The Seahawks Were A Hot Mess In Hot, Humid Tennessee

Just when you think the Seahawks are getting to be boring or predictable to write about (what’s that, another slow start spoiling an otherwise winnable game?), they go and zag when you expect them to zig.

Well, you may have expected this game to be a zig, but I saw this zag coming a mile away!

Everyone’s all surprised about Tennessee’s offense really sticking it to our defense, but this was always going to be a terrible matchup for the Seahawks.  They have a GREAT offensive line, so that right there neutralizes one of our team’s best assets:  the D-Line.  The pass rush was neutralized (I read somewhere that the Seahawks were only credited with 2 pressures all day), and more importantly, our rush defense was non-existent.  Remember in 2014, when we hosted the Cowboys and they ran the ball all over us (with DeMarco Murray at the helm, btw)?  Yeah, that times a thousand.  195 total yards rushing, on a 5.6 yards per carry average, with a long of 75!  DeMarco Murray was supposed to only play sparingly because he was dealing with an injury, and he looked like fucking Superman out there!

So yeah, there was that.  Then, factor in Marcus Mariota:  he’s not going to push the ball down the field.  He’s going to take what the defense gives him, make smart decisions, and keep moving the chains.  Then, when he gets into the red zone, he’s going to make enough plays to ensure his team scores.  While they didn’t hit on every red zone appearance, they didn’t need to.  From the second quarter on, they scored on 7 of 8 drives.  When you move the ball that well, you don’t NEED to score touchdowns every time to be effective and win the game!  But, more importantly, by not challenging the Seahawks deep through the air, that neutralizes another of our team’s best assets:  the secondary.

With the D-Line and the secondary reduced to nothing, it should surprise no one that the Titans were able to score at will.

I think the Seahawks opened some eyes on offense though.  No one should be crowing, or otherwise satisfied with what the offense was able to do; we’ve seen this movie too!  The Seahawks start slow on the road, get down big, and scramble to make a furious comeback.  In this case, the Seahawks actually managed to grab a 7-6 lead late in the second quarter, after punting on their first six drives.  A Prevent Defense prevented the Seahawks from going into halftime with the lead, as the Titans were able to kick another field goal to go up 9-7.  Then, the Seahawks took the opening drive of the second half down for a TD, and a 14-9 lead, and I think everyone sort of settled in, secure that the Seahawks would FINALLY take over the ballgame.

That’s when the Titans went on their run, making the score 30-14 going into the fourth quarter.  As they do, the Seahawks turned the engines back on, pulling to within 30-20.  They failed at their 2-point conversion (because if you think they’re bad in the red zone, you should SEE how wretched they are at going for 2), but still had plenty of time for a couple more scores.

Where they really lost the game was on the subsequent Titans drive.  Tennessee held the ball for 4 minutes and drove down for a field goal to make it 33-20 with about 10 minutes to go.  At that point, not only would the Seahawks need two touchdowns, but they’d somehow need to get a STOP, which seemed like the least likely of the two scenarios.

Of course, the Seahawks did neither, as they were forced to punt on their next drive.  Sure, the D finally rose up for a 3 & Out, but at that point so much time had run off the clock that the Seahawks would need two TDs in just over 5 minutes.  They would get one, but the on-side kick was as pathetic as everything else about the Seahawks that day, and that was that.

Russell Wilson threw for 373 yards and 4 TDs, which is awesome for a fantasy football team, but it’s honestly not going to win the Seattle Seahawks very many ballgames.  If he has to throw the ball 49 times, then guess what?  That means our defense stinks.  And, for as good as that day looks, there were still plenty of missed opportunities that he wasn’t able to take advantage of.  This offense isn’t good enough to carry a crappy defense, so I hate everything about this stat line.

I really want to call out Darrell Bevell here, because yeah I know he’s the easy mark, and I know it’s like beating a dead horse, but he’s a fucking moron.  The Seahawks ran the ball on the first play of the game for no gain, then passed twice before it turned into a 3 & Out.  Next Drive:  3 passes, and another 3 & Out.  Next Drive:  we get a first down on first down through the air, then Carson runs twice for 11 yards to get the ball into Tennessee territory, then … 3 incomplete passes and a punt.  Next Drive:  he returns to the run game which nets 9 yards, but fails on 3rd & 1.  Nice idea, but poor execution.  Next Drive:  3 more incomplete passes for the 3 & Out.

I mean, look, it was a hot day.  90+ degrees in Tennessee.  I know this team’s “identity” or whatever isn’t to speed up the offense, but you could’ve fooled me.  What are all these incomplete passes if not speeding up the time between when the defense is out there on the field.  And, with all their nonsense early in the game – highlighted by Richard Sherman’s meltdown, followed by his late hit out of bounds on the quarterback – I have no doubt in my mind it tired them out, rendering them useless in the second half.

Also, not for nothing, but I have absolutely no problem with how you want to protest for your causes.  Stand for the anthem, sit for the anthem, pull the flag out and take a shit on it on midfield in front of tens of thousands of people; WHATEVER.  But, when I read about how the team is spending 3+ hours on how they’re going to protest the anthem the next day … I dunno, that seems like time that could be spent on preparing for the other team!

Again, I’m all for you standing up for what you believe in, but if it’s going to continuously interfere with your performance on the field, then I gotta say:  why should I care about the causes of a bunch of losers?  You know where you’ll have the biggest impact to pass along your message?  At the FUCKING Super Bowl, so how about you start playing like you give a shit about this fucking game, or go hang out on the fucking sidelines while we find some guys who want to win.

I follow sports because I like watching sports.  While I agree with your right to protest – and while I agree that people of color are treated pretty shitty in this country – I only actually give a shit about football when I’m watching football.  If I want an endless parade of politics, I’ll go on Twitter and blow my fucking brains out, thanks.

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.

The Seahawks Played A Fourth Pre-Season Game and I Drafted A Fantasy Football Team

What do you want from me?  It was a meaningless fourth pre-season game where most of the starters didn’t even play a single snap.  The Seahawks beat the Raiders 17-13 thanks to a final TD-drive by Austin Davis in the fourth quarter against scrubs.  The backup quarterback controversy is in full effect, and I couldn’t care less.

On top of that, I didn’t even get to see the vast majority of it, because my primary fantasy football league held its draft at the same time.  So, instead of pouring over the stats from the game, and speculating on who will get cut and who might get traded (Kearse, Lane, Collins?), I’m going to tell you about my fantasy football draft.

I know no one gives a shit about anyone else’s fantasy football team but their own, but this is my blog and I’ll rosterbate if I want to!

For starters, you should know that it’s a 2-keeper league that’s set up to expand to a 3-keeper league in 2018.  Meaning, we have to keep 2 players from last year’s roster, with the knowledge going into this draft that we’ll have to keep 3 players next year.

Next up, you should know that it’s a 10-team league, head-to-head, with a 6-team playoff system (top 2 teams get first round BYEs).  The bottom four teams play in a Consolation Bracket whereupon the winner of said bracket gets to draft first overall, and the rest of the draft order goes backwards from there.  Since I lost in the championship of the Consolation Bracket, I drafted second overall.

As you might surmise, my 2016 team wasn’t very good.  I spent the entire year obsessing over the simple fact of just getting two quality keepers on my team, because my 2015 team was just as bad.  It’s been a vicious cycle of mediocrity for many years now.  Instead of investing in my future, by drafting the likes of Andrew Luck or Russell Wilson in their rookie seasons, I’ve been forging my own path full of veterans with disasterous results.  So, last year, I said, “NO MORE!”  And yet, somehow the best I could muster was keeping Carson Wentz and Brandin Cooks.

Don’t get me wrong, I like Wentz.  I mostly like him because people in the know, scouts and whatnot, keep telling me he’s going to be one of the good ones.  I read stories about how he’s a football junkie and is working out all the time and so on and so forth and it gives me hope that maybe in a year or two he’ll be Andrew Luck or Russell Wilson, and that I’ll have gotten in on the ground floor of a keeper I can enjoy for many years to come!

As for Cooks, he was the best of the rest on my roster last year.  I like him a lot too, especially because he was traded to New England, and hearing stories about him and Brady hitting it off on the practice field gave me cause to jump for joy.

But, you know, it’s not like we’re talking about Aaron Rodgers and LeVeon Bell here.  These aren’t superstars, and there are very valid concerns about them producing in the future.

