Would The Seahawks Have Beaten The Rams With Trevone Boykin?

Short answer:  no, probably not.

Alternate short answer:  what are you, fucking stupid?

You can go ahead and throw that question into the same pile as, “Would the Patriots consider keeping Jimmy Garoppolo as their starter beyond Tom Brady’s 4-week suspension if he plays lights out?” and “Should (insert team with extensive QB injuries here) consider signing Tim Tebow/Johnny Manziel?”  They’re non-starters.  They’re wastes of your time and brain cells.  But, they’re flashy and chock full of #HotTakey goodness that people just can’t resist having an opinion about, even if the obvious answers are, “no, probably not,” and “what are you, fucking stupid?”

But, I’ll tell you this, I bet this was on Seahawks’ fans’ minds last Sunday, as we watched Russell Wilson and this offense struggle to a whopping 3 points.  I know it crossed my mind a time or two, every time Wilson failed to scramble away from pressure, every time the pocket collapsed around him in an instant, every time the running game was completely shut down because no one was buying Wilson as a threat to tuck the ball and keep it on a zone read.

OK, so maybe it crossed my mind a little more than a time or two.

My stance on injuries has always been:  if you’re too hurt to be effective, then it’s time to let someone else have a shot while you get better.  I know everyone in that organization – and probably a good percentage of Seahawks fans – respect the hell out of Russell Wilson’s toughness to play through a high ankle sprain that would render bedridden lesser men for at least a month, if not longer.  And, I suppose I would agree with them, to a point.  But, part of me also REALLY hates the macho bullshit that comes with professional athletes.  It’s one thing if you’re Percy Harvin, and every hangnail puts you on the shelf for 8 weeks; Princess Harvin couldn’t be bothered to go out on the field if he felt even the smallest pea underneath his stack of mattresses the night before.  But, if you’re obviously too injured to function, and your being out on the field is actively hurting our chances of winning, then I’m going to resent your presence.

The tricky part here is:  would the Seahawks have been better with a 100% healthy Boykin, or a 35% healthy Wilson?

On the one hand, the Seahawks scored 3 points; could Boykin have been THAT much worse?

On the other hand, yeah, maybe!

Here’s what we know:  with Boykin in there, you’re guaranteed to see a quarterback who can legitimately run with the football.  That’s not nothing.  That’s probably the biggest (and maybe the ONLY) reason to put him in there over Wilson, particularly when you factor in how good the Rams are along the defensive line.  Our O-Line had no shot against them, so it would make sense to have Boykin out there to run around, avoid sacks, maybe rack up some yards on the ground, and generally be a thorn in that defense’s side.  With Wilson in there, we were painfully one-dimensional, and not even in a good way, because there were precious few opportunities where we could throw deep or on the run outside of the pocket.

But, with a rookie, undrafted quarterback, you take the good with the bad, and in Boykin’s case, you wonder if the bad outweighs the good.  Boykin’s more likely to be turnover prone.  Even if you scale the offensive playbook way back and stress the importance of living to fight another day, it’s reasonable to expect Boykin to be fooled by coverages and by Gregg Williams’ exotic blitzes.

The Seahawks might have scored more than 3 points with Boykin, but there’s also a non-zero chance that the Seahawks could’ve been shut out.  There’s also a better-than-good chance that the Rams would’ve turned Boykin mistakes into more than the 9 points they ended up with.

Yes, it was an embarrassing defeat that never should’ve happened, but in the end, a Russell Wilson at 35% health still had the ball, with 2 minutes left in the game, and was able to drive us pretty far into Rams territory before Christine Michael fumbled to seal our fate.  Had Michael not fumbled, we would’ve had 4th & 2 on the 27 yard line (or thereabouts) with just under a minute to go.  You give that 4th down conversion about a 50/50 chance of succeeding, which puts us inside the 25 yard line with 30-40 seconds to go in the game, needing a touchdown to win it.  I think, at that point, it’s probably 50/50 that the Seahawks get that touchdown.  Making our overall odds of winning the game in this scenario 25%.

So, I’ll ask you, first:  if you had Boykin in that same exact scenario (starting a drive with 2 minutes to go, needing a touchdown), what are the odds the Seahawks win the game?  I think, given the atmosphere, given his experience level, and given his overall talent level, our odds are considerably worse with Boykin in there.

But, now I’ll ask you this:  would the game have been even THAT close had Boykin started the game?  Would we have even had a chance to win it at the end?  I find it pretty doubtful.  Aside from potential turnovers, look at time of possession; with Wilson, we were able to keep it even with the Rams.  With Boykin, you wonder how many more 3 & Outs the Seahawks would’ve had.  Short drives (both in yards gained, and in time of possession) surely would’ve strained the defense that much more than it already was.  Maybe that strain leads to a few more breakdowns, and a few more converted third downs, and maybe a few more points for the bad guys.

And finally, just psychologically speaking, what’s the difference between a 100% healthy Boykin vs. a 35% healthy Wilson?  Wilson’s a known quantity, and a Pro Bowl calibre one at that.  The Rams have to respect his abilities, and while they knew he had the ankle issue, they also knew he never missed a practice.  They had to wonder if Wilson was trying to deke them out.  But, either way, they had to respect Wilson’s arm and his accuracy.  With Boykin in there, I think they just rear back and attack at will.  Moreover, I think their confidence goes through the roof, helping them to play that much better.  On the Seahawks’ side, you have to think our guys were pumped to have Wilson in there.  With Boykin, you wonder if other guys might have tried to do too much, resulting in more mistakes like we saw with Christine Michael at the end of the game.

I think, when you add it all up, the better call was having Wilson in there, sprained ankle and all.  In case there was still any doubt, I just farted out 1,100+ words on the topic to try to put your restless mind at ease.

No, I haven’t been sleeping well since this travesty of a game ended, why do you ask?

Seattle Sports Hell’s Quarterly Power Rankings, Part Deux

A lotta movers and shakers in these rankings over the last 5 weeks!  And, a lotta stayers and stillers in these rankings, particularly at the very top and bottom.  We just finished week 9, so every team has played at least 8 games, and as such is either at or has surpassed the midpoint of the season.  As we head into Week 10, it’s a big, pivotal moment, both for the playoff hopefuls and the bottom-feeders looking to snag that #1 overall draft pick.

It’s also a big week for myself and a few buddies of mine.  We have a 3-year run of Tahoe trips for the first weekend of March Madness that should and hopefully will continue for the duration of our lives, until there is only one (last man standing has to move to Tahoe permanently, and gamble away his 401K in all of our honors … I haven’t discussed this with the rest of the fellas yet, but I’m sure they’ll be on board).  Well, this year, a few of us have opted to shoe-horn in a second Tahoe trip during the NFL season.  Why?  Because none of us know squat about betting on college basketball (the March trip is more a reason to get together and drink our brains out and lose large quantities of money … or hopefully shuffle money through the casinos and come home pretty close to even), but we DO have a pretty good handle on the NFL (or, at least we THINK we do).  As such, we opted for Week 10 to fly back down there.  Leave Friday in the evening, spend all day Saturday watching college football, drinking, and putting the finishing touches on all of our NFL bets, and then spend all day Sunday crying out in anguish as each and every one of our parlays goes down the toilet because Green Bay can’t cover a GOD DAMN SPREAD!

Pardon me.  I’m just trying to harden myself for the worst possible scenario.

Anyway, like I’ve said all along, if we lose big in the afternoon, we’ll just put all of our remaining cash on the Seahawks to beat the shit out of the Cardinals.  TALLY-HO!

  • New England:  8-0, last quarter’s rank: #1
  • Cincinnati:  8-0, #3
  • Arizona:  6-2, #7
  • Denver:  7-1, #4
  • Carolina:  8-0, #11
  • Green Bay:  6-2, #2
  • Minnesota:  6-2, #13
  • St. Louis:  4-4, #12

No question who the top two teams are.  I don’t know how you can’t be on board with Cincy’s legitimacy at this point; Andy Dalton has taken it up another notch, they’re loaded with talent on both sides of the ball, and they’ve beaten enough good teams in tough situations (at Oakland and at Pittsburgh particularly) to eliminate any doubt.  Arizona gets a bump up to #3 simply because I feel if they were to play any of the teams below them on a neutral field, they’d most likely win.  Denver has flaws (particularly with a noodle-armed little so-and-so), Carolina gets a little disrespect here because Cam Newton is careless with the football and that offense is bound to be exposed by a quality defense, and Green Bay’s receivers have been exposed as guys who can’t get open with great regularity (not to mention their defense is who we thought they were).  Minnesota and St. Louis take the big leaps for having outstanding defenses and running games, with suspect quarterback play.  Those teams will make the playoffs IF their quarterbacks can eliminate mistakes.  We’ll see if they’ve got what it takes.

  • Seattle:  4-4, #6
  • Pittsburgh:  5-4, #19
  • Oakland:  4-4, #17
  • New York Jets:  5-3, #8
  • New York Giants:  5-4, #9
  • Buffalo:  4-4, #10
  • Indianapolis:  4-5, #20
  • New Orleans:  4-5, #22

Seattle gets bumped out of the Top 8 for blowing two more huge leads against the Bengals and Panthers, and for looking like respectable garbage in Dallas.  Time for them to shit or get off the pot; if they lose to the Cards, it’s going to be a grim finish.  Pittsburgh can’t seem to keep their quarterback or running backs on the field, but it looks like Ben Roethlisberger won’t be out for too long (if the Seahawks could avoid him in three weeks, that’d be amazing).  Oakland feels like they deserve to be higher, because their offense is a lot of fun.  But, their defense kinda stinks and the only quality win they have on their schedule is a home game against the Jets, where Geno Smith played the majority of the game.  Speaking of the Jets, still like their defense, but they’ve got holes.  If Ryan Fitzpatrick doesn’t stay healthy, it’s all over for them.  The Giants’ only quality win (if you can call it that) is a road win in Buffalo; plus their defense allowed 52 against Drew Brees a couple weeks ago.  Those Bills look pretty great when they play bad teams and Tyrod Taylor’s healthy; otherwise they look pretty mediocre.  Indy spent the whole season getting smashed by better teams until an impressive home win against the Broncos; Andrew Luck started looking like his old self again.  With a BYE week this week, his health should only continue to improve that’s just one less game the team will see him miss as he has a fucking LACERATED KIDNEY.  With a VERY soft schedule going forward, Indy’s playoff chances seem all but assured Indy’s playoff chances rest on Matt Hasselbeck’s very capable 40 year old hands.  The Saints are all offense and no defense.  As such, probably count them out of the playoffs (but they make for some very entertaining games nevertheless).

  • Atlanta:  6-3, #5
  • Philadelphia:  4-4, #25
  • Kansas City:  3-5, #14
  • Washington:  3-5, #16
  • Miami:  3-5, #24
  • Chicago:  3-5, #27
  • San Francisco:  3-6, #26
  • Dallas:  2-6, #23

Atlanta is your biggest dropper, as they’ve laid nothing but turds since the first quarter.  Good for the Seahawks (if we’re stuck rooting for a Wild Card), but bad for their playoff chances.  The best team the Falcons beat all year was the Giants; and they’ve lost two straight against the Bucs & 49ers with Blaine Gabbert.  So … that’s where they are.  The Eagles have a quarterback who can’t challenge you deep, so they’re pretty easy to stop (and ugly to watch); their best win was against the Jets.  The Chiefs had a brutal early schedule, and failed to take full advantage of the gooey middle.  Doesn’t get a whole lot easier the rest of the way; look for the Chiefs to finish right around .500.  Washington is a garbage team and it always surprises me when they ever win.  Miami got their head coach fired, then beat a couple duds, then got demolished on the road in New England and Buffalo.  They’re not going anywhere.  The Bears have looked a little spry lately, but their only impressive win was at home against the Raiders.  The 49ers have given up on Colin Kaepernick, and therefore their season.  Dallas is still waiting for Romo to return in week 11; they’ve gotten exactly zero help from their backup quarterbacks since he’s been gone.

  • Baltimore:  2-6, #18
  • San Diego:  2-7, #15
  • Cleveland:  2-7, #28
  • Detroit:  1-7, #21
  • Tampa Bay:  3-5, #32
  • Houston:  3-5, #29
  • Tennessee:  2-6, #31
  • Jacksonville:  2-6, #30

Baltimore’s defense is terrible and their best wide receiver is out for the year.  On the plus side, they have smart management and will make quality use of their Top 10 draft pick.  The Chargers’ defense is even worse, and their whole team is banged up.  The Browns are just bad, and don’t realize they should probably take the rest of the season to see what they have in Johnny Manziel.  The Lions are even worse somehow and will be cleaning house at season’s end.  The Bucs look a little better, but still lack a quality win, and their defense will always hold them back.  The Texans have as much of a right to be ranked #32 as anyone with their level of quarterback play this year.  Just when Brian Hoyer starts to suck me back in, he crushes all hope in south Texas.  The Titans just won a shootout against the Saints to get out of the bottom spot, but maybe that’s not such a huge feat given the crap quality of the Saints’ defense?  Also, the Titans got their head coach fired.  Finally, I’m putting the Jags back down in a familiar spot where they belong, as the worst team in the league.  I’d have to say it’s unfair, as the Bort has looked better this year, and they’ve been within one score in all but two games (Patriots and Panthers).  But, then again, no one ever said I was smart at this football thing.

