Not Winners & Losers Of The Seahawks’ Game At Chicago

Yeah, I don’t know why I stayed up to watch all of that game either.

The Seahawks just looked bad.  The offense was terrible.  The defense looked like they wouldn’t be able to stop anything after the Bears’ first drive.  Luckily, some timely turnovers kept the Bears at bay for a while, but we couldn’t keep them off the board when it counted and came up a touchdown short for an 0-2 start to the season.  Now that we almost certainly don’t have to worry about the playoffs, let’s talk about this one.

What I’m Geeked Out About After Two Games

Shaquill Griffin caught two picks on back-to-back possessions in the second quarter to help limit the Bears to only a 10-3 halftime lead.  I was pretty worried about where our turnovers would be coming from heading into this season, but through two games we already have 5 picks!  We had only 14 all of last year, for a frame of reference.

I’m also geeked out about Mychal Kendricks’ first game, where he had a sack, tackle for loss, pass deflection, and a hit on the quarterback, all in pretty limited duty for a guy with just one practice under his belt.  Just imagine what he’d be able to do if he’s not suspended and can play with Wagner and Wright eventually!

Other Things That Caught My Eye (In A Good Way)

That was a pretty catch by Tyler Lockett for that touchdown in the 4th quarter to bring us back to within a single score and momentarily give us hope.

I thought Chris Carson looked good when he was out there – 6 runs for 24 yards – but like last week, his playing time was jerked around and we hardly saw him at all in the second half.  Either his conditioning SUCKS and he keeps calling out of the game (which, in turn, led to the coaching staff to just sit him the entire second half as punishment), or the coaching staff is filled with morons who clearly can’t see that he’s the best running back on this team and deserves to get touches reflecting as such.  Either way, it’s far from ideal.

The defense looked absolutely FRIGHTFUL early on in this game, but settled down nicely and deserved to win this game, since they only gave up 17 points on the road (that other TD was … more on that in another section).  Considering how many starters were out – Wagner, Wright, Flowers – and how many other players were playing through injuries, it’s damn near a miracle we did as well as we did!  I came away pleasantly surprised; let’s hope the offense can get its collective shit together sooner rather than later.

Shout out to Frank Clark, who got in on some of the action in the backfield, with a sack, 2 tackles for loss, and a QB hit.

Finally, that was a hefty 56-yard field goal by Janikowski before halftime to pull the game to within 7 points.  That was a HUGE kick, ultimately overshadowed by the fact that the Seahawks lost; but it felt like all would’ve been lost if he’d missed that one.

Let’s Talk About Competitions

I don’t think we saw anything out of Shaquem Griffin on defense, as he looked to be relegated to special teams.  Austin Calitro – carrying the mail for Wagner in the middle – looked pretty solid.  He got pushed back a little bit – where Wagner would’ve stood up guys – but I didn’t see a whole lot of missed tackles or poor angles.

Akeem King gave up one of those 4th quarter touchdowns, but otherwise I thought he looked okay.  He didn’t appear to be picked on an inordinate amount of times, but he really didn’t make any plays either.

Other Things That Caught My Eye (In A Bad Way)

Russell Wilson just had a garbage game.  He looked like Tarvaris Jackson back there with the way he held onto the ball forever!  Obviously, the Bears have a great pass rush, but it’s their interior guys who I thought did more damage than Khalil Mack or their rush ends.  Wilson didn’t really have a chance to run around, because the front got such great push, and the ends just played contain with Wilson until the pocket shrunk and shrunk on him.  At some point, you would’ve hoped the Seahawks’ offense would’ve adjusted and they would’ve incorporated more quick, short plays.

It did seem like either they were going for the long bomb on every drop back, or the receivers just couldn’t get open.  Probably a healthy mix of both, but either way it was a disaster against that defense.

And that Pick Six?  GOOD LORD, that was Kerry Collins-esque!  Matt Schaub couldn’t have thrown a worse duck!  WHAT THE FUCK WERE YOU THINKING RUSSELL?!

Can someone explain that third quarter to me?  The Seahawks had 2 drives – both 3 & Outs – and all six plays were attempted passes.  You want to run the ball, Pete Carroll?  You say you want to make the running game great again?  Well, you have to actually RUN THE BALL YOU KNOW!

Just bland, pedestrian, predictable play-calling all the way around.  Don’t even THINK about bringing in an innovative mind to run the offense!  I want this shit to be as old school and boring as you can get!

It’s pretty easy to see why a lot of fans are fed up with this quarterback/coaching situation.  The Seahawks better get a win in a hurry, or this thing could get ugly fast.

Washington Huskies Really Impressed Me With Road Victory Over Utes

My family threw its second-annual no-limit Texas Hold ‘Em tournament on Saturday night.  Max 6 players, $100 buy-in, with any number of $20 buy-in games after that.  These games usually feature a number of players losing early and waiting a long time before some sort of split pot ends the game and everyone can come back into a new one.

The Big Game started at 4pm and while I wasn’t the first one out, I was indeed the second person eliminated, and found myself killing a lot of time.  Once my brother was knocked out, the three losers ended up going downstairs to play some pool.  The remaining three players apparently could’ve kept going all night, and in the end it was a 3-way split that was pretty evenly divided, all things considered.

When I started playing poker again, it wasn’t even 6pm, just to give you an idea of how these poker games go.  They’re pretty quick.  The longest game of the night didn’t even get us to the start of the Husky game.

As I was pretty engrossed in keeping the poker games moving – I wouldn’t be eliminated from the table the rest of the night, as I want to say we played at least 4-5 more $20 games after The Big Game – so I was a little distracted when the Huskies finally took the field.  But, I came away REALLY impressed with how the Huskies handled their business down in Utah!

The Husky defense was the star of the show.  Obviously, when you win 21-7 on the road in the Pac-12, the defense is doing something right.  I haven’t seen a team blow up that many guys in a LONG time.  Seriously, that’s pretty close to how it would look if you pitted an NFL defense against a college offense; the University of Washington has a ton of NFL guys on its squad, and the Utes are playing with amateurs on offense.

Like I said, I didn’t have a great handle on this game otherwise.  I know this:  Myles Gaskin brought his lunch pail and his hard hat and went to WORK!  143 yards on 30 carries (!) for the Senior who was, for all intents and purposes, ALL of the running game.  Salvon Ahmed had only 3 carries for 5 yards, which is super weird, but that’s how the game shook out.

Right out of the gate, the defense forced a 3 & out, and the Huskies took the ball 65 yards for a Gaskin TD to take an early 7-0 lead on Utah’s blackout night.  The Utes worked a painfully long drive to tie it up at the end of the first quarter, but the Huskies came right back with a long drive of their own to start the second quarter to go up by the score of 14-7.  The defenses took over from there.

The Huskies didn’t score again until the third quarter, off of a Utah fumble.  We went 44 yards for a 21-7 lead, and that was that.

Late in the game, Jake Browning – who had a so-so night overall – threw a mind-boggling interception that left the Utes with the ball at the Husky 11 yard line.  But, the defense stood up and held them on downs.  The Utes would get the ball inside the Husky 30 yard line on their next possession, but again the defense held them out of the endzone.  Just an unbelievable performance by a top-notch unit.

This game was just so huge, and I couldn’t be happier that the Huskies not only won, but took care of business.  It gives me SO much more confidence in this team going forward.  The defense is humming, the running game broke out after two mediocre performances, now it’s just time to see Browning get uncorked and hopefully the Dawgs can get on a nice little roll here.

The rankings are what they are; they’re not to be worried about at this time.  We’re in the Top 10 or close to it, we’ll be fine.

Now we come home to a couple of high-profile games against surprisingly solid teams.  ASU already has an upset win over a ranked Michigan State at home (though, they dropped a road game to San Diego State this past weekend), so they look much more formidable than I thought coming into the season.

