The Red Sox Were The Straw That Broke The Mariners’ Back

It’s funny how two days can totally change the outlook of your entire season.

On Monday, the Mariners prevailed 5-4 over the Red Sox and pulled to within two games of the second wild card spot, with two more games to go against the very team they needed to overtake. Logan Gilbert gave us six hard-fought innings, holding the Red Sox to two runs. It was pretty impressive, given his struggles this year. You could argue two of his best games were against the Red Sox this week, and that Yankees start where he went 7 innings of 1-hit ball; that’s two formidable national opponents who he absolutely handled.

Diego Castillo got through the seventh, just in time for Mitch Haniger to hit a 3-run tie-breaking homer (all three runs unearned thanks to some timely terrible Red Sox defense). Paul Sewald gave up back-to-back solo homers to give the game its final score, but Drew Steckenrider got the save in the ninth. Kudos to Haniger for going 4 for 4, and J.P. Crawford going 3 for 4.

There was reason for hope on Tuesday night, though the final third of the game saw to it to crush our hearts. Tyler Anderson gutted his way through 4.1 innings, limiting the Red Sox to just one run. They were starting to get to him in the fourth and fifth innings, and with the Mariners’ offense struggling (we managed to take a short-lived 2-1 lead in the bottom of the fourth), I thought Scott Servais made the right move in getting Anderson out of there and going to his bullpen. Casey Sadler got us out of a jam in the fifth, but things went downhill quickly from there.

For some reason, Servais decided to go to Anthony Misiewicz in the sixth. The Red Sox had JUST seen a ho-hum lefty all day, and here they were getting a shot against another ho-hum lefty. Misiewicz got through the first two batters unscathed, but the wheels fell off and when the inning was over, the game was tied.

Servais then went to Joe Smith – the guy I would’ve thrown in there instead of Misiewicz – and he did what he was supposed to do: 1 inning of shutout ball. Unfortunately, Servais then opted to try to squeeze a second inning out of Joe Smith, which proved fatal. A leadoff triple in the top of the eighth sealed Smith’s fate. Drew Steckenrider was tasked with trying to prevent that runner from scoring; he managed one harmless groundout (sandwiched around two harmful walks) before a double cleared the bases. I had given up on the game by this point, so I couldn’t tell you what happened after that, other than the M’s lost 8-4.

The M’s would lose the finale on Wednesday 9-4. Once again, we got what we needed from our starter – 6 innings, 3 runs from Marco Gonzales – but pretty much the entire bullpen seems to be running out of gas, down to the last man. Sadler, Sewald, and Castillo got us to extra innings, but of course the offense kept shitting all over itself. A combination of Swanson, Sheffield, and Ramirez gave up 6 runs in the tenth inning to seal our fate. Why would we go to Sheffield with no outs, the bases loaded, and losing by a run? I can only assume the lack of Mariners offense has led to lesions on Servais’ brain, because he’s the LAST guy you’d go to in that situation, unless your intent was to blow the whole game to kingdom come.

That loss drops us to 78-68. We are an impossible 7.5 games behind the Astros in the A.L. West; we’re also a whopping 4 games out of the wild card, with three teams we’d have to leap over. All of this with 16 games left in the season. Sure, there are 9 winnable games against teams under .500 (three at the Royals this weekend, then six more against the Angels), and the other 7 games are against ONE of our wild card foes – the Oakland A’s – but that’s just too big of a mountain to climb in too short of time.

What a brutal last three weeks. If you want to know where the season went wrong, go back to that first Royals game on August 26th. Heading into that game, we were 11 games over .500, with 10 games against bottom-feeders in those very Royals, as well as the Diamondbacks. We managed to go 5-5 in those games; unforgivable. We somehow managed to go 3-3 against the Astros – which is great, for us – but then this Red Sox series slapped us right back down again. Every time we got on a little roll, we’d drop a brutal series in agonizing fashion. We had to win this Red Sox series, minimum, and we had to go at least 8-2 in those games against the bottom-feeders. Do that, and we’d be right there in the mix. We didn’t, and now the playoffs have slipped away.

