Seahawks Death Week: What Could’ve Been

Now is the part of Seahawks Death Week where I sit in quiet, somber reflection of what might’ve been.

In an ideal world, George Fant would’ve played 16 games and looked spectacular!  It would’ve spared us half a season of Rees Odhiambo’s flailing, and kept him rotating at guard where he belonged.

In an ideal world, Chris Carson would’ve been in the Rookie of the Year conversation.  Sure, he probably would’ve had a relatively slow start, but over time we would’ve seen some huge games out of the kid.

With Carson pushing 1,000 yards and any number of touchdowns, it might’ve spared the defense – especially later in the season – allowing the offense to win more Time of Possession battles.

In an ideal world, Sheldon Richardson would’ve been the game-changer we all expected him to be.  What we got out of him was okay, I suppose, but I was really thinking he’d be this force of nature a la Cortez Kennedy in his prime.  What I got instead was 1 sack and not NEARLY enough big plays in the backfield.

Of course, in an ideal world, we never would’ve needed to trade for Sheldon Richardson in the first place, because Malik McDowell would’ve come into Training Camp healthy, he would’ve been a model citizen, and he would’ve been the force of nature up the middle that we all hoped he’d be!

In an ideal world, sure, maybe some of our defensive players would’ve been banged up from time to time, but not to the extent that guys like Avril, Sherman, Kam, and Bobby were!  Those guys, for a full season, would have absolutely prevented our December swoon.  There’s no fucking way guys like Fournette and Gurley would’ve gone off the way they did had Kam and Bobby been near 100%; and there’s no fucking way guys like the Bort or Drew Stanton would’ve thrown on us the way they did with Sherm locking down his side.  And, you better believe we would’ve owned that tie-breaker over the Falcons!

If you would’ve given me just one unicorn season – a season with almost zero injuries; those seasons you always see from teams who make the Super Bowl – this Seahawks team could’ve contended.  This Seahawks team could’ve even run the table in the second half!  With wins over the Eagles, Falcons, and a sweep of the Rams, people would be talking about the Seahawks right now as NFC frontrunners!

Of course, that’s just a pipe dream.  To believe that injuries alone torpedoed our season neglects all the other problems we had.  The offensive line woes outside of the left tackle position.  The quarterback’s late-season regression.  The fact that this team was mostly healthy for games against the Redskins and Titans and STILL managed to look bad in those games.

That’s all true, but if I’m slicing up the pie, and each slice is a Reason Why The Seahawks Missed The Playoffs, the biggest slice by far is injuries to key guys.  And, quite frankly, if I’m slicing up a different pie, and each slice is a Reason Why The Seahawks Are Fucked In The Immediate Future, it’s injuries again.  Because injuries forced us into trading multiple high-value draft picks to bring in guys like Richardson and Duane Brown.  Because some injuries are so severe, guys like Avril, Kam, and McDowell might not play another snap of football in their careers!  Because other injuries – to guys like Sherman, Bennett, Fant, and Joeckel – might force the team to move on from them.

It just sucks, because we really WERE all in on this year.  At the beginning of the season, there were two big needs for this team (aside from, of course, the need to stay healthy):  interior pass rush, and offensive line help.  We had high hopes for the young guys (McDowell and Fant), and we had skyrocketing hopes for the veterans (Richardson and Brown).  It really felt like, particularly with the Richardson trade, that the rich was getting richer, and that this defense was going to be a hornet’s nest.  But, it never really came together, and ultimately got worse and worse as injuries started to mount.

At that point, I have to wonder if the bigger problem isn’t Darrell Bevell or Tom Cable, but Kris Richard.  I agree that he’s had his moments, particularly with the Eagles game, but he’s had WAY more bad performances in his career, and nothing is really all that encouraging for him going forward.  It’s hard to know if some of that is Pete Carroll putting the restraints on him, forcing Richard to adhere closely to his scheme (when maybe this team would’ve been better served with a lot more blitzing and maybe a different type of coverage scheme).  But, I find it hard to believe that even with all the injuries, this defense would’ve fallen as hard as it did with a better defensive coordinator at the helm.  And that doesn’t even get into all the sideline arguments we’ve seen since Richard took over; it doesn’t really feel like he’s got control of that unit.  Weird, a mediocre player in his day evolved into a mediocre coordinator now.  And I guarantee you the only reason he’s seeing head coaching interviews is because of the Rooney Rule, and the fact that there aren’t enough qualified African American candidates out there that haven’t already been interviewed a million times.  Because, really, who is SERIOUSLY considering Kris Richard to be their head coach right now?  That’s total lunacy!  He’s done NOTHING but be the caretaker of a #1 defense that has gotten worse every year under his watch.

Sheep!  Get off the Bevell & Cable nonsense!  Remember, we’ve actually WON a Super Bowl with these guys!  You know who we HAVEN’T won with?  Richard.  He needs to go.  Now.

Oh, what could’ve been.  In an ideal world, we would’ve snagged Gus Bradley back after he got fired from the Jags.

What’s Wrong With The Seahawks?

You know what?  Fuck the Rams, there I said it.  This isn’t about them.  Fuck that game, fuck everything.  I’m talking about the Seahawks here (it’s not ALL ABOUT YOU, RAMS!!!).

This is the point in the season where everyone freaks the fuck out and asks, “What’s wrong with the Seahawks?”  Truth be told, this moment hit us a week earlier last year, as we had the misfortune of playing the Rams in Week 1 (why the SHIT can’t we have our first game against the fucking Rams in Week 11?  Why’s it always gotta be EARLY in the season?), but once again, here we are.  And once again, we’re asking the same question.

Of course, everyone also has an answer to this question, because EVERYONE’S GOTTA BE A BLOGGER NOW!  Or, at the very least, everyone’s gotta be a Twitter cunt who spends all day every day bombarding the beat writers with their insanity.

What’s wrong with the Seahawks?  A shitload!

And, unsurprisingly, I’m going to start with the offensive line.  Most fans would point to them and call them Public Enemy Numbers 1-5.  Most in the national media keep harping over how little we spend on our line, either via draft capital or free agency dollars.  Some of the savvier local bloggers like to defend the O-Line as much as possible, pointing to things like Russell Wilson holding the ball too long, or how they haven’t been “that bad” compared to the level of competition we’ve played through the first two weeks.

I’ll say this:  the offensive line IS a problem, and it’s probably the biggest problem.  It’s the reason why the Seahawks can’t effectively move the football against anyone with a Top 10 defense.  You can deflect blame all you want, but turning Russell Wilson into a pocket passer who gets the ball out in 2 seconds or less isn’t going to make a difference.  This isn’t the New England offense, and he isn’t Tom Brady.  He’s a guy who needs time for plays to develop, so he can make plays downfield.  If we’re going to try to be this quick-strike offense (and make no mistake, it’s 100% because the O-Line is terrible and can’t hold a block for more than 0.5 seconds), you know what that’s going to lead to?  10 guys in the box, press coverage on the outside, and a complete and utter inability to formulate a running game.

The Seahawks don’t dink & dunk.  The Seahawks play smashmouth football, with regularly executed deep strikes through the air.  I’d rather have Russell Wilson hitting 60% of his passes, with a high average per attempt than have him hit 70% of his passes with a low average per attempt.  On the spectrum of short passers, he’s more closely resembling Sam Bradford than he is Philip Rivers, and that’s NOT what we’ve come to expect out of this offense!

Now, obviously, this problem O-Line would be mitigated if our quarterback could run, but again, whose fault is that?  Oh, that’s right, the sieve of an O-Line that’s letting guys get free runs at our most valuable offensive weapon.  Just because this unit can nut up once every 20 pass attempts and actually block for a reasonable amount of time doesn’t give them a pass for all the times they let guys run free and clean at our quarterback!

At the very least, you could hang your hat on this team having a viable running game.  Even against the very best defenses, we’d ALWAYS be able to get yards on the ground to help matters along.  But, we haven’t been able to do a damn thing on the ground this year!  Thomas Rawls is a fantastic running back, and he’s getting hit in the backfield more in these first two games than he did ALL of last year!  It doesn’t seem to affect Christine Michael as much, but I’ve noticed he doesn’t always stick with what the play calls for.  He’s a guy who’s always naturally going to want to bounce things outside, to get into open space and see if he can make some moves for some home run-type plays; but he’s been doing that WAY more than usual, and it’s been out of necessity.  Rawls is great, but he doesn’t have Michael’s quicks or his cutting ability, but that’s neither here nor there because he didn’t have those things LAST year either, when he was averaging 5.6 yards per carry!

Of course, Wilson’s injury doesn’t help matters any in the running game either.  A hobbled Wilson means defenses don’t have to worry about him tucking and running, which means they can focus all their energies on the back he inevitably hands the ball off to.  You’d think that would lead to more traditional handoffs, where Wilson takes the ball from under center – so at the VERY least we can make better use of play-action in the passing game, to try to open things up that way – but NOPE!

Because ultimately, this falls squarely on Darrell Bevell’s shoulders.  He spent the better part of these first two games running an offense with a healthy Russell Wilson in mind, when he should’ve been adjusting for the fact that Wilson can’t run.  At this point, you have to dig deeper into the playbook.  Recall that Tarvaris Jackson was once this team’s starter, and try to remember what plays HE used to run.  Because, let’s face it, Tarvar was never a running quarterback, and right now, neither is Russell Wilson.

Oh, and the best part?  They STILL haven’t figured out how to get the ball to Jimmy Graham in the redzone!  Oh, what a joy it’ll be, when people can’t fall back on the Seahawks “bringing him along slowly” routine and we return to the weekly lament about how Graham gets no redzone targets because Darrell Bevell is a mental midget and Russell Wilson is a literal one.

And don’t think the defense is getting off any easier in this thing.  You want a medal for holding the Dolphins to 10 points and the Rams to 9?  Bravo, you did your fucking job against two inept quarterbacks.  You look to be well on your way to another league championship in fewest points given up, but you’ll also forgive me if I don’t line you up to suck each of your dicks.

