The Seahawks Won While I Was In Hawaii

While I was by no means cut off from the outside world during my week in Hawaii, my GiveAFuck levels were pretty depleted as far as maintaining this blog is concerned.  And, as I return to normality this upcoming Monday, with various BYE weeks happening, and what I’m anticipating to be a fuckload of work waiting for me at the office, posting might be a little light this month.  I hope to settle into more of a regular writing routine for November and beyond, but for now the quality might be a little ragged.

Shockingly, the Rams/Seahawks game wasn’t televised in Hawaii when I was there.  Since they don’t have a team, they generally get slotted with whatever the national audience gets, and FOX saw fit to go with Packers/Cowboys (I can’t imagine why).  Even though Rams/Seahawks was televised on CBS, the Hawaii affiliate opted to televise infomercials instead of trying to compete against the juggernaut that would be Aaron Rodgers vs. America’s Team.  I mean, what was this, WWII France???

Anyway, I could’ve gotten dropped off at a sports bar, but this was Rams/Seahawks, not the moon landing.  It’s the Athletics/Mariners of football games; we’ve seen it a million times and it’s never satisfying.  I could live with myself not seeing this game.

And, as it turned out, I really didn’t miss much.  The Seahawks threw two picks (one by Tanner McEvoy on a botched gadget play), Jared Goff threw two more, and the Rams tacked on three more fumbles to give the game away.  The Seahawks couldn’t run for shit, Russell Wilson did NOT play one of his better games, and in the end it came down to a few key factors.

For one, Blair Walsh made all three of his field goals (35, 48, & 49), while Greg Zuerlein missed 1 of 2.  Had he been perfect, the Rams likely would’ve been down only 3 points instead of 6 in that final drive (though it’s impossible to know for certain how the rest of the game would’ve changed had he made that miss), which means they could’ve easily forced overtime.  And the other factor is that Cooper Kupp drop in the endzone that would’ve put them in position to win the game in heartbreaking fashion.  Yes, Goff rushed the throw, possibly due to our pass rush, but that was still a catchable ball, and one that Kupp gave away.

Of course, it’s not all his fault.  Earl Thomas had that Hall of Fame play, punching the ball out of Gurley’s hand before he got into the endzone, forcing a touchback as the ball hit the pylon.  I still think it’s a miracle that the refs overturned what was originally ruled a touchdown, as they seem to give every opportunity to at least have the call “stand”.  Earl also had a late INT on a poorly thrown ball to seemingly put the game away, before our inept offense gave it right back to the Rams.  Granted, Sheldon Richardson was in the right place at the right time for a fumble recovery that led to the field goal that gave us a 6-point lead, but had we gotten just a couple first downs at any point late in the game, it would’ve ended it for good right then and there.

All that matters is we got the win.  We’re 3-2, as are the Rams, but we hold the tiebreaker over them for now.  We’re 2-0 in the division, we’re on a BYE this week, then we go to New York to face the hapless Giants.  Let’s just sit and enjoy it for a while.

The Seahawks Beat A Bad Colts Team At Home In Primetime

I’m not gonna lie to you, I couldn’t make it past halftime of this game.  Maybe if I had some incentive; maybe if the Colts and Seahawks were both good this year.  Maybe if the Seahawks showed me ANYTHING in the way of competence through the first three and a half weeks of the season.  But, I saw that first half (where the Colts went in leading 15-10, with the last taste in my mouth being a missed field goal from a very make-able distance – 37 yards – out of Blair Walsh), I saw my impending Monday morning workday coming (where I’d have to wake up at the crack of 4am), and I made a business decision.  I decided this game wasn’t worth my being exhausted the following day.  And I’m pretty sure that’s the only time that’s ever happened with me and a Seahawks game; that’s something I do ROUTINELY with the Mariners though!

Oh yeah, that’s right, I’m equating the Seahawks with the Mariners.  That’s how bad this season has been.

I mean, there was no upside to staying up and watching that second half.  Either I sit there, miserable, as the Seahawks continue to suck dick against a terrible Colts team; or they scratch and claw to a meager victory; or they do what they did last night, which is outscore the Colts 36-3 (which, not for nothing, is something they should’ve done from the opening fucking kickoff).  Any way you slice it, I would’ve been too keyed up to go right to bed afterward, and I’d be sitting here on 5-6 hours of sleep.  Fuck that; I have DVR.  I’ll watch the second half tonight!

