The Seahawks Play The Giants This Weekend

Before the season, this game looked a little scary.  The Giants were pegged to contend for the NFC East, Eli Manning had a bunch of cool weapons on offense to throw to, and a defense that looked remarkable in 2016 had a year’s worth of experience and an off-season of moves to better itself.  Then, the Giants started out 0-5, and all of a sudden this game looked like one of the easier matchups on the Seahawks’ schedule.  THEN, the Giants went into Denver as something like 13-point underdogs last Sunday night and somehow managed to not just win, but DOMINATE the Broncos 23-10.

And now this game is scary again?

I’ll admit, I didn’t watch a lick of that Giants/Broncos game.  Like most everyone in America, I expected the Broncos to win easily.  I don’t know if I necessarily expected a blowout, or even a cover of the point spread, but I did think we’d be in for a boring, grind-it-out game where the Broncos would win comfortably by 7-10 points or so (with still a reasonable chance of it being a blowout victory).  It feels impressive that the Giants were able to run for 148 yards and a 4.6 yards per carry average against a quality defense like the Broncos.  It feels even more impressive that the Giants were able to win at all, considering Odell Beckham Jr. and Brandon Marshall were out and are officially lost for the season, but, you know, last week was a crazy fucking week.  A lot of underdogs won outright.  Hell, this SEASON has been fucking crazy with the underdogs; it’s like nothing I’ve ever seen before!

But, I digress.  The question remains:  are the Giants good or not?  Obviously, with 5 losses in their first 6 weeks, and all their injury issues at wide receiver, it feels impossible for them to make the playoffs.  I’m sure they’ll give it the good ol’ college try, but I can’t see them finishing any worse than 8-2 over the next 10 games and still making the post-season.  With the Eagles at 5-1, that probably puts the division out of reach, so they’d have to hope for a Wild Card berth at 9-7 in that scenario, which isn’t impossible, but again, I don’t know if I see 8 more wins on their schedule.

The Giants lost on the road to the Cowboys and Eagles, which feels reasonable.  Those are a couple of good teams.  They lost at home to the Lions, which isn’t out of the question, as you’re talking about a playoff team from a year ago (largely the same as they were), and a team looking to compete for the NFC North.  But, then you tack on a road loss to the Bucs (who look bad) and a home loss to the Chargers (who look worse) and I gotta tell you:  I think the Giants are NOT good.

In which case, this should be a win for the Seahawks, right?  I’m not saying it’ll be easy.  They’ve still got a quality defensive line that should give us fits (as they all do).  But, I mean, where are they getting their points from this Sunday?  Their best and healthiest offensive weapon is rookie tight end Evan Engram, who legitimately looks like he could be one of the better players at his position.  Second year wideout Sterling Shepard should be returning from an ankle injury, so there’s another.  But, I mean, come on.  I know we like to joke around about the Seahawks’ defense sucking against tight ends, but we’ve actually been vastly improved this year!  It looks like Kam Chancellor has taken more of an active role in guarding them one-on-one, and he’s shutting them down pretty good.  Instead of being the worst in the league, the Seahawks are right in the middle of the road, which is fine.  That sort of improvement is something you can take to the bank.  Engram will get his looks, but I hardly think he’ll be a dominant force like we’ve seen from other tight ends in years past.

As for Shepard, he looks okay, but he hasn’t made that leap to elite status (not with ODB hogging all the glory to date), and it’s questionable that he ever will.  He looks fine.  If Richard Sherman were to follow him all over the field, I have no question whatsoever that he’d be locked down, but something tells me that’s not the gameplan.  But, either way, Shaq Griffin has looked better and better every week, and I think he’d be fine against Shepard.

Which leaves their running game.  I know the Seahawks have gotten gashed this season, but that was by the likes of DeMarco Murray, Derrick Henry, and Carlos Hyde.  Those are some of the most talented and productive running backs in the league this season!  That having been said, this defense used to eat even the very best running backs for breakfast, so getting gashed at all is of great concern.  But, Orleans Darkwa?  Wayne Gallman?  Shane Vereen?  I’m supposed to be quaking in my boots over this triad of suck?

Even when the Giants had all the receivers in the world, they weren’t able to run the ball effectively.  It’s only last week – when they had no one to throw to – where they put all their effort into the running game (and Denver mysteriously didn’t load up to stop it).  That one will puzzle me to my last breath, but I guess you could say that since the Giants over the last 2-3 years haven’t put any sort of running game whatsoever on tape, the Broncos just weren’t expecting it and had no evidence on how it could theoretically be stopped?

Well, it’s a good thing the Seahawks were on BYE last week, because they had nothing else going on last Sunday and were able to watch every minute of that game.

It’s also good, because I think you’re going to see incremental improvement in the Seahawks’ run defense over the next few weeks.  There’s been a lot of turnover on the D-Line.  Tony McDaniel is gone.  Ahtyba Rubin is gone.  Those guys were instrumental in stuffing the run the last couple seasons.  Jarran Reed is getting more playing time.  Naz Jones is a rookie.  And Sheldon Richardson is new to our system.  As they get more experience in practice and games, with gap assignments and whatnot, I expect this unit to gel and return to its run-stopping roots.

So, I mean, if we stop the Giants’ running game, what do they have left?  Eli Manning?  Please.  He should be lunch meat, with or without Cliff Avril.

Speaking of which, that’s a really sad case right there.  Avril was knocked out of the Indianapolis game a few weeks back with a neck/spine issue (he was seen, right after the hit, shaking his arm as if he’d lost all feeling, which is pretty terrifying for him).  Ever since, he’s apparently been seen by every doctor on the planet, and it’s looking more and more like he’s headed for surgery and the Injured Reserve.  At which point, he’d be eligible to return in mid-to-late December.  But, given the nature of the injury, and the uncertainty around the surgical procedure, it’s possible he misses the rest of the year entirely.

It’s also possible he’s played his final game in the NFL, which is the biggest bummer of all.

It’s a serious blow to this defense, but not one that’s impossible to overcome.  It means stripping away some of our depth at a position of strength, which is always a bad thing.  It also means more of a role for Frank Clark.  It remains to be seen how that will change things.  Will more Frank Clark allow him an opportunity to step up and become a star in this league?  If so, that’s fantastic.  But, does a little Frank Clark go a long way, and will we see a decline in his production on a per-snap average due to overuse?

Avril is a stalwart.  He’s a pro.  You can always count on him.  He’s also still right there in the prime of his career, as pass-rushing defensive ends tend to age pretty well in this league compared to other positions.  Clark is still young, still learning, still growing.  I don’t believe he’s yet reached his full potential.  Here’s to hoping this accelerates his development and he becomes one of the greats in this league by season’s end.

As for the Seahawks’ offense, your guess is as good as mine.  That second half against the Colts feels more and more like an anomaly against a really bad team.  Say what you want about the Giants as a whole, but that defense isn’t bad.  I think they’re every bit as capable of making our lives miserable as the Rams, 49ers, and Packers.  In which case, I guess we’re in for another slow Russell Wilson start, another shitty performance by the running game, with the only signs of life coming in the final two minutes of each half.

Can we win this one 14-9?  With that Giants offense, I’d be furious if they reached double digits in points, so I’ll go out on a limb and say yes.  But, while a 14-9 victory is still a victory, and you’ll take them however you can get them, it’s still not something that inspires hope.

A good Seahawks team would come out and blow the doors off, winning 44-3 or some damn thing.  But, I can’t imagine a scenario where we don’t get more of the same.  For the same fucking reasons.

Only now, we’re down our second-best offensive lineman in Luke Joeckel (who used his BYE week to have a cleanup surgery on his knee, and will be out for a month or so).  In his place, we’re looking at a combo of Mark Glowinski (the starter at LG last season) and rookie Ethan Pocic (whose natural position is center, and who doesn’t really have much college experience on the left side of the line).  For the record, I expect Glowinski to get the start and the lion’s share of the snaps.  I also expect him to struggle, and within a week or two I expect Pocic to take over that job until Joeckel returns.  Hopefully I’m proven wrong.  Hopefully Glowinski takes his recent demotion from the RG spot to heart and returns like a rabid pitbull.  But, I just don’t think he has the talent to be a starter in this league.  Doesn’t mean he can’t have a long and pointless career as a backup (or move on to another team in the future and have great success, because he’s just not cut out for Tom Cable’s zone blocking scheme).

At running back, I think we’re all hoping for Thomas Rawls to take the bull by the horns, but I wouldn’t be shocked to see a steady stream of handoffs to Eddie Lacy.  For what it’s worth, I still like Lacy and I think he fits this offense pretty well.  I think he’s a volume-dependant running back though, and I just don’t know if this offense, with this O-Line, has what it takes to give him the volume of carries he needs to succeed.

Here’s to hoping Russell Wilson gets some time to throw, though, because I think some serious gains can be had in the passing game.  The Giants are TERRIBLE against opposing tight ends, so you’d think Jimmy Graham would have a field day.  And, if they sell out to stop him, then it should open up opportunities for Baldwin, Richardson, and Lockett.  Again, though, Russell needs time to throw.  We’ll see.

All these games are important, but this one really feels big.  The Giants are still banged up, we’re coming off of a BYE, yeah it’s on the road across the country, but it’s a late afternoon game and we’ve had a lot of success playing in this stadium.  It’s also a conference game, which becomes vitally important for playoff seeding.  And, not for nothing, but the Rams went on the road and beat the Jags last week, regaining sole possession of first place in the NFC West.  They play Arizona in London this Sunday and could very well be 5-2 when the weekend is over.  We need to win just to keep pace with the Rams!  Who could’ve ever predicted saying that sentence before the season started?

The Seahawks Were A Hot Mess In Hot, Humid Tennessee

Just when you think the Seahawks are getting to be boring or predictable to write about (what’s that, another slow start spoiling an otherwise winnable game?), they go and zag when you expect them to zig.

Well, you may have expected this game to be a zig, but I saw this zag coming a mile away!

Everyone’s all surprised about Tennessee’s offense really sticking it to our defense, but this was always going to be a terrible matchup for the Seahawks.  They have a GREAT offensive line, so that right there neutralizes one of our team’s best assets:  the D-Line.  The pass rush was neutralized (I read somewhere that the Seahawks were only credited with 2 pressures all day), and more importantly, our rush defense was non-existent.  Remember in 2014, when we hosted the Cowboys and they ran the ball all over us (with DeMarco Murray at the helm, btw)?  Yeah, that times a thousand.  195 total yards rushing, on a 5.6 yards per carry average, with a long of 75!  DeMarco Murray was supposed to only play sparingly because he was dealing with an injury, and he looked like fucking Superman out there!

So yeah, there was that.  Then, factor in Marcus Mariota:  he’s not going to push the ball down the field.  He’s going to take what the defense gives him, make smart decisions, and keep moving the chains.  Then, when he gets into the red zone, he’s going to make enough plays to ensure his team scores.  While they didn’t hit on every red zone appearance, they didn’t need to.  From the second quarter on, they scored on 7 of 8 drives.  When you move the ball that well, you don’t NEED to score touchdowns every time to be effective and win the game!  But, more importantly, by not challenging the Seahawks deep through the air, that neutralizes another of our team’s best assets:  the secondary.