Hey guys, where’s the fucking turnovers?  Are you shitting me?  You can’t get teams led by Ryan Tannehill and Case Fucking Keenum to turn the ball over to you?  When – SPOILER ALERT – Keenum threw 2 picks against the 49ers last week, and Tannehill did the same against the Pats this week (on top of a couple of fumbles the Pats were able to force)!  I mean, shit guys, how about a short fucking field for once!  How about making it so the offense doesn’t have to fucking go 90 yards for a touchdown every God damn drive!  How about, when our offense flips the field position, and we’re able to down the ball inside the 10 yard line, you NUT THE FUCK UP and force a 3 & Out to give us BACK our good field position???

You have to understand, Michael Bennett and all the rest, that you haven’t done shit yet.  The defense has been good, but not great.  Not dominant.  Not elite.  An elite defense would’ve held the Rams to 3 points, or 0 points, not 9.  An elite defense would see that their offense is in trouble, that their best skill position players (from Baldwin, to Lockett, to Graham, to Rawls, to Prosise) are banged up, and their all-world quarterback is a shell of his former self as he tries to play through a high ankle sprain, and that elite defense would step the fuck up and shut out an offense like the Rams.  Like the Dolphins.  Like the 49ers next week.

And that defensive coordinator needs to realize his defense is giving up too many big plays.  Dan Quinn and Gus Bradley knew how to scheme well and prevent those big plays.  This has only become a problem since Kris Richard took over.  Maybe the job is too much for him.  Well, management better fucking figure that shit out and put someone in there who’s up to the task.  Because, we can’t be fucking away these seasons when everyone is in their prime, just to coddle a fucking defensive coordinator who isn’t ready for the fucking job.

Beat the 49ers you sacks of shit!  Or, don’t be surprised when you see more 12s dumping all over you.

Seahawks’ Arrogance Leads To Seahawks Sucking

One of the quotes I took away from Twitter before I had to get off and give myself a little peace of mind last night was from Earl Thomas, when he said, “We know we don’t suck.”

Unfortunately, that’s not true. The Seahawks DO suck right now. When you can’t explain exactly why you’re losing, because there are too many reasons to name, then you just have to throw up your hands and realize it’s the fact that this team just plain sucks right now.

Kris Richard sucks as a defensive coordinator. The defense as a whole sucks at the fourth quarter. No one is able to get consistent pressure on the quarterback late in the game, which means that guys like Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril are playing too many snaps overall. When this team was at its best, Bennett and Avril were playing closer to 60% of the snaps. Now, they’re playing 85-95% of snaps, and they’re gassed at the end of games. Which means players like Frank Clark and Cassius Marsh (suck) are not developing at a rate we need them to. It means when Jordan Hill is injured (which is always, because his body sucks) we have no one on the interior who can generate consistent push.

The book is out on the Seahawks’ defense. Teams know what it takes to beat us, and we’re not adjusting to the way the rest of the league has adjusted to us. It’s this team’s arrogance – and it starts all the way at the top with Pete Carroll – that’s going to be its downfall. The arrogance being:  all you need are elite players while playing a simple style of defense, then let your opponent beat themselves. Well, that’s not working anymore. Because, teams are all too comfortable taking the underneath stuff, and they’re finding the holes in our deep pass defense to generate just enough big plays to make us look bad.

You hate to pile on a guy so early in his career as a defensive coordinator, but it’s pretty clear that Kris Richard isn’t a good defensive coordinator. We’re six weeks in, and what have we accomplished defensively as a unit? When you throw out that Bears game (which, I guarantee they would have scored upwards of 30 points if all their offensive stars were healthy and playing), the Seahawks are giving up 25 points per game. This is elite? This is the same defense we’ve watched the last three years rank at the top in the game? What’s changed from 2014 to 2015 besides Byron Maxwell playing for Philly? There’s no way Byron Maxwell is worth upwards of 10 points per game; the difference is Kris Richard is the guy running the defense. He’s clearly not ready for this much responsibility, and again, going back to this organization’s arrogance, it speaks volumes that they thought he could handle it.

Just stick some guy in there! Some jerk off the street could run the Seahawks’ defense and make it look okay!

Turns out, Dan Quinn was a little better at his job than anyone thought. Good for the Falcons; bad for the rest of us.

Of course, the offense is no better. Yeah, Jimmy Graham had a big day, but he ALWAYS has a big day against the Panthers! He’s made them his bitch since entering the league. But, like I’ve been saying all along, Jimmy Graham doesn’t make this offense go. Throwing it to him 8 times for 140 yards isn’t going to make us the #1 offense in the league. Not when the rest of our guys are held to 10 catches for 101 yards. Not when Marshawn Lynch is held to 54 yards on 17 carries. Not when Russell Wilson was sacked ANOTHER four times.

It’s cute that some of the players are saying that when this team clicks, it’s going to be hard to stop. But, I just don’t see how it’s going to happen. There’s too much going wrong right now. There are too many aspects in which this team truly SUCKS to think that they’ll be able to flip a switch and magically get things going.

It’s the whole Gods N’ Clods thing biting us in the ass like it bites most teams in the ass. When you pay as many players big money deals like we have, then you have to rely on too many guys earning next-to-nothing. We all thought the Seahawks would be immune, because the coaching staff is just too good. What’s happened is, we’ve wildly overestimated their abilities. Our best coaches – Dan Quinn, Ken Norton Jr., Gus Bradley – are working elsewhere. Leaving us with the likes of Richard, Tom Cable, and, of course, Darrell Bevell, left to pick up the pieces and keep this train a rollin’. They’re not up for the task, and as a result a once-great team is staring down the barrell of an 8-8 season.

Maybe a crappy, playoff-free season is just what this team needs to regain its hunger for the game of football. I’m starting to think that miracle finish in last season’s NFC Championship Game was more of a curse than we realized.

Seahawks Death Week: It Ain’t Over Til It’s Over

If we win that Super Bowl, all conversation right now is focused on The New Dynasty.  For anyone who’s not a Seahawks fan, it’s pretty miserable to have to listen to, so in that sense the world is probably happier that the Patriots won.

For us, though – the tortured souls forced to relive that moment in every highlight package about last season – the only thing worse than an offseason focused on why Tom Brady Is The Greatest Quarterback Of All Time will be all the articles burying the Seahawks.

Yeah, it started with Keith Olbermann’s lunacy, but don’t think that’s going to be the end of it.  After all, the 2013 Seahawks were champions and looked stronger than every other team in the league by a million miles, and last year people STILL endlessly picked us apart, trying to degrade the quality of our roster as they made their convoluted predictions about why we wouldn’t get back to the Super Bowl.

The fact of the matter is – as I said yesterday – the Championship Window is still wide open for this team.  Even if Marshawn Lynch is 50/50 to return next year, take a look at the players we’ll have returning:

  • Russell Wilson
  • Doug Baldwin
  • Earl Thomas
  • Kam Chancellor
  • Richard Sherman
  • Bobby Wagner
  • Michael Bennett
  • Cliff Avril
  • K.J. Wright
  • Bruce Irvin
  • Jeremy Lane
  • Jordan Hill

That doesn’t factor in an offensive line that gets the job done more often than not, a deep running back group, and some veterans I left off who SHOULD be back (like Zach Miller, Brandon Mebane, and Tony McDaniel).

This is still a deep roster.  And it’s a quality roster in all the right places.  Our quarterback will be entering his fourth year, and he’s already shown that he belongs in the upper third or upper quarter of franchise quarterbacks in the league.  With Russell Wilson, we’re ALWAYS going to be somewhere on the “Good” spectrum.  We’re always going to at least contend for division titles and playoff spots.

It’s the players around Russell Wilson that make us championship-calibre.  The great thing about this team is that everyone plays off of everyone else.  Russell Wilson gets help from an elite running game.  The receivers get help from other defenses focusing on our running game, and from Wilson’s scrambling ability that gives them time to get open.  Defensively, our cornerbacks are allowed to be more aggressive thanks to the great play of our safeties.  Everyone in the secondary is helped out by our pass rush and our line’s ability to stop the run.  It’s all one terrific unit that only works when everyone is playing in unison.

Now, obviously our coaching staff took a bit of a hit with Dan Quinn moving on to coach the Falcons, but I don’t think any team has ever been totally devastated by the loss of a coordinator.  Kris Richard gets a deserved promotion, which is good for coaching continuity, as well as good for the message it sends to the guys.  Just as our greatest players are rewarded with contract extensions, our greatest coaches are rewarded with promotions.  Although, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, how hard can it really be to coach this defense with all the talent we’ve got on the roster?  Are Gus Bradley & Dan Quinn really that amazing?  Or, did they just luck into a roster for the ages?

I wouldn’t expect much of a drop-off because this is still Pete Carroll’s team.  It’s still his vision.  And, in spite of certain decisions that were made at the end of certain ballgames, Pete Carroll is still one of the best head coaches in the league.  And John Schneider is still one of the best general managers in the league.  The organization is still in good hands.

The only thing that could possibly derail things would be injuries, and those are impossible to predict, so it’s not even worth trying.

It’s hard to tell when the Championship Window might close.  It obviously opened in 2012, when we made that great season-ending run.  From a roster-quality standpoint, we probably peaked in 2013.  We dipped a bit in 2014, but if you focus on where this team ended up – after all the early-season strife in coming off of our first championship – you can see a team that peaked at right around where it was in 2012 (or maybe a little better still).  How long the window remains open depends on how well our recent draft picks of the last couple years – on into this year – pan out.  We had a great run of drafts from 2010-2012 that made us into what we are today.  It’s the drafts from 2013-2015 that will determine if we stay on this championship run, or if we fade back into the status of mere playoff contenders.

Here are the players we still have from our 2013 draft group:

  • Christine Michael (RB)
  • Jordan Hill (DT)
  • Jesse Williams (DT)
  • Tharold Simon (CB)
  • Luke Willson (TE)
  • Alvin Bailey (OL) – undrafted free agent

Williams has finished his first two seasons on the IR and might not be on the roster come September.  Bailey is depth along our offensive line who can play four positions.  Michael has been a third string running back who has been inactive more often than not; it doesn’t appear he’ll ever get a chance to be a starter with this team as long as Lynch is around.  Hill came on in the second half of 2014 as a strong part of our defensive tackle rotation, so hopes are high that can continue.  Simon has made some spot-starts and looked okay – though he’s been picked on quite a bit, and hasn’t come away as well as Maxwell did when he took over the starting spot opposite Sherman.  Willson spent most of 2014 as our #1 tight end and for the most part did pretty well.  I’m not convinced yet that he can be a #1 tight end forever, but he’s a great #2 or #3 tight end.

