter?  No reason to expect Russell Wilson to play beyond the 3rd quarter in this one.

Week 7 – @ Arizona, 5pm:  Thursday night game, the bane of my existence.  But, I promise to not bitch about them as much this year (unless the games are so ugly and boring, the NFL forces my hand).  Normally, I’d be concerned, but not this year.  Carson Palmer will spend more time on his back than he will on his feet (if he’s even still healthy at this point in the year).  The Seahawks win ugly, but they win, and the defense scores another touchdown.

Week 8 – @ St. Louis, 5:30pm:  Monday Night Football!  Why does the league even schedule the Seahawks to play on the road on nationally televised games?  It’s like they’re tired of showing the rest of the world what real fans look like.  I guess St. Louis could pose a challenge, but I just don’t see it.  Look for something like 24-19, with the Rams scoring late (missing the 2-point conversion) to make it semi-close.

Week 9 – vs. Tampa Bay, 1pm:  I think Tampa looks good this year, but I think they look bad in this game.  Think of it as something like the game vs. Minnesota last year and you’ll be on the right track.  The Bucs are going somewhere, but they’re not contenders.

Week 10 – @ Atlanta, 10am:  Revenge Game!  Still, at this point the Seahawks will be 8-1 coming in.  And Atlanta (and Matt Ryan) just don’t lose at home.  I could honestly see something of a carbon copy of last year’s game, with Atlanta pulling it out at the end.

Week 11 – vs. Minnesota, 1pm:  Total destruction.  No contest.  YOU think YOU can get soup?  Please!  You’re wasting everyone’s time!

Week 12 – BYE:  finally.

Week 13 – vs. New Orleans, 5:30pm:  Monday Night Football #2!  This one is a little scary.  You can’t shut down Drew Brees forever.  Then again, he does take a lot of unnecessary risks, and his receivers really don’t scare anybody.  I think we all get a little nervous for this one, but I think the Seahawks handle them pretty easily.  33-13.

Week 14 – @ San Francisco, 1pm:  Man, what a showdown THIS game will be.  Last year, the Seahawks caught the 49ers at home late.  This year, the tables are turned.  Everyone and their grandmothers are giving this game away to the 49ers, forgetting that the Seahawks last year – in San Francisco – nearly came away victorious.  There were mistakes in the first half that I just don’t think this team makes again.  I think it’s a slug-fest, but I think the Seahawks take the season series and effectively clinch the division right here.  At this point, the 49ers won’t be mathematically eliminated, but they’ll be a couple games back and they’ll have lost the tie-breaker.  Week 14 is where the Super Bowl berth is earned, because week 14 is where the Seahawks make their statement that the #1 seed won’t be denied.

Week 15 – @ New York Giants, 10am:  Another east-coast trip, another 10am start.  Coming after the insane high that was the victory in San Francisco, I see this as a total let-down game.  The Seahawks get off to a slow start and the Giants pull too far ahead.  Russell Wilson tries to engineer a comeback, but too many turnovers seal our fate.

Week 16 – vs. Arizona, 1pm:  At this point, the Seahawks will be 11-3 going into this game.  The #1 seed won’t yet be won, but we’ll have the inside track, at least a game up and also with tie-breaker advantages.  This is a TCB type of game.  It won’t be a massive 58-0 obliteration like last year, but it’ll be comfortable.  We won’t worry for one second about losing this game.

Week 17 – vs. St. Louis, 1pm:  I’d like to say that this has a chance to be flexed, but at this point, with nothing to play for, I just don’t see it.  Russell Wilson will play for a quarter, maybe a half, but then Tarvar will come in and finish it off.  He’s no Charlie Whitehurst, but he’ll do.

Part 4 – Conclusion

13-3.  Number 1 seed in the NFC, with home field all the way to the Super Bowl.  It’s not the easiest schedule in the world, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned it’s that you don’t necessarily WANT an easy path to the Super Bowl.  The 2005 Seahawks had one of the easier paths to Super Bowl XL and look at what happened when a team finally posed a challenge.  You want a little trial by fire in this league.  If a schedule is too difficult, that means your team wasn’t good enough.  Bottom line.  Don’t fear this schedule.  A famous writer said that the strongest steel is forged by the fires of Hell.  That’s what we’ll be come playoff time, and that’s what we’ll be in the Super Bowl.