There will be time for post-mortems after the season is officially over, but these next two and a half weeks feel like the walking dead. It’ll be interesting if we can end things on a high note, or if we really fall apart.

Nobody Wants To Hear About My Fantasy Team 2021: Some Good & Bad In A Week 1 Win

Part of me feels like I had no business winning that first game; that’ll happen when you score the 4th (out of 5th) most points in victory (and when you score the 7th most points in total). There were only three teams I would’ve defeated, and I was lucky enough to have gone up against one of them.

But, as a seasoned fantasy football veteran, I know shit like this happens. And, at some point, my team is going to be held WAY under its expected total points, and I’m going to lose to a team that was Just Okay. The fantasy gods giveth, and the fantasy gods taketh away.

Snoopy & Prickly Pete defeated Car Talk With Josh Allen 161.88 to 123.35.

I woke up on Sunday to find that Trey Sermon was inactive. That had me scrambling to my computer to put Raheem Mostert into my lineup over Clyde Edwards-Helaire. When you roster Mostert, you know time is of the essence; there are precious few weeks in a season where he makes it through a game unscathed. In striking while the iron was hot, I figured what better opportunity to enjoy a completely-healthy Mostert?

It turns out, he was good for two carries before he injured his knee, sending him to the IR for the rest of the year.

I’m a pretty rational human being. I know, for instance, that I wasn’t the only person who was duped into starting Mostert this past week. I know I wasn’t the only person to make a last-second lineup change that backfired. But, I believe wholeheartedly that I’m the only person in the world who gets so consistently fucked over by these moves every single time. Either I make the switch, and it backfires, or I stick to my guns, and I leave points on my bench. EVERY. FUCKING. TIME.

In this case, it was hard to be too upset, because CEH only got 10.2 points – pretty much what I expected him to get against the Browns – but that’s not the point. The point is the potential of what Mostert represented, in a cupcake matchup against the Lions’ inept run defense. That was a 20+ point game in the making!

The fantasy gods, knowing they did me dirty, decided to help me out in this one. My opponent had Ryan Fitzpatrick going as one of his QBs; he made it all of 6 pass attempts before going down with an injury. That one probably hurt Car Talk more than it hurt me, but if Mostert would’ve had the monster day I was expecting, I think it might’ve been close.

Anyway, the highlight of my day was Jameis Winston throwing for 5 touchdowns and getting me 41.1 points. He REALLY carried me, though I had some good performances elsewhere. CeeDee Lamb got me 23.88, Jimmy G got me 19.9 (and had a TD pass stolen from him at the goalline by the backup, FML), D.K. Metcalf, A.J. Brown, and the Rams’ defense all got me in the teens.

Meanwhile, Car Talk had 25-point games out of Kelce and Mixon, but Josh Allen struggled in a tough matchup against the Steelers’ defense. On top of that, he had four guys NOT named Fitzpatrick who also got him under 10 points each (compared to just Elliott and Mostert for me).

Late last week, after Gus Edwards went down, I picked up Ty’Son Williams, dropping Zack Moss (who was another surprise inactive on gameday). Williams looks to be going up against Latavius Murray (who I also just picked up on waivers this week) for carries in that backfield; he had a solid game on Monday Night, but the splits were pretty even between the two. I’ll continue to monitor them, while still looking to shore up the position. In the meantime, Mostert lands in my IR spot.