Also, you should know about our league:  it’s a 2-QB system.  Gameday rosters look like this:  QB, QB, RB, RB, WR, WR, TE, RB/WR/TE Flex, K, DEF, with 5 bench spots.  It’s a PPR league (1 point per reception), with any and all TDs worth 6 points, and it heavily skews in favor of the quarterback (unlike standard leagues, where top RBs are king, in our league, if you don’t have two good QBs, you might as well fucking kill yourself).  So, in that sense, it’s like the real NFL, except we doubled up on QBs per team because it’s only a 10-team league and it’s insane to have viable starting QBs on the waiver wire during BYE weeks.

So, that sets the stage.  Long story short:  my keepers are kinda sucky, I’m drafting #2 overall, and I need to be in a position to keep 3 guys next year.

Now, a little wrinkle!  I worked out a pre-draft trade with the guy who kept Ezekiel Elliott!  What with his 6-game suspension looming to start the season, and my friend ostensibly holding out hope for a championship this year, he accepted a straight-up swap of Cooks for Elliott.  With Julian Edelman going on IR in subsequent days, it looked like he was going to get a lot more value out of the deal.  However, with it appearing like Elliott might shake this whole suspension thing (from 6 games to 0, thanks to the NFL’s bungling), I might have the steal of the draft on my hands!

Of course, going forward, I have to worry about Elliott’s character concerns, while Cooks is by all accounts a model citizen on a championship team, but that’s neither here nor there.

So, instead of Wentz & Cooks, it’s Wentz & Elliott.  I can work with that!

I don’t want to list out everyone else’s keepers, so hopefully you’ll glean from context who was kept (lots of QBs, most of the tip-top skill-position players).  Going into the first two picks, I surmised the best two players available (for our particular league and no one else’s) were LeVeon Bell and Dak Prescott (the guy who had Bell last year opted to keep his stud QBs; he was obviously league champion).  I was pretty sure the #1 pick overall was going to take a QB, and I was pretty sure that QB was going to be Dak.  But, the day of the draft, he texted me that he was going with Marcus Mariota, another young, up-and-coming fantasy points hog.

That left me with the choice of Bell or Dak.  Understanding that there really weren’t any other young stud QBs left in the draft, only veterans and injury risks (Roethlisberger, Rivers, Stafford, Eli, Palmer, Cutler, and so on and so forth), I went with Dak.  I think he’s a superstar in the making and I’m not buying for one second this notion of a sophomore slump.  His TD/INT ratio this year might not be as crazy as last year, but I think we’ll see a spike in his overall TDs and yards thrown to MORE than make up for the regression.

As we snaked our way through the next round and a half, it dawned upon me that a lot of those veteran/injury risk QBs I listed above were flying off the board, to my shock and awe.  My hope, heading into this draft, was to get Dak and wrap around at pick 19 and snag Roethlisberger.  That way, I could bench Wentz and save him for when Roethlisberger ultimately gets injured (and hope that by that time Wentz would have asserted himself as a full-fledged fantasy starter in this league).  No such luck.  In fact, as the draft would shake out, I was completely and totally unable to pick up a backup QB.

At the tail end of the second round, after it was clear I wouldn’t get my rock of a backup QB, I was hoping to land Dez Bryant and have the Dallas Cowboys trifecta, but he was snagged 3 picks before me.  Michael Thomas, from New Orleans, fell WAY farther than I would’ve thought (I’m VERY high on Thomas this year and going forward), but was taken 2 picks before me.  There were a lot of options left, but I went with Leonard Fournette, in the hopes that he’ll become Ezekiel Elliott 2.0 (minus the domestic abuse charges).  The fact that he plays for the Jags scares me, as does the fact that he’s a rookie with a terrible QB in front of him, so much so that I might not even start him in Week 1 (such is my mania).  But, the instant he gets me a 20-point game for my bench, he’ll be locked into my starting lineup going forward.

I wrapped around and took Gronk in the third round.  A sure thing from a fantasy persepctive, and one of the very biggest question-marks from an injury perspective.  Either way, there weren’t a lot of good receivers left, so I took Best Player Available.

At this point, my team is Wentz, Dak, Elliott, Fournette, and Gronk.  Still no actual wide receivers.

By the time the draft got back to me, a lot more good receivers went off the board, so in keeping with my Best Player Available strategy, I took Carlos Hyde, RB of the 49ers.  I think he’s going to have a monster year as the best offensive weapon on that team.  Wrapping around, still without an amazing receiver option, I took Lamar Miller of the Texans.  So, now I’ve got 2 QBs, 4 RBs, 0 WRs, and 1 TE.

At my next pick, I knew I had to take a receiver, regardless of what was left out there.  For me, it came down to Emmanuel Sanders of DEN and Jamison Crowder of WAS.  Thankfully, the decision was made for me by the guy drafting right before me as he took Sanders.  Crowder it was.  Wrapping around, I was sure I was going to take Stefon Diggs of the Vikings, and ultimately this might be the pick I end up regretting the most.  See, with Yahoo’s rankings (yeah, we play on Yahoo, sue us), I saw an opportunity for another young, up-and-coming running back in Derrick Henry (the way the rankings were set, I doubt he would’ve been there for me nearly 20 picks later).  I had him all last year, and all last year he was decidedly behind DeMarco Murray on the depth chart.  I waited ALL YEAR for Murray to get hurt, and not only did he stay healthy, but he was in the top 3 of all backs in rushing attempts!  And this was in spite of the fact that whenever Henry did get the ball, he looked really fucking good (and, of course, he was a high draft pick for the Titans last year).

So, I’m rolling the dice on Year 2 of Derrick Henry.  If Murray gets injured, I’ve got a Top 5 running back to throw onto the pile (or use as trade bait for a stud receiver).  But, if Murray plays like he did last year, then I’ll have missed out on Diggs, or any number of receivers selected after him.  Roster status:  2 QBs, 5 RBs, 1 WR, 1 TE.

With my next two picks, I went receiver happy to compensate.  Unfortunately, by this time, the cupboards were pretty bare.  One of my new lines of thinking on receivers is:  taking the best ones from bad teams.  There are a couple of Browns receivers I really like, the Chargers guys are interesting, but I went with Pierre Garcon of the 49ers.  Yeah, he’s getting up there, but have you SEEN their depth chart?  And, I know, Brian Hoyer is their QB, but he’s still going to complete SOME passes, and he’s going to have to throw them to SOMEONE.  Garcon is most likely to get the lion’s share of the targets and touches that don’t go to Carlos Hyde (yes, I know, having not one but two 49ers on my team is just asking for trouble).  If he stays healthy, he could be a nice little steal for me.  Then, I wrapped around and picked up Willie Snead.  I’ve always liked him as a #2 option in New Orleans, but he seems to have REALLY fallen out of favor this pre-season (at least, according to reports), as the Saints have Michael Thomas as their clear #1, and the newly-signed Ted Ginn as a guy competing for #2 reps.  I dunno, I’ve always thought Sneed had good ball skills in the red zone, so I went with him over Ginn (secretly hoping I could snag Ginn the next time the draft got back to me, where I could keep the best one and waive the loser, but it wasn’t to be).

At that point, I had 2 QBs, 5 RBs, 3 WRs, and 1 TE.  I could officially field a full offense plus a flex spot, plus have enough RBs left over to compensate for a possible Elliott suspension.  I had to go get a Defense the next time up, because all the best ones were flying off the board.

I wanted Houston’s defense really bad, but he went 5 spots ahead of me, so I settled on Minnesota’s D.  We’ll see.  On the wrap-around, I picked up Eric Decker of the Titans.  He’s a touchdown machine, but he’s older and coming off injury, so it wouldn’t shock me if he isn’t long for my team.

Heading into the last two picks of the draft, a few Kickers had already been taken, but Stephen Gostkowski was still there for me so I somehow have New England’s kicker free of charge.  With my final pick, I took Rishard Matthews (a guy my friend wanted, but he accidentally took Jordan Matthews instead, a few picks before me).  I think Rishard is awfully underrated as a guy who had a pretty solid season for the Titans last year.  Neither he, nor Decker, figure to start for me out of the gate.  But, I’ll monitor both of them and keep the guy who’s more reliable.