Here’s our 2014 draft class that remains:

  • Paul Richardson (WR)
  • Justin Britt (OT)
  • Cassius Marsh (DE)
  • Kevin Norwood (WR)
  • Kevin Pierre-Louis (LB)
  • Jimmy Staten (DT)
  • Eric Pinkins (DB)
  • Garry Gilliam (OL) – undrafted free agent
  • Brock Coyle (LB) – undrafted free agent

While there’s not really a prize jewel of the 2013, there are enough role players in that group to make it “good enough”, with the potential for greatness if either Michael or Simon somehow pans out.  The 2014 class has a higher upside, in spite of the fact that only four guys managed to make it all the way to the end without being put on IR.

Britt is obviously the biggest “get” in the group, as he started right away at right tackle – a position of need going into the season.  He played nearly every game and was good enough to be considered a starter going forward.  He’s not perfect, but you have to like all the experience he got.  He’ll heal up from his nagging injuries, get stronger going into next year, and we should see a nice boost out of him in year two.

I’m really high on Cassius Marsh.  He tops out as a starting defensive end opposite Michael Bennett (while eventually replacing him when Bennett retires or is let go at/near the end of his deal).  His floor, though, is what makes me happy, as I think at worst he’s still a rotational guy who can play both inside (on passing downs) and outside (on any down).  Considering we still have Bennett, Avril, and Irvin going into next season, if Marsh can stay healthy, I don’t think we have to invest a whole lot in our outside pass rush (the interior rush is another story, of course).

Richardson and Norwood are the wild cards of this class.  If they both pan out, we could be talking about this group in ways we talk about the draft classes of 2010-2012.  If just one sticks, I still think we’re happy.  If they both flame out, then we wasted two draft picks in an area of great need for this team.  I thought Richardson really started to come on at the end of the year, but obviously his torn ACL makes him a question mark going forward.  If he returns (and yes, it’s an “if” in this scenario), will he be the same guy?  Will he have the speed required to make it in the league?  Will he inevitably injure it again?  Remember, he had the same injury in college, to the same knee.  As for Norwood, it might be unfair, but I think we all expected a little more out of him.  The phrase “security blanket” has been used quite a bit with him.  Hopefully, being healthy and having a year’s experience under his belt will help him grow in year two.  We’ll need it, that’s for sure.

The other guys are longshots.  KPL figures to be a depth guy and a special teams standout if he can stay healthy.  Staten probably tops out as a rotational tackle on our defensive line, and probably one who isn’t active very often.  Pinkins was drafted to be another tall cornerback, but it doesn’t look like he has the ability and will probably be moved back to safety (where, obviously, we’re pretty well stocked).  Either Pinkins sticks as a backup to Kam, or he gets cut.  Gilliam is more offensive line depth.  And Coyle is a special teams guy and an okay backup to Bobby Wagner.  It wouldn’t shock me to see any of these guys get the ax at the end of Training Camp this year, if the right people come along to replace them.

There are certainly guys you like out of the 2013 & 2014 draft classes – even guys who project to be starters – but there aren’t many (if any) superstars in the bunch.  I know it’s hard, when you’re consistently drafting near the end of the first round every year, but then again, this is the team that has managed to make 4th & 5th rounders into superstars.  Here’s to hoping we get another diamond in the rough in this year’s class to keep the good vibes rolling.

Seattle Sports Hell 2014 NFL Power Rankings – Week 17

I really should have knocked this out yesterday, but I forgot, then I started drinking, and now I’m writing on New Years Day.  So, there’s that.

You know my stance on this weekend:  I want Dallas to beat the Lions and I want Arizona to beat the Panthers.  And, for the record, I’m shockingly high on Arizona’s chances, even though Lindley.  I’m basing it thusly:  until this little 6-game stretch to close the season, Arizona was the best team in football.  They’ve overcome injuries all year.  And, besides that, we’re talking about a 7-8-1 Carolina team.  You’re really telling me a team with a losing record deserves to be favored by over 5 points?  That’s asinine.

I see Arizona’s defense completely shutting the Panthers down a la that Thursday night Rams game.  And, I see Lindley making JUST enough plays deep to give Arizona a comfortable 17-9 victory.

The Lions/Cowboys game is a little tougher to call.  There’s some sick part of me that’s resigned to the fact that the Lions are going to win this game and ruin my whole week.  But, if I take a step back, I’ve got to throw my money behind Dallas.  I like them to win, but I don’t necessarily like them to cover.  Dallas 24-20.

In the AFC, there’s nothing more I’d like to see than the Ravens beat the Steelers.  Either way, my money is on Baltimore covering the 3.5-point spread.  I say this game ends up 20-17, with the Steelers squeaking one out.

As for the other game, I’ve got the Colts in a laugher over the Bengals.  There isn’t a line high enough for me in this game.  Indy 34, Cincy 13.

That’s all for now.  Let’s enjoy a relaxing weekend.  My weekend started 7 days ago, for the record.

***

  1. Dallas Cowboys (12-4) – Probably the most balanced team in the playoffs, on both sides of the ball.
  2. Seattle Seahawks (12-4) – Probably the scariest team in the playoffs, on both sides of the ball.
  3. New England Patriots (12-4) – Probably the best team in the AFC.
  4. Denver Broncos (12-4) – Either Peyton Manning is playing some serious possum these last few weeks, or this is the Beginning of the End.
  5. Green Bay Packers (12-4) – With Dallas, the other main threat to the Seahawks going all the way.  How good are they going to be with Aaron Rodgers hobbling all around?
  6. Detroit Lions (11-5) – The team I least want the Seahawks to play.  I’m still convinced their offense is a sleeping giant, and I always will be until they lose again.
  7. Pittsburgh Steelers (11-5) – Probably the biggest threat to the Patriots in the AFC.
  8. Indianapolis Colts (11-5) – I’m still not counting Andrew Luck out of winning at least one game this playoffs.
  9. Cincinnati Bengals (10-5-1) – This team is nothing!
  10. Baltimore Ravens (10-6) – I wouldn’t underestimate the Ravens; they might give the Steelers their closest matchup.
  11. Arizona Cardinals (11-5) – The team I want to see the most in the Divisional Round of the playoffs.

The Loser’s Bracket:

  1. San Diego Chargers (9-7) – Rivers just couldn’t get right.
  2. Miami Dolphins (8-8) – Another team that should probably dedicate itself more to the run.
  3. Houston Texans (9-7) – One quarterback away from really making some noise.  Of course, by the time they get that quarterback, it might be too late.
  4. Philadelphia Eagles (10-6) – One quarterback away from really making some noise.
  5. Buffalo Bills (9-7) – This defense is sick.
  6. Kansas City Chiefs (9-7) – In desperate need of some wide receivers, plural.
  7. San Francisco 49ers (8-8) – Please don’t steal our defensive coordinator!
  8. Carolina Panthers (7-8-1) – If I’m stuck playing another bruising defensive line, I’d rather play against the team with the worse offense, and right now that’s Arizona.
  9. St. Louis Rams (6-10) – Still a QB away.
  10. Minnesota Vikings (7-9) – I like the chances of this team taking a big step forward in year 2 with Bridgewater.
  11. Cleveland Browns (7-9) – I like the chances of this team continuing to piss away all the draft picks.
  12. Atlanta Falcons (6-10) – It was time to move in a new head coaching direction.  May I introduce you to Darrell Bevell?
  13. New Orleans Saints (7-9) – This defensive situation looks to be beyond repair.  I don’t know why you’d hang onto Rob Ryan at this point.
  14. Chicago Bears (5-11) – Hello darkness, my old friend.
  15. New York Giants (6-10) – Hell, for all I know, you’re looking at the 2015 winners of the NFC East.
  16. Washington Redskins (4-12) – A joke.
  17. New York Jets (4-12) – A bigger joke.
  18. Oakland Raiders (3-13) – The biggest joke.
  19. Jacksonville Jaguars (3-13) – Here, Gus Bradley, let me warm that seat for you.
  20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-14) – Hello Marcus Mariota!
  21. Tennessee Titans (2-14) – You are one pathetic loser!

Seattle Sports Hell 2014 NFL Power Rankings – Week 6

Last week, we got into it with the defense a little bit.  Certainly, those issues are still around.  This is the second time the Seahawks have given up 30 points in a game this year; the Seahawks gave up 30 or more only once all of last year (including playoffs).  The Cowboys used the Chargers’ model of beating the Seahawks:  converting lots of third downs, running a lot of plays, churning lots of clock, and scoring touchdowns in the red zone instead of field goals.  The L.O.B. stinks right now, the defensive line is a shell of their 2013 selves, and injuries abound.  This is not a good unit and it’s looking like the prophecy was correct:  give these players big-money contracts and watch them dog it on the field.

Oh, I’m sorry, am I wrong?  Is that unfair?  Then, prove it, cuntbags!  Get out there and dominate like you’re supposed to!

Anyway, I’m through with the defense for now.  This week, we’re talking offense.

I go through ebbs and flows when it comes to listening to sports radio.  Sometimes, I have the radio on daily, sitting in my living room after work, catching up on the goings on.  Sometimes, I’ll go weeks without.  Let’s face it, sports radio can be a little irritating sometimes.

But, it’s always good to tap into the public discourse once in a while, to see what’s bothering the masses.  Sometimes, what’s bothering the masses this week is what they were falling all over themselves praising last week.  For instance, take Russell Wilson.

Last week, against the Redskins on Monday Night, Russell Wilson was the best player on the football field.  He practically single-handedly won us that game with his legs and his arms and his leg-arms (or, rather, his ability to throw while running away from immediate pressure).  He was great.  He proved once again that he’s a Top 5 quarterback in this league.

Then, six days later, against the Cowboys, Russell Wilson turned in one of the very-worst performances of his young career.  Now, all of a sudden, what makes him great – scrambling around, eluding pressure, keeping plays alive – are reasons to take him down a peg.  “He doesn’t step up into the pocket enough.”  That’s the biggest criticism I’m hearing this week on sports radio.  Instead of twirling all around, running backwards out of the pocket, he should step up into a throwing lane and make a play.

