My Unhelpful Preview Of Tonight’s Seahawks/Cardinals Game

The Seahawks just have to win.  That’s it!  End of post!  It’s patently ridiculous that the Seahawks are at this point, it’s ridiculous that they lost to the Redskins last week, and frankly it’s ridiculous how they’ve lost all three of those games this season.  We’re a game behind the Rams now – who look like a fucking murderer’s row the way they’re beating some of these teams (although, curiously, they too lost a home game to the Redskins, which just might be one of those teams unaffected by the 3-timezone change) – and if you haven’t seen their schedule, it’s so close to Seattle’s it’s eerie!

Their AFC road games are at the Jags and Titans, as are ours.  Their road NFC East games are at the Cowboys and Giants, as are ours.  They play last year’s 3rd place NFC South team – the Saints – at home; we play last year’s 1st place NFC South team – the Falcons – at home.  They play last year’s 3rd place NFC North team – the Vikings – on the road; we play last year’s 1st place NFC North team – the Packers – on the road.  Literally the only difference is the order in which we play these teams.  Which thus far has hurt the Seahawks, because we had to grapple with Aaron Rodgers and Deshaun Watson when they were still healthy; they avoid Watson, and get to face whatever backup Vikings QB is in the lineup in two weeks.

If I’m being honest, it’s hard to find two more losses on the Rams’ schedule, unless they start suffering significant injuries.  Their toughest games are both at home, against the Saints and Eagles.  Other than that, MAYBE the Vikings’ defense poses some threat, but I’m not really a believer in those guys.  So, either the Seahawks need to win their remaining 8 games – including at home against the Rams to take the season head-to-head tie-breaker – or the Rams need to start dropping some games they should otherwise win.

Also, not for nothing, but going 8-0 is pretty much a prerequisite for getting a first round BYE in the playoffs, which sounds pretty impossible when you’ve got the Falcons and Eagles at home, and the Jags and Cowboys on the road.  You scoff at the Jags, but have you SEEN their defense?  Now imagine those guys going up against this Seattle offense (particularly this Seattle offensive line), and understand the game is in Florida, at 10am Pacific time, and you’ll see why I’m freaking out here.

That’s obviously getting ahead of things by quite a bit.  Taking this second half of the season as one big chunk is insane; we’re going to have to take this one game at a time, just like Russell Wilson always says.  Forget about everything else, the Seahawks just need to go 1-0 tonight.

Of course, they SHOULD go 1-0 tonight, because the Cards are pretty terrible.  But, they also SHOULD have gone 1-0 last week at home against the Redskins, and you saw what happened.  Remember last year, when the Seahawks SHOULD have won down in Arizona, but dicked around all night and ended up with a 6-6 tie?  Remember why that happened?  Remember a certain kicker missing a certain number of field goals to cost this team a win?  Remember how that kicker frequently missed kicks down in Arizona because their field is garbage?  And remember how that kicker is now kicking in Buffalo, and the Seahawks went and signed Blair Walsh for some God-foresaken reason?

That 6-6 football game last year was EASILY the worst game of the entire season, across the entire NFL.  I’m just saying, don’t be shocked if we’re in for something similar tonight.

We all know Arizona is awful.  Their record is 4-4, which sounds insane, until you’ve seen who they beat:  Indy, San Francisco, Tampa Bay, San Francisco again.  So, three of the very worst teams in the league.  They lost to the Lions, Cowboys, Eagles, and Rams.  So, three of the very best teams in the league (and the Lions).  That 4-4 record feels like a lie, but given the discrepancy of their opponents, it’s hard to get a true read on just how bad the Cards really are.  Tonight should be a good litmus test, and it would be, if it weren’t being played on Thursday Night.

[SECTION WHERE I TALK ABOUT HOW MUCH I DESPISE THURSDAY GAMES]

(it’s just easier that way)

No Carson Palmer, no David Johnson; so two of their three best offensive players are gone.  Larry Fitzgerald is still the ageless wonder, and Drew Stanton is still a good fit in Bruce Arians’ offense as a backup quarterback.  He takes care of the ball for the most part, and puts his team in position to win more often than not.  And, he’s got Adrian Peterson to hand the ball off to, who is averaging 4.2 yards per carry since coming over from the Saints.  The key tonight is, obviously, prevent AP from keeping them on schedule and force Stanton to beat you down field.  Even without Earl Thomas, that shouldn’t be a concern for the Seahawks.

Defensively, the Cards aren’t very good.  27th in points per game, 23rd in yards per game.  They’re 24th in passing yards per game at 249.3, and 11th in rushing yards per game at 100.5.  Since the Seahawks can’t run the ball anyway, tonight would be a poor night to try to shoehorn that into our offense.  Just throw it on them!  Throw away from Patrick Peterson and take what’s given to you!  I expect Jimmy Graham to have a big one here, so expect him to colossally disappoint.

I’ll say this:  they don’t have Calais Campbell anymore, which is the best news I’ve heard all year (the downside is that he’s currently tearing shit up on the Jags, who we play in December).  I’m not saying it’ll be smooth sailing against that front seven, but any time you can avoid CC destroying the interior of your O-Line, it’s a leg up for the good guys.

Take care of business, Seahawks.  Or so help me God.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We’re Still Playing Keno: A Loser’s Guide To Losing

Looks like we picked the absolute worst possible weekend to bet on the NFL.

Tahoe Bucket O' Shame

Tahoe Bucket O’ Shame

Every year, for the first weekend of March Madness, my friends and I go down to South Lake Tahoe, stay at the Montbleu Resort & Casino, make a bunch of ill-advised bets on the college basketball games, and then follow that up by playing slots, black jack, roulette, and whatever else catches our fancies, to try to recoup all that we lost when we made all of those ill-advised college basketball bets.  See, the thing is, as a collective, we really don’t watch enough college basketball throughout the season to be even remotely aware of where we should be putting our money; and I probably watch less college basketball than anyone!  Inevitably, when we’re ripping up our tickets, someone will always say, “Why don’t we come down here during football season?  We’d surely clean up THEN!”

Well, this year, we decided to make good on that threat.  This past weekend, we flew down on Friday night (where our flight was delayed an hour, as if that wasn’t our first foreboding clue), set up shop at the Montbleu, and readied ourselves for a weekend with a massive amount of sports betting.

Saturday early morning started off pretty promising.  I had Florida -7 against South Carolina for a small winner.  I had Kansas +46.5 for a big winner against TCU.  But, things took a dark turn in the afternoon.  I had SMU +20 against Navy (loss), Baylor -2.5 against Oklahoma parlayed with the over (loss), Washington State +11 against UCLA parlayed with the over (loss), and every God damn one of my multi-team parlays and teasers all went down in flames.  In an attempt to recoup some money and salvage the day, I decided to put a bunch of eggs in the New Mexico basket.  To start the day, Boise State was favored by 30 against New Mexico, so I put $20 on the Lobos to cover.  Believing that bet to be a sure thing after our Afternoon of Terror, I put a very large amount on the Lobos again, this time with the line moving to 30.5.  Not only did the Lobos cover, but they won outright, and I thought my weekend would be saved.  After winning a moderate amount on one of the UFC fighters (one of the undercard fighters in the Rousey debacle), my friends and I set out to test our luck at some of the other casinos.

The order of events might be wrong, but I know this was the night where three of us dumped $100 each into one of those $5 slot machines and ended up each of us winning about $300 in profit.  Then, we decided to play some of that Texas Hold ‘Em table game where you go up against the dealer.  We didn’t really know all the rules, but fortunately the four of us were the only ones at this particular table at Harrah’s, and Sandra was a more-than-willing tutor to three drunken jackasses.  Of course, she ended up giving way to Tom The Fuckstick, this humorless old cunt, who couldn’t have been less friendly or engaging with four guys just begging to give their money away.  Anyway, he ended up making a mistake (which I still don’t fully understand, because it seems like both dealers had been making that same “mistake” all night since we sat down), didn’t really explain it properly, which led to us calling for the pit boss to come over.  Long story short, there was a showdown over a grand total of $15 ($5 from three players) that they wanted to take away from us because of a mistake their dealer made.  Now, had we been dealing with Sandra, all probably would have been forgiven.  But, since we were dealing with Tom, a fucking asshole, we all stood up, kept our $15, and walked away to have our money cashed in.  Suffice it to say, their utter lack of customer service (combined with a ridiculous hard on over taking each of our five dollar chips) has left me with a lifelong passion to boycott Harrah’s from now on.  Pity too, because I’m a reckless and foolish gambler, and I don’t plan to stop going to Tahoe anytime soon.

Our night ended back at the Montbleu, recounting our horrific experience to the black jack dealer as each of us won a minimum of $100 over the next hour or so.  Saturday, it would seem, turned out quite all right.  We’d end up waking 5 hours later to an entirely new day.

My plan for the NFL portion of the weekend seemed to center around the “Go Big Or Go Home” credo.  I ended up making nine 8-team parlays against the spread, and they all fell apart in the morning.  Not to worry, though.  Each card only cost $10 (which would’ve won me many thousands of dollars had any of them won); these were long shots I put out there to test the waters, see if I could come home a big winner.  I put an obscene amount of money on the Dallas Cowboys beating the Tampa Bay Bucs, though, which had me moping around all morning and sent me into a tailspin once the game ended (the Bucs, on a last-minute touchdown, to go ahead 10-6; the Cowboys unable to do anything in that final minute).  For some reason, I had all the confidence in the world that this would be the Romo-less game the Cowboys would win.  I compounded that by betting on the Raiders (favored by 3) over the Vikings and the Patriots (favored by 7) over the Giants.  That sufficiently ruined my afternoon; the only bet I ended up winning was a prop bet (Eli Manning over 1.5 touchdowns) for a very moderate gain compared to all my huge losses of the day so far.

