The Bitterly-Disappointing Seattle Sports Hell Power Rankings

I have absolutely nothing to say up here, so let’s jump right into the rankings.

  • Philadelphia (8-1)
  • New England (6-2)
  • Pittsburgh (6-2)
  • L.A. Rams (6-2)
  • New Orleans (6-2)
  • Dallas (5-3)
  • Kansas City (6-3)
  • Minnesota (6-2)

A lot of shuffling of teams who were on a BYE this week.  While the Rams may or may not be the real deal, they have almost the exact same schedule as the Seahawks, and they’re playing a helluva lot better.  Dallas is certainly taking charge, though again, we’ll see if Elliott gets re-re-re-re-re-suspended, and what that means for their consistency.  The Vikings feel pretty good to me, but no where near a Super Bowl-calibre team.

  • Seattle (5-3)
  • Detroit (4-4)
  • Washington (4-4)
  • Carolina (6-3)
  • Buffalo (5-3)
  • Tennessee (5-3)
  • Jacksonville (5-3)
  • Oakland (4-5)

I can’t rank the Seahawks behind the Redskins; WE’RE BETTER THAN THEM!  They didn’t beat the Seahawks, the Seahawks beat the Seahawks (and they tend to do that a lot).  Detroit could be poised to go on a nice little second-half run, if they can take down the Vikings a second time.  I’m not so much a believer in Carolina because I’m not so much a believer in Cam Newton.  Starting to really come around on that Jacksonville defense though.  Don’t let me down, Oakland.  I feel like putting the Raiders in the top half is a stretch, and more leap of faith than anything else.

  • Atlanta (4-4)
  • N.Y. Jets (4-5)
  • L.A. Chargers (3-5)
  • Baltimore (4-5)
  • Denver (3-5)
  • Miami (4-4)
  • Arizona (4-4)
  • Indianapolis (3-6)

These are the teams that are boring as fuck to watch.  So, yay to this week’s Seattle/Arizona Thursday Night game, I guess.  Part of me wishes the Colts would just fire their coaching staff already.  I feel like Chuck Pagano would be better served in an organization that knew what the fuck it was doing.  Like the Steelers, or the Packers or something.  I mean, almost any other coach with that Colts team is probably winless right now.

  • Chicago (3-5)
  • Houston (3-5)
  • Tampa Bay (2-6)
  • Cincinnati (3-5)
  • Green Bay (4-4)
  • N.Y. Giants (1-7)
  • San Francisco (0-9)
  • Cleveland (0-8)

Lotta teams no one expected to be in this group (Houston, Tampa, Cincy, Green Bay, Giants).  The 49ers are secretly turning into my worst nightmare:  a young, talented team, tanking this year, though they just traded for a potential franchise QB, and they’re almost guaranteed to get another Top 5 draft pick in 2018.  They are going to be SCARY in 2-3 years (maybe as early as NEXT year)!  Cleveland is the opposite of that.  Though, let’s be real, they probably dodged a huge bullet in not pulling off that A.J. McCarron deal.  If that guy isn’t a dud, then my name isn’t Steven A. Taylor.

The Approximately-Midseason Seattle Sports Hell Power Rankings

Slowly but surely, we’re narrowing in on something approaching a consensus of who’s good, who’s bad, and who’s in the middle (spoiler alert:  a lot of teams are in the middle).  Let’s get going:

  • Philadelphia (7-1)
  • Kansas City (6-2)
  • Seattle (5-2)
  • New England (6-2)
  • Pittsburgh (6-2)
  • Minnesota (6-2)
  • L.A. Rams (5-2)
  • New Orleans (5-2)

The only change to my Elite Eight was swapping out Houston for New Orleans.  I hate to admit it, but the Saints look pretty okay!  All they’ve ever needed is quasi-competence on defense, and it appears they have it.  In an underwhelming NFC South, that should be all that’s required to run away with it.  Also, an impressive Monday Night win to get the Chiefs back on track.  Of course, I’m higher on the Seahawks than most, and they just got a living, breathing left tackle, so WATCH OUT AMERICA!  Like the rest of you, I can’t wait for the Philly/Seattle game on Sunday Night in December.  NBC is SO lucky they got that one.