Why am I going to Tahoe again?

The Hellacious Seattle Seahawks 2015 Season Preview!

There was supposed to be three full days of previews – befitting the excitement level of going into yet another Championship Season in this current Championship Window – but my dad picked up a cold over Labor Day weekend, which remained dormant in my body until Tuesday afternoon, when it revealed its presence, dragging down my fragile frame in the process.

The subsequent two days were spent in various states of repose, between my couch and my bed, filling my body with a steady diet of bananas and Vitamin C while I filled carefully folded bundles of toilet paper with mucus from my ever-running nose.  I’m still nowhere near 100%, but season previews don’t write themselves!  So, here goes nothing.

As you could probably tell from this post, I’m pretty high on the Seahawks getting back to the Super Bowl and winning it yet again.  In fact, I’m higher on the Seahawks THIS year than I was last year, when we were essentially the same starting units on both sides of the ball less a couple key components.  Where the 2014 Seahawks really bought the farm was in the loss of Golden Tate.  Had we never made the trade for Percy Harvin, and instead focused on giving Tate the deal he deserved, the rest of the receivers on this team would’ve slotted out where they were supposed to be, and we wouldn’t have been throwing a goalline pass to Ricardo Lockette of all people on our final offensive play of the Super Bowl.  But, it’s not fair to lay all the blame on one guy (or lack thereof), when the real culprit of 2014 was a lack of quality depth.

That’s where 2015 comes on to shine.  Harvin and Tate have been replaced by rookie Tyler Lockett.  Turbin and Michael have been replaced by Fred Jackson and Thomas Rawls (two steadier and more capable backs).  Willson and Helfet get knocked down to the second & third tight end spots with the trade for Jimmy Graham.  Our pass rush that was – by season’s end – pretty much just Bennett, Avril, and Irvin, gets bolstered with the addition of rookie Frank Clark, and the growth and maturity (and hopefully health) of Cassius Marsh and Jordan Hill.

2015 should also offer additional gains out of our already-established stars.  Guys like Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright, Bruce Irvin, Russell Wilson, Doug Baldwin, Jermaine Kearse, and Tharold Simon should all see considerable improvements in play as they enter the primes of their careers.  And, while guys like Earl Thomas and Richard Sherman are coming off of significant injuries, it’s still fair to expect their very best play, as we would with veterans like Bennett, Avril, Okung, Mebane, Lynch, and Chancellor if/when he ever shows up again.

If you assume everyone will be healthy all year (which, I understand, is ridiculous), then on paper the only real weakness we’re looking at is the offensive line.  You could make an argument for secondary depth being the primary weakness, but as long as the rest of the defense is able to stay on the field, it should more than make up for what’s going on opposite Richard Sherman.  The O-Line is truly the problem area, but I also feel that’s a bit unfair.

For starters, when you compare the O-Line to the other position groups on this team, OF COURSE it’s going to rank dead last!  But, more importantly, I would argue this position group has always been a little bit neglected from a talent perspective, and they’ve made up for it by employing one of the very best O-Line coaches in the league.  AND, not for nothing, but the Seahawks have gone to two straight Super Bowls with two pretty sub-par offensive lines, and it hasn’t prevented us from winning yet.

They tinkered with it in the pre-season and came away with a starting five that’s as good as it’s going to get (since we can’t really afford to bring in quality outside help).  But, that doesn’t mean it’s as good as it’s ever going to be.  We’ve got three guys – Britt at left guard, Nowak at center, Gilliam at right tackle – who are getting their first professional starts at their respective positions.  Will it be a struggle early?  I think, from what we’ve seen of the running game this pre-season:  yeah, it’s going to be a little ugly.  This O-Line is going to struggle against the better D-Lines in the league (which makes it utterly horrific that we have to play the Rams in week 1), but it’s going to look downright competent against the lesser D-Lines.  And, I think these guys have a real chance to mature and gel, to where by season’s end, we’ll be looking at a solid group of guys on an offense that’s humming along with the best of ’em.

When even your weakest point is still good enough to be argued into a strength, you know you’ve got a great team on your hands.  I think we’re all pretty much in agreement that this team has the potential to be better than their 2014 counterparts, with a ceiling being at the 2013 level (which is really saying something, because I’ll always believe the 2013 Seahawks were one of the all time greatest teams in the history of the league).

That doesn’t mean there aren’t concerns.  There are always reasons to worry, especially early in the season.  Will Earl Thomas be back to his usual self?  Will Kam Chancellor ever end this idiotic holdout?  Will Richard Sherman make it through the full season?  Will the offense mesh well with Jimmy Graham, or will they try to force it to him too many times, stalling too many drives?  Will the O-Line be able to open holes for Lynch?  Will Russell Wilson be a better pocket passer?  And, most importantly, in an overall sense:  will the key players and key positions be able to stay healthy?

Health is the ultimate X-Factor.  I say it every year, and ever year it’s no less true.  Poor health can take a championship team and prevent them from even making the playoffs.  It can rear its ugly head at any time – and often at the worst of times – leaving you grasping at straws for a solution.  Did the Seahawks lose the Super Bowl because of the one goalline play?  Or, did the Seahawks lose the Super Bowl because our entire fucking secondary was injured, and Cliff Avril had a concussion that reduced our pass rush to nothing, thereby allowing the Patriots back into a game we were controlling?  You can make compelling arguments for either, but the fact remains the same:  if the Seahawks were mostly healthy in that game, it probably doesn’t come down to a goalline pass in the first place.

So, that’s what you’ve gotta do:  pray for health and let the chips fall where they may.  Let this be the last word on health for the rest of this preview.

The first half of this season is fairly tough.  Five of eight on the road, five of eight against 2014 playoff teams, and not very many soft landings.  Let’s run through the schedule to see where we are.

Week 1, at St. Louis, 10am

Honestly, I have my doubts about this one.  I know I probably shouldn’t; I know they’re going through something similar on their offensive line as we are, and I know their starting two running backs are both injured, but I can’t help but look at this game and see our offense struggling.  I see Lynch getting bottled up, I see growing pains with Graham, and I see the Rams doing just enough on offense to kick one more field goal than us.  I’m putting my life savings on this game being within one score either one way or the other, and if you put a gun to my head, I’ll tell you the Rams come out on top in this one, 16-13.

Week 2, at Green Bay, 5:30pm (Sunday Night)

Bounce back game, and one the Seahawks desperately need (with tie-breakers and whatnot).  I know the Packers will be fired up, and I know their fans will be insane after a day’s worth of tailgating, so it probably won’t be easy coming out of the gate.  After a sluggish first quarter, I expect the Seahawks to move the ball with regularity and defeat the Packers with ease in the second half.  Somewhere along the lines of 31-20.

Week 3, vs. Chicago, 1:25pm

This one should be a walk-over, but I expect the Bears to put up a bit of a fight, as they’ve got some nasty, talented guys in Jeffery and Forte.  But, given that this is Seattle’s home opener, I’d look for the home team to jump out to an early lead and keep it pretty comfortably in the 1-2 score range the rest of the way.  33-27.

Week 4, vs. Detroit, 5:30pm (Monday Night)

The return of Golden Tate!  There’s no way he doesn’t make a big play or two in this game.  But, with Seattle back home for a primetime game, I’m expecting another win for the good guys.  Maybe not quite the blowout we’re used to, but we’re going to scratch it out.  27-24.

Week 5, at Cincinnati, 10am

I’ve been wary of this game from the moment I saw it on our schedule.  Something about road AFC games in the morning, teams we rarely get to go up against, and them having just enough talent to get by.  I’m on record as hating on Andy Dalton pretty hard, but I think he’s going to go into this game with extra focus in not turning the ball over.  Combine that with the fact that this game isn’t in primetime and I think you’ll see Good Andy Dalton on this day.  Plus, their running game is legit, and they’ve got enough talent at receiver to move the ball on us if they want.  I see an upset here, with Cincy taking us down 20-13.

Week 6, vs. Carolina, 1:05pm

Notice we can’t help but beat on Carolina every damn year and no one ever talks about them getting fired up for us like they do about the Packers getting up for us.  Pretty much, Carolina is Seattle’s younger brother, and we can’t help but hold them down, rub our asses in their faces, and fart repeatedly until they call mom to get us to stop.  No change here.  I expect something along the lines of 27-14.

Week 7, at San Francisco, 5:25pm (Thursday Night)

The 49ers are going to be terrible this season and I expect them to look terrible whenever we play them.  Without Gore, I expect their running game to be non-existent.  Without Harbaugh, I expect their offense to be pathetic and their overall output to be among the worst.  There’s no reason why this shouldn’t be a cakewalk, in a long line of ugly, unwatchable Thursday Night Football games.  Seahawks 38, 49ers 3.

Week 8, at Dallas, 1:25pm

This game would normally scare the bejesus out of me, and scream “Third Loss Of The Season!”  But, I dunno.  I like the Seahawks with 10 days to prepare.  I like the Seahawks a week before their BYE.  I like the fact that the Cowboys embarrassed us on our home turf last season.  And, quite frankly, I like how Dallas has zero home field advantage to speak of whatsoever.  I predict a huge following by the 12’s, I predict a solid day out of our offense, I predict a return touchdown from someone (probably Lockett) and ultimately I predict a Seahawks victory, to the tune of 24-23.

Week 9 – BYE

Week 10, vs. Arizona, 5:30pm (Sunday Night)

I’d be shocked if Carson Palmer isn’t injured at this point in the season, but even if he’s managed to stay healthy, I don’t expect the Cards to be as good.  This game feels like a gift from the scheduling gods – at home, after a BYE, on Sunday night?  Are you kidding me?  This has blowout written all over it!  26-9.

Week 11, vs. San Francisco, 1:25pm

Just played them three games ago, I don’t know why anyone would expect a different outcome.  Seahawks 30, 49ers 7.

Week 12, vs. Pittsburgh, 1:25pm

Three home games in a row after a BYE!  That’s what I’m talking about!  This one looks like a difficult matchup.  I like the Steelers’ offense a lot, particuarly their passing game.  I don’t care for their defense, but that hasn’t stopped some fringey defenses from coming in here and making us look bad.  Ultimately, I think this game will be a shootout, and I think it’ll prove to be the most exciting game of the entire season.  And, as much as it pains me to say it, I think the Steelers come in here and steal one.  They have JUST the right mix going for them:  veteran quarterback, difficult to take down or rattle in the pocket, superstar wide receiver, superstar running back.  I just think they’re going to expose us the way no other offense on our schedule will.  Pittsburgh 31, Seattle 30.

Week 13, at Minnesota, 10am

I like Minnesota’s rebuilding plan.  They’ve got a lot of young talent on both sides of the ball, with a hungry Adrian Peterson and a quarterback in Teddy Bridgewater with a lot of potential.  He might not ever be an MVP of the league, but I think he can lead this team to some winning seasons in his career.  In this game, I like the Seahawks to bounce back on defense and make life difficult for the Vikes.  Seahawks 17, Vikings 6.

Week 14, at Baltimore, 5:30pm (Sunday Night)

This might be the most hyped non-divisional, non-playoff game on the horizon.  Two sterling franchises, two stud quarterbacks, two sound defenses.  All the storylines in the world, from Lynch vs. Forsett, to Pete Carroll vs. The Other Harbaugh, to this being a matchup of two of the last three Super Bowl winners.  Both teams should be in great positions in the standings by this point (likely leading their respective divisions) and I think we’ll all be talking about how it’s a real strong probability that this is the eventual Super Bowl matchup in February.  A lot of people will predict a Ravens victory, but I just like the Seahawks too much in primetime.  I see Seattle winning 27-23.

Week 15, vs. Cleveland, 1:05pm

Please, dear lord, give me one chance to see Johnny Football obliterated by the Seahawks in Seattle.  It’s all I ask.  Seattle 28, Cleveland 0.

Week 16, vs. St. Louis, 1:25pm

No tricks, just hardnose football.  The Seahawks make up for the week 1 defeat as we almost always do this time of year when the Rams come to town.  This game effectively wraps up the division, if not Home Field Advantage, pushing the Seahawks to 12-3 on the season.  20-13, Seahawks.

Week 17, at Arizona, 1:25pm

I don’t expect the Seahawks to need this victory, so I don’t expect many of the starters to play for too long.  As a glorified pre-season game, I see the Seahawks going down to the Cardinals 28-17.