My one saving grace was the Arizona at Seattle game.  One of the reasons I chose this weekend, aside from it working out for everyone from a scheduling standpoint, was that the Seahawks were coming off of a BYE, playing on Sunday Night Football, against the Cardinals (who, while good, is a team we tend to beat more often than not).  The Seahawks were -3, and the sports book was paying out even money on the Seahawks to cover.  So, my thought process from the very beginning, when I proposed this weekend, was that even if we got knocked around during the day, we could always double down on the Seahawks and get all of our money back.

So, here’s what I did:

  • In two separate bets (one in the morning, one in the afternoon after I’d lost almost every other bet of the day), I put down $300 and $200 on the Seahawks to cover the -3 spread.  This would have won me my money back plus $500.
  • In a point spread prop bet, I put down $100 on the Seahawks covering a -10.5 point spread (meaning the Seahawks would have to win by 11 points or more).  This would have won me my money back plus $255
  • In another prop bet, I put down $200 on Larry Fitzgerald getting under 76.5 receiving yards.  This would have won me my money back plus $181.80

All told, if the Seahawks would’ve come through on each of those wagers, I would have walked away with $1,736.80.  And, if I could have managed to NOT go out and party until 4am that night with my friends after such a windfall, I would have walked away from Tahoe entirely with more money in my wallet than I flew down with.

Well, since the Seahawks opted to NOT have Richard Sherman follow their best receiver all over the field, Larry Fitzgerald was able to beat that prop bet by halftime.  And, since the Seahawks’ offense was a collosal shitshow from their first drive of the game, the point spread prop bet also had almost no chance of succeeding.  Luckily, the defense kept us in it by forcing turnovers that directly led to 14 points for the Seahawks, so covering the 3-point spread was still in play for a while there in the fourth quarter (with a very outside chance of the Seahawks covering 11 if everything happened to go our way).  But, ultimately, the Seahawks were too shitty, and I walked away from that game a broke and downtrodden man.  As I may have gotten a collective 9 hours of sleep the previous two nights, I ended up going to bed right after the Seahawks game, so I missed out on another 6 hours of gambling that my friends took part in.  But, it’s just as well.  You don’t want to be wandering around the floor of a casino after having a shit-ton of money ripped from your grasp.  Sad gambling is no good for anyone.

When all is said and done, I couldn’t have picked a worse NFL weekend.  Counting the Thursday and Monday night games, all told there were 10 of 14 games where the underdog won outright.  When you tack on the Pats only winning by a point, that’s 11 underdogs making life miserable, with only 3 favorites covering their spreads.  Why we chose to have faith in so many favorites is beyond me, but it all adds up to all four of me and my friends walking out of there with our pockets turned inside out.

Tahoe, you got us this time.  But, we’ll be back in March, to fight again, with honor.

And, who knows?  Maybe we’ll be hundred-thousandaires when we get there!  See, at the Harvey’s casino, they have a little Keno area.  Harvey’s is really old school, which might make it my favorite (even though it’s owned by the same company that owns Harrah’s).  Anyway, Keno is the most boring thing to bet on at any casino, which is fine if you need to get away from all the flashing lights of the slots, or all the breathtaking action of the sportsbook.  You just sit, drink your drink, smoke your cigars or cigarettes, and watch the little numbers light up on a bingo-esque screen.

We didn’t really have the will to play Keno when we got there on Friday night, but we saw they had penny-Keno.  1,000 games for $10.  Between three of us, we bought 5,000 games.  We each picked a random sampling of 16 numbers.  Every Keno game has 20 numbers selected.  If we hit all 16 of our numbers out of that 20-number sampling, we’ll win $250,000.  We thought, yeah, okay, we’ll buy 1,000 games, then we’ll come back on Sunday to see what we won (believing they played approximately 1,000 games in a day, so by Sunday we’ll SURELY have our answers).  Except, when we got there on Sunday, we found out that they only play about 200 games a day, and so it’ll be a few more days yet before our 1,000 games have concluded.  As such, technically – as of this post publishing – we will STILL be playing Keno.  And, when we go back in March (assuming we all managed to not lose our Keno tickets), we can have them scanned and see if we’re big winners.

So, there’s still a chance!  Look, every time I go to Tahoe, I make a futures bet in sports.  And, every time I’ve gone back to Tahoe, I’ve collected on at least one futures bet.  Well, this time, they didn’t have any futures bets I liked.  So, I’ve got this.  I’ve got Keno.  And, dammit, I’m going to have some money waiting for me when I get there!  Even if it’s only 40 fucking cents!

Seahawks Death Week Reloaded

a.k.a. What The Seahawks Need To Do To Get Back To The Super Bowl & Win It All This Time, Again

“Rebuilding” is a word people use to talk about bad teams who are trying to get good again.  Eventually.  In a couple, two, three years.  “Reloading” is a word people use to talk about good teams who are trying to stay good in a hurry.  I’ve seen that word “reload” used to describe what the Seahawks are doing this offseason, but I’ve always read that with a negative connotation.  Teams that need to “reload” are teams that have been good in recent years (plural), but in the most recent season, the quality of their team dipped.  Like, a team that’s made the playoffs a bunch of years in a row, then had one down season where they missed the cut.  And, instead of blowing things up, they’re just going to reload for another run at a championship.

The 49ers are a PERFECT example of this.  Great team, had a rough 2014.  They weren’t terrible; they weren’t bad enough to warrant a complete rebuild.  They just need to reload.  Add some pieces to the core they’ve got now and they’ll be all set for another post-season run.

“Reload” is also a word you use when you talk about teams that are desperately trying to cling to relevance when they’re WELL past their prime.  Think about what the Seahawks were doing in the offseason between 2007 & 2008.  They PROBABLY should have blown it all up and done a total rebuild.  Instead, they tried to keep the team together, reloaded with a couple of ill-advised signings in Julius Jones & T.J. Duckett (among others), to give it one more go with Hasselbeck, Jones, and Co.  What happened?  They bottomed out in 2008, and bottomed out again in 2009 when they had the same strategy (T.J. Houshmandzadeh, anyone?).

These Seahawks, right now, this year, aren’t “reloading”, because these Seahawks are already loaded!  Regardless of what happens, we’re still going to be one of the youngest and most talented rosters in the league next year.  Losing a Super Bowl doesn’t mean you “reload” for next year.  You don’t re-anything!  You do a little tweaking and you continue to build up the depth of your squad.  It would be no different had we won the Super Bowl, or ended up losing in the NFC Championship Game.

***

The primary storyline this offseason will be the extension of Russell Wilson.  The secondary storyline this offseason will be the extension of Bobby Wagner.  Considering they were drafted into the new CBA, this is the first opportunity the Seahawks have had to extend these two (and to give them raises commensurate to the output they’ve given this team on the field).  We’re actually in really good shape right now, thanks to the in-season extensions the team gave K.J. Wright and Cliff Avril; those are two fewer deals the team has to worry about now that the offseason is ramping up.

How Wilson’s deal is structured will dictate a lot of the other moves this team makes, so it’ll be important to get that squared away pretty quickly.  I would argue Wagner’s deal – by virture of him not being a quarterback in the NFL – will be much simpler and easier to plan for (though, I doubt the team will wait to get him done either).

Those two guys are a given, and will get done, likely sometime around the Draft.  There are other, lesser guys up for new deals that the team will have to think about.

James Carpenter is a free agent.  After a rocky start to his career – one that has been pretty injury-plagued – it wouldn’t shock me to see the team let him walk away.  I can’t imagine he’s going to command a king’s ransom on the open market, but I’ve been surprised before.  Considering he’s more of a run-first blocker, with suspect pass-protection skills, I can’t imagine he’s a great fit for most teams who are pass-first.  If the Seahawks can bring him back on the cheap, I’d be all for it.  If they can’t, I’m not going to shed too many tears.  Either way, I would expect this team to draft hard for interior linemen this year.  Perhaps a guard/center type who could replace Carpenter now, and replace Unger when he’s no longer fit to handle the center duties.

Byron Maxwell is another biggie, and one we’ve all along said is not long for this team.  I can’t imagine the market is going to low-ball him; he’s going to get serious starter’s money.  Maybe not All Pro money, but it’ll likely be enough to price out the Seahawks.  I believe John Schneider when he says that Maxwell is a high priority, but I don’t think that’s at any price.  Here’s to hoping Tharold Simon grows up in a hurry between last season and this season.

Malcolm Smith is another free agent, but you can kiss him goodbye.  He hardly played at all outside of special teams when our core linebackers were healthy.  We’ve already extended Wright, we’re in the process of extending Wagner, and Irvin appears to be a coveted piece of our future that we’re keen on keeping around long term.  There’s just no room for Smith, who could likely be an effective starter on another team.  Let him go, replace him with a guy making the minimum, and we’ll be just fine.

Beyond that, the only other free agents we could potentially lose would be depth guys.  Tarvar, Schofield, Shead, Jeron Johnson.  None of these guys are “must keeps”.  I would argue extending our long snapper is of more value to the team than any of these other guys I’ve mentioned in this paragraph.

***

So, where does this team need help?