  • Dallas (4-3)
  • Houston (3-4)
  • Buffalo (5-2)
  • Atlanta (4-3)
  • Detroit (3-4)
  • Washington (3-4)
  • Carolina (5-3)
  • L.A. Chargers (3-5)

I’ll be curious to see how the Cowboys handle not having Ezekiel Elliott (assuming his suspension sticks).  I still like the Texans an awful lot and think they’re poised to rip off a bunch of wins in a row.  Can’t deny Buffalo’s grit and determination; too bad it’ll all be for naught.  A rebuilding program CLEARLY in the market for a new quarterback (even though they already have a good one in Tyrod Taylor) doesn’t need a meaningless playoff appearance.  I’ve hated the hiring of Sark in Atlanta from day 1, and from the looks of things the rest of the fanbase is right there with me.  I also sort of think the Panthers are frauds and will finish right around .500.  Finally, I think the Chargers have been ridiculously unlucky with a pretty difficult schedule, and are better than their record indicates.

  • Oakland (3-5)
  • Denver (3-4)
  • Tennessee (4-3)
  • Jacksonville (4-3)
  • Baltimore (4-4)
  • N.Y. Jets (3-5)
  • Tampa Bay (2-5)
  • Green Bay (4-3)

The eight most disappointing teams in the NFL?  I know I was pretty high on Oakland and Tennessee.  A lot of other people were pretty high on Denver and Baltimore.  We all got suckered in by Hard Knocks with the Bucs.  You’re a fool if you didn’t like Green Bay heading into the season; who could’ve seen A-Rod suffering another collarbone injury?  And the Jets are disappointing for the wrong reasons:  winning ANY games when they should be tanking for the draft.  The Jags are in a similar boat, but their defense looks like it’ll be legit for years to come.

  • Cincinnati (3-4)
  • N.Y. Giants (1-6)
  • Miami (4-3)
  • Arizona (3-4)
  • Chicago (3-5)
  • Indianapolis (2-6)
  • San Francisco (0-8)
  • Cleveland (0-8)

I’ve never been a huge Dalton fan, but how did the rest of the Bengals get so mediocre?  I could see, with the pressure totally off, the Giants at least playing better football, even if their schedule dictates they’ll likely be drafting in the Top 5 next year.  The Dolphins are a bunch of total frauds.  The Cards are fucked without Palmer and better hope their defense carries them in a big way.  The Bears have a dominant defense, but are getting nothing from their rookie QB.  The Colts are a huge mess.  As are the 49ers and Browns, but why do I get the feeling the 49ers are more capable of bouncing back next year (particularly with newcomer Jimmy Garoppolo)?

The Triumphant Return Of The Seattle Sports Hell Power Rankings

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

On to the rankings:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Having Seen The Seahawks Play, Should We Revise Our Expectations?

In my preview & prediction post ahead of the Seahawks’ week 1 game in Green Bay, I had us going 13-3.  One of those wins I had pegged for us was that very game against the Packers, which obviously didn’t go according to plan.  So, is 13-3 totally off the table?  Are a lot of other things off the table as well?  Let’s dive in real quick.

If the Seahawks lose this week against the 49ers, we’ve got bigger problems than just losing out on the #1 seed in the NFC.  I can’t imagine a world where that happens, so let’s take for granted that the Seahawks will be 1-1 after this weekend.

I’m still concerned about the Titans, but decidedly less so than I was before week 1.  The Raiders were able to move the ball at will against them, both through the air and on the ground.  I don’t see a ton of difficult pass-rushers or interior D-linemen on their roster.  I think if the Seahawks can keep their rushing attack in check, we can force Mariota into enough errors on third down to prevail.  I had the Seahawks 2-1 after three games in my preview, and I think that’s still on the table.

I think the Colts look much worse than advertised, and that Sunday Night game has no business being anything other than a laugher.

Then, there’s that road game against the Rams.  Aaron Donald is predictably back in the fold, and I can’t see any way he doesn’t lay waste to our pathetic offensive line.  The only question being – 5 weeks into the regular season – will our O-Line have improved enough over the first month to at least keep Wilson upright?  Our only hope is that they will have gelled JUST enough to keep the pigs at bay.

