Should The Seahawks Consider Trading Russell Wilson?

Short answer:  no.

Slightly longer answer:  absolutely not.

Slightly longer answer with profanity:  go fuck yourself.

Just so you know where I stand.  But, seeing as we’re knee-deep in a Seahawks-less playoffs, we’re weeks and weeks away from Spring Training nonsense, and the college football season is officially in the rearview mirror, it’s an interesting thought exercise to play around with.

We all know the reason why you would NOT trade Russell Wilson:  he’s a franchise quarterback, in his prime; he’s a proven winner with one title under his belt and almost a second one; you know if you put proper talent around him, he can take you to where you want to go.  He’s young, healthy (aside from that one season), still mobile, has a strong arm, is usually pretty safe with the rock, usually makes good decisions, and is generally lights out in the fourth quarter and overtime.  Also, it’s abundantly clear how difficult it is in the NFL to find a franchise quarterback and nuture his talents so that he reaches his full potential, so when you have one still in his prime, you don’t give him away!  You pay whatever it takes to keep him around, and deal with the roster fallout accordingly!

This is all simple, basic, NFL 101 stuff here.  So, again, would I trade Russell Wilson?  Not unless I’m guaranteed to get another franchise quarterback in return.

But, you know, he’s not perfect.  There’s always been flaws or weaknesses in his game, and those came to the forefront in 2017, particularly in December when the team completely fell apart.  He doesn’t do well with pressure up the middle.  With teams frequently gameplanning around keeping him in the pocket, all they have to do is bully our overmatched interior linemen and Wilson just crumbles.  Why is that?  Well, because he’s not 6’3 and can’t see over these guys!  It also takes him WAY too long to get going.  If the Seahawks could just jump out to regular 2-score leads and let the defense sit on opposing offenses, we’d be a MUCH better team!  All too often, it’s the other way around, and the Seahawks’ offense doesn’t start getting going until the second half, or the 4th quarter in particularly brutal cases.  Part of that is Wilson not being as accurate early in games.  Part of that is Wilson saving his legs until the team absolutely needs him to tuck the ball and run.  There may be other reasons on top of it, but it almost exclusively falls on the quarterback play (with nods to a crappy offensive line, and suspect play-calling).  For the Seahawks to succeed, the team needs (a running game) to gameplan early to get Wilson going.  The new offensive coordinator needs to bring in quick, easy throws, to get him converting short third downs and keep the chains moving.

Any discussion about trading Russell Wilson has to include what we’d get in return.  And, honestly, there aren’t a lot of comparable trades to reference here, because again, teams don’t trade franchise quarterbacks in their prime!  You generally see guys either past their prime (Brett Favre to the Jets, Joe Montana to the Chiefs, Drew Bledsoe to the Bills), on their way up (Trent Green to the Chiefs, Brad Johnson to the Redskins, Rob Johnson to the Bills, Jeff George to the Falcons) or with injury concerns (Sam Bradford to the Vikings, Carson Palmer to the Raiders).  One interesting comp is the Jeff George deal, where the Colts netted a 1st and 3rd, as well as a 2nd rounder that converted to a 1st rounder based on performance.  Carson Palmer’s trade to the Raiders was another interesting case, because he ostensibly WAS in the prime of his career.  It wasn’t a great career, but he put up a lot of numbers and was essentially the face of the Bengals’ franchise.  The Bengals got a 1st and a 2nd round pick, but their hands were tied.  Palmer was threatening retirement if he didn’t get traded, and it doesn’t sound like the market was willing to over-pay for someone whose heart might not be in it.

I guess the closest comp I could find was the Jay Cutler trade from Denver to Chicago.  Cutler and a 5th round pick went to the Bears for two 1st rounders, a 3rd rounder, and Kyle Orton.  Right here, I think you’re in the ballpark.  I think any trade for Wilson has to start with two 1st rounders, and one of them better be in the Top 10.  There’s any number of ways you can add on from here.  Would you take three 1st rounders?  Let’s say the Jets – currently drafting 6th – offered three 1st rounders (this year’s 6th and the next two first rounders), would you take it?  I’m not sure I would, but you’d have to think about it, right?  For what it’s worth, I don’t know if I’m totally in love with this draft class of NFL quarterbacks, so this thought exercise might be pointless; but maybe you love the top three guys, and you work your magic to move up from 6th to 3 (trading with Indy, who won’t need to draft a QB) and take whoever’s left over.

If it’s me, I think if you’re in the market to trade Wilson, you let it be known (quietly), but that you’re not in a hurry to cut and run.  Listen to offers, but be secure at the end of the day with keeping Wilson and having a long and fruitful career with him.  In that sense, I think you wait until some team over-pays.  One of these Top 10 drafting teams who need a quarterback, I think you squeeze a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd in 2018, and another 1st, 2nd, and 3rd in 2019.  Something like that.  You sign a Josh McCown for a year or two and you use those picks to draft a QB of the future you can mold, as well as fill in the roster around him with extremely talented young players.  Get a stud running back, get a stud offensive tackle, get a badass defensive back, get another solid pass rusher.

Also, if it’s me, I’m only dealing with AFC teams.  Fortunately, the AFC stinks, and is full of idiot owners and general managers, so this shouldn’t be a problem.  Why the Browns aren’t offering the Seahawks the moon and the stars is beyond me.  If they offered the Seahawks all their first and second round picks this year (1st overall, 4th overall, and three 2nd rounders – including two at the very top of the 2nd) straight up for Russell Wilson, I think the Seahawks do that in a heartbeat and I think I’d do that too.  It’s crazy, of course, because that trade would never happen …

Or would it?

Jim Plunkett is best known as a 2-time Super Bowl champion of the early-80s Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders.  However, he was a #1 overall draft pick of the New England Patriots back in 1971.  After five pretty mediocre seasons as the Patriots’ starting quarterback, he was traded to the San Francisco 49ers for three 1st rounders, a 2nd rounder, and a player.  That was after a season full of injuries and being benched in favor of a rookie!  So, it’s not like Plunkett was in Russell Wilson’s league when this deal went down.  And yet, the 49ers paid and paid handsomely, because they were a struggling franchise with a moron owner/general manager.  And, that’s just it.  Bad teams make terrible decisions all the time.  Would the Browns over-pay for someone like Russell Wilson, to have him come in and be the savior of the franchise?  It wouldn’t shock me one bit.

But, again, as I’ve said repeatedly, unless the deal was crazy insane bonkers in our favor, I’m not trading a franchise quarterback in his prime.  There’s a way to turn this thing around without going to such extremes.

Seahawks Throttle Jets Before Well-Deserved BYE Week

The lasting image I’ve taken away from this game – the first thing that’ll come to mind as the season goes on and I’m reminded of the week we went to New Jersey to play the Jets – isn’t Russell Wilson’s heroism, or Jimmy Graham’s demolition of everything in his path, or even the fact that we flew across the country and dominated in a 10am west coast start time that would’ve been unheard of 10 years or even 5 years ago.  While those are all great storylines that I’ll gladly talk about below, the really fascinating part of this game was the Brandon Marshall vs. Richard Sherman matchup, and Ryan Fitzpatrick’s fearlessness in trying to exploit it.

Richard Sherman doesn’t follow the other team’s #1 receiver every game.  Part of that is many teams don’t have a TRUE #1 receiver worthy of all the attention, part of that is our scheme is so sound and our other cornerbacks are pretty good in their own rights.  So, when Sherm does the unusual, like he did on Sunday, it’s noteworthy.  Hell, it’s appointment television!  And, this matchup didn’t disappoint.