With the D-Line and the secondary reduced to nothing, it should surprise no one that the Titans were able to score at will.

I think the Seahawks opened some eyes on offense though.  No one should be crowing, or otherwise satisfied with what the offense was able to do; we’ve seen this movie too!  The Seahawks start slow on the road, get down big, and scramble to make a furious comeback.  In this case, the Seahawks actually managed to grab a 7-6 lead late in the second quarter, after punting on their first six drives.  A Prevent Defense prevented the Seahawks from going into halftime with the lead, as the Titans were able to kick another field goal to go up 9-7.  Then, the Seahawks took the opening drive of the second half down for a TD, and a 14-9 lead, and I think everyone sort of settled in, secure that the Seahawks would FINALLY take over the ballgame.

That’s when the Titans went on their run, making the score 30-14 going into the fourth quarter.  As they do, the Seahawks turned the engines back on, pulling to within 30-20.  They failed at their 2-point conversion (because if you think they’re bad in the red zone, you should SEE how wretched they are at going for 2), but still had plenty of time for a couple more scores.

Where they really lost the game was on the subsequent Titans drive.  Tennessee held the ball for 4 minutes and drove down for a field goal to make it 33-20 with about 10 minutes to go.  At that point, not only would the Seahawks need two touchdowns, but they’d somehow need to get a STOP, which seemed like the least likely of the two scenarios.

Of course, the Seahawks did neither, as they were forced to punt on their next drive.  Sure, the D finally rose up for a 3 & Out, but at that point so much time had run off the clock that the Seahawks would need two TDs in just over 5 minutes.  They would get one, but the on-side kick was as pathetic as everything else about the Seahawks that day, and that was that.

Russell Wilson threw for 373 yards and 4 TDs, which is awesome for a fantasy football team, but it’s honestly not going to win the Seattle Seahawks very many ballgames.  If he has to throw the ball 49 times, then guess what?  That means our defense stinks.  And, for as good as that day looks, there were still plenty of missed opportunities that he wasn’t able to take advantage of.  This offense isn’t good enough to carry a crappy defense, so I hate everything about this stat line.

I really want to call out Darrell Bevell here, because yeah I know he’s the easy mark, and I know it’s like beating a dead horse, but he’s a fucking moron.  The Seahawks ran the ball on the first play of the game for no gain, then passed twice before it turned into a 3 & Out.  Next Drive:  3 passes, and another 3 & Out.  Next Drive:  we get a first down on first down through the air, then Carson runs twice for 11 yards to get the ball into Tennessee territory, then … 3 incomplete passes and a punt.  Next Drive:  he returns to the run game which nets 9 yards, but fails on 3rd & 1.  Nice idea, but poor execution.  Next Drive:  3 more incomplete passes for the 3 & Out.

I mean, look, it was a hot day.  90+ degrees in Tennessee.  I know this team’s “identity” or whatever isn’t to speed up the offense, but you could’ve fooled me.  What are all these incomplete passes if not speeding up the time between when the defense is out there on the field.  And, with all their nonsense early in the game – highlighted by Richard Sherman’s meltdown, followed by his late hit out of bounds on the quarterback – I have no doubt in my mind it tired them out, rendering them useless in the second half.

Also, not for nothing, but I have absolutely no problem with how you want to protest for your causes.  Stand for the anthem, sit for the anthem, pull the flag out and take a shit on it on midfield in front of tens of thousands of people; WHATEVER.  But, when I read about how the team is spending 3+ hours on how they’re going to protest the anthem the next day … I dunno, that seems like time that could be spent on preparing for the other team!

Again, I’m all for you standing up for what you believe in, but if it’s going to continuously interfere with your performance on the field, then I gotta say:  why should I care about the causes of a bunch of losers?  You know where you’ll have the biggest impact to pass along your message?  At the FUCKING Super Bowl, so how about you start playing like you give a shit about this fucking game, or go hang out on the fucking sidelines while we find some guys who want to win.

I follow sports because I like watching sports.  While I agree with your right to protest – and while I agree that people of color are treated pretty shitty in this country – I only actually give a shit about football when I’m watching football.  If I want an endless parade of politics, I’ll go on Twitter and blow my fucking brains out, thanks.

The Seahawks Played A Fourth Pre-Season Game and I Drafted A Fantasy Football Team

What do you want from me?  It was a meaningless fourth pre-season game where most of the starters didn’t even play a single snap.  The Seahawks beat the Raiders 17-13 thanks to a final TD-drive by Austin Davis in the fourth quarter against scrubs.  The backup quarterback controversy is in full effect, and I couldn’t care less.

On top of that, I didn’t even get to see the vast majority of it, because my primary fantasy football league held its draft at the same time.  So, instead of pouring over the stats from the game, and speculating on who will get cut and who might get traded (Kearse, Lane, Collins?), I’m going to tell you about my fantasy football draft.

I know no one gives a shit about anyone else’s fantasy football team but their own, but this is my blog and I’ll rosterbate if I want to!

For starters, you should know that it’s a 2-keeper league that’s set up to expand to a 3-keeper league in 2018.  Meaning, we have to keep 2 players from last year’s roster, with the knowledge going into this draft that we’ll have to keep 3 players next year.

Next up, you should know that it’s a 10-team league, head-to-head, with a 6-team playoff system (top 2 teams get first round BYEs).  The bottom four teams play in a Consolation Bracket whereupon the winner of said bracket gets to draft first overall, and the rest of the draft order goes backwards from there.  Since I lost in the championship of the Consolation Bracket, I drafted second overall.

As you might surmise, my 2016 team wasn’t very good.  I spent the entire year obsessing over the simple fact of just getting two quality keepers on my team, because my 2015 team was just as bad.  It’s been a vicious cycle of mediocrity for many years now.  Instead of investing in my future, by drafting the likes of Andrew Luck or Russell Wilson in their rookie seasons, I’ve been forging my own path full of veterans with disasterous results.  So, last year, I said, “NO MORE!”  And yet, somehow the best I could muster was keeping Carson Wentz and Brandin Cooks.

Don’t get me wrong, I like Wentz.  I mostly like him because people in the know, scouts and whatnot, keep telling me he’s going to be one of the good ones.  I read stories about how he’s a football junkie and is working out all the time and so on and so forth and it gives me hope that maybe in a year or two he’ll be Andrew Luck or Russell Wilson, and that I’ll have gotten in on the ground floor of a keeper I can enjoy for many years to come!

As for Cooks, he was the best of the rest on my roster last year.  I like him a lot too, especially because he was traded to New England, and hearing stories about him and Brady hitting it off on the practice field gave me cause to jump for joy.

But, you know, it’s not like we’re talking about Aaron Rodgers and LeVeon Bell here.  These aren’t superstars, and there are very valid concerns about them producing in the future.

Also, you should know about our league:  it’s a 2-QB system.  Gameday rosters look like this:  QB, QB, RB, RB, WR, WR, TE, RB/WR/TE Flex, K, DEF, with 5 bench spots.  It’s a PPR league (1 point per reception), with any and all TDs worth 6 points, and it heavily skews in favor of the quarterback (unlike standard leagues, where top RBs are king, in our league, if you don’t have two good QBs, you might as well fucking kill yourself).  So, in that sense, it’s like the real NFL, except we doubled up on QBs per team because it’s only a 10-team league and it’s insane to have viable starting QBs on the waiver wire during BYE weeks.

So, that sets the stage.  Long story short:  my keepers are kinda sucky, I’m drafting #2 overall, and I need to be in a position to keep 3 guys next year.

Now, a little wrinkle!  I worked out a pre-draft trade with the guy who kept Ezekiel Elliott!  What with his 6-game suspension looming to start the season, and my friend ostensibly holding out hope for a championship this year, he accepted a straight-up swap of Cooks for Elliott.  With Julian Edelman going on IR in subsequent days, it looked like he was going to get a lot more value out of the deal.  However, with it appearing like Elliott might shake this whole suspension thing (from 6 games to 0, thanks to the NFL’s bungling), I might have the steal of the draft on my hands!

Of course, going forward, I have to worry about Elliott’s character concerns, while Cooks is by all accounts a model citizen on a championship team, but that’s neither here nor there.

So, instead of Wentz & Cooks, it’s Wentz & Elliott.  I can work with that!

I don’t want to list out everyone else’s keepers, so hopefully you’ll glean from context who was kept (lots of QBs, most of the tip-top skill-position players).  Going into the first two picks, I surmised the best two players available (for our particular league and no one else’s) were LeVeon Bell and Dak Prescott (the guy who had Bell last year opted to keep his stud QBs; he was obviously league champion).  I was pretty sure the #1 pick overall was going to take a QB, and I was pretty sure that QB was going to be Dak.  But, the day of the draft, he texted me that he was going with Marcus Mariota, another young, up-and-coming fantasy points hog.

That left me with the choice of Bell or Dak.  Understanding that there really weren’t any other young stud QBs left in the draft, only veterans and injury risks (Roethlisberger, Rivers, Stafford, Eli, Palmer, Cutler, and so on and so forth), I went with Dak.  I think he’s a superstar in the making and I’m not buying for one second this notion of a sophomore slump.  His TD/INT ratio this year might not be as crazy as last year, but I think we’ll see a spike in his overall TDs and yards thrown to MORE than make up for the regression.

As we snaked our way through the next round and a half, it dawned upon me that a lot of those veteran/injury risk QBs I listed above were flying off the board, to my shock and awe.  My hope, heading into this draft, was to get Dak and wrap around at pick 19 and snag Roethlisberger.  That way, I could bench Wentz and save him for when Roethlisberger ultimately gets injured (and hope that by that time Wentz would have asserted himself as a full-fledged fantasy starter in this league).  No such luck.  In fact, as the draft would shake out, I was completely and totally unable to pick up a backup QB.

At the tail end of the second round, after it was clear I wouldn’t get my rock of a backup QB, I was hoping to land Dez Bryant and have the Dallas Cowboys trifecta, but he was snagged 3 picks before me.  Michael Thomas, from New Orleans, fell WAY farther than I would’ve thought (I’m VERY high on Thomas this year and going forward), but was taken 2 picks before me.  There were a lot of options left, but I went with Leonard Fournette, in the hopes that he’ll become Ezekiel Elliott 2.0 (minus the domestic abuse charges).  The fact that he plays for the Jags scares me, as does the fact that he’s a rookie with a terrible QB in front of him, so much so that I might not even start him in Week 1 (such is my mania).  But, the instant he gets me a 20-point game for my bench, he’ll be locked into my starting lineup going forward.

I wrapped around and took Gronk in the third round.  A sure thing from a fantasy persepctive, and one of the very biggest question-marks from an injury perspective.  Either way, there weren’t a lot of good receivers left, so I took Best Player Available.