After the BYE, it’s a road game against the Giants.  I can no longer, with good conscience, consider this game a win for the Seahawks.  Not with the way their D-Line balls out.  I can’t guarantee a loss either, because with Eli Manning, there’s always a chance.  So, I’ll say this:  the Seahawks will lose one of the two games between the Rams and Giants, and I wouldn’t be surprised in the slightest if it’s the Rams game we doof once again.

I still like our chances at home against both the Texans and Redskins.  I can’t see a rookie QB coming into CenturyLink Field and withstanding our pressure.  It might be a lot uglier than we’d like, but even a 6-3 victory is still a victory.  As for the Redskins, their defense is hot garbage, and all the Kirk Cousins in the world won’t be able to save them.

So, after 8 games, I have the Seahawks at 6-2, with an outside chance at 5-3 if they lose to both the Giants and Rams.

Kicking off the second half is that Thursday Night game against the Cards.  Carson Palmer still looks bad.  D.J. will miss this game with injury.  The rest of their offensive weapons are pretty suspect outside of the Hall of Famer Larry Fitzgerald.  They also don’t have Calais Campbell in the middle.  I want to call this game a coin flip, but I have to believe we’ll still prevail.

Monday Night against Atlanta becomes a real concern.  I’ll say this:  I’m glad the Seahawks are home for this one.  I could see this one being a huge score-fest, but their D-Line doesn’t totally petrify me.  Close Seahawks victory.

Again, I can’t imagine a world where we lose to the 49ers this year.

Suddenly the Philly game becomes a serious concern.  Their defense is legit.  Unless injuries start to take hold on that side of the ball, it wouldn’t shock me in the slightest to see the Seahawks muff this one.

I would also express some concern about the Jags game.  They’ve poured tons of resources into their defense (what are YOU doing here, Calais Campbell?!).  And, while I know they’ve got massive issues at the quarterback position, I could see them remain dedicated to the run, slow the game to a crawl, and if they make a couple plays here and there on defense, it could be one of those 14-6 games like we saw in Tampa last season.  I’m calling it right now:  the Seahawks WILL lose to either the Eagles or Jags, but definitely not both.

At home against the Rams, I’m marginally confident.  Let’s move on.

On the road against Dallas, again, I think we have to question some things.  While the Cowboys don’t terrify you on defense, I think they’re just good enough on offense to keep moving the chains.  By then, they should have their Ezekiel Elliott situation settled one way or the other (either he’ll play out the entirety of 2017, or he will have already had his suspension completed), and I’m a big Dak believer.  I’m notching this one in the L column just to be safe.

Finally, home against the Cards, with them having nothing to play for, is a recipe for success if I’ve ever heard one.

That puts us at 12-4, or maybe 11-5.  That most certainly keeps us out of the #1 seed and might even dump us into Wild Card weekend.  Losing games to Packers, Giants, and Cowboys could be just the tie-breakers to torpedo this season once again.

It’s not enough to just win the games you’re SUPPOSED to win.  You need to steal some wins against legit contenders!  4-0 against the AFC is about as useless as it gets when you lose 4-5 games against the NFC.  So, I hope I’m wrong, and the Seahawks still figure out a way to get to 13 wins.  Otherwise, it’ll all be as pointless as it was in 2016.

Predicting The 2017 NFL Season

It’s that time again!  Check out some predictions from past seasons:

Since I don’t do a good-enough job of noting this ahead of time, let’s take a brief look back at my 2016 predictions and see where I went wrong.

In the NFC, I had the NFC seeded in the following order (top 4 teams are division winners):

  1. Seattle
  2. Green Bay
  3. Washington
  4. Carolina
  5. Arizona
  6. New York

In reality, they were seeded as follows:

  1. Dallas
  2. Atlanta
  3. Seattle
  4. Green Bay
  5. New York
  6. Detroit

So, I had two division winners correct, and three playoff teams out of six.  Not bad.  My best call was nailing the Giants for a Wild Card berth; my worst call was predicting the Falcons would finish fourth in the NFC South (not far behind:  predicting the Cowboys would finish third in the East).