Brandon Marshall IS a true #1 receiver.  He is, indeed, probably one of the top five most gifted and dominant receivers in all of football.  People don’t usually throw his name into the mix as much as they should because he’s 32 years old, he’s bounced around to now his fourth team in a tumultuous career, and he’s rarely – if ever – had a really elite quarterback throwing him the ball.  But, I’ll tell you this much, he’s had eight 1,000+ yard receiving seasons (including at least one with four different teams, which I believe is an NFL record), and he’s had 6 seasons with 100+ receptions.  This is a bona fide NFL Hall of Fame talent, and maybe a first ballot guy at that.

I mean, just look at the list of quarterbacks he’s made look like Pro Bowlers:

  • Jay Cutler
  • Kyle Orton
  • Chad Henne
  • Matt Moore
  • Jay Cutler again
  • Josh McCown
  • Ryan Fitzpatrick

If that isn’t a who’s who of utter crap, I don’t know what to tell you!

So, when I caught on to what Richard Sherman was trying to do, that game took on another level of intrigue.  Now, it didn’t hurt that Eric Decker was out with injury.  While Decker isn’t in Marshall’s league, he’s still a quality, veteran receiver and a consummate #2 guy who will do his share of the damage if the opposing team focuses too much on Marshall.  I wonder, with a fully healthy Decker, if Sherm still would’ve followed Marshall, or if we would’ve played it straight.

Either way, he did follow Marshall around, and it was absolutely the right thing to do.  There’s no doubt in my mind – with the way Fitzpatrick was already trying to pick on Sherm, because we left him out there on an island (so to speak) – that had we stuck with our regular defense, Marshall would’ve lined up against Shead probably 80% of the game, and he would’ve destroyed us for 200+ yards and maybe a couple more touchdowns.  And, believe me, I like Shead!  I just think there’s another class of cornerback above Shead (a class that Richard Sherman is in), and it takes a guy IN that class to try to shut down a quality receiver like Marshall.

I mean, hell, as it was, with Sherm on him all day, Marshall STILL caught 4 balls for 89 yards and the first receiving touchdown this defense has given up this season!  You’re telling me those numbers wouldn’t EASILY be doubled with Shead guarding him predominantly throughout the game?  Unless we would’ve shaded our safeties to his side on the reg, which isn’t really the way we like to play defense.

Anyway, it looked like it was going to pay off for the Jets.  Marshall got the lion’s share of his catches and yards in the first half – including the touchdown right before halftime that looked very un-Sherm, as he was unable to get his head turned around to look for the ball – but after a VERY bullshit pass interference call on Sherm in the second half, Fitz was caught with his hand in the cookie jar one too many times, and Sherm cut it off at the wrist with the first of two interceptions for him on the day.  EASILY the most satisfying interception I’ve seen him catch, probably since the 2013 game at Houston, as it came immediately after the bullshit flag.

In the end, the Sherman vs. Marshall matchup went about as well as you’d expect.  Marshall got his licks in early – because you’re not going to COMPLETELY eliminate a guy of his calibre – but ultimately Sherman won the day, and not just because the Seahawks came away with a victory.  Yes, Marshall had 4 receptions, but he was targeted 12 times.  Yes, Marshall got the TD, but Sherm got 2 INTs.  Yes, the Jets were able to exploit that matchup a little bit in the first half, but Sherman put Marshall on lock in the second half, and that was all she wrote.

Honestly, more than anything, I was shocked Fitzpatrick kept trying to go that way!  I understand the rationale – in the NFL, you love to go to a 1 on 1 matchup with a hall of fame receiver all day every day – but it just seems like eventually you’re going to get snakebitten.  I kept thinking that throughout the first half:  one of these times, Sherm is going to get his, and it’s going to be glorious.  It also makes sense in the fact that they really didn’t really have anyone else to throw to.  Decker was out.  Quincy Enunwa is a nice story as a second year possession receiver, but he’s not even at Decker’s level, let alone Marshall’s.  Behind him, there’s no one.  The Jets haven’t even completed a pass to a tight end in over a year!  Other than Enunwa, they had the two running backs to throw to.  While Bilal Powell had a nice game, and a couple of catches for first downs, that’s essentially playing right into our hands if they do that all day.  So, really, Fitzpatrick had no choice but to go to Marshall as if he was being guarded by Just Another Guy!  Nevertheless, it doesn’t make him look like any smarter of a person (Harvard education or not), but them’s the breaks in the National Football League.

***

Moving on to other things, Russell Wilson looked phenomenal.  Again, he was hampered by injuries, but I gotta think his ankle – if it’s not back to normal yet – will be fine by our next game in a couple weeks.  And, wearing the brace on his knee, while it slowed him a little bit – and most certainly took away a lot of our zone read plays – still allowed him to move around a little bit when he needed to.  I don’t think we’re going to see Wilson go full Tarkenton for a few more weeks yet (maybe in the second half of the season), but he’s upright, he’s mobile enough, and he’s making enough plays in the pocket to re-introduce the narrative of him taking that next step to Elite status (regardless of what many national pundits think; which, do they even bother watching ANY tape before crafting their hot taeks?).

Wilson completed 23 of 32 passes for 309 yards and 3 TDs.  8 of those 23 completions were of 15 yards or more.  He was, for the most part, on time, and dropping dimes into windows only our receivers could get to.

One of those receivers taking the bulk of the yards in this one was Jimmy Graham, who caught 6 more balls for 113 yards, which puts him on a 2-week run (since we opened him up to the full playbook and the full allotment of offensive plays) of 12 receptions for 213 yards and a touchdown.  He came up particularly huge in yesterday’s game, given the fact that Baldwin was held to just 4 catches for 54 yards.

As usual, Wilson did his thing when it comes to spreading the ball around.  8 different players caught at least one pass, including Tanner McEvoy’s first-ever reception (a WIDE open 42-yard touchdown in the second quarter), and C.J. Spiller’s first-ever Seahawks reception for a touchdown (after having just been signed earlier this week off the streets).

The offensive line did its job against a remarkable defensive line.  It wasn’t able to open up as many rushing lanes as you’d like, but that’s to be expected.  What was awesome was how much time it afforded Russell Wilson to pass the ball.  Sure, there were some pressures, and a couple sacks, but this O-Line isn’t ever going to be perfect.  As long as it can limit the damage as it’s been doing for the most part this season, and (even bigger) avoid excessive penalties that put us behind the chains, we’ll be just fine with this much-maligned group.

Germain Ifedi got his first start in replacing J’Marcus Webb, and had some good times and some bad times, but I have no doubt in my mind that he was better than what we would’ve gotten with Webb against that group.  Furthermore, going forward, we’re in MUCH better hands with Ifedi, as long as we can keep him off the trainer’s table.  We have this week off, which is a godsend to everyone with nagging injuries, but even better:  we face a much more reasonable slate of D-Lines going forward.  In the Nothing Special department, we face:  Atlanta, Arizona, New Orleans, Buffalo, New England, Philly, and Tampa in the next seven games.  The rest of the way, depending on injuries, we only have to be concerned about the D-Lines of Carolina, Los Angeles, and maybe Green Bay, and that’s it!  So, grey skies are gonna clear up, folks.

Great games by Bobby Wagner, Earl Thomas (who got his first pick of the season), K.J. Wright, and our D-Line as usual.  We ended up with 4 sacks on the day, a bunch of QB hits, and we held them to 58 yards rushing on the day.  If it weren’t for a crazy play involving the quarterback being strip-sacked, fumbling the ball about 10 yards forward, where a receiver picked it up and ran it into the endzone while everyone else on the field thought it was an incomplete pass, our points-against number would look a lot better than it does.  With that, and those two garbage time TDs by the 49ers last week, that’s a good 22 points we’re going to have to make up if we want to hold onto our championship belt of fewest points allowed in a season!

This one was fun.  Now, let’s all rest up and get ready to put the whuppin’ on the Falcons in two weeks.