12-4 is pretty tame for a #1 overall seed, but with tie-breakers over the Packers and Cowboys, I think it’s just enough.  What we have to hope for at that point is that we don’t get stuck playing the Rams, or some other difficult defensive team in the playoffs.  As always, I’ll take a battle of offenses over a grudgematch on the defensive side of the ball, as I think our defense is better than most any offense you can put on the field.

Now, all we have to do is play the games.  NBD.

For Whom Might The Seahawks Trade Russell Wilson?

‘Tis the season for rampant speculation on matters we know nothing about!  It’s a glorious time to be alive, what with the Internets and whatnot.

I read this over the weekend from Mike Florio with Pro Football Talk.  It references another option in the Russell Wilson Contract Saga that nobody’s really talking about:  in lieu of signing him, or franchising him, the Seahawks might feel like they need to trade him.

For the record, this is the last thing I want to see happen.  I’m of the school of thought that you do NOT trade your franchise quarterback for anything!  Unless he’s too old and broken down, and even then I’d be pretty sad to see him go.  Nevertheless, I was reading that story and it got me to thinking.  I’m not so much interested in the super-bounty of draft picks, but I am interested in the part where it talks about, “the Seahawks could send Wilson to another team for its starting quarterback.”

So, consider that the premise for this post:  who would the Seahawks realistically get in return for a Russell Wilson?

Before we get started, I agree with Mike Florio in the article:  regardless of what happens, I 100% doubt that the Seahawks are trading Russell Wilson in 2015.  Even if we’re a billion dollars apart in our contract terms, I still think we ride this season out and hope for another ring.  So, what we’re looking at – in this hypothetical world where the endgame is Russell Wilson being traded – is the Seahawks putting one of the franchise tags on him, then sending him away.

So, I’m going to go through all the quarterbacks who are either starting for their teams, or are in some kind of a timeshare/training camp battle because none of them on that particular team are all that good.

Here we have a list of quarterbacks whose teams would never trade them to us:

  • Aaron Rodgers
  • Andrew Luck
  • Joe Flacco
  • Matt Ryan
  • Cam Newton
  • Ryan Tannehill

Rodgers, I feel, is pretty obvious:  he’s the best quarterback in the league and I don’t think Green Bay is in for an over-priced step down.  Luck’s not quite there yet, but he clearly WILL be the best quarterback in the league, and I would wager sooner rather than later.  Joe Flacco is already a Super Bowl-winning quarterback; I don’t see Baltimore giving him up.  You could argue he’s making too much money and looking to shed some salary, but remember in this scenario:  Russell Wilson is looking to be the highest-paid quarterback in the history of the game.  I think Ryan, Newton, and Tannehill are too young, and they’ve just gotten paid.  Plus, I don’t think those teams could afford to take the cap hit that Wilson’s going to bring (especially Miami, what with Ndamukong Suh making all the money he’s making).

Next up, quarterbacks whose teams ALMOST CERTAINLY won’t trade them:

  • Tom Brady
  • Ben Roethlisberger
  • Tony Romo
  • Eli Manning
  • Matthew Stafford

With Brady and Roethlisberger, I just think they’re too tied to their respective teams and cities.  But, those organizations have been known to be ruthless with their veterans, so if they felt like either one might be slipping, and they had a chance to get a young stud QB in return, they MIGHT pounce on him.  I’d put Romo and Manning in the same boat (too tied to their teams & cities), just on a lesser scale because they’re not as good.  Stafford’s interesting because I think he’s right on the edge of being good and being overrated.  Seemingly every year I have a different opinion about him.  Ultimately, I think Detroit feels he’s good enough to get the job done, and likely wouldn’t trade him away for a guy like Wilson.

The Division Rivals:

  • Carson Palmer
  • Nick Foles
  • Colin Kaepernick

The overarching theme of this section is:  under no circumstances do you EVER trade your franchise quarterback to a team in your division.  Putting that aside, I think all three of these teams would trade their starters for Russell Wilson in a heartbeat.  Carson Palmer is obviously too old and too injury prone to be counted upon.  Nick Foles is interesting, but ultimately not worth facing Wilson twice a year (especially with their offensive line and defense overall, I think the Rams would be a total dynasty with Wilson at the helm).  And honestly, Colin Kaepernick might be the best fit in the league for our offense – given his scrambling ability.  I think if you reined him in, forcing him to be a little more conservative with his throws, he wouldn’t be much of a step down at all compared to Wilson.  Hell, under Harbaugh he went to three straight NFC Championship Games; I think he’d do okay here as well.

The Young Ones:

  • E.J. Manuel
  • Geno Smith
  • Johnny Manziel
  • Teddy Bridgewater
  • Jameis Winston
  • Ryan Mallett/Tom Savage
  • Blake Bortles
  • Marcus Mariota
  • Derek Carr

Manuel, Smith, and Manziel are just too bad.  No way the Seahawks take them in return.  I think the Seahawks would think long and hard about Bridgewater and Winston, but if Bridgewater makes steady improvement in 2015, I don’t think the Vikings will want to get rid of him (and if he takes a step back, I don’t think the Seahawks would want him).  The Bucs are just too committed to Winston as part of their rebuild, so I don’t think he’d work out in this scenario.  Mallett and Savage are a couple of unknowns, but ultimately I don’t think they’ll be all that great as starters.  I feel like Bortles and Mariota are a couple of future backups being thrust into roles they’re not good enough for.  I think the Seahawks might take Carr in a heartbeat, but I don’t think the Raiders will give up on him (for the record, I’m pretty high on Carr and think he’s going to have a great second year).

Too Over-The-Hill:

  • Peyton Manning
  • Matt Cassel
  • Josh McCown

Pretty much says it all, if you ask me.  Manning is signed through 2016, but you have to wonder if he’s even going to be around.  He almost opted to retire THIS year.  After getting banged around in Gary Kubiak’s offense (where I FULLY expect to see Manning seriously injured at some point), I’m almost convinced he’ll be done.  Either way, I don’t think you can throw Russell Wilson away on a guy who’s going to be 40 next year, who MIGHT have 1-2 years at the most left in his career.  Cassel and McCown aren’t even worth the words.

Too Terrible:

  • Sam Bradford/Mark Sanchez/Matt Barkley/Tim Tebow
  • RGIII/Kirk Cousins
  • Jay Cutler
  • Brian Hoyer

Speaking of “aren’t even worth the words,” we have the poo-poo platter that the Eagles have in camp this year.  It should go without saying, but Bradford is TOO DAMN INJURY PRONE.  The rest of those guys are the total beans and the Eagles are going to be lucky to win five games this year.  RGIII is also too injury prone, plus he’s a terrible leader who doesn’t follow directions, plus he’s just a bad all around quarterback.  Cousins is Just Another Guy, same as Hoyer.  Jay Cutler seems enticing, but that’s just because of that cannon he’s got for an arm.  Squint a little more closely and you’ll see he’s easily the second coming of Jeff George (not a compliment).

The Definite Possibilities:

  • Drew Brees
  • Philip Rivers
  • Alex Smith
  • Andy Dalton

I know Brees and Rivers feel like those guys up top who are too tied in with their teams and cities (Brees especially).  But, I have my reasons for having these guys down here.  For starters, I think New Orleans is in full on rebuild mode.  Brees isn’t getting any younger, and the Saints are probably five years away from being a championship-type team again.  They MIGHT decide to give Brees a chance to win a title elsewhere.  And, considering we’ve already done that deal for Jimmy Graham, it honestly might be the most perfect fit we could hope for.  On the downside, Brees will be 37 years old next year, and it’ll be the last year of his current deal.  At best, you hope he’s got three more elite years left after 2015, but realistically it might be closer to one or two.  A trade for Brees gives us the best “Win Now” option.  When you consider Pete Carroll’s on the short contract (by design, as he might opt to retire or move to another team), Brees might be the next best thing to just keeping Russell Wilson forever.

Philip Rivers will only be 34 in 2016, so you gotta like your chances with him longer term.  Honestly though, this probably doesn’t work because 2015 is the final year of his deal, and I don’t know if they can franchise tag him or not.  The other variable is whether or not the Chargers are moving to Los Angeles.  Will Rivers want to stay?  If not, maybe they work out a sign & trade with the Seahawks.  The downside to that is, I’ve read reports that should Los Angeles get two teams – which seems to be the way this is going – there’s the possibility of the Chargers moving to the NFC West.  And, as I said above, you do NOT trade Wilson to a team in your own division – even a team that might one day move to your division.

Alex Smith might be the best type of guy we can hope for.  He’ll be 32 next year, and 2018 is the final year of his deal.  He’s not making all that much money – which would allow us to spread the wealth to other positions.  He’s the consummate Game Manager:  doesn’t make mistakes, is decently mobile, is comfortable playing in a run-first offense.  The downside is, obviously, his downfield throwing.  We wouldn’t get those chunk plays that we like to get.  But, with weapons like Jimmy Graham around him, and with the emergence of some of our younger receivers, I think he’d be good enough to get the job done.  He sort of reminds me of a Brad Johnson type.  Brad Johnson won a title with the Bucs, why couldn’t Alex Smith do that with the Seahawks?

Andy Dalton is the guy I most fear the Seahawks pursuing.  He’ll be 28 years old next year, and his deal runs through the 2020 season.  He too isn’t making any serious kind of money (his biggest cap hit is in the final year, and it’s only $17.7 million).  By 2020, that’s going to be peanuts!  He’s shown a propensity to hit on the deep ball, but that’s with the likes of A.J. Green.  More importantly is Dalton’s shoddy decision-making and his inflated sense of self-worth.  He’s one of those guys who thinks he’s better than he really is, which is going to make it difficult when he can’t make all the throws he needs to make.  As it is, he’s had more career meltdown games than you like to see; what’s he going to be like in three years when he’s that much older and beaten down?  Furthermore, playing behind our offensive line, how’s he going to handle the near-constant pressure?  I think Dalton is a guy the Bengals would gladly unload for the chance to sign Wilson (yes, even with how stingy their ownership is; I think they’d feel like Wilson would be worth it).  And, I think, if the Seahawks didn’t get blown away by any other deal they saw, they’d pull the trigger on a Dalton-centric trade.  I just hope like hell this never comes to fruition.

Why I Worry About The Carolina Panthers

The date:  May 7, 1994.

The location:  Seattle, Washington.

The situation:  Number 1 seed from Seattle in a do-or-die game against a bottom-feeder in the playoffs.

The matchup:  Seattle Supersonics vs. Denver Nuggets.

The result:  A 98-94 overtime defeat.

I won’t rehash the specifics, nor will I pull the iconic photo/video, as I’m sure any of you around at the time must be picturing the giant’s massive hands clutching the basketball while laying on the court, laughing maniacally.  I’ll just say this:  in 1994, the Seattle Supersonics were the consensus Best Team In The NBA (thanks to Michael Jordan “retiring”).  And, with that defeat, the Seattle Supersonics became the first Number 1 seed to ever lose to a Number 8 seed.  While that feat has happened a number of times since then, everyone will always remember the first time.  That’s just the way it works.  Dikembe Mutombo may or may not ever be a Hall of Famer, but he’ll always be remembered for this achievement.

The 1993/1994 Supersonics weren’t the best squad in team history, but you could argue that the 1994 playoffs were our best chance at winning an NBA title in my lifetime (dating back to 1981).  We had a 2-year window without Michael Jordan lurking in the Eastern Conference.  We blew year-one of that window in spectacular fashion.

As a fan of Seattle sports teams, I don’t know if I’ll ever get over my insecurities.  The Sonics teams from 1993 thru 1998 were some of the best teams in the league.  In the 1993 playoffs, we reached the Western Conference Finals as a 3-seed, only to get screwed out of our shot at a championship by the refs in Game 7 against the Phoenix Suns.  In 1994, we had the best record in the NBA by five games over second place.  In 1995, we had the 4-seed and again lost in the first round (though, admittedly, that team was pretty flawed).  In 1996, we were back to being the best in the Western Conference, our regular season record only overshadowed by the record-setting Bulls who went 72-10.  We would go on to lose in the Finals that year to those very same Bulls, and I’ll go to my grave believing that was the greatest team in NBA history.  In 1997, the Sonics were a 2-seed in the West, losing to the Rockets in the semis, 4-3.  Finally, in 1998, the Sonics were again a 2-seed in the West, losing to Shaq and the Lakers in 5 games in the semis.

That was the entirety of our championship window.  It was a spectacular six seasons, with the Sonics going 357-135 (that’s an average record of 59.5-22.5 per season).  The Sonics fired George Karl after that 1997/1998 season and fell into a death spiral shortly after.  And, what did we have to show for it?  Two oustings in the first round, two defeats in the second round, two trips to the Conference Finals, and a meager six games in the NBA Finals (with only two Finals victories).  Until these Seahawks teams under Pete Carroll came around, those were the greatest teams I’d ever rooted for in my lifetime.  And, yet, a lot of flukey shit led to that championship window closing without a dent in the history books.