At this point, my team is Wentz, Dak, Elliott, Fournette, and Gronk.  Still no actual wide receivers.

By the time the draft got back to me, a lot more good receivers went off the board, so in keeping with my Best Player Available strategy, I took Carlos Hyde, RB of the 49ers.  I think he’s going to have a monster year as the best offensive weapon on that team.  Wrapping around, still without an amazing receiver option, I took Lamar Miller of the Texans.  So, now I’ve got 2 QBs, 4 RBs, 0 WRs, and 1 TE.

At my next pick, I knew I had to take a receiver, regardless of what was left out there.  For me, it came down to Emmanuel Sanders of DEN and Jamison Crowder of WAS.  Thankfully, the decision was made for me by the guy drafting right before me as he took Sanders.  Crowder it was.  Wrapping around, I was sure I was going to take Stefon Diggs of the Vikings, and ultimately this might be the pick I end up regretting the most.  See, with Yahoo’s rankings (yeah, we play on Yahoo, sue us), I saw an opportunity for another young, up-and-coming running back in Derrick Henry (the way the rankings were set, I doubt he would’ve been there for me nearly 20 picks later).  I had him all last year, and all last year he was decidedly behind DeMarco Murray on the depth chart.  I waited ALL YEAR for Murray to get hurt, and not only did he stay healthy, but he was in the top 3 of all backs in rushing attempts!  And this was in spite of the fact that whenever Henry did get the ball, he looked really fucking good (and, of course, he was a high draft pick for the Titans last year).

So, I’m rolling the dice on Year 2 of Derrick Henry.  If Murray gets injured, I’ve got a Top 5 running back to throw onto the pile (or use as trade bait for a stud receiver).  But, if Murray plays like he did last year, then I’ll have missed out on Diggs, or any number of receivers selected after him.  Roster status:  2 QBs, 5 RBs, 1 WR, 1 TE.

With my next two picks, I went receiver happy to compensate.  Unfortunately, by this time, the cupboards were pretty bare.  One of my new lines of thinking on receivers is:  taking the best ones from bad teams.  There are a couple of Browns receivers I really like, the Chargers guys are interesting, but I went with Pierre Garcon of the 49ers.  Yeah, he’s getting up there, but have you SEEN their depth chart?  And, I know, Brian Hoyer is their QB, but he’s still going to complete SOME passes, and he’s going to have to throw them to SOMEONE.  Garcon is most likely to get the lion’s share of the targets and touches that don’t go to Carlos Hyde (yes, I know, having not one but two 49ers on my team is just asking for trouble).  If he stays healthy, he could be a nice little steal for me.  Then, I wrapped around and picked up Willie Snead.  I’ve always liked him as a #2 option in New Orleans, but he seems to have REALLY fallen out of favor this pre-season (at least, according to reports), as the Saints have Michael Thomas as their clear #1, and the newly-signed Ted Ginn as a guy competing for #2 reps.  I dunno, I’ve always thought Sneed had good ball skills in the red zone, so I went with him over Ginn (secretly hoping I could snag Ginn the next time the draft got back to me, where I could keep the best one and waive the loser, but it wasn’t to be).

At that point, I had 2 QBs, 5 RBs, 3 WRs, and 1 TE.  I could officially field a full offense plus a flex spot, plus have enough RBs left over to compensate for a possible Elliott suspension.  I had to go get a Defense the next time up, because all the best ones were flying off the board.

I wanted Houston’s defense really bad, but he went 5 spots ahead of me, so I settled on Minnesota’s D.  We’ll see.  On the wrap-around, I picked up Eric Decker of the Titans.  He’s a touchdown machine, but he’s older and coming off injury, so it wouldn’t shock me if he isn’t long for my team.

Heading into the last two picks of the draft, a few Kickers had already been taken, but Stephen Gostkowski was still there for me so I somehow have New England’s kicker free of charge.  With my final pick, I took Rishard Matthews (a guy my friend wanted, but he accidentally took Jordan Matthews instead, a few picks before me).  I think Rishard is awfully underrated as a guy who had a pretty solid season for the Titans last year.  Neither he, nor Decker, figure to start for me out of the gate.  But, I’ll monitor both of them and keep the guy who’s more reliable.

Final Roster looks like this:

  • QB – Dak Prescott
  • QB – Carson Wentz
  • RB – Ezekiel Elliott
  • RB – Carlos Hyde
  • WR – Jamison Crowder
  • WR – Pierre Garcon
  • TE – Rob Gronkowski
  • Flex – (RB) Lamar Miller
  • K – Stephen Gostkowski
  • DEF – Minnesota

With my bench looking like this:

  • RB – Leonard Fournette
  • RB – Derrick Henry
  • WR – Willie Sneed
  • WR – Eric Decker
  • WR – Rishard Matthews

Look, I don’t love it, all right!  I’m not boasting here!  I love my running back situation, of course, but I have far-and-away the worst set of wide receivers in the entire league.  I’ve got a top-flight kicker, a good-enough defense, and the best tight end in the game (when healthy).  As for my quarterbacks, they’re young.  One was great last year (Dak), one got a lot of experience and took his lumps (Wentz).  The picking’s are pretty slim on the waiver wire, as far as QBs are concerned.  Most of the rookies are there, alongside a few of the very worst starters this league has to offer.  So, if Wentz can’t get it going early, I might be stuck with a Hoyer or a Kizer.

On the plus side, I think regardless of what happens, I should have 3 viable keepers heading into 2018, and that’s all I can really ask for.  If Wentz pans out, I’ll keep my two QBs and Elliott.  If Wentz doesn’t look good, or if Fournette really busts out, I might go with Dak and the two RBs.

Here goes nothing.

If Terrell Davis Is A Hall Of Famer, Why Not Shaun Alexander? Marshawn Lynch?

I was going to get to this earlier in the week, but work happened.  And, I didn’t want to half-ass this one.  And since there weren’t any other things I COULD half-ass, you get the 2-day gap in posts.

So, apropos of absolutely nothing whatsoever, the name Jamal Lewis popped into my brain, and I got it into my head that he had a crazy amount of rushing yards for a running back to NOT be in the NFL Hall of Fame.  As it turns out, he’s currently only 24th on the list, with 10,607 yards, and there are PLENTY of backs with 10,000+ yards who aren’t in the Hall and quite frankly don’t belong there.  As I look at Jamal’s numbers now, even though he’s one of a VERY small few to have a 2,000-yard season, it’s not a total shocker to see him not in there yet.  He does have seven 1,000 yard seasons in total, but only the one Pro Bowl/All Pro year.  I’ll let some Ravens fan make the case for Jamal Lewis; this is a Seattle-centric blog for Christ’s sake.  I’m here to talk about Shaun Alexander, and yeah, Marshawn Lynch, relative to the recently-inducted Terrell Davis.

So, when I looked at the list of the running backs with the most yards in NFL history – to check and see where Jamal Lewis stood – I went ahead and dug around to see where Terrell Davis landed.  Knowing nothing, aside from the fact that his career was relatively short compared to most running backs you consider to be Hall of Famers, I figured going in that he was sub-10,000 yards.  But, I figured he’d be in the 9,000 range.

NO!  Not even!  Try 7,607!

He’s 55th all time.  The only other Hall of Famers in his range or lower are the REAL old timers.  Like, before the Super Bowl was a thing.  Like, before the AFL and the NFL merged into a single league.

Now, for what it’s worth, I do think Terrell Davis belongs in the Hall of Fame.  But, you know, I’m more of an Eye Test guy.  When I say the name Terrell Davis, I think, “Yeah, that guy was one of the all-time greats.”  But, when you see 7,607 staring you back in the face, it’s enough to give you pause.  It gave me pause anyway!

I’ve always maintained that Shaun Alexander was and is a fringe Hall of Famer, but ultimately if you twisted my arm, I’d say probably not.  But, with 7,607 here to consider, I mean, come on!

Shaun Alexander finished with 9,453 yards (Lynch with a little less, so I’ll get to him later in the post).  If you discount his 4 games with the Redskins in the final year of his career, he spent 8 full seasons in Seattle.  Davis did what he did in 7 seasons in Denver, so the career lengths are comparable.  Alexander finished with exactly 100 rushing touchdowns and another 12 receiving TDs; Davis finished with 60 rushing and 5 receiving.  Alexander averaged 4.3 yards per attempt, Davis at 4.6, so not a HUGE difference there.  And, if you go by Approximate Value per Pro Football Reference (the higher the number the better), Alexander finished with a 79, Davis with a 78.

I mean, when you put it all down there like that, and you factor in the extra 1,846 career rushing yards and the extra 47 combined touchdowns, how is Shaun Alexander not even in the conversation and Terrell Davis is already in?

Politics aside – because I will say this:  it IS a popularity contest, no matter what you hear from anyone; if the voters don’t like you (*cough* Terrell Owens *cough*), you’re screwed – it’s kind of insane.  But, one thing we were told is that Terrell Davis’ induction is a referendum on the production he had in his Peak Years.  I think, going forward, for a lot of these players on offense – as the numbers skyrocket, as rules changes make the game more high scoring – unless you have just insane career totals, you’re going to need to build your case in your Peak Years, when you were at your very best.  How many Peak Years did you have, and how dominant were you in those years?

Terrell Davis was drafted in 1995.  He had a pretty good rookie year, but his very best years were 1996-1998.  From 1999-2001, he played in a grand total of 17 games and was out of football after that.  So, really, we’re talking about a 3-year span, but since he ended up in the top 10 in rushing in his rookie year, we’ll include that to give him a 4-year Peak.

  • In 1995, he ran for 1,117 yards and 7 TDs, good for 9th in yards and outside the top 10 in TDs.
  • In 1996, he ran for 1,538 yards and 13 TDs, good for 2nd in yards (behind Barry Sanders) and tied for 3rd in TDs with Ricky Watters, behind Curtis Martin’s 14 and Terry Allen’s 21.
  • In 1997, he ran for 1,750 yards and 15 TDs, good for 2nd in yards (behind Barry Sanders’ 2,000 yard season) and tied for 1st in TDs with Karim Abdul-Jabbar.
  • In 1998, he ran for 2,008 yards and 21 TDs, good for 1st in yards and TDs.

On top of that, he made the Pro Bowl and first team All Pro three times, 1996-1998.  He won the NFL’s MVP award in 1998.  He led the Denver Broncos to back-to-back Super Bowl titles in the 1997 and 1998 seasons, winning the Super Bowl MVP the first time and ceding it to John Elway the second time.  He was placed on the 2nd team All-1990s team to boot.