This sets up nicely, is what I’m trying to say.  The Huskies PROBABLY have to win out to make the playoffs (certainly beating both Stanford and Oregon is a must), but I can finally see it shaking out that way.  It’ll take some luck along the way, but the Huskies are overdue for some good luck.

With this win in Utah, my outlook on the Huskies has totally changed.  Now, Utah, get back on the horse and prove to the world that you’re one of the top Pac-12 teams that I think you are!

The Seahawks Get An Early-Season Monday Night Game In Chicago

I got into this a little bit on Twitter and thought I’d expound on my feelings about this game.  In a nutshell, I won’t be picking the Seahawks to win until I actually see them do it first.

Last week, the Seahawks went to Denver, and it’s unfortunate timing from a scheduling perspective, because the Broncos never fucking lose at home in September.  I would argue the Seahawks are a pretty middle-of-the-road football team in the NFL (really, I’ve been saying that all along, and nothing in that first game has changed my mind in the slightest), and if you played that game in Seattle, the Seahawks probably would’ve won.  I think even on a neutral field – that isn’t a mile fucking high – the Seahawks are better than the Broncos, and I believe their respective records will reflect that by season’s end (as well as the stats and all the rest).  But, on that day, in that location, coming off of a pretty light preseason, there was just no way.  When you hear about all the guys cramping up and puking on the sidelines, with the heat and the elevation and all that, it sounded pretty miserable.  All the cards were stacked in Denver’s favor, and to their credit, they got the job done in the end.

This week, the Seahawks go to Chicago for Monday Night Football.  Again, the timing feels pretty unfortunate.  We’re now 0-1, we’ve yet to play a home game, and we get stuck playing Khalil Mack and a hyper-aggressive defense that should give our offensive line fits in pass protection.  A lot of people are down on the Bears, but I kinda like ’em.  If I had to rank them, I’d probably put them right in that Denver Broncos range.  Denver probably has a better QB (then again, time will tell) by a slight margin, but I would argue the Bears are even better defensively.  And the Bears have a number of quality weapons for Mitch Trubisky to give the ball to.

The key in this game is going to be whether or not Trubisky can avoid making a lot of huge mistakes.  The Seahawks’ pass rush shouldn’t be an issue, so he should have plenty of time to throw.  If he just makes smart, safe decisions, the Bears should have no trouble moving the ball down the field just enough to out-score the Seahawks and win this game by a close margin.

In short, I think the Seahawks are the better team overall, I think the Seahawks would win this one if it was in Seattle, and I think we’d also probably win this one on a neutral field.  Just like last week, I think we’re going to fall short, because I don’t think our defense is good enough to get those critical late-game stops with a narrow lead, and I don’t think our offense will be good enough against that defense to overcome a narrow deficit late in the game.  I hope I’m wrong, but there you go.

What can the Seahawks do to shock the world?

How about playing a clean game as far as offensive penalties are concerned?  How about converting third downs?  How about running the ball and sticking with the hot hand, which will almost assuredly be Chris Carson?

I want to see Carson having a big game in general (I think the rushing attack is going to be the great equalizer when it comes to slowing down the Bears’ pass rush), I want to see Tyler Lockett with a ton of catches and a ton of yards, and I want to see Brandon Marshall catch another TD or two.  If we can get those guys going, I think we’ll be all right.

If we can score 28 or more points, I think we’ll be all right.

But, if we score in that 24-point range, I think it’ll be a heartbreaking defeat.

The key for the Seahawks here is to get a lead that’s bigger than 3 points late in the game.  If we can get a 4-point lead, and force the Bears to drive the length of the field to score a touchdown, I think PROBABLY our defense can hold up.  But, if it’s 3 points or less, there’s just no way.  Not with how shitty our D-Line is.

In other news, the Seahawks signed Mychal Kendricks to a 1-year deal.  Assuming the NFL doesn’t suspend him, that’s an awesome signing for a defense that’s looking increasingly short on linebackers as guys keep popping up on the injury report.  I hope he plays this week and I hope he fucking kicks ass!

The Huskies Beat Up On The Fighting Hawks, Now It’s On To Utah

Last week’s 45-3 win was nothing special, but it was fun nonetheless.  I got to go to this one, and honestly the tailgating was the best part.

I thought the defense bounced back nicely.  Not that North Dakota poses much of a threat, but still.  I could’ve easily seen them throw up some garbage TDs late in the game, but we held them to just a field goal.  Really, their one long run of 69 yards (nice) was the only thing they did all day.

The offense, however, was another story.  Now, maybe it’s the dozens of beers I consumed that morning, but I really don’t remember us looking all that good.  The numbers would appear to bear that out.  Jake Browning threw for 313 yards and 2 TDs, but he also threw 2 picks.

The real galling thing about this game was how inept our rushing attack was for the second week in a row.  I mean, we’ve bolstered our O-Line, and we have an NFL running back in Myles Gaskin as our lead rusher; HOW ARE WE THIS BAD?  Gaskin ran 15 times for only 53 yards.  Salvon Ahmed had a solid game, but they only handed him the ball 4 times!  For 44 yards!  IT’S TIME TO GIVE AHMED MORE TOUCHES YOU GUYS, IN CASE YOU HAVEN’T NOTICED, HE’S PRETTY FUCKING GREAT!

There was apparently a lot of rushing after I left early in the 4th quarter – to go and catch that evening’s Mariners game – because the team as a whole looked okay with 195 yards and a 5.7 yards-per-carry average.  But, for the first half – where the Huskies only amassed a 17-0 lead – it was, as coach said, pedestrian.

I still stand by what I said before the Auburn game – I do believe it’s better to play those teams right out of the gate, as the surprise factor more than anything can be a big equalizer, particularly on the road like that – but maybe it wasn’t the best thing for THIS Husky team.  Maybe this team needed a soft landing to start the season, before ramping up against the more elite teams.

I sure as shit hope so, because we’ve got a pretty good team coming up this week in the Utes.  It’s a road game, it’s at 7pm, and it’s going to be a dogfight in every sense of the term!

Can’t lose this game.  At all.  I think that snuffs our playoff hopes before they even got started, and that would be a bummer too big to overcome.  Sure, the conference title would still be in play, but it sucks to think that’s a consolation prize this early in the season.  I’d like to still have that inkling of hope, if that’s all right with the Huskies.

I will say that I’m NOT going to jump on this bandwagon of fans who are clamoring for Jake Haener to take over for Browning … but I’d certainly consider it a lot more if Browning lays an egg in Utah.  At this point, I have to believe it’s all mental with him, and if he’s going to have the yips in every big game we play, then it’s time to move on and look to the future.  This Husky team is TOO GOOD to have a sub-par quarterback ruining the entire season.

It’s Time To Blow Up The Seattle Mariners

For real.  It’s time.

We are officially 8.5 games behind the A’s for the second wild card spot, with 18 games to go.  So, stick a fork in the Mariners everyone!

If that isn’t bad enough, we’ve fallen so far that the Tampa Bay Rays of all teams have officially caught us in the standings.  A team that really wasn’t trying to Win Now at the trade deadline – sending away some quality talent for prospects – has done so good in its second half run that the Mariners are doomed to fall two teams out of the playoffs.  Fantastic.

Here are my thoughts on what the Mariners should do this off-season.

Bye Bye Nelson Cruz

People were talking about extending Nelson Cruz throughout the year, as he’s on the final year of his deal.  Which, of course, got me to wondering what the M’s should do this off-season to try to improve.  SHOULD they extend Cruz?  Abso-fucking-lutely-fucking-not!  Dude’s hitting .260!  Sure, he’s got 34 homers, but that’s ALL he’s got!  He has a whopping 16 doubles and is easily on pace for his lowest double count in a Mariners uniform.  Dude can’t run, can’t hit for average; if he’s not swinging dingers or grabbing the occasional walk, he’s totally useless.