Focusing On What Percy Harvin Is, Not What He Might Be

The more I think about it, the more I read about it, the more I let go of my Seattle “poor me” baggage, the harder my dick gets at the thought of Percy Harvin in a Seahawks uniform.

Which is odd, because for every amazing new tidbit of exciting information I receive, there’s also another that should give me even more pause.  Like how Percy Harvin is a Diva Head Case.  Like how he might have faked migraines because he was disgruntled in Minnesota.  Like how you never promise crazy a baby (i.e. don’t reward someone’s insanity with one of the biggest wide receiver contracts in recorded history).

But, you know what?  Fuck it.  I’m putting on the big ol’ floppy Homer Hat and I’m swatting criticism of this trade away like a pimp in a bitch-slapping competition.

No more worrying about injuries!  No more concerning myself with what it has taken to bring him here (a first & seventh rounder this year, and a third rounder next year … yeesh)!  No more fretting over what it’s going to cost to keep him here (upwards of $12 million per year)!  No mulling over what this is going to do to what was once a cap situation the envy of all of pro football!  I’m just going to sit back, and soak in all the potential goodness.

Like how this trade might give the Seahawks the very best offense in football.  Yeah, I said it!  Did you see how this offense performed down the stretch last season?  That happened because Russell Wilson improved exponentially.  Now, we’re injecting that same offense – where everyone came together and gelled so spectacularly – with one of the biggest talents in the NFL.

Now, you’ll notice I didn’t say one of the best wide receivers in the NFL, though I would argue he’s easily in the Top 20.  But, when you factor in how he’s a multi-threat, that puts him in a very small, very elite league of his own.  Already, you can argue he’s one of the best slot receivers in the game.  Already, you can argue he’s one of the best kick returners in the league.  Now, recall he has experience coming out of the backfield.  Also recall he has experience in the zone read with Tim Tebow back in college.  And, for shits and giggles, I’m not going to limit him to just short and intermediate routes; right now, he’s probably the fastest receiver on the Seahawks.  So, you’ll be damn sure that this team is going to stretch the field with him and see if he can’t get behind some safeties.

Let’s just count the ways Percy Harvin can take over a football game:

  1. Deep Threat
  2. Zone Read Option back
  3. Natural running back
  4. End-Around runner
  5. Screen pass catcher
  6. Slot receiver
  7. Kick returner
  8. Punt returner

Am I missing anything?  Because, that’s pretty fucking insane, right?

Someone likened him to Darren Sproles earlier today.  Remember how Darren Sproles was an absolute game-changer for the New Orleans Saints, once he was paired with Drew Brees?  And that’s a straight up running back who primarily runs the ball and catches screen & swing passes, with a few other short routes mixed in.  Harvin can stretch the field!  You don’t need a tall receiver a la Randy Moss in his prime to stretch the field.  Pure speed and pass-catching ability will do.  Harvin has that.  Maybe he won’t win the most jump balls in the world, but there are other ways to score touchdowns.  Wes Welker doesn’t have much problem scoring in the red zone.

This time last year, one of our biggest concerns was the wide receiver corps.  Sidney Rice couldn’t stay healthy.  Golden Tate hadn’t shown much of anything in his first two seasons.  Doug Baldwin was a nice story as a rookie, but could he keep up his production?  And where was the Zach Miller we thought we were getting when we signed him to that huge contract as a free agent?

Well, Tate took a big step forward, Rice stayed healthy (for the most part), Baldwin kept up his end of the bargain even though he spent most of the year battling nagging injuries, and Miller came up HUGE in the playoffs.  Now, throw Harvin into that mix.  Worst case scenario:  you’re improving the overall receiver depth on this team tenfold.  Instead of Jermaine Kearse or Charly Martin, or Insert Over-The-Hill Veteran’s Name Here (Braylon Edwards, T.O., Mike Williams, Brandon Stokley), this team can go into 2013 with a legitimately high-tier receiving corps.  I’m not going to say we’re the best 1 through 4 in the NFL (my big ol’ floppy Homer Hat only goes so far), but we’re certainly in the top half in the league.  Maybe top 10.  MAYBE, if everyone reaches their potential, top 5.  I don’t know; it’s too early to start focusing on the rest of the league right now.