This week, I go up against Hahmez Wah 360 Allstars. Here’s my projected lineup:

  • Jameis Winston (QB) @ CAR
  • Jimmy Garoppolo (QB) @ PHI
  • A.J. Brown (WR) @ SEA
  • D.K. Metcalf (WR) vs. TEN
  • Ezekiel Elliott (RB) @ LAC
  • Clyde Edwards-Helaire (RB) @ BAL
  • Noah Fant (TE) @ JAX
  • CeeDee Lamb (WR) @ LAC
  • Justin Tucker (K) vs. KC
  • L.A. Rams (DEF) @ IND

I have at least one friend in my league who thinks Winston might’ve been the best pick in the entire draft. After one week, who am I to argue?! But, I’d like to see it over a consistent basis before I crown my ass. Nevertheless, the Panthers’ defense looks like a pretty good landing spot for his second week. Jimmy G, I’m a little more concerned about. Maybe the Philly defense is better than we thought? Or Atlanta is just terrible? My alternative is Mac Jones at the Jets, which seems like a no-brainer. But, the Jets do have a pretty good D-Line, I’m told, and again it’s only his second game. My hunch is the 49ers will need to throw the ball more to put up points to keep up with the Eagles (especially if the 49ers’ defense is as bad as we saw in the second half against the Lions last week). I’m really just biding my time – and THOROUGHLY on the Bench Andy Dalton Bandwagon – until Justin Fields gets the starting job full time. Boy did he look good in limited action against the Bears!

Zeke is locked in at running back, and I fully expect him to have a much better game against the Chargers. CEH is up in the air …

As usual, my three receivers are locked in, so I won’t be throwing any running backs into my flex spot just yet. Ty’Son Williams is still in too much of a timeshare to trust at this point.

I’m reasonably happy with Justin Tucker against the Chiefs, though that could be uncomfortable if the Chiefs start racking up the touchdowns. I still don’t know enough about Noah Fant or the Jaguars to know if I’m happy with that matchup, but my gut tells me it should go well for me. I’d like to think the Rams could do just as well against the Colts as the Seahawks did, if not better; here’s hoping Aaron Donald can make Carson Wentz’s life miserable!

The lineup Hahmez Wah is throwing out there looks quite formidable!

  • Jalen Hurts (QB) vs. SF
  • Matthew Stafford (QB) @ IND
  • Stefon Diggs (WR) @ MIA
  • Diontae Johnson (WR) vs. LV
  • Chris Carson (RB) vs. TEN
  • D’Andre Swift (RB) @ GB
  • Robert Tonyan (TE) vs. DET
  • Tyler Lockett (WR) vs. TEN
  • Rodrigo Blankenship (K) vs. LAR
  • Buffalo (DEF) @ MIA

Hurts looks like a Top 5 fantasy quarterback, and if the 49ers’ defense is as bad as they were in the second half against Detroit, that could be a 40-point game in the making. Stafford, of course, I’m super-high on, and Indy’s defense is beatable, as we just saw with Russell Wilson. Diggs is a Top 5 wide receiver and Buffalo loves to throw the ball, so that’s always scary. Johnson is a little boom-or-busty for the Steelers, but nothing I know about the Raiders’ defense leads me to believe they can stop a top-flight passing attack. Carson was held out of the endzone against the Colts, but I wouldn’t expect that to continue against a truly wretched Titans defense. Swift had a GREAT first week and could very well find himself the beneficiary of lots of checkdowns as the Lions try to come back against the Packers on Monday night. Tonyan is solid, though I imagine Rodgers will look to get all his receivers going this week. Lockett had a terrific first week, so hopefully this time he hangs back and lets Metcalf take the lead. Miami’s offense stinks with Tua, so I fully expect Buffalo to blast them.

All told he’s got some great looking players and matchups this week, so I’m going to need a bundle to keep up. It’s not totally impossible for me to do so, but I get the feeling my team is probably a 160-ish point team at best most weeks. Jimmy G is too much of a burden, and that might make all the difference if he shits the bed. I’m predicting a loss, maybe even a total blowout.

Splinter League Round-Up!

Dude, fuck me, I don’t know what happened. I was projected to be the top scoring team in the league this year, and came out and scored the fewest points in week one. That’s thanks in large part to Aaron Rodgers laying a fucking EGG and getting less than one point. Najee Harris was also disappointing, getting less than 6 points. And Mark Andrews didn’t do me any favors on Monday night either (though, by that point, I was rooting against him in other leagues, so it was okay). I’m chocking this up to a fluke occurrence and we’re On To Cincinnati.