Let’s see Nelson Cruz for what he is:  one of the best free agent signings in Mariners history.  We got four REALLY GREAT years out of the guy.  If you asked me at the time of signing, I would’ve told you I hoped for 2 great years, 1 okay year, and 1 dreadful year.  The fact that we’ve milked that cow for all he’s worth is pretty fucking astounding.  LET’S LEAVE IT AT THAT!  Let’s remember Nelson Cruz fondly!  Let’s be able to look back and say we MAYBE got rid of him a year too early, rather than a year too late.  For what it’s worth, I think getting rid of him after this season is RIGHT ON TIME, but regardless, he’s not getting any better.

From there, that opens us up to options.  But, all I want to see is this team shedding salary and shedding talent for high-level prospects.

Trade James Paxton

He’s never going to be fully, 100% healthy in any full season ever.  He’s never going to be any better than he’s been this year.  His value has peaked.  He’s still got 2 more Arbitration years, so that contract is in great shape.  We should be able to get ELITE-level prospects for a guy like Paxton, so jump at the opportunity.

Trade Mitch Haniger

You’re not going to get any prospects of quality whatsoever for the real dregs of this team:  Seager, Cano, Felix; so we’re going to have to trade some players of actual value if we’re going to rebuild this organization.  Haniger has 4 more years left of team control and he’s already an All Star; his value will never be higher.  We should be able to get a TON of prospects for him.

Trade Edwin Diaz

Unless he’s the next Mariano Rivera, relievers don’t have a long shelf life.  Particularly ones who regularly throw in the high 90’s and have an awkward-looking arm slot.  Diaz just strikes me as a guy who’s going to have elbow and/or shoulder problems, MAYBE as early as next year.  He’s leading all of baseball in saves, he’s the best closer in the game, ergo we should make a KILLING in this trade.

Dump Robinson Cano or Put Him At DH

I’m in the camp that we’ll never be able to move Cano’s salary.  He’s making $24 million per year for the next 5 years.  If a team offered the Mariners literally ANYTHING for Cano – even if it’s a low-level PTBNL – you jump at the opportunity.  Hell, even if we have to send a bunch of millions over to make the deal work, whatever money we can save while getting out from under that contract, you do it.  You also do it because, frankly, I think Cano still has some value to a team.  I think he’s still a pretty good player.  And, for the objective of the Mariners blowing it up, we don’t WANT pretty good players on this team.  We want useless assholes who can’t hit, can’t pitch, and suck at fielding.  We’re not going to make the playoffs anyway, might as well be the very WORST team in the league.

If I’m right, and we can’t deal Cano for a bag of balls, then he’s got to slot over to DH.  That’s where he’s destined to go in his old age anyway.  If we’re going to be stuck with him for five more years, then we’re going to get the most value out of him at the DH spot.

Dump Dee Gordon or Leave Him At 2B

Dee’s another guy who’s owed a ton of money – an average of $13.5 million per year over the next 3 years – so it’s not likely we’d get anything for him.  Again, MAYBE a bag of balls, and probably only if we shell out some millions to get someone else to take him off our hands.

I’m less upset about being stuck with Dee because he’s fun.  He’s also not really that good.  Assuming he doesn’t regain his former hitting form as a .300 hitter, he should be a nice little drain on this team as we try to tank for the #1 overall draft pick the next few years.

Get Rid Of Kyle Seager

We’ve got Seager for $18-19 million per year for the next three years (his buyout in 2022 should be nominal).  So, like Cano and Dee, that’s a tough one to move.  However, I could see moving him as a more plausible objective based on the fact that he’s pretty well-liked in baseball circles.  He very well could just need a change of scenery to get his bat and his mojo going again.  Put him in a stadium with a short porch in right field and let him go to work yanking balls down the line; how are the Red Sox stocked at third base?

Either way, he’s got to go.  Unless he’s hiding some secret injury that we won’t hear about until after the season, I don’t see him turning his career around at all in Seattle.  He’s just TOO bad.

Keep Mike Zunino

He’s not any good anyway.  Plus, I just don’t see us getting anything of value back in trade, considering he’s never been able to hit and he seemingly never will.  Zunino is going to be cheap for the next 2 years anyway, so keep him, and try to develop his replacement when he’s a free agent and we let him walk.

Don’t You Touch My Felix!

He’s got one more year to go.  He’s earning $27 million next year.  No one will pick up that salary.  We’d likely have to send $20 million with him just to get rid of him for zero prospects.  Plus, I like Felix, he’s still ours, and YOU CAN’T HAVE HIM I DON’T CARE HOW BAD HE GETS!

Think of it like this, if he continues to pitch worse and worse, then that helps the Mariners tank, and maybe he retires at the end of the year and will go down as the greatest Mariners pitcher of all time who never played for any other organization.  Or, in the off chance he turns his career around and turns into a Bartolo Colon type, then great!  Maybe we can extend him at a team-friendly salary season-to-season and enjoy Felix in his overweight twilight years.

Only Trade Segura If There’s Good Value

For who he is, he’s actually got a pretty friendly contract all the way through 2023.  Even though he’s been dinged up with minor aches & pains recently, he’s still hitting over .300.  If another team offers the M’s a nice package of prospects, then absolutely jump on it!  But, don’t make him a straight up salary drop; wait for the teams to come to us and maybe start a bidding war if possible.

Here’s the deal:  Jeff Passan brought up a good point yesterday on Brock & Salk; when asked if the M’s should just blow it up, he asked if we’re ready to be terrible for the next 5 years.  And, as Salk mentioned, we’ve been pretty fucking terrible for the last 17, so what’s 5 more?

The Astros aren’t going away.  The A’s are young and solid.  The Angels are never going to stop trying to build around Trout and they’ve proven to be willing to over-spend on superstars.  The Rangers are already in the midst of their rebuild, so they’ve got a head start on us.  I don’t want to just contend for Wild Cards every year!  I don’t want to go dumpster diving for veterans on 1-year prove-it deals to try to make this fucked up nucleus work!  I don’t want to watch Nelson Cruz get booed and look shitty at the plate.  And I don’t really want to see what Robinson Cano looks like in the final couple years of his deal.

I want a total and complete rebuild, with high-level prospects.  I want the organization to stick to its philosophy of Controlling The Zone and defense and all that, and I want them to bring in guys who FIT that philosophy!

I’m just tired of losing all the fucking time … so let’s lose A WHOLE LOT for a few years, then hopefully be great for a while after that.

And yeah, I get it, the Astros’ model is no guarantee.  If we draft the wrong guys, if we don’t develop them properly, if we get unlucky with injuries, then it can all still go to shit and we can be right back where we started.  In a perpetual loop of utter fucking incompetence.  But, at least it’s trying something different.

I’m already numb to the Mariners sucking.  They’ve been doing it all my life.  Even when they were good, they still sucked when it counted!  The M’s falling apart this second half has hardly hit me at all.  Oh sure, I’ve been mad a few times, but more than anything I’m just resigned to my fate.  It’s never going to get good until we let it get really fucking bad.

So, blow it up, Mariners.  Do the right thing.  Let the Astros and A’s run their course and by the time they’re old and crappy, maybe we’ll be in a position to be the NEW Astros.

Gotta have hope, after all.  And, with the roster as it’s currently constructed, there is none.

Nobody Wants To Hear About My Fantasy Team: Week 1

See my Intro to understand what this is all about.

See my Draft Recap to see where we are heading into the first week of the season.

I’ll be the first to admit I obsess WAY TOO MUCH about fantasy football.  Thinking about my roster, listening to podcasts, reading articles, pouring over the rankings of other people, scouring the waiver wire for potential pick-ups, conjuring trades to try and swindle my friends out of their elite players.  My productivity in general takes a HUGE hit during the football season for those reasons and many others, but I’m no more insane than I am in the lead-up to Week 1.

It’s no more or less important than any other regular season week, but it FEELS like the most important game of the season.  At the same time, I’ve been trying my best in recent years not to tinker too much with my roster before I’ve actually had a chance to see these guys play.  I mean, if I liked these guys enough to draft them a week ago, why am I sitting here second-guessing myself before they’ve done anything to convince me they’re no good?