Final Roster looks like this:

  • QB – Dak Prescott
  • QB – Carson Wentz
  • RB – Ezekiel Elliott
  • RB – Carlos Hyde
  • WR – Jamison Crowder
  • WR – Pierre Garcon
  • TE – Rob Gronkowski
  • Flex – (RB) Lamar Miller
  • K – Stephen Gostkowski
  • DEF – Minnesota

With my bench looking like this:

  • RB – Leonard Fournette
  • RB – Derrick Henry
  • WR – Willie Sneed
  • WR – Eric Decker
  • WR – Rishard Matthews

Look, I don’t love it, all right!  I’m not boasting here!  I love my running back situation, of course, but I have far-and-away the worst set of wide receivers in the entire league.  I’ve got a top-flight kicker, a good-enough defense, and the best tight end in the game (when healthy).  As for my quarterbacks, they’re young.  One was great last year (Dak), one got a lot of experience and took his lumps (Wentz).  The picking’s are pretty slim on the waiver wire, as far as QBs are concerned.  Most of the rookies are there, alongside a few of the very worst starters this league has to offer.  So, if Wentz can’t get it going early, I might be stuck with a Hoyer or a Kizer.

On the plus side, I think regardless of what happens, I should have 3 viable keepers heading into 2018, and that’s all I can really ask for.  If Wentz pans out, I’ll keep my two QBs and Elliott.  If Wentz doesn’t look good, or if Fournette really busts out, I might go with Dak and the two RBs.

Here goes nothing.

The 2017 Seahawks Have A Schedule

You know I love talking about the schedule months and months before the games are played and rosters are finalized!  Without further ado:

  • Week 1 – @ Green Bay
  • Week 2 – San Francisco
  • Week 3 – @ Tennessee
  • Week 4 – Indianapolis (Sunday Night)
  • Week 5 – @ L.A. Rams
  • Week 6 – BYE
  • Week 7 – @ N.Y. Giants
  • Week 8 – Houston
  • Week 9 – Washington
  • Week 10 – @ Arizona (Thursday Night)
  • Week 11 – Atlanta (Monday Night)
  • Week 12 – @ San Francisco
  • Week 13 – Philadelphia (Sunday Night)
  • Week 14 – @ Jacksonville (10am)
  • Week 15 – L.A. Rams
  • Week 16 – @ Dallas
  • Week 17 – Arizona

All times are in the afternoon time slot, unless otherwise posted.

Just to get it out of the way, I don’t care for the Week 6 BYE week.  I read that the NFL did away with BYEs in Week 4, which is nice, because GTFO with that shit.  I still think there should be one designated BYE week for everyone, smack dab in the middle of the season, so it’s fair for everyone, but obviously that’ll never happen, so you won’t hear from me on the topic again until this time next year, when I make the same exact argument.

Truth be told, I like A LOT about this schedule.  The things that stand out include only one 10am start, against Jacksonville, in December, which is a good time to get out of Seattle anyway.  I like that there are no back-to-back road games (or the dreaded 3-game road trip), as our only back-to-backers have the BYE week in between.  And, on top of all of that, three of our four primetime games are at home!  All in all, this might be the best Seahawks schedule I’ve ever seen (at least, this early in the year).

I’m seeing the strength of schedule is pretty easy, but that means nothing.  Comparing a schedule to how the teams finished the year before is pretty asinine, so I don’t take a lot out of that.  Here are my two cents, game by game (my official Game By Game prediction post comes at the end of the pre-season, so come back in early September for that).

Leading off with Green Bay isn’t the worst thing in the world.  Considering we knew we were going to have to go there at some point in the year, it beats playing them on the Frozen Tundra, in the middle of December.  Considering the Packers are always really good, there’s never a “good” time to play them, but I’ll settle for Week 1.  The best part of this is not having to face a crazy-tough D-Line.  The last two years, we had to face the Dolphins’ front four and the Rams’ front four, which is a lot to ask of a young O-Line in the first week of the season.  I won’t say we get a soft landing here, but it’s definitely a step down from those two teams.  We’ll just have to hope our defense comes to play, as the biggest downside is catching Aaron Rodgers at a point where our secondary is likely to be a little unsettled (even more terrifying if the team trades Richard Sherman, and we’re left with Jeremy Lane and a couple rookies filling the void).  Hard to see that as a win for the Seahawks, but we’ll see how I officially feel later this year.

Week 2 home opener against the 49ers?  Yes please!  That has the feel of the annual Washington Huskies/Portland State Fuckwads football game.

I know I’m supposed to get all hard for some of these marquee matchups (SEA @ GB, SEA v IND, SEA v WA, SEA v ATL, SEA v PHI, SEA @ DAL), but honestly?  The game that catches my eye right now is this Week 3 game in Tennessee.  The Titans were 9-7 last year, just a game out of winning that division, and I think they’re a team very much on the rise, and very much on nobody’s radar.  You’ll hear it here first:  don’t be shocked if the Seahawks lose this game.  I like their running game, I love their O-Line, I think Mariota has the goods, and I think their defense is poised for a big improvement.  Depending on how their draft shakes out, I could see them finally overtaking the Texans and dominating that division for years to come.

Week 4, Sunday Night, home vs. Indy.  Wilson vs. Luck, two great offenses, two very different teams in how they’ve been constructed.  I’m looking forward to Collinsworth’s analysis more than anything in this game.

We don’t have to play the Rams until Week 5; that feels like a victory in and of itself!  If it takes longer than a month for our O-Line to gel into some semblance of a working unit, then I give up.

Coming out of the BYE week, we go on the road to face the Giants.  This is actually, lowkey, a pretty brutal stretch of games the Seahawks have to open up with.  Aside from the 49ers, and maybe Indy, I see nothing but difficult matchups.  The Giants were one of the teams we managed to dodge in last year’s playoffs, and I was going to go into how they posed a difficult matchup for the Seahawks.  Their D-Line is vastly improved after last year’s spending spree.  But, Eli is still Eli, so if our defense is able to hold it together, I don’t see why the Seahawks couldn’t take this one.

Back-to-back home games against Houston and Washington.  I don’t see Houston being much of a problem, unless they somehow fix their quarterback quandary, which I don’t see happening.  Washington is a little more interesting, but they’ve never struck me as all that interested in bolstering their defense.  With their two primary receivers (from 2016) playing elsewhere, I’m curious to see how their passing attack looks.  I’m pretty high on Cousins, so I could definitely see him keeping them in the game.

Thursday in Arizona in early November:  who knows?  Once again, we don’t see them until the second half of the season, so there’s REALLY no predicting where this one will go.  Will Carson Palmer still be playing at this point?  Will their defense be able to thoroughly shut us down like they did in that 6-6 game last year?  Will the short week throw us off like it usually does when we have to go on the road in our Thursday game?

Then, we come upon perhaps the biggest or second biggest game on our non-divisional schedule:  Monday Night, home against the defending NFC Champion Atlanta Falcons.  This game was one of the best ones we played in 2016, and at least on paper looks to be no different in 2017.  I’m REALLY interested in how Atlanta is going to rebound this year.  Super Bowl collapse, offensive coordinator takes a head coaching job, target nevertheless squarely on their backs each and every week, will they be like the Panthers of last year?  Or the Seahawks of the year before.  I’ll be thoroughly impressed if they’re able to make the playoffs again after a year like that.

On the Sunday after Thanksgiving, we’re on the road in San Francisco.  Again, they should be pushovers.

Then, it’s right back in primetime with a home game against the Eagles.  I don’t totally understand why this game is on the schedule, to be honest.  Rather, I don’t understand why it’s in primetime.  I have some serious doubts about Carson Wentz and that coaching staff in general, and I don’t think that team stands a chance in that division, with how good the Cowboys, Giants, and Redskins look.  Look, just don’t be shocked when the NFL flexes this game out of primetime in favor of, oh I dunno, Giants at Raiders, Panthers at Saints, Bucs at Packers, or even Pats at Bills if they just want an excuse to play the Patriots in primetime yet again.

In Week 14, we finally come upon our lone 10am game.  GOD I LOVE IT!  From the looks of things, the other teams in our division got jobbed on the 10am game thing, but you know what?  I think we deserve it.  With the way we have to travel from Seattle, the Seahawks are constantly doing the most travelling in the league, so it’s better to reward us with those late afternoon road games.

Home vs. the Rams in mid-December?  No thank you.  Again, it’s the Rams, so expect the unexpected (but usually pretty terrible, for Seahawks fans).