So, that’s the resume, more or less.  How does that compare to Shaun Alexander’s Peak Years?  Well, he didn’t start as a rookie in 2000, which was understandable at the time – we still had a prime Ricky Watters giving us his all – but will likely go down as the reason why Alexander ultimately doesn’t make the Hall.  If he were to hang another 1,000 yard season on his career totals, with another 10 or so TDs, I don’t see how you could keep him out.  Regardless, I’m giving Alexander a total of 5 Peak Years, from 2001-2005.  He topped 1,000 yards each year and had no less than 14 rushing TDs in each of those years!  To wit:

  • In 2001, he ran for 1,318 yards and 14 TDs, good for 6th in yards and 1st in TDs.
  • In 2002, he ran for 1,175 yards and 16 TDs, outside the top 10 in yards, but tied for 2nd with Ricky Williams in TDs (behind Priest Holmes).
  • In 2003, he ran for 1,435 yards and 14 TDs, good for 8th in yards and tied for 3rd in TDs with Clinton Portis & the aforementioned Jamal Lewis, behind Ahman Green and Priest Holmes again.
  • In 2004, he ran for 1,696 yards and 16 TDs, good for 2nd (by ONE YARD behind Curtis Martin) in yards and 2nd in TDs behind LaDainian Tomlinson.
  • In 2005, he ran for 1,880 yards and 27 TDs, good for 1st in yards and tying a then-NFL record for TDs in a season (to be broken by LDT the very next year with 28, who holds it to this day).

On top of that, he made the Pro Bowl three times (2003-2005), made first team All Pro one time, in 2005.  He won the NFL’s MVP award in 2005.  He led the Seahawks to just one Super Bowl appearance in the 2005 season (he likely would’ve been the Super Bowl MVP had the refs not screwed us over, but that’s neither here nor there).  And, he was placed on the 2nd team All-2000s team.

I guess, what you have to ask yourself is, what do you take more stock in?  Shaun Alexander had a longer Peak, and arguably a better one.  I mean, those touchdown totals are INSANE for a 5-year run!  Terrell Davis didn’t set or tie any single-season marks!  So, do you rank that higher, or do you rank Davis’ Super Bowl success higher?

You gotta admit, it’s a helluva story.  Terrell Davis helps the long-suffering John Elway get his only two Super Bowl titles as he rides off into the sunset.  While Shaun Alexander led an okay Seahawks reign in the mid-2000s, that only got to the lone Super Bowl, and lost it in frustrating fashion.

You might sit here and argue that Shaun Alexander had a couple of Hall of Famers in Walter Jones and Steve Hutchinson to run behind, but Terrell Davis had a very good O-Line in his own right.  On top of that, let’s face it, the zone blocking scheme Denver was running back then was relatively new, and the NFL hadn’t really adapted to defending it.  Which is why you saw so many Denver running backs in those days plucked from the bottom of the draft and making huge impacts.  I’d put all of that as a wash, or even a little in Davis’ favor.

Where I think Shaun Alexander might have some trouble is that he spent most of his career in LDT’s shadow.  Sure, there were good running backs playing when Terrell Davis had his reign, but I don’t think there were as many as when Shaun Alexander was doing his thing.  The running back position as a whole really exploded in the early-to-mid 2000s.  I mean, shit, with Davis’ induction, now we’re talking about Priest Fucking Holmes having an argument to be included!  The guy only had 3 good years and was injured the rest of the time for fuck’s sake!

It’s a shame, too, because Shaun Alexander came up in the era where Fantasy Football really exploded.  If that has any effect whatsoever, then you have to remember that Shaun Alexander was ALWAYS a top 2 pick in any fantasy draft, with LDT.  The game of football, at its purest, is about scoring touchdowns and preventing the other team from scoring touchdowns.  There weren’t many running backs in the history of the league who had a nose for scoring touchdowns the way Shaun Alexander did.  In fact, looking at the leaderboard, Alexander is tied for 7th with Marshall Faulk for his 100 touchdowns.  He only falls to 13th in combined rushing & receiving TDs as well.  Davis is 48th & 120th respectively.

I dunno!  Maybe I’m a homer.  Or, maybe I’m a fucking purist and Shaun Alexander deserves to be inducted into the Hall of Fame!

Now, regarding Marshawn Lynch, I think he has an even-tougher road to hoe than Alexander in a lot of ways.  He has 6 seasons where he surpassed 1,000 yards rushing, his first two with Buffalo and his first four full years with Seattle.  He racked up a career total of 9,112 yards (37th all time) and 74 rushing touchdowns (24th all time), with another 9 receiving TDs.  I won’t discount his first two years in Buffalo, but I’d have to say his Peak Years were the first four full ones with Seattle, so let’s run them down now:

  • In 2011, he ran for 1,204 yards and 12 TDs, good for 7th in yards and tied for 3rd in TDs with AP and Ray Rice, behind Cam Newton and Shady McCoy.
  • In 2012, he ran for 1,590 yards and 11 TDs, good for 3rd in yards and tied for 5th in TDs with Doug Martin and Trent Richardson.
  • In 2013, he ran for 1,257 yards and 12 TDs, good for 6th in yards and tied for 1st in TDs with Jamaal Charles.
  • In 2014, he ran for 1,306 yards and 13 TDs, good for 4th in yards and tied for 1st in TDs with DeMarco Murray.

On top of that, he made the Pro Bowl five times (2008, 2011-2014) and the first team All Pro once, in 2012.  No MVPs, but he led the Seahawks to back-to-back Super Bowls, winning one, and should have won them both.  He was also stripped of a Super Bowl MVP award opportunity by not being handed the ball at the 1-yard line against the Patriots, but that’s neither here nor there.

So, obviously, the numbers aren’t really there for Lynch, compared to Alexander.  But, as I said before, it’s always so much more than just numbers.  Now, I’m not sure Beastmode is going to win many popularity contests, with the way he shunned the media in his later years – particularly in those two Super Bowl seasons – but I also feel like time will heal those wounds somewhat.  I guess it just depends on how many Hall of Fame voters were also those media people who were all bent out of shape about his antics.  I could see that going either way, but it’s hard to see that as a deal-breaker.

What’s very much in Beastmode’s favor is the fact that he was a motherfucking BEAST!  He had, without question, the greatest run in the history of the NFL, PERIOD!  And, if you search for a reel of highlights, I mean, he’s amazing.  For me, he’s on a short-list with guys like Barry Sanders, Walter Payton, Jim Brown and maybe that’s it, of guys I just love to watch run with the football.  Guys who could do ANYTHING with the football!  With that mystique behind him?  Compared to Shaun Alexander, who has this reputation for being a bit soft (which I don’t think is totally fair, but it’s out there), I dunno.  I think that pulls Marshawn Lynch up even with Alexander, when you factor in total numbers plus the popularity contest element.

Then, take a look at playoff numbers.  Because I think this is obviously where Terrell Davis got over the hump, with the two Super Bowls and all that.  Davis is 6th all time in playoff yards with 1,140.  Each of the top 7 guys on this list (and 8 of the top 9) are in the Hall of Fame.  Ready for a shocker?  Marshawn Lynch is 8th on this list (and hence the only one of the top 9 not in the Hall) with 937 yards.  That, I think, is going to be a huge feather in his cap, if and when Lynch ever gets his day in the sun.

So, where do you look next?  I’ll tell you:  the era.  Shaun Alexander played in the last era of the great running backs.  Once he hung ’em up, and teams started realizing you could find quality running backs later in the draft, and pair them in these shared backfields teams have gone to, to mitigate injury risk and running back paydays, you just don’t see as many workhorses as you used to.  In that sense, Marshawn Lynch has a leg up, because he was a rare breed in that regard.  A workhorse and right up there at the top for his 4-year Peak run with Adrian Peterson and that’s about it.

At this point, once we start passing by the Hall of Famers in the first decade of the 2000s and get into the 2010s, you have to shift your expectations for what a Hall of Fame running back looks like.  You can’t just STOP putting running backs in the Hall of Fame, because their numbers aren’t like the video game numbers of the 1990s and early 2000s!

So, I could see a legitimate situation where Shaun Alexander never gets in (which would be a crime) and Marshawn Lynch does get in (which would be well-deserved).

I just hope the media guy who advocates for those two puts up a good fight, because I now think both are VERY deserving, especially if Terrell Davis is already in there.

Predicting The 2015 NFL Season

I love doing this post, I don’t care how wrong I am.  Last year, I was pretty far off in a lot of ways.  Detroit winning their division, Green Bay out of the playoffs entirely, New Orleans as the clear-cut second-best team in the NFC (and maybe NFL), Tampa and Atlanta both sneaking in as wild cards (essentially, I was high on everyone in what would be the worst division of all time – the 2014 NFC South – except the actual division winner).  And, of course, I made the mistake of picking a repeat Super Bowl matchup, which is about the dumbest thing you can possibly do.

I did have this little nugget of wisdom heading into the 2014 season, and if you replace all the Denver parts with New England parts, it rings eerily true:

My thing is – and I’ll deny it to my grave if I’m wrong – I have a SERIOUS nagging worry that the Seahawks and Denver will both make it back to the Super Bowl, but it’ll be the Broncos hoisting the Lombardi trophy while we sit and watch, devastated.

Of course, my official pick was a repeat Super Bowl championship, and we all know how that turned out.

So, let’s turn the page to 2015.  Here are my picks, in all their glory:

NFC East

Dallas
NY Giants
Philadelphia
Washington

Seemingly every year, I find the NFC East to be a crapshoot, where the hottest team in December ultimately wins the division.  That USUALLY means the Cowboys are on the outside looking in, but in 2014, they finally put it all together.  For 2015, I don’t see a whole lotta drop-off.  They still have that offensive line, so their running game should be all right, which means their offense should continue to be the strength.  Do just enough on defense, and I think they’ll take it.

Coming into this month, I would’ve had the Giants as my pick.  I like the way they finished last year; and a full season of Eli to ODB should be gangbusters.  But, I hear too much bad stuff about their defense for comfort (then again, that same bad stuff was said about the Cowboys’ defense last year, and they turned out okay).  I have a hard time trying to peg Philly.  I think they could be as good as a top 2 seed in the NFC, or they could be last in their division with 4 wins.  I choose to believe that Sam Bradford will at some point be lost for the year.  I also believe their defense got lucky on a lot of return TDs last year, and DeMarco Murray is another injury waiting to happen.  Ultimately, all the tinkering will have made them worse.  As for Washington, the less said about them, the better (though, I do believe with their new GM – Scot McCloughan – they have a chance to turn it around in a hurry; so long as Dan Snyder doesn’t fuck things up first).

NFC North

Green Bay
Detroit
Minnesota
Chicago

Well, if I’m going to put the stink on anyone, it might as well be the Packers.  I’ve got them as the biggest challenge to the Seahawks making it to a third straight Super Bowl, and right now, in fact, I have them with the edge for that #1 seed (by way of them hosting us in week 2, and by way of their incredibly easy schedule for a first place team).  The loss of Jordy Nelson for the year isn’t great, but with James Jones back in the fold, they should have enough receivers to get through the year just fine.  One of the strongest Packers teams I’ve seen since they went 15-1.

