Can The Seahawks Actually Do Some Damage In The Playoffs?

The Rams have already locked up the NFC West – thanks in large part to beating these very Seahawks twice, in very close matchups – and they’re positioning themselves for the top seed in the NFC.

By contrast, our Seahawks are now 8-5, a game and a half over the Vikings, and a full two games over the Panthers (who we beat), the Eagles, and the Redskins, with three games left in the season.  The Seahawks just need to beat the 49ers to lock into a wild card spot this weekend and the odds are looking pretty good that we’ll end up with that 5th seed, playing whoever ends up in the 4-seed (right now, it’s the Cowboys, who are a game behind the 3-seed Bears).

The Seahawks have won 4 in a row, including games against the Packers, Panthers, and Vikings.  We’re also, obviously, 8-3 dating back to our 0-2 start to the season, which is very remarkable, making us one of the hottest teams in the league.  We’re starting to be talked about in the same breath as those Bears and Cowboys, and sneakily compared to the likes of the Rams and Saints.

This team is for real.  So, can we DO something here?  Or, given the fact we have to go on the road throughout the playoffs, do we throw our hands up and pack it in?

Everyone and their mothers are saying the Seahawks are The Team No One Wants To Face In The Playoffs.  I’ve always hated that phrase.  The REAL Team No One Wants To Face In The Playoffs is the number 1 seed, because they’re most likely the best team in the conference!  Would you rather face the Seahawks or the Saints?  I think we know the answer to that.

But, I get it.  There are crappy wild card teams who sneak into the playoffs every year, and they’re just happy to be there.  They might play you tough, but they’re almost always going out in the first round.

Then, there are those teams like the Seahawks, a would-be division winner if we played in the AFC East, for instance.  Or the NFC East.  Or the AFC North or even maybe the AFC South!  It just so happens we’re in a division with one of the three best teams in football, and due to some unfortunate outcomes earlier in the season, we’re shit out of luck.

The Seahawks have shown they can play with anyone.  All of our losses were by a single score, and all of them were to very good teams (either in record, or DVOA, or both).  We were IN those games, and more importantly, we’re peaking at the right time.  If THESE Seahawks went back in time and played the Bears back in Week 2, I have no doubt we’d come away victorious.  Ditto the Broncos in Week 1.

Which is why I like our chances in any scenario during Wild Card Weekend.  I would prefer the Cowboys, because while their defense is certainly strong, I feel like they’re less scary than the Bears’.  Plus, it’s in a dome vs. the harsh elements of January in Chicago.  But, I think the Seahawks are better than both of those teams, and I think we can win either of those games.

Assuming whoever ends up with the 6th seed doesn’t shock the world (my money’s on the 3-seed right this very second, knowing nothing about the matchup), the Seahawks would appear destined to travel to the 1-seed in the Divisonal Round.  If I had my druthers, give me the Rams for a third time.  Their defense is vastly overrated, and at some point we’re going to figure out how to slow down their passing attack.  The Saints are the team that probably scares me the most, because they’re so balanced and talented on offense, and their defense is super legit.  I don’t think it would be IMPOSSIBLE to beat the Saints on the road, but I just think the Rams are a little more susceptible to what our game has to offer.

Regardless, I think the Seahawks can play with anyone in the NFC.  I also think that if we happened to sneak past the 1-seed, the 2-seed will assuredly be waiting for us.  Any way you slice it, the Saints AND the Rams will be in the mix.  It feels like asking a lot to beat BOTH of them in back-to-back do-or-die weeks.

The AFC, conversely, has to contend with a Chiefs team that can’t defend anything, some very flawed teams below them (Chargers, Steelers, Ravens, Texans), and one of the worst Patriots teams you’re ever going to see that still qualifies for a #2 seed, because as usual they play in a garbage division.  A lot of people think the Pats are going to turn it on come playoff time, but I’ll be legitimately surprised if they make it to the AFC Championship Game this go-around.

Ultimately, if I had to bet the Taylor Family Farm, my money is on the Seahawks getting to the Divisional Round and then losing to either the Saints or the Rams.  HOWEVER, it wouldn’t shock me in the slightest if we actually did some damage.  Barring any more catastrophic injuries, the Seahawks are JUST the type of Wild Card team that could take this party on the road.

Don’t get me wrong, it would require a tremendous feat of good fortune.  We’d have to prevail in a lot of close, exciting games.  But, with the way our O-Line is blocking, the way our run game is destroying, and with how good Russell Wilson has been throughout the season – on top of a defense that is peaking at the best possible time – it’s not out of the realm of possibility that the Seahawks make a deep (even, dare I say it? Super Bowl) run.

For a team with no shot at a playoff BYE, the Seahawks are in about as good of shape as you could hope for.  Win this weekend and we’re in.  The Chiefs game is essentially meaningless at this point, so anyone even remotely injured should have a week to rest up.  And, if we can’t beat the Cardinals at 50% effort, then I don’t know what to tell you.

Making Heads Or Tails Of The Mariners’ Latest Trade

Going Away:  Carlos Santana & $6 million to the Indians
Coming Here:  Edwin Encarnacion and a 2019 draft pick (77th overall) from the Indians
Coming Here:  $5 million from the Rays

Obviously, this is a 3-team deal of sorts, but I don’t care about what the Rays or Indians moved around.  Here’s what we know:  Santana is a bat-first first baseman who is guaranteed to earn $35 million over the next two years ($500,000 of that is a buy-out for 2021).  Encarnacion is a bat-first DH (who plays minimal first base) who is guaranteed $25 million over the next one year ($5 million of that is a buy-out for 2020).  So, the money part makes sense; the M’s gave away $6 million to the Indians to help mitigate the hefty cost over the next two years, in return the M’s got back from the Rays what’s essentially the 2020 buy-out.  On its face, it looks like the M’s are down a cool mil, but over the long haul, we’re actually saving … carry the denominator … I don’t know, math is hard!