***

The date:  October 22, 2001.

The location:  Bronx, New York.

The situation:  Team from Seattle with the best-ever regular season record in a do-or-die game against a team that won 21 fewer games that year.

The matchup:  Seattle Mariners vs. New York Yankees.

The result:  A 12-3 defeat to lose the series in five games.

I’ll give you that this isn’t really apples to apples when compared to the heartbreak of having a #1 seed lose to a #8 seed; but, we’re talking about the greatest regular season record in MLB history!  116 wins!  The second place team in the AL West – Oakland – won over 100 games and was FOURTEEN games back in the standings!

The Mariners had a championship window from 1995-2003.  In that time, we had four playoff appearances, losing in the ALCS three times and losing in the ALDS once.  In this 9-year window, there were two losing seasons and three other winning seasons where the Mariners DIDN’T make the playoffs (including back-to-back 93-win seasons where we were nipped by superior Athletics teams).

Baseball’s a different beast than most other sports.  It requires enduring success through a too-long regular season, followed by a hot spurt through a large handful of post-season games.  In the NBA, the best team almost always wins it all, thanks to the sheer number of teams granted admission into the playoffs and the number of games they’re supposed to play in every round.  In baseball, all you have to do is make it in and let the chips fall where they may.  The best team DOESN’T always win in MLB, that’s what you gotta remember.

The 2001 Mariners were the best team in franchise history, hands down.  And yet, they were made into mincemeat by the Yankees, who were “built for the post-season”.

Like the Sonics before them, this championship window by the Mariners closed with a whimper.  There hasn’t been a playoff team for the Mariners SINCE 2001.  While many believe 2015 will be the beginning of another Mariners championship window, that still remains to be seen.  162 games need to be played, against some fierce AL West competition.  So, we’ll see.

***

The Seahawks play the Panthers on January 10, 2015.  The Seahawks are the top seed in the NFC, and a consensus favorite to reach the Super Bowl with the New England Patriots of the AFC.  The Panthers are just the second team with a losing record to make the playoffs.  They defeated an injury-plagued Cardinals team in the first round.

Why am I worried about this game?  It’s the same reason why I SHOULD have been worried about the ’94 Nuggets and the 2001 Yankees.  Truth be told, that Nuggets series was my first real taste of the brutality that is being a sports fan.  There’s A LOT of heartache for not that much elation.  As a 13 year old basketball fan just starting to garner interest in the sport and follow it with some knowledge of the game, I was probably overwhelmingly confident in the Sonics going all the way.  Having the rug ripped out from under me was the start of a long, painful decline into the twisted wizard you see before you.  Until the Seahawks threw off the shackles I’d had wrapped around my mind in last year’s Super Bowl, I would go into these types of games EXPECTING to lose.  And, honestly, that feeling never really goes away.  I’m an abused pet living with new, kinder owners.  They’ve proven to be caring, loving people, but at the same time I still wince whenever an arm or a voice is raised.

The Seahawks SHOULD win this game.  If I were a more confident man, I’d go so far as to say the Seahawks WILL win this game.  In the entirety of the NFL playoff teams, the Panthers are the second-best option I’d choose for a Seahawks opponent (behind only the defeated Cardinals and their Lindley-esque shit offense).  While there is cause for real concern about this Panthers team (the defense is improved over the last month-plus, the rushing attack is improved with the return of Jonathan Stewart), it’s pretty obvious that this team is the most eminently beat-able in all of the NFC.  I was positively outraged at the notion that they’d go into Green Bay to play the Packers in the second round if Detroit had held on to beat Dallas last week.  Green Bay would throttle them by 40 points!  And WE’D have to battle a nasty defensive line of the Lions and a potentially explosive offense if they ever got their shit together.

As a quick aside:  don’t you think the #1 seed should be able to choose its opponent for the Divisional Round of the playoffs, pending the results of the Wild Card Round?  Why should we have to play an 11-5 Lions team (had they won) over a 7-8-1 Panthers team, simply because the Panthers were deemed to be a 4-seed while the superior Lions team a 6-seed?  When the NFL gets its own shit together and fixes the playoff system, maybe let’s make this a priority as well as never letting a team with a losing record host a playoff game, huh?

Anyway, getting back, my insecure fan-self is a little encouraged by the fact that there has already been a losing-record playoff team who defeated a playoff team with a superior record.  In fact, these loser teams are 2-1 in the playoffs, thanks to the 2010 Seahawks paving the way by defeating the Saints before going on to lose to the Bears in Chicago the following week.  BUT, what hasn’t happened – and what is rocking me to my very core as I sit and anxiously await tomorrow night’s game – is one of these loser teams going on the road and winning in the Divisional Round.

From the 1980s up until the Seahawks Super Bowl victory last year, there has been a bevy of reasons why Seattle sports teams have been laughingstocks.  Take, for instance, the first 20-or-so years of the Mariners playing professional baseball.  Or, the Seahawks almost moving to Los Angeles.  Or the Sonics signing Jim McIlvaine.  Or the Sonics drafting an endless string of worthless centers.  Or the Mariners getting crushed by the Yankees in the ALCS in back-to-back years.  Or the Seahawks getting referee’d to death in Super Bowl XL.  Or the Sonics being sold & uprooted after 40-some-odd years.  Or the best team in Seattle for the longest time being the women’s professional basketball team.  Or the Mariners plowing through a million managers over the last decade.  Or the fiasco with the Seahawks at the end of Holmgren’s tenure.  Or, the fact that all three franchises had – at one time or another – some of THE worst owners/general managers in all of professional sports (Ken Behring, Jeff Smulyan, Howard Schultz, Lincoln/Armstrong, Wally Walker, Tim Ruskell, Bill Bavasi).

I could go on and on with that list.  The 2013 Seahawks championship team has done the lord’s work in rectifying some of our past indiscretions.  But, a defeat to the Panthers a year later would do absolutely everything to undo all of that goodwill.

This current Seahawks unit is in the midst of a championship window that started in 2012 with a surprise late-season run into the playoffs.  When this window closes remains to be seen, but I think we can all agree it will be various degrees of open as long as Russell Wilson and the core is intact and still playing at a high level.  Whether that’s 5-10 years or more, the fact of the matter is:  these championship windows don’t grow on trees.  They can close in an instant and they may never reopen again in our lifetimes.  We can’t take these seasons for granted!

The Seahawks wrangled one championship and were 30-some-odd seconds away from fighting the 49ers for a second championship in the playoffs two years ago.  They currently sit poised in the catbird seat:  top seed in the NFC, with either Green Bay or Dallas being forced to come all the way out here in a potential NFC Championship showdown.  In spite of an early-season loss to the Cowboys at CenturyLink, we match up really well against both of those teams.  More importantly, WE’RE different than we were back in October.  I’ll be a lot more confident if we can just get this Divisional Round game out of the way.

The thing with the Panthers is:  they match up pretty well with us.  Earlier this year, we scratched and clawed our way to a 13-9 victory.  It took a late 4th quarter drive to finally score a touchdown and pull it out.  In the 2013 season opener, we scratched and clawed our way to a 12-7 victory.  It took a 4th quarter drive to finally score a touchdown; and a late 4th quarter fumble recovery to pull it out.  In 2012, we scratched and clawed our way to a 16-12 victory.  It took a late 3rd quarter drive to finally score a touchdown; a late 4th quarter goalline stand by our defense; and a later 4th quarter fumble recovery to pull it out.  Margin of victory for those three games:  4 1/3 points.  In the NFL, that’s nothing.

The notch in our belt is that all three of those games were on the road, in Carolina.  It’s notoriously difficult to win on the road, so you cherish any victory, even some ugly-ass shit like those games I just mentioned.  This game is in Seattle.  In the evening.  In front of what may be the rowdiest crowd we’ve seen all year (or, at least, since the week 1 showdown against the Packers).

Another notch in our belt is the level of competition the Panthers have beaten to get to this point.  The Panthers needed a 4-game winning streak to even make the playoffs.  If they would’ve lost any of these games, they would’ve been eliminated.  In those games, they faced the Saints, the Bucs, the Browns, and the Falcons.  The Saints had one of the worst defenses in football; they surrendered 41 points to the Panthers in New Orleans.  The Bucs were the very worst team in the NFL, earning the #1 draft pick in this year’s draft; they lost by 2 points to these very same Panthers.  The Browns were going with Johnny JamBoogie at quarterback, who left injured late in the first half; with Hoyer coming in in relief, the Browns would go on to lose by only 4 points to these very same Panthers.  The Falcons were just an absolute trainwreck on both sides of the football for most of this season, yet they would have made the playoffs with a win over the Panthers in week 17; they surrendered 34 points to the Panthers in Atlanta.  And, to top it all off, the Panthers hosted the Arizona Cardinals in the playoffs last week, taking full advantage of the Lindley-pocalypse (Apoca-Lindlypse?) to get to this point.

Not that the Seahawks had all that difficult of a road to hoe in getting the top seed the final six weeks of the season (only two playoff teams faced, and both of those teams were the Carson Palmer-less Cardinals), but I’d say we’ve looked MUCH more impressive in getting to this point.

Here’s the bottom line:  the Seahawks have the best defense in football.  Yes, we’re particularly good against the pass, but we’re also among the best against the run (indeed, we’re THE best against the run of the remaining playoff teams, but that’s neither here nor there).  If we can prevent the Panthers from gashing us in the run game, they should stand no chance.  On the flipside, while they have a good front seven, they’re not unstoppable.  We should be able to do what we want to do on the ground, while at the same time taking advantage of holes in their secondary.  An important thing to note is this game features the two very best middle linebackers in all of football with Luke Kuechly and Bobby Wagner.  Overall, though, the Seahawks have MUCH more talent from top to bottom than the Panthers.  In fact, the Seahawks hold a distinct advantage in nearly every position group.  And, if all that wasn’t enough, Cam Newton is a staggering bundle of injuries being held together by duct tape and painkillers.  There is ZERO reason why the Seahawks should lose this game.

And yet, it’s not entirely impossible.  There was zero reason why the 1994 Supersonics should lose to the Nuggets in five games.  There was zero reason why the 2001 Mariners should fail to make the World Series.  Sometimes, shit just happens.  Sometimes, a matchup materializes that goes against everything one team stands for.  Sometimes, players just have a bad day.

The Panthers have been a tough matchup for the Seahawks for the last three years now.  Regardless of the fact that those prior three games were all played in Carolina, we’re still talking about a mini version of ourselves.

  • Mobile quarterbacks
  • Unheralded offensive lines
  • Lack of game-breaking talent in the receiving corps
  • Tough, hard-nosed running backs
  • Underrated and stout defensive lines
  • Freakishly athletic linebackers
  • Mostly-conservative gameplans & coaches (in spite of Ron’s riverboat ways in 2013 and Pete’s alleged “big balls”)

In the NFL, it only takes one bad game to derail an entire season.  That in and of itself should be enough to terrify us to no end.  I don’t necessarily fear the Cowboys/Packers because I think we match up exceedingly well against them.  Their defenses aren’t anything special, and their offensive attacks play right into our L.O.B. hands.

But, the Panthers pose a tough matchup BECAUSE they’re so similar to us.  Because their defense can harass Russell Wilson and potentially knock him out of the game.  The Panthers – more than any other team remaining in these playoffs – have the capability to hold our offense in check.  And, if they do that, and it comes down to a battle of who wins the fourth quarter, then you’re looking at no better than a flip of a coin.

I don’t like that.  And neither should you.  We JUST have to get past this one game and I’ll feel more at ease.  The thing is, I don’t think anyone’s taking this game seriously.  I know, for the most part, fans are already booking plans for the NFC Championship Game.  But, they’re going to feel pretty damn stupid if we reach the end of Saturday night, with the Panthers celebrating on our field like the Nuggets did on our court 20-some-odd years ago.

Here’s to hoping the Seahawks take this game a little more seriously than the 12th Man.  If they don’t, we’ll be looking at the absolute worst defeat in franchise history, and a defeat far surpassing those aforementioned Sonics & Mariners achievements of yore.  2014 will be just another drop in the bucket of Seattle being Sports Hell.

Seattle Sports Hell 2014 NFL Power Rankings – Week 16

What with Christmas being tomorrow and everything, this is gonna be the last regular post of the week.  So, let’s cram in everything that needs to be crammed!

The Seahawks host the Rams this week.  Obviously, you’re all aware that if the Seahawks win, they’ve got the #1 seed in the NFC (barring a tie between Detroit & Green Bay).  If the Seahawks somehow lose, things get a little complicated.