Our obvious starting point is Wide Receiver.  We need a couple, and we’re probably going to have to draft them to get them.  Let’s face it, trying to attract a free agent wide receiver into this offense is about as easy as the Seattle Mariners trying to attract a slugging right-handed power bat; nobody wants to sign here and watch their numbers plummet!  And, I don’t know if this has hit you yet, but we’re about to have a quarterback who is one of the top two or three highest-paid players in the NFL, so it’s not like we can afford to over-pay for Larry Fitzgerald or whoever else may or may not be available on the open market.  There will be no Percy Harvin-esque deals this offseason, or for the foreseeable future.

Draft.  Draft is the way to go for this position.  Lock them in pretty much against their wills and try to squeeze as much as you can out of them.

One route to take is what the Falcons did a few years ago:  sell out and trade up to draft a sure thing.  While it’s enticing – since this team is already at a championship-level – it’s never going to happen.  But, we do need to draft a receiver high.  In the first round, ideally, but no later than the third.  And, we probably need to draft a couple (one early, one late) just to get our numbers up and create some really good competition in camp this summer.

Doug Baldin is locked in thru 2016.  Jermaine Kearse is a restricted free agent who will be tendered at a high rate, meaning he’s pretty much a lock to be here at least in 2015.  These are two fine receivers, who both probably need to be bumped down a peg or two.  Ricardo Lockette is another restricted free agent who SHOULD be back, but he’s less of a lock than Kearse.  Paul Richardson had that devastating injury and is probably a strong candidate to start the season on the PUP list (meaning he will miss at least the first six weeks of the season; so it’s pretty safe to consider him a non-factor for 2015, considering the rate of re-injury when players try to rush back into playing shape mid-season).  Kevin Norwood had quite the underwhelming rookie campaign, so who knows if he’ll even be on the team when we eventually cut the roster back down to 53?  Then, there’s Chris Matthews, Bryan Walters, and some other fringe guys to think about.  I know Matthews was a revalation in the Super Bowl, but there’s a reason why he wasn’t playing the whole game – he was only in a small package of plays, because he’s not really that good.

I mean, yeah, Matthews is tall and athletic, and that accounts for something, but a lot of being a wide receiver is being in the right place at the right time and doing the right things when you get there.  He might not be the best route runner, he might not be adept enough at shedding defenders or creating separation.  I dunno, but there’s a reason why that guy kicks around on the fringes of the NFL all his career.  If he was better at all the things BESIDES height, he’d be making millions of dollars instead of hundreds of thousands.

Really, what this all boils down to is:  get ready for another crapshoot.  Maybe we’ll get lucky and find a top-notch receiver in the draft.  But, we took two cracks at it last year – with Richardson and Norwood – in one of the all time deepest drafts for the position, and we likely came away with a couple duds.  This year doesn’t look to be nearly as promising, so hopefully we find that diamond in the rough.

Because if we don’t, I hate to break it to you, but the overall makeup of our wide receiver group doesn’t figure to be all that remarkably improved in 2015.  Yes, the team needs to keep trying to get it right, but unless you get that Odell Beckham, you’ve likely got a project on your hands that will require a couple years to get up to speed.  Remember, Golden Tate wasn’t a star the minute he stepped into the NFL.  This shit takes time.

***

After receiver, things look a little more reasonable on offense.  I would expect the Seahawks to go hard after a free agent tight end.  That may or may not spell the end of Zach Miller’s Seahawks career, but considering he’s making a relatively low figure of $4 million, I would suspect he’ll be back (he may also agree to a pay cut, which would be all the better).  If we could pair Miller with a high-quality free agent tight end, and let Luke Willson continue to develop (i.e. stop dropping the ball so much), we may not NEED a bona fide #1 wide receiver.  Hell, Luke Willson by himself is already matchup hell for defenses; imagine if we’re able to sign another studly threat at tight end to go with him!  At a reasonable cost, that’d be the way I’d go.

Don’t expect the Seahawks to wade in the free agent waters for a lineman.  Carpenter is a wild card.  J.R. Sweezy might be looking at an extension this year, at a relatively reasonable cost.  We’ve still got Alvin Bailey, Garry Gilliam, and Patrick Lewis as quality depth pieces.  Okung is signed thru 2015, Unger is signed thru 2016, and Britt is signed thru 2017, so really the bulk of our offensive line will remain at least through next year.  I would still expect some late round finds by Tom Cable, but this probably isn’t the year where the Seahawks look high in the draft for replacements, unless someone TOO good falls to them.

Another big storyline is what’s going to happen to Marshawn Lynch.  Good God, is this something I don’t want to have to worry about.  The Seahawks are already on record as wanting to extend him, to keep him happy and well paid.  But, rumors are floating around hot and heavy that Lynch is thinking about retiring, which depresses me to no end.  I’ve been as vocal as anyone about not keeping running backs past their expiration dates, but Lynch is as crucial as they come.  I agree with the Seahawks in their desire to extend him another couple years, and I hope Lynch takes the deal.  If he were to happily retire as a Seahawk, I don’t know if I could be any more pleased.

Failing that, if he does leave the game this year, the Seahawks are obviously going to have to look to the draft.  Turbin is signed thru 2015 and will be the likely starter.  But, I imagine there’d be a big time share between him, Michael (signed thru 2016), and any rookie we bring in who wins that third RB job.  Our running game will take a noticeable hit, but I’m hopeful we’d be able to find our running back of the future out of that mix.

***

On defense, the immediate need is in the interior defensive line.  Kevin Williams was on a 1-year deal and probably won’t be back (he may retire, or he may take another small deal to try to get that ring, but I think the team will end up moving on).  Mebane and Tony McDaniel are both signed thru 2015.  I have a hard time seeing the team moving on from either of these guys before the ends of their deals, but I do think we’ll look to draft a defensive tackle pretty early.

What we’ve got that we can count on is Jordan Hill.  He’s probably not a starter, but he’s certainly a quality depth piece who has found a role in our pass rush packages.  Beyond that, it’s a lot of slim pickin’s.  Filler guys like Dobbs, Scruggs, Jesse Williams, and a bunch of other names who are THIS close to trading in their jobs in the NFL for jobs as nightclub bouncers and with private security firms.  Ideally, we’d be able to pick up someone high in the draft who will go into the rotation immediately and eventually replace Mebane or McDaniel, with another guy drafted late who could hopefully develop into a replacement next year or the year after.

This is also a position the team could look to bolster in free agency, if the price is right.  Ndamukong Suh is an interesting name people are talking about as a potential target for the Seahawks, but I’m not buying it.  He’s about to be one of the top two highest paid defensive linemen in the NFL; 1) he’s not taking a discount to be here, and 2) we’re not going to blow up our entire salary cap for the next three years just to bring him in.  Yes, it would be AMAZING if Suh played on this line next to Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril; we’d probably have the single greatest pass rush the world has ever seen.  I could also win the Mega Millions lottery tonight and be a wealthy unemployed person tomorrow.  Let’s not waste the time or brain cells giving this too much thought.

More likely, the team goes after a lower tier free agent.  Cost effective, helpful, hopefully younger with a longer shelf life than a Kevin Williams.  Someone equally as effective at stopping he run and rushing the passer.  I don’t have any specific names for you right now, but they’re out there.  It’s just a matter of if they want to play for a winner or not.

***

Elsewhere on the defense, I think there’s a lot of clamoring for another defensive end, but I’m actually pretty happy with what we’ve got.  Bennett on one side, Avril on the other.  When Bennett moves inside, we’ve got Irvin along with Avril on the same line going after the quarterback.  Even our depth is okay, with Cassius Marsh looking like a good prospect last season before he went out with injury.  Hopefully this is the year we let Schofield go and find a quality replacement in the draft.  Maybe somewhere in the 2nd round to 4th round range.  Get some freak athlete who does one thing and one thing extremely well.  Probably not a spot we’ll look in free agency, unless it’s as a depth guy to help out in camp.

Our linebackers are solid.  As I mentioned before, we’ll have Wagner, Wright, and Irvin all back.  We’ve still got Kevin Pierre-Louis and Brock Coyle who are signed long term as quality depth guys and special teamers.  Malcolm Smith should be pretty easy to replace with another low-round draft pick or undrafted free agent.

In the secondary, I’m assuming Maxwell will be gone.  Lane is signed thru 2015, Simon is here thru 2016.  Beyond that, I would expect the team to go after another corner or possibly two in the draft.  Unlikely you’ll see this team get a free agent unless it’s another depth guy for camp.

***

As per usual, this is a team that’s built through the draft, with strategic forays into free agency.  I would expect more of the same.  With Russell Wilson’s contract expected to be pretty reasonable in 2015 (most of his money will be in the form of a signing bonus; his cap number this year will be manageable because we can spread out his bonus across five years of salary cap), there may be opportunities to get free agents on bigger 1-year deals.  But, unless Lynch retires, or something unexpected happens, I wouldn’t expect the Seahawks to go out of their way to bring in a big money free agent from another team.  The most we spend – aside from extending our own guys – will likely be for a quality tight end.  Otherwise, it’s all draft, all the time.

Futzing Around With Seahawks Top 10 Lists

I just saw this, while killing some time.  It’s a cool take on the whole “Top Ten Seahawks Of All Time” list idea.  And, as you may or may not know, I’m a total SUCKER for LISTS!