Christmas Eve afternoon in Dallas?  Woof.  If it’s anything like last year’s Christmas Eve game against the Cardinals, I shan’t be happy.  But, all eyes will be on us, almost like it’s a Thanksgiving Day game, in which case that should be an interesting build-up (also, this game would’ve been much more appropriate as a primetime game, but what are you gonna do?).

Then, we close out on New Year’s Eve at home against the Cardinals.  We’ll either be fighting for our playoff lives, fighting for a division title, or hopefully fighting for a top spot in the NFC, so I would bank on this game actually meaning something.  In which case, either smart planning by the NFL, or they got really lucky.  Either way, should be a good one.

If you had to pin me down to a prediction, I don’t know what to tell you.  The rest of the NFC West doesn’t look all that impressive.  The Seahawks SHOULD go undefeated against the likes of the Rams and 49ers, but you know that won’t happen.  Let’s say 4-2 in the division, 3-1 against the AFC, bringing us to 7-3 with six more games against the NFC.  I gotta tell you, this conference schedule LOOKS tough.  GB, NYG, and Dallas on the road; ATL, Philly, and WA at home.  I see 1-2 in the road games and 2-1 in the home games, which would put us at 10-6 on the year.  That looks like it could be enough to win the division, but certainly not enough to get anything more than a 3 or (more likely) 4 seed in the playoffs.

The road to getting the top seed – and getting back to the Super Bowl – is simple.  First, the Seahawks need to stay remarkably healthy.  ESPECIALLY on defense, where I still see depth as being our primary issue (regardless of what happens in the draft).  Second, the Seahawks absolutely need to take care of business in the division.  That means going a perfect 6-0, no excuses!  The 49ers are terrible, the Rams are still rebuilding, and the Cards are on the cusp of collapse and a rebuild of their own.  This should be a down year for all three of those teams, and the Seahawks need to stop fucking around with them, playing down to their levels, and take advantage of the weak division in front of them.

If you give me 6-0 in division, with 3-1 against the AFC (which, if the Seahawks stayed as healthy as they need to, you’d think they’d go 4-0 against the AFC, but there’s always one of those weird outcomes seemingly out of our control every year against some random AFC team on the road), that’s 9-1 heading into the rest of the NFC slate.  Figure you can’t lose more than 2 of those games to be safe, which means probably running the table on those home games against the Falcons, Redskins, and Eagles, and then making sure you steal a tie-breaker game on the road.  Which is tough, because it looks like the Cowboys and Packers will be our primary competition for the top seed in the NFC.  Indeed, that game in Dallas in Week 16 very well could be a showdown for the top spot, should everything break right for the Seahawks.

Probably the best thing about the schedule is that there’s really not a huge cluster of tough games back-to-back-to-back.  Like I alluded to earlier, there’s 3 road games out of 4 (with a BYE mixed in) where we go @TEN, IND, @LAR, @ NYG.  The Seahawks SHOULD win all of those games, or at least 3 of 4, but I could also see all of those games going sideways for a variety of reasons.  Other than that, you have to say the toughest stretch would be WA, @ AZ, ATL right in the middle there, or LAR, @ DAL, AZ at the end, but both of those stretches have 2/3 games at home.

All in all, a lot to like.  And a lot to work one’s self into a lather about, if given half a chance.

Why Russell Wilson Is One Of The Four Best Quarterbacks In The NFL Right Now

This post is going to be COMPLETELY subjective and COMPLETELY drenched in my homerizzm, but I don’t care.

I think Russell Wilson is pretty great at football.  If you’re a Seahawks fan, you probably agree.  I also think we’re just scratching the surface of Russell Wilson’s greatness.  Based on the second half of his 2015 season, if you’re a Seahawks fan, you probably also agree.

Why do I think Russell Wilson is one of the four best quarterbacks in the NFL?  It’s quite simple:  I can’t think of more than three quarterbacks in the league for whom I’d be willing to trade our franchise guy.  For the sake of this exercise, I should point out that I’m including age and experience in this thing, but I’m not really all that focused on the size of the contract or anything like that.  This is a simple one-for-one swap:  would I rather have Russell Wilson for however many remaining years of his career (probably well over 10 more years, if everything goes well health-wise), or would I rather have Player X?  It’s not as simple as:  you have one year, who is your starting quarterback?  It’s also not as simple as:  who had the best 2015 season?  This is, going forward, who would you be willing to have start for your team in place of Russell Wilson?

Also, for the sake of argument, let’s forget about all the growing pains of bringing in a new guy, having him learn the system, having him build a rapport with the players, and so on.  Let’s just assume, whoever you trade for, will know our system and will get along with the players as well as Wilson has.

To fulfill the “experience” and “quality” requirements, I chopped off over half of the league’s starters from last year.  None of the 2016 rookies interest me whatsoever when compared to Wilson.  Guys like Bortles, Mariota, and Winston are all very interesting, but they’re obviously not at the level of quality or experience that Wilson has.  Tyrod Taylor is another interesting name, but I’m going to need more than 14 games started before I can take you seriously as a Wilson replacement.  Osweiler is yet another interesting name, who’s had many years backing up a hall of famer, but only in 2015 was given the opportunity to start real, regular season games.  Carr, with the Raiders, is the last of the young’uns I left off of my list.  He looks every part the gunslinger that team has desperately needed for ages, but I just can’t quite put trust in any belief that his ceiling is higher than Wilson’s until I’ve seen it first.

The next group of candidates have the experience, but are lacking in the quality department, and have been left off for what I feel are obvious reasons.  Foles, Kaepernick/Gabbert, Cutler, Stafford, Bradford, Alex Smith, Dalton, Flacco, Tannehill, Fitzpatrick, and anyone else I didn’t list above, who deserve to remain nameless because they suck.  I may get blowback on guys like Dalton, Stafford, and maybe even Cutler, but those guys have showed me absolutely nothing outside of a season here and there.  They can’t consistently stay out of their own way and they tend to shit the bed when it matters most.  To be honest, Joe Flacco is probably my favorite of this bunch; I think he’d fit in quite well with what the Seahawks like to do on offense (run the ball, play action deep passes), but there’s no way in hell I’m trading Wilson for him.

That brings me to the realistic candidates.  Quarterbacks who have the ability to play at an elite level, but for various reasons I’d rather not give up Wilson for them.  Let’s start with Tom Brady, because that’s obviously the name everyone puts at or near the top of any list of the world’s best quarterbacks.  Yes, obviously, if I had one season and I wanted to win a championship, I’d consider trading Wilson for Brady.  But, Brady is going to be 39 years old this August.  While he’s still playing at an elite level this deep into his career, how many more years can you reasonably expect him to squeeze out, let alone at that aforementioned elite level?  Two?  MAYBE three?  Remember, at age 37, Peyton Manning had the greatest season of any quarterback in the history of the game.  Two seasons later, it looks like he’s played his last down.  I’m not trading upwards of a decade or more of Russell Wilson for 1-2 more quality Brady years, sorry-not-sorry (people still say that, right?).

Same story for Brees.  He’s got a lot of mileage and I’m not wasting a guy in his prime for a guy who will be out of the league soon.

Next up, I’m going to lump in guys like Carson Palmer, Tony Romo, and Ben Roethlisberger.  Of all the quarterbacks playing today, Roethlisberger might be playing at the highest level (doesn’t hurt he’s got the weapons he’s got).  But, all three of these guys are injury risks, which makes them older – in an NFL sense – than their actual ages.  All are quality passers, but I just don’t think I’d ever trade Wilson for them.

Then, there’s Eli.  He’s started every single game for the Giants since the start of the 2005 season; no injury concerns there.  He’s going into his age 35 season, so you figure if things continue to go as well as they have, he’s probably got another good 5 years or so.  I just don’t think, as a quarterback, he’s as good as Wilson (and that’s not even taking into account my opinion that Wilson will only get better as these next few years go on).  Matt Ryan is another guy who’s been pretty durable, and when he’s got a good team around him, he’s shown he’s a franchise guy.  But, like Eli, I don’t think Ryan is nearly the calibre of passer as Wilson.  I mean, let’s face it, Wilson has done a lot of good with what’s been a pretty poor pass-protection unit.  Ryan falls apart at the first instance of pressure!  No thank you.