The thing is, what hardly gets acknowledged in this scenario is that quarterbacks who step up in the pocket to throw the football tend to take body-crushing hits.  Yeah, it’s macho to be that guy who “hangs in the pocket”, unleashing a perfect pass just as someone is burrowing his shoulder into your chest, but that shit adds up!  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again:  live to fight another day.  I’d rather have Wilson scrambling all around, this way and that, vs. stepping up and getting destroyed.  That’s how ribs are broken.  That’s how hands are mashed against opposing helmets.  That’s how concussions start to ruin your life.

I hope Wilson NEVER listens to these sports radio yahoos who’ve never played a day of quarterback in their lives.  He can just keep doing what he’s doing.  For the most part, I have a lot of problems with how the offense is performing, but none of those problems involve #3.

My main problem involves the offensive coordinator, Darrell Bevell.

After winning the Super Bowl last year, I tried making a pact with myself to leave the man alone.  I’ve been criticizing him pretty much from Day 1, when we were forced to go with Tarvaris Jackson at quarterback thanks to the NFL lockout.  Slowly but surely, I’ve grown to appreciate his style, as I think it meshes well with what we’re trying to do:  ground & pound.

Here’s the thing, though.  For the last couple years, Darrell Bevell has been among the top head coaching candidates in the NFL.  He’s seen Gus Bradley get his shot.  He’s heard about Dan Quinn’s impending promotion.  With winning comes great notoriety; losing teams will look towards the winning ones to find out what they’re doing that works.  More often than not, winning clubs lose their coordinators as the losers of the world hope to catch that lightning in a bottle twice.  Maybe a little Pete Carroll magic has rubbed off on so-and-so.  It’s IMPOSSIBLE to think that this thought process hasn’t wormed its way into Bevell’s brain.  What I’m arguing here is that it’s not only something that’s on his mind, but it’s something that’s affecting his job performance.

Obviously, there’s nothing that can be done and nothing that will be done at this point in the season.  Our BYE week has come and gone.  Besides that, it would be a batshit crazy overreaction to fire Darrell Bevell.  But, one has to wonder:  is he doing more harm than good?

You know what Darrell Bevell is?  He’s a U.S. Senator running for President.  He’s on his way out!  It’s only a matter of time.  In his mind, he’s checked out.  His duties as Senator no longer interest him; all he can think about now is what he’s going to do when he’s in the Oval Office.  And so, instead of doing his job, he’s spending the next year actively campaigning around the country for something better.

What do I mean by this?  It’s plainly simple.  Darrell Bevell’s job is to call the plays that work best in this team’s system.  This is a team that runs the ball.  When it’s not running the ball, it’s throwing off of play-action.  And, at least 4-5 times a game, it’s having Russell Wilson throw deep for the home run.  That is what works for this team.  That is what has worked for the last two years.  Everyone else in the league knows what we’re doing and we do it anyway.

The thing is, Darrell Bevell isn’t DOING his job.  He’s gone out and created this whole other offense based around Percy Harvin (who I’ll get to in a bit).  Fly sweeps and lateral passing and screen plays and handoffs up the middle.  Yes, Percy Harvin is a great weapon to have.  Yes, he’s among the most dangerous weapons in all of football with his speed and elusiveness.  But, you can’t forget that this team has OTHER weapons that are just as good and effective in their own ways.

Marshawn Lynch is one of the most dynamic running backs in the game.  What the FUCK is he doing only getting 10 carries in a game, EVER?  I don’t care if Dallas hogged the football through most of the first half of that game.  I don’t care if it leads to repeat 3 & Outs, you better kick off the game by handing the rock to Beastmode!  On first AND second down if you have to!

Now, I know that’s not sexy.  Handing the ball to Lynch isn’t going to get you noticed as a coordinator; but it WORKS.

And that’s just it.  To get noticed as a coordinator, you’ve got to be running a well-oiled machine of an offense.  You’ve got to have that scoreboard spinning!  You’ve got to average around 30 points per game with lots of big plays from your skill positions.  In this case:  Russell Wilson & Percy Harvin.  So, he’s forcing Wilson to force the ball to Harvin as much as possible.

When it’s working, Bevell looks like a genius.  Why did Gus Bradley get the Jacksonville job?  Because he turned around a defense that was among the very worst to one of the very best.  That’s what gets defensive coordinators jobs as head coaches.  How do offensive coordinators get jobs as head coaches?  Well, it starts at quarterback.

If Bevell can make Wilson a legit Top 5 quarterback in this league – and not the perceived Game Manager everyone thinks he is – then he will have done the impossible and he’ll have his choice of teams to head coach next year.  Russell Wilson isn’t going to shed that Game Manager label by handing the ball off to Lynch all day long; he’s got to throw the ball!  With Harvin as the team’s best weapon in the passing game, of course Bevell is going to organize the offense around his abilities!

So, that’s what we’re going to get.  The only problem is:  we’re going to get that type of offense to the detriment of the TEAM.  That’s a problem for Seahawks fans, but guess who it helps.  Guess who actually benefits if the Seahawks manage to lose a few too many games this year!  That’s right:  Darrell Bevell.  Because coordinators who make the Super Bowl don’t get hired as head coaches.  Because it takes too long, and other teams want to get a jump-start on their next seasons.  THAT’S why I think Darrell Bevell is doing more harm than good.  I’m not going to sit here and tell you that he’s actively trying to cost us ballgames.  But, I am saying that defeats aren’t going to linger with him the way they’re lingering with fans.  I’m also saying that he’s being pig-headed with this new offensive scheme and is going to stick with it – without making the necessary adjustments – for better and for worse.

Here’s what I’ll say about Harvin:  he works best as a complementary player.  A change-of-pace.  Because:

  1. You don’t want to give him the lion’s share of the touches because he might get injured.
  2. Teams know what to expect out of him after multiple viewings.

The injury thing is obvious.  He’s a small guy.  He takes vicious hits because he runs so fast and because defenders are so much bigger than he is.  But, it’s the second part that Bevell doesn’t seem to understand.

In the Super Bowl, Harvin was electric.  Why?  Because nobody had seen him play all that often in a Seahawks uniform.  They didn’t have a really good idea how we’d use him.  So, those fly sweeps went for big gains.  And, in the early going of this year, it was more of the same.  Those quick-hitters to Harvin went for big money because the Packers and Chargers didn’t know what was coming.

Now?  Teams know what we’re doing.  This isn’t college football.  You know why John Ross is so great as a Husky?  Because he’s a man among boys.  He’s an NFL player surrounded by glorified high schoolers.  All you have to do is give Ross the football and he’s going to make magic happen (evidenced by that 86-yard touchdown against Cal, which would’ve been stopped for a modest gain AT BEST in the NFL).

Harvin is a great weapon because of his usefulness as a decoy.  When we send him in motion towards the quarterback pre-snap, the defense has to be on alert:  will the Seahawks hand it off to him?  Will Wilson turn and throw it to him as he runs away from him, in sort of a swing pass?  They have to account for him, which opens up the handoff up the gut to Lynch.  That takes one guy from The Box and removes him from the play, making life easier for Beastmode and the blockers in front of him.

And yes, it’s good to get his hands on the football once in a while, in space, like a glorified handoff.  But, you’ve also got to run him out in patterns sometimes!  He’s a slot receiver; how about you fucking USE him like a slot receiver?  Run some slants with him.  Run some double-moves and get him going down field!  I know the deep passing thing isn’t his game, necessarily, but the threat has to be there!  They can’t always expect Harvin to be hovering around the line of scrimmage.

Go watch tape of Green Bay.  Go look at how they use Randall Cobb.  Make THAT part of Harvin’s game.  Let’s keep the defense on their toes.

The fact of the matter is, yeah, Bevell is getting stagnant with his scheme vis-a-vis Harvin.  And a little stubbornness going along with that stagnation.  But, that doesn’t absolve Harvin himself.  He’s making A LOT of money.  And I know his mere presence on the field as a decoy will help this offense in the long run.  But, he’s not getting all those millions of dollars to give us 22 receptions for a measly 133 yards and 0 receiving touchdowns across five football games.  He’s also not getting all those millions of dollars to give us 11 rushing attempts for 92 yards and a single rushing TD.  He needs to be doing more.  EVERYONE needs to be doing more, but Percy Harvin can never again have a fucking game where he gets the ball 6 times and has negative net yardage.  We didn’t pay him all this money to be a speedy kick return man.  Ted Ginn Jr. is out there if you want that.  Much cheaper, too.

Finally, I’ll just say this:  if you’re injured, stop playing.  Sit out.  Because you’re only making your injury worse, and you’re not functioning properly when you’re on the field.  You’re not helping!  You’re actively hurting us with your penalties and with you being constantly out of position.  I’m looking at you, Okung, and I’m looking at anyone else who’s playing injured in secret.  STOP IT!  Get well, then come back.  Don’t be Mr. Macho Man, because you’ll get no credit from me for playing through pain.  You’ll only get my scorn for making the team worse.  I know you think that You at 75% is better than someone else at 100%, but I promise you you’re wrong.  Take a seat.