The point is, for now, we don’t have an aging first baseman for the 2020 season.  Just one for the 2019 season.

Saving money and jettisoning veterans is the name of the rebuilding game.  I’m not going to go into what Encarnacion brings to the table, because quite frankly I don’t expect him to be here for very long.  Odds are, that $5 million will probably go with him in any trade for, ideally, a prospect and not another useless veteran.  I say “useless” here ironically, because Encarnacion actually does have some pop left in the tank.  But, for a team that’s trying to lose as much as possible in 2019, you don’t want even REMOTELY good players on your roster.

I guess the best part of the deal for the M’s is the extra draft pick.  That gives the Mariners 4 picks in the Top 100 in the 2019 MLB Draft.  That’s pretty sweet!  Let’s hit on all of them and have a great team by 2023!

Otherwise, the offseason prattles on.

Nobody Wants To Hear About My Fantasy Team: Playoffs Round 2

Well, it looked dicey there for a while on Sunday – as both King Flippy Nips and Crazy N8’s Prostates struggled to do much of anything – but as the day wore on, my guys had just enough in the tank to prevail, 164.77 to 124.10.

Predictably, I made a bunch of pre-game panic moves that either had no bearing on the outcome, or totally cost me points because I’m an idiot.  For starters, I put Wentz back in my lineup over Carr.  It was the right call – as my fantasy confidant and sherpa guide told me, “… this time of year I generally say play your best players,” – and in the end I got an extra point out of the deal.  Turns out Carr against the Steelers was also a good call, as I figured.  But, the risk of Carr totally melting down was too much for me, so I went with my keeper.

I also ditched the Giants defense, going with Detroit’s.  That ended up costing me 4 points, which was no big thing (thankfully).  But, I could’ve just stuck with Chicago’s defense (who DOMINATED the Rams, to my surprise) and had 10 more points!  IDIOT!

Finally, I put Adrian Peterson in there, thinking that the Redskins would hang around and try to run the ball a ton.  He got me less than 3 points in a week where Carson would’ve gotten me 15.  Woof.

Luckily, Zeke came to play (31.20), both my QB’s showed up, and Tyreek Hill shook off an early injury to get me over 20 points.  More importantly, Crazy N8’s Prostates had to replace ODB at the last minute (Chris Godwin, who got less than 3 points), and had mediocre games up and down his lineup.

So, I advance to the next round.  As a 6-seed, my reward is to play the 1-seed, Space Forcin’.  You know, the guy who managed to keep Mahomes, Kamara, and Rivers (QB1, RB5, and QB6).  The guy who – on his BYE week last week – still managed to lead the league in scoring with over 200 points.  This dude is a juggernaut.  I’m so fucked it’s not even funny.

Barring a miracle, I’m pretty much where I deserve to be:  in the final four.  I will say this, though:  for a team as good as mine, it’s weird that I’ve yet to surpass 200 points in any given week.  Most all of the other good teams in our league has had at least one 200-point week this year.  Just sayin’.

Anyway, here are my guys:

  • QB1 – Carson Wentz or Nick Foles @ LAR
  • QB2 – Derek Carr @ CIN
  • WR1 – Tyreek Hill vs. LAC
  • WR2 – Adam Thielen vs. MIA
  • RB1 – Ezekiel Elliott @ IND
  • RB2 – Chris Carson @ SF
  • TE – Vance McDonald vs. NE
  • FLEX – Robert Woods vs. PHI
  • K – Ryan Succop @ NYG
  • DEF – Chicago vs. GB

My bench is:  Winston, Peterson, Boyd, Adams, Detroit, Bell (IR).

Come Wednesday morning, I made a flurry of moves.  Gone:  Jimmy Graham.  Fuck that guy, I fucking hate him anyway.  Plus, with the Packers going up against my defense, it’s not like I want him to do well anyway.  So, watch him have a monster game with multiple touchdowns.  In his place, I grabbed Vance McDonald.  There aren’t a lot of great tight ends out on waivers this time of year, and the ones I like are in tough matchups.  With McDonald, I just want to get SOME points, and I feel like he’s got the safest floor.

Also gone:  Matt Bryant.  The dude is old, their offense has sucked lately, and again I just want POINTS.  Per Yahoo, the Giants give up the most points to kickers in the league, so in comes Succop.  I don’t love Tennessee’s offense, but hopefully he’ll get me a 50-yarder or two.

Finally, I didn’t need two defenses, as I’m FOR REAL THIS TIME sticking with Chicago the rest of the way.  With word coming down on Wednesday that Carson Wentz is unlikely to play this week, I picked up Nick Foles.  I still like him more than Jameis Winston against that Baltimore defense.

My guys are okay, my matchups are okay, but Space Forcin’ is just STACKED.  The aforementioned Mahomes & Rivers (in a matchup against one another on Thursday night that’s destined to be a shootout to end all shootouts), Adams and Smith-Schuster as his starting wideouts, Kamara and Aaron Jones as his starting RBs, the immortal Kittle as his TE, Jacksonville’s defense going up against the pathetic Redskins.  I mean, how do you compete with these guys?

I’m gonna need my first 200-point week, and even then, will it be enough?  Yahoo has me losing by over 20 points already, before anyone has played a game.  It’s gonna be ugly.

The Husky Basketball Team Still Doesn’t Have A Quality Win

Well, since the last time I wrote about the Dawgs, they’ve played three games.  They narrowly beat UC Santa Barbara, they narrowly lost at Gonzaga, and they narrowly beat Seattle U.  In other words, two crappy wins and a heartbreaking quality loss.

The Gonzaga game was eye-opening for a lot of people, because it was a true road game, against the #1 team in the nation, hot off a recent stunning victory over Duke.  But, you know, when you run a zone defense like the Huskies, and the other team maybe doesn’t shoot so hot, you can hang around with just about anyone on the right night.  What’s frustrating about the Huskies is the lack of progress.  You just never know what you’re gonna get on any given night.  Which is why you see this team struggle against inferior opponents; that inconsistency goes both ways.