Before I drop this (for the time being), I’m taking a quick looksee at our 2013 schedule.  The dates & times haven’t been set, but we know the teams and we know WHERE we will be playing them.  It’s the AFC South, the NFC South, the NFC West (obviously), and Minnesota and the Giants.  Without a doubt, the Seahawks are going 8-0 again at home (toughest non-49ers matchup at home is New Orleans, which is a team we can probably score 50 on).  As for the road, the toughest non-49ers games are the Falcons, the Texans, and the Giants (with honorable mention going to the Colts).  Still, the only tough non-49ers defense we play all year will likely be Houston’s.

In other words, there is no saying this team CAN’T average 30 points per game.  13-3 is a reasonable expectation.  14-2 isn’t off the table.  Hell, feel free to dream a little dream about 15-1, because THERE’S NO STOPPING THE BLUE WAVE!

Seattle Sports Hell NFL Power Rankings, Vol. 7

I guess I understand why this is a story:  the Seahawks are having injury issues at wide receiver, Kansas City is terrible, Dwayne Bowe is reasonably good, the trade deadline is this week … it’s not unfathomable that the Chiefs would trade him to us for the right price.  Plus, you know, this is a story because media types need to write stories during the week.  They need to talk about shit on the radio.  Bloggers have to endlessly write and produce content in order to survive (to not produce content is to die starving in a ditch, ravaged by spinal meningitis).

You’ll hear every side of the argument, because nowadays everyone has to present every fucking side of the argument; but I’m going to tell you right now:  trading for Dwayne Bowe is a bad fucking idea.

First and foremost, it just never works.  Trading for ANYONE in the middle of the season, but particularly wide receivers, just doesn’t work.  It takes weeks and weeks of reps in practice to understand the intricacies of a new offense.  By the time Dwayne Bowe would be worth a damn, it would damn near be time for the playoffs; only in the meantime he would constantly be out on the field underperforming because he hasn’t acclimated himself to the scheme, thereby causing us to miss out on the playoffs anyway!

What I want to see the Seahawks do is exactly what they’ve done:  promote Jermaine Kearse.  A guy who has been with the team since just after the draft.  A guy who should know the playbook inside and out.  A guy who has gotten some valuable experience on the practice squad.  A guy who’s over 6-feet tall with reasonably good hands (I know we liked to complain about him with the Huskies and his drops, but look at how much they miss him now).

Is it an ideal situation?  No, of course not.  But, it’s not like we’re replacing a hall of famer here.  I like Ben Obomanu as much as the next guy.  He’s an asset on special teams, he’s pretty much average everywhere else.  He might be the embodiment of “Replacement Level”.

What’s fuelling the speculation is this particular week.  Doug Baldwin is another week away (at least) from returning.  Braylon Edwards has some mystery malady that’s keeping him off the field.  We’re down to Sidney Rice, Golden Tate, Charly Martin … and the rest.  It’s scary!  It’s absolutely frightening out there.  But, look at it this way:  even if the Seahawks were able to bring in a Dwayne Bowe tonight, that would give him the rest of the evening to learn the playbook.  He’d have a practice tomorrow, a practice Thursday, and a walk-thru.  That’s not NEARLY enough time to be game-ready by Sunday.  I’m sorry, but you’re better off going with the practice squad guy and hoping that Edwards and/or Baldwin comes back the following week.