Russell Wilson had a pretty good game.  He was 21/26 passing, though two of those misses went for interceptions.  He threw 2 TDs and ran for a third.  He apparently looked MUCH better in the second half, though he did look sharper in the first half than we’ve seen from him in recent weeks.

I’ll say this, last night’s game was not without consequences.  Jeremy Lane strained a groin on the opening series of the game.  Cliff Avril has a neck injury that will keep him out for an indeterminate amount of time (the fact that he was shaking his hands, as if he had no feeling in them, is certainly a frightening sight).  Rees Odhiambo was taken to the hopsital with a chest injury, as he was having trouble breathing after the game after a hard hit.  Frank Clark missed a few snaps; Naz Jones missed a few snaps.  And, of course, Chris Carson was carted off the field with an ankle injury that could be minor, or could keep him out for a month or more.  Just what we needed in a running back room that already features C.J. Prosise (who missed this game with injury) and Thomas Rawls (who was apparently a healthy scratch and probably watched this game smothered in bubble wrap).  So, that’s neat.

At least the team around them stepped up.  Eddie Lacy got his first significant work of the season, running the ball 11 times for 52 yards.  J.D. McKissic ran the ball 4 times for 38 yards and a TD, as well as caught a 27-yard TD pass to close out the game.  That makes me VERY happy, as I’m tired of seeing Prosise’s name in the news for all these injuries.  If McKissic can keep that up, we can cut or trade Prosise after the season and move on with our lives!

Marcus Smith apparently had a whale of a game!  He had 1.5 sacks, 1.5 tackles for loss, and 2 QB hits, all in place of Avril.  We got him in a minor deal with the Eagles before the season, and that could be HUGE if Avril has to miss a lot of time.  Then, there was the Pick-Six by Justin Coleman, who took over the nickel role from Lane after he went down.  It was a nifty jumping of an out-route that he had no trouble taking back to the house.  He had another pass breakup in there for good measure.

I thought Shaq Griffin looked pretty good, though he got beat on that touchdown in the second quarter.  It wasn’t the worst coverage I’ve ever seen, but there’s a better way to play that ball and he looks like he’ll get the hang of it before too long.  He definitely looks better than some of the guys we’ve had over there opposite Richard Sherman, and that’s okay in my book.

Bobby Wagner also had a game, with 6 tackles, 0.5 sacks, 0.5 tackles for loss, and a fumble return for a touchdown.

All in all, not too shabby, but again, the Colts are terrible.  Don’t think all of our problems are fixed.  This might as well have been a pre-season game.

The real test comes next week in L.A., against the Rams, who are apparently legit now that they went on the road and out-scored the Cowboys 35-30.  Jared Goff looks like he’s for real, they finally have a competent receiving corps, Todd Gurley looks rejuvenated, and their offensive line is no longer a total liability.  Tack onto that they have the same defense that always fucking destroys us, with Wade Phillips of all people now pulling the strings, and this one has the makings of an ugly blowout.

The Rams are 3-1; the Seahawks are 2-2.  Lose next week, and the Rams are 4-1 and running away with the division, while the Seahawks are 2-3 and trying to cling for dear life to a meaningless Wild Card spot.

God I hate professional football.

Fuck The Los Angeles Rams

Fuck the Los Angeles Rams.  Fuck Jeff Fisher.  Fuck whoever is the interim head coach now.  Fuck Aaron Donald.  Fuck Tavon Austin.  Fuck Todd Gurley.  Fuck Jared Goff.  Fuck Kenny Britt.  Fuck Robert Quinn.  Fuck Johnny Hekker.

Fuck Orlando Pace.  Fuck Marshall Faulk.  Fuck Jim Everett.  Fuck Eric Dickerson.  Fuck Henry Ellard.  Fuck Flipper Anderson.  Fuck Kevin Greene.  Fuck Jerome Bettis.  Fuck Isaac Bruce.  Fuck Torry Holt.

Fuck Kurt Warner.  Fuck Jack Youngblood.  Fuck Deacon Jones.  Fuck Aeneas Williams.  Fuck Steven Jackson.  Fuck Marc Bulger.  Fuck Mike Martz.  Fuck Dick Vermeil.  Fuck Trent Green.  Fuck Jackie Slater.

Fuck the Rams.  Fuck the Rams.  Fuck the Rams.

Fuck the Rams.  Fuck the Rams.

Fuck the Rams.