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.

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 12

Get a load of this clown and then come on back.

If you give two shits about Marshawn Lynch not talking to the media, then you either need to find some more meaningful shit to do with your life, or you’re a self-righteous, self-important member of the media who needs to find some more meaningful shit to do with your life.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying ALL members of the media are pompous windbags who start immediately sniffing their own farts once they smugly turn in one of their articles or click “Publish” on their blog posts.  Indeed, I enjoy the works of many of our local beat writers and such.  And I’m sure they’d LIKE it if Lynch would talk more, and give more satisfying answers to their questions – Lynch is a unique person and as a fan, I’m sure I’d be endlessly entertained if I had the opportunity to sit around and bullshit with Beastmode – but they understand Lynch’s stance of not talking to the media.

It’s when you start talking about these national guys and gals.  The people who survived the struggle of local sports coverage and really “made it” in the bigtime.  These people who think it’s their job to police everything media related, even when they only have about a quarter of the actual story.  The same people who read a misleading headline and automatically label Lynch as disgruntled without any insider knowledge whatsoever.  They like to make you BELIEVE they have all this insider info, but few of them ever do.

Here’s the lo-down, from what I can tell:  one of these members of the national media tattled on Lynch, because he wasn’t talking to anyone after games.  The NFL, in turn, fined Lynch for continuing to not talk (after a brief reprieve on Media Day during Super Bowl week earlier this year).  As such, hoping not to be fined further, Lynch sat down and gave a ridiculous Q&A session to some reporters around his locker after the game last week.

Were Lynch’s actions juvenile?  Yes.  But, that’s because the NFL’s actions – and the media’s REACTION – towards this whole thing is fucking disgraceful.

I understand the rules the NFL sets out.  If you play in the NFL, you have to abide by the rules, or else you’ll get punished.  In this case, the punishment is in fines collected.  Considering he’s a millionaire, I’m sure he can afford it, so don’t think I’m sitting here defending a one-percenter because he’s inconvenienced out of some pocket change.

But, the rules are fucking retarded, and this Ed Sherman guy takes the retard cake.  In his post – linked above – he talks about the struggle the NFL faced many, many, MANY decades ago, when it was a fledgling sport trying to gain traction in a baseball-obsessed world.  Yes, I’m sure in the 1920s and 30s, the print media was king, and so it behooved the NFL to kowtow to the newspaper writers in order to get attention, sell tickets, and ultimately bloat the league into the monster it is today.

But, guess what?  Print media isn’t king anymore.  And, besides that, the media needs the NFL WAY more than the NFL needs the media.  How do you sell papers?  Or, more importantly, how do you generate clicks on the Internet?  You write about what people want to read about.  In this case, the NFL is king, and without access to it, what would all these sportswriters do for a living?

Let’s take this to its illogical conclusion:  if we let one guy ignore the media, what’s to stop the next guy, and the next guy?  Hell, what’s to stop every single player from ignoring the media?  That’s the argument they’re trying to make, right?  Surely, society would collapse upon itself!  Surely, without the almighty written word of beat writers and national pundits, the NFL would fold and the American public would have to spend time with their families on Sundays during the fall and winter months!

Oh, wait, that wouldn’t happen at all.  People would still watch the NFL, because people can’t get enough of football.  “Mutter(ing) a few short answers,” and “throw(ing) in a cliché or two” won’t make a fuck-all of difference.  What Ed Sherman is proposing is that everyone just “plays the game” and we’ll all go home happy.  Except, you’re forgetting one thing:  the overwhelming majority of sports fans HATE clichéd answers to their bullshit questions!  Sports clichés have a lower approval rating than the fucking U.S. Congress!

And, besides ALL of that, NFL players aren’t going to simply up and stop talking to the media.  Why?  Because many NFL players are still businessmen at heart.  Some have aspirations after football.  Those aspirations usually include some role in the very media we’re talking about!  Even if Richard Sherman doesn’t have an ounce of interest in being a studio analyst after football, or being a color analyst, or hosting his own sports-related talk show, he knows he has a brand and a persona that he wants the world to see.  The sky is the limit for someone like Richard Sherman BECAUSE he’s so good with the media, talking to large crowds and before the cameras and whatnot.

Marshawn Lynch, and people like Marshawn Lynch, who might not necessarily have any post-football aspirations to be in the public life, shouldn’t be required to do something they’re obviously uncomfortable doing, for whatever reason.  It’s another form of bullying and it’s absolutely unacceptable to hold someone to this asinine rule just because the media used to be important to the NFL’s fledgling success back in its infancy!

I’ll say this loud enough for you to hear:

FANS DON’T GIVE A SHIT IF MARSHAWN LYNCH TALKS OR NOT.

The only people who care are these elitist fuckwads like Ed Sherman.  Fuckwads who end up running off and crying to Papa Goodell because the bad man won’t talk words to us when we want him to!  Grow up.  No one is sympathetic to members of the media.  At all.  You earn your living by writing about professional sports; you pretty much have the best jobs in the world outside of people actually PLAYING those sports.  If you can’t “do you job” because a few guys won’t talk to you, then obviously you’re not very good at your job.  Quotes from Marshawn Lynch won’t make or break your story.  Just talk to the punter, obtain a cliché or two, and you’re out the door.

It really isn’t that difficult.

***

  1. New England Patriots (9-2) – The curse of the #1 team is in full effect; you’ve been warned.
  2. Denver Broncos (8-3) – Some serious holes with this Broncos team, but either way, it should be a fun AFC playoffs.
  3. Green Bay Packers (8-3) – This defense isn’t as good as advertised.  Better than last year, sure, but they’re not going to continue to dominate the rest of the way.
  4. Arizona Cardinals (9-2) – I don’t know if it’s fair to expect the Cards to come into Seattle and win that game.  Did we expose some flaws in their overall scheme?  I’d like to think so, but I’m not sure the New England Patriots themselves could have come up here and won that game, with the way our defense was playing.  That game was more about how the Seahawks FINALLY brought their A-Game more than the Cardinals struggling or otherwise regressing back to the mean (hopefully we’ll see signs of that when we go down to Glendale in December).
  5. Indianapolis Colts (7-4) – When I saw that T.Y. Hilton was about to be a father on Sunday morning, I would have bet everything I own on him scoring a touchdown that day.  Luckily, he’s a major factor on my fantasy team, so all’s well that ends well.
  6. Detroit Lions (7-4) – Hitting a bit of a rough patch.  I had no idea their offense was this inept!  With Stafford, Johnson, and Tate, they should be putting up 30 points a game!  I still have faith in the Lions, but it’s good to see them lose a few games.  The last thing I need is another amazing run defense weaseling its way into the playoffs.
  7. Philadelphia Eagles (8-3) – The Eagles would get more credit in my eyes as soon as they use Mark Sanchez to win a football game against a good opponent.
  8. Kansas City Chiefs (7-4) – A loss to the Raiders = moving down in my rankings.
  9. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-4) – Pretty jealous of anyone who gets a week 12 BYE.  This is the last time I’ll get to say this, but the NFL needs to fix this shit.  Starting next year:  two BYE weeks for each team.  Get on it.
  10. San Francisco 49ers (7-4) – It’s mindblowing how bad their offense is right now.
  11. Dallas Cowboys (8-3) – Oh, I wish they would’ve blown that game against the Giants.
  12. San Diego Chargers (7-4) – It took a goalline interception by their defense to beat the Rams, but that might be the play that saves their season.  Good for them.
  13. Seattle Seahawks (7-4) – Forget the Seahawks, I need them to beat the 49ers this week!  If I have to go 10 days between Thanksgiving and the next game in Philly, stewing over a loss to the Santa Clara Fuckwads, I might go insane.
  14. Cincinnati Bengals (7-3-1) – Just don’t figure them to win many games when the national spotlight is focused on them and they’re sure to go far.  What are the odds the Bengals can get the NFL to televise all of their playoff games within the region of Cincinnati and its opponent exclusively?
  15. Baltimore Ravens (7-4) – That’s a nice win down in New Orleans, but it’s not THAT nice.  Let’s see them run the ball that well against a respectable defense, then we’ll talk.
  16. Miami Dolphins (6-5) – Season hanging on by a thread; things should get easier with 3 of their remaining 5 games against the Jets and Vikings.