Arizona plays at San Francisco.  Obviously, the 49ers are a bit of a trainwreck right now, and theirs is NO home field advantage, but on the flipside the Cards are starting a rookie at quarterback a week after Lindley showed them a vision of their first round playoff exit with him at the helm.  If both Seattle and Arizona lose, you’re looking at a situation where Seattle falls to the 3-seed and plays the 6-seed (which would be Arizona if Detroit wins, or it would be Detroit if Green Bay wins).

The Cowboys are looking to go 8-0 this week as they travel to Washington to play the Redskins.  While it’s POSSIBLE that the Cowboys opt to rest most of their stars this week (anticipating Seattle will have no trouble beating the Rams), I have to imagine they play at least a half, and rack up a big-enough lead to hold it down.  If the Cowboys somehow lose (which seems even less likely than the Seahawks losing to the Rams), that sets up Seattle to re-take at least a top 2 seed, regardless of what happens in the Packers/Lions game.

This is all prelude to the fact that there’s no way the Seahawks are losing to the Rams.  Yeah, we’re talking about a team that beat us earlier in the year, but that was based on a lie.  A bunch of freak shit they won’t get away with again.  They legitimately looked pretty terrifying when they shut out the Raiders and Redskins in back to back weeks, but again, we’re talking about the Raiders and Redskins.  They proceeded to lay a turd on Thursday Night Football when they hosted the Cards two weeks ago; then, they let the Giants throw the ball all over the field last week.

The Rams have officially given up on the season.  Their offense is even worse than what the Cards are throwing out there, and their defense is nothing special.  I foresee no reason why they should pose a challenge when they’re just trying to get out of this week healthy and ready to ramp up for the upcoming offseason.  The Seahawks are at home, everything is clicking on both sides of the ball, there’s a revenge factor for our week 7 defeat in St. Louis, and there’s the obvious pot of gold at the end of the rainbow:  a number 1 seed in the playoffs.

This is a point that’s been made by others, and it’s very true (as well as something I hadn’t thought about before):  the Seahawks haven’t had a BYE week since week 4.  We’re talking 13 consecutive weeks of football without a real break.  If ANYONE needs this first round BYE, it’s the Seahawks.

Meanwhile, the Seahawks have a lot of heat on them this week.  That dominating victory over the Cardinals has put us in the forefront of everyone’s minds when it comes to Super Bowl contenders (right up there with the Patriots in the AFC).  We call this, “Getting Hot At The Right Time” and it sort of freaks me out a little bit.  I’m of the opinion that the Seahawks are good enough to transcend any sort of jinx or weird mind juju.  But, last year, we’re looking at a team that – in a way – backed into the playoffs as a number 1 seed.  The 2013 Seahawks were 2-2 in the final month of the season; no one would say THAT team Got Hot At The Right Time.  The 2012 Ravens lost four of their last five regular season games before getting hot in the playoffs.

The point is, it doesn’t matter what you do in the regular season as long as you make the post-season.  The priority is:  Getting Hot In The Playoffs.  That’s it.  Win 3-4 games and you’re the champs.  And, as long as we finish off this hot regular season run, we’ll only have to win two more home games before we go back to Arizona for the Super Bowl.  I like those odds.

As far as the competition, it’s pretty much set in the NFC.  If everything goes according to plan – as far as I can see – we’re looking at the seeding thusly:

  1. Seattle
  2. Green Bay
  3. Dallas
  4. Atlanta/Carolina (my money’s on the Falcons)
  5. Arizona
  6. Detroit

Which puts the first round of the playoffs like this:

  • Detroit at Dallas
  • Arizona at Atlanta/Carolina

Seattle would play the lower-seeded winner of those two games.  So, if Detroit beats Dallas, we’re automatically going to face the Lions in the second round.  I need for this to not happen, because I absolutely do not want to face Detroit.  If Dallas wins that game, then we play the winner of the Arizona game (which, honestly, at this point would be a coin flip).

I don’t fear Arizona even a little bit.  Of the NFC South teams, I’d probably rather play the Falcons, as they strike me as a less-physical team than the Panthers.  We can shut down their passing game, and their run game is nothing.  Carolina is a little more stout on defense (but, again, not so much that we couldn’t move the football), but their offense is the walking dead.

The moral of this story is:  PLEASE COWBOYS, BEAT THE LIONS!  Whoever we get out of that 4/5-seed game will be the ultimate in pushovers!

Following that, we’d play the winner of Green Bay and Dallas.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again:  give me the Packers all day every day.  The Cowboys are balanced and can beat you in a number of ways.  The Packers are Aaron Rodgers.  We can get to him, we can rough up his receivers, and we can take them down with little-to-no trouble.

I’ll talk more about the AFC next week, but at this point I’m looking at a three-team race between the Patriots, Broncos, and a dark horse candidate in the Steelers.  Man, wouldn’t it be something?

***

  1. Dallas Cowboys (11-4) – Look, these jinxes take some time.  I’m playing the Long Con here!  They could still lose to the Redskins next week!
  2. Seattle Seahawks (11-4) – We know where the Seahawks REALLY stand, but they need to win one more to clinch.
  3. New England Patriots (12-3) – Frankly, I don’t know why I had the Pats ranked behind the Broncos for so long, considering they beat them earlier this year.  I do see this as a flawed team and I welcome the opportunity to beat them in the Super Bowl.
  4. Denver Broncos (11-4) – Losing to the Bengals?  In a night game?  Hey, Peyton Manning, GREAT JOB choosing a cold-weather city to play in in the twilight of your career!  That won’t totally bite you in the ass every year.
  5. Detroit Lions (11-4) – Yeah, the Lions will probably go into Green Bay and lose next week, but if I’m being honest, I fear the Lions more than anyone else in the NFC (sorry Cowboys).  That defensive line is vicious!  And, while their offense isn’t playing particularly well, it feels like a sleeping giant situation:  only a matter of time before they explode for 40.
  6. Green Bay Packers (11-4) – I may regret this later, but I don’t fear their defense, and we’ve proven we can handle their offense.  Can’t wait to play them in the NFC Championship Game.
  7. San Diego Chargers (9-6) – Best team in the Wild Card round by far, if Rivers can stay upright.  I just like this Chargers team, don’t ask me why.
  8. Indianapolis Colts (10-5) – Look children, it’s a falling star, make a wish.
  9. Pittsburgh Steelers (10-5) – I can’t wait until they go into Denver to beat a struggling, overrated Broncos team, followed by shocking the world in New England to provide us with the Super Bowl XL rematch we’ve all been waiting for (you know you’ve been thinking about it; I’ve got the guts to SAY IT!).
  10. Cincinnati Bengals (10-4-1) – With the monkey off their backs in primetime, maybe they can finally make it out of the first round of the playoffs!
  11. Baltimore Ravens (9-6) – Yeah, I got nothing.  You fucking blew it, Ravens.
  12. Arizona Cardinals (11-4) – This offense is terrible.

The Loser’s Bracket:

  1. Miami Dolphins (8-7) – I, for one, would be happy to have Philbin back.  You can’t keep jerking Tannehill around with a new offensive coordinator every year or he’s NEVER going to develop into a viable starting quarterback.
  2. Houston Texans (8-7) – I can’t believe they still have an outside shot at making the playoffs, but it would make me pretty happy to see them get in.
  3. Philadelphia Eagles (9-6) – Got some Sanchez catching up with you here.
  4. Buffalo Bills (8-7) – Well, it was fun while it lasted.  Thanks for beating Green Bay for us.
  5. Kansas City Chiefs (8-7) – Since beating the Seahawks to go to 7-3, the Chiefs have lost four of five.  That’s what you get when you play the Seahawks!  We will crush you one way or another!
  6. San Francisco 49ers (7-8) – So long, Harbaugh!  One more week!
  7. St. Louis Rams (6-9) – Falling apart at the right time.
  8. Cleveland Browns (7-8) – And Johnny JamBoogie is injured.  This guy is a crap.
  9. Minnesota Vikings (6-9) – Okay.
  10. Atlanta Falcons (6-9) – One game for all the marbles.
  11. Carolina Panthers (6-8-1) – No way the Panthers should be rooting to make the playoffs; they need high draft picks.
  12. New Orleans Saints (6-9) – Ha!
  13. Chicago Bears (5-10) – Hello darkness, my old friend.
  14. New York Giants (6-9) – This is where I draw the line.
  15. Washington Redskins (4-11) – No more.
  16. New York Jets (3-12) – That’s all.
  17. Oakland Raiders (3-12) – Nothing.
  18. Jacksonville Jaguars (3-12) – That’s it.
  19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-13) – Now that’s how you fight for the top draft pick!
  20. Tennessee Titans (2-13) – You are one pathetic loser!

Seattle Sports Hell 2014 NFL Power Rankings – Week 15

So, the question on everyone’s minds right now is:  Is the Seahawks/49ers rivalry dead?

It’s an interesting question to ponder.  For starters, you have to find an appropriate definition of a “rivalry”.  At this point, with all the bad blood that’s been figuratively spilled, in comments sections and message boards, in the blocking of friends and family on various social media sites, in the verbal altercations and maybe even physical altercations between drunken fans, I don’t think we’re ever fixing this relationship:  Seahawks fans and 49ers fans are going to forever hate one another.  Or, at least for the foreseeable (and considerable) future.

Some people seem to think a rivalry requires that both teams are good at the same time.  Both teams, fighting for the same goal that only one team can ultimately have.  Granted, that makes for a GOOD rivalry, but you don’t stop being rivals when one team is awesome and the other is on a downward spiral.  Indeed, it’s in these spots where a rivalry truly gains a foothold.

Think about the rivalry between the Huskies and Cougars.  No one is sitting there calling these two schools, or these two football programs, equals.  They haven’t both been good at the same time in quite a while.  And, I don’t think they’ve ever really both been simultaneously good for an extended period of time (say, five years or more).  At least, I don’t remember that being the case in the last 30 years or so.

But, you know what games stand out almost as much as the de facto playoff appearances between two successful rival teams?  Those games where the underdog knocks the great team out of contention for something great.

I mean, look at it this way:  the Huskies lead the all time series against the Cougars by a record of 69-32-6.  CLEARLY, the Huskies are the superior team in this rivalry, but just because the Cougs are so inept, it doesn’t make it any less of a rivalry.  Take the 1982 season, for example.  The Cougs finished 2-4-1 in conference play.  But, they beat the previously 1-loss Huskies in the Apple Cup, knocking us out of the Rose Bowl and a possible Top 5 finish.  THOSE are the games I’m talking about.

Yeah, 49ers fans hate the Seahawks for keeping them out of the Super Bowl last year.  That loss in the NFC Championship Game was a devastating blow.  But, imagine if the 49ers had beaten the Seahawks this past Sunday.  The 49ers, a team going nowhere, coming into Seattle and scurrying away with a hard-fought victory, costing us a chance at the division title and a first round BYE in the playoffs (while also making our path to simply securing a playoff spot that much more difficult).  Isn’t that just as bad?  Knowing you SHOULD have beaten a bitter rival, but they still find a way to win anyway?

Unless you’ve got a natural geographic rival (like Seattle and Portland, for instance), it’s a little difficult to manufacture a rivalry.  The Seahawks moved back to the NFC West in 2002.  From that point through the 2011 season, the Seahawks didn’t really have a rival.  Yeah, San Francisco is the closest city to us in NFL terms.  They’re in our division and everything.  But, when we started playing them regularly in 2002, they were total shit, and we were a team on the rise.  The NFC West in general was pretty hit-or-miss, but if I had to say someone was our main rival, I would’ve put that on the Rams, who were just playing out their run as the Greatest Show On Turf when we came into the picture.  By the time we went on our run of NFC West championships (from 2004 thru 2007), we really didn’t have a rival.  There was some bad blood for the Steelers, maybe a little for the Packers and Bears, but nothing like we’ve had since 2012 with the 49ers.

It takes a few good years of sustained success that we enjoyed to manufacture a rivalry with the likes of a team like the 49ers.  In their heyday of the 80s and 90s, you’d say the 49ers’ main rivals were the nationally great teams:  the Giants, the Redskins, the Cowboys, the Bears.  Now, with the divisions realigned, the Seahawks are it.  And, even if the 49ers lose Harbaugh, and even if Kaepernick never finds his groove again, and even if their defense ages into obscurity, and even if the 49ers are terrible for the next ten consecutive years, we’ll still always have this run from 2012-2014 as our rivalry’s heyday.  And, going forward, should the Seahawks continue to be successful, there will still be a rivalry.  Maybe the 49ers go 1-9 against us in the next ten meetings.  But, that lone defeat will still sting like a thousand defeats, because that bad blood will always be there.