I’m hard-pressed at this point to say that the 2018/2019 Huskies are any better than last season’s incarnation, even though most of the same guys are back, and ostensibly you’d think the extra year’s experience – along with the extra year learning and perfecting the system – would produce superior results.  Right now, the Huskies are 7-3, and I don’t know if there’s a quality win in the bunch.

What I do know is that this team IS winning the games they’re supposed to win, so that’s a start, I guess.  I dunno, do you get credit come Tourney Time for no losses to bad non-conference opponents?  Do you get rewarded for Doing Your Job, essentially?

It doesn’t sound like it, to me.  It sounds like they really only focus on the quality wins.  So far, we got killed down in Auburn, lost at the buzzer on a neutral floor against Minnesota, and again at the buzzer over at Gonzaga.  Don’t get me wrong, I love that the Huskies scheduled themselves so tough this year, but it’s frustrating to go 0 for 3 like that, particularly when – as I said before – the Pac-12 is shitty and tanking it up in the non-conference slate.

The Huskies have one more test to go:  this Saturday, in Atlantic City, against #13 Virginia Tech.  If we win this game, then maybe with a decent conference showing (getting up over the 20-win mark on the season), we’ll sneak into the Tourney.  If we lose, then it’s going to boil down to the Huskies going something like 14-4 in conference play, and at least reaching the conference tournament championship game.  Given the state of the Pac-12 – on top of its already poor reputation, thanks Larry Scott – I figure the Huskies are as good as anyone, and could very well accomplish this.

But, they’re the Huskies, so I could also see them going 8-10 and fizzling out in the first round of the Pac-12 Tourney.  EVERYTHING IS ON THE TABLE!  ISN’T THIS EXCITING?

Suffice it to say, this game is huge on Saturday.  4pm.  Be there or be square.

Not Winners & Losers Of The Seahawks’ Game Against The Vikings

Looks like we DIDN’T need to take the Vikings seriously!

What an odd game.  It went sort of the way I thought it might, then again totally against expectations!  True:  the Seahawks did struggle to move the ball in general; but actually we ran the ball better than I ever could’ve imagined, 42 times for 214 yards and a 5.1 yard average.  The passing game for both teams was non-existent, which amounted to the Seahawks clinging to a 3-0 lead through three quarters before putting them away – following a late scoring spree – by a final of 21-7.

What I’m Geeked Out About After Thirteen Games

This was the most impressive defensive effort of the season by these Seahawks.  Sure, they were pretty overwhelming against the Raiders in London, and they were all over the place against the Cowboys early in the season, but this was complete and total domination, against a highly-rated offense.  I mean, it doesn’t sound like a lot, but the Seahawks held Diggs & Thielen to a combined 9 catches for 146 yards.  When you figure how much of the Vikings’ offense revolves around those two guys, that’s pretty amazing.  Thielen in particular was held in check, as I don’t think he even had a target his way until the second half!

The Seahawks only ended up with a couple sacks, but were in Cousins’ face all night.  He rarely had a clean pocket, and was frequently running for his life.  Of course, with the coverage being so tight down field, this harmonious convergence was something we’ve been waiting for all year with this team.  Nice to see everyone stepping up when it matters most!

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

Hey, where do you think YOU’RE going?!  I’m not done talking about the defense!

How about that night by Frank Clark?  He was a BEAST!  4 Tackles (1 for loss), a sack, and a couple hits on the QB.  How about Jacob Martin with his second career sack!  How about his sack turning into a fumble that Justin Coleman picked up and took back to the house?!

Also, how about those cornerbacks?  Griffin and Flowers combined for 15 tackles and 3 passes defended; they tightened up their games in a big way!

HOW ABOUT BOBBY WAGNER JUMPING OVER THE LINE AND BLOCKING A FIELD GOAL?!?!?!

Was it legal?  FUCK YOU AND YOUR PRECIOUS RULES!  The guy just did something fucking amazing, so how about we appreciate a physical act that the vast majority of humanity would be too afraid to even TRY, let alone have the ability to achieve it!

Also, how about a quick shout-out to Akeem King for a nasty blitz and an even nastier hit on the quarterback to force an incompletion?!

All in all, the defense was the star of the show, so what’s the point in talking about anything else?

Let’s Talk About Chris Carson

He’s been dealing with nagging injuries all year – he dislocated a fucking FINGER in last week’s game – and yet there he was, dragging around those Vikings defenders for extra yards and extra first downs.  90 yards on 22 carries and a TD doesn’t sound like a whole lot, but that was a MAN’S performance last night!  I still contend that Vikings run defense is stout, and Carson – with a little help from the O-Line, of course – made them look ordinary.  In the days leading up to the game, they all talked a good game – particularly Sheldon Richardson and Tom Johnson, ex-Seahawks – but in the end those guys were non-factors.

Yes, there’s committment to the run and all that, but this thing is extra special when Carson is back there running over fools.  On the year, he’s carried it 179 times for 794 yards (4.4 per touch) and 5 TDs.  Again, that doesn’t sound like a whole lot, but considering what he’s had to deal with injurywise, combined with the fact that this offense really likes to spread the love around, I think it’s remarkable.

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

David Moore had a pretty bad game.  His best play was probably preventing an interception on an under-thrown deep ball by Wilson.  There was a picture-perfect touchdown opportunity, but he failed to drag his foot down in bounds.  That was the same drive that ended the half on an interception, so it ended up being a 7-point mistake in what was a 3-0 game for three quarters.