The Loser’s Bracket:

  1. St. Louis Rams (4-7) – I don’t care that they’re 4-7, they’re better than the Browns!  And, obviously, they’re better than a few of the teams in the winner’s bracket.
  2. Cleveland Browns (7-4) – Didn’t deserve to beat the Falcons.  Then again, they didn’t deserve to beat the Browns.  This one should have been decided by penalty kicks.
  3. Houston Texans (5-6) – If their defense hadn’t scored that touchdown off of an interception, it would’ve been a terrible fantasy week for them.  How you gonna let the Bengals move the ball up and down the field like that?
  4. New Orleans Saints (4-7) – Not gonna lie to you, I really wasn’t prepared for the Saints to lose to the Ravens.  I understand the defense is pretty brutal, but why is the offense so inept so often?
  5. Buffalo Bills (6-5) – That Mario Williams is a nasty mofo.
  6. Chicago Bears (5-6) – They’re hovering, but they won’t sneak up on anyone.
  7. Atlanta Falcons (4-7) – Mike Smith is the most toothless, spineless, ineffectual head coach in the NFL when it comes to managing the game.  If anyone ever tries to point to Andy Reid or Jim Caldwell, you send them over to see me.
  8. Carolina Panthers (3-7-1) – Hello darkness, my old friend.
  9. Minnesota Vikings (4-7) – Did they … did they play this week?  They did, right?
  10. New York Giants (3-8) – You are one pathetic loser!
  11. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-9) – More like Josh McCLOWN, am I right?
  12. Washington Redskins (3-8) – You had one job:  beat the 49ers.  ONE JOB.
  13. New York Jets (2-9) – Wow.
  14. Tennessee Titans (2-9) – There are no words.
  15. Oakland Raiders (1-10) – Those defenders celebrating after that 3rd down sack, almost resulting in the Raiders being penalized for being 30 yards offsides on the 4th down snap are my favorite things I’ll see all year in the NFL, except maybe for that ODB catch Sunday night.
  16. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-10) – Now, this feels right, doesn’t it?

Seattle Sports Hell 2014 NFL Power Rankings – Week 10

The storyline for the week has been something along the lines of:  Marshawn Lynch isn’t likely to be back next season, but the Seahawks would be foolish to let him go.

This talk, quite frankly, is defeatist.  EVENTUALLY, at some point, the Seahawks are going to have to find a way to move on from Marshawn Lynch.  He’s not going to play forever.  And he’s NOT going to be here through the life of Russell Wilson’s career.  So, really, what are we talking about?  Delaying the inevitable?

I’m not saying it’s going to be peaches and cream if and when Marshawn Lynch is let go, but it’s not like we’re stuck with chopped liver in his absence.  Granted, there isn’t a running back on this team right now quite like Beastmode.  But, that’s a little unfair, because there isn’t a running back on this PLANET quite like Beastmode.  Are you kidding me?  His toughness, his ability to break tackles, his skill as a pass catcher, his durability to play every down if we needed him to, there is NOT anyone like him.  Anywhere.

But, there’s a distinction there.  I didn’t say Marshawn Lynch is the “best” running back in the league.  Just that there’s no one else like him.  And that’s true.  Marshawn Lynch is, indeed, the best running back on the Seahawks, but I’m not so sure I’d go as far as to say he’s the best in the NFL.  He’s in the discussion, I guess, but what does it all boil down to when you’re talking about running backs?

Yards.  Yards and touchdowns.  Right now, Lynch is fifth in the NFL in rushing yards, but he’s tops in the NFL in rushing touchdowns after his 4-TD game last week.  Those are great figures, and this team is better for having him.  But, is it fair to say this team would be sunk without him?

Robert Turbin is probably best suited as a backup running back.  I can’t see him breaking any records as a starter.  But, among backups, I’d rate him near the top.  He COULD start in this league and, I think, be pretty effective.  He’s got the tools, he runs hard, he can catch the ball, he blocks well.  He’s a clear step down from Beastmode, but who isn’t?

Then, there’s Christine Michael.  The Great Running Back Hope.  Our second round draft pick in 2013.  At the moment, he’s a big unknown.  He hasn’t played a whole lot because of speculative issues with his blocking or having his head screwed on straight or whatever.  Really, he hasn’t been playing because there’s a Top 5 Running Back In The NFL ahead of him, plus a quality backup with more experience also ahead of him.  Teams don’t tend to run with 3-headed hydras in their backfield unless they’re one of those unfortunate teams who simply DON’T have a true #1 running back.

What we think we know about Michael is that he’s got game-breaking speed and toughness.  The sky is the limit with this kid, but first he needs to get playing time outside of the preseason so he can let us know where he’s at.  I happen to think he could be something special with the ball in his hands.  But, again, what do I know?

I don’t have a problem with how we’ve used the running backs this year.  Lynch is getting his periodic rest, the backups are getting some work in, and quite frankly the Seahawks have one of the best running back units in the NFL.  I wouldn’t even have a problem with the Seahawks honoring Lynch’s deal and bringing him back for 2015.  He is, after all, one of my favorite players on this team, and I’d love to watch him do what he does for another year.

But, we do need to be thinking about the future as well.  If the front office feels that it’s time to move in a different direction after this season.  Or, if Beastmode wants out, to try to get a big deal on the open market, I’m not going to be too sad.  I just want things to end amicably, so I can look back on Marshawn Lynch with the fond memories his tenure here in Seattle deserves.  That means not keeping him here too long, past his prime, where we only grow to resent him as he makes millions of dollars he doesn’t deserve.  Likewise, that also doesn’t mean keeping him here against his will, on a 2015 contract that isn’t indicative of his true value to this team.  If 2014 has to be the last year he’s here, I’m not going to throw a fit.  The Seahawks will find a way to move on, I promise.  There are two quality backs here, plus a whole draft to pick up a third.

Getting even 75% of Marshawn Lynch going forward should still be pretty damn good.