Fuck the fucking God damn fucking Los Angeles fucking Rams.

Seahawks @ Rams Preview

I hate the fuckin’ Rams like The Dude hates the fuckin’ Eagles.  Just this bitter, resigned exasperation, like, “Really?  We’re doing this shit again?”

I hate the Rams and I really shouldn’t, is what I’m getting at.  The Rams have been mediocre-to-terrible for over a decade now, with no end in sight if I’m being honest.  And yet, they’ve beaten the Seahawks an alarming number of times, dating back to the Holmgren years.

Hell, they haven’t won more than 8 games in the regular season since 2003!

But, I’ll be God damned if they don’t have our number, and it starts right up there at their defensive line.  Like that idiot owner in fantasy who loads up at one position, to the detriment of the rest of his team, the Rams have stockpiled a ridiculous number of elite defensive linemen, while neglecting things like – oh, I dunno – quarterback, wide receiver, offensive line, linebackers, the secondary, tight end … pretty much anything that isn’t the defensive line or Todd Gurley.

If this were the 1930s, I’m sure the Rams would be the cock of the walk, and I’m sure Jeff Fisher would seem like a genius.  But, this is now, the Rams are fucking terrible, and Jeff Fisher can only seem to beat Pete Carroll, which is a neat parlor trick to show off to your friends, but it isn’t going to keep you gainfully employed.

(as a quick aside, I’ve been laboring under the impression that they’d already given Fisher an extension beyond this season, but apparently all those reports were of a deal being “imminent”.  Which I assume means, “just as soon as he beats the Seahawks”.  I’m still sticking to my guns that this is going to be his final year there, extension or no extension, because come on)

And so here we are, another year older, another couple of Rams games on the schedule.  The first one is this weekend, and it’s the first regular season game back in Los Angeles since whenever they moved away last.  There will be 90,000 die hards in attendance, of which I want to say half will be corporate or celebrity, which is another way of saying it’ll have a Super Bowl atmosphere without the stakes.  I’m sure it’ll be loud in the early going, but once we get into this thing, I can’t imagine the crowd is going to have that much of an impact.

Key to this game will, of course, be Russell Wilson and how well he’s able to move in and around the pocket.  Last Sunday, after the Suh hit, it didn’t look like he could take more than a couple steps.  I would assume he’ll be better today, but I think it’s a longshot that we’ll see him as an active runner on read-option plays.  My hope is, if he can handle it, to tuck and run with the ball early, to at least show the defense he’s okay (even if he’s not totally 100%).  That should mitigate things a bit, and hopefully open things up for the running backs.

Thomas Rawls will return to his starting role, which I think is appropriate, and not just because I have him on my fantasy team.  He’s the more complete back, and he should be getting the bulk of the carries.  I still like Christine Michael, but I think I like him more as a change of pace back.  Pick your spots and let him do his thing.  But, I still don’t know if I trust him to hold down the starter’s job full time.

The offensive line is what everyone will be focused on, of course.  They’re going up against a D-Line even better than an already-good one in Miami.  On the plus side, they’ve had an extra week to work with J’Marcus Webb at right guard, so hopefully they’ll be able to gel a little bit, and we won’t see so many breakdowns from the right side of the line.

Still, this is a game you just have to grit your teeth and hope for the best.  The Seahawks most certainly won’t be able to move the ball all that well.  Even in the second half of last year, when Russell Wilson was putting up God-like numbers, we laid an egg at home to the Rams in Week 16.  If that’s the case, there’s no good reason for us to expect the Seahawks’ offense to produce this time around.

The defense, as always, will have to run the show.  Take a look at what the 49ers did on Monday Night, and do that.  Do exactly that.  I want constant pressure on their quarterback, I want Gurley’s ass to be dumped in the backfield on the reg, and I want their receivers stuffed short of the line to gain.  No more breakdowns, no more tight ends running free down the field, no more missed tackles, and so help me God, you BETTER force some turnovers!  I’m not kidding!  If the Rams are going to throw our offense around like a ragdoll, I want our defense to be twice as vicious!

And, for the love of all that is holy, stop falling for their special teams tricks!  Is it too much to ask to fucking FOCUS on the shit that keeps repeatedly beating us?