What I’m more looking forward to is being like those 49ers of the 80s and 90s.  Being like what the Patriots have been for the last decade plus.  Yeah, the Pats have the Jets and Dolphins and Bills, who they’ve been playing twice a year for decades.  But, since Tom Brady took over, aside from a couple great Rex Ryan teams, the Pats have more or less demolished their division en route to a long string of division titles and first round BYEs in the AFC.  If you had to name New England’s top rival in that span, it wouldn’t be anyone in their division, it would be the Indianapolis Colts, followed by the Denver Broncos.  Essentially, wherever Peyton Manning called home.

THAT’S what I want.  Yeah, it’s nice having that blood feud with the 49ers.  And it’s fun to hate on the Cardinals and Rams to a lesser extent.  But, I want us going after the big guns of the NFC.  I want our big rivalry to be with the Packers, or the Saints when they’re good, or any of the NFC East teams if they can get their shit together for an extended run of brilliance.

In my mind, the Seahawks should find simply winning their division to be a little blasé.  It should just be a given.  The Patriots don’t go into their seasons thinking, “I hope we win our division this year!”  They go in EXPECTING to win their division, while thinking, “I hope we represent the AFC in the Super Bowl this year!”

That’s what I want.  That’s the kind of rivalry I hope to see.  The kind of rivalry that transcends geography.  The kind of rivalry where you only face your opponent once per regular season, and that’s because you’re both winning your respective divisions every year.  I want the kind of rivalry where Grantland documents each of the games between their respective teams based on how well each quarterback plays.

We thought we might have had that between the Seahawks and 49ers, but that’s looking less and less likely.  Jim Harbaugh is douchebagging his way out of a job, and Colin Kaepernick is mediocre-ing his way into being a professional backup.  The 49ers’ flame burned bright and quick, and the status of this particular rivalry is in question going forward.  The Seahawks have three straight wins, and have won 5 of the last 6.  There are more Seahawks blowouts than there are simple, close 49ers victories in the Wilson/Kaepernick Era.  We’ll see what happens from here, but it strikes me that the 49ers are about a year away from a total rebuild, while the Seahawks are moving on to bigger and better things.

The Seahawks Dynasty is still in play.  And, at that point, the NFL world will be so sick of us, we’ll be EVERYONE’S rivals.

***

  1. Dallas Cowboys (10-4) – The jinx of the #1 spot is real!  Let the Cowboys be next to feel its sting!  Uhh, I mean, YEAH, the Cowboys are the best team in the NFL!  This is a thing I truly believe!  7-0 record on the road and whatnot!
  2. Seattle Seahawks (10-4) – Mid-season swoons be damned, the Seahawks are back and better than ever!  But, they’re never EVER setting foot in my top spot.  Not as long as that jinx is hanging around.
  3. Denver Broncos (11-3) – I don’t really know what to say.  Their offense doesn’t look great right now, but they’re finding ways to win.  Defense is rock solid, so I guess that helps.
  4. New England Patriots (11-3) – I don’t know who I fear more between the Broncos and Patriots, I’m just glad the Seahawks only have to face one or the other in the Super Bowl.
  5. Green Bay Packers (10-4) – I never thought it was possible, but the BILLS of all teams gave us the opportunity to grab hold of the #1 seed.  God bless them, every one.
  6. Indianapolis Colts (10-4) – Why they struggled so much against the Texans is the exact reason why they’re not a Super Bowl team.
  7. Detroit Lions (10-4) – Same goes for the Lions, with their struggles against the Vikings.
  8. Arizona Cardinals (11-3) – Another win in the books, another quarterback down for the count.  Meet the team EVERYONE wants to face in the playoffs (non NFC South edition).
  9. San Diego Chargers (8-6) – A pretty good team who’s just getting eaten alive by their schedule.
  10. Philadelphia Eagles (9-5) – What is this, the 8th week in a row where the team that’s played the Seahawks has lost the next week?  That’s kinda ridiculous, isn’t it?
  11. Baltimore Ravens (9-5) – Ravens gonna cakewalk backwards into the playoffs this year.  Face Houston’s third string QB next week, then Johnny JamBoogie and the hapless Browns in the final week.
  12. Pittsburgh Steelers (9-5) – Steelers got a nice path to the playoffs.  Could knock out the Chiefs next week and the Bengals the week after.  Both games in Pittsburgh, so you gotta like that if you’re a Steelers fan.  Especially considering how you just trounced the Bengals two weeks ago.
  13. Cincinnati Bengals (9-4-1) – They’re technically the division leader now by a half game, but stick a fork in ’em.  Home against the Broncos, then at the Steelers.  That’s got 0-2 written all over it.  Thanks for playing 2014 NFL football!
  14. Kansas City Chiefs (8-6) – The Chiefs missed out on the playoffs when they lost at Oakland last month.  They finish at Pittsburgh and vs. San Diego.  No way they’re able to put up points with the Steelers.
  15. Buffalo Bills (8-6) – You know what, Bills?  I don’t really believe in you, but you beat the Packers for us, so you get to hang out in the Winner’s Bracket for a week.

The Loser’s Bracket:

  1. Miami Dolphins (7-7) – Sorry, Dolphins.  Teams who play their head coaches out of jobs don’t get to be ranked among the winners (plus, you know, it helps if you have a winning record and everything).
  2. San Francisco 49ers (7-7) – Knocked ’em out of the playoffs.  Got their douchebag head coach fired.  Finally convinced them Colin Kaepernick isn’t a starting quarterback in this league.  What a great weekend!
  3. St. Louis Rams (6-8) – Another year of being moderately scary, another year with a record not over .500.
  4. Houston Texans (7-7) – Well, it was a fun ride while it lasted.  Now, go find yourselves a quarterback.
  5. Cleveland Browns (7-7) – Seriously, Johnny JamBoogie, your money sign with the hands is idiotic when you haven’t done a fucking thing in this league.
  6. Minnesota Vikings (6-8) – Honestly, this team is better than I could have expected, given their best player was lost for the year and they’re breaking in a rookie quarterback.
  7. New Orleans Saints (6-8) – I can’t wait for the Saints to host the Cardinals in the first round, followed by the Saints beating the Cardinals’ third string quarterback, followed by the Saints coming BACK to Seattle in the Divisional Round so we can crush them once again!
  8. Atlanta Falcons (5-9) – I just honestly don’t know what to say about this NFC South.  Was the NFC West in 2010 THIS bad?  I’m asking for real; I can’t tell because I’m too close to the situation.
  9. Carolina Panthers (5-8-1) – They host Cleveland and go to Atlanta.  If Cam Newton comes back, you never know.
  10. Chicago Bears (5-9) – Hello darkness, my old friend.
  11. New York Giants (5-9) – Yeah, whatever.
  12. Washington Redskins (3-11) – Total shitshow.
  13. New York Jets (3-11) – Way to screw yourselves out of the #1 pick.
  14. Oakland Raiders (2-12) – Okay.
  15. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-12) – Uh huh.
  16. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-12) – Fucking irritating team.  WHY ARE YOU STILL PLAYING MCCOWN???
  17. Tennessee Titans (2-12) – You are one pathetic loser!

Seattle Sports Hell 2014 NFL Power Rankings – Week 13

We got a game coming up this Sunday against the Eagles that looms large.  I get the feeling that it looms larger than people give it credit for.

At this time last year, the Seahawks were 11-1.  We had just come off the most impressive drubbing of the Saints on Monday night, a week removed from our BYE.  The season was a smashing success and we were officially a win or two away from locking up everything.

At the same time last year, the Eagles were 7-5.  They were in the middle of an impressive run, where they finished the season on a 7-1 streak to take the NFC East with a 10-6 record.  Nick Foles had officially supplanted Mike Vick as the quarterback on the team and was looking like a real winner.  The Eagles scored 24 or more points in each of their final eight games, as Chip Kelly’s high voltage offense was humming along.

When the playoffs came around, the Seahawks were enjoying the #1 seed they’d worked so hard to get, while the Eagles hosted the Saints in the Wild Card round.  The Eagles had a lead late, but the Saints were able to move into field goal range and kick the game winner as time expired.

All Seahawks fans know what happened from there:  we hosted the Saints and beat them pretty soundly.  Which, in turn, saw us hosting the 49ers before thumping the Broncos in the Super Bowl.  What all Seahawks fans might not be aware of is that the Eagles and their fans wanted us bad.  Last year, the Eagles featured the best offense in the NFC by yards and the second best offense in the NFC by points scored.  They were a threat.  To be fair, the Saints were also a threat, but the Eagles were a different threat.  They were a threat the Seahawks hadn’t seen before.  Not in that incarnation.  Not with that style of play.

If I’m a betting man, and we could do last year over with the same exact circumstances, only with the Eagles replacing the Saints in the NFC Divisional round (which is actually impossible, because the Eagles were the 3-seed, meaning we would’ve faced the 49ers in that round, followed by the winner of the hypothetical Panthers/Eagles game in the NFC Championship game; but just go with me on this one), I’d wager that the Seahawks would’ve won just the same.

But, it’s that unknown that’s always given me pause.  With the Saints, you had to figure the game would’ve been different than it was the first time, but there wasn’t a doubt in my mind:  we were going to beat them into submission once again.  We had the horses to stop Jimmy Graham, and after that everything would slot into place quite nicely (as it did).  The weather was a variable I didn’t foresee, but how could you, you know?

As it stands, I’m glad everything worked out, and I wouldn’t trade 2013 for anything in the world.  Nevertheless, now it’s 2014, and we’ve got the Eagles coming up this Sunday as our opponent.  Nick Foles is out, but Mark Sanchez has looked fine in his place.  Indeed, theirs is an offense that’s not as quarterback-reliant as most others.  You can get by with a subpar signal caller.  2014 Nick Foles hasn’t looked nearly as good as 2013 Nick Foles, leading us all to wonder whether he’s truly an elite quarterback, or just a good player in an elite system (and that was before the injury that’s kept him out for the better part of the last five games).

This system, by the way, is mind blowing.  Yes, every team has a system, and the term “system quarterback” is very dismissive.  Aaron Rodgers is a “system quarterback”, but he’s also a fucking manimal.  Mark Sanchez has proven without a shadow of a doubt that he’s a massive tool.  You could’ve put Rodgers on the Jets way back when and he’d still be leading them to the playoffs on the reg.  You couldn’t put Sanchez in Green Bay unless you wanted to be the first general manager to be lynched.

I still can’t fully wrap my head around how the Eagles have been this successful, almost from the get go.  Right now, the Eagles are 9-3, in first place in the NFC East, and while they currently hold the 3-seed, they’re tied for the best record in the NFC.  True, both the Cardinals and the Packers have tiebreakers over them thanks to head-to-head matchups with each.  But, it’s not impossible to envision a scenario where they leap one or both of those team by season’s end.  After the Seahawks, they get Dallas at home, followed by the Redskins & Giants on the road.  If they win out and get a little help, you never know.

If the Seahawks are able to win this game, not only does it send a clear message to the rest of the NFL that we’re BACK in a big way, but it helps our chances in getting one of the top seeds in the NFC playoffs.

A Seahawks win means both us and the Eagles would be 9-4.  At that point, we just need the Eagles to maintain their division lead over the Cowboys (because the ‘Boys hold a tiebreaker over us by way of beating us earlier this year) and we’ll have it.  All the Eagles would have to do is either beat Dallas next week (which they should do), or just have the same record as them at season’s end (because their superior divisional record would give them a tie-breaker in the event Dallas is able to even up that head-to-head record).

At that point, if the Seahawks win the NFC West, and the Eagles win the East, and both teams have the same record, we’re guaranteed to have a Top 2 seed.  From there, we’d still need help from the Packers to take over the number 1 overall seed; their schedule is as easy as pie the rest of the way (vs. Atlanta, at Buffalo, at Tampa, vs. Detroit).  IF we can somehow achieve a tie with Green Bay, we’d overtake them in the rankings, based on our head-to-head win to start the season.  But, that’s a long way off (and would require the Seahawks winning out, followed by the Lions not only beating the Packers in week 17, but having something to actually play for, which might not be the case if they continue winning as well).

A lot of variables going forward, but this game on Sunday will go a long way toward determining things.  A Seahawks victory doesn’t guarantee anything, as we still have three tough (but winnable) games within our division.  But, a Seahawks loss almost certainly guarantees that we won’t have a first round BYE in the playoffs (and it might go a long way in sealing our fate as to whether or not we win our division at all).

As I said up top:  this one looms large.  I know everyone is giddy about beating the 49ers on the road on Thanksgiving.  And, I know everyone is even giddier about beating the 49ers again NEXT week and almost certainly knocking them out of the playoff hunt.  But, let’s not overlook the one that’s right in front of us.  Never has the phrase “championship opportunity” been more appropriate for a regular season game.  Never has “going 1-0 every week” been a better motto to have.  Can’t look past the Eagles.  Gotta have the eyes on that prize.