On to the rankings:

  1. Atlanta Falcons (7-0):  4-0 on the road.  That’s what you’re looking at.  A powerhouse the last few years at home has figured out how to be dominant on the road.  Yeah, the Eagles are a mess, but that win was still pretty impressive.  (Last Week:  1)
  2. Houston Texans (6-1):  Houston leapfrogs the Bears while not playing a game.  A – because of how impressive they looked against the Ravens the week before.  And B – see below.  (Last Week:  3)
  3. Chicago Bears (6-1):  Jesus, Chicago!  You almost got taken out by the Panthers!  On your home turf no less!  A great defense is pretty great, but you gotta be able to score or you’re going nowhere in the playoffs.  (Last Week:  2)
  4. New York Giants (6-2):  Huge win by the Giants in Big D.  Huge.  They’re now 2-2 in their division, AND they’ve got a 3-game lead over the rest of the pack.  I don’t there’s much left to do but hit the cruise control button and wait for the Bears to stumble so you can glide on home as the #2 seed in the NFC.  (Last Week:  4)
  5. San Francisco 49ers (6-2):  Granted, the 49ers have a little something to say about who gets the #2 seed, but as we’ve seen, they tend to stumble at inopportune times.  Plus, the Giants have the head-to-head tiebreaker.  It’s easy to see how both of those teams could end up 12-4 and the 49ers getting the shaft.  (Last Week:  5)
  6. Baltimore Ravens (5-2):  Perfect time for a BYE.  After that Texans loss, I’m sure Harbaugh has them in a lather.  Bad week to be a Browns fan (but, then again, when ISN’T it a bad week to be a Browns fan?).  (Last Week:  6)
  7. Green Bay Packers (5-3):  Yeah, it was another win, but it was another uninspired win.  Aside from that week they dominated the Texans, it’s hard to get the taste of that Colts game out of your mouth.  I would expect more of the same, a ho-hum win this week over the Cards.  (Last Week:  7)
  8. New England Patriots (5-3):  These London games are so fucking stupid.  Really?  This is how you promote your product to an international audience?  You should be ashamed, NFL.  You should also be ashamed that the Rams now only have 7 home games this season.  Not that I’m complaining.  (Last Week:  10)
  9. Miami Dolphins (4-3):  The Dolphins couldn’t be more highly regarded in my book thanks to that drubbing they posted on the Jets.  A 7-spot increase is about as good as it gets in my rankings.  It’s not unreasonable either.  I vastly underestimated the Dolphins, which has me utterly concerned for the Seahawks’ week 12 matchup.  A surefire win is now a huge question mark (who am I kidding, as it stands now that should be counted as a loss in any rational fan’s mind).  (Last Week:  16)
  10. Denver Broncos (4-3):  Nice win over the Saints.  I’m not going to fall all over myself lavishing praise upon Manning, but he does look like someone who’s getting stronger by the week (as I think a lot of us predicted).  The next two weeks will be interesting.  @ Cincy and @ Carolina.  That Cincy game especially.  Any conference win is a good conference win.  (Last Week:  12)
  11. Seattle Seahawks (4-4):  Is it a brief bump in the road for this supposedly top-notch defense?  I don’t think the next two weeks are going to tell us much of anything, because they’re home games against unimpressive offenses.  Truly GREAT defenses will stop anyone, including elite quarterbacks.  They don’t let Titus Young score two touchdowns on them; they don’t let Detroit score 28 points.  Anyone can coast against the scrubs of the league, but I want to see this defense work hard and shine all 16 games plus playoffs.  Until that happens, you won’t see a Super Bowl Championship in Seattle anytime soon.  (Last Week:  9)
  12. Pittsburgh Steelers (4-3):  Is it just me, or did those Steelers jerseys make the Seahawks’ old lime green jerseys look terrific?  I know I’m coming from a position of resentful Seahawks fans, but I can’t imagine even the most ardent of Steelers fans thought those were remotely okay.  (Last Week:  13)
  13. Minnesota Vikings (5-3):  They got bit by the Thursday bug and a fired-up Bucs team.  Now they go into Seattle, a place where they absolutely CANNOT win.  Quite a way to blow all the goodwill they built up with victories over San Francisco and Detroit.  Suddenly, seeing the Vikings make the playoffs isn’t such a sure thing.  (Last Week:  8)
  14. Dallas Cowboys (3-4):  They moved up in my rankings even though they lost to the Giants.  Hmm.  Well, they did show a lot of moxie in coming back from 23-points down.  On the flipside, there’s a reason why they were 23-points down in the first place.  It’s the same reason why they won’t make the playoffs this year.  I’ll give you a hint:  his name rhymes with Everyone, From The Ownership Group On Down To The Towel Boy.  (Last Week:  17)