As for a prediction, I don’t even know how to start.  I know what this game SHOULD look like:  it should be a bloodbath where the Seahawks win 27-7, and the Rams only get that TD late in the 4th quarter after we’ve inserted our subs.  What WILL it look like?  Oh, probably more of the same horseshit.  If I’m feeling optimistic, maybe something like a 16-13 Seahawks victory.  If I’m feeling realistic, probably a 24-18 Rams drubbing.

This game has Huge Embarrassing Failure written all over it.  Once again, we’ll be pointing to games like this as the reason why the Seahawks failed to get the seeding they wanted in the playoffs.  I almost don’t even want to watch this catastrophe.

Time To Kick It Into Higher Gear, Seahawks

I don’t know much about cars; do you really kick gears?

The Seahawks did a great and impressive thing last week:  they stepped toe to toe with one of the better offenses in the league, and they came out on top.  When you look at the probable major players for the NFC playoffs, you’re going to have to overcome some impressive offenses:  Arizona, Green Bay, and Carolina (even though nobody thinks of them as having an impressive offense, go really look at the numbers they’re putting up this year with essentially no one but Cam).  It’s going to be vital in some of these potential playoff matchups (if, indeed, that’s where the Seahawks end up) to have our offense clicking to match theirs.

On the flipside, we have this week’s matchup against the Vikings.  They DON’T have an impressive offense.  In fact, it’s pretty feeble.  It’s Adrian Peterson and A LOT of game managing out of their quarterback.  But, their defense is rock solid in just about every aspect.  When you look at teams like the Vikings, Arizona and Carolina again, and to a lesser extent the Falcons, you’re going to see some good defenses in the playoffs as well.  Getting our guys going against these stout fronts will make all the difference in getting back to a third Super Bowl in three years.

Finally, the big thing about this week’s game is that this is the last really good team we’re going to face until the playoffs (if you think like I do, that the Cards will be resting the bulk of their starters for the bulk of that game in week 17, as they’ll have the 2-seed wrapped up by then).  I see this as the true litmus test of the second half of this season.  To date, until defeating the Steelers, the Seahawks had lost every game against every quality opponent they faced.  They’re now 1-4 in those games, with – as I mentioned – one final test to go.  If these are the same Seahawks we watched struggle to a 4-5 start, then I would put all my money down on the Seahawks LOSING this weekend in another heartbreaker.  BUT, if they’ve somehow turned a corner (like they did towards the end of 2014 and 2012), then the Vikings will be just another mediocre opponent we’ll have no trouble defeating by 7-10 points.

The formula couldn’t be simpler:  stop Adrian Peterson and you stop the Vikings.  At that point, it’s just a matter of getting to 17-20 points to give yourself enough of a cushion to withstand any late-game heroics.  Do I think the Seahawks are capable of doing that?  Mmm, I think anything’s possible.

As I mentioned in my review of the Steelers game, I like our defense to make a big leap forward in the coming weeks.  I like Shead as our other starting corner.  I like getting Lane back and him having a full game under his belt.  I think we’re JUST starting to get our groove back as a whole, defensively.  But, I think it’s highly probable that we’re not giving Teddy Bridgewater enough credit for limiting mistakes and getting the ball into the hands of playmakers.  The Vikings have a good, young receiver (Stefon Diggs) and a quality, underrated tight end (Kyle Rudolph), and I think they’ll be able to move the ball through the air just enough.  I also think it’s impossible to stop Adrian Peterson for a full 60 minutes.  We’ve got a very good run defense, but then again, is it good because of the long line of stiffs we’ve been playing against?  Take a look:

  1. The Rams, pre-Gurley (Benjamin Cunningham led with 45 yards on 16 carries)
  2. The Packers, featuring Fat Eddie Lacy (James Starks actually led with 95 yards on 20 carries)
  3. The Bears, featuring Jimmy Clausen & no Alshon Jeffery (Forte, with 74 yards on 20 carries)
  4. The Lions, ’nuff said (Ameer Abdullah with 33 yards on 13 carries)
  5. The Bengals, featuring Disappointing Jeremy Hill, and playing from way behind (Giovani Bernard with 80 yards on 15 carries)
  6. The Panthers, first solid rushing team (Jonathan Stewart with 78 yards on 20 carries)
  7. The 49ers, ’nuff said (Carlos Hyde with 40 yards on 11 carries)
  8. The Cowboys, no Romo (Darren McFadden with 64 yards on 20 carries)
  9. The Cardinals, decent rushing team (Chris Johnson with 58 yards on 25 carries)
  10. The 49ers again, this time no Hyde (Shaun Draughn with 37 yards on 12 carries)
  11. The Steelers, primarily a passing team (DeAngelo Williams with 29 yards on 8 carries)

I mean, really, LOOK at that list!  Carolina ran the ball well, aside from J-Stew.  Starks had a solid game.  Bernard burned us pretty good at times.  But, NONE of those guys are even close to what a healthy A.P. can do.  Are we SURE the Seahawks’ run defense is that good?  We’ll find out this weekend.  If it isn’t as good as we thought, we’ll be in big trouble.