I’ve softened on my stance that the Seahawks NEED to have a #1 seed to get back to the Super Bowl, but do you REALLY want to go back to Philly in January?  Do you REALLY want to face the Packers on the road?  Does it sound like a good time to you to face both of those teams on the road, in back to back weeks, where I can all but guarantee that at least one of those games will be snowbound?

No, the Seahawks don’t NEED to be the top seed, but it sure as shit helps.  To get there, this game is just as important as the others.  Maybe the most important.

***

  1. Green Bay Packers (9-3) – The curse of the #1 team CONTINUES; I’m a living, breathing jinx!
  2. Denver Broncos (9-3) – Yeah, but do you really think they’re going to have the stones to dedicate themselves to running the ball from here on out?
  3. New England Patriots (9-3) – Pretty tough loss, but raise your hand if you expected the Patriots to help the Seahawks out by beating an impressive NFC foe.  I’m not saying they lost on purpose, but I’m also saying I remember back in 2012 when the Seahawks were surging at season’s end and the Patriots could’ve handed us the division and a Top 2 seed by beating the 49ers.
  4. Indianapolis Colts (8-4) – Look, from here on out, if Andrew Luck is going to explode for a million yards and touchdowns, I’m going to need the vast majority of both to go to T.Y. Hilton, otherwise my first place (regular season) fantasy football team is doomed.
  5. Detroit Lions (8-4) – They’re solidly better than all the crap teams, but I doubt they have what it takes when push comes to shove.
  6. San Diego Chargers (8-4) – I seem to remember writing this team off after their 3-game losing streak.  They followed that up with a 3-game winning streak and an absolutely crucial victory in Baltimore.
  7. Philadelphia Eagles (9-3) – This Eagles game will be the last big test for the Seahawks.  If we can find a way to win, I’ll officially believe that we’re “back”.  If we narrowly lose, that’s not necessarily the worst thing in the world, though it’ll mean we have to play on Wild Card Weekend.  If we get blown out, I’ll officially be petrified of the playoffs this year.
  8. Seattle Seahawks (8-4) – I’m at the point now where I’m secure enough in my knowledge of the NFC West to know that the Seahawks are the best team in the division.  I’m pretty confident that we’ll win out our last three games (home vs. SF, at AZ, home vs. St. Louis).  But, the question remains:  will that be enough?  Arizona lost in Atlanta, and that’s great.  That helps tremendously, in fact!  But, if the Seahawks lose in Philly, we’re going to need the Cards to drop another game.  They play at home vs. KC, at St. Louis, and at Frisco in their other remaining games.  We’ll see.
  9. Arizona Cardinals (9-3) – To be fair, the Cards on offense look awful, so that’s encouraging.
  10. Dallas Cowboys (8-4) – It’s December now, but the Cowboys got an early start on their collapse over Thanksgiving.
  11. Cincinnati Bengals (8-3-1) – So, they almost lost to the Bucs?  How is that possible?
  12. Kansas City Chiefs (7-5) – At some point, you need to adjust your offensive scheme against the likes of the Broncos and Chargers, right?  Why not let Alex Smith loose and throw it 40 times?  You might be pleasantly surprised, or you might lose horribly like you’d do anyway because you’re just not better than those teams.
  13. Baltimore Ravens (8-4) – Luckily for Ravens fans, none of the teams in the AFC North – even though they all have winning records – are all that terrifying.
  14. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-5) – See:  the Pittsburgh Steelers as one of those non-terrifying teams.
  15. San Francisco 49ers (7-5) – I could still see them finishing 10-6 and pulling out a Wild Card spot, if indeed the Cards are ready for the full collapse.
  16. Miami Dolphins (7-5) – Woof, what a dog of a game against the Jets!  Shakiest good team I’ve seen in a long time.

The Loser’s Bracket:

  1. St. Louis Rams (5-7) – The Rams are the consummate “They Scare The Shit Out Of Me NEXT Year” team, but then every time the next year rolls around, they shit the bed, so whatever.
  2. Houston Texans (6-6) – That was quite the mashing of the Titans on Sunday.
  3. Buffalo Bills (7-5) – I know we’re all happy about the Bills being relevant again, but they’ve got three road games to go, two of them at Denver & at New England (with a home game against Green Bay for good measure).  This isn’t your year, Bills fans.
  4. Atlanta Falcons (5-7) – Big riser in my rankings thanks to beating the Cardinals!  Good on ya.
  5. New Orleans Saints (5-7) – Remarkably easy schedule the rest of the way.  It’ll all boil down to their showdown at home against Atlanta in Week 16, but it’s still possible they finish 9-7 and everyone calms down a bit about the whole NFC South thing.
  6. Cleveland Browns (7-5) – Your record is good, but you’re not going to the playoffs.  Might as well start Johnny JamBoogie and see what he’s got for you in the last month.
  7. Chicago Bears (5-7) – I’m beyond the point of caring about the Bears.
  8. Minnesota Vikings (5-7) – Same goes for the Vikings.
  9. Carolina Panthers (3-8-1) – Hello darkness, my old friend.
  10. New York Giants (3-9) – You are one pathetic loser!
  11. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-10) – Mike Evans could be a fantasy stud, but we’ll never know about it, because they’ve got the world’s shittiest set of quarterbacks.
  12. Washington Redskins (3-9) – See, if your team is terrible for long enough, no one will care what nickname you call your team!
  13. New York Jets (2-10) – Hard to say you didn’t see a game like this coming.  What’s the best way to mitigate the damage of Geno Smith?  Don’t let Geno Smith throw the football.  Like, at all.
  14. Tennessee Titans (2-10) – Yeah, I dunno.
  15. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-10) – Probably not a good thing to win too many more games the rest of the way.
  16. Oakland Raiders (1-11) – Just when I thought it was safe to pull the Raiders away from their last-place standing, they go and get shut out by the Rams, 52-0.

Seattle Sports Hell 2014 NFL Power Rankings – Week 5

I can’t say that I’m all that wild and crazy about the defense this year.  How about you?

We’ve played Green Bay, at San Diego, Denver, and at Washington.  By my accounts, that’s two great teams, one good team, and one bad team.  To those teams, we’ve given up 20.75 points per game.  That’s up from 14.44 points per game last year, when we led the league.  So, what gives?

Maybe it’s nothing.  After all, with last year’s team, it wasn’t all 43-8 beatdowns.  There were a lot of tense moments!  The Houston, Tampa, and St. Louis games come immediately to mind.  This last one against the Redskins reminds me almost exactly of last year’s home game against the Titans.  Probably should’ve been a huge blowout, but Seahawks mistakes kept it close and made more than a few people uncomfortable.

So, what can we look at?  Well, for starters, let’s look at 4th quarter scoring.  We’re giving up, on average, 8 points per game in the 4th quarter.  Doesn’t sound like a lot, but that’s usually the difference between a comfortable blowout and a closer, 1-score game.

Let’s also look at third down conversions.  The Seahawks are allowing teams to convert 25/57, or around 44% of the time.  You probably want that percentage somewhere in the mid-30s.  That’ll help explain a lot of these longer drives.  The more plays run, the more time they burn, the more time our defense is on the field, the more opportunities for mistakes.

Now, look at turnovers.  We’ve got a total of three.  Two interceptions (Maxwell & Chancellor) and one fumble recovery (Wright).  How do we explain this?  Well, the Seahawks have been unlucky in the fact that there have been 5 other fumbles that we DIDN’T recover.  But, what about the interceptions?  Where has the L.O.B. been in all of this?

Surely, teams aren’t testing Richard Sherman as much as they did last year (which in and of itself was a mystery to me).  I’m sure they’re being somewhat more cautious, knowing what we all know about the studs in our secondary.  You could argue that the pass rush has been down compared to last year.  We’ve only got 6 sacks in 4 games.  We’ve got 18 hits on the quarterback, which makes it look a LITTLE better.  I don’t know what the count is on hurries, but it doesn’t feel to me like we’ve taken a huge step back in this department.

If you want my opinion, I think teams have just gotten smarter.  I think they watched all the tape on us that they could from last year, they figured out what our defense does well and where it struggles.  I think they’re throwing a lot of quicker passes to avoid the pass rush, and I think they’re taking smart chances down the field when they have their opportunities.  Don’t throw a fade to Richard Sherman’s side.  At best, he’ll just tip the ball away for an incompletion (at worst, we’re taking it back to the house).  Instead, work some double-moves.  Force our DBs to switch and make decisions on the fly.  Yes, we have the most intelligent and well-studied secondary in football, but they’re not going to be perfect.  Every once in a while, they’ll take a bad angle, or leave someone uncovered.  And, if you’ve got a Desean Jackson running the route, or a Peyton Manning throwing the ball, you’re going to get beat once in a while.

Part of it is, yeah, shit happens.  It IS a small, 4-game sample size.  The Seahawks ARE 3-1, so let’s not start jumping off of buildings.  We’ve still got plenty of games against teams that match up well against us.  The Raiders, Giants, and Cowboys should all be pushovers.  If we really ratchet up the firestorm in these next few weeks, all of these numbers will normalize.  We’ll get our turnovers back up to par, we’ll hold teams down at the end of games, and we’ll get off the field on third down more regularly.

But, the other part of it is:  we’ve got to adjust.  The rest of the league has – I don’t want to say “figured us out”, but they’ve certainly changed their schemes against us.  I wouldn’t say it’s necessarily working, but it’s a lot better than what they managed against us last year.  So, we’ve got to counter.  We’ve got to figure out what they’re doing that’s working and shut that down.

While, at the same time, keeping what works for us.  Namely, the run defense.  If this thing is real, then we’ve got a real ace up our sleeves.  All Dallas does now is run the ball!  The Panthers, Giants, and Chiefs are all in the run-first mold.  We can take advantage of all of these teams if we’re able to shut down their running games; none of those quarterbacks should put the fear of God into you.  And, as for all the NFC West teams?  Well, I’m going to withhold judgment on the Rams until I see more out of Austin Davis, but the 49ers and Cardinals can’t get out of their own way at the quarterback position.  If we shut their running games down, they’re powerless against us!

So, I’ll be interested to see how the Seahawks do over the next month.  Will the defense be an ongoing concern?  I sure hope not.  I think we all sort of planned on the offense being improved (and maybe picking up some slack), but I enjoy this team much more when we’re stomping other teams into the ground on defense.

***

  1. Seattle Seahawks (3-1) – Never a doubt.
  2. Denver Broncos (3-1) – Ditto.
  3. San Diego Chargers (4-1) – The Chargers are for real.  If that defense proves it’s worthy of a top 10 ranking, watch out.
  4. Cincinnati Bengals (3-1) – They were doomed from the start.  A pissed off Patriots team at home, during primetime for the second straight week?  That had rout written all over it.
  5. Detroit Lions (3-2) – Now that they’ve got a kicker, prepare for a nice run on wins.
  6. Indianapolis Colts (3-2) – Must be nice playing in the worst division in football three years running.
  7. San Francisco 49ers (3-2) – Not the easiest next two games leading into their BYE as they go to St. Louis on Monday night, followed by going to Denver on Sunday night.  Prepare yourself to watch A LOT of 49ers football the next two weeks.  Probably more 49ers football than you ever cared to see.
  8. Philadelphia Eagles (4-1) – They better figure out how to get Shady McCoy going if they ever want to seriously contend this year.
  9. New Orleans Saints (2-3) – It took overtime at home to beat the Bucs?  I don’t know what I’m doing keeping this team in the top 10.
  10. Green Bay Packers (3-2) – Are you smelling an upset this week down in Miami?  Because, I kinda sorta am.  These Packers are going DOWN!
  11. Kansas City Chiefs (2-3) – Good, not great.
  12. Dallas Cowboys (4-1) – Ditto.
  13. Baltimore Ravens (3-2) – Look, I was flying back from Anaheim on Sunday, so I didn’t see a lot of football, all right?  Justin Forsett got me some solid points in Fantasy while Lamar Miller was on BYE though, so that’s cool.
  14. New England Patriots (3-2) – Imagine that:  you take the bubble wrap off of Gronk and your offense is actually able to move the football.  WEIRD!
  15. Arizona Cardinals (3-1) – Perfect no more, and now they’ve lost their best defender for at least a few weeks.
  16. New York Giants (3-2) – With a bullet!
  17. Atlanta Falcons (2-3) – Good GOD is this team shitty on the road!  They catch the Bears at home, though, so bank on them being 3-3 this time next week.
  18. Chicago Bears (2-3) – You heard me.
  19. Pittsburgh Steelers (3-2) – It’s like, every week the Steelers find a new way to troll football fans!
  20. Carolina Panthers (3-2) – Starting to really regret not drafting their tight end this year.
  21. Houston Texans (3-2) – How about that J.J. Watt, huh?  He’s like a million times better than that J.J. Watt commercial, I’ll tell you that much.
  22. Miami Dolphins (2-2) – This is the week where the Dolphins get you to believe they’re worthy of being in the playoffs.  It won’t last long.
  23. Cleveland Browns (2-2) – I like this Browns team!  Mostly because Hoyer is keeping Johnny Football on the sidelines.
  24. Washington Redskins (2-3) – That’s some great defense you got there in D.C.
  25. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-4) – This team is going to start stealing wins it shouldn’t have.  Mark it this week, my upset special:  Tampa over Baltimore.
  26. Buffalo Bills (3-2) – What is it with the Bills and beating NFC North teams on the road this year?
  27. New York Jets (1-4) – The Chargers’ defense got me a shutout last week in a losing effort in fantasy.  Thank you, Jets!
  28. Minnesota Vikings (2-3) – Well, if you can’t figure out how to get Cordarrelle Patterson the football, then I’m afraid he’s not long for my fantasy team.
  29. St. Louis Rams (1-3) – Wouldn’t it be nice if they went out and beat up on the 49ers this week?  I promise if you do, I’ll put you in the Top 25!
  30. Tennessee Titans (1-4) – Is Jake Locker the next Marques Tuiasosopo?  The guy who might be great, but we’ll never know because he’s always injured?  Hey guys, welcome to Steve Emtman’s world.
  31. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-5) – I’m beginning to think this isn’t the fringe-playoff team I’d once predicted them to be.
  32. Oakland Raiders (0-4) – Not only do they lose a home game to playing in fucking London, but they gotta spend their BYE week getting over jetlag.