Philip Rivers is the last guy in this section, and he’s one I honestly sort of agonized over.  He’s been on some pretty terrible and injury-riddled teams of late.  One wonders what he’d be able to do on a legitimately great team like the Seahawks.  He can go out and win you a shoot-out if need be.  He can slow it down and play the high-percentage, short passing game.  He’s not that mobile, but he’s lightning-quick in his decision-making.  My only knock against him is that he tends to be a little too reckless with the football.  Not as bad as Cutler, or some of these other guys lower on the list, but it’s still a concern.  He’ll also be 35 years old by season’s end this year, so there’s fewer seasons to look forward to with him, compared to Wilson.

Of the players I feel are of equal or greater value to Wilson, I can count only three.

Andrew Luck is a guy I think, when it’s all said and done, will be a Hall of Famer.  He needs to learn to get hit less on his scrambles, but it would also help if he had a better offensive line (Indy’s line makes Seattle’s look like the Hogs from the 80s).  I still see a long and fruitful career for Luck; don’t forget, he’s largely been carrying that team with not a lot of talent around him.  Imagine what he’d do on a stacked Seahawks team!  Right now, I’d probably rank Wilson ahead of Luck, but I wouldn’t be totally devastated if they were swapped straight up.

Next up, obviously, when you talk about the world’s greatest quarterbacks, you’re talking about Aaron Rodgers.  A-Rod will be 33 years old by season’s end, but who gives a shit?  He’s another Hall of Famer, and another guy who should play into his 40s when all is said and done.  I think, until Wilson really starts to pour it on (i.e. turns the second half of his 2015 season into many multiple FULL seasons in the future), you have to rank A-Rod ahead of him.  Even though I think he’s a collosal douche, I’d trade Wilson for him straight up.

Finally, there’s Cam.  No one wants to hear it, because everyone outside of Carolina hates Cam (and/or spends way too much time defending him when he acts like an immature little crybaby), but the dude is a straight-up baller, and not just with his legs (although, it doesn’t hurt that he’s so good running with the football).  One wonders how his body will handle all the hits long-term, but I think his running ability will last a lot longer than Wilson’s (who I feel will slide into more of a pocket passer role the more he gets comfortable reading pre-snap defenses).  Like Luck, I don’t know if Cam is necessarily BETTER than Wilson, but he’s certainly on par, and he’s young enough, and he’s carried sub-par teams to winning records/playoff appearances for multiple seasons.  From a fan standpoint, I’d probably prefer Luck to Cam, but from strictly a player standpoint, I think I could be talked into taking Cam over Luck.  Talk to me again in a year or two and that statement might look batshit crazier than it already does, but that’s how I feel right now, so put that in your pipe and smoke it.

In conclusion, I’d like to reiterate (if it wasn’t already clear) that I think Russell Wilson is great and I don’t necessarily want to trade him for anyone in the league.  But, if I HAD to, I’d only accept A-Rod, Cam, or Luck, in that order.  Anyone else, I feel, would be beneath what Russell Wilson has to offer over the course of the rest of his career in this league.

What’s The Appropriate Amount To Worry About The 2015 Seahawks?

Well, we’ve had a few days to digest losing to the Rams in St. Louis again, and it still hasn’t gotten any less annoying.  The offensive coordinator is a washout.  The offensive line is in shambles.  Kam Chancellor is actively costing us football games by sitting out in his idiotic quest to get more money.  Going into Green Bay to play the Packers, after what we did to them in the NFC Championship Game (or, rather, what they did to themselves), couldn’t be a more nauseating proposition.  And, of course, should the Seahawks go 0-2 to start the season, you’re staring at some pretty long odds – the vast majority of teams who start 0-2 fail to make the playoffs.

Is this the year that it all comes crumbling down?  It can’t be!  It’s too soon!  I wasn’t ready!

The fact of the matter is, a lot of our problems last week can be fixed.  I, for one, expect the offensive line to be much improved by the time we play St. Louis again (in week 16).  I also don’t expect to see nearly as many explosive plays allowed in any single game as we did against the Rams, even if we ARE playing the vaunted Packers in Lambeau this week.  Finally, I would argue that the majority of the difficult teams we’ll face happen to reside in the first half of the schedule.  There are some positives to playing on the road in back-to-back weeks to start the season – like you get four straight weeks at home in November, starting with the BYE week – but you have to admit it’s a pretty rough landing having both of those road games being against the Rams and Packers (who I’m banking on being two of the better teams in the NFC this year).

If we do lose this week (which, I don’t actually think will happen, as I’ll get to tomorrow) and start 0-2, it’s not the end of the world.  The 2015 Seahawks were always going to lose at least two games, and probably two or three more beyond that.  What does it matter if you lose those games at the very beginning or the very end?  As long as the team continues to improve as the season goes on, and we get Kam back at SOME point this season, I would expect this team to be playing its best football come December and January.  Isn’t that really what’s most important?

Yes, there’s cause for concern, but a one-week sample is absolutely too small to start making rash generalizations.  I would expect an 0-2 start would lead to a mass exodus of bandwagoners, and that’s fine.  But, the fact of the matter is, we don’t yet know how good or bad the 2015 Seahawks will be.  Just like we don’t really know how good or bad any other team will be.  At this point, I’m sure 49ers fans are wearing their flashiest I Told You So pants after the ugly beatdown they put on the Vikings; I’m sure Broncos fans are scared out of their wits that Peyton Manning might be donezo; I’m sure Cardinals and Rams fans smell blood in the water with how well they played and how poor the Seahawks looked on defense; I’m sure Bills fans are thrilled at the prospects of being a real player in the AFC East for the first time in a long time; and I’m sure Titans fans are over the moon at how well Mariota played.  But, we could come back a month from now and find the 49ers are who we thought they were, Manning has thrown 3 TDs per game ever since his iffy first week, the Cards & Rams might have lost to some teams they probably should’ve beaten, the Bills got a heavy dose of reality from the kings of the AFC East – the Patriots, and the Titans simply beat up on a terrible Bucs team and otherwise look pretty terrible in their own right.

You might be sitting here, a fan of the Seahawks who’s also a fan of the Mariners, and you might be remembering back in April all the calls from the know-it-alls telling everyone, “It’s too early to panic!”  I know I’m having flashbacks as I write this, and it’s not pretty.  But, we all have to remember that these are the Seahawks!  They’re about as far from the Mariners as you can get!  Yes, the 2014 Mariners were pretty good, and only missed the playoffs by a game, and it appeared they’d made the required additions to push them over the top in 2015; but the Seahawks have gone to back-to-back Super Bowls, and have made the playoffs the past three years (and four of the last five years).  There’s a solid foundation and a track record with this team.  And there’s NOT all of the wacky variables that you’ll find with Major League Baseball (like bullpen volatility, and random spikes and dips in offensive production from year to year and from player to player).  Past Seahawks teams the last few years haven’t been particularly fortunate in close games, nor have they been deficient in point differential.  I don’t really see the 2015 Seahawks as a candidate for regression to the mean, because I think they’ve been pretty close to the mean all along.  Granted, a good, quality mean, but a mean nonetheless.

So, take ‘er easy, take a breath, and chill out.  I’ll be back tomorrow with my rationale for why the Seahawks will be 1-1 come Monday morning.

Predicting The 2015 NFL Season

I love doing this post, I don’t care how wrong I am.  Last year, I was pretty far off in a lot of ways.  Detroit winning their division, Green Bay out of the playoffs entirely, New Orleans as the clear-cut second-best team in the NFC (and maybe NFL), Tampa and Atlanta both sneaking in as wild cards (essentially, I was high on everyone in what would be the worst division of all time – the 2014 NFC South – except the actual division winner).  And, of course, I made the mistake of picking a repeat Super Bowl matchup, which is about the dumbest thing you can possibly do.

I did have this little nugget of wisdom heading into the 2014 season, and if you replace all the Denver parts with New England parts, it rings eerily true:

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.

Of course, my official pick was a repeat Super Bowl championship, and we all know how that turned out.

So, let’s turn the page to 2015.  Here are my picks, in all their glory:

NFC East

Dallas
NY Giants
Philadelphia
Washington

Seemingly every year, I find the NFC East to be a crapshoot, where the hottest team in December ultimately wins the division.  That USUALLY means the Cowboys are on the outside looking in, but in 2014, they finally put it all together.  For 2015, I don’t see a whole lotta drop-off.  They still have that offensive line, so their running game should be all right, which means their offense should continue to be the strength.  Do just enough on defense, and I think they’ll take it.