Lose this game and it’s not necessarily the end of the world.  Drops us to 6-6, with three easy games (at an injury-riddled Baltimore Ravens; home vs. Cleveland; home vs. the Rams – who we always beat at home) and another potentially-easy game against the Cards.  10-6 would still be possible with a loss this weekend.

But, a loss also leads to shifting expectations.  I don’t think we’d have any business believing that this is a championship team.  If we can’t beat the Vikings, what would make us believe that we’d beat a try-hard Cardinals team, or a still-good Packers team, or a flawless Panthers team?  We’d be making the playoffs just for the sake of being there, and we’d probably get bounced in the first round by the winner of the NFC North.  Especially if that team is the Packers and we have to go back to Green Bay again, this time in the bitter cold.

A victory in Minnesota this weekend, however, puts a total re-set on the season.  It would mean the Seahawks ARE legit, and they HAVE flipped the switch at the exact right time.  At that point, I’d expect the Seahawks to win out, nab that 5-seed, and go into the winner of the NFC East and DESTROY them with ease.  My excitement level for the final four weeks will be off the charts.

As a closing aside, the last few years we’ve been talking about the great dynasties of past decades.  The Vikings of the 60s, the Steelers of the 70s, the 49ers of the 80s, the Cowboys of the 90s, the Patriots of the 00s; but, one “dynasty” I’ve always had a soft spot for is the Buffalo Bills of the early 90s.  Yeah yeah, I know, they lost four straight Super Bowls, and from a historical perspective, they’re laughingstocks.  But, do you know how IMPOSSIBLE it is for a team to go to four straight Super Bowls?  The Dolphins went to three in the early 70s (winning two), everyone else it’s two in a row or less.  Just getting to four straight Super Bowls, even winning none of them (though, coming to within a missed field goal of winning that first one) is an all time miracle of professional football.  That’s being consistently good enough to be dominant year after year, while at the same time catching fire in the playoffs.  And the Bills weren’t beating up on a down conference, either!  They had Marino’s Dolphins, Esiason’s Bengals, Moon’s Oilers, Schottenheimer’s Chiefs, and Elway’s Broncos to contend with year-in and year-out.  Some of the greatest players and coaches of all time coached in this era, and still the Bills went to back-to-back-to-back-to-back Super Bowls.  Unreal!

I’m not making an argument that I’d trade places with those teams or anything, but I like the idea of the Seahawks making a serious run at going to four straight.  Well, this would be year three.  In years 1 and 2, the Seahawks were division winners and top seeds in their conference.  In years 1 and 2 for Buffalo during their run, the Bills were division winners and top seeds in their conference.  In year 3 for the Bills, they had some struggles and finished second in their division.  But, they nabbed the top Wild Card slot, won a crazy playoff game where they came back from being down by 32 points (still the greatest comeback of all time), and scratched and clawed their way back to their third Super Bowl (knocking off the #1 seed in the Divisional Round, then beating their divisional rival in the Championship Game).

This year’s Seahawks team looks like it’s headed for a Wild Card spot.  We already had our huge “comeback game” against the Packers last year, but who’s to say we don’t win some crazy Wild Card game this year, face the Panthers in the Divisional Round, and then have to go down to Arizona for the NFC Championship Game?

For what it’s worth, that fourth Bills team easily won its division and reclaimed their #1 seed in the playoffs.  So, we have that to look forward to, if my prophecy comes to fruition (except, no more getting beat in the Super Bowl, thx).

Looking Back At Dallas & Looking Ahead Post-BYE

There’s a lot to unpack about that Seahawks/Cowboys game on Sunday.  So, with the BYE week coming up, I’m going to continue blathering.  You can read my post from yesterday, where I bitch about that last offensive series (kneel-down aside) and our usage of Jimmy Graham down near the goalline.  For what it’s worth, I know there’s been a general, “What Are The Seahawks Doing With Jimmy Graham?” consensus among fans and media types, but that seems to be an all-encompassing question about targets and whatnot.  My post about yesterday strictly addresses his useage near the goalline, and how our offensive coordinator is a moron who designs terrible plays that in no way utilize Graham’s height gifts.