Terry’s rules for this list were:  no current players, and they must have played at least 5 seasons with the Seahawks.  That leaves us with a good chunk of players.  He was provided 29 different names by fans in their own lists they sent to him.  Of those 29 players listed, here is my Top 10:

  1. Walter Jones
  2. Cortez Kennedy
  3. Steve Largent
  4. Shaun Alexander
  5. Jacob Green
  6. Kenny Easley
  7. Matt Hasselbeck
  8. Dave Brown
  9. Steve Hutchinson
  10. Lofa Tatupu

For starters, we have the three NFL Hall of Famers in the top three spots, because that’s just what has to be done.  I organized these three by their place in NFL history.  Walter Jones has gone down as one of the greatest left tackles in all of NFL history (if not THE greatest).  There aren’t enough superlatives, so let’s just move on.

Cortez, I believe, has to be on everyone’s Top 10 list for defensive tackles (at least in the modern era, if not all time).  He doesn’t get the credit he deserves, since he played for Seattle (and played on a bunch of awful teams by a terribly-run organization), but he was truly a monster force in the middle.

If my 10 year old self could see what I’m writing now, he’d call me a fucking idiot for putting Steve Largent at #3, when he’s so obviously the greatest wide receiver of all time.  Except, in the 23 years since then, about a thousand receivers have passed Largent and broken all of his records.  He’s great, and in his time he was the greatest, but now he’s long-forgotten, and you legitimately have to question whether he’d make the Hall of Fame if he had his same exact stats, but retired today instead of at the end of the 1989 season.

Henry Ellard has Largent beat by almost 700 yards, but he’s not in the HOF.  Tim Brown has almost 2,000 more yards and the same number of receiving touchdowns and hasn’t made the HOF yet.  When Largent retired, he was #1 in both yards and touchdowns for a receiver; now he’s 14th and tied for 7th, respectively.  More receivers are breaking his records every year, with still more right on his heels.  Andre Johnson and Steve Smith are both one good year away from passing him in yards (within 1,000 of the Seahawks legend).  Larry Fitzgerald is a year or two away, and if Anquan Boldin’s creaky old bones can cling to life, he’s probably two or three years away.  Going forward, Calvin Johnson is practically a shoo-in to be in the top 10 in yards; and Brandon Marshall and Dez Bryant will likely pass Largent as well.  Granted, it’s a different style of NFL play now than it was in the 70s & 80s, but that’s not going to make it any easier going forward for any more of those fringe old-timers to make the HOF.  Largent’s lucky he retired when he did.

After the top three of Jones, Tez, and Largent, I found the next five to be pretty easy.  Alexander is the best running back in franchise history, was an MVP, and led us to our first Super Bowl appearance.  He won’t be a HOFer, but he’s still one of the best Seahawks ever, so his slot at #4 is well-deserved.

Jacob Green is another one of those guys who isn’t quite a HOFer, but he’s tops in the Seahawks’ book.  Green, ranking #1 in franchise history in sacks with 97.5, ranks tied for 32nd in NFL history.  The magic number for sack-artists to get into the HOF is apparently 125, so Green was a ways off.  Nevertheless, he was solid for us.

Kenny Easley kinda makes this list on talent and potential over longevity which is QUITE hypocritical considering I left Curt Warner off my list because he couldn’t stay healthy.  But still, Easley is hands down the best member of the Seahawks secondary in franchise history (not counting the current members of the L.O.B.).

Matt Hasselbeck – the franchise’s best quarterback – comes in at #7.  That’s a testament to the quality of players ahead of him on my list, as well as the lack of really elite quarterbacks in franchise history.  Hasselbeck is also kinda like those other near-HOF types, except he’s pushed way down that list; I mean, you can KINDA make a case for Shaun Alexander to be in the HOF, but you’ll be laughed out of the country if you try to make a case for Hasselbeck!

Rounding out the last of my easy choices, Dave Brown was the best cornerback in franchise history (again, not including those in the L.O.B.).  After him, I had a really tough time choosing the last two.  I eventually narrowed it down to six players:  Curt Warner, John L. Williams, Brian Blades, Hutch, Lofa, and Eugene Robinson.  I couldn’t decide between the two running backs, so as a compromise, I decided to leave them both out.  Blades was a tough one to cut out; he’s certainly my #11 pick on this list.  And, Eugene gets docked because he did a lot of his best playing after he left the Seahawks.

Which, again, reveals my blatant hypocrisy, because I gave Hutch the #9 slot.  Losing him right smack dab in the middle of his prime definitely hurts his ranking on my list (had he been a career Seahawk, it’s pretty easy to see him in my top three or four), but I can’t deny his elite talent level.  Granted, Joey Galloway also had elite talent, and his end with the team was similarly acrimonious, and yet he wasn’t even an honorable mention!  To that, I don’t know what to tell you.  I’ll always be kind of annoyed with Hutch and his dickhead agent, and to a lesser extent the Vikings (even though we just won a Super Bowl with a bunch of their players), but the real villain in that whole deal was Tim Ruskell, leaving me the opportunity to (for the most part) feel good about Hutch’s time here.

The last spot goes to Lofa.  He was truly great from the moment he was selected by this team, and he’s a big reason why our defense was able to cobble together enough yards & points prevention to lead this team to a #1 seed and a Super Bowl appearance in 2005/2006.  Lofa’s career ended prematurely due to injury, otherwise it’s possible his all time ranking could’ve been higher as well.  He was a tackling machine who – had he not worn down so fast – might have made a play for the HOF, with the way he was racking them up in his first few years.

***

Now that I’ve given you my Top 10 list of Seahawks not currently on the team, why don’t I give you my Top 10 list of only Seahawks who ARE currently on the team?  Here we go:

  1. Earl Thomas
  2. Russell Wilson
  3. Marshawn Lynch
  4. Richard Sherman
  5. Kam Chancellor
  6. Russell Okung
  7. Brandon Mebane
  8. Bobby Wagner
  9. Michael Bennett
  10. Doug Baldwin

Before I get started, I have to point out that Percy Harvin is left off because he’s played in all of three games in a Seahawks uniform.  I’m going to need at least a season or two out of him before I start putting him among the all time leaders.

Byron Maxwell was left off because I had a really hard time putting four LOB members on my list.  But, talent-wise, he probably deserves it.  At the very least, he’d be my #11 pick (and, by the end of 2014, could see his ranking go up even higher).  Zach Miller was left off because, while I appreciate all that he does, it still feels like we could do what we do without him.  Max Unger was left off due to an inconsistent (and injury-riddled) 2013 season.  Cliff Avril was another honorable mention.

In going down my list, I knew the other three members of the LOB would be there and be ranked high, but it was just a matter of where they’d rank.  I have Earl Thomas at #1 because I think he’s far and away the best safety in the game today.  Richard Sherman has some competition for best corner, but I think he’s #1 with a bunch of other guys right on his heels.  That’s the difference between the two.

Nevertheless, I had to put Russell Wilson at #2 because he is ABSOLUTELY VITAL to what we do on offense.  He’s the franchise quarterback we’ve been dreaming of since Seattle was given a franchise!  He and Earl Thomas are the perfect bookends for this team, from their elite talent level, to how they prepare, to their desire to win above all else, to their abilities to make those around them insanely better.

Marshawn Lynch gets the #3 spot because he’s the workhorse.  He’s also in the Top 3 when it comes to NFL running backs today.  While that sounds odd to say, knowing that I put Richard Sherman at the #4 spot (and I consider him to be the best corner in football), I will say that there are way more elite cornerbacks than there are elite running backs.  That’s just the way it goes.

Kam gets into my Top 5 because he’s Kam.  He’s the baddest, hardest hitting motherfucker in this league and he was certainly deserving of being the MVP of the Super Bowl over Malcolm Smith.  In the national spotlight, Kam gets lost a little bit because of Sherman’s outspokenness and Earl’s on-field flashiness, but on almost any other team, he’d be the best player on that defense and it wouldn’t even be close.

Okung gets his spot on the list based on talent and potential, though he certainly gets knocked down for his inability to stay healthy.  Brandon Mebane is almost the opposite.  He does nothing BUT stay healthy.  He doesn’t have the highest pedigree.  He isn’t an animal in the middle like Cortez was.  But, Mebane has been a ROCK on that D-Line since he got here in 2007.  And, from what I’ve read, his 2013 season was arguably his best year in the league.  That’s unbelievably impressive, especially when you consider he plays a spot on the line that’s difficult to keep healthy.  Seems like whenever a nose tackle gets injured, it’s only a matter of time before his career fizzles out.

I had to pick a linebacker, because we’ve got three good ones, so I went with the best.  Bobby Wagner is the guy – if we’re only able to keep one for salary cap purposes – that I’d most want to retain.  He plays middle linebacker, which is the most important spot of the three, and he plays it at a high level (either as well, or if not, very close to the level of Luke Kuechly).  The best part:  he’s played at this level since day 1, and could very well see even MORE improvement.

There’s a reason why we decided to bring back Michael Bennett and let key leaders Red Bryant and Chris Clemons go.  Bennett can do everything on the defensive line and do it all well.

Finally, what can I say about Doug Baldwin that hasn’t already been said?  I feel MUCH more secure about this team and its offense when I know I have Doug Baldwin on the field.

***

Now, the real point of all of this:  when I was reading the above Terry Blount post, and I read that current players were to be left off for the purposes of this exercise, I got to wondering:  how many current players would – right now – make the Top 10 in franchise history?

You’d have to think quite a few, considering the Super Bowl is fresh on our minds, and that’s something no other Seahawks team has ever accomplished.  Fans would rabidly vote for today’s players, because it’s all about that action, boss.