I still like Detroit – indeed, I like them as a Wild Card pick – and think they’ll have no trouble winning 10 games, even with the losses they’ve suffered on defense.  I like Minnesota to take a step forward, as Teddy Bridgewater gets more comfortable as a passer.  And, I like Chicago to be one of the very worst teams in the entire NFC (and therefore, the world).

NFC South

Carolina
Atlanta
New Orleans
Tampa Bay

I still find this division to be pretty pathetic, and I still doubt the winner of this division will have more than 9 wins.  I don’t like Carolina much, but I like the teams I’ve ranked below them even less.  Atlanta is still far from solid on defense, and they’ve got exactly two good players on offense (Matt Ryan & Julio Jones).  That’s it.  In games it wins, I’m sure the Ryan to Jones connection will be on point.  But, good teams will be able to shut that option down, and thereby shutting down the entire offense.  They don’t have a running game at all, Roddy White is very near retirement, and they’re STILL trying to figure out a way to replace Tony Gonzalez (will the mummy Antonio Gates be a free agent anytime soon?).

I’ve got New Orleans in the 3-hole, but I could easily see them as dead last.  Who are Brees’ options?  Are they REALLY going to devote their offense more to the run?  Do they even HAVE a defense?  I could see this year going sour in a hurry.  Tampa actually has some upside, and if their #1 QB gets the hang of this game, they could approach 6-8 wins.

NFC West

Seattle
St. Louis
Arizona
San Francisco

I’ll get to the Seahawks throughout the week in a series of previews, but suffice it to say, with all the turnover, I still feel the Seahawks are one of the best two or three teams in the NFL.  In a little more shocking news, I finally like the Rams to get over the hump and into the playoffs.  I think this is the year their defense puts it all together.  I don’t like Nick Foles a ton, but he is a starting quarterback in this league, and I’d much rather have him than someone like Cutler, Dalton, Fitzpatrick, Bradford, Cousins, Hoyer, and QB Browns.  Furthermore, I don’t think they’ll have to do much at all on offense to win games this year; I foresee a lot of 16-13 wins, as teams struggle to move the ball.  The schedule doesn’t help them out much early (3 of first 5 on the road, with games vs. SEA, vs. PIT, @ AZ, and @ GB), but after their week 6 BYE, they have a stretch where they play 6 of 9 at home, featuring (vs. CLE, vs. SF, @ MIN, vs. CHI, @ BAL, @ CIN, vs. AZ, vs. DET, vs TB).  I see them winning 7 of those games alone, and with a couple of unmentioned road games against the 49ers and Redskins, it’s not impossible to see this as a 10-win team.

I don’t like Arizona at all.  I think they got incredibly lucky in 2014 (which is a ridiculous statement, considering how unlucky they were with injuries, specifically with the quarterback position) and were not as good of a team as their record.  Carson Palmer is back, but I can’t imagine he has much left in the tank.  They’ve lost a bunch of guys on both sides of the line, and they still don’t have a running game at all.  They might get off to a good start early (home games against the Saints, 49ers, and Rams in the first four weeks, with the only road game being at Chicago), but look for the wheels to come off as that stretch is followed by the following (@ DET, @ PIT, vs. BAL, @ CLE, BYE, @ SEA, vs. CIN, @ SF, @ StL).  I could easily see them losing 6 of those games, and that doesn’t factor in a tough stretch of mostly home games to close out the season (vs. MIN, @ PHI, vs. GB, vs. SEA).  With Palmer surely injured by this point, I could see them losing out and having at least 10-11 losses this year.

And with all of that said, I STILL think the 49ers will be worse!  My hope is that they’re terrible, but not so terrible that they get a Top 5 pick.  Is that possible?  Well, considering all their good people are either retired or playing/coaching elsewhere, we might actually be looking at the future #1 overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft.  Not quite my worst nightmare, but it’s close.  The only things they have going for them is a Week 10 BYE and they get to host us on a Thursday (#ShortWeek).

AFC East

New England
Miami
Buffalo
NY Jets

With Tom Brady embiggened emboldened by the overturning of his 4-game suspension, I fully expect him to lay to waste any defense that comes across his path.  The thing with that is, teams aren’t just going to roll over and die (well, MOST teams; I fully expect the Steelers on Thursday to roll over like the good doggies they are, as I’m playing against my friend in Fantasy Football who’s starting Brady this week).  The Dolphins, Bills, and Jets all have pretty tough defenses.  I don’t expect them to beat the Pats a whole lot, but I’d LIKE to see them knock Brady around, to wipe that smug fucking smirk off his face.  They also face the defenses of Houston, Denver, and Dallas who should all be pretty tough as well.  How they managed to dodge playing the Ravens in the regular season is a crime against NFL scheduling (though, I obviously understand how NFL scheduling works, wouldn’t the hype for that game – which would invariably be played on either a Sunday or Monday night – be deliciously over the top?).

Elsewhere, like the Rams, I think this is the year the Dolphins finally make it over the hump.  Mike Wallace is gone, so that’s addition by subtraction.  I think they have the weapons in both the passing game and the running game to be a consistent force on offense.  With the addition of Suh on defense, that gives their run defense instant credibility, forcing other teams to be one dimensional.  That formula (combined with playing the NFC East and AFC South) should be more than enough to get them to 10 wins and a wild card.  I like Buffalo for approximately 7-8 wins (mostly due to their very-strong defense and lack of a quarterback), and I like the Jets for even less than that (mostly due to their less-strong defense and even BIGGER lack of a quarterback).

AFC North

Baltimore
Pittsburgh
Cincinnati
Cleveland

The Ravens won the Super Bowl in the 2012 season, then suffered an immediate setback thanks to the Joe Flacco contract.  They shed older players, reloaded through the draft, and now they’re back once again, ready to contend for more championships.  You know I love me some Seahawks front office, but I have only the utmost respect for the Ravens’.  And, not to get off on a tangent here, but I like the Ravens’ front office even more than the Patriots’.  Yeah, the Pats may have been more successful over the last decade and a half, but they’ve also been cheating throughout, and most importantly, they’ve EASILY had the lowest level of divisional competition by a fucking thousand miles.  If you swapped the Ravens and Patriots (so the Ravens were in the AFC LEast and the Pats were in the AFC North), I can make a pretty easy argument for the Ravens being the last great dynasty in the NFL, and the Pats still being pretty good, but nowhere near 6 Super Bowl appearances in 15 years.

Like the Giants, if you’d asked me to rank the divisions a month ago, I probably would’ve put Pittsburgh on top.  Again, you gotta like the way their offense played down the stretch.  But, that defense is clearly rebuilding, and they’re unlikely to remain as lucky with injuries as they were in 2014 (their center is already out for at least half the year, being put on the IR-designated to return).  If I had to predict the 2016 division champions, I’d probably tell you the Steelers will finally be ready.  But, as it stands now, I think they win no more than 9-10 games, and I think that’s still not good enough to crack the Wild Card.  I like Cincy to fall below .500 for the first time since Andy Dalton came into the league.  I also think Andy Dalton’s stranglehold on the starting QB job is in jeopardy and he starts losing some snaps to A.J. McCarron (Wave of the Future!).  Finally, I think Cleveland is a mess and that’s the end of that analysis.

AFC South

Indianapolis
Houston
Jacksonville
Tennessee

Indy is quickly taking over the reign of Worst Divisional Opponents In The NFL from New England, which is pretty easy to do when you’re good and the rest of the teams in your division don’t have any quarterbacks.  I think Hoyer and that Texans defense will be good enough to get to around 8 wins.  I think Jacksonville will make some strides towards .500 this year, but I don’t believe in Bortles as far as I can throw him; he’ll be another bust.  And the Titans are too young to do much of anything.  Mariota being Jake Locker 2.0 is probably their worst nightmare.

AFC West

Kansas City
Denver
San Diego
Oakland

I think we’re reaching the end of the line for Peyton Manning.  I like them to sneak into a wild card spot, but I’m not even really high on that, to be honest.  This is sort of a hedge pick; if Manning stays healthy, and the defense keeps up their end of the bargain, the Broncos could be divisional winners.  If Manning gets hurt, I think they could fall as far as last place in the division.  So, I decided to meet in the middle – maybe Manning misses a bunch of games in the middle of the season and they get him back for a hot stretch run in December.  Either way, I feel pretty good about the Chiefs grabbing control of the division.  Most people blame Alex Smith for their offensive woes last year; I blame their sub-pedestrian receivers (led by the corpse of Dwayne Bowe).  With a REAL number one receiver in Jeremy Maclin, I think this offense hums along like those old Andy Reid Philly teams.  And, considering their defense is pretty fearsome, I wouldn’t be shocked if this team won 12 games and a BYE in the first round of the playoffs.

I could see the Chargers sneaking past the Broncos for that final wild card spot, but I dunno.  The Chargers seem to be a team that always has all the promise in the world, but ultimately falters to a .500 finish.  I’m going to say their defense isn’t up to the charge (!), their running game isn’t where it needs to be, and Rivers doesn’t quite have the receiving weapons to get the job done.  As for the Raiders, it all hinges on Derek Carr.  That’s a scary proposition.

NFC Playoffs

  1. Seattle
  2. Green Bay
  3. Dallas
  4. Carolina
  5. St. Louis
  6. Detroit

AFC Playoffs

  1. New England
  2. Indianapolis
  3. Kansas City
  4. Baltimore
  5. Denver
  6. Miami

Wild Card Round

Dallas over Detroit
St. Louis over Carolina
Kansas City over Miami
Baltimore over Denver

Divisional Round

Seattle over St. Louis
Dallas over Green Bay
New England over Baltimore
Indianapolis over Kansas City

Championship Round

Seattle over Dallas
Indianapolis over New England

Super Bowl

Seattle over Indianapolis

In 2012, the Colts – with rookie Andrew Luck – won 11 games, made the playoffs, and lost in the first round to the Ravens.  In 2013, the Colts won 11 games again, made the playoffs again, beat the Chiefs in the Wild Card round, and lost to the Patriots in the Divisional round.  In 2014, the Colts won 11 games one more time, made the playoffs, beat the Bengals in the Wild Card round, beat the Broncos in the Divisional round, and lost to the Patriots in the AFC Championship Game.  My point being:  the Colts have gotten better every single year under Andrew Luck.  Their first year was just seeing what they had – and what they had was the next Peyton Manning.  The next year was seeing if the first year wasn’t a fluke.  Last year was taking that next step towards being elite.  THIS year is where they put it all together.

They’ve got Andre Johnson to go with T.Y. Hilton, which is a vast improvement over Reggie Wayne towards the end of his career.  They’ve got the steady presence of Frank Gore who’s been nothing if not healthy and is dying for a chance to win a ring.  And, FINALLY, I think they’ve made real strides to toughen up that defense.  I think this is the year they finally get over the hump of the Patriots running the ball down their throats.  I think they’ve got the complete package – even an elite shutdown corner in Vontae Davis (if he can stay healthy) – and I think this is the year they make their reemergence into the Super Bowl.