Last year, I think I managed to go all the way through the first week before making a roster change; this year I wasn’t as strong.  But, I feel I had a good reason:  the Bears made a huge trade for Khalil Mack over the weekend – the day AFTER I drafted Baltimore’s defense – so I used my relatively high waiver priority (3rd in the league) to swap defenses.

My draft strategy this year was simple:  wait until the very last minute to draft a defense.  There are a few you have to feel good about – the Rams, the Jags, the Vikings, maybe the Eagles – but a lot of the time, defense is about matchups.  Likewise, there are countless stories of defenses that came out of nowhere to lead the fantasy league in points, just as there are countless stories of supposedly-elite defenses succumbing to age or injury or simple over-rating.  Why get caught up in the fervor of taking one of the top pre-season defenses early in the draft when you can get one pretty close to just as good at the end of the draft or on waivers after the first week.  So, in this league, I picked up the Ravens’ defense, because they’re going up against Buffalo in Week 1, and that felt like a good one to stream against until some other team popped out as one to go with from Week 2 onward (or, if I got lucky, and the Ravens’ defense was really good in general – and not just against the Bills – then I just got them in the next-to-last round while the suckers in my league wasted precious earlier draft picks on the same quality).

The thing is, even heading into the draft, I liked Chicago’s defense as a possible sleeper.  I think Vic Fangio is an excellent defensive coordinator – on a tier just below Wade Phillips – and I seemed to remember them really going hard after young talent in the draft on this side of the ball.  They seemed poised like a breakout candidate BEFORE trading for Mack; now that they have him, and his sack potential, I like the Bears enough to make them my ONLY defense.

Also, not for nothing, but I like my bench players an awful lot (heading into Week 1, my bench includes:  Greg Olsen, Carson Wentz, Robert Woods, Adrian Peterson, and Kenny Stills).  I don’t want to drop ANY of those guys at the moment, as I feel like they could all play important roles on my team this year.  If I did have to drop someone, it would likely be one of those two receivers, so seeing how they both look in the first week is going to be critical in my line of thinking going forward (gun to my head:  I’d probably choose Woods over Stills, as I like the Rams’ offense more than Miami’s; but Stills could end up as the Dolphins’ best receiver this year, while the Rams have a lot of guys who will divide Goff’s attention).

Anyway, how I plan to do this is I’m going to write up my thought process heading into the week ahead of time, that way my rationale won’t be tainted by events that already happened.  You’re going to know exactly what I’m thinking heading into this week, because I’m writing it before the games start.  Then, I’m going to write a section after the fact, letting you know how my week went.  So, without further ado:

My Rationale Beforehand

Here’s my roster for Week 1:

  • QB1 – Derek Carr vs. LAR
  • QB2 – Andy Dalton @ IND
  • WR1 – Tyreek Hill @ LAC
  • WR2 – Adam Thielen vs. SF
  • RB1 – Ezekiel Elliott @ CAR
  • RB2 – Leonard Fournette @ NYG
  • TE – Jordan Reed @ AZ
  • FLEX – Demaryius Thomas vs. SEA
  • K – Robbie Gould @ MIN
  • DEF – Chicago @ GB

Obviously, if Wentz was healthy, he’d be my QB1 and I’d probably end up sitting Carr this week.  On waivers, the available QBs (at the time of this writing) are Tyrod Taylor, Joe Flacco, Sam Bradford, Ryan Fitzpatrick, and both Bills quarterbacks.  Of those guys, I might marginally prefer Taylor to Carr based on matchups (I could see Carr getting in trouble against that Rams defense, while Taylor is always careful with the football and the Steelers don’t really pose much of a threat to make his life miserable), but not enough to make a roster change.  I have a lot riding on Carr this year, based on the fact that I drafted him so high and because I believe the Raiders will be throwing a lot, so I kinda need him to work out for me early in the season.

I don’t have a lot to say about my starting WRs and RBs; they seem pretty self-explanatory.  I will say that I’m pretty confident about my FLEX guy as well, as I think Thomas could have a field day against this Seahawks defense.  For what it’s worth, I like Emmanuel Sanders a lot this year, but not particularly in this game.  The Broncos tend to move Thomas around quite a bit, and honestly I don’t see him going to Griffin’s side as much as Sanders.  I don’t think they play Thomas in the slot very much, so that negates Justin Coleman’s impact.  If I’m right, and Thomas is lining up opposite of Griffin’s side on the other end, I think 150 yards and a TD or two is well within his capabilities.  If I wasn’t playing Thomas, I would’ve gone with AP, but I’d like to take a wait-and-see approach with the veteran running back before I commit to giving him regular time in my fantasy lineup.

My biggest sticking point is in my TE spot, where I’ve already waffled once and it wouldn’t shock me if I waffled again.

Here’s the deal:  I drafted Olsen in the 8th round.  As I noted previously, I didn’t intend to use that high of a pick on a tight end this year, seemingly content with taking the leftover scraps.  But, Olsen was sitting there, and I would’ve felt like a fool if I’d let him drop any further.  He’s obviously a tremendous talent, both in fantasy and in real life, and in a usual circumstance, I’d be happy to start him against the Cowboys.  But, then in the 12th round, Jordan Reed was sitting there.  He’s got Alex Smith throwing to him.  He’s in an offense that utilizes the tight end to a great extent even before Alex Smith got there.  And, it’s week 1.  He’s healthy!  He’s probably as healthy as he’s ever going to be.  Indeed, I wouldn’t be shocked if this was the last chance I got to start him, that’s how fragile he is!  He’s going up against the Cardinals, which feels like a juicy matchup, and they’re on the road, so I expect the Redskins will need to throw the ball more than they would if they were at home and more likely to be sitting on a lead in the 4th quarter.  Ultimately, I feel like there’s better touchdown potential for someone like Reed over someone like Olsen, factoring in everything around both players.  The Panthers just have more weapons on offense, and I don’t believe Cam will be as inclined to look for his TE in the red zone as Smith will be.  We’ll see; I have a feeling I’m going to regret whatever I do here.

Also, thinking long term, I fucked up when I took Reed, because both players have Week 4 byes, which means if they both stay healthy between now and then, I either have to drop a really productive guy, or I’ll have to roster a third tight end for a week (or I guess I could take a 0 at that spot for one game, but that seems idiotic that early in the season).

Anyway, that’s that.  Below, read about how my fantasy week went.

***

Week 1 Results

Well, I didn’t want to believe it, but Derek Carr fucked me ALREADY!

I had a 20-point lead heading into Monday Night.  I had Carr left to go; usually, when you’re winning and you have a quarterback still to play, you’re in pretty excellent shape.  I want to say I was an 80% favorite heading into the night.  My opponent, Crazy N8’s Prostates, had Marvin Jones and the Rams’ kicker.  It was a lock, right?

Not so fucking fast.

If Carr had just thrown a single TD, I would’ve won.  If he’d just thrown TWO interceptions – instead of three – I would’ve won.  If Legatron had just missed one of those field goals (he ended up with 17 points in total), I would’ve won.  Instead, I’m a 3-point loser and everything is meaningless.

For a while there, I was looking like a genius with the Bears defense.  I also looked like a fucking boner, because remember how I had to drop Baltimore’s defense to pick up the Bears?  Well, not only did they go off (to the tune of 31 points in our league, way over their expected 17.12), but they went off FOR MY OPPONENT (who picked them up and played them against me!).  At one time, with Aaron Rodgers out of the game, the Bears had 35 points, but then the Packers started scoring, so that total fell to 20 (still well above the expected 9.06 Yahoo projected).

My big decision of Jordan Reed over Greg Olsen ended up panning out somewhat, with Olsen being the one to leave his game with an injury.  Reed beat Olsen by 9.5 points, so bully for me.

That Fournette injury is obviously a concern.  He was on his way to a monster day, but I guess his injury woes aren’t behind him.  Now, every time I have him in my lineup, I have to wonder if he’s going to get me 30 points or 3 points.  As long as Adrian Peterson is healthy – and in a plus matchup – I really have to consider putting him in there more often.