The Mariners Swept The Diamondbacks, Part II: Whoops!

I knew I was in for it when I titled this post the way I did; leave it to the Mariners to lose 2 of 3 to the worst team in baseball.

Since I can’t make this post one huge SIGH, I guess I’ll get into it. The first game was weird, but fine. Marco Gonzales went 6 innings and gave up 3 unearned runs (two separate errors aided in the Diamondbacks scoring in back-to-back innings). The game was tied 3-3 after three innings thanks to a J.P. Crawford solo bomb and a Tom Murphy 2-run bomb. France singled in a run in the fifth, and Murphy hit his second homer of the game in the sixth for a little insurance (which we needed when Diego Castillo gave up a run in the eighth). Otherwise, the bullpen was lights out, with Steckenrider striking out the side in the ninth to get the save, preserving a 5-4 win.

I had high hopes for Saturday, with Chris Flexen on the mound, but he fell apart in the fourth and finished the game after 5 innings, giving up 5 runs. Haniger and Kelenic homered in 3 runs, but that was all she wrote. We ultimately lost 7-3, as the D-Squad bullpen – led by Justus Sheffield giving up 2 runs in 1 inning – was employed to finish out the string.

I had reduced hopes for Sunday, with Yusei Kikuchi going, but he did all right (5 innings, 1 run). It’s weird that a guy who generated 8 strikeouts and only threw 76 pitches wasn’t graced with a sixth inning to pitch through, but I’d put the loss of this game half on Servais (for making the call) and at least partially on Kikuchi himself (for being so unreliable lately, that the team felt it had no choice but to get out from under his start before he had a chance to ruin things). Either way, Anthony Misiewicz gets a good chunk of the blame all by himself, as he came in and immediately fell apart, getting zero outs and giving up 3 runs. Eric Swanson gave up another run later on, and the offense just couldn’t do enough. We went into the ninth inning down 5-2 (Haniger and Moore homered earlier), before Kelenic hit a 2-run bomb to pull it to 5-4. But, the rally died there.

That’s yet another inexcusable series defeat by the Mariners. Add that to us losing 3/4 at home to the Royals and losing 5/6 to the Tigers in the first half of the season; what is it with us getting demolished by shitty teams?

The Red Sox came to town to start their series yesterday; this is REALLY do-or-die stuff here. Other than our remaining games against the A’s, this is the last chance we have to directly affect a team in the wild card hunt with us. Winning this series isn’t just ideal, it’s mandatory. Sweeping would be ideal, of course, but it’s hard to see that happening. Yesterday was a good start, though.

The Seahawks’ Offense Looked Great As They Trounced The Colts

It’s only one game, so I’ll do my best to not overreact, but that was an impressive Seahawks victory against a pretty good all-around team in Indianapolis. I know everyone likes to crap all over Carson Wentz – and he makes it easy to do sometimes – but he wasn’t the reason why the Seahawks beat the Colts 28-16. Now, granted, he didn’t go out and put his team on his shoulders either; my point is, there’s a great supporting cast around him – on both sides of the ball – plus a coaching staff that’s probably underrated.

And yet, the Seahawks made that win look pretty easy. That was an 11-win team from a season ago, with a stadium full of crazed fans, and the Seahawks had their way with the Colts!

There’s a lot to be impressed with, but I have to start with the offense. That was clearly my biggest worry heading into the season, and while it’s only one game, that’s far and away better than I ever would’ve expected, especially this early in the year. Not only did Russell Wilson rack up 254 yards passing and 4 TDs, not only did the running game generate 140 yards on the ground (with a 5.2 yards per carry average), but we got started right off the bat marching down the field and putting up points. The Seahawks scored touchdowns on their first two drives of the game, and on three of their four first half drives in total.