And, with all that being said, I think they’re going to get beat by the Seahawks.  You could argue that the first 10 games of the 2014 season saw the Seahawks wrapped up in a long term Super Bowl Hangover.  I think there’s no such hangover this year.  Everyone has their eyes on that prize and they’re going to do anything and everything to make people forget about The Play Call That Shall Not Be Named.

I have no such doubts about this year like I did going into last year.  I’m not QUITE as confident as I was going into the 2013 season (where I knew as soon as the 2012 playoffs ended that we’d be the team to beat), but that team was as complete as can be on both sides of the ball.  This team is almost there, but I worry about a few growing pains early.  If we beat the Rams and Packers in the first two weeks, all doubt will be washed away going forward.

The course for a Seahawks Dynasty is still very much on track.

Seattle Sports Hell 2013 NFL Power Rankings – Week 13

When you spend an intoxicated evening with friends – and you all happen to be sports fans – debates about sports are a 100% certainty to occur.  With this being football season, and my friends being in Seattle, there are two subjects dominating our attention:  the fantasy football playoffs, and the Seattle Seahawks.

Of course, with any semi-large group of friends, there are bound to be a few people who aren’t fans of the home team.  My group just so happens to have two Pittsburgh Steelers fans (our friendship pre-dated Super Bowl XL, but very nearly didn’t extend any further), so the debates can be pretty entertaining, depending on which team happens to be better that particular year.

Anyway, there were two topics of debate last Saturday that stand out.  The Heath Miller vs. Zach Miller quagmire (with no side giving an inch on who they’d rather have as their starting tight end), and a particular point one of my friends made.  At the time, it felt like a one-off insult from a bitter Steelers fan looking at a long, cold, pointless winter as his team gets ready to rebuild from the bottom up in the coming years; his point was essentially, “The Seahawks better win it all now, because their window is closing.”

He cited all of the young, cheap players we will need to sign to hefty, cap-destroying extensions (though, to be fair, he erroneously noted some players we’ve recently signed to modest, cap-friendly extensions), and I countered with this argument:

Russell Wilson, Earl Thomas, and Richard Sherman will get their money.  We’ll off-shoot that by getting rid of Sidney Rice, Marshawn Lynch, and probably Zach Miller sooner rather than later.  I don’t think we extend any of our linebackers to anything but team-friendly deals, as that position is pretty easy to re-load through the draft.  And, we’ve got expensive defensive linemen who will be coming off the books and/or restructured.

The point being:  the Seahawks are nowhere near Cap Hell.  Championship Windows are all relative, but I’d say the Seahawks’ window is open as long as Russell Wilson wears #3 for the Seahawks.  This team might never be as loaded as it is right now, because we can’t afford to keep EVERYBODY.  But, as long as the front office remains as intelligent as it is, we’ve got at least another decade in this Championship Window.

I mean, look at the Patriots!  Their window wasn’t just the first three Super Bowls they won with Tom Brady; it has extended, all the way through this very year and likely beyond.  What’s been their constant?  #12 under center, for all but one of those years.

And then I got to thinking:  even if we were in Cap Hell, why would anyone doubt this front office’s ability to find diamonds in the back-end of the draft?  How did we build this juggernaut?  By finding value in the mid to late rounds, and among the undrafted.  Do you think that skill is just going to vanish?  Do you think that Schneider and Carroll just “got lucky” in every one of their four drafts together?  If you do, then you probably also think those Pittsburgh Steelers bumblebee uniforms look even remotely good.

The Seattle Seahawks only need to secure three guys:  Wilson, Thomas, and Sherman.  After that, they can gut this team and I have all the confidence in the world that John and Pete will be able to fill in all the gaps the way they always have.  But, of course, they won’t NEED to gut this team, because a lot of the pieces are already in place.

This Championship Window isn’t going anywhere.

On to the rankings.

***

  1. Seattle Seahawks (11-1) – The F is for Finisher!
  2. Denver Broncos (10-2) – Gotta love the feeling of being in the driver’s seat.

The Rest:

  1. Carolina Panthers (9-3) – You’re welcome, Panthers.
  2. New England Patriots (9-3) – With a defensive performance like that, you gotta hate their chances in the playoffs.
  3. Kansas City Chiefs (9-3) – O-V-E-R R-A-T-E-D!
  4. New Orleans Saints (9-3) – The team we were semi-worried about probably won’t even win their division.  Funny.
  5. Indianapolis Colts (8-4) – They shouldn’t be struggling this much against such mediocre teams.
  6. San Francisco 49ers (8-4) – All of their skill positions are returning to health just as their offensive line goes kaput.
  7. Philadelphia Eagles (7-5) – Pretty solid showing against a top-notch defense.
  8. Detroit Lions (7-5) – Thank you Lions for seriously hurting the playoff chances of the Green Bay Packers!  Really, you’re too kind.
  9. Dallas Cowboys (7-5) – Demarco Murray owners the world over thank you.  That rushing touchdown at the end of the second quarter (when there was 14 seconds left and you still had 1 time out) was probably the most perfect play I’ve ever seen.
  10. Cincinnati Bengals (8-4) – There’s no reason why the Bengals should have beaten the Chargers in San Diego.  Then again, there’s no reason why the Bengals SHOULDN’T have beaten the Chargers in San Diego either.
  11. Arizona Cardinals (7-5) – If you know what’s good for you, you’ll draft a quarterback high next year.
  12. Baltimore Ravens (6-6) – I would just like to point out that while Torrey Smith had a pretty darn good fantasy day, he left A TON of points out there on the field with his drops and his terrible effort on jump balls.
  13. St. Louis Rams (5-7) – Can we just agree that both the Rams AND the Redskins lost that RGIII trade and be done with it?
  14. Chicago Bears (6-6) – And that’s why you don’t take a field goal over 40 yards for granted.  Not even in a dome.  Not even with the “most accurate kicker in NFL history”.  They should’ve continued pounding the ball until it was inside the 20 yard line.
  15. San Diego Chargers (5-7) – Dude, whatever.
  16. Pittsburgh Steelers (5-7) – Well, that just about does it for the Steelers and their playoff chances.  They now need to win out and get a TON of help.
  17. Green Bay Packers (5-6-1) – Welp, now we know.  I mean, we already knew for the most part, but know we know for 100% sure:  Matt Flynn is not a starting quarterback in this league.  Noodle arms can only take you so far.  Noodle arms with bad decision-making will take you absolutely no where.  As I watched that game, I couldn’t help but think back to this past off-season, when we were all sort of killing the Seahawks about trading away a perfectly good backup.  At this point, I’m willing to eat this heaping pile of crow on my plate:  yes, I would rather have Tarvar as my #2 (and so would, I think, the Green Bay Packers).
  18. Miami Dolphins (6-6) – So, you beat the Jets, do you want a medal?
  19. New York Giants (5-7) – I didn’t watch one minute of that Giants/Redskins game, because I don’t watch crappy football teams (unless they’re playing against the Seahawks).
  20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-9) – That was a good run you had going.
  21. Atlanta Falcons (3-9) – Beating the Bills only serves to hurt your chances in next year’s draft.
  22. Buffalo Bills (4-8) – Pretty flukey loss.  What are the odds a team fumbles away two scoring chances at the end of a game?
  23. New York Jets (5-7) – Well, okay, if Geno Smith is going to be THIS bad, you should probably sit him.
  24. Cleveland Browns (4-8) – No matter what happens, Weeden will never be injured to the point where he goes down for the year.  Cleveland, this is your curse.  What did you do to that old gypsy?
  25. Tennessee Titans (5-7) – Just good enough to lose by single-digits.
  26. Oakland Raiders (4-8) – I’m just thankful that the Raiders gave us a decently interesting game during the day on Thanksgiving.  I’m looking at you, Green Bay.
  27. Washington Redskins (3-9) – Maybe next year, let’s not schedule the Redskins for primetime every fucking week?
  28. Minnesota Vikings (3-8-1) – That’s some fancy running on a pathetic run defense.
  29. Houston Texans (2-10) – You may have the worst record right now, but that was quite the show against the Patriots!
  30. Jacksonville Jaguars (3-9) – Your 2013 Jacksonville Jaguars.

Seattle Sports Hell 2013 NFL Power Rankings – Week 6

Normally, when it comes to issues of “morality” or “good taste”, I tend to be the contrarian in any argument.  It’s boring to go with the vast majority, and for the most part, people like to get REAL high and mighty with their stances on things.  Like there’s no place in baseball for Yasiel Puig’s antics.  Bullshit there isn’t!  I think what he does is GREAT for the game of baseball, so take your seat in your Barcalounger, old man!  Let the young men enjoy the game!

But, there’s one argument where I can’t help but side with everyone else.  Right is right.  And those Houston Texans fans who cheered Schaub’s injury were fucking dickheads.

Look, I get it.  I know what it feels like to be a fan of a team with relatively high expectations and I know what it’s like for that team to come up short.  I know what it’s like to root for highly-paid disappointments.  I know what it’s like when there’s that ONE GUY who you can’t fucking stand.  Believe me, I root for Seattle teams … I KNOW!  But you people are fucking morons if you think Matt Schaub getting injured is worthy of praise.

Now, I’ll admit, I don’t follow the Houston Texans as closely as fans of that team, but I know a little bit.  I know, for starters, that you have no quarterback on that team who is better than Schaub.  T.J. Yates?  Are you JOKING me?  That’s almost as bad as Seahawks fans chanting for Charlie Whitehurst to come into the game!

But, more importantly, Matt Schaub isn’t the reason your team is losing these games.  Yes, throwing four pick-sixes in four games is pretty shitty, but a lot of that is bad luck.  If it were so easy for defenses to generate pick-sixes, then why doesn’t Blaine Gabbert have one in every single game he’s started?  It’s luck.  A lot of it is luck.  Now, of course, Schaub isn’t having the greatest season.  And, if you’re at the point where you’re cheering his being injured, then you have to realize that this goes further than 4 pick sixes in 4 games.  This is his seventh year in Houston, and for much of that time, he has led some pretty good teams.  Before this year, there was only one losing season since he’s worn that uniform.  He has two playoff appearances under his belt in the last two years, and in both of those years, the Texans have lost in the Divisional Round.  Of course, one of those defeats wasn’t his fault, as he was injured and the very same T.J. Yates came in and stunk up the joint.  But, I guess if you’re sick of Schaub at this point, then the Texans losing last year (when they blew a Top 2 seed and couldn’t even advance to the AFC Championship game) probably already had you teetering on the edge of total hatred.

The fact of the matter is, I DON’T understand how you can hate the guy.  He has been the best quarterback in your franchise’s history!  You should see some of the losers we as Seahawks fans have had to root for.  Come watch Jon Kitna for a few years and tell me how much you hate Schaub then!

Yes, it’s classless, yes it’s sickening, but most importantly, it’s just plain ignorant.  If you’re going to cheer for a guy on your team to be injured, at least make sure he DESERVES to hear those cheers!  But, what can you expect?  I mean, let’s face it, football fans can be pretty ignorant.  It’s just a fact of life (though, not you, dear readers; you are among the smartest, most charming people I know!  You handsome devils, you!).