Demaryius Thomas acquitted himself well as my FLEX guy.  Predictably, the Seahawks’ defense posed little threat.  The bigger threat is Keenum’s rapport with Emmanuel Sanders, who went OFF in that game.  Still, my value pick is looking solid so far.

My biggest shining star was Tyreek Hill, who blew up to the tune of 46.10 points this week (he led all non-Fitzmagic players in my league).  He almost pulled my ass out of the fire, but you just can’t overcome a 3-point week out of your top available QB.

Crazy N8’s Prostates’ lineup looked like this:

  • QB1 – Kirk Cousins vs. SF
  • QB2 – Alex Smith @ AZ
  • WR1 – ODB vs. JAX
  • WR2 – Keenan Allen vs. KC
  • RB1 – Shady McCoy @ BAL
  • RB2 – David Johnson vs. WAS
  • TE – Travis Kelce @ LAC
  • FLEX – Marvin Jones vs. NYJ
  • K – Greg Zuerlein @ OAK
  • DEF – Baltimore vs. BUF

I ended up being the highest scorer of all the losers and had the third-highest points in the league this week.  Pretty sad state of affairs, all things considered.  Carson Wentz can’t come back soon enough.  Starting to think about picking up Fitzpatrick.  Things are looking bleak already!

Not Winners & Losers Of The Seahawks’ Game At Denver

We’re running it back for the regular season!  No winners or losers here!  Just some shit about this game off the top of my head!

The Seahawks went into Denver yesterday, took a short-lived 7-0 lead, lost it through most of the rest of the game, then took a short-lived 24-20 lead in the fourth quarter, before losing 27-24.  We had so many chances in the end to come back to either tie or win it, but the offense stumbled and that was that.  The Seahawks are 0-1 after one game, and absolutely ARE who we thought they were.

What I’m Geeked Out About After One Game

This is the part where I talk about the small handful of things I really loved about the game we just watched.  And, while it’s already starting to get old to a lot of people, how can you not be absolutely raving about Michael Dickson?!

6 punts for a 59-yard average, and I believe Hawkblogger said a 57.5 yard net?  That is IN-sane.  I mean, honestly, I know it sucks when the Seahawks’ offense sucks, but I love to watch that guy walk away (after watching him boom a football 70 yards through the air) or something.

I’m also pretty geeked out about Uncle Will’s 105 yards on 3 catches with a TD.  Because how could you NOT be?  That dude is a villain!  BLAP BLAP BLAP BLAP BLAP!

Other Things That Caught My Eye (In A Good Way)

I think we’re all in agreement that Rashaad Penny is a first round bust and a wasted draft pick at this point, right?  We’re all in agreement?  Oh, we’re not?  Well, at least we can all agree that, at this time, Chris Carson is the unquestioned best running back on this team, and absolutely should NOT be on an even timeshare with Penny, and not just because it will cripple my fantasy team if he isn’t the bellcow I expected him to be!

Carson is explosive, he’s good in between the tackles, he’s good in the open field, he runs through guys, he jumps OVER guys, he catches the ball pretty well.  He does everything you want out of an All Pro running back, so just lean on him!

I’ll also say that Tyler Lockett and Brandon Marshall both caught my eye (in a good way) with their TDs, particularly that sweet long bomb to Lockett for 51 yards.

Also, it was around this time a week ago where we could’ve made the argument that the Seahawks had the very worst safety situation in all of football.  Then, Earl Thomas returned, and balance was restored to The Force or some shit.  One pick by E.T., TWO picks by Bradley McDougald, as these three turnovers really kept the Seahawks in the game when things looked like Denver might run away with it.  I still believe the Seahawks should’ve traded Thomas for whatever they could get, but damn is it nice to see him out there again!

Let’s Talk About Competitions

This section feels more appropriate for the pre-season, but on this team I feel like competition is going to be ongoing.

For instance, yes Shaquem Griffin got the start in place of K.J. Wright, but don’t Wally Pipp the veteran just yet, because Griffin regularly saw his ass pulled from the game for various miscues.  Missed tackles, poor angles, lack of contain … all HUGE no-no’s in Pete Carroll’s book.  Austin Calitro saw playing time in his place and looked marginally better, but I’m going out on a limb and saying I can’t wait for K.J. to come back.  I have enough concerns about this defense as it is, I don’t want to have to think about the play of the linebackers!

Also, Tre Flowers got the start opposite Shaquill Griffin, as what’s his name got put on IR this week.  Flowers played almost all defensive snaps and honestly didn’t look great.  But, then again, no one in the cornerback room should be applauding themselves, because Case Keenum was able to complete 25/39 for 329, an 8.4 yard average.  I mean, if Keenum is going to do that to us, what’s going to happen when we get to the Rams, the Lions, the Packers, the Vikings, and so on and so forth?  Those QBs are going to eat us alive!  Can Akeem King really be THAT bad?  I think we need to really ramp up this cornerback competition and see what we’ve got there, because I just don’t know if Flowers is going to have what it takes to hack it long term.  Feels like too much too soon for him right now.

Other Things That Caught My Eye (In A Bad Way)

I hope this doesn’t get lost in the shuffle of everyone’s discontent about this team (I know the fans won’t be able to let it go), but Sebastian Janikowski had two chances at a field goal near the end of the first half and missed them both (one five yards closer than the other).  On a day when the Broncos’ kicker made both of his 50+ yarders, when you figure it was a sunny day in the Mile High City, SeaBass really shouldn’t have an issue.  That’s a missed 3 points in a 3-point loss, so, you know, do the math.

I still can’t say enough how unimpressed I was with Penny.  I see none of the things in him that I do in Carson.  No burst, no power, he runs out of bounds instead of through guys.  Hell, even in the red zone, it didn’t feel like he had that killer instinct to get into the endzone that Shaun Alexander had (his most popular comp).  I know he’s working his way back from an injury (which saw him balloon up in weight even though it was just a broken finger!), but it also looks like he doesn’t totally know what he’s doing yet.  Maybe he should be strictly this team’s #2 or even #3 back for a while, until he gets his bearings.

Also, where was Prosise?  If you’re only going to start 3 running backs, and he’s your third, then why wasn’t he out there on third downs or at the ends of halves?  Isn’t that his specialty?

And, I’m sorry, but Naz Jones was a healthy scratch?  This team had ONE sack against the Broncos, and very little pressure on top of it.  That was our #1 concern heading into this season, and it absolutely looks like it’s a valid one.  Frank Clark got his, which is fine, but for the most part Keenum had all day to throw.  Seems like Naz Jones could’ve helped, since he seems to be one of the better interior pressure generators.  I wonder if this is a punishment thing for something we’ll never hear about?  I dunno; I just want to see Jones out there next week, and every week going forward, barring injury.

Most people are killing Germain Ifedi, and I’ll second that notion, but you’re just BEGGING for trouble when you leave him one-on-one with Von Miller.  There should’ve been a tight end on that side of the line every single fucking play, to at least chip if not outright double-team that monster.  That’s on the coaches more than anything.

I’ll close on Russell Wilson, who really wasn’t good.  That end-of-game interception was pretty meaningless, but the other one wasn’t.  Neither were all the sacks he took, as he spun backwards and ended up losing 56 total yards of field position.  That’s UNACCEPTABLE!  On a day where we saw very little of his magic, he can’t get away with that type of shit.  He’s not as fast as he used to be, he’s not getting away from these young studs, who keep getting quicker and quicker with each passing year, while Russell Wilson just gets older and older.

Taking A Look At What The Mariners Need To Do To Surpass The Athletics For The Wild Card

Alternate Title:  The Mariners Couldn’t Sweep The Season Series Against The Orioles.

It’s funny how the last two months of losing makes it so we can’t even enjoy the times when the Mariners actually WIN a series.  Yeah, we took 2/3 from the very-good Arizona Diamondbacks, but we dropped that finale!  Yeah, we took 2/3 from the very-bad Baltimore Orioles, but we didn’t sweep their asses!