In the AFC, I was considerably better, nailing the division winners (although, not quite in the correct order) and 5/6 playoff teams:

  1. New England
  2. Kansas City
  3. Houston
  4. Pittsburgh
  5. Oakland
  6. Buffalo

I wanted so desperately for the Bills to make it back to the playoffs, I was blinded by how terrible they are as a franchise!  In reality, the playoffs looked like this:

  1. New England
  2. Kansas City
  3. Pittsburgh
  4. Houston
  5. Oakland
  6. Miami

Best call here was nailing the top two seeds in order, and the top 5 (just flip-flopping the Texans and Steelers).  Worst call:  Dolphins finishing fourth in the East (behind the Jets???  Come on, man!), followed by the Jags finishing second in the South (I was drinking the Bort Kool Aid, for sure).

I ended up with a Seattle over Kansas City Super Bowl, because I’m a homer.  I also had a Seattle over Indianapolis Super Bowl the year before, and a Seattle over Denver rematch in 2014.  I will give myself some credit for correctly predicting the Seattle over Denver Super Bowl in 2013, as well as (I shit you not) a Baltimore over San Francisco Super Bowl in 2012.

So, it’s time to get back on the horse!  Without further ado, here are my divisional predictions:

NFC East

New York
Dallas
Washington
Philadelphia

There’s got to be some regression with the Cowboys.  Not a lot, but I think just enough.  Of course, I’m saying that knowing full well I’ve staked my fantasy football future on the arm of Dak Prescott, but I’ve got some real issues with that defense, and I just don’t think their offense can be as perfect as they were last year (particularly the running game, since I’m rolling with Ezekiel Elliott in two different leagues.  I like Washington, but I don’t care for their defense, and I question whether their passing game can be as potent as it’s been.  Obviously, I expect Kirk Cousins to play well, but he’s got a lot of new pieces around him.  The Eagles strike me as a few more years away.  The Giants just feel like the most complete team on both sides of the ball, so I’m rolling with them.

NFC North

Green Bay
Minnesota
Detroit
Chicago

Is there really any point in picking against the Packers?  They’re like the Patriots of the NFC; they’re always good, and they’re always surrounded by crappy division-mates.  I think the Vikings and Lions could go either way; I think they’re both about .500 teams.  I like the Vikings’ defense just a little bit more than I like Detroit’s offense.  I also think a second season with Sam Bradford should help them move the ball a little more.  I think the Bears will be a mess and, more importantly, I think that’s the best thing for them, as they’ll need to surround their new rookie QB with a lot of talent going forward.

NFC South

Carolina
Tampa Bay
Atlanta
New Orleans

I almost picked the Bucs, but I dunno.  I just don’t see it.  I think they’re a year away still; they strike me as fairly immature.  Honestly, I don’t feel strongly about ANY of these teams, but having Carolina bounce back is the least-ridiculous thing I can imagine right now.  I do still think the Bucs will make a Wild Card spot though, I’m just not so sure they’ll have enough to overtake the Panthers.  I think the Falcons will be about a .500 team as they remain hungover from that devastating Super Bowl loss.  And, I just don’t think the Saints are very good, and they probably need to think about blowing that situation up at some point.

NFC West

Seattle
Arizona
San Francisco
Los Angeles

The last couple years, I’ve been seduced by blind homerism when it comes to the Seahawks.  Nevertheless, they’ve still managed to win at least 10 games and make the playoffs both years.  So, I’m not TOTALLY crazy.  This year, however, I believe to be the year we get back our #1 seed and our home field advantage throughout the playoffs.  I still like Arizona to kick up a little fuss, but they’re about a .500 team too.  I think the 49ers will be better than people expect, though they’re probably still a 6-7 win team.  I think the Rams will be much WORSE than people expect, and I’m pretty sure people are already expecting them to be pretty bad.

Here’s a prediction for free:  I think the Seahawks will go 2-0 against the Rams; WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THAT???

AFC East

New England
Miami
Buffalo
New York

Tank-a-palooza is in full effect with the Jets, as I fully expect them to win no more than 1-2 games.  I like Buffalo only a little bit more, to be honest, as they’ve gotten rid of a lot of talent, and still don’t seem too keen on Tyrod Taylor being the guy going forward (I hope they let him loose at some point, so he can go to a team that deserves him).  I still like Miami to come up second in the division with Jay Cutler at the helm, but I still only see them as around a .500 team.  New England should run away with this thing with 13-14 wins.