With the defense doing just enough, that amounted to a 21-10 halftime lead. As opposed to the other way around – which is usually what we get with your average Seahawks game – there was no need to frantically scramble to catch up in the second half. There was no need for the defense to be perfect to allow us to crawl back into the game. We got to be the aggressors on defense in the second half, while slowing things down on offense and running to bleed the clock.

It wasn’t a super-successful effort in the second half. Both teams traded punts and fumbles into the middle of the fourth quarter, but even with some struggles, it always felt like the Seahawks could move the all at will if they really needed to. Which is what they did in zipping down the field to take a 28-10 lead with just under 7 minutes left in the game. The Colts got a garbage-time TD, but that was it.

Wilson, as I noted above, was amazingly efficient (18/23 passing, 11 yards per attempt), hitting receivers on all three levels of the defense. Apparently, the Colts are notorious for suppressing the deep ball, but we still managed a 30 yarder to D.K. and a 69-yard touchdown to Lockett. Both of those receivers were great; Lockett had 4 for 100 and 2 TDs, Metcalf had 4 for 60 with 1 TD. Gerald Everett also got into the action with 2 catches for 20 yards and a TD.

Chris Carson was magnificent, running the ball 16 times for 91 yards; none of the other running backs on the team really did much (Penny ended up leaving with an injury). Carson also caught 3 balls for 26 yards, which is always good to see. The offense in general was humming, particularly at the most important points of the game: right off the bat, and to close it out. You love to see it.

The defense was everything you’ve come to expect from the best version of this era of Seahawks D. The Colts’ running game was held to a 3.8 yards per carry average (helped by 4 Wentz scrambles for 23 yards). Wentz himself was held to a 6.6 yards per attempt average. We were all over him in this one, getting 3 sacks, and pressuring him a lot more on top of that.

Rasheem Green carried over his torrid pre-season; THIS is the guy every Seahawks fan dreamed about when he was originally drafted in 2018. He had 4 tackles (1 tackle for loss), 1 sack, 2 passes defended, and 2 QB hits. Benson Mayowa and Darrell Taylor each chipped in with 2 tackles, a sack, and 2 QB hits. And Bobby Wagner and Jordyn Brooks led the team in tackles with 13 and 11 respectively.

I didn’t notice a lot from the secondary, either good or bad, which is probably as good as we can hope for right now. We weren’t torched, obviously, but I also don’t see any passes defended in the stat sheet (nor any picks, for that matter). Of course, the Colts are pretty depleted in their wide receiver room, so this was a nice, soft landing for our cornerbacks as we try to figure out the best combination of starters going forward.

Overall, I’m pretty happy with how this game went! It’s always nice to feel comfortable and not have to panic for three straight hours. The Seahawks usually take years off of our lives; in this one I think they finally put some years back on.

The 2021 Seattle Seahawks Regular Season Preview Extraordinaire!

If you feel like reading about my position-by-position breakdowns, click HERE and go through all the links at the top. And, in case you missed it, I talked briefly about my predictions for how the 2021 NFL season is going to go as a whole HERE. There’s a pretty significant spoiler in there about my feelings on the Seahawks, which I’m going to get to directly.

I think the 2021 Seattle Seahawks are going to be disappointing. That’s not a very unique hill to die on. If you’re a playoff contender, only one team’s season WON’T be disappointing. But, I guess that’s my point: the 2021 Seattle Seahawks aren’t going to win the Super Bowl. For a team with Russell Wilson as its quarterback, for a team that has been to two Super Bowls in the last decade – and been to the playoffs in all but one year dating back to 2012 – not winning the Super Bowl is always going to be disappointing. Seasons change and we’re all getting fucking older, and it’s reasonable to wonder if we’re all going to die without the Seahawks ever winning a Super Bowl again.