***

  1. Denver Broncos (7-2) – I’d like to point out that my fantasy team is 2-0 this year against Peyton Manning, but Honky Hoedown is dreading the inevitable third showdown in the playoffs.
  2. Arizona Cardinals (8-1) – This is about the time I’d set Arizona way down the list on the ol’ Power Rankings, but they’ve continued to win games even without Carson Palmer, so fuck that.
  3. Detroit Lions (7-2) – You don’t want to face this team in the playoffs.
  4. New England Patriots (7-2) – Words cannot describe how excited I am for this Patriots/Colts game this week.
  5. Indianapolis Colts (6-3) – Colts are at home, they’ve got a great quarterback who’s prone to making mistakes from time to time.  But, he’s also prone to overcoming those mistakes.  Again, should be a great, GREAT game.
  6. Green Bay Packers (6-3) – No doubt about it, the Packers are better than the Bears.
  7. Kansas City Chiefs (6-3) – Good defense, great running game, solid quarterback.  This team is legit and it’ll be impressive if the Seahawks beat them this week.
  8. Seattle Seahawks (6-3) – Going to have to play mistake-free football, or as close to mistake-free as it gets.
  9. Pittsburgh Steelers (6-4) – So, the Steelers only have two numbers retired after Mean Joe Greene last week?  What number do they have reserved for their Fans to wear, then?
  10. Philadelphia Eagles (7-2) – I’m going to need to see an extended period of greatness with Sanchez behind center before I’m willing to move them up.  And, if it happens, then I’ve gott ask:  what is it about Chip Kelly’s offense that turns even the biggest piles of crap into winners?
  11. Dallas Cowboys (7-3) – Talk to me in December when you’re NOT blowing games you should win.
  12. Cincinnati Bengals (5-3-1) – The last straw for Cincy’s defense in fantasy was laying a huge turd against the Browns.
  13. San Francisco 49ers (5-4) – Drew Brees saved your season.  How do you feel about that?
  14. Miami Dolphins (5-4) – That’s a tough team with a hard-luck loss against an elite Lions team.  Miami is on the rise, no doubt about it.
  15. San Diego Chargers (5-4) – On the fall, we have the Chargers.  Probably too late to turn it around.
  16. New Orleans Saints (4-5) – It’s never too late when you play in the pathetic NFC South!  I can’t believe I thought this would be the best division in football before the season.
  17. Baltimore Ravens (6-4) – Even though they’ve got a decent record, I don’t see the Ravens as a playoff team.
  18. Cleveland Browns (6-3) – See:  what I said about the Ravens.
  19. Carolina Panthers (3-6-1) – Hello darkness, my old friend.
  20. Houston Texans (4-5) – On the plus side, I didn’t see J.J. Watt’s commercial all weekend, and neither did you.
  21. Chicago Bears (3-6) – How many Bears fans would go back in time, trade Cutler to the Bucs for a couple draft picks, and retain Josh McCown for pennies on the dollar?  Is it more than 50%?  75%?
  22. Buffalo Bills (5-4) – Kyle Orton isn’t the solution you were looking for.
  23. New York Giants (3-6) – You are one pathetic loser!
  24. St. Louis Rams (3-6) – It’s never going to happen with Jeff Fisher & the Rams, there I said it.
  25. Atlanta Falcons (3-6) – The question remains:  do I keep Matt Ryan in my fantasy league?  It’s a QB-centric league, which means it’s closer to real life (quarterbacks are the most important players on the football field, so why shouldn’t they be the most important players in fantasy football?).  I have to believe that Matt Ryan is going to get improved offensive line play next year.  But, what I need to know is:  is Matt Ryan an elite quarterback?  On that, I’m not so sure.
  26. Minnesota Vikings (4-5) – Wouldn’t it be weird if Adrian Peterson returned and led the Vikings to a Wild Card?  I’ve gotten so used to an Adrian Peterson-free league.
  27. Washington Redskins (3-6) – Better with RGIII, I guess.
  28. New York Jets (2-8) – Better with Vick, I guess.
  29. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-8) – Better with McCown, not so much.
  30. Tennessee Titans (2-7) – A-yup.
  31. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-9) – Woof.
  32. Oakland Raiders (0-9) – Yiminy.

Predicting The 2014 NFL Season

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

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

NFC East

Philadelphia
NY Giants
Dallas
Washington

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

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

NFC North

Detroit
Green Bay
Chicago
Minnesota

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

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

NFC South

New Orleans
Atlanta
Tampa Bay
Carolina

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

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

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

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

NFC West

Seattle
San Francisco
St. Louis
Arizona

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

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

AFC East

New England
Miami
NY Jets
Buffalo

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

AFC North

Cincinnati
Pittsburgh
Baltimore
Cleveland

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

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

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

AFC South

Indianapolis
Jacksonville
Tennessee
Houston

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

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

AFC West

Denver
San Diego
Kansas City
Oakland

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

NFC Playoffs

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

AFC Playoffs

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

Wild Card Round

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

Divisional Round

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

Championship Round

Seattle over New Orleans
Denver over Indianapolis

Super Bowl

Seattle over Denver

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

My thing is – and I’ll deny it to my grave if I’m wrong – I have a SERIOUS nagging worry that the Seahawks and Denver will both make it back to the Super Bowl, but it’ll be the Broncos hoisting the Lombardi trophy while we sit and watch, devastated.  Again, that’s not what I THINK will happen, but it’ll always be in the back of my mind until Peyton Manning breaks an ankle around midseason and completely blows up this predictions post.

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

Seattle Sports Hell 2013 NFL Power Rankings – Week 16

Had all gone according to plan, one of two things would have happened:  either the Seahawks would be 13-2 right now, having beaten the Arizona Cardinals last Sunday, or the Atlanta Falcons would’ve completed their comeback last night and knocked the 49ers out of the running for the NFC West title.  Shockingly (regarding the Seahawks’ defeat) and yet predictably (regarding Atlanta Couging it), we’re here right now needing one of two things to happen:  either the Seahawks finish the season 13-3, having beaten the St. Louis Rams next Sunday, or the Arizona Cardinals do their best Arizona Cardinals impression by taking out the 49ers (also next Sunday).

This part of my Tuesday post was supposed to be about what the Seahawks should do now that they’ve got the #1 seed all wrapped up.  Various schools of thought abound.  Some say:  give your starters the week off.  The rest (and eliminating the risk of injury) is far more important than whatever hocus pocus you believe in with regards to momentum or “staying in rhythm”.  For every team that lost in the divisional round after resting their starters for two weeks, you’ll find a team that went to the Super Bowl after resting their starters for two weeks.  That theory is in direct conflict with the Rust Theory.  Want your players to get rusty?  Then, by all means, take them out of their regular weekly routine.  It’s better to keep playing every week; why, just look at such and such team that played all their starters even though they didn’t need to!  They didn’t get injured and never missed a beat through the playoffs!

My solution is pretty simple:  treat this like the final pre-season game.  Split reps in practice, then play the starters for one quarter (or two series apiece).  It gives them a chance to get their work in, it gives the starters a chance to go through the regular start-of-game ritual, it lets the starters run around and get hit a little bit, it lets the starters rest after the first drive, and it has the starters come back out after resting.

Of course, there are caveats.  First and foremost, if any prized starter is knicked up in the least, you don’t play that prized starter.  Anyone you see with a little gimp (like a certain set of wide receivers), anyone with a history of back issues (Marshawn Lynch), anyone who COULD play – if the game mattered – but probably shouldn’t play … that guy is getting his helmet taken away, end of story.

The main positives are twofold:

  1. You rest your stars, limiting the opportunity for injury, while still letting them get some reps in
  2. You give your backups extended playing time, just in case they’re needed if someone goes down in the playoffs

This was supposed to be what we looked forward to next Sunday.  Instead, we’ve got agita and doubt.  UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES DID I WANT MARSHAWN LYNCH PLAYING AGAINST THIS RAMS FRONT SEVEN!  If anyone could use a week (or two) off, it’s Lynch!  I want him fresh as fresh can be for this championship run!  I don’t want him getting banged around by yet ANOTHER awesome-sauce front seven!

This fucking sucks like you would not believe.  I hate the Rams.  I don’t hate the Rams like I hate the 49ers or Cardinals.  I hate the Rams because they scare me.  I hate the Rams like you hate a respected rival who ISN’T a total cock & balls.  The Rams fans don’t give a shit about buying a billboard in your town; the Rams players won’t be on their sideline eating Skittles just to taunt us.  They just go out, bust their asses, smack you in the mouth, and give you everything you can fucking handle for 60 God damned minutes.

That having been said, I don’t seriously think they’re going to win on Sunday, but after the Cardinals game, I can’t 100% rule it out either!  I do believe our offense is going to figure its shit out and come out whaling.  Our defense is still the tops in the league and surely won’t take kindly to the Rams doing what the Cardinals did at the end of the game.  Fortunately, the Rams are sort of Cardinals-lite (which means we should handle them a bit easier), but that still doesn’t mean I enjoy the idea of banging bodies with them for four quarters.