Speaking of which, Russell Wilson had probably his worst game in a winning effort.  37.9 passer rating.  10/20 for only 72 yards and an INT.  His day was somewhat salvaged by the 61 yards on the ground (40 of which came on a single play), but otherwise he was a non-factor.  I think he could’ve turned it around if we needed him to, but the run game was working so well, it was okay to write this one off.

It was a bummer that Doug Baldwin couldn’t go, as he was sorely missed in the passing game.  But, at this point, the Seahawks are 8-5 and just need to beat either the 49ers or Cardinals to guarantee a playoff spot.  Better to get guys like Baldwin and Fluker and whoever else completely healthy for the playoffs.  We’re gonna need those dudes when it’s Loser Goes Home!

Seahawks Fans Don’t Appear To Be Taking The Vikings Seriously

Frankly, I don’t think ANYONE is taking the Vikings seriously.  I think people are looking at the Vikings’ record (6-5-1) and all they see is a mediocre, middle-of-the-road team.

Furthermore, they see this game is on Monday Night, they see the Seahawks are at home, they see the Seahawks have been on a tear recently (3 in a row) and over the last 10 games (7-3), and that’s the end of the analysis.  Seahawks in a laugher, and let’s move on to next week.

There’s a lot at stake in this one.  SO MUCH.  If the Seahawks win, it all but guarantees we secure a playoff spot.  Winning this one – even if we somehow drop one to the 49ers or Cardinals in the final three weeks – still puts us in tremendous position to make the playoffs with a 9-7 record.  

But, the Vikings have just as much on the line.  A win for them puts them in the driver’s seat for that top wild card spot.  From here, they host the Dolphins, go on the road to the Lions, and host the Bears; they should win 2/3 EASILY and it wouldn’t shock me to see them winning all three.  Don’t forget, if the Vikings win out, and the Bears drop one either to the Packers or 49ers, then the Vikings steal the division at 10-5-1.

To their credit, the Vikings sound as pumped up as I’ve ever heard a team coming into Seattle in a primetime game.  If you don’t think they’re coming ready to play, you’re crazy.  If you think the pisspoor crowd noise we’ve had at CenturyLink this year – and really for the last few years – will be enough to rattle them, you’ve got another thing coming.

I keep reflecting on 2017.  Kirk Cousins – on an injury-depleted Redskins team – coming into Seattle as heavy underdogs and narrowly escaping as victors.  The Seahawks were riding high and 5-2 coming into that game.  The season went into the tank from there, as including that game we finished 4-5.

These Vikings are SO MUCH BETTER than that Redskins team.  I would argue a big reason why the Vikings’ record appears so bad is because they started off the season with a lot of injuries, and they’re just now getting healthy again.

The Vikings have a ferocious defense, for starters.  Don’t expect the Seahawks to run the ball as well as they’ve been doing most weeks.  D.J. Fluker being out definitely plays into that and no one’s really talking about it, because Jordan Simmons started in one of those Rams games and did okay.  I think the Seahawks’ O-Line is going to struggle tonight.  Quite frankly, it wouldn’t shock me if they looked Tom Cable-esque.  I expect Chris Carson to be bottled up, and I expect Russell Wilson to be running for his life like we really haven’t seen since the Chicago game back in Week 2.

Our only hope is if we throw the ball a ton, but I don’t know how confident I am in that either.  I’m obviously more confident in that than I am in our running game, but not by a lot.  I think Wilson is destined for at least one turnover, maybe two.  I think we’ll be playing from behind pretty early on in this one, so he’ll have a ton of attempts when it’s all said and done.  And, since I need Wilson to absolutely crush it for one of my fantasy teams, let’s just go ahead and lock it in that he’s going to score below 20 points tonight.

Defensively for the Seahawks, I think we match up about as poorly as with anyone in the league.  The Vikings have two ELITE receivers with a capital ELITE in Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs; whereas the Seahawks have a secondary that can’t tackle and doesn’t really cover all that well.  I expect Cousins to have a monster game.  Furthermore, while the Vikings don’t run the ball particularly well, the Seahawks are among the worst defenses in the league at stopping the run, so figure the Vikes get at least 150 on the ground as they move the ball at will.

Honestly, I won’t call for a Vikings blowout, but I think they’ll be up big by halftime, and it’ll take a furious Seahawks comeback in the second half to bring this game back to single digits.  Ultimately, I see a Seahawks loss – their THIRD of the season at home – and I see this thing being a lot more interesting the rest of the way.

I still think the Seahawks make the playoffs.  I still think we’ll beat the 49ers and Cardinals.  Honestly, I think our chances of beating the Chiefs are better than the Vikings!  It wouldn’t shock me in the SLIGHTEST if we scored with the Chiefs and nipped them in the end, because their defense is so bad!

But, like I’ve said before, when do the Seahawks ever make it easy on themselves?  This should be a minor blip, but it will be a blip.  Thankfully, as I believe both us and the Vikings will be wild card teams, we won’t have to play them in January.

Seattle Officially Has An Expansion Hockey Franchise

On December 4th, 2018, the NHL voted unanimously to give Seattle the league’s 32nd franchise.  In the fall of 2021, we will officially have professional hockey in this city.

Shovels are going into the ground soon (if they haven’t already), and the former Key Arena will be renovated over the next few years.  The idea behind 2021 – as opposed to the 2020 that was floated out there previously – is to ensure we’re ready to host a game from the first day of the season.  If we’d settled on 2020, there’s a very good chance delays in construction would’ve forced this team into a bad situation (where maybe they’d have to open on the road for the first month or more).  When you think about all the pitfalls there would be had we tried to rush this thing, I mean, the options are staggering!  I could envision lighting not working, the ice not being cold enough, consessions being fucked up, and on and on and on.  This way, we know everything is going to be functioning and humming like a bird.

I don’t have a lot to add that I haven’t already said before.  This is obviously tremendous news.  Seattle NEEDS a winter sport that’s more than just Husky Basketball.  No, it’s not the Supersonics – and believe me, they’d be my #1 preferred option by a longshot – but it gets our foot in the door.  It gets this arena project started FINALLY, and when it’s completed, we’ll be able to sit here and point to the NBA, “Look!  We did it!  Now give us our team back!”