In skimming last year’s preview post, I think my feelings about the team are similar, but for slightly different reasons. I was probably a little higher on the offense than I am this season, and for the first half that was validated by what we saw on the field. Then, the level of our defensive competition improved, and we were unable to adjust to what they were doing to us. On the flipside, there were lots of worries about the defense heading into the season – also validated by what we saw on the field – but that tightened up in the second half (as the level of offensive competition declined, and we were able to adjust to what teams were doing to us). Ultimately, we were looking at a fatally flawed team in 2020, and we’re still looking at a fatally flawed team in 2021.

There’s a lot to like about the offense once again. The talent is on par with the most talented offensive teams in the NFL. We have a Top 5 quarterback, we have arguably the best wide receiver duo, we have a stable of quality running backs and tight ends (when healthy), and our offensive line is good enough (especially with Duane Brown back in the fold). I only have one concern about the offense, but it’s a big one: Shane Waldron.

He’s never called plays before. He’s never been in charge of setting up an offense or scheming against an opposing defense. I don’t know what it was, exactly, he did with the Rams, but he wasn’t The Guy. The buck didn’t stop with Shane Waldron. We ASSUME – since he worked under offensive genius Sean McVay – that we’re going to get “The Rams’ offense” with our Seahawks talent executing it. And, we ASSUME – because the Rams’ offense has always been so great for them since McVay was brought over there – that it’s going to translate seamlessly to our team. But, we don’t know if it’s going to work out at all!

There’s a chance the offense is more efficient, and we’re able to connect on the short passing game, which in turn will open up the deep passing game again, which in turn will also open up our rushing attack. But, I would argue there’s an equally-good chance (if not a better chance) that the offense is even less efficient than it was before, and we’re reduced to an embarrassing shambles with a guy who doesn’t know how to call plays or adjust in-game to what defenses are throwing at us.

Frankly, I’m leaning towards the offense being a frustrating mess more often than not. What’s more likely? Some first-time offensive coordinator – who no one’s ever heard of outside of hardcore football circles – comes in and takes the play-calling world by storm? Or, like the 8th coordinator poached from the Rams under Sean McVay goes to another team and sucks like all the rest?

Why is no one talking about this? Why isn’t this a bigger story? Everyone’s just taking for granted that the Seahawks are going to look exactly like the Rams offensively; it makes no sense. We’ve got a quarterback who can’t shit until he holds out for the long bomb – taking umpteen sacks in the process by holding the ball too long; we’ve got a head coach who wants to run the ball more than anyone else in the league; and we’ve got an offensive line that still has to face the front sevens of the rest of the NFC West six times a year (plus playoffs), on top of many other difficult D-Lines around the league. This is a recipe for utter disaster!

Honestly, I really question whether or not Brian Schottenheimer was the main problem last year. You’re telling me he doesn’t have a short or intermediate passing game in his playbook? You’re telling me HE was the reason this team never called screen passes or crossing patterns? Or, is it because the quarterback always wants to throw the home run ball, and he can’t see over all the linemen in his way to hit his receivers 10 yards downfield? Come on, let’s think about this rationally here.

I expect this offense to struggle mightily through the first month or two, until this team goes back to calling the same plays it’s called over the last decade. At which point we MIGHT see marginal improvement, but by that time we’ll have already lost too many games to get the top seed in the NFC, and it’ll be iffy at best if we can even compete for the divisional title.

While we’re on the topic, let’s get to probably the biggest reason why the 2021 Seahawks will be disappointing: the NFC West.

They’re all better. I’m just going to say that right off the bat. The 49ers are healthy again; they figure to have enough talent to contend for a playoff spot (and maybe even the division). The Cardinals were 8-8 last year and their quarterback was playing injured for most of the second half of the season. The Rams won 10 games, beat the Seahawks in Seattle in the first round of the playoffs, and VASTLY upgraded at quarterback with Stafford over Goff. I fully expect the Rams – still stacked at virtually every single position group – to not only win the NFC West, but have the best record in the entire conference. This isn’t just reverse-jinx posturing; I’m staking my fantasy football life on it (going all in on Stafford and the Rams’ defense, earlier than probably most any other non-Rams fan in existence).