Coming into this month, I would’ve had the Giants as my pick.  I like the way they finished last year; and a full season of Eli to ODB should be gangbusters.  But, I hear too much bad stuff about their defense for comfort (then again, that same bad stuff was said about the Cowboys’ defense last year, and they turned out okay).  I have a hard time trying to peg Philly.  I think they could be as good as a top 2 seed in the NFC, or they could be last in their division with 4 wins.  I choose to believe that Sam Bradford will at some point be lost for the year.  I also believe their defense got lucky on a lot of return TDs last year, and DeMarco Murray is another injury waiting to happen.  Ultimately, all the tinkering will have made them worse.  As for Washington, the less said about them, the better (though, I do believe with their new GM – Scot McCloughan – they have a chance to turn it around in a hurry; so long as Dan Snyder doesn’t fuck things up first).

NFC North

Green Bay
Detroit
Minnesota
Chicago

Well, if I’m going to put the stink on anyone, it might as well be the Packers.  I’ve got them as the biggest challenge to the Seahawks making it to a third straight Super Bowl, and right now, in fact, I have them with the edge for that #1 seed (by way of them hosting us in week 2, and by way of their incredibly easy schedule for a first place team).  The loss of Jordy Nelson for the year isn’t great, but with James Jones back in the fold, they should have enough receivers to get through the year just fine.  One of the strongest Packers teams I’ve seen since they went 15-1.

I still like Detroit – indeed, I like them as a Wild Card pick – and think they’ll have no trouble winning 10 games, even with the losses they’ve suffered on defense.  I like Minnesota to take a step forward, as Teddy Bridgewater gets more comfortable as a passer.  And, I like Chicago to be one of the very worst teams in the entire NFC (and therefore, the world).

NFC South

Carolina
Atlanta
New Orleans
Tampa Bay

I still find this division to be pretty pathetic, and I still doubt the winner of this division will have more than 9 wins.  I don’t like Carolina much, but I like the teams I’ve ranked below them even less.  Atlanta is still far from solid on defense, and they’ve got exactly two good players on offense (Matt Ryan & Julio Jones).  That’s it.  In games it wins, I’m sure the Ryan to Jones connection will be on point.  But, good teams will be able to shut that option down, and thereby shutting down the entire offense.  They don’t have a running game at all, Roddy White is very near retirement, and they’re STILL trying to figure out a way to replace Tony Gonzalez (will the mummy Antonio Gates be a free agent anytime soon?).

I’ve got New Orleans in the 3-hole, but I could easily see them as dead last.  Who are Brees’ options?  Are they REALLY going to devote their offense more to the run?  Do they even HAVE a defense?  I could see this year going sour in a hurry.  Tampa actually has some upside, and if their #1 QB gets the hang of this game, they could approach 6-8 wins.

NFC West

Seattle
St. Louis
Arizona
San Francisco

I’ll get to the Seahawks throughout the week in a series of previews, but suffice it to say, with all the turnover, I still feel the Seahawks are one of the best two or three teams in the NFL.  In a little more shocking news, I finally like the Rams to get over the hump and into the playoffs.  I think this is the year their defense puts it all together.  I don’t like Nick Foles a ton, but he is a starting quarterback in this league, and I’d much rather have him than someone like Cutler, Dalton, Fitzpatrick, Bradford, Cousins, Hoyer, and QB Browns.  Furthermore, I don’t think they’ll have to do much at all on offense to win games this year; I foresee a lot of 16-13 wins, as teams struggle to move the ball.  The schedule doesn’t help them out much early (3 of first 5 on the road, with games vs. SEA, vs. PIT, @ AZ, and @ GB), but after their week 6 BYE, they have a stretch where they play 6 of 9 at home, featuring (vs. CLE, vs. SF, @ MIN, vs. CHI, @ BAL, @ CIN, vs. AZ, vs. DET, vs TB).  I see them winning 7 of those games alone, and with a couple of unmentioned road games against the 49ers and Redskins, it’s not impossible to see this as a 10-win team.

I don’t like Arizona at all.  I think they got incredibly lucky in 2014 (which is a ridiculous statement, considering how unlucky they were with injuries, specifically with the quarterback position) and were not as good of a team as their record.  Carson Palmer is back, but I can’t imagine he has much left in the tank.  They’ve lost a bunch of guys on both sides of the line, and they still don’t have a running game at all.  They might get off to a good start early (home games against the Saints, 49ers, and Rams in the first four weeks, with the only road game being at Chicago), but look for the wheels to come off as that stretch is followed by the following (@ DET, @ PIT, vs. BAL, @ CLE, BYE, @ SEA, vs. CIN, @ SF, @ StL).  I could easily see them losing 6 of those games, and that doesn’t factor in a tough stretch of mostly home games to close out the season (vs. MIN, @ PHI, vs. GB, vs. SEA).  With Palmer surely injured by this point, I could see them losing out and having at least 10-11 losses this year.

And with all of that said, I STILL think the 49ers will be worse!  My hope is that they’re terrible, but not so terrible that they get a Top 5 pick.  Is that possible?  Well, considering all their good people are either retired or playing/coaching elsewhere, we might actually be looking at the future #1 overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft.  Not quite my worst nightmare, but it’s close.  The only things they have going for them is a Week 10 BYE and they get to host us on a Thursday (#ShortWeek).

AFC East

New England
Miami
Buffalo
NY Jets

With Tom Brady embiggened emboldened by the overturning of his 4-game suspension, I fully expect him to lay to waste any defense that comes across his path.  The thing with that is, teams aren’t just going to roll over and die (well, MOST teams; I fully expect the Steelers on Thursday to roll over like the good doggies they are, as I’m playing against my friend in Fantasy Football who’s starting Brady this week).  The Dolphins, Bills, and Jets all have pretty tough defenses.  I don’t expect them to beat the Pats a whole lot, but I’d LIKE to see them knock Brady around, to wipe that smug fucking smirk off his face.  They also face the defenses of Houston, Denver, and Dallas who should all be pretty tough as well.  How they managed to dodge playing the Ravens in the regular season is a crime against NFL scheduling (though, I obviously understand how NFL scheduling works, wouldn’t the hype for that game – which would invariably be played on either a Sunday or Monday night – be deliciously over the top?).

Elsewhere, like the Rams, I think this is the year the Dolphins finally make it over the hump.  Mike Wallace is gone, so that’s addition by subtraction.  I think they have the weapons in both the passing game and the running game to be a consistent force on offense.  With the addition of Suh on defense, that gives their run defense instant credibility, forcing other teams to be one dimensional.  That formula (combined with playing the NFC East and AFC South) should be more than enough to get them to 10 wins and a wild card.  I like Buffalo for approximately 7-8 wins (mostly due to their very-strong defense and lack of a quarterback), and I like the Jets for even less than that (mostly due to their less-strong defense and even BIGGER lack of a quarterback).

AFC North

Baltimore
Pittsburgh
Cincinnati
Cleveland

The Ravens won the Super Bowl in the 2012 season, then suffered an immediate setback thanks to the Joe Flacco contract.  They shed older players, reloaded through the draft, and now they’re back once again, ready to contend for more championships.  You know I love me some Seahawks front office, but I have only the utmost respect for the Ravens’.  And, not to get off on a tangent here, but I like the Ravens’ front office even more than the Patriots’.  Yeah, the Pats may have been more successful over the last decade and a half, but they’ve also been cheating throughout, and most importantly, they’ve EASILY had the lowest level of divisional competition by a fucking thousand miles.  If you swapped the Ravens and Patriots (so the Ravens were in the AFC LEast and the Pats were in the AFC North), I can make a pretty easy argument for the Ravens being the last great dynasty in the NFL, and the Pats still being pretty good, but nowhere near 6 Super Bowl appearances in 15 years.

Like the Giants, if you’d asked me to rank the divisions a month ago, I probably would’ve put Pittsburgh on top.  Again, you gotta like the way their offense played down the stretch.  But, that defense is clearly rebuilding, and they’re unlikely to remain as lucky with injuries as they were in 2014 (their center is already out for at least half the year, being put on the IR-designated to return).  If I had to predict the 2016 division champions, I’d probably tell you the Steelers will finally be ready.  But, as it stands now, I think they win no more than 9-10 games, and I think that’s still not good enough to crack the Wild Card.  I like Cincy to fall below .500 for the first time since Andy Dalton came into the league.  I also think Andy Dalton’s stranglehold on the starting QB job is in jeopardy and he starts losing some snaps to A.J. McCarron (Wave of the Future!).  Finally, I think Cleveland is a mess and that’s the end of that analysis.