This is the kind of game, the kind of matchup, that sees a team run into a slew of injuries.  We’ve spent the past 15 games being tenderized by some of the best defenses in the league, from Carolina to Frisco to Arizona to New Orleans to Houston (when they were decent) to Tennessee (when they were decent) to Tampa (when they almost shocked the world) to the fucking Rams again!  After this week, I’d like to see a ranking of teams, from the Most Dominant Defenses Faced to the least.  I bet the Seahawks would ranke PRETTY high on that list.

Regardless, Objective #1 is to Win The Game.  A distant second would be:  avoid injuries.  Any way you slice it, the Seahawks are going to want that home field advantage, and the only way we’re going to get it is by beating the Rams.  We sure as shit can’t count on the fucking Cardinals!

Isn’t it funny how the Cardinals and the 49ers have been in the same division since 2002 – same time the Seahawks joined – and yet those two teams don’t hate one another NEARLY as much as both of those teams hate the Seahawks.  I’d like to think it’s due to our sustained success since we entered the NFC West, but really it’s just this particular team of the last couple seasons.  They HATE us so much!  The Cardinals hate us so much that they wouldn’t mind so much if they lost on Sunday, as long as it meant the Seahawks fell to the #5 seed.  They hate always hearing about our home field advantage, they hate hearing about our 12th Man, they hate it when we always dominate on Sunday Night & Monday Night Football.  And they hate our players.  Our brash, foul-mouthed, cocky players.  For the Cardinals, last weekend was their Super Bowl.  There’s no WAY they’re able to match that intensity against the 49ers!  Not when they know they’re depending on the 4-11 Bucs to go into New Orleans and somehow come away victorious; it’s never going to happen!  The Cards, as of that Interception Return For Touchdown last night against the Falcons, are done.

Sure, they’ll try to win the game, like all athletes do when on the field of battle.  They’re not just going to roll over and let the 49ers walk into the endzone.  But, they’re not going to be NEARLY as Berzerker as they were against the Seahawks.  And, because they’re the fucking Cardinals, they’re surely going to show their true colors.  Carson Palmer will be just as ineffective and reckless with the football.  Their receivers will be just as mediocre.  Their running game won’t be nearly as effective.  And, their defense will forget all about what they did against Russell Wilson and let Colin Kaepernick run wild.  You just watch.

On to the rankings.

***

The Best:

  1. Seattle Seahawks (12-3) – Well, if the Seahawks lose again and fall to the 5-seed, the final Seattle Sports Hell 2013 NFL Power Rankings are going to look VERY different this time next week.
  2. Denver Broncos (12-3) – And Peyton Manning takes over the lead for all time touchdowns thrown in a season.  They’re still not out of the woods, and will almost certainly need to try their hardest next week in order to keep that #1 seed, so look for Manning to only add to his NFL record.

The Second-Best:

  1. Carolina Panthers (11-4) – This team scares me more than any other simply because their defense is so good.
  2. New England Patriots (11-4) – Way to break the spirit of the Baltimore Ravens a week after their miracle victory briefly kept their playoff hopes alive.
  3. New Orleans Saints (10-5) – On the plus side, you clinched a playoff spot.  You just need to win next week, while the Panthers lose to the Falcons, and you still get that division.
  4. San Francisco 49ers (11-4) – Gonna be a shame to see a 12-4 team have to go on the road in the playoffs.  A real fucking tragedy.
  5. Indianapolis Colts (10-5) – With that win, IN Kansas City, and as impressive as it was, you (at least temporarily) earn your way into Contender status.  Don’t blow it.
  6. Kansas City Chiefs (11-4) – Well, that was embarrassing!

The Rest:

  1. Philadelphia Eagles (9-6) – The generic football fan in me hopes they beat Dallas and make the playoffs.  The Seahawks fan in me hopes Dallas comes through, because they’re terrible.
  2. Cincinnati Bengals (10-5) – The good teams find a way to go undefeated at home (currently 7-0 with one game to play).  The great teams figure out a way to be better than .500 on the road; considering you likely won’t have home field throughout, that doesn’t bode well for your playoff chances.
  3. Arizona Cardinals (10-5) – Well, nice job beating us.  You kept your playoff hopes alive for a day.
  4. Baltimore Ravens (8-7) – Did I or did I not predict this would be an 8-8 team when the season started?
  5. Chicago Bears (8-7) – I don’t like Jay Cutler.  Bears fans have to be with me, right?  This team just plays better with McCown (and, not for nothing, so does Matt Forte).
  6. Miami Dolphins (8-7) – You can’t give away the last playoff spot in the AFC!
  7. Detroit Lions (7-8) – Wow Lions.  Just wow.  You went from 7-5 and having the inside track on the division to 7-8 and totally done.
  8. Dallas Cowboys (8-7) – Way to make next week’s game matter!  That’s the Cowboys I know and love.  Always stringing their fans along, then crushing their hopes at the last possible second.  I call it Romo-ing.
  9. St. Louis Rams (7-8) – I really don’t like needing to win against this team.  They’re too good on defense and too well-coached.  I don’t care IF this game is in Seattle, I’m tired of playing the Rams in week 17 to lock up our spot in the playoffs!
  10. San Diego Chargers (8-7) – The Chargers are doing a pretty good job of Romo-ing, themselves.
  11. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-8) – I think it’s absolutely adorable that the Steelers are still somehow “alive” for a playoff spot.
  12. Green Bay Packers (7-7-1) – As soon as I saw it was Matt Flynn one more time, I knew my fantasy week would be doomed once again with a sub-par Jordy Nelson effort.
  13. New York Giants (6-9) – Give them their due, there’s no quit in this team.
  14. New York Jets (7-8) – Somehow, you just had to know the Jets would beat the Browns, even though the Browns have looked pretty decent this second half, while the Jets have been an aborted fetus in a trashcan.
  15. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-11) – I don’t know where you take any hope from this team.  Can Mike Glennon REALLY be the guy?  He doesn’t pass my eyeball-test, but what do I know?
  16. Atlanta Falcons (4-11) – Could’ve done us a solid there by beating the 49ers.  Could’ve REALLY been a pal, but no.
  17. Buffalo Bills (6-9) – Somehow, you just had to know the Bills would break the Dolphins’ hearts.
  18. Cleveland Browns (4-11) – Cleveland, just know that losing was in your best interests.  You’re that much closer to drafting a top 5 bust next year!
  19. Tennessee Titans (6-9) – You weren’t swept by the Jags.  Something for this coaching staff to hang their hats on (as they’re looking for new work this offseason).
  20. Minnesota Vikings (4-10-1) – Way to just lay down and die against the Bengals.  Now THAT’S how you tank!
  21. Oakland Raiders (4-11) – Not to be out-done by the Vikings, the Raiders really screwed their own pooch against the Chargers.
  22. Jacksonville Jaguars (4-11) – Your 2013 Jacksonville Jaguars!  #WhatDrugs
  23. Washington Redskins (3-12) – They looked pretty feisty, but still lost.  I’m telling you, they’re in cahoots with the Rams!
  24. Houston Texans (2-13) – Whatever you do, don’t win next week, and don’t believe that Case Keenum can be a starting quarterback in this league.  Just hope and pray that some team will flip you a late-round draft pick for him and move the fuck away.

Seattle Sports Hell 2013 NFL Power Rankings – Week 11

I tend to have issues with people who consider their own opinions infallible.  Oh, you’re SO important that it’s impossible for you to even be SLIGHTLY wrong?  Fortunately, I don’t feel like this happens much to me in my daily life, but in sports it happens ALL THE TIME.

Referees and umpires.  Who needs ’em, right?  Well, I guess some of these games would devolve into chaos, but you know what?  They shouldn’t have the type of power they have over games.  These sports leagues have done what they can to take back some of that power with “instant replay”, but I would argue that they haven’t gone NEARLY far enough.