Whether the NBA will listen or not is another matter, but that’s not really the point.

Plus, I like hockey.  It’s not my favorite sport; I’m not a superfan or anything.  My brother is more of a hockey fan than I’ll probably ever be, and I’ve watched games with him on TV every so often.  Without a dog in the fight, it just hasn’t captured me.  I’m similar with baseball; I would never watch the sport if I didn’t have a team in Seattle.  Frankly, I’m the same with basketball (though I wasn’t always; I used to LOVE watching non-Sonics games until they stole our team from us).  I’m excited to get into it.  I want to jump in on the ground floor with whatever this team is going to be called.  I want to write about it regularly and learn all the intricacies of the sport through the eyes of an expansion franchise.  As if I didn’t obsess about sports enough, here’s a whole new one!

And here’s the other thing.  Yeah, it’s at Seattle Center, and not at the SoDo spot – which is unquestionably a better location for a new arena – but at this point what do I care?  I don’t live in South Lake Union anymore, so I don’t have to deal with the nonsense of extra traffic and parking hassles.  I can WALK there from my office anytime I want!  You could put this thing in the Space Needle for all I care, as long as it gets built and I get to have some real, actual hope for the NBA returning someday.

Nobody Wants To Hear About My Fantasy Team: Playoffs Round 1

Spoiler alert:  I backed into the playoffs.

That’s right, I lost yet again to Korky Butchek, albeit narrowly, 154.40 to 149.45.  I had good games out of my QB’s (Wentz & Winston) as well as Elliott and Woods; but Tyreek Hill did nothing, Greg Olsen got hurt and is out for the rest of the season, and my Chicago defense royally shit the bed.  My opponent, meanwhile, got nothing out of his QB’s (Stafford & Goff) and had a paltry game out of Mark Ingram.  But, Antonio Brown killed it, the Seahawks defense dominated, and Zach Ertz did just enough to counter-balance my Philly quarterback going on Monday Night to fend me off.

Luckily, the guy I was fighting for that 6th and final playoff spot who had the same record as me also lost.  That game was pretty well decided before we even got to the Sunday Night game, so I had that going for me.

So, I’m 5-8.  I’m 3rd in total points scored, and 2nd in most points scored against.  It is what it is.  The bottom line is I got into the playoffs, and it all starts over from here.

If I had won, I would’ve jumped up to the 5th seed, playing the 4-seed in the first round.  We’ll see what happens this week, but that’s yet another thing I can bitch about if things don’t go my way.  Also, if I’d won, I would’ve knocked Korky Butchek out of the 2-seed (top two seeds get a first round BYE).  Instead, I’m the 6th seed, playing the team I would’ve bumped up to #2 had I won. He’s obviously not pleased with me.

That team:  Crazy N8’s Prostates.  That’s right, a third contest with the team that so far has beaten me twice by a combined 7 points.  He’s the team who won my way into the playoffs by beating my closest rival for the 6th seed, so obviously I’m pretty happy with this fella!  He’s already lost Alex Smith for the year, and now he’s down Colt McCoy as well.  I don’t know who he’ll play as his second QB this week, but he’s got options (albeit, not great ones).

First, here’s my lineup:

  • QB1 – Jameis Winston vs. NO
  • QB2 – Derek Carr vs. PIT
  • WR1 – Tyreek Hill vs. BAL
  • WR2 – Adam Thielen @ SEA
  • RB1 – Ezekiel Elliott vs. PHI
  • RB2 – Chris Carson vs. MIN
  • TE – Jimmy Graham vs. ATL
  • FLEX – Robert Woods @ CHI
  • K – Matt Bryant @ GB
  • DEF – New York @ WAS

My bench is:  Wentz, Peterson, Boyd, Adams, Chicago, Bell (IR).

I put in a claim for the Steelers’ backup running back, but of course I didn’t get it.  What’s worse, the ninnies with the highest waiver priority didn’t claim him either.  Which means Crazy N8’s Prostates – who suffered the devastating loss of James Conner – now gets to slide his backup right into his lineup and not skip a beat.  Great.

I did end up nabbing Jimmy Graham as my tight end.  I don’t feel super confident about that – because I’m a Seahawks fan, and I’ve seen what he brings to the table – but at this point I have to go for upside.  Jordan Reed with Mark Sanchez throwing to him isn’t exciting.  Austin Hooper is, like, Atlanta’s 4th or 5th option offensively.  And the rest is downhill from there.  All told, Graham should hopefully be okay.

And, I tried to stick to Chicago each and every week as my defense, hoping that maybe they’ll get just enough sacks or something to help me out and get me SOME points.  But, I’ve been burned against the better offenses.  I put them in against New England and I’m pretty sure that’s why I lost that week.  It seems like, if they’re not scoring touchdowns, they’re not doing anything for me; now, it speaks volumes that they’ve scored as many TDs as they have this year, but I just can’t throw them out there against the Rams.  I WANTED the Chargers – who host Cincinnati this week – but some guy who didn’t even need them used his high waiver priority on them over that Steelers’ backup running back, so I’m putting the blame (if I lose) squarely on that guy!  I don’t love the Giants’ defense, but I hate Washington’s offense, so I’m hoping for a miracle.  Any time you stream a defense that’s on the road, you’re just asking for trouble.

As far as matchups go for my guys, these are about as bad as they get.  The Cowboys and Saints both have terrific defenses.  Meanwhile, the Steelers aren’t great.  Considering the tear the Cowboys are on, I’ve got to go with the higher-upside plays over my keeper in Wentz.  It’s more likely Winston and Carr will be involved in shootouts; whereas the Eagles/Cowboys game is likely to be a grind-it-out affair.