I’m going to try to set emotion aside on this one and try to be rational about it.  Essentially, since a lot of these guys are fairly new, I have to go by what they’ve done as well as what they could potentially do, if they can stay reasonably healthy.  Anyway, here’s my list:

  1. Walter Jones
  2. Earl Thomas
  3. Richard Sherman
  4. Russell Wilson
  5. Cortez Kennedy
  6. Steve Largent
  7. Shaun Alexander
  8. Kam Chancellor
  9. Marshawn Lynch
  10. Jacob Green

As you’ll notice, both Sherm and Kam passed Lynch on this list.  That’s because, when all is said and done, I expect both of those guys to surpass Lynch’s output – which projects to end after the 2014 season.  You’ll also notice that Sherm passes Wilson on this list, because in the end I think Sherman will be a greater cornerback (on the all time NFL list) than Wilson will be a quarterback (on the all time NFL list).  Nevertheless, I expect both of them, as well as Earl, to make the HOF (giving us six total Seahawks, and counting).  Shaun Alexander still gets the nod over Lynch because there’s no way Lynch is passing him in total output.  I know most people like Lynch more, but I won’t discount Alexander’s overall talents.  Jacob Green nabs down that 10-spot, because he’s awesome.  Of the current players who could someday crack the top ten that I don’t have in there right now, I’d look at Wagner and maybe Baldwin.

So, that’s five current players in the All Time Top 10.  I never would have thought you could have ANY sort of Seahawks Top 10 without Matt Hasselbeck, but there you have it.  What’s more impressive is, I have three current players in the top 5.  I don’t know if I’ll ever see a player on the level of Walter Jones, but if anyone has a chance to pass him, it’s most likely Earl Thomas.

Then again, if Russell Wilson leads us to five Super Bowl championships, that may be the ultimate decider.

Always Never A Doubt In My Mind

At one point in this game, Russell Wilson had scrambled his way into an opening-play fumble (recovered by the 49ers), LaMichael James had muffed a punt (recovered by the 49ers), and Colin Kaepernick had the ball stripped on a sack (recovered by a 49ers lineman, ran for 6 yards).  That final piece of lunacy saved a touchdown drive and gave the 49ers a 17-10 lead, and it left Seahawks fans wondering if the football gods were EVER going to smile down upon us.

Ask anyone who knows anything, and they’ll tell you that going 0 for 3 on fumble recoveries is pretty fucking rare.  A fumble is generally a 50/50 proposition, and if the Seahawks went down because of this stat, you’d call it one of the unluckiest breaks in football.  Of course, one game is pretty much as small of a sample size as you could get; nevertheless, I couldn’t help but believe that this streak couldn’t continue FOREVER.  There would HAVE to be fumbles forthcoming that would bounce our way.

Sure enough, from that point in the third quarter where the 49ers went back up by a touchdown, the Seahawks caught all the breaks.  Colin Kaepernick was strip-sacked by Avril (recovered by Michael Bennett).  A fumble by Jermaine Kearse at the goalline that was recovered by Marshawn Lynch at the 1.  And, on the very next play, a Russell Wilson/Marshawn Lynch fumbled exchange on 4th & Goal from the 1 yard line (recovered by Michael Robinson, which doesn’t sound so great, because we failed to score the touchdown or even keep the 49ers pinned back inside the one yard line, but if you look at it again, you’ll see a ton of 49ers players around that football, with a clear opportunity to return that thing for a 99-yard touchdown).  Kaepernick was intercepted by Kam (which wasn’t a lucky break, per se, but it was a turnover).  Another Russell Wilson fumble on a busted play (recovered by Wilson, resulting in an offensive pass interference penalty).  And finally, the game-ending interception on the tip from Sherman to Malcolm Smith.

To be honest with you, I don’t know how to feel about a game that hinged so deeply upon luck.  There’s the obvious turnover issues I described above, there were referee issues (some iffy penalties, some iffier non-calls, and that fumble recovery that couldn’t be reviewed, which ended up not really mattering anyway), there were injury issues (I don’t know if we’ll ever know the impact of the 49ers losing their best offensive guard and their best linebacker in Iupati and Bowman respectively), and there was the play of the game.

To set it up, the Seahawks pulled to within 17-13 on a Hauschka field goal.  We forced a 3 & out thanks to the refs missing what probably should have been roughing the punter.  We got the ball at our own 38 yard line, and we drove to the San Francisco 34 yard line, with 2nd down and 6 coming up.  Russell Wilson was called for a clear Intentional Grounding, which put us back to the 50 yard line, for a 3rd down and 22 to go.  This is the nightmare scenario, but to our credit, we called something reasonable.  A nice little pass to Zach Miller out on the flat, who rumbled for 15 yards to the San Francisco 35 yard line.  At this point, it was 4th and 7.  Maybe within the range of Hauschka, but not really something you feel comfortable about in this situation.  It was the beginning of the fourth quarter, and the Seahawks very nearly decided to kick it, but ultimately burned a timeout.  Had we lost this game because we were short on timeouts, I’m sure everyone would have pointed to this situation.  As it stood, that timeout was probably the smartest decision we made all game.

We put the offense back out on the field to pick up the seven yards.  Russell Wilson nailed the hard count, which got the 49ers to go offsides.  To their credit, the refs didn’t whistle the play dead (for the record, in a similiar situation this season, the refs blew the play dead and cost us an opportunity to make a huge play).  All the receivers broke off of their intended routes and ran for the endzone.  Wilson made the perfect throw, and Jermaine Kearse came down with an amazing catch.

How does luck come into it?  Well, if that throw is offline, or if the 49ers defender makes a better play on the ball, and it falls incomplete, then we’re looking at 4th and 2 from the 30 yard line.  At that point, I don’t think there’s any question that the Seahawks go for the field goal, to pull within 17-16.  And who KNOWS how the game turns from there!  What if Hauschka misses the 47 yarder?  Of course, he would go on later to make a 47 yarder, but Hauschka was on record – after the game – as saying that he really didn’t want to kick that field goal when it was going to be a 52 yarder.  What if, in his shaken state, Hauschka pulls that one?  Then, the 49ers would get great field position, and most importantly, we’d get no points.  Even if we assume he would make it, that still would have left us down a point with a quarter left to go.  That touchdown was the difference between the 49ers ultimately needing a touchdown to win the game vs. needing a field goal to win the game.  If that’s the case, I don’t think there’s any doubt we’re sitting here today lamenting the fact that the 49ers are playing for the championship.

Just a wild, crazy game.  Here are some other observations:

Russell Wilson was REALLY driving me crazy in that first half.  I understand that you’ve got to take the good with the bad with a guy like Wilson, and it really COULD be worse.  I’m not sitting here wishing that we had some gunslinger like Tony Romo who would ultimately cost us more in big games than he’d help us.  But, it really looked like Wilson was playing tentative yesterday.  Holding the ball too long, looking to scramble out of the pocket (which couldn’t have been worse, because more often than not – with our linemen pushing their ends outside and around the pocket in a circle – he was just running himself INTO pressure) when he should have just stepped up and made a throw (especially when he’s got Golden Tate streaking downfield with single-coverage).

Of course, Wilson ended up having enough in him to lead us to victory, so it’s not like I can complain too hard.  And, if he leads us to a Super Bowl victory, it’s going to be hard for me to EVER badmouth the man again.

Good God, do we need someone better to spy Colin Kaepernick on the run!  It struck me that Bruce Irvin probably would have been perfect, but it didn’t look like we used him all that much in this game.  He seriously whiffed on one play, where he bit on the play fake and let Kaep run around him for a huge gain; but, if Irvin’s sole job was to simply follow the quarterback wherever he went, I think Irvin’s speed could have neutralized him.

Marshawn Lynch had another huge game, going for 109 yards on the ground and a touchdown.  This was the first time anyone had run for over 100 yards on the 49ers this year, and for a minute it looked like one of the rare times that the Seahawks would lose a game where Lynch went over 100 yards.  That fumble at the goalline wasn’t even his fault, so I’m glad they didn’t put that on him in the scorebook.

Doug Baldwin, as always, was a revelation.  One of these days, he’s going to get the respect he deserves, but for now, let the doubters keep doubting him.  He’ll just keep making them look stupid.  With 6 catches for 106 yards, it looked like he was going to be the MVP of the game.  He still might be, especially when you consider his 69 yard kickoff return ultimately led to a field goal (and probably should have been a touchdown drive, if our offense wasn’t still sputtering so frustratingly.

Finally, what can you say about a defense that’s the best in the game.  From the first play, where we were placed at a disadvantage thanks to the Wilson fumble, this defense showed up and put in their usual outstanding work.  Bobby Wagner led all tacklers with 15, and Kam Chancellor wasn’t far behind with 11.  Kam also came down with that interception (on just an AWFUL pass by Kaepernick) and had another two passes defended.  Our D-Line wasn’t able to get as much pressure as you’d like, but I thought they played a lot smarter in the second half, not letting Kaepernick just immediately have the edge to run.  Even though we were playing so safe, Bennett and Avril were still able to wreak some havoc.  And the run defense?  Aside from Kaepernick (who got most of his rushing yards on scrambles when a pass play broke down), this part of their game was completely shut down.  Frank Gore finally started looking his age, running for 14 yards on 11 attempts.

I don’t really know what the next-day narrative is going to be today (aside from Everything Richard Sherman, which I will write about tomorrow), but I have the feeling that Colin Kaepernick is going to get a lot of love from the national media.  This is a mistake.