It’s almost an impossible ask to expect the Seahawks to win this division in back-to-back seasons! Especially since you can’t really point to any one thing the Seahawks do as definitely exceptional. The Rams have a great offense and the best defensive player alive. The 49ers have a great offensive scheme (if maybe lacking in talent at the quarterback position) and a stacked front seven on defense. The Cardinals have one of the best mobile quarterbacks in the league, who almost always keeps them in ballgames with a chance to win it at the end.

The Seahawks have … a less-mobile Russell Wilson, in a new offense. They have maybe the best receiver in the game in D.K. Metcalf … who was largely neutralized in the second half of last season thanks to countless double teams and defenses (or just Jalen Ramsey) blanketing his side of the field. The only certainty is that the Seahawks have the best Safety Who Gets Sacks in football. Okay. Who was the last team that featured a sacking safety that won the Super Bowl? Go ahead, I’ll wait.

At the same time, though, I can’t say it’s all Doom & Gloom either. Because, as I said up top, this team IS talented, pretty much throughout. There’s enough talent on offense that I fully expect – in 2-minute situations, when Wilson is calling the plays in hurry-up – points will be scored. My argument is: it’s not going to be as seamless as everyone is expecting; it’s going to be a struggle sometimes. The Seahawks aren’t going to lead the league in points; they’re not even going to be in the Top 5. Talent alone will probably keep us in the Top 10, but I don’t think that’s going to be good enough to push us over the hump into the upper stratosphere.

Sure, there’s also talent on defense. I think the starting linebacker unit is solid, the defensive line should be at least on par with what we saw in the second half of 2020, and I have zero issues with the safeties. But, the cornerbacks are an obvious weakness, and there’s still the Ken Norton in the room. He’s a terrible defensive coordinator! He might’ve been okay when there were Hall of Famers throughout this side of the ball, but literally anyone could’ve coordinated those defenses and had a top DVOA unit. This is a group with a lot of young guys in prominent roles, a lot of fringe-starters getting full-time snaps, who desperately need to be coached up, and Ken Norton is completely incapable of doing that outside of the linebacker room. He should be a linebackers coach; that’s where his ceiling is from a coaching perspective. But, he’s in charge of the entire defense, and that’s where this team gets fucked.

The defense hasn’t been the same since Dan Quinn left for Atlanta. I’d feel a lot better about things if we’d brought him back this year, instead of letting Dallas take him in.

So, you know, expect a lot of frustrating defensive series. Expect teams to continue to dink and dunk on us at will, at times, in every single game. Expect a good amount of chunk plays to go against us because our cornerbacks are crappy and our safeties can’t be everywhere at once. Then, expect us to adjust and slow teams down for a while in the second or third quarters of games, before they finally figure out how to move it again midway through the fourth quarter.

In short, expect the Seahawks defense you’ve come to know and loathe since Dan Quinn left. Along with it, expect the usual Cardiac Seahawks games where they’re maddeningly close until the bitter end, with the final possession deciding the game’s outcome. You like one-score games? I hope so, because the Seahawks enjoy nothing more than playing the same fucking Greatest Hits for us every single week.

I haven’t done this in a while, so let’s go game-by-game and see if we can predict wins and losses. This is fun for about 30 seconds, right?

  • @ Indy – Win
  • Tenn – Win
  • @ Minn – Win
  • @ Frisco – Loss
  • Rams – Loss
  • @ Pitt – Loss
  • Saints – Win
  • Jags – Win
  • BYE
  • @ Pack – Loss
  • Zona – Loss
  • @ Wash – Win
  • Frisco – Win
  • @ Hou – Win
  • @ Rams – Loss
  • Bears – Win
  • Lions – Win
  • @ Zona – Win

I have us at 11-6 in this scenario. It might not shake out EXACTLY in this fashion, but I think 5-3 heading into the BYE is probably reasonable. I think 2-4 against the division is probably the difference-maker between us or the 49ers getting the higher wild card seed (I think we probably end up with the same record, but they figure out a way to sweep the Cards and get one over on the Rams).