  15. Washington Redskins (3-5):  Ah HA!  Last year’s Cam Newton (Cam Newton) faces this year’s Cam Newton (RGIII).  There can only be one … (Last Week:  18)
  16. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-4):  It’s never too late to get back into the playoff race (until it’s too late, that is), but they better go on quite the tear.  A good start would involve beating the Raiders and Chargers.  (Last Week:  24)
  17. Detroit Lions (3-4):  Yeah, they beat the Seahawks, but I just can’t see it for this team this year.  9-7 is my best-case scenario, and I just don’t see that giving you the playoffs for this NFC.  They still play Green Bay twice, in Minnesota, vs. Atlanta, vs. Chicago, and vs. Houston.  Even if they win the other three, can you honestly tell me they’re going to win four of those games I just listed?  (Last Week:  25)
  18. Indianapolis Colts (4-3):  Fuck, man, I don’t know!  They seem to beat the bad teams, except they get killed by Jacksonville and the Jets.  Their schedule gets a lot tougher in the second half (including a 3-week stretch where they play the Texans twice).  But, for now, I guess you tip your cap and avoid betting on their games like the fucking plague.  (Last Week:  21)
  19. Cincinnati Bengals (3-4):  In the next five weeks, they play the entire AFC West.  Given their conference record, and the fact that they have Pittsburgh and Baltimore ahead of them in the standings, they probably need to win all four of those games to stay alive.  Denver this week will be HUGE.  I anticipate Denver still winning their division, but the psychological edge it would give the Bengals is far greater.  After humbling defeats to Miami, Pittsburgh, and Cleveland in consecutive weeks, Cincy needs something to hang its hat on.  Lose to Denver and you might as well start shopping for a new head coach right now (just, whatever you do, stay the fuck away from Norv Turner!).  (Last Week:  22)
  20. St. Louis Rams (3-5):  It’s all falling apart for the Rams.  They must have hated playing Green Bay and New England after the Seahawks embarrassed them both.  I imagine, even if the NFC West is improved, teams outside our division still can’t STAND losing to us.  (Last Week:  14)
  21. Philadelphia Eagles (3-4):  Sorriest fucking dream team I’ve ever heard of … (Last Week:  15)
  22. Arizona Cardinals (4-4):  Talk about your pieces of crap.  From 4-0 to 4-4 with no end to the losing in sight.  @ Green Bay, BYE, @ Atlanta.  Say goodnight, Alice.  (Last Week:  11)
  23. San Diego Chargers (3-4):  Remember when the Seahawks went into Cleveland and lost 6-3 last year?  We had Charlie Whitehurst as our starter; what’s YOUR excuse?  My guess:  Whitehurst is just plain bad luck when he’s on your roster, and you’re playing in Cleveland.  (Last Week:  19)
  24. Oakland Raiders (3-4):  Two wins against two shitty opponents (Jax & KC), don’t get your panties in a bunch about Oakland contending for a playoff spot.  It’s NOT fucking happening.  (Last Week:  28)
  25. Tennessee Titans (3-5):  Tennessee, what HAPPENED?  It wouldn’t have made any sense to put any stock in that Thursday night win against the Steelers, but that showing against the Bills inspired some hope!  Then, you lay a 13-point egg against Indy?  For shame, Doc!  (Last Week:  20)
  26. New Orleans (2-5):  I’m counting two, maybe three more wins for this team, tops.  2012 can’t end fast enough for the Saints.  (Last Week:  23)
  27. Buffalo Bills (3-4):   Hahahahaha, the Bills go to Houston and then to New England in back-to-back weeks.  I wish I was still alive in my Suicide Pool so I could pick against them in successive weeks.  Whatever the spread, I don’t care, BET AGAINST THE BILLS the next two weeks!  (Last Week:  27)
  28. Cleveland Browns (26):  Yeah, you beat the Chargers, BFD.  (Last Week:  31)
  29. New York Jets (3-5):  The Jets get a BYE before they come to Seattle.  Will they officially make the switch to Tebow full time?  If not, why in Christ’s name not???  (Last Week:  26)
  30. Carolina Panthers (1-6):  Dead Head Coach Walkin’ … (Last Week:  29)
  31. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-6): So … they’re drafting another first round quarterback again next year, aren’t they?  WHY didn’t you just trade for Tebow, you stupid fucks???  I guarantee you’d at least have 2-3 more wins at this point!  (Last Week:  30)
  32. Kansas City Chiefs (1-6):  At least they’re not actively choosing to start Brady Quinn anymore.  Baby steps … (Last Week:  32)