Today, I kind of want to step back a little bit and marvel at the importance of that game.  Don’t take a win over the Cowboys for granted.  Yeah, they didn’t have Tony Romo; and yeah, Dez Bryant was in his first game back after many weeks off with that foot injury.  But, that’s still a very good football team down in Big D.  Just because the quarterback was gone, doesn’t mean that was ever going to be an easy contest.  They still have the best offensive line in football.  They still have a very good defense – particularly their front seven.  They still have enough talent at the skill positions to be a threat.  When you factor in this game being on the road – always difficult to win on the road – and overall I’m just happy we got the W.

You could tell the Seahawks were employing a safe, quick-throw, run-heavy offense from the get-go.  With Okung out, Alvin Bailey was our starting left tackle, anchoring a line that has already been pretty maligned, considering the Seahawks have given up the most sacks in the league.  As the game went on, it was pretty clear that the ONE storyline the Seahawks were going to make sure wasn’t a factor in the outcome of this game was the offensive line letting our quarterback get killed.  Which, in and of itself was very nearly the factor that decided the outcome of this game.

The gameplan was conservative to a fault.  None of our usual big plays down the field, and the ones we did try were pretty ill-advised on behalf of Russell Wilson.  Even with Wilson getting the ball out of his hands quicker than I’ve ever seen from him, the Dallas pass rush was in his face almost immediately, from all sides.  This wasn’t a situation where other guys rose up to pick up their games in the absence of Russell Okung.  They seemed to take even less care of their technical responsibilities, knowing that we’d be going with the quick-throw offense.

The running game was pretty disappointing, which I’ll attribute to the Cowboys realizing what we were doing pretty early on.  So, they were able to crowd the line of scrimmage, stack the box, and play a lot of press on our receivers, since there was pretty much no threat of down-field passing.  A terrible offensive line, like the one we’ve got, is the main reason why a team with a lot of stars (Wilson, Graham, Lynch, Lockett, and Baldwin) looks no better than an offense helmed by the likes of Matt Cassel, one of the most underwhelming game managers in the entire league.

There’s absolutely nothing positive to take away from a game like this, except that the Seahawks got the win.  In that sense, it’s a lot like a lot of other Seahawks wins since 2012, so you can either dwell on all of our deficiencies, or you can put it behind you and move on.  I choose to dwell, because it’s in my nature, but I’m also not going to totally believe the sky is falling just yet.  In 2013, the Seahawks nearly lost to a couple of very bad teams in the Rams and Bucs in back-to-back weeks before going on an impressive run.  The 2014 Seahawks lost at home to the Cowboys, then followed that up with a demoralizing defeat in St. Louis, then continued to struggle for the better part of the next month before ending the season with an impressive 6-game winning streak going into the playoffs.

No one is really thrilled with how the Seahawks have played in the first half of this season.  We’ve lost to every elite team we’ve faced, and nearly gagged away a couple of others against some fairly easy prey in the Cowboys and Lions.  If you would’ve told me before the season that the Seahawks would be 4-4 at this point, I would have guessed that Russell Wilson missed 4 games with injury, and I’d be worried about him returning to the team in time to salvage the season.  The fact that we’ve been THIS mediocre, while being one of the more healthy teams in the entire league, really says a lot.  The first thing it says is that maybe 2015 won’t be our year.  But, for whatever crazy reason, I just can’t give up on this year just yet.

If you look a head, you’ll see the BYE week this week, followed by 5 home games and only 3 road games.  That’s a plus.  You’ll also see we play our division 4 times in these 8 games.  So, there’s PLENTY of opportunity to turn this thing around.  We play Arizona twice – which is what everyone is pointing to, which scares the bejesus out of me, because it’s almost like they’re assuming we’re just going to sweep the Cardinals in those two games.  For what it’s worth, I’m over the moon by the fact that we play the Cards at home first.  Both teams should be as healthy as they’ve been since the beginning of the season – so obviously we’re going to get their best fight – but we’re going to be the home team, and we’re playing in primetime, which is usually one of our stronger suits.  If we handle our business in this one, we get the worthless 49ers the following week, and you gotta say we at least have a coinflip chance of beating the Steelers in that third of three straight home games.  Win those three and that puts us in good position to go into Minnesota to try to win another ugly, defense-first game, before going to Baltimore and crushing that dumpster fire.  Win those FIVE, then we get the Browns at home, and the Rams at home for a little revenge over our week 1 defeat.  I like our chances in those two, which could send us into a showdown for the division in Week 17 in Arizona.