***

  1. Denver Broncos (6-0) – Just so we’re agreed, we’re not going to get carried away because the Jags put up some yards and points against the Broncos, right?  We’re also not going to get all caught up in the fact that Manning didn’t surpass 300 yards and “only” threw for 2 touchdowns, agreed?  Let’s all just save the drama for another week (perhaps for someone like your mama, for instance).
  2. Seattle Seahawks (5-1) – Why, hello there easy home win against an inferior team.  Oh how I’ve missed you.

The Rest:

  1. Kansas City Chiefs (6-0) – Realer than Real Deal Holyfield.  And now you hookers and hoes know how I feel.
  2. Green Bay Packers (3-2) – Well, shit, losing your top two receivers isn’t ideal.
  3. San Francisco 49ers (4-2) – Remember when the 49ers were 1-2?  Those were some good days.
  4. New England Patriots (5-1) – God bless you, Patriots!  Last year, you royally fucked us by not beating San Francisco late in the season, but you’ve TOTALLY REDEEMED YOURSELVES.
  5. New Orleans Saints (5-1) – Oh, you’re only TIED for first in the NFC?  How quaint.
  6. Indianapolis Colts (4-2) – Well, you lost, and that’s got to be really disappointing for you.  However, Andrew Luck and T.Y. Hilton had crappy games, which helped my fantasy team squeak by with a win, so that’s good for me.  In fact, I would venture to say that COMPLETELY makes up for you beating my Seahawks last week!
  7. Cincinnati Bengals (4-2) – Still just the toughest team to read.  How did they let Buffalo back into that game without their #1 QB?
  8. Detroit Lions (4-2) – Say it loud, say it proud, the Detroit Football Lions are number one in the NFC North.
  9. Chicago Bears (4-2) – Whoop-dee-doo, they beat up on the New York Giants, BFD.
  10. Baltimore Ravens (3-3) – Hey, so way to gag one away at home!  Where’s this fearsome passing attack I’ve heard so much about?  Why can’t one of the highest-paid quarterbacks in the game win a close one at home against a good opponent?  An alternate spelling for Flacco is “o-v-e-r-r-a-t-e-d”.
  11. Miami Dolphins (3-2) – The two teams behind them lost, but the team ahead of them had a miracle comeback win.  Kind of a mixed-bag of a BYE week for the Dolphins.  But, one of those mixed bags you get when you leave the Puyallup Fair that has a bunch of toys you don’t want and a bottle of bubbles you throw out the car window on the ride back home to see if the car behind you will skid off the road while your parents threaten to ground you.
  12. San Diego Chargers (3-3) – Who the hell knows, right?  Between Baltimore, Miami, and San Diego, you’ve got three teams who win and lose at completely random intervals!  The Chargers’ secondary was supposed to be one of the worst in the league at giving up passing yards, yet they held Indy without a touchdown … go figure.
  13. Dallas Cowboys (3-3) – I happily slept through the game last night.  I unhappily woke up to find Demarco Murray has injured himself once again.  Probably should’ve traded him in fantasy when I had the chance.
  14. St. Louis Rams (3-3) – Some of us, like yours truly, saw the Rams going into Houston and getting the win.  Don’t worry Rams, we haven’t all given up hope.
  15. New York Jets (3-3) – And the award for the ugliest, most pointless game of the weekend goes to … Jets/Steelers!
  16. Houston Texans (2-4) – Look, it’s time Houston.  Cut your losses and start tanking now before it’s too late and you finish the season 8-8.
  17. Cleveland Browns (3-3) – Weeden, now would be a good time to start playing better.  I need you healthy and active in week 9, and preferably kicking some ass!  Stupid fantasy BYE weeks.
  18. Tennessee Titans (3-3) – Was it just me, or was Ryan Fitzpatrick throwing some wobbly-ass ducks?  You’re telling me you’d rather have him out there right now over Matt Hasselbeck?
  19. Philadelphia Eagles (3-3) – That’s one trainwreck of a defense you’ve got there.
  20. Atlanta Falcons (1-4) – Huh.  Down goes Julio Jones.  Not gonna lie to you, I did NOT see this season coming.
  21. Buffalo Bills (2-4) – I really hope EJ Manuel isn’t out long.  This team really needs him in the fold.  They could, in the meantime, stand to collect & bottle whatever it is that team does at the ends of games and try to do that for ENTIRETIES of games, so they’re not always forced to mount furious comebacks (see:  the Carolina & Cincinnati games)
  22. Arizona Cardinals (3-3) – They are, almost exactly, who we thought they were.  Rename them the Arizona Carson Palmers right now and get it over with.
  23. Carolina Panthers (2-3) – Yes, start going for it on fourth and shorts!  It’s about damn time!
  24. Oakland Raiders (2-4) – You think YOU can go into Kansas City and beat the Chiefs?  Please, you’re wasting everyone’s time!
  25. Minnesota Vikings (1-4) – Pretty bad when you long for the days of Christian Ponder.
  26. Washington Redskins (1-4) – Does someone want to tell me why everyone refers to the NFC East as “wide open” while the NFC West in 2010 was hapless?  The Redskins are 1-4 and are only 1.5 games out of first!  The Giants are 0-6 and only 3 games back!  The NFC Least is not “wide open”, it’s PATHETIC!
  27. Pittsburgh Steelers (1-4) – Look at you getting your first win of the season!  How about that?
  28. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-5) – Too bad they wasted their BYE week by not firing this shit-storm of a coaching staff.  Now, Tampa is stuck for the rest of the season with this group of losers.
  29. New York Giants (0-6) – Smells like someone died.
  30. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-6) – Your 2013 Jacksonville Jaguars.

Seattle Sports Hell 2013 NFL Power Rankings – Week 4

The more I watch some of these other teams, the more it is painfully obvious that there are two teams in this year’s NFL that are above and beyond every other team.  So, until further notice, there are going to be two sets of power rankings.

***

  1. Seattle Seahawks (4-0) – It’s two days later and I’m still shaking with excitement.
  2. Denver Broncos (4-0) – This offense + Seattle’s defense = Super Bowl Apocalypse.

The Rest:

  1. Kansas City Chiefs (4-0) – This team is GOOD.  I can’t wait for the first KC/Denver matchup this year.
  2. Green Bay Packers (1-2) – You could argue that the Lions helped the Pack by beating the Bears, but I’m not sure they need the help.  I still think this is the best team in the NFC North, which it turns out is a pretty decent division.
  3. New England Patriots (4-0) – Considering they’re undefeated with all the injuries they’ve had to overcome, I might consider being really worried about this team.  But, then I remember those injured guys (Amendola, Gronk, etc.) will just get injured again anyway and I relax.
  4. San Francisco 49ers (2-2) – They needed that one.  Had they gone 1-3, with two losses in the division, I think you could have legitimately written this team off.
  5. Houston Texans (2-2) – Shoot, I think I’ve been under-rating the Hell out of this team.  That might be the toughest game the Seahawks play all year.
  6. New Orleans Saints (4-0) – Good team, but just wait until they start facing good defenses.
  7. Atlanta Falcons (1-3) – Down 7, with three time outs to go, I would have kicked deep.  Probably wouldn’t have mattered, but when you fail on the onside kick, you give New England a better chance to go up by two scores.  Had they nailed that touchdown on the previous drive, I would’ve onside kicked it.  Either way, a disappointing start to the Falcons’ season and a great help to the Seattle Seahawks.
  8. Detroit Lions (3-1) – 2-0 in the North division, 3-1 against the NFC.  The Lions’ playoff chances are STRONG right now.
  9. Indianapolis Colts (3-1) – Dominant win in Jacksonville.  These Colts are growing on me.
  10. Chicago Bears (3-1) – That defense is over-rated as SHIT when they’re not scoring touchdowns.
  11. Miami Dolphins (3-1) – Mike Wallace is really a suck-ass so-called superstar.  The Dolphins will rue the day they gave him a max pay-day.
  12. Cincinnati Bengals (2-2) – I’m sorry, but you lost to the Browns.  No top 10 team of MINE is going to lose to the Browns!
  13. Carolina Panthers (1-2) – It’s early yet, but they’re in a nice little hole to the Saints.  Fortunately for the Panthers, the Falcons are ripe for the picking.
  14. Baltimore Ravens (2-2) – Not going back to the playoffs.  You heard it here … many times.
  15. San Diego Chargers (2-2) – Their game featured two of the most frustrating teams with two of the most frustrating QBs.  On this day, Rivers bested Romo.
  16. Dallas Cowboys (2-2) – Why do they keep throwing on the goalline?  Demarco Murray needs some TD love!
  17. Cleveland Browns (2-2) – HOYER!!!  Is there any way we can donate “The Magic Man” nickname to this guy?  These Browns have no business getting to 2 wins this year!
  18. Tennessee Titans (3-1) – I’m impressed!  But losing Locker in this game to injury isn’t going to work.  The rest of this team seems to be up to the task, but it still doesn’t mean I’m going to put them in my top half.  Beat a legitimately good team without your best quarterback, then we’ll talk.
  19. New York Jets (2-2) – These aren’t your older brother’s Jets!  I actually found myself flipping over to their game on Sunday!  Of course, that was only because I take so much glee in watching the Jets lose football games.
  20. Buffalo Bills (2-2) – Exciting times to be a Bills fan.  When was the last time you could say that?
  21. Philadelphia Eagles (1-3) – Remember how everyone was sucking Chip Kelly’s dick after that first game when they dominated Washington?  Pretty tough to run an up-tempo, lots-of-plays offense when your quarterback and the players around him (save McCoy) are just the worst.
  22. Minnesota Vikings (1-3) – Whoop-dee-doo, they beat up on the Pittsburgh Steelers, BFD.
  23. St. Louis Rams (1-3) – I tweeted this during their game, but the Rams will end up paying Sam Bradford over $78 million if he stays on his current deal through 2015.  And they’re thinking of working out an extension?  Yes!  As a Seahawks fan, I say, “Please do!”
  24. Arizona Cardinals (2-2) – Shouldn’t have required 13 fourth quarter points to win that game.  You fall in the rankings accordingly.
  25. Washington Redskins (1-3) – Lotta injuries are only going to make a bad team worse.  Good time for a BYE week, I guess.
  26. Oakland Raiders (1-3) – I don’t know what to tell you.  This isn’t a good team and won’t be a good team for quite a while.
  27. New York Giants (0-4) – I can’t believe how bad this team is.
  28. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-4) – I REALLY can’t believe how bad THIS team is.
  29. Pittsburgh Steelers (0-4) – Words can’t explain how much I can’t believe how bad this team is.
  30. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-4) – You know what?  I can believe how bad this team is.  I absolutely can.

Seahawks Get Satisfying Win Over Those Fucking Cowboys

What were some of the points I brought up in my preview of this game?  Let’s take it piece by piece.