AFC North

Pittsburgh
Cincinnati
Baltimore
Cleveland

This could be an interesting little division.  I think the Ravens are a year or two away from returning to the playoffs.  I like a lot of the moves Cleveland is making (though, surely, they’ll face growing pains with their rookie QB).  I like a lot of the moves the Bengals have made this past offseason as well, though I think they’ll fall JUST short of the playoffs (likely on a tiebreaker).  I think the Steelers take this one with 11 wins.

AFC South

Tennessee
Houston
Indianapolis
Jacksonville

I think now, FINALLY, the Titans will have their year.  I also think they have the highest variance of any of the teams in this conference.  They could go 13-3, or 9-7, or anywhere in between, and I wouldn’t be shocked.  I went ahead and pencilled them in at 10-6, tied with the Texans, and both teams cracking the playoffs.  I think both the Colts and Jags will be terrible, netting between 2-4 wins each.

AFC West

Kansas City
Oakland
Denver
San Diego

I really wanted to put Oakland here, and this might be my biggest regret, as I’ve kind of been hyping them all off-season.  But, the Chiefs are just more of a complete team.  I think their defense is certainly better than the Raiders’, which could be their ultimate downfall.  I still like the Raiders to make the playoffs, but they might be a year away from grabbing one of the top two seeds.

NFC Playoffs

  1. Seattle
  2. Green Bay
  3. New York
  4. Carolina
  5. Tampa Bay
  6. Dallas

AFC Playoffs

  1. New England
  2. Kansas City
  3. Pittsburgh
  4. Tennessee
  5. Oakland
  6. Houston

I’d absolutely love to see a playoffs with these teams involved.  Let’s look at the playoff predictions:

Wild Card Round

Dallas over New York
Carolina over Tampa Bay
Pittsburgh over Houston
Oakland over Tennessee

Divisional Round

Seattle over Dallas
Carolina over Green Bay
New England over Pittsburgh
Oakland over Kansas City

Championship Round

Seattle over Carolina
Oakland over New England

Super Bowl

Seattle over Oakland

OH SNAP!  Are you ready for this???  The Seahawks can only win Super Bowls against their old AFC West foes!  The storylines are pretty amazing, though, starting with Beastmode vs. his old team.  Michael Crabtree vs. Richard Sherman.  Ken Norton Jr. & Bruce Irvin vs. their old team.  Then, there was all that crap from Derek Carr about running it on the 1 yard line.  And, of course, there’s the 1983 season and how the Raiders prevented the Seahawks from making their first Super Bowl during that miracle playoff run.

You’re going to see a lot of people predicting the Seahawks vs. Patriots Part II, including Peter King in his MMQB column; but how many people will predict the Seahawks/Raiders?  Maybe just me.

Is it because I’m stupid?  Probably.  But, wouldn’t that be fun?

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.

Who Would You Rather Have The Seahawks Face?

Since I don’t know how much longer we’ll be able to play this game, I thought I’d get this post out now before it’s too late.

It’s no secret that this is the worst Seahawks team we’ve seen since the run of greatness started in 2012.  We’re currently the “Nobody Believes In Us” poster children of the NFC, and would likely be the highest in the entire NFL if it weren’t for the Houston Texans catching the Raiders without Derek Carr last week.  The combination of No Earl Thomas and this offensive line – even coming off their greatest game rushing the ball last week – will almost certainly spell our doom.

Even having said that though, the Seahawks aren’t necessarily in the worst position.  Obviously, having the 2-seed would’ve been much better.  If we hadn’t blown that game to the Cardinals on Christmas Eve, we’d be hosting the Falcons right now instead of flying all the way to Atlanta, but I’m not so sure there’s a ton of difference.  The Falcons being on the road earlier this season didn’t stop them from taking over in the second half and almost winning that game.  Having the game in Atlanta just means that it’s going to be noisier for our offense.  Here’s to hoping the increased level of communication – by having it quiet for our defense – will be enough to combat the loss of Earl Thomas in this one.