Yes, it’s quite the breathtaking thing to see Colin Kaepernick with the football, running in the open field.  Dodging tacklers, graceful as a gazelle, he’s a weapon unlike any other in the game of football.  If he didn’t have all that, you know what he’d be?  Without the ability to run for dozens upon dozens of yards, Colin Kaepernick would be Jeff George:  a rocket arm attached to a mental midget.

When he’s on, he’s something to behold.  That touchdown pass to Boldin in the back of the endzone from 26 yards out was as good as it gets.  Nevertheless, it was a STUPID decision and the ball was very nearly tipped or picked off entirely.  Then, there’s that aforementioned interception to Kam.  He was standing RIGHT THERE the whole time!  There was no deception out of Kam to bait him; Kaepernick saw him the whole time and still threw the damn pass right to him!  He said he thought he could get it over Kam … but Kam’s 6’3!  There were his two fumbles, which resulted from him trying to do too much with a play (which I can’t really fault him for, unless I feel like jumping down Wilson’s throat every time he does something annoying like that).  And, of course, the game-clinching interception when he challenged Richard Sherman with less than 30 seconds to go in the game.

He said he’d take Michael Crabtree in a 1-on-1 matchup with anyone in the league.  He said he wouldn’t change a thing about his decision-making process.  Did he say this because he’s stupid?  Because he’s arrogant?  Because of his blind hatred of the Seahawks and especially Richard Sherman?  Any way you slice it, it’s foolish thinking from a foolish individual.  Maybe if Crabtree magically transformed into Randy Moss in his prime, I could see it.  But, Crabtree isn’t anything special.  I’d take Doug Baldwin over him any day.  Crabtree is only considered an “elite” receiver by the national media because he was drafted in the first round, plain and simple.  There’s nothing about his game that’s elite.  He’s okay.  Off the top of my head, I can think of 25 wide receivers who are better than him (Baldwin, Tate, Fitzgerald, Dez, Marshall, Jeffery, Megatron, Jordy Nelson, Cobb, Demaryius Thomas, Decker, Welker, Hilton, Garcon, Green, Brown, Cruz, Desean Jackson, Andre Johnson, Keenan Allen, Josh Gordon, Cordarrelle Patterson, Julio Jones, Vincent Jackson, and Jimmy Graham – who is actually a wide receiver, in spite of what they try to label him as in New Orleans).

The point is, he’s not better than Richard Sherman.  And if Kaepernick is too stupid or too stubborn to realize that, then maybe Kaepernick isn’t the guy who’s going to lead you to a championship.  His talent may be good enough to get him past most teams in the league, but his hubris is ultimately going to be his undoing against the best teams in the league.  He thinks that just because he has a strong arm, he can make every throw, and that’s just not the case.  And, if that throw’s not there, no worries, he can just run for any first down he wants.  Except, here’s the thing:  when his team is down and he’s got to mount a comeback, the same shit he gets praised for is what’s going to ultimately cost his team ballgames.

In the end, this was a game about two quarterbacks.  One a little too cautious, one a little too reckless.  Somewhere in the middle, you have the perfect NFL player.  But, ultimately, it’s easier for a cautious quarterback to take a few more chances than it is for a reckless player to settle for the sensible decision.  That’s why the Seahawks won this football game.  That’s why the Seahawks are in the Super Bowl and the 49ers are licking their wounds.

How I Hate The 49ers, Let Me Count The Ways

For starters, I’ve never hated a professional football franchise the way I hate the 49ers right now.  In my much-younger days, when the Seahawks were in the AFC and I wasn’t so jaded from a decade’s worth of mediocrity out of my home team, I think I hated the Raiders the most.  Followed by the Broncos and Kansas City in a tie for second.  Then, as the 90s progressed, my hatred for my AFC West brethren waned, as the Seahawks were increasingly irrelevant.  I started to simply hate teams that won all the time.  The Cowboys, particularly.  As the Seahawks entered the NFC West when the NFL re-aligned, I was left without a rivalry.  My hatred for our old AFC West foes has since all but dissipated.

As the Seahawks almost-immediately took over control of the NFC West, I really had a hate-on for the St. Louis Rams, because for a while there, they were the only team contending for division titles with us.  Then, they completely fell apart.  And, as we did the same, the Arizona Cardinals briefly reigned supreme.  Once Kurt Warner retired, they were done, and up rose the 49ers.

Now, it’s ONLY the 49ers.  They’re a loathesome bunch of jag-offs and I literally wish they were all dead (except for Frank Gore; I’ve got no beef with that man).  The only question remains:  do I hate the 49ers more than I hate any other team in any other sport?

Here’s the ultimate measure of my hate:  in this Divisional Round weekend, I would have gladly traded a Seahawks defeat for a 49ers defeat.  THAT’S how badly I want them to fail.  I’d accept my own team’s failure just to have them go home empty-handed.  Is it completely irrational and idiotic?  You bet it is, but that’s the way it goes when you hate a team this much.

In baseball, I’ve got nothing.  In the early 2000’s, I hated the Yankees with a passion.  But, a decade’s worth of Mariners futility has washed that away.  Now, there’s only numbness.

In basketball, there used to be the Trailblazers, Lakers, and Jazz.  But, of course, with no Sonics, there’s really no point.  I guess I hate the OKC team, but it’s not like I’m sitting here day-in and day-out rooting for them to lose.  They’re hardly on my radar until the playoffs come around, at which point I still refuse to watch their games.  Maybe that’s a marker of utmost hatred:  I can’t even bring myself to watch them play ball.

In college basketball, there’s UCLA and Arizona in a tie for first.  More than anything, I just hate those schools because they keep taking recruits we’re trying in vain to sign.  But, during the games against the Huskies, my blood doesn’t really boil a whole lot.

In college football, there’s Oregon and there’s everyone else.  So, I have to ask myself:  do I hate the 49ers more than I hate Oregon?  That’s a REALLY difficult question to answer, which should go to show just how much I hate those fucking 49ers.  In the end, if I’m being objective, I have to admit that I hate Oregon more, but it’s CLOSE.  It’s damn close.  I’d much rather see San Francisco win a Super Bowl championship than the Oregon Ducks win a college football championship.

So there you go.  My current Hate Rankings:

  1. Oregon Ducks
  2. San Francisco 49ers
  3. OKC Thunder
  4. USC Trojans (because Sark can eat a dick)
  5. UCLA Bruins (because Myles Jack can eat a dick too)

But, getting back to the 49ers, how much do I hate them?  Let’s count them down:

1.  Jim Harbaugh

I hope he dies of AIDS.  I hope he contracts HIV by cheating on his wife, I hope he gets caught and loses everything in the divorce, I hope he’s too pig-headed to take the HIV medications available to him, I hope he contracts full-blown AIDS, and I hope he dies, pathetic, in-pain, and alone in a hospital bed, surrounded by a non-stop stream of women giving loud, screaming births.

It should be self-evident, but let’s get into it.  Jim Harbaugh whines about EVERY. FUCKING. THING. that goes wrong for his team while they’re on the field.  His temper tantrums have gone well beyond the point of parody; surely, he realizes how much of a cunt he looks like, but he doesn’t care.  How he doesn’t get at least five “unsportsmanlike” penalties every week, I have no idea.  For all the shit I give refs, they’re little Mother Teresas for putting up with his insufferable bullshit.

Also, have you heard his interviews?  Even if he was my team’s coach, I’d be fucking embarrassed by how short, rude, and pointless he is with the media.  I tend to think the media’s complaints about such things are over-rated, but in this case, I’ll side against The Douchebag.

And, not that I try to picture his awkwardly-shaped body having sex, but can’t you just imagine Jim Harbaugh’s love-making being very competitive?  I can only imagine that he’s doing everything in his power to finish first (boringly missionary, of course), followed by actually finishing first while his wife lays there with equal parts frustration & apathy, with him slapping her on the rump saying, “Good game.  Better luck next time.”  And entirely NOT meaning it.

2.  Colin Kaepernick

I’m all for celebrations after touchdowns.  I think the No Fun League ethos has put a serious damper on the game of football and the league needs to reign some of that in.  In fact, to be honest with you, there isn’t a post-touchdown celebration I even find annoying or offensive … except for Kaepernick faux-kissing his biceps.

Can you imagine anything more conceited or self-congratulatory?  It’s gross, it really is.  I know there are plenty of mouthy Seahawks – especially on defense – who are self-promoting narcissists, but Kaepernick takes it to another level.  Also, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, since he only does it when he rushes for a touchdown.  Shouldn’t he kiss his biceps when he throws for a touchdown?

I know that’s a little nit-picky, but that goes to further prove my point that Kaepernick is a God damn retard.  His level of intelligence HAS to be bordering on single-digits, right?  He can’t even play the quarterback position without his little arm-band!

Colin Kaepernick has lived a charmed fucking life.  He struggled when Crabtree was out and it’s pretty apparent why:  unlike the elite quarterbacks of the league, Kaepernick doesn’t make anyone else around him better.  When Aaron Rodgers loses a receiver or two, it’s just a Next Man Up situation.  Drew Brees doesn’t have any star receivers (unless you lump his starting tight end in there); he makes average receivers INTO stars by being great.  Tom Brady has had Julian Edelman and a whole lotta filler on his team this year, and he led the Patriots to the AFC Championship game.