That’s sort of the rosy, best-case scenario outlook on things.  But, if you’re drinking out of that half-empty glass, then you can easily see a scenario where this thing turns sour in a hurry.

Arizona – even at home, even in primetime – is no sure thing.  At this point in the season, Carson Palmer was supposed to be felled by another ACL tear or something.  But, he’s rocking & rolling, and they look like one of the two best teams in the entire NFC (with the Packers being the other, in spite of their loss in Denver).  The Cardinals are going to be as fired up as any team has ever been, and I don’t think they’re going to give two shits about how loud the 12’s are.  If they’re able to march down the field on a bevy of big plays, it’ll be a library in there in no time.

I see four games in the second half that I would deem “easy wins”.  Home vs. SF, at Bal, home vs. Cle, and probably home vs. St. Louis.  Again, easy is relative, but I can’t see the Rams moving the ball all that well against us (Gurley be damned) in Seattle.  Then, we have the two Arizona games that could just as easily be losses, in addition to a very good Steelers team with Ben Roethlisberger back in the fold after a few weeks off with injury, and a VERY scary Vikings team with an awesome defense, in Minnesota.  You want a scenario where the Seahawks go from 1 yard away from two straight Super Bowl victories to an 8-8 downer of a season?  Keep losing to all these good teams that you’ve been losing to all year.

Now, what brings me hope is that these good teams aren’t without their faults.  Arizona lost to Landry Jones and the Steelers a few weeks ago, they lost at home to the Rams, and they very nearly lost on the road against the Browns before finally grabbing hold of that game late.  I would expect the game in two weeks will be close; I highly doubt they’d run us off the field.  But, just the same, I hope we shade a little extra coverage Cary Williams’ way.

The Rams and Vikings have pretty shaky quarterback play, so you could argue they’re better versions of the Cowboys team we just played.  But, I’ll say this:  don’t ever take that Cowboys victory for granted.

If I can get back to my original point, it might be very likely that the Seahawks DON’T win the NFC West this year.  Maybe the Cardinals keep rolling, maybe the Seahawks stumble.  Obviously, starting the season 4-4 doesn’t leave us any margin for error for a division title and/or a first round BYE.  So, it might be time to start adjusting our expectations a little bit towards that Wild Card.  One would think that we could get that Wild Card with a 10-6 record … IF we have enough tie-breakers to get us through.

Right now, at 4-4, we’re 8th in the NFC.  The Falcons are 5th at 6-2, but they’re paper tigers if I’ve ever seen any.  I don’t think their defense is all that impressive; Julio Jones is good, but Matt Ryan is definitely erratic, and they’re not good enough to get by on their running game alone.  I think the Panthers are going to run away with that division and I think the Saints are better than the Falcons and will eventually pass them.  The Vikings are currently 6th at 5-2 and definitely look like a stronger team than the Falcons, but they’ve also had a pretty easy schedule to kick off the season (facing the likes of the 49ers, Bears, Lions twice, Chargers, and Chiefs).  For the Seahawks to make a Wild Card, that game in Minnesota will be crucial.  We HAVE to beat the Vikings and get that head-to-head tiebreaker.  Beyond that, assuming the Rams lose next week to Minnesota, we’ll have the same record as them.  If we beat them at home, that should put them to bed (Nick Foles is also, very clearly, who we thought he was, and will not be leading them to the post-season this year).

With the Rams and Vikings out of the way via tie-breakers, and with the Falcons falling to Earth a little bit, and with the Saints still being too inconsistent on defense to really pose a threat, I would argue the only other team left in the NFC to worry about is the Dallas Cowboys.  Remember them?  Well, they host the Eagles next week (honestly, a game the Eagles should probably win, but also a game that could easily go the other way), then they go to Tampa in a game the Cowboys will be favored in.  Even if they go 1-1 in that stretch, that would put them at 3-6.  After that, Tony Romo returns, and they’ll be at full strength.  Their closing run, with Romo back in the fold, features 4 road games and 3 home games, but the only really difficult one is the game in Green Bay.  If Romo returns on fire, and they start playing like the 2014 Cowboys, I could EASILY see them finish the season with a record of 10-6.  At which point, if the Seahawks are also 10-6, you’re going to be glad the Seahawks won an ugly clunker of a game back on November 1st.