Rationalizing My Pick Of The Seahawks Over The Cowboys

Honestly, I’m finding it very difficult to keep this pick of the Seahawks as the Cowboys come to town.

Just, look at last week, for instance.  Both teams were on the road, in hostile divisional waters.  Dallas had the unfavorable task of starting on a Wednesday, at night, in front of a nationally televised audience.  What’s worse, I even PICKED Dallas last week, believing that they’d go into the Super Bowl Champs’ house and come out the victors … and I was RIGHT!  I was the only one right among my friends, and believe you me, I lorded this fact over them the whole time I was in New Orleans.  How could I go against a team I believed in so strongly one week ago?

Seattle, meanwhile, caught Arizona – an 8-8 team from last year who couldn’t figure out which pile of crap quarterback it wanted to start until the week leading up to the game.  It was an afternoon shitfest, completely overshadowed in states not called “Washington” or “Arizona” by the Green Bay/San Francisco affair.  No pressure, in other words, except for being on the road, in perfect weather, against a team whose best player is a wide receiver and whose second best player is a punt returner.

Dallas won and Seattle lost.  I should elaborate:  Dallas won handily, with New York grabbing a TD late to pull it to within 7; and Seattle let Kevin Kolb come into the game ice cold after knocking out their starter and lead his team to a game-winning touchdown, then they proceeded to let every ball fall incomplete with 8 chances at a come-from-behind victory.

So, there’s that bit of knowledge going in.  Of course, if I based all my football-picking decisions on what happened the previous week … I’d be paid handsomely by ESPN or Sports Illustrated.  No, we’re going to have to look a little deeper (but not too deep, because Jesus Christ, it’s a fucking Friday after all!).

Right off the bat, you have to like Seattle’s defense.  I think we can hold their running game in check, and I think their bloated, overconfident receivers are little match for our aggressive, overconfident cornerbacks.  And, since this is a home game, I fully expect our defensive line to make Romo’s day a living fucking hell.  Advantage:  Seahawks, right?

Well, not so fast.  For the record, I like Dallas’ defense a lot too.  Maybe not in general, maybe not to the point where I’d pick it up for Fantasy Football purposes, but I like it in this case.  I like it against a shakey Seahawks offensive line with potential injury concerns, with Okung and a guy in Moffitt who hasn’t started a game since the middle of last season.  The Cowboys don’t have the greatest collection of stars, but they have Demarcus Ware, and he single-handedly trumps every single defensive player on the Seahawks, hands down.  He made Walter Jones’ last game a fucking Bataan Death March … I think he can handle Russell ‘False Start’ Okung or whoever is going to start behind him if he’s too injured to go.

I’m not nearly as crazy about the rest of the Dallas D, but Sean Lee looks like a real stud.  And their secondary might not be up to snuff when compared to the Seahawks, but then again, look at who they’d have to be guarding.  Sidney Rice has been battling knee issues and hasn’t practiced much (if at all) this week (surprise surprise).  Doug Baldwin is probably still battling whatever issues he had (plus, he’s down a couple teeth from that drop last week … gross).  Golden Tate is coming back, but missed week 1 with whatever injury he had.  And Charly Martin nearly lost a fucking lung in Arizona!  Who does that leave?  Braylon Edwards and a bunch of lumbering tight ends?  Fuck me!  Why am I picking the Seahawks again?