Things don’t get better for my team from there.  Baltimore’s defense is one of the best in the league, the Vikings have to go to Seattle on Monday Night, and I could see the Bears shutting down Robert Woods.  I need to hope for crazy miracles up and down my roster or I’m toast.

Mariners Fire Sale! Everything Must Go!

I’ve had sort of mixed emotions about the first two big deals on this list (that I linked to, if you want to read about my feelings).  I think they were definitely necessary moves the Mariners needed to make, to shake things up and boost our farm system, but ultimately I wonder if we got enough back in return.  A starting catcher (who’s also a defensive wizard) for a centerfielder who probably won’t be here for more than a year or two before we get tired of yet another slap-hitting singles artist FEELS like pennies on the dollar.  Then, giving up a potential Ace starting pitcher for a mixed bag of minor league talent – again, while bolstering our terrible minor league teams – FEELS like yet more pennies on the dollar.  Now, of course, both of those guys (all three, if you want to include Heredia) come with their own risks.  Paxton and his injury issues, and Zunino with his woeful hitting issues, could submarine their respective new teams.  Or, they could figure it out/catch a little luck, and be superstars we gave up on too soon.

Before we get to the next slate of deals, I’ll talk about the minor moves the M’s made.  For starters, it seems odd that we’d dump Herrmann when we were already looking to trade Zunino, and the fact that the Astros made a play on him is doubly concerning.  In the end, probably no big thing, and he’s probably not a guy you’d want to guarantee a 40-man roster spot at this point in his career, so whatever.

Not going to arbitration on either Erasmo or Nick Vincent is probably a net gain.  I’m on the record as not having a whole lot of belief in Erasmo.  I think, for what he brings, he shouldn’t cost you very much in salary, so if he gets that elsewhere, more power to him.  And, while I like Vincent as much as the next guy, he was due a significant raise, and given his age and his declining abilities in 2018, that’s money poorly spent for the direction this team is going in.  I’m okay without either of them going forward, as I particularly think Vincent’s best days are behind him, and he’s going to get WAY too much money from another team.

The M’s offered Elias arbitration, and I think that’s cool, but I would’ve been cool if we didn’t as well.  I don’t think he’s in the longterm plans, but you do need to fill out a 25-man roster.  As a reliever/swing starter, there’s some value there.  He was good in 2018, and it’s just as likely he’ll be terrible in 2019, in which case that helps us on our quest to get a higher draft pick.

Finally, Casey Lawrence asked for his release so he can go pitch overseas.  I wish him the best, but again, no great loss.  He was mostly AAA fodder with occasional underwhelming call-ups.

***

Okay, now to the big deals!  Let’s start with the appetizer.

There was all this talk about the above-referenced blockbuster deal with the Mets, but before we were finished obsessing over that one, Jerry Dipoto snuck in a sneaky-good deal with the White Sox.  Alex Colome was another guy with some value who was not in our longterm plans.  He’s still got closing ability, he did pretty okay in 2018, so that value was probably not going up considerably.  Better to strike now rather than at midseason, when he could suck (or get injured) in the first half and see his value drop to zero.

On top of that, we get a starting-calibre catcher in return!  Omar “Don’t Call Me Navarez” Narvaez is a bat-first, lefty-hitting catcher who can take a walk and hit for a decent average.  He lacks Zunino’s power, but he’s improved in that area over the last year.  Where he stinks, unfortunately, is every aspect of his defense, as he rates as one of the very worst in the league.  Pitch-framing, throwing out runners, blocking pitches in the dirt, you name it, he sucks at it.  So, that’s going to be a drastic change of pace.  He’s essentially the Anti-Zunino, so if you REALLY hated Zunino, you’re REALLY gonna love this guy.

We’ll see if he can pick it up defensively, but I feel like that’s something you either have or you don’t, and you don’t really develop it if you lack it in the first place.  I hope I’m wrong, but I feel like he’s NOT the Catcher of the Future, not unless we find more pitchers who are able to miss more bats (without diving balls between and betwixt his legs).

Regardless, if you can get a starting catcher with multiple years of team control for a reliever on the final year of his contract, that’s a deal you make 10 times out of 10.

So, that solves the Zunino-sized hole at our catcher spot.

***

Okay, with that out of the way, let’s dig into the main course:  the Mets deal.

Robinson Cano has 5 years and $120 million left on his deal.  He’s old, but he’s still pretty effective; if I had to guess I’d say he has at least 2-3 more years left playing at his current level of productivity.  There’s always the chance that he’ll start his decline sooner rather than later – particularly on defense – but he’s too naturally talented to be a total black hole at the plate.  That having been said, as his legs go, it’ll end up being either singles, homers, or strikeouts, so unless he beefs up his homer totals, I can’t see him hitting a significant number of doubles from here on out.  With Nelson Cruz seemingly out of the picture, it looked like Cano was a natural to start to transition to his eventual destination as this team’s primary DH.  But, the M’s obviously had other plans.

So, what changed in a year?  Obviously, the PED suspension.  I’m trying to get a handle on if it’s a concern of a second suspension (and a yearlong ban), or if it’s just his attitude/personality and how it might clash with the new/younger direction this team is looking to make.  He’s obviously a big character on this team, and commands a lot of respect wherever he goes, and maybe the Mariners just want the players to learn from a different voice.  I mean, Cano is an All Star, so you can obviously learn a ton from a guy who built himself up from nothing.  But, there are the usual concerns about his hussle and his passion for the game.  I dunno.  I don’t know if we’ll ever get the real dirt about why the Mariners wanted out from under this deal.  I would assume the concern lies in the fact that he probably NEEDS the PEDs to keep up with his usual All Star level, and without them, his decline will start earlier.

With the $24 million per year contract, we obviously were never going to trade him by himself.  Unfortunately, the only real carrot we could dangle to get him out of here was our all-world closer Edwin Diaz.