Kaepernick, meanwhile, was headed towards the very real possibility of not making the playoffs AT ALL.  Or, he was looking at a first-round exit.  But, since Crabtree came back, the 49ers have been on the roll of a lifetime.  Crabtree is a very good player, and the only real threat (besides Frank Gore) on the 49ers offense.  Without him, Kaepernick is just another shitty running quarterback who struggles to muster 150 yards through the air.

3.  Anquan Boldin

Never have I seen such a mediocre player talk as much shit on a football field.  And yet, when you watch him in his post-game interview, all you hear out of his bitch mouth is how much respect he has for the other team.

Bullshit.  Tell it like it is, ‘Quan!  I am.

Boldin has never been a star in this league.  He was a complementary player in Arizona, vastly overshadowed by Larry Fitzgerald.  He was utter dogshit in Baltimore until the playoffs rolled around; doing very little to help out his team on a week-in, week-out basis.  And now that he’s been in San Francisco – aside from that Week 1 monster of a game against a pathetic Packers defense – he’s been more of the same.  There’s a REASON why the 49ers only had to give up a 6th round pick for him.  Even then, I think the Ravens fleeced the 49ers in that deal.

He’s slow, he’s big, he’s generally only good for 2-3 catches a game, and he’s clearly on his last legs.  So, tell me, what do you have to talk shit about, Anquan?  How hard you’re riding the coattails of your more-talented teammates?  How you’ve been riding coattails your entire career?  You’re a joke, and hardly even worth the time it’s taken me to write these four paragraphs.

4.  Donte Whitner

You’re a poor-man’s Ken Hamlin.  You’re all brute-force and zero skill.  The difference between you and Kam Chancellor is night and day.  First of all, Kam Chancellor is bigger and stronger than you.  He hits harder than you.  But, he’s not a complete fuck-up who costs his team 15 yards per hit in personal foul penalties.  And, not for nothing, but he’s a better cover guy than you.  The one thing YOU do well?  He does it better, as well as everything else required to be an elite safety in this league.

5.  The Offensive Line

Hold much?  How about, like, every damn play?  How they get away with it, I’ll never know.

6.  The Fans

Seriously, for a city as cosmopolitan and as fun as San Francisco, the 49ers have THE trashiest fans I’ve ever seen!  Ignorant, front-running, and for some reason violent … I just don’t get it.  Are the bulk of people who go to 49ers games actually from the outlying areas?  What’s the Tacoma-equivalent to San Francisco?  Or, rather, what’s the Yakima-equivalent, because I think we’re getting warmer with that comparison.

If they’re not bitching about how loud it is in our stadium, then they’re bitching about being mis-treated in our stadium.  AT LEAST WE DON’T STAB YOUR FUCKING ASSES!  How many arrests take place during and after your average San Francisco home game?  Let’s try to double it this week, Seahawks fans.  I’ve never encouraged the 12th Man to be violent before, but I think this week, we need to let the 49ers fans know we’re not going to be pushed around.  Two wrongs don’t make a right, Seahawks fans!  Let’s, uhh, let’s be the bigger people … or something.

I swear to Christ, if any 49ers fans among my Facebook friends try to talk shit this week, I’m immediately blocking them.  Especially if they’re family!

I could go on and on, but this is long enough as it is.  Go Hawks.

Let’s Finish This Now, Seahawks

Before the season, I did a prediction post where I picked all the games.  I do it every year and every year it’s as meaningless as it was before.  This year, I picked us to lose at Indy, Atlanta, and the Giants.  I predicted 13-3 and frankly, it’s still on the table.  Who could have foreseen that Atlanta and the Giants would fall on their faces like they did?  Either way, I predicted a #1 seed, and I predicted a meaningless Week 17 game against the Rams.

Next week is going to be SUPER lean on the posting front, as I’m taking Thursday and Friday off after Christmas, for a big ol’ 5-day weekend.  I’ll probably hop on here to do a recap of the Husky bowl game, but not much else.  If we win this game on Sunday, we will have clinched the #1 seed and my premonition of a meaningless week 17 game will come true.  It’s an awesome “problem” to have, and I’ll speak on that next Tuesday before Christmas Break.

In the meantime, we’ve got one last meaningFUL game before a 2-week break.  Our lone threat in achieving our rightful spot as the best team in the NFC is the San Francisco 49ers.  Nothing the Panthers or Saints do will make a difference.  As has been stated before, either we win (or the 49ers lose) and we get the #1 seed, or we lose out and the 49ers win out and we get the #5 seed (due to what will be a superior divisional record by the 49ers).  San Francisco plays at home on Monday night against the woeful Atlanta Falcons.  It’s their last home game in Candlestick.  I’m sure dozens of ex-49ers will be in attendance.  The crowd will be as jacked up as a bunch of tea-drinkers can be (they’re no 12th man, but it won’t take much to get under Atlanta’s skin).  There’s no way they lose that game.  They close out the season at Arizona.  If Arizona finds a way to beat Seattle, they probably still have a chance at a playoff spot, and therefore would be playing hard, but I REALLY can’t see the 49ers losing this game if it’s for the division and the top seed.

So, what that means is:  the Seahawks need to win one more.  Why not just win it now, against Arizona, and get it over with?  We knock the Cardinals out of the playoffs, the whole state of Arizona gets a little butthurt at us, and we all have a nice, relaxing week 17.

As I stated before, the Cardinals are a lot better than I originally thought they’d be.  9-5 is nothing to sneeze at, and normally 9-5 would have them comfortably in the playoffs if the season ended today.  It’s a testament to how great the NFC is that they’re on the outside looking in right now (remember that bullshit after the first couple weeks of the season, where everyone was making a big deal about how the AFC actually had a better record against the NFC?  That shit didn’t last too long, did it?).  The Cardinals have gone 6-1 in their last seven games, which makes them one of the hotter teams … until you look at who they’ve played.

They beat Atlanta, Houston, Jacksonville, and Indy to go on a 4-game winning streak.  Make a big deal about Indy all you want, but that is NOT the same team that beat the Seahawks, 49ers, and Broncos early in the season.  Ever since they lost Reggie Wayne, they’ve gone 4-3, beating Houston and Tennessee two times each (while losing to the likes of Arizona, St. Louis, and Cincinnati in embarrassing fashion).  Arizona, you can’t crow about that victory; Indy is shit now.  The Cardinals followed their 4-game winning streak by losing to a good Philly team.  Then, they beat a mediocre Rams team and barely held on against a mediocre Titans team.

Arizona has exactly one quality win this year, and it’s against the Panthers (right before Ron Rivera turned into Riverboat Ron and they ripped off eight in a row).  Again, not the same team, so you could argue that the win over the Panthers isn’t even all that legit.

Carson Palmer is still Carson Palmer (which means:  a walking turnover machine).  They have no running game.  It’s not too hard for this secondary to shut down Larry Fitzgerald.  They have no other receivers.  All they are is a great defense.  Too bad they won’t be as effective on the road.  And too bad that our defense is better than theirs (while our offense is WAY better than their offense).

I want this.  I want it right now.  Seahawks, the NFC is yours for the taking.  The Super Bowl is yours for the taking!  Just go out there, win on Sunday, and let’s all go out for hot fudge sundaes!

Seattle Sports Hell 2013 NFL Power Rankings – Week 1

I don’t throw around the word “love” very often, but I fucking LOVE NFL Sunday Ticket.  I purchased the Madden game for X-Box and got a deal on the online-only version of DirecTV’s signature product, and boy was it worth it!  The only shame of it was the fact that the Seahawks were playing at 10am, so the bulk of my focus was on that.  Nevertheless, I had my laptop running the Atlanta/New Orleans game in the background.  And, when both games were on commercial:  that was time to flip it over to the Red Zone channel!

I’m sure many of you have enjoyed this NFL viewing experience for years now, but this is entirely new to me.  Anytime I’ve ever had a chance to watch multiple games, it was either at my Dad’s house or in a bar somewhere.  At my dad’s, he’s got three TVs in the living room.  But, he’s only got regular ol’ cable TV, so I was at the mercy of whatever Fox or CBS deemed worthy for the Seattle market.  Which usually means a lot of Jets, a lot of Cowboys, and in the afternoon, a lot of Raiders and Rams and Cardinals.  I fucking can’t stand all of those teams.

At a bar, sure, you can watch whatever games you want (if you find the right bar, with the right configuration of TVs, and you’re not bombarded with a bunch of annoying Steelers or Packers fans).  But, if you’re getting any sound, it’s on one dedicated game, so you can’t toggle between games like you could at home.  And, you can’t just sit at a bar and not buy anything, so in any given day, you’re spending anywhere from $30-$60, depending on how much you eat and drink.  If you’re going to spend that much every week, you might as well just buy DirecTV and get it over with!

This is starting to sound like an advertisement, which I promise you it is not.  I’ve only had it for one week, so I’m sure there are things I’ll hate.  But, right now, it’s a whole new world.  I’m hooked.  I would probably pay any amount of money in the world just to know that I’ll never have to watch another boring Jets game ever again.