This is what it’s come to.  We’re in the home stretch of this thing.  One and a half more homestands, and one more long road trip and that’s it.  22 more games.  22 games to gain 5.5 on the Oakland Athletics for the second wild card spot, and we only play them three more times.

It’s asking a lot, is what I’m getting at.  And losing ANY game from here on out just destroys our chances.

Somehow, in the next 15 games, the M’s need to pick up 2 games on the A’s.  We need to break it down like this, because what’s going to have to happen that final week of the season is we’d need to sweep the A’s in that 3-game series, and then REALLY kick some fucking ass against the Rangers in the final 4.

So, let’s get into the weeds on this, because who gives a fuck about that Orioles series?

Over the next 15 games, the Mariners host the Yankees for 3, have a day off, then host the Padres for 2.  We go to L.A. next week for 4 against the Angels, followed by 3 in Houston.  We have an off-day on the 20th, then 3 more against the Rangers before returning home to face the A’s in that showdown.

The Yankees are obviously pretty great, and they just destroyed us over in the Bronx earlier this season (as well as in Seattle LAST season, when they arguably weren’t as good and we were arguably better than we are right now), but fuck it, the Mariners are just going to have to suck it up and find a way.  That means the hitters need to fucking do their fucking jobs!  We’ve got Paxton, followed by a rejuvinated Felix, followed by an Erasmo Ramirez who looks to have figured some things out over his last few starts.  Need to find a way to win this series, and ideally sweep it.

Then, after plenty of rest, we have a 2-spot against the Padres.  I don’t fucking care how it’s done, but this needs to be a sweep as well.  NO MORE FUCKING AROUND, MARINERS!

The Angels must be in the area of giving up at this point, but I’m sure they’d love nothing more than to ruin our playoff chances.  We need to stomp on their throats.  Again, this is a series we MUST win, and also ideally a sweep.  That takes us to Houston, which is another really good team, but we still need to find a way to win the series.  And, I’m sorry, but if we can’t figure out a way to sweep a trash team like the Rangers, then we don’t fucking deserve to break this post-season curse.

In terms of numbers, you’d like the Mariners to go 13-2 in these games.  That sounds like I’m asking too much, but desperate times call for desperate measures, and it’s not like this is an impossible task!  It just requires guys to stop sucking and start doing their fucking jobs and playing like we’re accustomed to seeing them play!  (of course, a cynic could say we HAVE been seeing them play like we’re accustomed to … Same Ol’ Mariners Losing Baseball).

The A’s also play 15 games between now and the time they come to Seattle (where that half-game comes into play is the A’s get an off-day between Seattle and their final series, down in L.A. against the Angels, which is just a 3-gamer; while we get no off-day and ours is a 4-gamer against the Rangers).  So, any way we can get it, we just need to pick up 2 games on them before a miracle final week.  If we go 8-7 in the next 15, they need to fall apart and go 6-9.  I went with 13-2 because the A’s are really good and they’re not likely to fall apart; 11-4 seems like a reasonable figure for them.

The A’s host Texas this weekend, then they go to Baltimore to kick off a little mini-road trip on Tuesday.  That’s unfortunate, as the A’s should be favored to win all 6 of those games; let’s hope they find a way to lose at least 1.  It gets a little tougher when they go to Tampa to play the Rays, who have been on a real hot streak of late.  We need the Rays to take 2 of those games at the very least.

Then, the A’s return home for 3 against the Angels and 3 against the Twins.  Neither team is very good, but let’s hope the Angels have a little magic up their sleeves in one of those games to get the A’s that 4th loss.

If it goes according to plan – 13-2 for the M’s, 11-4 for the A’s – then we’ll be 91-64 and the A’s will be 95-61 when we meet on September 24th.  At that point, the Mariners would HAVE to sweep, which would make us 94-64 and the A’s 95-64.  From there, we’d control our own destiny:  if we sweep the 4-game set against the Rangers, even if the A’s swept the Angels in their final three, we’d both be 98-64 and have a 1-game play-in game to get to the 1-game Wild Card game against the Yankees.

Of course, for this particular scenario to work, it would require the Mariners to go 20-2 down the stretch, which would PROBABLY be the most ridiculous thing we’ve ever seen in the history of Major League Baseball.

But, like I said before, it can be any combination of things.  Break it down like this, for the TL;DR crowd:

  1. The Mariners need to pick up just 2 games over the Athletics over the next 15 games
  2. The M’s need to sweep the 3-game series against the A’s in the final week
  3. The M’s need to pick up the final half-game on the A’s over the final weekend (meaning the M’s need to win just 1 more game than the A’s in their respective final series; the M’s play 4, the A’s play 3, so it could be as simple as both teams sweeping)

It’s far from an ideal situation, but it’s managable.  The Mariners just need to go out and fucking do it.

Seattle Seahawks 2018 Preview Part 2: The Bad Stuff

Yesterday, we took a look at the bright side of this season.  If everything breaks right, what COULD happen, including a possible division title and beyond.  Today, we’re going hard negative.

If you played this season 100 times, probably 90 of them will be about the same:  the Seahawks will finish somewhere between 7-9 and 9-7.  The ceiling, while remote, is a division-winning playoff team (likely requiring the Rams to fall apart completely).  The floor, while also remote, is an 0-16 team pushing for that #1 draft pick in 2019.  How does that happen?  Well, if Russell Wilson has a season-ending injury in the first game of the year, then I’m sorry, but it’s Tank City.  While I don’t expect him to get injured, I’m not completely ruling it out.  Make no mistake, this year – as well as the foreseeable future – it’s going to be all about Mr. Wilson.  We go where he takes us.

A couple teams come to mind as comparable to the Seahawks.  For the purposes of this argument, throw out the New England Patriots.  Our coaching staff isn’t on par and Russell Wilson isn’t Tom Brady.  Not yet, anyway.  No, for this exercise, I’m thinking about the Green Bay Packers and the New Orleans Saints.

See, most years (in the Aaron Rodgers regime), the Packers boil down to an elite QB, some nice skill guys on offense, and a bunch of trash on defense.  Ditto the Saints under Drew Brees.  You could argue the Saints’ defense has been much more maligned, but I’ve seen more than my fair share of terrible Packers defenses.  And yet, the Packers are always seen as a potential division winner, solely because they have Aaron Rodgers at the helm; yet, the Saints more often than not are seen as a .500-ish ballclub, only being held afloat by the will of Brees.

So, where do these Seahawks fall?  One could make the argument that right now, Russell Wilson is as good as Aaron Rodgers.  He’s certainly just as important to the success of this team as A-Rod is to his.  Yet, me and most everyone else feels this team more closely resembles those mediocre Saints teams we’ve seen for much of the last decade.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t see a whole helluva lot of difference between Brees, Rodgers, and Wilson, so what gives?

Well, for starters, I think this defense is a lot closer to the bottom of the NFL than it is to the top.  I see a defense without a pass rush.  I see a defense that can’t force any turnovers out of its secondary.  I see a defense that’s just sort of okay at stopping the run.  And, I see a defense that’s tissue paper-thin.  If we start losing too many starters, there will be a tipping point, and we’ll be talking about the 32nd ranked unit in the NFL before too long.

So much has to go right just for this defense to be middle-of-the-road!  If we just talk about health, we’re already talking about a team with an injured K.J. Wright who’s missing at least Week 1, if not more.  Also, not for nothing, but when he was out there this pre-season, Wright wasn’t looking like his usual self; has he started the downside of his career?  There’s Dion Jordan, who’s supposed to be one of our main pass rushing ends; he missed the entire pre-season, has a lot of degenerative issues, and probably shouldn’t be counted on to finish more than 6-8 games this year (forget starts; anyone can start a game and go out after one series; I want to know how many games this guy can FINISH).  Even if Jordan is healthy, do we know if he’s actually good?  Sure, he looks the part, but looks don’t pressure opposing QBs.  Our other main rush end is Frank Clark; are we sure HE’S good?  He’s looked pretty good so far in his career, like a guy about to earn a big contract extension.  But, is he WORTH that kind of money?  Or, is he just going to get that money regardless of whether or not he takes another step in his development?  My main question with Clark is:  does he even WANT to be great?