The Falcons are the Falcons.  They’re good.  But, truth be told, they’re probably only the 3rd best team remaining in the NFC.  And, if you compare them to all the NFC playoff teams this year, I’d probably rank them fourth behind the Giants as well.  Even though we’re mired in the 3-seed, the Seahawks are getting the best draw possible.  The Lions were the worst playoff team the NFC had to offer (almost certainly worse than a few of the other NFC teams who didn’t make it as well; much love to the Giants for preventing the Redskins from sneaking in there).  The Falcons are the worst remaining opponent – when you compare them to the Packers and Cowboys.  And, if we find a way to get past the Falcons – which will certainly be the shootout I was expecting in the Lions game – we’ll either go on the road to play the Cowboys, or come back home to play the Packers.

So, who would I rather see the Seahawks face in a hypothetical NFC Championship Game where we got past the Falcons to get in there?

I was grappling with that decision all morning last Sunday, before the Giants/Packers matchup.  Not for nothing, but all of the teams I really fear in the NFC have been on the other side of the bracket.  It’s very fortunate for us to avoid the Giants, and it’ll be very fortunate for us to avoid either the Packers or the Cowboys.  Having to beat just one of the top three teams in the NFC, instead of all three, is as good as it gets.

But, I digress.  I ultimately came to the conclusion that I wanted the Giants to beat the Packers last week.  I think either one of those teams could take down the Cowboys if things break right.  While the Giants have the superior defense, with a solid secondary and a really good pass rush, I feel like our own defense would’ve had a better time containing Eli and their receivers than we would A-Rod and his.

Now that it’s the Packers at the Cowboys though, I’m having a tougher time.  If we just, from here on out, assume a Seahawks win (which, again, I’m not necessarily predicting), then a Packers win would mean the Seahawks host the NFC Championship Game; a Cowboys win would obviously mean we go to Dallas.  In a vacuum, I think I fear the Packers more, as they’ve seriously had our number the last two times we’ve played them (and it would’ve been the last three times, had we not engineered that crazy comeback the last time we played them in the NFC Championship Game).  I just don’t know how much more magic we have.  I think A-Rod has figured out how to throw on our defense, I think their defense has no problem getting to our quarterback, and I think our quarterback has some kind of mental block when it comes to facing their secondary, as he’s thrown (approximately) a billion interceptions in the last three games he’s played against them.  I would hope – in any scenario where we play the Packers – that our defensive coordinator has figured out a way to adjust our scheme to make A-Rod less comfortable, because as it stands right now it’s like he’s going up against a defense full of Special Olympians.

But … we’d be at home!  I dunno, it’s tough.

Ultimately, I don’t think that’s enough for me to sway my opinion.  No one is intimidated by playing in CenturyLink Field anymore, especially the likes of A-Rod.  It would be fun for the fans, and for the city I suppose, but it would cease being fun when Green Bay takes another double-digit lead on us and we have to play catch-up.

With Dallas, obviously you have the rookie quarterback, even though he’s looked nothing like a rookie this year.  They’ve got the best O-Line in the league, so there’s that to contend with.  You’re probably not going to sack Dak Prescott very much.  But, let’s face it, you’re not going to sack Aaron Rodgers very much either!  He’s obviously got excellent pocket awareness, even if he isn’t the most nimble runner.  Plus, I feel like everyone sleeps on the Green Bay O-Line, but it’s pretty fucking good in its own right!  So, I’m not calling that as some huge advantage for the Cowboys over the Packers.  I think it’s much closer to even, all things considered.

What’s not even is the Cowboys’ running back, Ezekiel Elliott.  The Seahawks are among the best in all of football at stopping the run, but I don’t imagine we’d have much success in holding him in check like we have most other teams.  But, you know, maybe that’s not the worst thing in the world.  If we can do an okay job – and force them to pound it on the majority of their plays – they might have good-looking total yardage numbers, but their yards per carry average should be mediocre.  Plus, I think we can limit the big plays downfield in their passing game much better than we would against the Packers.

On the defensive side of the ball, there’s nothing about the Cowboys that impresses me all that much.  At least with Green Bay, they have Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Julius Peppers, and Clay Matthews.  They’ve got studs!  They may have holes, but I think the Cowboys have more holes, plus I think we’d be able to run on the Cowboys better than we would against the Packers (even though the Cowboys led the league in fewest rushing yards allowed, I have to think most of that is them being in the lead in most of their ballgames).