AFC South

Indianapolis
Houston
Jacksonville
Tennessee

Indy is quickly taking over the reign of Worst Divisional Opponents In The NFL from New England, which is pretty easy to do when you’re good and the rest of the teams in your division don’t have any quarterbacks.  I think Hoyer and that Texans defense will be good enough to get to around 8 wins.  I think Jacksonville will make some strides towards .500 this year, but I don’t believe in Bortles as far as I can throw him; he’ll be another bust.  And the Titans are too young to do much of anything.  Mariota being Jake Locker 2.0 is probably their worst nightmare.

AFC West

Kansas City
Denver
San Diego
Oakland

I think we’re reaching the end of the line for Peyton Manning.  I like them to sneak into a wild card spot, but I’m not even really high on that, to be honest.  This is sort of a hedge pick; if Manning stays healthy, and the defense keeps up their end of the bargain, the Broncos could be divisional winners.  If Manning gets hurt, I think they could fall as far as last place in the division.  So, I decided to meet in the middle – maybe Manning misses a bunch of games in the middle of the season and they get him back for a hot stretch run in December.  Either way, I feel pretty good about the Chiefs grabbing control of the division.  Most people blame Alex Smith for their offensive woes last year; I blame their sub-pedestrian receivers (led by the corpse of Dwayne Bowe).  With a REAL number one receiver in Jeremy Maclin, I think this offense hums along like those old Andy Reid Philly teams.  And, considering their defense is pretty fearsome, I wouldn’t be shocked if this team won 12 games and a BYE in the first round of the playoffs.

I could see the Chargers sneaking past the Broncos for that final wild card spot, but I dunno.  The Chargers seem to be a team that always has all the promise in the world, but ultimately falters to a .500 finish.  I’m going to say their defense isn’t up to the charge (!), their running game isn’t where it needs to be, and Rivers doesn’t quite have the receiving weapons to get the job done.  As for the Raiders, it all hinges on Derek Carr.  That’s a scary proposition.

NFC Playoffs

  1. Seattle
  2. Green Bay
  3. Dallas
  4. Carolina
  5. St. Louis
  6. Detroit

AFC Playoffs

  1. New England
  2. Indianapolis
  3. Kansas City
  4. Baltimore
  5. Denver
  6. Miami

Wild Card Round

Dallas over Detroit
St. Louis over Carolina
Kansas City over Miami
Baltimore over Denver

Divisional Round

Seattle over St. Louis
Dallas over Green Bay
New England over Baltimore
Indianapolis over Kansas City

Championship Round

Seattle over Dallas
Indianapolis over New England

Super Bowl

Seattle over Indianapolis

In 2012, the Colts – with rookie Andrew Luck – won 11 games, made the playoffs, and lost in the first round to the Ravens.  In 2013, the Colts won 11 games again, made the playoffs again, beat the Chiefs in the Wild Card round, and lost to the Patriots in the Divisional round.  In 2014, the Colts won 11 games one more time, made the playoffs, beat the Bengals in the Wild Card round, beat the Broncos in the Divisional round, and lost to the Patriots in the AFC Championship Game.  My point being:  the Colts have gotten better every single year under Andrew Luck.  Their first year was just seeing what they had – and what they had was the next Peyton Manning.  The next year was seeing if the first year wasn’t a fluke.  Last year was taking that next step towards being elite.  THIS year is where they put it all together.

They’ve got Andre Johnson to go with T.Y. Hilton, which is a vast improvement over Reggie Wayne towards the end of his career.  They’ve got the steady presence of Frank Gore who’s been nothing if not healthy and is dying for a chance to win a ring.  And, FINALLY, I think they’ve made real strides to toughen up that defense.  I think this is the year they finally get over the hump of the Patriots running the ball down their throats.  I think they’ve got the complete package – even an elite shutdown corner in Vontae Davis (if he can stay healthy) – and I think this is the year they make their reemergence into the Super Bowl.

And, with all that being said, I think they’re going to get beat by the Seahawks.  You could argue that the first 10 games of the 2014 season saw the Seahawks wrapped up in a long term Super Bowl Hangover.  I think there’s no such hangover this year.  Everyone has their eyes on that prize and they’re going to do anything and everything to make people forget about The Play Call That Shall Not Be Named.

I have no such doubts about this year like I did going into last year.  I’m not QUITE as confident as I was going into the 2013 season (where I knew as soon as the 2012 playoffs ended that we’d be the team to beat), but that team was as complete as can be on both sides of the ball.  This team is almost there, but I worry about a few growing pains early.  If we beat the Rams and Packers in the first two weeks, all doubt will be washed away going forward.

The course for a Seahawks Dynasty is still very much on track.

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 17

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

The Loser’s Bracket:

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

Seattle Sports Hell 2014 NFL Power Rankings – Week 14

I think, regardless as to how it plays out, as a fan you’re always happy when your team is able to win its division.  You’re ecstatic when your team is able to finagle its way into a first round BYE.  And, you’re on cloud nine when you’ve got home field throughout the playoffs.

At this point, I wouldn’t put a lot of confidence in Seattle’s chances at getting that top seed in the NFC.  Even if we win out – which I DO have a lot of confidence in us achieving – we’ve got the Cowboys and the Packers to contend with.  The Packers have 3 losses with 3 games to play:  at Buffalo, at Tampa, and at home vs. Detroit.  It’s certainly not IMPOSSIBLE for the Bills to beat the Packers, but it would go down as a VERY big shock to the NFL landscape.  It would require an uncharacteristically bad game out of Aaron Rodgers and/or an early game-ending injury out of Aaron Rodgers.  So, for your sanity, just count on that being a win for the Packers.  Tampa is about as hapless as it gets, so don’t even go there.  That puts the onus on the Lions in week 17, playing in the frozen climate that is Green Bay.  Certainly, the Lions have the best chances of anyone to beat the Packers in this regular season slate, but don’t be shocked if they fall short.

Then, there’s Dallas.  Yes, the Tony Romo & Jerry Jones & Jason Garrett-led Cowboys.  I know they’re the laughingstock of the league (non-Bay Area edition) and that they always fall apart in December and are the kings of mediocrity, but they’re a thorn in our side and they’re driving me crazy.

They have a tiebreaker over us based on our head-to-head matchup, because we somehow let them come into our home and walk all over us.  The ONLY reason why we’re in the playoffs right now and they’re not (if the season ended today) is because Detroit also shares a 9-4 record with us.  In a 3-way tiebreaker with the Lions and Cowboys, we come out ahead on wins in common games and conference games.  But, if the Lions fall out of that 3-way tie, then the first tiebreaker immediately reverts to head-to-head matchup, which as I said before, Dallas wins.

That’s a problem!  While the Cowboys have the most difficult remaining schedule (at least, in my opinion) the rest of the way (at Philly, vs. Indy, at Washington), it’s not impossible for them to win those games.  Philly has flaws (as we just witnessed), Indy has flaws (as the Browns just exposed), and the Redskins are terrible.  If Dallas wins out, and Seattle wins out, and Green Bay wins out, then we’re looking at Green Bay & Dallas as the NFC’s top two seeds, with the Seahawks hosting either the Lions, Eagles, or Cardinals in the first round of the playoffs (sending us to Dallas in round 2 if we were to win, followed by a road trip to Green Bay or back to Seattle against either the winner of the NFC South or whoever comes away with the 5-seed in the NFC Championship Game).

It’s discouraging that the Seahawks don’t control their own fate beyond the NFC West.  Everyone just ASSUMES the Cowboys will lose a game between now and season’s end, but that’s far from guaranteed.  Ideally, we’re going to need Philly to win at home against the Cowboys this week, otherwise things might get VERY hairy.

But, getting back to my original point, as a Seahawks fan, you just want to see the Seahawks get in.  Of course, it’s better to have that first round BYE, but it’s by no means ALL IMPORTANT for the Seahawks to have that in order to advance to the Super Bowl.