***

  1. San Diego Chargers (5-1) – Could’ve used a better defensive performance in Oakland for fantasy purposes, but I suppose I can’t really hold it against them.  It’s always tough going on the road in your own division.  I still really like their body of work right now and think they match up really well with the Broncos.
  2. Denver Broncos (4-1) – Not for nothing, but they get dinged a little bit (and therefore stuck in the #2 spot) because they lost to the Seahawks, who REALLY aren’t as good as I thought they were.
  3. Seattle Seahawks (3-2) – I’m not willing to dump the Seahawks much farther than this spot right now, though – because I think a lot of teams are iffy at this point – but a few more injuries and unexpected defeats will surely plummet them quick.
  4. San Francisco 49ers (4-2) – And they’re only going to get better as the season goes on, with their injured guys returning and their later BYE week.
  5. Philadelphia Eagles (5-1) – I can’t believe how fast people jumped off their bandwagon this week.  SO MANY pundits took the Giants.  Just when you start to believe the Eagles’ offense is in a slump, they bust out.  Let that be a lesson.
  6. Dallas Cowboys (5-1) – As advertised:  one of the best offensive lines in all of football.  Limit Romo’s opportunities and you’ll limit his mistakes.  Simple Fucking Equation.
  7. Cincinnati Bengals (3-1-1) – The defense is starting to mess me up in the head a little bit.
  8. Detroit Lions (4-2) – Frankly, the offense is starting to mess me up in the head a little bit.
  9. Indianapolis Colts (4-2) – Just Colts being Colts.
  10. Green Bay Packers (4-2) – Nice little underrated win, going down to Miami to steal one.
  11. Baltimore Ravens (4-2) – If only Flacco could play that well every week, he’d be a cinch for the Hall of Fame.
  12. New England Patriots (4-2) – Death, taxes, and the Patriots beating the Bills.
  13. Arizona Cardinals (4-1) – I’m beginning to think the NFC West – aside from the Rams – has the best collection of coaching staffs in all of football.  I don’t know what sort of voodoo Bruce Arians practices; I just know I don’t want to get on his bad side.
  14. Kansas City Chiefs (2-3) – I dunno, they had a BYE week.  Hard to look good on your BYE week, when better teams around you are kicking ass and taking names.
  15. New Orleans Saints (2-3) – They’re out of my Top 10.  Smell you later, Saints.  Smell you later forever!
  16. Chicago Bears (3-3) – Yeah, good luck going up against the Lions and Packers; you’ve got no shot at the division.
  17. Carolina Panthers (3-2-1) – What was once considered – by me – as possibly being the best division in football, the NFC South is now one of the worst?  Lump them in with their AFC counterparts and the South in general is just a fucked up pile of shit.  HEY, WAIT A MINUTE!
  18. Cleveland Browns (3-2) – Haha, Steelers.
  19. Pittsburgh Steelers (3-3) – Ha. Ha.
  20. New York Giants (3-3) – Poor Eli.
  21. Houston Texans (3-3) – Poor J.J.
  22. Atlanta Falcons (2-4) – I place them below the Texans because their offensive line is horrendous.  And if they ever went up against J.J. Watt, Matt Ryan would cease to be.
  23. Miami Dolphins (2-3) – Making me look bad, Dolphins!  You don’t want to see me when I’m angry.
  24. Buffalo Bills (3-3) – This is a frisky little team, but all the used-up, washed-out white quarterbacks in the world won’t help them make the playoffs.
  25. Washington Redskins (1-5) – I just learned this week that they have only one win and not two.  Because I pay attention to detail and have a solid awareness of what’s going on in the world.
  26. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-5) – What the hell is up with this defense?  This is borderline offensive(!).
  27. New York Jets (1-5) – They’re going to have a mighty housecleaning if they don’t get improved quarterback play pretty soon.
  28. Minnesota Vikings (2-4) – This offense is a mess.  I think Norv has used up all his magic beans.
  29. St. Louis Rams (1-4) – Pretty tall order for a rookie quarterback to go up against the 49ers on Monday Night.
  30. Tennessee Titans (2-4) – You move up no spots because all you did was beat the fucking Jags.
  31. Oakland Raiders (0-5) – You move up one spot in the rankings because you’re not the Jags.
  32. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-6) – Fuck you, Jags!  You’re supposed to be BETTER than this right now!  How many years in a row are you going to lead the league in being the 32nd-ranked team in the NFL?  Moreover, who ever told you that you could work with men?

Seattle Sports Hell 2014 NFL Power Rankings – Week 4

This week’s intro is called:  “Taking A Revised Look At The Seahawks’ 2014 Schedule”

Every year, I do a preview/prediction post where I take a look at the Seahawks’ schedule and try to predict the winners and losers.  This year, I went and predicted a record of 14-2, where I guessed the Seahawks would lose at San Francisco and at home against the Rams in Week 17 when we’re resting all of our starters.  As you can discern, I’m already way off base, as the Seahawks’ first loss was at San Diego in week 2 (when, in all fairness, I did predict a fairly close, high-scoring game; and I even got San Diego’s score right on the nose with 30 points!).

Anyway, we’re now four full weeks into this thing, and while it’s impossible to know how everything is going to play out this early into the season, four weeks is enough to give us something of an idea of how it’s all going to shake out.

Next week, we play the Redskins on Monday night.  I WAS a little concerned about things with Kirk Cousins taking over, but his performance on Thursday night brought that dream back down to Earth.  I don’t think he’ll be as bad as he was against the Giants, but he’s still not all that good.  They have talent, but I don’t think the Seahawks will have much trouble shutting down their offense.  And their defense is THE WORST, so even if they do manage to put up some points, they won’t put up enough.

One trend I’m noticing out of this season is the sheer volume of high-scoring offenses we’re facing on a regular basis.  For one reason or another, it’s reasonable to at least somewhat fear the following:  GB, SD, Den, Was, Dal, and Phi.  Obviously, six isn’t a high percentage, but out of the gates we’ve got the first five games against these high-scoring teams.  Dallas is no different.  Though, Dallas still has the iffy quarterback play, so I don’t see this game being much of a contest.  I stand behind my prediction of this being a comfortable win.

After the Dallas game, we’ve got two road, 10am starts, against the Rams and Panthers.  The Rams aren’t a good team, period.  Injuries have killed them, obviously.  But, beyond that, they’re just not gelling as a team.  Their defense isn’t anywhere near as good as they should be.  And, their offense isn’t stepping up and improving as they should.  Even without Sam Bradford, on paper, the Rams should be a .500 team with a bullet.  We should be fearing the Rams as a divisional contender for years to come; but they keep spinning their tires.  Is it the coaching staff?  That’s quite possible.  Jeff Fisher isn’t some coaching god.  He’s just another guy, like Shanahan and Andy Reid and all these other coaches who go from one good situation to a bad situation.  He caught fire in a bottle once, but he’s not good enough to capture it twice.  The Rams are toast and should not be feared.

Until I saw the Panthers’ defense get crushed in the last two weeks – against the likes of the Steelers and Ravens – I considered that game to be a legitimate threat.  But now?  Even if they somehow shut down our run game, we shouldn’t have much trouble shredding them through the air.  And, as for their offense?  Ye Gods!  As expected, Cam Newton doesn’t have any weapons around him.  At worst, it’ll be another low-scoring affair just like the last two times we’ve played this team.  But, I’m starting to get the feeling that this will be yet another comfortable win.

We follow that stretch with two home games against the Raiders and Giants.  Is it possible that these teams are even WORSE than expected?  I don’t see how, but that’s exactly what’s happening.  The Raiders certainly aren’t getting the return on investment with all the veterans they signed.  As for the Giants, they’re a fucking zoo (I don’t care they beat the Texans and Redskins the last two weeks).  The offense will be crushed, and the defense will be decimated.  If the Seahawks are flying high and still mostly healthy, I expect us to beat the Giants by 50.  Anything less will be a mild disappointment.

We play the Chiefs on the road.  I wasn’t expecting much out of them originally, but after watching them dismantle the Patriots on Monday night, I think I short-changed them a little bit.  That defense, while wounded and missing some pieces from last year, is still pretty strong.  Plus, they’ll be at home, in the loudest stadium in the world, so that’s fun.  I still don’t think they’re making the playoffs, but they’re just as good as any other AFC Wild Card team in contention for that 6-seed.

We wrap up our 8-game stretch of Teams The Seahawks Should Beat with a home contest against the Cards.  Right now, the Cards are 3-0 and look to be the first REALLY tough defense we will face.  I have to believe that teams will have figured them out by the time we play them in week 12, so they absolutely should not still be leading in this division.  With this being a home game – and with the Seahawks still pretty salty about losing at home to them last year – I fully expect us to complete this 8-game stretch with another victory.  But, it’s probably going to be a lot tougher than I would’ve thought.

On the flipside, the Thanksgiving game in Santa Clara looks a lot EASIER than it did before the season.  I don’t know what happened to the 49ers, but they look like they’re going down in flames.  The defense looks average-at-best, and the offense is spinning their wheels (even with added firepower in the passing and running games).  To put it this way, I’m no longer guaranteeing that this game is a Seahawks loss.  How does that make you feel?

I am a little more concerned with the Eagles game, though.  Before the season, I predicted a high-scoring game where we still manage to win comfortably.  At the moment, this is a real coinflip for me.  Don’t get me wrong, I would still rather play a team with an offense-first mentality (and a shitty defense) over the alternative of a crappy offense and an overly-stout D.  But, there are a couple factors at play that really scare the bejesus out of me.  First and foremost, is this going to be a game where the weather is freaky?  Like, are we going to run into a huge snow storm or something?  The game against the Chargers had super-high temperatures that really affected our defense.  Will super-crappy Philly weather do us in the same way?  The other thing is:  we haven’t faced this particular team in a while (similar to the Chargers).  Thankfully, with the Thanksgiving game, we’ll have a few extra days to watch tape and prepare.  But, that doesn’t compare to actual game experience.  Since they’re so foreign to us, will they come out of the gate and blow us out of the water?  That’s a legitimate concern we should all be prepared for.  If I weren’t such a homer, I’d put this game in the loss column right now.

Our season closes out with three games against the division.  The 49ers at home, which we should win.  Then, on the road in Arizona.  I could see that one being a loss too!  If their defense holds up and they catch some breaks on offense, who knows?  At least the weather should be relatively mild for the time of year.  Finally, we come back to play the Rams.  If it’s a game we NEED to win to get home field, then I expect us to win.  If it’s not, and we rest all of our starters after a few series, then probably mark that one a loss.

14-2 is still in play, but after four weeks, if I were a betting man, I think I’d hedge my bet and lock us down for 12-4 or 13-3.  Giddyup.