It seems to me like this entire defense is being held together by Bobby Wagner and duct tape.  While he’s one of the best middle linebackers in the league, he can’t do literally everything.  It might be different if we had one more year of Earl Thomas in his prime, but that ain’t happening.  We’ve seen countless times how this team looks without Earl and Kam in the defensive backfield; now we start an entire era of football without those guys!  It’s not going to be pretty!

I’m curious to see the impact of potentially having Earl Thomas back for one more year.  He’s certainly a game-changer for this secondary, as the significant improvement of ET over TT could be a 2-3 game improvement in overall wins.  But, will his heart be in it?  Will the team still find a way to trade him midway through the season?  And, maybe most importantly, will he be able to stay healthy?  Without a training camp or a pre-season, how many times have we seen guys return from holdouts only to immediately twist an ankle or tweak a hammy or something?  I’ll believe he’s The Real Earl Thomas when I see it.

We’re all hanging our hats on Pete Carroll being a defensive-minded football coach whose specialty is the secondary, while we clap our hands and blindly say into the shadows, “We’ll be fine.”  But, will we?  Why?  Because Shaquill Griffin looked better than expected as a rookie?  How many career interceptions does he have?  One.  He has one.  Sure, he’s a fine cover corner, but he can’t cover literally everyone, and he’s not what anyone would call a “lockdown” corner, so he’s going to give up a good number of catches and yards.  He feels a lot closer to Marcus Trufant than Richard Sherman, and that’s a problem, because he’s supposed to be far and away the best corner on this team, which means the drop-off is significant.  Justin Coleman, almost certainly, is the actual best cornerback on this roster, and he’ll do well in his role covering slot receivers, but those guys don’t play every single down.  We have some schlub playing opposite Griffin who will almost certainly be the bane of our existence as early as the very first game of the season.

I think the defense is going to be very, very bad.  What’s worse, I’m afraid we won’t see the type of improvement over the course of this season to give us any hope for the future.  The L.O.B. is dead.  And it’s never coming back.

As I wrote about yesterday, the season hinges on the offense, and the offense hinges on Russell Wilson, so getting back to my point at the top, can he single-handedly carry this beached whale of a team into the playoffs?

I’m gonna guess probably not.  I do think he’s closer to Drew Brees than Aaron Rodgers (as I think this defense is closer to the very worst Saints defenses than it is to the Packers).  I also think the challenges presented within our division, within our conference, and with the schedule we’ve been saddled with, all conspire against us doing a damn thing in 2018.

The Rams are flat out better than the Seahawks, end of story.  You can question their long-term viability.  You can look at all the superstars they acquired the past couple seasons and think an implosion is on the horizon.  Indeed, even if the chemistry is top notch, they won’t be able to pay everyone forever, so EVENTUALLY things will break apart.  But, not in 2018.  In 2018, they’re going to be one of the 2 or 3 best teams in the entire NFL (hell, maybe THE best team).  Barring a multitude of injuries to the Rams, there’s no way we beat them in either game we play against them.

The 49ers are at least as good as the Seahawks, with a MUCH higher upside in the near future.  The 49ers could be a playoff team as early as THIS year, if Jimmy G continues to shred defenses like he did last year.  I have my doubts; I’m not nearly as high on them as some people – who have them as their dark horse darlings – but they’ll still be tough.  I can’t guarantee 2 wins against them; I can’t even guarantee 1!

Then, there’s the Cards.  They seem like they’ll be pretty bad.  But, that’s no guarantee that they’ll necessarily be bad against the Seahawks!  Sam Bradford is usually pretty careful with the ball; as long as he’s healthy, that’s a viable offense that should have zero trouble moving the ball against our defense.  And, they have just enough veterans on the defensive side of the ball to get stops and make our lives miserable.  The Seahawks probably SHOULD beat the Cardinals twice, but would it shock you to see us slip in either of these games?  Shit, at our very best, we still managed to lose to Jeff Fisher’s Rams more times than I care to count!

We catch the Broncos on the road; they have savvy vets all over the place.  We catch the Bears on a potential upswing (their defense looks like it could give us fits in week 2).  We play the Cowboys with their awesome rushing attack.  We have to go all the way to London for some stupid reason; who knows how that Raiders game turns out?  We go to Detroit who has an offense that should shred us no problem.  We host the Chargers, whose quarterback ALWAYS shreds even the very best versions of our defense.  We host the Packers on a short week, they’re expected to compete for a Super Bowl.  We go to Carolina, that feels like a demoralizing loss waiting to happen.  We host the Vikings on Monday night; they’re also expected to compete for a Super Bowl.  And, we host the Chiefs, who are always good and solidly coached under Andy Reid.

I’ve spent the entirety of this pre-season being pretty impressed by our starting units on both sides of the ball.  I think both our offense and defense have looked better than I anticipated (while our depth is non-existent).  My thought process all along has been that maybe the Seahawks can hang around, but once injuries mount, we’ll be toast.  But, the more I look at the schedule, at the crop of QBs we have to go up against, and everything else, I can present an easy argument on why the Seahawks might lose each and every one of those games!  Yet, the only argument in our favor is Russell Wilson.  Russell Is Magic, but he’s not THAT much magic!

I’m still of the belief that the O-Line will be much better than people think, but they’re still not going to be perfect.  They’re probably not even going to rank in the top 10!  When compared to past Seahawks O-Lines under Tom Cable, they’ll look like world-beaters, but that’s not saying much.  The point is, they should open up some holes to run through, and they should give Russell Wilson plenty of time to throw.

But, do we trust Wilson to always do the right thing?

I believe the Seahawks will be behind in a lot of games.  That’s going to put more of the burden on Wilson to pull our asses out of the fire.  He’s pretty great, but he still makes a good number of mistakes, trying to prolong plays, keep drives alive.  He’s always looking down field for the big play, and as a result misses a lot of positive plays around the line of scrimmage.  He takes too many sacks, and he puts a lot of balls in harm’s way.  I mean, we saw the Seahawks behind in a lot of games back when the defense was good; why was that?  A lot of times because Wilson turned the ball over or otherwise couldn’t get the fucking offense moving in the first quarter.  How much of that was on the O-Line vs. on Wilson himself?

Well, I guess we’ll find out this year.  Because the O-Line WILL be better.  And, when it is, if we still find Wilson making similar mistakes, then we have to admit that he’s not the be-all, end-all.  He’s good enough to take even the worst teams to an 8-8 record, but he’s not good enough to single-handedly get us into the playoffs.  He’s like almost every other quarterback in the league (particularly every other quarterback who doesn’t spend his entire career in the AFC Least); he needs help.  And the Seahawks don’t have enough help around him to get this team to where it wants to go.

The Seahawks won’t make the playoffs this year.  I know I predicted the Seahawks to go 9-7 in my season picks, but if I were you I’d bet the family farm on under 9 wins.  I’d even be inclined to take under 8 wins.

Seattle Seahawks 2018 Preview Part 1: The Good Stuff

There’s a pretty wide range of possible outcomes for the Seattle Seahawks in 2018, maybe more than we all think.

Tomorrow, I’ll talk about all the ways this season might be sunk, but for now let’s look on the bright side.  I’m on record as believing this is around a .500 football team; on more than one occasion I’ve pegged them as being anywhere from 7-9 to 9-7.  On the high end, that’s a wild card team; while the floor is being on the outside looking in with a disappointing mid-round draft pick.

But, can this team be even better than 9-7?  Can the Seahawks actually compete for a division title and maybe even make some noise in the playoffs?