I think we can hold their running game in check

They ran the ball for 49 yards on 16 carries.  Granted, mostly because they were so far behind in the second half, but still.  I want to say Murray had almost all of his 44 yards in the first half.  We really stuck it to him when the game was still close in the second half!  3.1 yards per carry as a team … I will take that every week until the end of time.

I think their bloated, overconfident receivers are little match for our aggressive, overconfident cornerbacks

Miles Austin had a decent game with his TD catch (5 for 63), but as a leading receiver – with a quarterback who threw for 251 yards – that’s no great shakes.  You could say Romo did a good job of spreading the ball around, but 8 receptions for 71 yards went to running backs.  When you’ve got Romo checking down to running backs 8 times (when all he wants to do is make the big play downfield), I’d say the secondary was doing its job.  That’s not even taking into account the interception, the 7 passes defended as a team, and the consistently hard hits all around.  Whenever they did get the ball in someone’s hands, that person was hit hard.

I fully expect our defensive line to make Romo’s day a living fucking hell

Only one sack on the day, but a lot of hurries where Romo deftly avoided pressure to make a throw.  And 6 QB hits add up.

I also think we can run on them

182 yards on 41 attempts for a 4.4 yard average and a touchdown.  I’d say we ran on them.

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

Not quite the 5.0 yards per carry I predicted, but I was DAMN close on my Beastmode call.  He actually got 122 yards and a TD.  And his 4.7 yards per carry average is pretty damn close to my 5.0 prediction.  He didn’t get any receptions, but he more than did his job in this game.

While we won’t be able to keep Dallas’ offense down to nothing, I do think we can hold them in the teens

The Seahawks did me one better and held them in the single-digits.  Pure annihilation.

I also think we’re going to demolish them in turnovers.  I’m expecting at least a +2 at minimum

Dallas lost a fumble and they threw an interception.  The Seahawks had 0 turnovers.  That’s what we call a +2 turnover ratio.

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?

Blocked punt, forced a fumble on a kickoff … that’s what we call Special Teams Magic.

Does that mean a curious officiating blunder going our way from these inept refs?

They … didn’t call the hit on Golden Tate on the defenseless player (when, by all rights, they should have, because that hit was against the rules, I don’t care how awesome it was), but they DID call a late-hit against Russell Wilson when the guy barely caressed him as he went out of bounds on the SAME PLAY.  That’s a 30-yard swing in field position.  Maybe it wouldn’t have been a game-changer, but you never know.

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?

OK, so that didn’t happen, but he did have a nifty 14-yard rush that mysteriously turned into a nearly 30-yard gain thanks to that bogus penalty that went in our favor.

***

I choose to gloat here about all the ways I saw this game coming, because it doesn’t happen very often.  For the record, today was AWESOME.  I just LOVE beating the fucking Cowboys!  Seeing Tony Romo look like a total dick really makes my day and my weekend.  Seeing Miles Austin look like a bitch … well, that’s just every time I see him because he ALWAYS looks like a bitch.  Seeing Demarcus Ware not murder my quarterback.  It was all good today in SoDo.

I don’t want to rain on anyone’s parade, though, but this team isn’t perfect.  I will commend Russell Wilson on stepping up in the second half after a shakey start, but this offense still stuck with its conservative game plan and sooner or later we’re going to need Wilson to throw for upwards of 300-400 yards and I’d like to know that he can do it.

I don’t think this Seahawks team, as it sits right now, can go toe-to-toe with a really good team and beat them.  I think this Seahawks team thrives on special teams magic and crazy turnovers to thrust them into the winner’s circle.  But, when going against a good team (like, say, the 49ers … or the Packers next Monday night), you’re not necessarily going to get those special teams points and you’re not going to get all the turnovers.  GOOD teams take care of the ball and force you to beat THEM.  They don’t beat themselves.  Dallas beat themselves today just as much as the Seahawks beat them.  An over-aggressive defense is good when you’re able to overwhelm the other team’s offense.  But, when your over-aggressiveness opens up weaknesses (like we saw on that 95-yard drive Dallas constructed for their only score), you’re bound to look foolish and ultimately lose football games.

I’m more concerned now about that Packers game than I was last week.  We’re not going to keep getting blocked punts and huge returns from Leon and fumble recoveries.  At some point, we’re going to have to play a clean football game against another team’s clean football game and somehow find a way to win.

If Russell Wilson can do THAT … then you’ll have me declaring for all to read that Russell Wilson will be the quarterback that brings a championship to Seattle.  Until then, I’m holding my breath and crossing my fingers.

P.S.  Golden Tate looked really good today.  Not quite a breakout performance, but I can see one on the horizon.

Also:  Anthony McCoy is going to fumble in a big situation if he doesn’t stop holding the ball like it’s a fucking dildo.

Finally:  Good job Bruce Irvin on your half sack.  May you have many, many more …

A Companion Post: Who Might Want Beastmode Besides Seattle?

One thing I failed to explore in the previous post is:  what’s the market look like for a guy like Marshawn Lynch?

Yes, the Franchise Tag is a good cost-cutting tool when trying to re-sign a player.  But, a complete and utter lack of teams desiring to sign an over-priced running back is probably the best thing the Seahawks could ask for.

Of course, on Lynch’s side, you’ve got the age-old adage:  it only takes one.

So, let’s just go around the league.  For starters, you can count out the NFC East.  Dallas has any number of quality young backs already locked in (including super-stud DeMarco Murray who is sure to be a fantasy god for years to come).  The Giants appear to be set with Bradshaw and whoever else behind him.  The Redskins have a nice little stable of young backs.  And the Eagles have Shady McCoy (and, I imagine, not a whole lot of cap room to boot).

In the NFC North, I’m banking my life-savings (and one of my fantasy keepers) on the fact that they will retain Matt Forte.  Minnesota obviously has one of the very best backs in the league.  The Detroit Lions, however, could be interesting.  All they’ve got on their roster right now is Jahvid Best, and he’s a fucking injury waiting to happen!  It’s certainly NOT a good sign that he ended his season with concussions last year.  And, you’d have to think that for a young team trying to cultivate this bad-ass attitude, a guy like Beastmode would slide right in nicely.  Even MORE interesting are the Green Bay Packers.  You’ve got a team with an all-world quarterback, with a shitload of receivers, and with absolutely no running game to speak of whatsoever.  Ryan Grant is a free agent who has played his last game with the green and gold; James Starks is good, but he’s no Beastmode.  I gotta think Lynch might be just the piece to put the right balance into that explosive offense.

The NFC South will be no competition.  Atlanta still has a lot of money tied up in Michael Turner.  New Orleans drafted the top running back last season (and they have other money tied up in three or four other guys); plus, theirs is not an offense that would make any sense for a guy like Lynch.  Carolina still has three running backs (including the guy who takes snaps from the center).  And Tampa is a young team that will never in a million years put in the money it would take to get Lynch.

As for the other teams in the NFC West:  San Francisco has Gore, St. Louis has Jackson, and Arizona has Wells.  They all seem pretty committed to their guys.

You know who scares me more than any other team in the NFL?  The New England Patriots.  Think about it, they were THIS close to winning it all this past season!  What were they missing?  What are they ALWAYS missing?  A balanced offensive attack!  Let’s face it, Tom Brady isn’t getting any younger.  Yes, I know the Patriots like to skimp on their running backs (just as they like to bank draft picks for future drafts), but at one point or another, they’re going to have to cash in before it’s too late.  That crack about Tom Brady not getting any younger:  the same can be said for him not getting any BETTER.  Tom Brady is as good as he’s ever going to be; it’s all downhill from here.  One of these seasons, his skills are going to erode.  He’s not going to see the open receiver soon enough, he’s going to force more and more balls into coverage, he’s going to take more and more hits from ferocious defenses looking to take out the guy while he’s on top.  The Pats could sure as shit use a guy like Lynch to take off some of the load.

And, don’t look now, but Kevin Faulk and BenJarvus Green-Ellis are both free agents.  They’re not going to hand the ball off to Danny Woodhead and Shane Vereen 30 times a game!  Why WOULDN’T they make a huge push to get Lynch and start dominating the Time of Possession in every game?  What’s the downside here?

Elsewhere in the AFC East, the Dolphins are tied up with Reggie Bush and Daniel Thomas, the Jets seem pretty happy with Shonn Greene and whatever young buck they’re going to slide behind him.  And, of course, the Bills have Jackson and Spiller (plus, duh, they’re the team that traded Lynch in the first place).

In the AFC North, you know damn well Baltimore is re-signing Ray Rice, so forget about it.  The Steelers would be an AWESOME fit for a guy like Beastmode, but they’re still stuck with Mendenhall (plus, they NEVER fork over money on free agents).  Cincy won’t fork over the money it’ll take either.  And the Browns – in spite of his sub-par season – will most likely re-sign Hillis (plus, they’ve got a stable of young backs they could easily throw into the mix should Hillis go elsewhere).

The AFC South has three teams that are simply non-starters.  Houston has not one but TWO massively effective running backs (Foster, who’s a fantasy god; and Tate who – as a backup – nearly ran for 1,000 yards).  The Titans have Chris Johnson and his massively insane contract.  And the Jags have one of the better all-around guys in MJD.

The Indianapolis Colts, however, are a God damned wild card and I just don’t like it!  Now, for starters, if they opt to keep Peyton Manning, then you can just skip to the next paragraph right now, because they won’t have two cents to rub together.  But, let’s say they let him and his $28 million walk:  suddenly, they’re in play!  They will have a rookie quarterback starting from Game 1.  They don’t have a single running back worth a good God damn on their team.  And, the organization will have to do something for its fans to make up for the fact that they just let go of a Hall of Famer (especially if he goes to another team and starts kicking ass again).  I wouldn’t put it past the Colts to do something drastic; mark my words.

In the AFC West, we’re talking about teams who are all pretty much set.  The Chiefs will be looking for Jamaal Charles to bounce back from an early-season season-ending injury in 2011.  The Broncos still have Willis McGahee and Knowshon Moreno.  And the Raiders will still have McFadden; if they re-sign Michael Bush, then all the more reason for them to NOT sign Lynch.

So, aside from the Seahawks, we’re talking about four potential teams:  Detroit, Green Bay, New England, and Indianapolis.  All have ample reasons to sign a back like Lynch; all have ample reasons to not do a damn thing.  There will be other, cheaper options out there (Hillis, Bush, Mike Tolbert, Cedric Benson, Tashard Choice, Justin Forsett, Ryan Grant) for teams like New England and Detroit to snap up, if they so choose to go the tightwad route.  Really, it’s tough to know exactly WHICH of these four teams would be the most likely, considering I don’t know what their cap situations are like.  If I were Green Bay or New England, though, I’d think long and hard.  Both teams were DAMN close this past season.  Both teams had very similar, pass-first types of offenses.  And both teams lost to the same team (the Giants) which could have been avoided had they had a running game.

Something to think about as these Beastmode negotiations continue.