***

  1. Seattle Seahawks (2-1) – So, Zach Miller will be out a few weeks.  That sucks harder than it sounds.
  2. Denver Broncos (2-1) – I kinda figured the Broncos would be tested by the Chargers, but if the Chiefs turn out to be decent, it might not be the easiest road for the best team in the AFC.
  3. Cincinnati Bengals (3-0) – Anyone want to tell me why we have six teams with BYEs last week, but only the Dolphins & Raiders this week?  Hey NFL, how about a little consistency!  No one likes the BYE weeks!  How about just doing 6 teams a week for five weeks and 2 teams that last week?
  4. Detroit Lions (3-1) – It finally looks like the defense is rounding into form.  This could be a dangerous team.
  5. San Diego Chargers (3-1) – I picked up their defense in fantasy – because Cincy was on a BYE – and they got me a nice chunk of change.  With some of the cupcakes they’ve got on the schedule, it looks like I’m going to keep them around for a while.
  6. Philadelphia Eagles (3-1) – Nick Foles isn’t God.  If you cut him, he will bleed!  And every once in a while, he’s going to have a shitbird of a game.
  7. Arizona Cardinals (3-0) – I’m pretty happy they took the 49ers down a peg, but the Cardinals will cease to be perfect starting this week.
  8. Indianapolis Colts (2-2) – 0-2?  BFD.  This is where the sucky division and cheesy overall schedule comes into play.
  9. San Francisco 49ers (2-2) – I know people were recommending that we root for the 49ers over the Eagles, but how was that game any different than the Saints/49ers game last year?  Sure as shit, we needed the Saints to win that game for us to take the division title and the #1 overall seed.  I don’t think the Eagles are #1-seed material, and it SURE would have been nice to see the 49ers fall to 1-3 and REALLY fall into a tailspin.
  10. New Orleans Saints (1-3) – It’s getting harder and harder to continue to believe in this team.  Yeah, they’ve only played one home game, but that wasn’t the most impressive victory in the world.  And, if they can’t win on the road, is this still a team I should worry about?
  11. Green Bay Packers (2-2) – The defenses they face start to get easier as the season goes along.  But, I still don’t think they’re on the same level as the Lions.
  12. Kansas City Chiefs (2-2) – Way to bounce back, Chiefs!  I had low expectations coming into the year, and your first two games only reinforced that opinion.  Seriously, how did you lose a game at home against the Titans when you just pulled off that type of performance against the Patriots?
  13. Dallas Cowboys (3-1) – OH BOY, the Cowboys are 3-1!  Looks like we better start taking them seriously and projecting them into the playoffs!  Except, who do they play in December again?  @ Chicago, @ Philly, vs. Indy, @ Washington.  Hmm.  CAN YOU SMELL WHAT THE TONY ROMO MELTDOWN IS COOKING???
  14. Atlanta Falcons (2-2) – I said it about the Saints and I’ll say it here:  if you can’t win on the road, then you’re just wasting everyone’s time.  You think you’re going to play a home game EVER in the playoffs?  Think again.
  15. Baltimore Ravens (3-1) – Pretty good record now, but check back in with me after they’ve played their next four of five games on the road.
  16. New England Patriots (2-2) – They haven’t had the most difficult schedule, yet even in their victories they haven’t looked good on offense.  Who knew that the O-Line would be important?  Oh, that’s right, anyone who knows anything about football knew that the O-Line would be important.  It’s like Bill Belichick goes into every season asking himself, “How can I make Tom Brady’s life a living hell THIS year?”  No receivers, no offensive line, a tight end who can only play once every five plays; let’s try that and see if he blows his brains out.
  17. Chicago Bears (2-2) – See, Chicago, that was a test.  That was a test and you failed.  At home, if you want to be a contender, you’ve got to BEAT Green Bay.
  18. Pittsburgh Steelers (2-2) – These God damned Steelers are the 8-8est team I’ve ever seen in my life!
  19. Carolina Panthers (2-2) – In their first two games – both victories – the Panthers’ defense was rock solid and they looked like they could hang with the Panthers of 2013.  In their last two games – both losses – they’ve given up 35+ points per game and have caused fantasy football owners to pull their hair out.  So, what’s it going to be, Panthers?
  20. New York Giants (2-2) – Well, they’re not good enough to beat the good teams, but they should be just okay enough to beat the crappy ones.  Which means, of course, that they have as good a chance as anyone to win the NFC East (zing!).
  21. Houston Texans (3-1) – Sorry, still not buying it.  You can beat all the Redskins, Raiders, and Bills that you want, but you’re still not a good team.  And, quite frankly, there aren’t enough shitty teams on your schedule to prop up this sinking ship!  Mark it down now, they’re losing 4 of their next 5 and will go into their BYE with a record of 4-5.
  22. Miami Dolphins (2-2) – Miami coaches, just do me this favor:  feed your running backs and take the ball out of Tannehill’s hands.
  23. Washington Redskins (2-2) – On the one hand, boy does Cousins look like a dumpster fire waiting to happen.  But, on the other hand, never trust a Thursday night performance – good or bad.
  24. New York Jets (1-3) – You know, if this team has even a halfway decent record by season’s end, it’ll be really impressive.  They’ve got a pretty tough schedule considering they’re in the AFC Least.
  25. Buffalo Bills (2-2) – Not gonna lie to you, giving Kyle Orton the starting job is the first step in everyone from the GM on down getting their asses shitcanned.
  26. Minnesota Vikings (2-2) – I don’t know if I’m ready to live in a world where Teddy Bridgewater is the best quarterback of his class.
  27. Cleveland Browns (1-2) – You got me, I don’t have anything on the Browns.
  28. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-3) – Better with Glennon?  Probably.  A good team with Glennon?  Absolutely not.
  29. St. Louis Rams (1-2) – So, who’s their starting quarterback again?  I’m serious, I have no idea.
  30. Tennessee Titans (1-3) – This is why you pay Charlie Whitehurst the big bucks.
  31. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-4) – So, here’s the deal.  The Jags play Pittsburgh, @ Tennessee, Cleveland, Miami, @ Cincinnati, and Dallas before their BYE week.  Any of those first four games are totally games you could win if you’re the Jags.  If they don’t win any, I think you’re well within your rights to fire the whole coaching staff and start over after the BYE.  This is where you realize whether you’ve got something you can work with or not.  Is Gus Bradley the real deal?  He’s going to have to prove it in the next four games.
  32. Oakland Raiders (0-4) – So, when the Raiders needed to use a backup quarterback, their first choice was Matt McGloin?  No wonder their coach got fired this week!

Predicting The 2014 NFL Season

This was me last year.  I like doing these posts because I’m an idiot.  So, without further ado, here’s how I think the NFL season is going to go down.

(How’s that for an intro to get your juices flowing?)

NFC East

Philadelphia
NY Giants
Dallas
Washington

I tend to have a pretty good idea of where things stand – or, at least, where I THINK things will stand – by this point in the pre-season.  But, I’m more befuddled this year than probably any other year.  I start to REALLY second-guess myself when I start predicting repeat division champions, because that’s generally what all the national pundits go with and the national pundits are fucking morons.

That having been said, you might see a lot of repeaters out of me this year.  Since I can’t predict where injuries are going to fall, I have to look at straight up talent.  And Philly has it all over the rest of the teams in the East.  For the record, all four of these teams have just the worst defenses, but I think the Eagles have it a hair above the others.  It wouldn’t be unreasonable to see something of a bounce-back year out of the Giants and Eli Manning to perhaps get to 9 wins.  Dallas will score a lot and they’ll give up a lot, and Tony Romo will be Tony Romo.  Something in the 7-win range is in order.  RGIII is looking at a new coaching staff and probably some more growing pains.  If you’re a Redskins fan, you probably hate to see your young quarterback suffer coaching instability this early into his career.  I wouldn’t be surprised to see him stay healthier this year, but also take a step back as they try to turn him into a pocket passer.  Watch out for a potential QB controversy here as well.

NFC North

Detroit
Green Bay
Chicago
Minnesota

Gotta take a chance in your predictions somewhere.  I thought Detroit was poised to crack the playoffs last year, but ultimately their coaching staff was comprised of nothing but fuckups.  Your team reflects that.  This year, they’ve got a calming influnece in Jim Caldwell.  I didn’t like him as much trying to follow Tony Dungy in Indy, but I like him here taking over a hyper-talented offense.  That team should be averaging 30 points per game; how they improve their rushing attack will dictate how efficiently they’re able to score.  And the defense HAS talented pieces.  I think Caldwell’s staff will be able to get the most out of this unit, and I think the Lions will push through to take the division with 10 or 11 wins.

I still think Green Bay will be good, but they’ve got a brutal schedule.  They start 4 of 6 on the road, including games at Seattle, Detroit, Chicago, and Miami.  They also have to go to New Orleans and Tampa, while catching New England, Atlanta, Carolina, and Philly at home.  Like I said:  BRUTAL.  Chicago still stinks on defense and shouldn’t be anything to worry about.  Jay Cutler is still Jay Cutler and he’ll continue taking stupid chances that will be picked off in big situations (Tony Romo-lite, as it were).  Minnesota will be a bottom-feeder.

NFC South

New Orleans
Atlanta
Tampa Bay
Carolina

You’re going to see a minimum of two playoff teams in this division, but I’ve got a feeling (and I’m staking my reputation on it) that we’ll see three.  I think New Orleans is – with Seattle – among the best two teams in the conference (and maybe in all of football).  Their offense is still amazing, but their defense REALLY impressed me last year, and only figures to get better as players gel and exceed expectations under their second year with Rob Ryan.  It’ll be neck-and-neck with the Saints and Seahawks for the top two seeds, but ultimately the Saints will win a minimum of 12 games and hang onto that second seed.

Elsewhere, with Atlanta healthy, they’re sure to rebound.  Matt Ryan is an elite quarterback and they’ve got one of the best wide receiver duos in the league with Julio Jones and Roddy White (still effective after all these years).  What you have to hope for, if we’re all being honest, is that Steven Jackson doesn’t get in the way.  He’s done.  He’s old and slow and useless.  MAYBE if they used him (when he gets healthy again) exclusively as a goalline back, he might be somewhat decent.  But, they’ve got to turn that running game over to the younger backs we’ve watched on Hard Knocks this year.  Defensively, they can’t help but improve just by having healthy bodies on the field.  Really, they have to do just enough to make other teams work for their points and let their offense get a lead.  The secondary is young and went through their growing pains last year; I would expect a good step forward out of them in 2014.

Tampa is my third playoff team.  Lovie Smith is a pro’s pro at head coach.  Josh McCown is a great pickup for them.  He should prove for that team what Alex Smith was for KC:  a steady influence that will manage the offense, keep mistakes to a minimum, and let the players around him be the stars.  Defensively, Tampa is stout.  Young and fast and hungry.  With Lovie’s defensive-mindedness, we should be looking at a Top 10 unit, with the upside of a Top 5.