In the end, fans don’t REALLY care about how long these games are.  That’s a product of the media, giving voice to people who don’t really exist outside of the media.  Yeah, beat writers and such want the games to be shorter, because they don’t want to sit around for four hours or more doing their jobs.  It’s pretty pathetic when you think about it, but just look at it!  Who is arguing for less time “under the hood?”  It’s media types.  Period.  That’s why you always hear about them complaining whenever a baseball game goes into extra innings.  Oh, you poor thing, you get to write about sports for a living, and you have to stay a little longer!

The only thing fans care about is getting the call right.  It doesn’t matter if the game is 3 hours or 3:30 or even 4 hours.  They want to know they’re getting a game that’s judged fairly.

So, to think it’s okay that certain refs call certain penalties a certain way is an absolute joke.  These players already have to adjust to all the things the other team is throwing at them; now they’ve got to adjust their play to how the refs are calling pass interference?  And, as for baseball, a strike zone is a strike zone, and it shouldn’t matter who is behind the plate or if the batter is left-handed or not!

How would I change things?  For starters, no more umpires calling balls & strikes.  You use whatever technology they have to track balls and strikes and you go by THAT.  Instead of an ump, just have a couple of lights at the backstop:  red for a ball, green for a strike.  Let the umpire stand there if you want, but he’s only in charge of over-riding the system if a batter swings and misses (and the home plate ump no longer gets to stand behind the plate – he stands across from the batter, watching for checked-swings).  Oh, we’re not allowed to question your almighty judgment on balls & strikes with replay?  Fine, then we’re taking the job away from you altogether.

As for everything else in baseball, it’s all automatically reviewed.  There’s a guy from the MLB home office in every stadium, with no affiliation to the umpire’s union, and he calls for a stoppage of the game if there’s a missed call.  Like, a short stop’s phantom tagging of second base on a double play.  That shit won’t fly when I’m in charge!

As for football, all penalties can be reviewed.  I will never understand why teams aren’t allowed to question a penalty!  Or, an egregious non-call.  It’s absolutely absurd that referees get to have all of this unquestioned power over a football game!  Do you understand how many billions of dollars the NFL is worth?  And we’re letting these little panty-waists dictate the results of games?

Again, here, there would be an impartial observer to review penalties.  Someone who knows the rules inside and out, someone who can come on the broadcast and explain things for us (so the stupid refs don’t have to), and someone who won’t be swayed because they were once in Ed Hochuli’s shoes.

Also, I think all reviews in the NFL should be automatic.  Give coaches their two-to-three challenges just in case “Upstairs” doesn’t see something in time, but otherwise I want the game stopped on close calls.

We can do this, people!  If we put our minds to it, we can do anything!  By God, I won’t have another Super Bowl XL!  Not on my watch!

On to the rankings.

***

  1. Denver Broncos (9-1) – Inside track for AFC West, and proof-positive that they’re the #1 team in the NFL.
  2. Seattle Seahawks (10-1) – Most fortunate BYE week of anyone in the NFL.  You’ve earned this rest, Seahawks.

The Rest:

  1. Kansas City Chiefs (9-1) – Not going to call them a pretender, but they’re going to need to play better – and get Jamaal Charles more involved – if they’re going to take down the Broncos.
  2. Carolina Panthers (7-3) – Holy shitballs!  This team is for real!  Boy, are we lucky we caught them early, before Riverboat “Swingin’ Dick” Ron took control.
  3. New England Patriots (7-3) – The Colts gotta be pretty stoked about the Patriots losing like this.  It’ll be a shame for whichever team doesn’t get the #2 seed.  Then again, not as much of a shame as whichever team between the Chiefs/Broncos getting the #5 seed.  There outta be a law.
  4. New Orleans Saints (8-2) – The showdown for the NFC #1 seed in two weeks.  These Saints will lose.
  5. Indianapolis Colts (7-3) – Almost blew that to the Titans.  They will struggle without Reggie Wayne.
  6. San Francisco 49ers (6-4) – Not the same football team without Crabtree.  Now, they’re not even guaranteed to be a playoff team!
  7. Detroit Lions (6-4) – Playing defense like that is going to lose you that division title.
  8. Chicago Bears (6-4) – McCown is not stealing the starter’s job from Cutler.  He will be back in there when he’s healthy … just not a moment sooner.
  9. Philadelphia Eagles (6-5) – Even when Nick Foles doesn’t throw a TD pass, he still scores 30 fantasy points.  Fantasy Juggernaut!
  10. Cincinnati Bengals (7-4) – Not a contender.  But, probably still a division winner.
  11. Arizona Cardinals (6-4) – I would have laughed and laughed if the Jags had beaten them.  As it stands, I’m just laughing and laughing because they have the same record as the 49ers.
  12. Green Bay Packers (5-5) – Will you PLEASE make Matt Flynn your starter?
  13. Miami Dolphins (5-5) – What can you say?  Solid win.  They’re still not a great team, but whatever.
  14. Dallas Cowboys (5-5) – Sorry Cowboys, your season is over.  The Eagles will F your S up.
  15. Baltimore Ravens (4-6) – All it took was one of the worst weather games in NFL history for the Ravens to remember they have Ray Rice on their team.  Fantasy owners would probably appreciate it if you gave him this type of attention the rest of the year.
  16. New York Giants (4-6) – Whoop-dee-doo, they beat up on the Green Bay Packers, BFD.
  17. St. Louis Rams (4-6) – I think the Rams beat the 49ers the next time these two teams play.
  18. New York Jets (5-5) – Wasn’t this team supposed to be good on defense?  I guess it’s hard to be when your offense turns it over so much.
  19. San Diego Chargers (4-6) – Will people finally stop believing that this is a playoff team now?
  20. Cleveland Browns (4-6) – Whatever.
  21. Buffalo Bills (4-7) – Yeah, I dunno.
  22. Tennessee Titans (4-6) – 4-6 record and second place in their divison.  Huh.
  23. Oakland Raiders (4-6) – Now THAT’S how you play with a backup quarterback!
  24. Pittsburgh Steelers (4-6) – The Steelers & The Lions:  A Defensive Pillow Fight For The Ages.
  25. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-8) – This team COULD approach a 7-9 record by season’s end.  Not too shabby after that start.
  26. Washington Redskins (3-7) – And yet, still not out of the NFC Least.
  27. Houston Texans (2-8) – Keenum benched?  What is this world coming to?
  28. Atlanta Falcons (2-8) – Just an awful, awful team.
  29. Minnesota Vikings (2-8) – I guess that’s that for Christian Ponder, yeah?
  30. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-9) – Your 2013 Jacksonville Jaguars.

Seattle Sports Hell 2013 NFL Power Rankings – Week 10

If you don’t like “If The Season Ended Today” posts, then I encourage you to skip all of this and move straight to the power rankings.  If you don’t like both “If The Season Ended Today” AND power rankings posts, then I apologize for wasting your time.  It might not be a total loss though; there’s a new Jacksonville Jaguars YouTube clip you might enjoy (or might find totally bananas).

For the record, if I were wealthy and didn’t have to work a day job anymore, I would spend all of my time finding YouTube clips for all of the teams in my Power Rankings and it would be the most splendid 14 hours you’ve ever spent reading an Internet post.