***

  1. Seattle Seahawks (1-0) – Until the Seahawks lose, I’m not even thinking about moving them down this list.
  2. San Francisco 49ers (1-0) – For anyone wondering when Kaepernick is going to go through some sort of second-year slump, keep dreaming.
  3. Denver Broncos (1-0) – They might end up with the best record in football, but that won’t make them the best team.  Nevertheless, they’re still pretty fucking good.
  4. Green Bay Packers (0-1) – Man, what can I say?  The 49ers just have their number.  Pretty sure that’s the only team in the NFL they fear playing in the playoffs.
  5. Atlanta Falcons (0-1) – The Falcons are still the second-best home team in the NFL.  They lost a tough road game against a tough divisional opponent; and they almost won anyway!
  6. Houston Texans (1-0) – Pretty amazing come-from-behind win to start their season.
  7. New England Patriots (1-0) – I’m pretty sure the Patriots won’t be terrible this year, but they’re not going to be elite.  The defense is still iffy, and the offense totally lacks weapons.
  8. New Orleans Saints (1-0) – Outside of the Chiefs, the Saints might be the most improved team in the NFL this year.  Still, Drew Brees can be sloppy with the ball.
  9. Cincinnati Bengals (0-1) – Chicago certainly isn’t the easiest place to start your NFL season, but the Bengals are better than that.  They’ll bounce back.
  10. Washington Redskins (0-1) – Welp, that’s what happens when your starting quarterback goes the entire pre-season without playing.  I expect the offense to improve and in a hurry.
  11. Kansas City Chiefs (1-0) – Something tells me the Chiefs won’t be out of the Top 10 for long.  Andy Reid was a terrible coach for what the Eagles became last year, but he’s just what these Chiefs need.
  12. Carolina Panthers (0-1) – Excellent front seven, better-than-they-showed-on-Sunday offense.  I kinda predicted Tampa Bay would be one of the breakout teams of the NFC, but it’s probably going to be Carolina.
  13. Detroit Lions (1-0) – You pair that passing game with Reggie Bush and you’ve got something lethal.  They better hope Bush can stay healthy for the duration; a pass-catching back is all they need to be unstoppable on offense.
  14. Baltimore Ravens (0-1) – The thing is, those receivers won’t drop as many balls as they did in the opener.  The other thing is:  I’m telling you, this is a .500 football team.
  15. Dallas Cowboys (1-0) – Jesus Dallas, how did you almost blow that game after generating six turnovers?
  16. New York Giants (0-1) – Of course this is the year that Eli Manning dominates.  I had him on my fantasy team LAST year and avoided him like the plague this year.
  17. Chicago Bears (1-0) – This is still a team that only has one receiver, and still a team that under-utilizes their running back.
  18. Indianapolis Colts (1-0) – Took quite the effort to beat the Raiders, when it should have taken no effort whatsoever.
  19. Philadelphia Eagles (1-0) – Weird!  You lean on LeSean McCoy and use Vick in the passing game as little as possible and you do well on offense!  Andy Reid, are you fucking WATCHING THIS?
  20. St. Louis Rams (1-0) – I kind of expected the Rams to handle the Cardinals better than they did.  Does that mean the Rams are worse than advertised, or are the Cards better?
  21. Miami Dolphins (1-0) – Whoop-dee-doo, they beat up on the Cleveland Browns, BFD.
  22. San Diego Chargers (0-1) – I’m shocked that they blew a 21-point lead, but then again I’m not that shocked.  Philip Rivers always finds a way.
  23. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-1) – They were one bone-head play from being 1-0.  Then again, I’m hearing all kinds of bad press on Josh Freeman.  In a contract year?  That doesn’t bode well.
  24. Minnesota Vikings (0-1) – God the Vikings are terrible.  Ponder is one of many busts at quarterback starting right now.
  25. Arizona Cardinals (0-1) – Carson Palmer, where have you been all of Larry Fitzgerald’s career?
  26. Cleveland Browns (0-1) – I’m having a tough time figuring out how bad Weeden is.  He throws the ball a ton of times per game and kinda racks up the yardage.  But, his completion percentage is usually terrible and he throws for more picks than TDs.  He sort of strikes me as a young, disappointing Vinny Testaverde, without the possibility of ever having a long career.
  27. Tennessee Titans (1-0) – The Titans are terrible.  But, who knows?  Maybe they’re not as terrible as we thought.  Who am I kidding?  They ARE as terrible as we thought, but the teams under them are even worse.
  28. Oakland Raiders (0-1) – I never for one minute thought they were going to beat the Colts.
  29. New York Jets (1-0) – Lucky win for a bullshit team.  Here’s to hoping Geno Smith turns out well.  Mark Sanchez needs to go away forever.
  30. Buffalo Bills (0-1) – Goes to show you how underwhelming this rookie quarterback class is that EJ Manuel is getting seriously glowing press even though he only threw for 150 yards.
  31. Pittsburgh Steelers (0-1) – The Steelers might not be the next-to-worst team in the NFL, but this is the penalty they get for being my Survivor Pool pick in week 1.  I might not ever put them in the top 30 all season.
  32. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-1) – Two points?  Gus Bradley, would you like to reconsider your decision?

I’m A Worrier: The Arizona Cardinals

You can see the first part of this series here.  For the record, I won’t be writing one of these Worrier posts for every single team the Seahawks play; I’m not demented!  There’s no point in writing one of these about the Jags or Titans, for crying out loud.  Why should I worry about those teams; they’re terrible!  I’m also not going to write one of these about the 49ers or Falcons, because duh.  Those are two great teams.  They comprise 3/16 of our schedule (not counting playoffs).  I’m not special because I worry about the Seahawks possibly losing to two other elite ballclubs (especially when two of those games are on the road).

This series is about the teams that the Seahawks very well SHOULD beat, but because I’m soft in the cabeza, I can’t help but be concerned about the very minor possibility that the Seahawks fuck up and blow it.

For the record, there’s a lot to dislike about the Cardinals.  They were in the bottom fourth of point-differential last year, for starters.  Of course, a lot of that had to do with the 58-0 whuppin’ the Seahawks put on them towards the end there.  But, either way, they’re easily the worst team in the NFC West and it’s not even close.

Also, this is just my personal opinion:  I think Carson Palmer sucks dick.  In fact, if I were in charge of that team, I would have passed on Palmer and tried my hand at a healthy Kevin Kolb one more time.  That, I think, should tell you something about my opinion on Mr. Palmer.  He’s a washed up clown who hasn’t been great since that playoff game against the Steelers where they killed his career.  I don’t care what kind of yards he’s able to throw for in any given year; when he throws as many interceptions as he does – and at just the worst, most Philip Rivers-esque times – and when he fumbles the ball as much as he does, how can you trust him to lead your football team?

What happens to formerly-elite quarterbacks?  Do they get a huge ego and think they can fit a pass into any opening, no matter how non-existent?  Is it their offensive coordinators, who go around abandoning the run once they see they’ve got a guy with a cannon for an arm?  If I rooted for a Carson Palmer-led team, and I never saw my quarterback throw into triple-coverage again, it would be too soon.

Also, not for nothing, but Carson Palmer is not Kurt Warner.  I understand he had a raw deal with the Raiders.  EVERYONE has a raw deal when they play for the Raiders; they’re the Raiders!  But, just because you’ve got a guy in his mid-30s who had a track record of quarterback success once, and now he’s going to be throwing to Larry Fitzgerald, that doesn’t mean you should start booking your tickets to the Super Bowl.

For starters, I would argue that when Kurt Warner took the Cards to the Big Game, it was during a very down year for the rest of the NFC West.  This year?  The NFC West is the most stacked division in football, with defenses out the wazoo.  Remember how Carson Palmer struggled in Oakland because he was under constant duress thanks to his Swiss cheese line?  Well, now picture him in a Cardinals uniform, going up against the defensive units of the Seahawks, 49ers, and Rams.  These three defenses MIGHT be 1,2, & 3 in the NFC this year.  I wouldn’t count on Carson Palmer as far as Carson Palmer can throw Carson Palmer straight into the hands of an opposing team’s free safety!

That having been said, you can’t necessarily count this team out of any game either.  They WILL shock some people.  Or, I guess based on the way people are over-rating this fucking team, I should say that they WILL shock me.  They have a solid, if unspectacular defense.  Maybe lacking some of the depth of the Seahawks and 49ers, but still good enough, with some quality play-makers.  They also still play eight home games a year.  I don’t care who you are:  you’re not at your best when you’re playing on the road.

This year, the Cardinals don’t have the luxury of hosting the Seahawks in week 1, with a rookie quarterback making his first-ever regular season start.  This year, the Seahawks don’t go into Arizona until Week 7, which just so happens to be a Thursday night game.  I’ve argued this point ad nauseum, but I’ll say it again:  anything can fucking happen on a Thursday night game.  Most of the time, it means that a bad team’s weaknesses are exploited tenfold because they don’t have enough time to properly game-plan for their superior opponent.  But, every so often, you get a freewheeling upstart who gets hot and starts throwing the ball around and scoring points in bunches.  The Seahawks SHOULD win this game, and they should win it by double digits.  But, since it’s on the road, on a short week, and against a division rival (always a tough game; last season’s 58-0 thrashing notwithstanding; besides, that one was at home), the game will likely be ugly and a lot closer than it should be.

Both times the Seahawks play the Cardinals, they play the Rams the very next week.  I don’t know how that works, but you have to argue that the Seahawks would have no reason to look past the Cardinals (like they might with the Panthers, considering the 49ers loom the following week).  We don’t play the Cards again until Week 16, at which point if everything is going according to plan, we should still be fighting hard for a first round playoff BYE.  I don’t see much point in predicting what’s going to happen in this game, since in all likelihood Palmer will be injured by this point anyway, but suffice it to say I’m 100 million times less worried about this game than I am the Thursday nighter.

All divisional games are critical.  Which makes these games you’re SUPPOSED to win all the more important.  Yes, beating the 49ers would be nice, but you can’t go coughing up games against the Cardinals & Rams and expect to have that tie-breaker advantage you so desperately need.