The First Round of the NFL Draft Happened Yesterday

You’ll notice how little of it applied to the Seattle Seahawks.  Quick Reminder:  Jimmy Graham.

The real story of yesterday ended up being the three players picked from the University of Washington.  Danny Shelton kicked it off for us, going 12th to the Cleveland Browns.  He was the first interior defensive lineman taken and projects to be a BEAST.  If he tops out at a Sam Adams level, I think the Browns would be ecstatic.

Next up, at 18, the Kansas City Chiefs took Marcus Peters.  This almost feels like cheating, considering the Huskies kicked him off the team and everything.  Is he REALLY a Husky, or is he more accurately an ex-Husky who finished his college career as an unemployed independent contractor?  I mean, for better or for worse, when they list the college for Russell Wilson, they’re not listing NC State, even though he spent the bulk of his time there.  Anyway, Peters was the third corner taken, but arguably has the highest grade based on talent alone.  Obviously, getting kicked off the team – and the reasons therein – didn’t help matters.  But, landing in the Top 20 is pretty damn good all things considered.

Finally, probably the biggest surprise of the first round (aside from the general lack of trading that went down) had Carolina taking Shaq Thompson at 25.  Seems a little high to take a weakside linebacker – and a LOT high to take someone who arguably doesn’t have a set position whatsoever – but with his raw talent, you gotta figure a smart organization will plug him in and sort of re-work the defense around him to utilize his talents to their fullest.  Admittedly, I’m not super high on Thompson’s pro potential – at least, compared to the Huskies who went before him – but the kid’s got gifts.  At the very least, you know you’re getting a special teams dynamo (which, obviously, isn’t something you draft for in the first round, but at least you’ll know you’re not getting a total all-around bust either).

The University of Washington had the most players selected on Day 1 of any school in the nation.  I suppose that speaks more to Sark’s abilities as a recruiter, but it still looks good for the program in general.  The Huskies also went a long way towards the Pac-12 dominance we saw, as our conference tied the ACC with 9 picks each (ahead of the SEC’s 7, for what it’s worth).  The Pac-12 for football isn’t NEARLY as disrespected as the Pac-12 is for men’s basketball, but you can’t help feeling somewhat ignored by the national media when it comes to bowl season.  Not for nothing, but you have to wonder how the Pac-12 would fare if Oregon was just another mediocre program (still doesn’t mean I’d ever root for them under any circumstances – up to and including an Oregon victory preventing the end of the world – but it’s interesting to think about).

From a Seahawks perspective, it’s nice seeing 4 of the top 6 draft picks going to AFC teams.  Those players, you figure, are the cream of the crop, so it’s nice keeping them out of our hair for the most part.

The Rams took Todd Gurley, so prepare for dozens upon dozens of Hans & Franz “Gurley Man” references.  He’s an elite – top 5 level – running back talent if he ever returns to 100% following his injury.  Or, he’s a Reggie Bush type who will flash greatness in between bouts in the training room.  He doesn’t really scare me too much considering the Rams apparently have a God-awful offensive line.  Nick Foles makes the Rams much more interesting, but again, you have to wonder how good he’s going to be with that line and his team’s overall lack of weapons to throw to.  I don’t know if that pick moves the needle too much from their 8-8 baseline.

The 49ers traded back and took a defensive end out of Oregon.  That franchise is a mess right now, so don’t be shocked if this guy flames out hard.

The Cardinals took an offensive lineman which is absolutely the right thing for them to do.  It’s not like they’re going to find their quarterback of the future with the 24th pick, so you might as well do everything in your power to keep what quarterbacks you do have healthy and upright.  I don’t like living in this world where Arizona knows what it’s doing on draft day, combined with some whip-smart coaching that’s able to turn moderately-talented individuals into NFL studs.  Let’s hope more misfortune befalls this organization, for all of our sakes.

The Seahawks don’t pick until the 31st pick of the second round later today.  Rumors abound of the Seahawks trading up (as we have approximately a million picks in the 4th, 5th, and 6th rounds), so I guess we’ll see.  Could be a long, boring few hours, as the Seahawks technically only have two picks today before their nine picks tomorrow.