Well, first of all, it’s going to be fucking beautiful in Seattle this Sunday.  Mid-70s weather, nary a cloud in the sky.

I also think we can run on them.  Arizona is pretty stout up front and we still managed to average 3.5 yards per carry as a team (with Beastmode carrying the mail, and averaging 4.0 yards per carry).  Dallas gave up 4.3 yards per carry to the Giants last week and the Giants are TERRIBLE at running the ball (not to mention they were playing from behind the entire second half).  I say it wouldn’t be crazy to see the Seahawks average 5.0 yards per carry this weekend, with Beastmode returning to his fantasy glory.  I’m predicting no less than 140 yards and a touchdown.

While we won’t be able to keep Dallas’ offense down to nothing, I do think we can hold them in the teens.  I also think we’re going to demolish them in turnovers.  I’m expecting at least a +2 at minimum.  Interceptions, fumbles, sacks, and lots and lots of quarterback pressures.

And why is that?  Because we’ve got the 12th Man (fuck you Texas A&M).  Strange shit happens when you’ve got thousands upon thousands of the 12th Man in one place.  Does that mean more special teams magic?  Maybe a blocked field goal or a blocked punt?  Does that mean a curious officiating blunder going our way from these inept refs?  Does that mean Russell Wilson tearing himself away from Ware’s clutches, then sprinting down the sidelines for 40 yards, turning a would-be sack into a momentum-shifting first down?

I would expect just about anything could happen this Sunday.  Because these fans around here are starved for a winner.  They’re starved for some fresh meat.  They’re starved for Russell Wilson’s Coming Out Party.

It’s not a rational reason to pick the Seahawks, but it’s the best reason I can come up with.  Now, let’s get this game started before I change my mind …

Guessing the Seahawks’ 2012 53-Man Roster

Really quick, because we will all know for sure at 6pm tonight, here’s my stab at this year’s Week 1 roster:

Quarterback
Russell Wilson
Matt Flynn
Josh Portis – **CUT**

Running Back
Marshawn Lynch
Guns Turbin
Leon Washington
**Kregg Lumpkin** (??)
Michael Robsinson (FB)

Wide Receiver
Sidney Rice
Braylon Edwards
Doug Baldwin
Golden Tate
Charly Martin
**Ben Obomanu**

Offensive Line
Breno Giacomini
J.R. Sweezy
Max Unger
Paul McQuistan
Russell Okung
Lemuel Jeanpierre
John Moffitt
Frank Omiyale
Allen Barbre – **Suspended List**
**James Carpenter**

Tight End
Zach Miller
Kellen Winslow
Anthony McCoy
Sean McGrath – **CUT**

Defensive End
Chris Clemons
Bruce Irvin
Red Bryant
Greg Scruggs

Defensive Tackle
Alan Branch
Brandon Mebane
Jason Jones
Clinton McDonald
Jaye Howard

Linebacker
Leroy Hill
Bobby Wagner
K.J. Wright
Heath Farwell
Mike Morgan
Korey Toomer – **CUT**
**Malcolm Smith**

Safety
Kam Chancellor
Earl Thomas
Winston Guy
Jeron Johnson

Cornerback
Brandon Browner
Richard Sherman
Jeremy Lane
Byron Maxwell
Chris Maragos
Phillip Adams – **CUT**
**Marcus Trufant**

Special Teams
Jon “MVP” Ryan – P
Steven Hauschka – K
Clint Gresham – Long Snapper

I’m guessing they try to hide that fifth tight end on the practice squad.  I’m guessing if the team goes with Trufant, they’ll get rid of Maxwell.  I’m guessing if they don’t keep the bottom one or two offensive linemen I listed, that means they’re going outside of the organization and picking up some other team’s castaway(s).  I’m guessing those other running backs and fullbacks were nice, but there won’t be room and some other team will snap them up.

We’ll find out in a few hours.