Seattle Sports Hell 2014 NFL Power Rankings – Week 3

What’s this?  Another reminder to vote for me in the Western Washington Sports Blog competition?  This is absolutely too much!

Sometimes when I’m bored, I’ll plan out my posts for the next couple weeks.  I try to get one post per day, Monday thru Friday, and I like a little routine in my life.  Lately, with football season starting, it’s been:

  • Monday – Seahawks recap
  • Tuesday – Huskies recap
  • Wednesday – Mariners recap
  • Thursday – NFL Power Rankings
  • Friday – Seahawks preview

It’s a good system.  Covers all my bases and sets myself up to not have to think too hard about what’s going on.  But, when we get into BYE weeks, there are gaps to fill.  And, with these power rankings, I always like to have an intro topic to talk about.  Maybe something that’s not worthy of its own post, but still something I find interesting.

Anyway, for today, in my little “note to self” in the section where I have my idea for this post’s intro, I wrote:

Is Anything Wrong With The Seahawks’ Defense?

And then below it, I wrote:

Probably not.

This is what I have to work with for today.  If this doesn’t interest you, I encourage you to skip ahead to the rankings.  Spoiler Alert:  I still like the Seahawks a lot.

So, IS there anything wrong with the Seahawks’ defense?  Again, probably not.  It’s early in the season, so a lot of this is more “gut feeling” than anything tangible.  Also, if you’re in the Excuse-Making game, it’s easy to argue that the Seahawks have faced three of the better offenses – and in particular three of the better quarterbacks – in all of football.  Totally valid.

When I take a step back and look at this team objectively, I see a lot of the same faces we had last year, when the Seahawks were the best in football.  The L.O.B., the linebackers, and many of our stars on the D-Line are all back and all still in the primes of their careers.  Some may be dealing with injuries – either concealed or not – but either way you wouldn’t expect a huge drop-off.  And, I’m not saying there IS a huge drop-off.  But, something feels wonky.  That’s all I’ve got.

The run defense is off-the-charts good and way better than I thought it’d be, considering the loss of Red Bryant and Chris Clemons.  We’re giving up less than 3 yards per carry, and less than 73 yards per game.  That’s GREAT!  So, you won’t hear me speak ill of the rush defense one iota.

The pass defense is a little more unsettling, as we’re giving up 249 yards per game (up from 172 last year), but again, consider the opponents.  When we get to start factoring in the likes of Eli Manning, Cam Newton, and whoever the Rams, Cardinals, and Raiders end up throwing at us, that 249 figure is sure to go down.

AND, not for nothing, but it’s not like the 2013 defense was perfect!  Indy managed 34 points.  A winless Tampa Bay team ran up a huge first half lead before we started our comeback.  And, shit, even the Cardinals – after Palmer had thrown four interceptions – managed a late-game, game-winning touchdown in CenturyLink to delay our winning of the division by a week.

So, really, what am I getting at?  Nothing, I suppose.  Once we put a little more distance between us and that San Diego contest, my nerves should calm down.  And maybe the next time, when a good team is driving down for a game-tying (or game-winning) score, we can nip that in the bud instead of letting them send the game into overtime (or, heavens forbid, another loss).

One interesting trend I’d like to watch going forward is the number of defensive snaps played by each guy on that side of the ball.  The usual suspects are in the 90% range of percentage of plays played (the entire starting four in the L.O.B., Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright at 87.5%), and the next man on the list is Michael Bennett at 76.4% of the defensive snaps.  I want to say that’s up a good 20-or-so percent compared to last year, when most everyone was in the 50-60% range along the defensive line.  We all sort of expected that when Bennett signed the contract extension (and guys like Bryant and Clemons were let go, freeing up more snaps for our new starters), but it’ll be interesting to see how he holds up as the season goes on (especially considering the BYE week is happening now, followed by 13 straight weeks of football).

Avril’s snaps are up as well, to 67.6%.  Everyone else is down in that 40-50% range that we like to see.  So, for all this talk about teams using the hurry-up offense to keep us from rotating guys in and out, we can rest assured that it’s all mostly just talk.

In the end, it’s going to come down to injuries.  If the defense can stay healthy, it will still be great.  If we start losing guys left and right, then we’re probably in trouble (but, you can say that about anyone).  Having Kam Chancellor playing through ankle issues is a little distressing.  As I said before, I’d rather he get the surgery done now if it means he’d be able to return later this season.  I’d rather have him 100% for a playoff run than have him 75% now and deteriorating by the week.  This thing isn’t going to magically get BETTER on its own without rest or surgery.  Since he’s having neither the rest of the way, don’t be shocked if at some point down the line we end up losing our starting strong safety for the season.  Either due to this issue, or some other issue related to this one because he’s compensating.  Me no like.

***

  1. Seattle Seahawks (2-1) – That’s what we call a “sigh of relief”.  Now we get a week off to rest our injured player (singular) before another road game against another tough offense.  Watch out for the Redskins, that’s all I’m saying!  I’m just kidding, I’m not saying anything; and their defense is beyond a joke.
  2. Denver Broncos (2-1) – I can’t say that I’m QUITE as convinced as ever that it’ll be a Broncos/Seahawks repeat in the next Super Bowl, but I’m fairly certain the AFC will feature either the Broncos or the Bengals.  Big matchup between those two teams in Cincinnati in week 16.
  3. Cincinnati Bengals (3-0) – So, that’s kinda weird:  the best three teams in football all have BYEs in week 4.
  4. Philadelphia Eagles (3-0) – They’re not much on defense, but with the talent and scheme they’ve got on the other side of the ball, I’m not even sure they NEED to field a defense to win the NFC East.
  5. Arizona Cardinals (3-0) – They’re not much on offense, but with the talent and scheme they’ve got on the other side of the ball, I’m not even sure they NEED to field an offense to win the NFC East (wait …).
  6. New Orleans Saints (1-2) – To inspire the least bit of confidence in my opinion of this team, they COULD have put up a better effort against a hapless Vikings team.  That’s all I’m saying.
  7. Detroit Lions (2-1) – I’m not gonna lie to you, but I’m gaining more and more confidence in their ability to win the NFC North with every passing week.  Or, at the very least, have a better record than the fucking Packers.
  8. San Diego Chargers (2-1) – The only loss is by 1 point on the road to a very good Cardinals team.  For the record, on Thursday, October 23rd, they play the Broncos for the first time.  I will be watching that game.
  9. Atlanta Falcons (2-1) – I got perverse joy out of that Thursday night dismantling of the Bucs.  Mostly because Matt Ryan is my quarterback in fantasy and before the season started I was THIS close to trading him straight up for Jamaal Charles (it’s a keeper league).
  10. Indianapolis Colts (1-2) – They lost two games by one score apiece to two very good teams (Eagles & Broncos).  Their schedule the rest of the way looks about as reasonable as a schedule can be.  If Luck stays healthy, even with their suspect defense, I could see them finishing 13-3.  Mark it down now.
  11. New England Patriots (2-1) – Anyone else less than impressed by the Patriots right now?  A pretty bad loss down in Miami in week 1, and now a pretty ugly win at home against the Raiders.  THIS is supposed to be the team that contends with the Broncos for the Super Bowl?
  12. San Francisco 49ers (1-2) – AH-HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH.  *Takes a deep breath* … HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.
  13. Chicago Bears (2-1) – Big test this week against the Packers.
  14. Green Bay Packers (1-2) – Stunk up the joint in Seattle.  Let the Jets get out to a big lead before mounting a comeback.  Stunk up the joint again in Detroit.  We always wonder about the Packers’ defense, but what’s going on with the offense?
  15. Carolina Panthers (2-1) – I couldn’t possibly fathom what happened in that game against the Steelers, but I’m grateful (my fantasy team was going up against a guy with the Panthers’ defense).  This is going to be a tough team to peg all year, I can already tell.
  16. Baltimore Ravens (2-1) – The Ravens play 5 of their 6 divisional games by week 9.  Their schedule the rest of the way looks less-than-ideal; they might not win more than 1 more road game going forward.
  17. Pittsburgh Steelers (2-1) – Their defense looks pretty good when the opposing offense has no skill position players!
  18. Dallas Cowboys (2-1) – A lot of people (myself included) jumped off the Cowboys bandwagon pretty hard after week 1.  Not that the bandwagon was filled with a bunch of people thinking this was a playoff team; but this also isn’t a team that’s going to be held to 4 wins or less.  As long as that offense has its stars, they’ll be able to out-score some of the crummier teams out there.
  19. Washington Redskins (1-2) – KILL ME, I like this team about a million times more with Cousins at quarterback.  RGIII might go down as a Top 5 most disappointing NFL player of all time (not counting the wife beaters, child abusers, dog killers, human killers, and so on).
  20. Kansas City Chiefs (1-2) – Don’t get too excited, it’s only the Miami Dolphins that they beat.
  21. New York Jets (1-2) – Even in defeat, this team is showing me more fight and vigor than these teams below them in the rankings.
  22. Buffalo Bills (2-1) – Stop trying to talk yourself into the Bills.  It’s not going to happen.
  23. Miami Dolphins (1-2) – Well, after a strong opener against the Patriots, they’ve followed that up with two clunkers.  Suffice it to say, the new offense isn’t clicking like they’d envisioned.
  24. Cleveland Browns (1-2) – They’re bad, but they’re not the worst.  I hope they keep themselves close in all their games so Johnny Football rots on the fucking bench for the rest of his life.
  25. Tennessee Titans (1-2) – Jake Locker has the best job security in the NFL, and it’s not even as a result of him being all that talented!  When your only alternative is Charlie Whitehurst, you’d stick with Matt Cassel himself to avoid having to watch Clipboard Jesus boner his way through a football game.
  26. St. Louis Rams (1-2) – A little birdie told me that the Rams, as a team, only have one sack on the season.  That’s … less than ideal.
  27. New York Giants (1-2) – The Giants are like the Cowboys except without the talented stars on offense.  Which might be the biggest insult I’ve ever written about anyone.
  28. Houston Texans (2-1) – I’ll never understand how Ryan Fitzpatrick Who Went To Harvard ever gets a starting job in the NFL.  It would seem to me that Ryan Fitzpatrick Who Went To Harvard would be better suited as a career backup, and playing absolutely anyone other than Ryan Fitzpatrick Who Went To Harvard would be the better option.  But, you know, that’s just me.
  29. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-3) – Hey who knew giving a career backup a starting job following a crazy-insane stretch of just a few good games would blow up in a team’s face?  I certainly didn’t, because I think I picked the Bucs to be a playoff team.  But, I’m an idiot, so that’s to be expected.  One of these years, the Bucs WILL make it back to the playoffs; just not this year.
  30. Minnesota Vikings (1-2) – This offense is the WORST!  Norv Turner needs to be given the Old Yeller treatment.  How hard is it to simply have Cordarrelle Patterson run a crossing pattern each and every pass play?  It’s pretty obvious that the quarterbacks they have aren’t ready for the down-field passing scheme Norv is famous for, so it’s time to change the scheme to fit the personnel.  NORV!
  31. Oakland Raiders (0-3) – I got nothing.  At least the Raiders have three straight home games (with a BYE week thrown in) to really rest up and enjoy the end of the Bay Area summer.
  32. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-3) – Blake Bortles is your starting quarterback for the rest of the season!  Hope he doesn’t get killed by your offensive line!