As for Carolina, I just don’t see a repeat of 2013 in their immediate future.  As it was, they had practically no weapons on offense, and then they lost their top two receivers to free agency (well, Steve Smith was released, but still).  Their horrendous cap situation has destroyed this team, leaving no one around Cam Newton to pick up the slack.  He may be elite, but he can’t literally do EVERYTHING.  The defense lost some pieces too, which should contribute to their free fall in 2014.  If they get knocked around by the injury bug, you’re looking at a 4-win team.  At best, I think they’re only a 6- or 7-win team.

NFC West

Seattle
San Francisco
St. Louis
Arizona

I’ll get into this more on Thursday when I come out with my big prediction post, but I think the Seahawks – with this vastly improved offense and still-great defense – will get to 14 or 15 wins.  San Francisco’s defense is getting KILLED by injuries and suspensions.  Without that unit being a Top 5 (or even Top 10) unit, I think the offense will struggle as it’s tasked with carrying the load.  My guess:  8-9 wins and on the outside looking in at the playoffs.

Elsewhere, I think the Rams are young enough and talented enough at certain spots to overcome the loss of Sam Bradford and look decent.  Maybe they struggle early, but I could see this team coming together and stringing some quality games out towards the end of the season.  Arizona is facing a similar situation with injuries and suspensions to their key defensive starters; they’ll take a step back in that area.  And, I still don’t buy that the coaches will give Ellington the superstar role he deserves.  With the atrocious Carson Palmer at the helm, I wouldn’t expect his health for anywhere near 16 games; and even when he IS healthy, I expect him to continue to be far below average.  That’s a 3-4 win team if I’ve ever seen one.

AFC East

New England
Miami
NY Jets
Buffalo

Tom Brady continues to be the man.  I don’t necessarily care for their receivers, but if Gronk can return to anywhere near his form two years ago, they’ll manage.  The running game is always a question mark for this team, but I think they’ll get by with their committee approach.  I like Miami’s potential on offense, as they bring in a new coordinator who worked with Philly last year.  Up-tempo, lots of short passes for Tannehill, and an improved running game should be just what the doctor ordered.  I REALLY wanted to pick them as a Wild Card team, but I think they’ll just miss out.  Still, we could be looking at a 9- or 10-win team, giving them hope for the future.  The Jets still should be good on defense, but I don’t think they’ll have enough on offense to win late in games.  Buffalo kind of looks like a trainwreck right now.

AFC North

Cincinnati
Pittsburgh
Baltimore
Cleveland

The AFC is where you’re going to see a lot of the repeat predictions out of me.  Cincinnati is a nice, well-rounded team.  Andy Dalton will probably never make the jump to elite status, and will thus struggle to win games in the playoffs.  But, in the regular season, against some of the lesser teams in the AFC, with the talent around him, he’ll continue to put up good-enough numbers to stay employed.  Defensively, I like them a lot.  Again, nothing flashy, but just all-around solid.  I’d expect a lot of 24-10 games out of this team in 2014.

Pittsburgh was an 8-8 team last year and they were old and injury-riddled throughout.  Their offensive line should improve just by staying healthy, if they can manage it.  Roethlisberger may be on the downside of his career, but he’s got enough in the tank for a couple/few more runs at the playoffs.  Antonio Brown is a stud, and if their running backs manage to bounce back from their weed-smoking infraction late in the pre-season, we could be looking at a very solid team.  How the Steelers will fare depends entirely on working in younger players on defense around the veteran starters they retained.  I think it’ll be just enough to snag a 6-seed.

Baltimore still looks to be reeling from that insane contract they gave Flacco.  Their running game sucks, and if they continue to lean on their wacky pass-first mentality, it figures to be a long season for them again.  Joe Flacco had that great Super Bowl run a couple years ago, but he’s not an elite quarterback.  Torrey Smith tantalizes in fantasy, but ultimately falls short of expectations.  Defensively, I’m not convinced they’ll be in the top half in the league.  And, as for Cleveland, you’re looking at one of the worst teams in football.  They’ll be drafting high again; so Browns fans better hope they have the general manager in place – with all of their draft capital – to rebuild smartly.

AFC South

Indianapolis
Jacksonville
Tennessee
Houston

Has anyone led a more charmed life than Colts fans over the last couple decades?  They have maybe the best quarterback of all time for the bulk of his career – culminating in two Super Bowl appearances and one title – then he gets injured for one year, they win the #1 pick, and they have the great fortune to draft Andrew Luck:  another guy who may end up as one of the best of all time.  AND, to top it all off, just as Luck comes into the league, the rest of their division totally falls apart, giving him every opportunity to win this division for the foreseeable future.  It’s Indy and everybody else in the AFC South.

I like Jacksonville to continue to improve under Gus Bradley.  Blake Bortles will contend with Derek Carr of the Raiders for best QB in his draft class.  Hopefully, they can bring him along slowly and give him a soft landing somewhere around mid-season.  I can easily see this team scratch its way to 8 wins.  I don’t think Locker will ever be able to stay healthy and prove what he’s capable of.  Even if he does play the bulk of their games, this just isn’t a good team.  They have an upside of probably 7 wins.  Houston will fight with Cleveland, Buffalo, and the Raiders for that top draft pick in next year’s draft.

AFC West

Denver
San Diego
Kansas City
Oakland

Manning has another year in him.  Their defense is vastly improved.  They shouldn’t miss Decker too much with Sanders in the fold.  The running game will always be secondary as long as Manning is behind the center.  This is a Top 2 team in the AFC.  San Diego should look even better than last year’s team that snuck into the playoffs.  They’ll still be a Wild Card team, but I like them to be one of the better Wild Card teams in football and give either Cincy or Indy a run for their money in that 4/5 playoff game.  Kansas City lost pieces in the defense and they still don’t have an elite receiver.  They’ll go as far as Jamaal Charles takes them, and I really wonder about his health.  The Raiders will start to be interesting as soon as they bench Schaub’s ass and put Carr into the starting role be much more exciting with Carr as a starter.  Carr may not light the league on fire the way he did against the Seahawks in that final pre-season game, but he’ll look plenty good and keep them in some ballgames.  Still, you hate to see one of the worst teams also as one of the oldest.  I could see injuries take this team down for the count early.

NFC Playoffs

  1. Seattle
  2. New Orleans
  3. Detroit
  4. Philadelphia
  5. Atlanta
  6. Tampa Bay

AFC Playoffs

  1. Denver
  2. New England
  3. Indianapolis
  4. Cincinnati
  5. San Diego
  6. Pittsburgh

Wild Card Round

Detroit over Tampa Bay
Atlanta over Philadelphia
Indianapolis over Pittsburgh
San Diego over Cincinnati

Divisional Round

Seattle over Atlanta
New Orleans over Detroit
Indianapolis over New England
Denver over San Diego

Championship Round

Seattle over New Orleans
Denver over Indianapolis

Super Bowl

Seattle over Denver

Predicting a repeat of the previous year’s Super Bowl matchup is about as hokey as it gets, I know.  But, one thing I won’t do is predict something different just because the odds are so far against a repeat matchup.  Seattle and Denver are, by far, the best two teams in football again this year.  And, it’s not like it’s an impossible feat – Dallas and Buffalo had a couple repeat Super Bowl matchups in the early 90s.

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.  Again, that’s not what I THINK will happen, but it’ll always be in the back of my mind until Peyton Manning breaks an ankle around midseason and completely blows up this predictions post.

For the record, I’m two for my last two in predicting Super Bowl matchups and Super Bowl winners.  I had Baltimore over San Francisco, and I had Seattle over Denver.  I’m on a pretty good run here, so let’s see if I can keep it going.

Is This A Joke?

I wasn’t going to write about this when I first heard about it last night, because it’s pointless and stupid.  It’s a list, of the 32 NFL head coaches, ranked in order of best to worst.  I guess.  Anyway, it’s dumb.  Everyone makes lists all the time and they’re all retarded, except this guy KINDA takes the cake.

Remember the name Elliot Harrison, because this guy’s going places.  I mean, if he can generate this type of chatter in the middle of July, he must be pushing just the right buttons.

I’ll get to what’s really grinding my gears in a bit, but first, I’ll just say that for the most part, I don’t have a problem with this guy’s rankings.  The guys at the bottom are there for a reason – they lack NFL head coaching experience.  I might have ranked Gus Bradley a little higher, partly because I’m biased and partly because I like to look at someone’s potential when I do these types of things.  I think Gus Bradley has a chance to be great.  And, I think the Jags will be one of the most improved teams this year.  So, to get in on the ground floor, I probably would have put Gus around 20 or 19 or something.

I would have put Jason Garrett dead last.  He is, BY FAR, the worst head coach of them all.  I know he doesn’t get many favors from his GM (except further employment for some ungodly reason), but he has bungled more than his fair share of games and probably should’ve been fired a season or two ago.

I also think Joe Philbin is a ninny and should be placed closer to the bottom than he already is.

I’m a little higher on Ron Rivera and probably would’ve put him in the mid-teens.  I think Rex Ryan’s coasting on his AFC Championship games he had way back when and isn’t nearly as good as his ranking.  Mike Smith is probably a little too high, as is John Fox, but really, these are all minor quibbles.

Pete Carroll is ranked 7th.  In a vacuum, that doesn’t sound so bad.  If I looked at him, then shut my eyes, and tried to think of a good ranking for him, I feel like the number 7 would pop right into my mind.  But, that’s without any consideration for the other coaches listed above him.

Mike McCarthy is ranked 6th.  Say what?

Tom Coughlin is ranked 5th.  Ehh, that feels right.  Guy has been around a long time, has a couple championships to his name.  Yeah, he’s missed the playoffs a few times, but the guy has made a champion of Eli Manning twice over!

John Harbaugh is ranked 4th.  Again, I’d probably rank him ahead of Pete Carroll as well.  He’s had a lot of sustained success since he got the head coaching job with the Ravens.  They share the same number of championships; I’m okay with that.