Well, there’s a lot of “if’s” involved in that scenario.  I think the Seahawks would have to get extremely lucky and have a tremendous record in 1-score games (kind of like how the Mariners have a tremendous record in 1-run games).  Stuff that’s unsustainable long-term, but can certainly run in a team’s favor over the course of an anomalous season.

Included in that, the defense is going to have to be much better than expected.  That’s going to involve our best guys staying healthy all year (Wagner, Shaquill Griffin, Frank Clark), that’s going to involve some other guys stepping into more prominent roles and really breaking out compared to their career stats (guys like Dion Jordan, Naz Jones, Bradley McDougald, and Jarran Reed), and it’s going to require a lot of luck.  Fumble luck, the defense holding teams to a high percentage of field goals over TDs compared to the rest of the league, and maybe even some good fortune on third downs compared to what we’ve seen so far this pre-season.  A lot of that is hard to predict.  I can sit here and look at past numbers and project that this defense as it’s currently constructed (without the help of Earl Thomas for most of the regular season) is going to be pretty mediocre.  But, all the variables I’ve talked about go a long way towards projecting actual wins and losses.  If the Seahawks are good against the teams they’re supposed to beat, and win more of those 50/50 matchups than they lose, I could certainly see this as a wild card team (if I squint really hard, maybe even a division winner … if the team somehow finds a way to beat the Rams at least once).

Just know that a lot has to break right for this team to be taken seriously.  Wild Card teams take care of business against teams inferior to them (the Bears, the Cardinals, the Cowboys at home, the Raiders in London) and they have to do pretty well against other potential Wild Card teams (the Broncos, the 49ers, the Lions, the Panthers, the Chiefs).  Divisional champs not only have to do well in those games (which comprises 11 of our 16 games), but they have to win about half of the games against other potential division champs (the Rams, the Packers, the Vikings, the Chargers).  The good thing about this time of year is that we really don’t know how difficult this schedule is going to be.  Some of the teams projected to be elite will fall on their faces, either due to injuries or because they’re over-rated.  Likewise, some of the potential bad teams will be a lot better than projected, due to luck or being under-rated.  You’d like the Seahawks to be perfect against the bad teams (5-0), really good against the Wild Card teams (4-2), and win around half of the games against the good teams (2-3 or 3-2).  That’s the mark of a division champ.  Thankfully, it looks like the early part of the schedule is pretty reasonable, so even though the Seahawks start with a lot of road games, if they come out on fire, it could set things up nicely down the line.

So, let’s talk about what’s right about this team; it starts with the offense.

Make no mistake, the offense MUST carry the load.  Fortunately, I think that’s well within our grasp.

If the offensive line stays healthy, I’m just gonna say it:  we will be GOOD.  I think the left side of the line will be rock solid, I think Fluker is a great addition to the team, and I think Ifedi will make great strides towards not being the very worst in all of football.  The bar for him to clear appears to be Breno Giacomini.  I think a lot of Seahawks fans remember him fondly, as he was the right tackle of the last really good O-Line on this team.  Well, if you REALLY think about it, he wasn’t super amazing.  He was just okay.  He made a lot of boneheaded plays – including a lot of personal foul penalties – that would set this team back.  But, since the team liked to run Marshawn Lynch behind him an awful lot – and we had success doing it – Giacomini sort of gets a pass.  Well, I believe Ifedi can be as good or better than Giacomini.  If he is, and the rest of the line holds, we could be looking at the best offense of the Russell Wilson era.

Speaking of, Wilson had one of the more prolific fantasy football seasons last year, as he basically WAS the offense for the Seahawks.  Now that we have a competent O-Line, and a running game that should carry its share of the load, there might be cause for concern that Wilson’s fantasy numbers will taper off.  I’m here to tell you:  rest assured, he’ll be fine.  If the defense is as shaky as I expect it to be, then I anticipate the Seahawks will be behind in its share of games and will therefore need a lot of second half scoring to come back.  On top of which, with a unified play-calling situation, I fully expect that we won’t get off to so many slow starts.  Ergo, I think the Seahawks will be scoring early AND often, and Russell Wilson’s numbers will surge accordingly.

I think Chris Carson is a 1,000-yard back, with conservatively 8 rushing TDs, though I could easily see him get into the double-digits.  It shouldn’t take people long to realize they were asleep at the switch in ignoring this guy in fantasy drafts, and if he’s somehow out on waivers in your league, I’d snap him up in a hurry.

Behind Carson, as I’ve said before, I think this is the deepest running back room we’ve seen in Seattle in quite some time.  Mike Davis is a man.  Rashaad Penny will be available as a change of pace.  Prosise will be around whenever he’s not nicked up.  And, McKissic should be back after Week 8 to provide a nice boost.

Moreover, this team is BUILT to feature the run.  The tight end room is strong, with Vannett and Dissly getting the bulk of the snaps, though Darrell Daniels is a good third guy to have until Ed Dickson comes off the PUP.

As teams gear up to stop our run game again, that should open things up in play-action, which is Wilson’s specialty.  It’s so huge, for both the deep AND intermittent passing range.  We’ve got Lockett and Jaron Brown who are solid deep threats (as well as Baldwin and maybe even David Moore on occasion).  While Baldwin’s knee injury is concerning, the fact that he’s giving it a go and feels he can manage it is encouraging.  I would expect him to miss quite a bit of practice time, but he’s got a good rapport with Wilson and is one of the best receivers in football, so if anyone can succeed with this thing, it’s a super tough guy like Baldwin.  And, on top of Baldwin and Lockett, we’ve got Brandon Marshall in the red zone who should make some noise.

If you asked me to craft the perfect receiving situation for the Seahawks, this is it.  No-nonsense football players; not a diva in the group.  The closest thing would be Marshall, but he’s on a veteran 1-year prove-it deal and is really in no position to be disrupting things in the slightest.  He’s also – much like our Offensive Coordinator – playing with the best quarterback he’s ever had, so he should have plenty of opportunities to make plays.  The fact that he’s produced everywhere he’s been (while healthy) gives me great encouragement.  And, even if he gets hurt, we have enough behind him to pick up the slack.

The only concern I have about this group is probably execution on 3rd down.  There will be plenty of down-field chunk plays to get into scoring position, but you’re still talking about a team that plays loose and sloppy with the penalties.  That’s not going away under Pete Carroll; it’s just not.  So, we’re going to see this offense “behind schedule” more than the national average, which means doing well on 3rd down is a high priority.  If this team fails in that regard – or if it really hasn’t gotten over its early-game struggles we all bemoaned under Bevell – then we could see this team fall behind in a lot of games, and not have enough in the tank to overcome those deficits.

Bottom line:  the offense needs to be Top 5 for this team to be really good.  And it has to start in Game 1; we can’t sustain any more growing pains with this side of the ball, because the defense won’t be there to pick up the slack.

The most fun part of this team could be its Special Teams.  It wouldn’t shock me in the slightest to see this unit decide 2-3 games this year.  That’s including, obviously, our All Pro punter shifting field position.  That’s figuring we’ll be in a lot of close games, which means a field goal here and there could make all the difference (not to mention those all-important extra-long extra points).  And, who knows?  Maybe our returners play a bigger role in affecting these games, either with TDs scored or with long returns that put our offense in prime real estate.  I think there’s a lot to like about all facets of the Special Teams, but also a lot of opportunities for luck to play a heavy role.  A field goal kicker making an insane percentage of kicks; our blockers on these returns not getting called for holds or blocks in the back every fucking time.  It’s all going to play a huge role in how many games this team wins this year.

While it’s ultimately hard to see this team seriously contending for a Super Bowl (as I’ll get into tomorrow), this should nevertheless be a fun team to watch.  We should see plenty of offense and plenty of young guys stepping into prominent roles on defense.  If it all breaks right, we could be talking about one of the true sleepers in the league this year:  a team that no one is expecting anything from, who comes out of nowhere to take the league by storm.  While not probable, it IS possible, and that’s all you can ask for this time of year.