I’ve been on record from the very beginning as saying this team should deal Diaz, and if I had it my way, we would’ve traded JUST him to the highest bidder, and gotten a REAL prospect windfall in return.  Honestly, I don’t believe he has it in him to stay at that level for very long.  I think with the way he throws the ball, he’s destined to sustain a serious arm injury, maybe even as soon as 2019.  It wouldn’t shock me in the SLIGHTEST to see him tear something and be out for a year.  I think, regardless of whether he injures his arm or not, he’s destined to lose velo on his fastball sooner rather than later – certainly well before he’s set to hit free agency – and with that I think his value as a closer will plummet.  This is, without question, Edwin Diaz at the peak of his value, and we were never going to have a better opportunity to replenish our minor leagues.

If it were up to me, and the Mariners are just hellbent on ridding this culture of Robinson Cano, then I would’ve just cut him and paid him his remaining salary, while trading Diaz for the highest bounty possible.  But, obviously, it’s not my money, so that’s easy for me to say.

That scenario just isn’t realistic.  I don’t see the harm in forcing him to exclusively DH (while maybe spot starting at second in an emergency), and riding out the remaining years of his contract.  Was he really so poisonous to this culture?  Would his presence alone have set us back so much?

Now, obviously, there’s the fringe benefit of making the Mariners worse by getting rid of him now.  Like I said, Cano can still play, and I bet he’ll be pretty solid for the Mets in 2019.  If our goal is to bottom out, then obviously you don’t want a guy in your lineup doing POSITIVE things like hitting for a high average, lots of extra-base hits, and lots of RBI.  So, that’s something.

In return, we take on some high-priced/low-performing contracts from the Mets.  Jay Bruce is set to earn $26 million over the next two years.  He’s a corner outfielder and I can’t imagine his defense is worth a damn.  Maybe he starts in left; maybe he platoons with Gamel (though, they both bat lefty, so that seems unlikely); maybe the M’s find a way to flip him to another team!  He was okay in 2017, but really had a bad 2018.  He does have some pop in his bat, and he’ll be 32 next year, so maybe we run him out as the DH?  Feels like the best way to preserve his legs and keep him away from anything related to defense.

Anthony Swarzak is on the hook for $8 million in 2019; he’s a veteran reliever who also had a good 2017, then bottomed out in 2018.

If we just talk about money, that’s $21 million for Bruce & Swarzak in 2019, and $13 for Bruce in 2020; that totals $34 million out of Cano’s remaining $120 million.  On top of that, the M’s chipped in an extra $20 million, meaning we ended up saving a total of $66 million going forward (not counting the remaining guys in the deal).  That’s not an insignificant number, especially when you hope that by the time 2021 rolls around, this team will be in a position to contend again.  That’s just the time when Cano should start to suck and Diaz should be recovering from a shoulder surgery!

As for the prospects, your guess is as good as mine.  Kelenic was the 6th overall selection in the 2018 draft.  He’s an 18-year old outfielder with all the tools; he just needs to develop them.  He would be the prize of this deal.  Again, if you can trade a reliever for a starting-calibre outfielder, you make that trade 10 times out of 10.  The question is:  do you trust this organization to develop him the right way?

Dunn is a 19th overall draft pick from 2016 and was the Mets’ highest pitching prospect.  He was in AA last year, so he appears to be on the right track.

Bautista is a reliever who can apparently throw 100 miles per hour.  Obviously, he has command problems, but we have a couple years to work out those kinks before hopefully he’ll stick in our Major League bullpen (or get flipped for still more prospects, if the ol’ rebuild hasn’t gone according to plan).

For what the Mariners were trying to do – acquire top-flight prospects while shedding some money and ridding the clubhouse of a possible cancer – this is probably as good as it gets.  If the outfielder pans out, it’s a terrific deal.  If he doesn’t, and the starter converts to relief, and the reliever flames out, then this could’ve busted SUPER HARD.

***

And, for dessert, I bring you the Jean Segura deal.

This one … REALLY makes me mad.  For starters, we traded for him prior to 2017 in what was at the time a CLEAR victory for the Mariners.  For Taijuan Walker (who doesn’t look like he’ll come close to being the ace we thought he could be), we got an All Star short stop and an All Star outfielder in the primes of their careers.  He started off strong in 2017, so we signed him MID-SEASON to a 5-year extension when we could’ve easily let him play it out through 2018 and seen what we had in him.

But, we liked him enough, so fine, 5-year extension.  He was officially part of our future.  And they didn’t realize until halfway through 2018 that he’s a headcase???  That he’s kind of soft and kind of a clubhouse cancer and we’re now bound and determined to do whatever it takes to be rid of him?

Look, I get the spirit of the rebuild, I really do!  But, this is an All Star player – particularly with the bat – on a very REASONABLE contract; he should be worth more than this!

Segura is due $14.25 million per year for the next 4 years.  In that time, he’ll almost certainly be worth that figure, if not be an outright bargain.  But, whatever, we save that money and we ostensibly get worse at the short stop position in 2019 (again, so we can tank and get that higher draft pick).  Then, there’s Juan Nicasio’s $9 million for 2019.  He, of course, sucked a fat one in 2018, but that could obviously flip entirely the very next year, because that’s how it is with relievers; randomness abounds!  Nevertheless, that’s a lot for an 8th inning reliever who may or may not be finished.  James Pazos has a nothing salary, which is most galling, because he’s both young and good!  Why couldn’t HE fetch a pretty penny on the open market?  Why the need to throw him into the mix?

Particularly when Carlos Santana is coming our way?!  He’s a first baseman (or a DH, depending on what else we do with that first base spot) who’s owed a combined $35 million over the next two years ($500,000 of that is a buyout for 2021, because you figure there’s no way in hell this team is going to pay a 35 year old first baseman another $17.5 million when they don’t have to).  Santana – like all these other useless veterans we’re getting back in these deals – was great in 2017 and stunk in 2018.  So, NOT GREAT, JERRY!