There’s also, not for nothing, the fact that the Packers know us so well.  We’ve played them five times in the last five seasons dating back to 2012’s Fail Mary game.  The Seahawks tend to fare better against teams who aren’t used to seeing us so often.  Hence why we keep losing these bullshit divisional games to the likes of mediocre Cardinals and Rams teams.  We’ve only played Dallas 3 times since 2012 (not counting pre-season), and never since Prescott became their full time starter.

So, you know, as much as I’d love to see A-Rod come to Seattle and be sent away heartbroken and out of the Super Bowl for the second time in three seasons, the odds are he’ll probably beat us and I’ll be stuck looking at his stupid smug face for 3+ hours.

Then again, Dallas has been the clear best team in the NFC all year, and it’s probably just “Their Year”.  They’ll host Atlanta and all of this will have been written for nothing.  Such is playoff mania in the NFL.

Seahawks/Cowboys Preseason Game 3 Takeaways

Well, it wasn’t quite the first-team drubbing I was expecting, but Russell Wilson & Co. put up 20 points in two and a half quarters en route to a 27-17 victory!

This was as Seahawky as a game gets, right on down to the slow start offensively!  You tend to expect a few things out of a Seahawks game.  The offense will be shaky early, with penalties and missed throws, then they ramp it up the closer it comes to the end of the game.  Well, for the #1’s, the end of the game was midway through the third quarter, so it’s not surprising in the least that they scored on 4 of their final 5 possessions.  Wilson finished with a couple awesome touchdowns – one on a deep crosser to Richardson, one on a scramble play to Lockett – and the defense firmed up after allowing the Cowboys to score the game’s first touchdown.

We knew going into the game that the Cowboys had one advantage:  offensive line.  It didn’t stop the Seahawks from knocking Tony Romo out of the game on the third play, on a vicious-yet-clean hit by Avril that dinged up his lower back.  But, with their backup in, they were able to protect well for the most part and establish a solid running game with their rookie phenom, Ezekiel Elliott.  As such, it’s difficult to pick apart the pass rush too much – they worked hard for everything they managed to get – but it doesn’t look like this team will be led by its front four this year.

Even though rookie Dak Prescott had solid numbers in relief of Romo, I didn’t see much in the way of breakdowns in the secondary.  He just had so much time to throw!  What may have been more surprising is that Russell Wilson did too.  Our offensive line is LEAPS AND BOUNDS better than it was this time a year ago!  Holy cow, were they good last night!  I’m not sure the Cowboys have much in the way of a pass rush themselves, but it wouldn’t have mattered with last year’s line.  Wilson had a grip of time to throw the ball last night, and it showed in how our offense performed once they cleaned up the penalties.

All in all, not much to hate on about last night’s game.  Also, not a ton of individual standout performances.  I saw a couple of effective corner blitzes, which isn’t something you see a lot of out of this defense.  No picks, but we were able to force a fumble with our backups.  The Seahawks still might be the deepest team in the NFL.  Get ready for the league to poach a bunch of our guys when it comes time to cut the team down to 53.

Kelcie McCray had an awesome game.  He might be the best third safety in the league right now!

Wilson crushed it, and Boykin had a nifty 16-yard touchdown run to conclude our scoring.

Christine Michael continued to show how difficult it’s going to be to NOT have this be a running back platoon.  If Thomas Rawls isn’t 100%, I wouldn’t be shocked if Michael takes the bulk of the reps in the regular season.

The top 4 receivers all made an impact (though, I’m catching just the SLIGHTEST whiff of Wilson trying to force it into Baldwin’s hands at times, when the play doesn’t necessarily call for it; that’ll be something to watch going forward).  No one really made a play on that 5th receiver job, though.  Next week will be HUGE for Lawler, Antwan Goodley, Kasen Williams, Kevin Smith, and the rest.

Defensively, I also liked Bobby Wagner’s game.  And Quinton Jefferson made some nice plays up the middle.  Too bad about Jarran Reed’s toe injury keeping him out.  Get well soon!

Next week, it’s all about the kids.  Time to fill out he back of this roster and get to work!  Everyone made it through Game 3 healthy, which is the biggest victory of all.

Steven A. Taylor’s Long Snapper Corner

I saw another low snap on a punt, but Jon Ryan parlayed that into a 65 yarder, so maybe those low snaps aren’t all bad?  Still, it wouldn’t shock me in the least if Gresham returned.