Here’s where it gets me – and I’m sure it was intentional.  Jim Harbaugh is ranked 3rd.  You see, this is the genius of Elliot Harrison.  Ideally, if he wants to piss off any fanbase, it’s probably that of the Patriots.  They’re the loudest and most easily-peeved by any slight against them.  But, to do so would have meant ranking Harbaugh over Bill Belichick, and that’s just insanity.  Belichick might go down as one of the greatest head coaches of all time.  To rank anyone ahead of him would immediately render his list as invalid.

So, instead, Elliot Harrison decided to troll TWO fanbases – Seattle & Baltimore – by not only ranking our most hated rival FOUR SPOTS ahead of Pete Carroll, but also ranking the wrong Harbaugh brother ahead of the other.

Let me see if I get this straight:  the two Harbaugh boys coached against one another in the Super Bowl before last, and the LOSER of said Super Bowl ends up getting ranked ahead of the victor?  Just because he’s 3 for 3 in NFC Championship appearances, that gets him the nod?  Even though John Harbaugh had made the playoffs in five consecutive seasons, making three AFC Championship Games and the aforementioned Super Bowl victory over his brother … he gets docked a point for missing the playoffs one time?  Are you KIDDING ME?

I think I’m more upset about this whole John/Jim fiasco than I am with Harbaugh being ranked so far ahead of Pete Carroll.

You want my opinion?  Here’s my top ten (I’m not going all the way to 32, because what’s the point?):

  1. Bill Belichick
  2. Sean Payton
  3. John Harbaugh
  4. Tom Coughlin
  5. Pete Carroll
  6. Jim Harbaugh
  7. Andy Reid
  8. Jeff Fisher
  9. Lovie Smith
  10. Mike Tomlin

Now there’s a ranking that’s somewhat respectable.  But, it’s not a ranking that’s necessarily going to draw a bunch of fire from pissed off fanbases.  It’s just a ranking that makes SENSE.  Jim Harbaugh inherited a team that already had a ton of talent on it.  Pete Carroll, and some of these other coaches ahead of Harbaugh, took over teams that were pretty bad.  They’ve BUILT something.  They’re not living off of the success of previous regimes.  You know what’s going to happen when the talent on the 49ers gets too old?  You’re going to see Jim Harbaugh start missing the playoffs more and more.

However, the Seahawks – a team not afraid to play younger guys at key positions – should be able to regenerate on a yearly basis, thanks to Pete Carroll’s coaching style and philosophy.

I’ll say this:  this Elliot Harrison guy’s rankings will look a lot different next year, after the Seahawks are coming off their second of two championship seasons.

Seattle Sports Hell 2013 NFL Power Rankings – Week 2

I hate to go all pervy Andy Rooney on you, but can someone explain to me why NFL cheerleaders get, like, 10 seconds of screen time per game?  Why, in MY day, television producers knew that any lull in the action was just another excuse to give the fans what they want:  tight and firm T&A.

OK, this has already gone off the rails.  I apologize.  Without any further ado, the week 2 rankings:

***

  1. Seattle Seahawks (2-0) – Please say hello to your NFC Champions.
  2. Denver Broncos (2-0) – Please say hello to your AFC Champions.
  3. San Francisco 49ers (1-1) – This is still a great team against virtually any other team aside from the Seahawks.
  4. Green Bay Packers (1-1) – This offense is a fantasy player’s wet dream.  I have Jordy Nelson and James Jones on my team (in a PPR league) and will be starting them both each and every week until one of them gets injured.
  5. Atlanta Falcons (1-1) – They probably should have beaten the Rams by more, but you can’t discount the impact of not having Roddy White in that offense.  Tony Gonzalez owners will attest to this as well.  Also, don’t forget the Rams are pretty good.  Not great, mind you, but pretty good.
  6. Houston Texans (2-0) – The Texans are the flimsiest “elite” team in all of football.  For all the studs on this defense, it’s kind of a joke the way they’re leaving sub-standard teams in these ballgames.  Matt Schaub won’t be able to pull their asses out of the fire each and every week.
  7. New England Patriots (2-0) – Meet the second-flimsiest “elite” team in all of football.  I’m honestly beginning to wonder if they’re going to have enough fire-power to hold off the Dolphins for the division title THIS year.  It’s going to be a swift and brutal fall off the cliff in the coming seasons for this franchise.
  8. New Orleans Saints (2-0) – Absolutely solid win on the road against a very talented Bucs team.  I’ll get to them in a minute, but this is how a professional, well-coached team gets the job done in a close game.
  9. Cincinnati Bengals (1-1) – Nice win at home last night.  That would’ve been a game the Bungles would have lost.  But these new-look Bengals, why, they’re something else entirely!
  10. Kansas City Chiefs (2-0) – I had my nagging doubts going into the game against the Cowboys, but the Chiefs proved me wrong as they continue to learn how to win again.  They’re not the most exciting team in the NFL, but we can’t all be the Seattle Seahawks.
  11. Carolina Panthers (0-2) – As soon as they fire Ron Rivera, this team is going to be GANGBUSTERS.  But, seriously, he has the best short-yardage running team in football.  Why isn’t he taking more chances, going for the win instead of trying to avoid the loss?  Whoever snipped Rivera’s balls off of him needs to return them immediately.
  12. Baltimore Ravens (1-1) – Whoop-dee-doo, they beat up on the Cleveland Browns, BFD.
  13. Chicago Bears (2-0) – They’ve won a couple of squeakers at home to start the season.  Have you looked at their schedule, by the way?  All of their toughest non-divisional games are at home.  I might have seriously misjudged this team!  Health, of course, will be the ultimate factor, because for a team as talented as they are, they’ve got zero depth if the shit hits the fan.  And I still contend that this defense won’t be as lucky as it is going forward with regards to turnovers and such.  Still.
  14. Washington Redskins (0-2) – OK, let’s not go nuts here.  This team’s best – and only – chance to win is with RGIII in the lineup.  They’ve played two very good offenses and have been thrashed accordingly.  The ‘Skins are going to run into some teams that WON’T generate 600 yards of offense, and when they do, I’d look for their fortunes to change.
  15. Detroit Lions (1-1) – That’s a game you gotta steal if you want to make the playoffs, Lions.  I know Arizona is pretty much on your level, but you gotta be BETTER than that.  Of course, you royally fucked me in Fantasy, as my opponent had Stafford and Johnson, so thanks for that.
  16. Dallas Cowboys (1-1) – This team isn’t going to find itself winning consistently until they get rid of the guy calling the plays, because they’re too one-dimensional.  And Tony Romo isn’t Aaron Rodgers, and their team isn’t the Green Bay Packers, so being one-dimensional isn’t going to work.  RUN THE BALL, YOU LIMEY FUCKS!
  17. New York Giants (0-2) – It’s pretty funny how everyone is freaking out about the Giants.  Eli Manning is a disease and this team deserves every misfortune it earns.
  18. Miami Dolphins (2-0) – Bigtime road win against the Colts.  And, not for nothing, but they’ve won two games on the road to start the season.  That can’t help but bode well for this team!  I’m still not convinced that Tannehill and Co. have what it takes to hang with the best, but this upcoming 3-game test before their BYE week will go a long way (vs. Atlanta, @ New Orleans, vs. Baltimore).
  19. San Diego Chargers (1-1) – It’s funny.  Get rid of Norv and all of a sudden Philip Rivers is a fantasy god.  Who knew?  Besides every single fan of the San Diego Chargers, that is.
  20. St. Louis Rams (1-1) – This is the one bad team that you never want to play, because you’re always in for a dogfight.
  21. Arizona Cardinals (1-1) – Was that the faintest whiff of friskiness I smelled out of their running game on Sunday?  If they figure out how to average somewhere around 4 yards per carry, WATCH OUT!
  22. Indianapolis Colts (1-1) – And here begins the regression train.  You can’t win every single close game you assholes!
  23. Philadelphia Eagles (1-1) – Running up the score only works if you have the horses on defense to keep the other team under 30 points.  This is going to be a fun and frantic year for Eagles fans.
  24. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-2) – This is the most-talented and least-disciplined team in the NFL.  Their coaching staff should be assassinated.  Forget firing.  Go right to assassination.  Bring in someone good who can get the BEST out of their players.  Being thuggish for the sake of being thuggish doesn’t make you a “tough” football team.  It makes you sloppy and stupid, a la the Oakland Raiders of forever.  The worst part is, by BEING so stupid, the Bucs have to do three times the work just to win these football games.  It’s no wonder they’re 0-2 and sliding fast.
  25. Minnesota Vikings (0-2) – Christian Ponder is THIS close to getting his job taken away.  By Kyle Orton.  Let that sink in for a minute.
  26. Tennessee Titans (1-1) – Someone seriously gave me some bad intel on the nature of the Titans’ defense.  I was told they’d be one of the worst in the league.  As it stands, their defense is the only thing keeping this team in games!  They’re still a tough team to gauge, because their offensive line is so horrendous (and therefore it’s impossible to tell if Jake Locker has what it takes to hack it in the League), but I could see this team rising to Middle Of The Pack status by season’s end with the effort they’re giving week-in and week-out.
  27. Buffalo Bills (1-1) – EJ Manuel is looking more and more, every day, as the real deal.  Color me marginally excited.
  28. New York Jets (1-1) – Rex Ryan can still coach up a defense.  And without the Sanchize blundering his way through another boring game, you never know.
  29. Cleveland Browns (0-2) – I don’t think anyone expected the Browns to beat the Ravens.  But, I surely didn’t expect them to look THAT bad.  Someone firebomb the idiots who touted Weeden as “most improved” after his pre-season.  I’m tired of letting your lunacy seep into my subconscious.
  30. Oakland Raiders (1-1) – Honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if that win against the Jags was the only time the Raiders win all season.  Hope you enjoyed your Sunday, Oakland!
  31. Pittsburgh Steelers (0-2) – I didn’t watch a ton of last night’s game, but when I did, the Steelers looked pretty pathetic.  On back-to-back drives, when facing 3rd and 10 (or something like that; long, yet manageable) they chose to run a draw instead of actually, you know TRY FOR THE FIRST DOWN.  They need to figure out what it is they do best and just focus on that.  Unfortunately, running the ball probably isn’t in their wheelhouse.
  32. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-2) – They’re bad with Gabbert.  They’re bad without Gabbert.  Can someone tell me who’s running this offense?  Because I’m not gonna lie to you, Gus Bradley’s job depends on this unit improving quickly.