Pre-Season Analysis 2012: Seahawks vs. Raiders

There’s going to be a lot of warnings today.  REMEMBER 2009!

Yes, the Seahawks were 4-0 in the pre-season in 2009.  Yes, the Seahawks were 5-11 in 2009.  Yes, bad teams can be perfect in the pre-season and then go on to stumble in the regular season.  Yes, good teams can go 0-4 and end up winning the Super Bowl.

A 4-0 pre-season is nothing to hang your hat on, believe me, I get it.  But, I don’t think this is your run-of-the-mill 4-0 pre-season.

I think it’s funny that anti-Seahawks fans can only point out that we essentially over-paid for a backup quarterback.  Really?  That’s all you got to make fun of us for?  I know you’re big Pete Carroll haters, SURELY you can come up with something better than that!

Yes, Matt Flynn is making whatever he’s making, and yes that’s a lot for a backup quarterback.  But, it’s peanuts for a starting quarterback!  No one would be saying a got-damn word about his salary if he were starting.  And, make no mistake, he’s good enough TO be starting.  In this case, he was just out-played by someone with a higher ceiling.  It happens.  If you take their combined salaries, the Seahawks really aren’t paying their quarterbacks all that much compared to the rest of the league.

I’m getting off track from my bigger point here, which is that this team isn’t quite flawless, but it’s damn near.

I’m not totally sold on any of the quarterbacks we have on our roster, but that’s just because I’ve yet to see them play in the regular season.  I would feel the same sense of unease regardless of who we brought in; until they do it in a Seahawks uniform, there’s no feeling of comfort.  But, that doesn’t mean I don’t have faith.  I think Russell Wilson can be a great – even an elite – quarterback.  And he’s got to start somewhere.  Might as well be as a rookie.  Might as well get the growing pains out of the way early.

This post is starting to quickly turn into a Regular Season Preview, so let me stop any and all analysis of that kind here and take a step back.

The Seahawks killed this pre-season.  They killed it because they’re deep at just about every position, except wide receiver I guess.  And, this 4-0 isn’t like the last 4-0 we saw ’round these parts, because that 4-0 was largely won in the second halves of games, by reserves who wouldn’t see the light of day in the regular season.  THIS pre-season saw dominance in all quarters, by all players, and that’s encouraging.

The Raiders, yesterday, never stood a chance.  They may not stand a chance in the regular season, but let’s face it, last night they ran into a buzzsaw.  This defense has been ready for primetime since the moment they stepped onto a training camp field.  This defense is legit.  And with Arizona having QB troubles, and with Arizona having offensive line troubles, and with Arizona having only one good receiver … they’re just asking for a beatdown.  I think we can leave the offense at home in week 1 and still come away with a W.

But, that’s me getting ahead of myself again.

Can you blame me?

I thought Flynn looked okay, but again he didn’t really wow anyone, and that’s why he’s not starting in week 1.  I’m not going to say that he’s the white second-coming of Tarvar, because I still think he’s a better decision-maker.  I think if we had this Flynn on our team last year starting games, we would’ve had a winning record and an outside shot at the playoffs.  But, you can clearly see the difference between him and Wilson.  I’ll get more into this a little later, but let’s just say Flynn looks like he’s afraid to make a mistake, while Wilson is damn near fearless.

I thought all of our running backs looked good, but then again, I always think that because Tom Cable.

I thought the receivers didn’t really do much to save themselves, and I have an itching suspicion that Obomanu, Lockette, and Butler have all played their final games as Seahawks.  I could easily see the receivers shaking out like this:  Rice, Edwards, Baldwin, Tate, and Charly Martin.  Yeah, five, not six.  Because there are so many good tight ends on this roster, I think you consider Kellen Winslow as a sixth receiver in a sense.

Winslow and Miller are locks.  McCoy has had a strong pre-season.  And Sean McGrath and Cooper Helfet have both made cases for their remaining on this team.  This might be the strongest position on the entire offense (and one that no one is talking about).

As for everything else, ahh fuck it, it’s pre-season.  And pre-season is over (FINALLY).  Bring on the games!  I wish to be entertained, feeble peasants!