The two Super Bowl teams in franchise history have had the luxury of home field advantage throughout.  That’s certainly nothing to sneeze at, as it’s pretty fucking difficult for teams to come in here and win.  But, there’s something to be said for being a team that can win the tough ones on the road.  If things go as planned, and the Seahawks win out, we will finish the season 7-1 at home and 5-3 on the road.  I know, it’s not like we’re talking about big time road warriors or anything; but if the Seahawks who lost in St. Louis and San Diego (and Kansas City, for that matter) were playing as well as THESE Seahawks have been playing against the Cardinals, 49ers, and Eagles, you’d be looking at a team that’s cruising into the top overall seed.  In any event, the Seahawks have won twice in a row on the road against supposedly really good teams.  It took a bunch of flukey shit for us to lose in St. Louis.  We were pretty injured for that Chiefs game.  And it was 120 degrees in San Diego way back in week 2.  If you shuffled this year’s schedule like a deck of cards and caught some of these teams during their weaker moments, who knows where we’d be right now?

The point is, I like that the Seahawks are looking at having another winning road record.  I like the fact that CenturyLink Field has already been demystified by losses to the Cardinals late last year, and to the Cowboys earlier this year.  We’re NOT just a team that’s impossible to beat at home!  We’re a well-rounded team that can win anywhere, at any time of day.  Under the white lights of a national audience, we only get stronger.  You can’t say that about everyone.  I mean, shit, the Cowboys are only 3-4 at home!  Who’s afraid of going to Dallas to play THEM in the playoffs?  That atmosphere is as sterile and impotent as anything Santa Clara has to offer, with all the comforts of being in a climate-controlled environment.  Shit, at this point, that sounds a HELLUVA lot more inviting than playing under potential rainstorms in Seattle!

Regardless, these Seahawks are a scary bunch.  No one in football wants to play us at our best.  Don’t forget, when you’re talking about the Seahawks, you’re talking about the Champs.  The target is still on us, remember?  Except, it’s really not.  Not anymore.  So many people (Seahawks fans included, myself especially included) wrote off this team earlier this year.  They’re still focused on Green Bay and the big dogs in the AFC.  And yet, if you really think about it, where does the pressure lay?  The Packers can’t afford to lose another game, otherwise they might fall out of the top 2 seeds.  The Cowboys can’t afford to lose another game, otherwise they might fall out of the playoffs entirely.  Same goes for the Eagles, Cardinals, and Lions.  And sure, the Seahawks are in danger if they screw up somehow, but does anyone REALLY see that happening?

The 49ers are a Chernobyl right now.  The Cards have their hands full tomorrow in St. Louis, with another road game in Santa Clara sandwiching a home game against us; color me unimpressed with Arizona’s so-called home field advantage.  Don’t forget, we handled them pretty easily down there last year.  Then, in week 17, we get our usual home date with the Rams.  The Seahawks don’t lose at home to the Rams in week 17, it just isn’t DONE!

Yes, the Seahawks could use some help around the NFC to get one of those top two seeds, but I’m not going to go out and say they NEED help.  The Seahawks are in control of their own fate regardless.  Two playoff games before the Super Bowl or three playoff games before the Super Bowl, it doesn’t matter.  The Seahawks ARE going to the Super Bowl, and it seems like we’re the only people who know it.

***

  1. Green Bay Packers (10-3) – Some things are even more powerful than my first-place jinx.  And those things are the Atlanta Falcons and their defensive ineptitude.
  2. Denver Broncos (10-3) – This running the ball horseshit needs to end now, or else I’m going to be 2001 Mariners’d out of the fantasy football playoffs this year.  Gonna need Sanders to have a nice, big game this week.
  3. New England Patriots (10-3) – Getting a lot of heat this week about a possible Seahawks/Patriots Super Bowl.  Not gonna lie to you, I’d be for it.  Over/under on the times people use variations on the phrase U Mad Bro?:  7 million.  I’m taking the over.
  4. Seattle Seahawks (9-4) – Number four with a bullet!  To be frank, I think the Seahawks could beat any team in the nation right now, the way the defense is playing.  But, there has to be a penalty for that mid-season swoon.
  5. Indianapolis Colts (9-4) – Every team from here on down has serious flaws that will cost them in the playoffs.  I can’t trust their defense, and I still think Luck is a little too mistake-prone for comfort.
  6. Detroit Lions (9-4) – The defense is solid, but the offense is oddly inept.  It’d be pretty rad to see the Lions match up with the Seahawks in the playoffs, though.
  7. San Diego Chargers (8-5) – I don’t much care for their defense or their running game.  I also don’t much care for their remaining schedule; they’re by no means a lock to make the playoffs.
  8. Philadelphia Eagles (9-4) – Obviously, there are issues at quarterback and in the secondary.  Just need them to take care of business this week and after that, who gives a shit?
  9. Arizona Cardinals (10-3) – Again, big time trouble at quarterback.  Only, they don’t have Nick Foles possibly looming on the horizon to save them.
  10. Dallas Cowboys (9-4) – Very good up and down on offense.  But, Tony Romo’s struggles have to be in the back of your mind at all times.
  11. Baltimore Ravens (8-5) – Easiest remaining schedule of the bunch in the AFC North.  Gotta like their chances to run the table.  Plus, their defense should get healthy come playoff time.  Scary team in the AFC, to be honest.
  12. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-5) – Too up & down to be threatening.
  13. Cincinnati Bengals (8-4-1) – Just not that good.
  14. Kansas City Chiefs (7-6) – Even worse than the Bengals, if that’s possible.
  15. Miami Dolphins (7-6) – Probably needs a quality head coach.  Wouldn’t mind seeing Jim Harbaugh there next season if I’m a Dolphins fan.
  16. San Francisco 49ers (7-6) – Obviously time for a change.  They should see if they can trade Harbaugh & Kaepernick to the Dolphins for Tannehill and a mid-round pick.

The Loser’s Bracket:

  1. St. Louis Rams (6-7) – Honestly:  the team I fear the most in the Seahawks’ remaining three games.
  2. Houston Texans (7-6) – At worst, they’ll be 8-8.  At best, probably 9-7 and on the outside looking in at a playoff spot.
  3. Buffalo Bills (7-6) – At best, they’ll be 8-8.  At worst, at least they’re staying in Buffalo and have discontinued those awful Toronto “home” games.
  4. Cleveland Browns (7-6) – Good GOD is Hoyer a fucking disaster!  I’ve seen paper airplanes made by 6 year olds fly with better accuracy than his footballs!  Also, don’t ask what I’m doing around 6 year olds with paper airplanes.  NO COMMENT.
  5. Minnesota Vikings (6-7) – Pretty brutal schedule the rest of the way, but at least it looks like they’ve got the best rookie quarterback of the bunch this year.  That’s not nothing!
  6. Atlanta Falcons (5-8) – Don’t blame the Falcons for losing to the Packers.  After all, they did us a solid by taking out the Cards.  You can’t expect them to do EVERYTHING for us.
  7. Carolina Panthers (4-8-1) – I, uh, yeah.  I dunno.  They got home games against Tampa and Cleveland before a road game in Atlanta.  The Falcons’ other games are home against Pittsburgh and at New Orleans.  The Saints go to Chicago and Tampa for their other two games.  I’ve got the Panthers at 6-9-1, the Falcons at 6-10, and the Saints at 7-9 (with an outside shot of them also losing at Tampa, which would be the ultimate fuck you to the NFL playoff system).
  8. New Orleans Saints (5-8) – Hello darkness, my old friend.
  9. Chicago Bears (5-8) – They’re really blowing the last good years of Matt Forte’s career.  You hate to see it.
  10. New York Giants (4-9) – With Eli, ODB, and maybe an explosive running back in next year’s draft, we could see the Giants turning this thing around as early as next year.  Watch out, America.
  11. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-11) – Look, it’s pretty obvious that they’re angling for Marcus Mariota, and I for one hope they get him.  My question is:  do I go out of my way to draft Mariota next year in fantasy?  I play in a QB-heavy keeper league, so the answer to this question is kind of important.
  12. Washington Redskins (3-10) – If they’re smart, they’ll cut RGIII loose, fire Jay Gruden, and hang Dan Snyder with piano wire.
  13. New York Jets (2-11) – Can you imagine if there was a Ryan brother who focused exclusively on being an offensive coordinator?  Would every play be a Hail Mary?
  14. Oakland Raiders (2-11) – OK, you beat the 49ers, so you’re solid in my book.
  15. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-11) – Blake Bortles or no Blake Bortles, if the Jags get the number one pick, I still say they continue to go after a quarterback until they get it right.
  16. Tennessee Titans (2-11) – You are one pathetic loser!