Anyway, getting back … if the season ended today, the Seattle Seahawks would have the #1 seed, the New Orleans Saints would have the #2 seed, and the Wild Card Round would look like this:

#6 San Francisco @ #3 Detroit
#5 Carolina @ #4 Dallas

If this, indeed, is the way the playoffs shake out (remember, we have another 7 weeks of football to go, so anything could happen), then I’m putting my money on San Francisco and Carolina winning their respective playoff games.  Which would make the Divisional Round look like this:

#6 San Francisco @ #1 Seattle
#5 Carolina @ #2 New Orleans

How sick would THAT be?  Two divisional games IN the Divisional Round!  For the record, I think the Seahawks and Saints both win these games, leaving us with an NFC Championship Game of New Orleans @ Seattle, with the Seahawks winning the rematch and going to the Super Bowl.

Everything that follows is an assumption that the Seahawks will win the #1 seed and have home field advantage throughout the playoffs.

Here’s the thing, there aren’t many teams I legitimately fear, as a Seahawks fan.  If you ranked the above five other playoff teams, in order from Most Feared to Least Feared, it would look something like this:

  1. Carolina
  2. Detroit
  3. New Orleans
  4. San Francisco
  5. Dallas

The 49ers don’t scare me, whatsoever.  You play that game in Seattle, and you’re talking about a team in the 49ers who don’t have a prayer of moving the football on us.  Yes, they have a good defense, but we’ve proven we can move the ball on their defense pretty well.  Carolina, on the other hand …

We’ve looked pretty shitty against the Panthers the last two years.  Granted, those games were on the road, but they’ve still got a ton of talent on the defensive side of the ball.  AND, while they haven’t scored that much against us the last two times we’ve played them, I remember a ton of receiver drops and inopportune fumbles.  If they manage to clean up their act, they could be the second-most dangerous team the Seahawks face.

The first?  Well, let’s do a little tinkering to our playoff roster.

Right now, the teams on the bubble are the Philadelphia Eagles, Arizona Cardinals, Chicago Bears, and Green Bay Packers.  The Eagles are 5-5 and tied with the Cowboys (who currently hold the tie-breaker, but still have a game left to play against the Eagles).  I would be shocked if two teams from the NFC East made the playoffs, so let’s just assume the East gets only one team and leave it at that (besides, you still can’t count out the Giants, even though they’re only 3-6).  The rest of those teams are 5-4, but if the Cardinals find a way to sneak into the playoffs, I’ll eat my hat.

That leaves the Bears and Packers.  The Bears look talented-enough, but is Josh McCown really the guy to hold the fort until Cutler is totally healthy?  They don’t have the easiest schedule in the world, plus they host a week 17 matchup against the Packers that could decide everything.

Which brings me to the Packers, the team I fear the most.  Don’t ask me why.  Just know that the last team I want to see sneak into that 6th seed is the Packers.  It would make me a very happy man for the Bears to just take care of business, but I don’t know if I’m that confident.

If Aaron Rodgers comes back in time for the Thanksgiving game against the Lions, I could see this team going on a run to end all runs.  The Packers will probably lose in New York against the Giants this week, dropping them to 5-5.  After that, they host the Vikings, which could go either way.  If they go 1-1 before Thanksgiving, that puts them at 6-5 with games against Detroit, Chicago, Atlanta, Dallas, and Pittsburgh.  It wouldn’t shock me in the slightest to see this team finish 10-6, a game behind the Lions, and thus forcing them into the 6th seed Wild Card matchup against … the Lions.

What we’ve got going for us is the fact that the 49ers hold a tie-breaker over the Packers thanks to their week 1 win.  So, the 49ers (or, I guess the Panthers) would have to totally fall apart to let the Packers sneak in there with a 6-seed.

Any way you slice it, though, you’re talking about teams coming into Seattle, so my fear is all relative.  Can we be beaten at home?  I guess anything’s possible.  Will we be beaten at home?  I highly doubt it.

On to the rankings.

***

  1. Denver Broncos (8-1) – Got pretty damn conservative in the second half of that game.  Look for similar tightness when the Broncos get in the playoffs and start playing nothing but good teams.
  2. Seattle Seahawks (9-1) – Big, “complete-game” win in Atlanta.  Granted, it’s Atlanta, but you gotta play the teams you’re scheduled to play.

The Rest:

  1. Kansas City Chiefs (9-0) – If they find a way to beat the Broncos, you’ll be looking at a Top 3 followed by “The Rest”.
  2. Carolina Panthers (6-3) – This team is fucking TOUGH!
  3. New England Patriots (7-2) –  Well well well, look who goes into Carolina next week.  Suddenly, it’s the Patriots who should be afraid.
  4. New Orleans Saints (7-2) – Yeah, their offense looked pretty good against the Cowboys.  But, just about every offense looks good against the Cowboys.
  5. Indianapolis Colts (6-3) – HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!  What the shit was that?
  6. San Francisco 49ers (6-3) – Well well well, look who lost a game they probably should’ve won.  WEIRD!  It’s not like I totally called that or anything.
  7. Detroit Lions (6-3) – Absolutely huge win in Chicago!  Looks like my pre-season pick of the Lions winning the division isn’t so mind-blowingly dumb.
  8. Chicago Bears (5-4) – What are you doing bringing Cutler back before he’s fully healthy?  You had a good thing going with McCown taking care of the ball and Forte carrying the mail.
  9. Cincinnati Bengals (6-4) – Not a contender.
  10. Green Bay Packers (5-4) – Well then.  By the time Rodgers comes back, will the Playoffs even be an option?
  11. New York Jets (5-4) – I have no idea about this team.  They play Buffalo, Baltimore, Miami, and Oakland in their next four games.  They could win all four, lose all four, or anything in between and it wouldn’t shock me.
  12. Arizona Cardinals (5-4) – I guess I haven’t paid much attention, but apparently this defense is in the Top 3 or something?  They give up enough points to throw morons like myself off the scent.
  13. Philadelphia Eagles (5-5) – Nick Foles!  And they said it couldn’t be done!  They said he couldn’t be great!
  14. Dallas Cowboys (5-5) – As long as Nick Foles stays healthy, the Cowboys miss out on the playoffs.  It’s as simple as that.
  15. San Diego Chargers (4-5) – I don’t know what to make of a world where Philip Rivers doesn’t throw multiple idiotic interceptions per game.
  16. Miami Dolphins (4-5) – I don’t even know what to say right now.
  17. Baltimore Ravens (4-5) – Just good enough to keep things interesting in the AFC North.  Just bad enough to miss out on the playoffs.
  18. Cleveland Browns (4-5) – This is how weird this season is going:  if the Browns win this week, they will have swept the season series against the Bengals – and the Bengals are the favorite to win the division!
  19. New York Giants (3-6) – Whoop-dee-doo, they beat up on the Oakland Raiders, BFD.
  20. St. Louis Rams (4-6) – Well, I’m going to have to start rating this team higher, if they’re going to look this good.
  21. Houston Texans (2-7) – I guess Keenum can’t do everything.
  22. Atlanta Falcons (2-7) – This ain’t your year.  Pack it in, get a high draft pick, and come back better than ever next year.
  23. Buffalo Bills (3-7) – Young teams will have games like this.  They’ll also have games like the one against Carolina earlier in the year.  You take the good with the bad and hope everyone improves going into next year.
  24. Tennessee Titans (4-5) – Locker can’t stay healthy.  An ex-Husky quarterback who can’t stay healthy in the NFL long enough to make an impact:  where have I seen this before?
  25. Washington Redskins (3-6) – So, I guess we can write off that huge comeback season for the Redskins this year.
  26. Oakland Raiders (3-6) – Wow Raiders.  Just wow.
  27. Pittsburgh Steelers (3-6) – The Steelers can’t work their way back into the playoff picture, can they?
  28. Minnesota Vikings (2-7) – Hey, way to go on Thursday night!  Way to make the Seahawks’ strength of schedule just a wee bit better.
  29. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-8) – HEY NOW!!!  No more winless teams!  I knew you could do it!
  30. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-8) – Your 2013 Jacksonville Jaguars.