The prize in this deal, I guess, is J.P. Crawford, who will be a 24-year old glove-first/no-bat short stop in 2019.  If we can develop the bat into something halfway decent, then maybe that’s an upgrade in the end.  But, that’s obviously no guarantee.

And, that’s it.  A new short stop and a savings of another $31 million.  On the plus side, all these massive contracts expire after 2019 or 2020, so RIGHT ON TRACK FOR 2021 YOU GUYS!

As always, it’s hard to judge anything until you see the rest of the offseason moves.  But, you figure the biggest deals have been made (unless the team goes full boar and unloads Haniger for another bevy of prospects), and now it’s time for the rest of the roster moves to fill in around these guys.  But, on a surface level, it’s hard to get too excited, when so many variables are in play.

Not Winners & Losers Of The Seahawks’ Game Against The 49ers

Super fun win on Sunday at CenturyLink, as the Seahawks and 49ers were the first teams in NFL history to combine for a 43-16 score.  The Seahawks were favored by double-digits and this was one of those kinds of games where far too often you see us play down to the level of our competition and eke out an ugly win by 3 points, followed by everyone talking about how it doesn’t matter how pretty it was as long as a win is a win is a win is a blah blah blah.  Not this time.  After some predictable early-game struggles, we eventually went up 20-0 and didn’t look back.

What I’m Geeked Out About After Twelve Games

Russell Wilson, one more time.  11/17 for only 185 yards, but a whopping 4 TDs against 0 INTs.  Check out this season through three quarters:  2,716 yards (on pace for around 3,621), 8.33 yards per attempt (a career high by a fraction of a yard), 29 TDs (already his third-most in a season), 5 INTs, and a 115.5 passer rating (which would easily be a career high if he can keep it up).  There’s raw passing numbers, and there’s efficiency, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a guy who’s more efficient, either this season or over the course of a career.

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

You can’t do what he’s doing without the offensive line playing the way they’ve been playing.  We’ve always said, “If Russell Wilson ever had time in the pocket, he’d be among the best in the game,” and this year is living proof.  There were a few too many penalties for my liking (some legit, some REALLY ticky-tack), but otherwise Wilson had a clean pocket most of the day, and when he was heavily pressured (like on that one ugly sack near the 49ers goalline), I would argue the receivers or running backs let him down by missing assignments.

The proof is also in the pudding in the run game.  A week after Carolina brought us down to Earth a little bit, we had a quietly explosive game against a pretty solid 49ers run defense:  168 yards on 29 carries (5.8 per attempt) and a TD.  Carson led the way with 69 (nice), but Penny had 65 of his own (including a nifty 20-yard TD scamper) on nearly half the attempts.

Defensively, I mean, Bobby Wagner should probably be the MVP of this one:  12 tackles, 1 sack, 2 QB hits, 2 passes defended, 1 simultaneous forced fumble/fumble recovery, and a 98-yard interception returned for a touchdown (the longest in franchise history … LOB WHO MOTHERFUCKERS???).  Best Middle Linebacker In Football Hands Down No Questions Asked Thank U Next.

Elsewhere, Justin Coleman had a monster game with 10 tackles and half a sack.  Austin Calitro was all over the place in the stead of K.J. Wright.  Poona Ford was a load in the middle.  Frank Clark was in Nick Mullens’ pocket all day.  For a unit that ended up giving up 452 yards of offense (mostly in garbage time), that was a helluva game.  I mean, largely due to their ineptitude, the 49ers ran 74 plays to Seattle’s 49, so the Seahawks’ defense had to contend with a modest time imbalance.  A lot of heart on that side of the ball to hold them to just 16 points.

Getting back to the offense, kudos to Jaron Brown for his 2 TDs.  Tyler Lockett had a 52-yard score and a massive kickoff return to start the third quarter (which immediately preceeded Penny’s touchdown).  And Doug Baldwin even got in on the action with a 1-yard score.  Fantastic all-around day by these guys.

Let’s Talk About Competitions

The youth is really starting to stand out, and it’s a good sign of things to come.  The Seahawks should have plenty of money to spread around this offseason, and they’ll have a lot of fun decisions to make.  Frank Clark needs to be extended; that has to be Priority #1.  I would argue Jarran Reed is Priority #2.  I think the aforementioned Calitro could be a great fit to slide into K.J.’s role alongside Wagner.  I do ultimately think the Seahawks will look at the secondary in this year’s draft, but it’s nice to see Thompson and Hill making strides as the season has progressed.  We talk all the time about Griffin and Flowers – and rightly so – but it’s nice to see the depth in this secondary start to approach prior glories.  It’ll never be as good as it was, but to come close is something special.

On the flipside, how smart was that decision to extend Lockett when we did?  Between him, getting Doug healthy again next year, with David Moore and Jaron Brown rounding out the group, we’re set at wide receiver.  We’re also set at running back with Carson as the lead dog and the emergence of Penny as a change-of-pace threat to break it at any time.  That speed and explosiveness is what we expected all along from the first rounder, so it’s nice to see it finally showing up in games.

There’s a lot of quality youth on this team.  If we can just keep the offensive line intact, 2019 could really be something special, assuming we can fill in some of the holes with free agency.

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

Obviously not a great day by the kicker.  Gladly, it didn’t come close to affecting the outcome; let’s just hope this is a random anomaly and he got all his bad kicks out in a laugher.

Ultimately, it looks like Carson’s finger injury won’t matter too much (though, you hate to see a guy prone to fumbling injure any part of his hands).  But, the hamstring injury to Fluker seems like a crusher.  He could be out for a few games, the rest of the regular season, or put on IR and lost entirely.  You hate to see something so serious happen towards the end of a game that’s been largely decided, so let’s hope for the best.