I’d love nothing more than to be wrong. There’s a small part of me that wants to believe the Seahawks have been on this upward trajectory since 2017 (the last time we missed the playoffs). We were 9-7 that year, and have improved by one win every season since, with us finally winning the division again in 2020. The next step in that progression is to not only win the division, but take the top seed in the NFC again. And, with that – ideally – a spot in the Super Bowl.

But, usually, teams who do that are able to get that one final piece to the puzzle in the lead-up to that season. In 2013, for instance, we went out and got Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril. The Bucs last year got Tom Brady and loaded up on veterans on defense. When was the last team you saw that was THIS flawed that somehow managed to improve? Almost always – when a team is this flawed – there’s negative regression the other way.

Frankly, the Seahawks have been flawed every season since 2017; things can’t keep improving forever.

This feels like a total meltdown waiting to happen. We were already teetering on the brink this offseason with Russell Wilson complaining in the media. I’m half-expecting everything to totally fall apart, with the final nail being a Wilson trade out of here. And knowing our Seattle luck with trading superstars, he will hamstring us with the list of teams we’re allowed to trade him to, resulting in our getting a terrible package of picks and players in return.

Officially, I’m predicting the Seahawks will be 11-6 and the 6th seed in the NFC. But, secretly I wouldn’t be shocked to see us fall to 8-9, miss out on the playoffs, and have all hell break loose.

Earlier this week I called out the Ravens as the team having a Season From Hell. But, don’t be surprised if it’s us. Again, I hope I’m wrong, but I feel it in my gut: the future looks grim.

Nobody Wants To Hear About My Fantasy Team 2021: Snoopy & Prickly Pete

Also, check out the Fantasy Football tag for all my past ramblings on the subject.

Last year ended as horribly as can be in my Main League. I made the 6-team playoffs, but then promptly lost in the first round. That means I missed out on the 4-team consolation bracket – which plays for the top 4 draft picks the following season – and was saddled in the 5/6 game, playing for the 5th/6th draft pick. Of course, I lost that game as well, and here I was, heading into this season drafting 6th out of 10 teams, in a standard (non-snake) draft.

Last year, we were up to 4 keepers, having steadily increased that number over the last few years, with the ultimate goal of turning the league into a Dynasty League. Finally, there was enough discontent that the talk at this year’s rules meeting centered on, “We either need to go full dynasty, or blow it all up and eliminate keepers altogether.”

I don’t mind telling you I was lobbying hard to go with the dynasty league. I’ve been spending the last few years suffering mediocre finishes all in the name of trying to find the best keepers possible to carry over (with the primary goal of finding one or two quality quarterbacks to finally cement that position once and for all). I didn’t want all of that work to go to waste. Thankfully, by the thinnest of margins, we were able to vote in the dynasty.

Our set up is like this: we have to keep all of our starting positions. 2 QBs, 2 RBs, 2 WRs, 1 TE, 1 FLEX, 1 K, 1 DEF. Easy peasy. We’ll get to wait until about a week before our fantasy draft next year before declaring who those keepers will be. Then, at the draft, we’ll select our 5 bench spots out of whoever’s left over, plus any incoming rookies.

This all starts NEXT year, meaning that we’re still only carrying over 4 keepers from last season. But, with our draft – that took place last Thursday – it’s officially on. If you’re not going all-in on the dynasty aspect with regards to who you’re drafting, then that means you like your team an awful lot and are pushing to win the championship within the next 1-2 years.

I didn’t love my keepers heading into our draft, because – SPOILER ALERT – I had no quarterbacks among the four. My keepers were:

  1. A.J. Brown (WR)
  2. CeeDee Lamb (WR)
  3. Ezekiel Elliott (RB)
  4. Clyde Edwards-Helaire (RB)

That’s the ranking of how much I liked them, 1 through 4. I was waffling back and forth on CEH until the bitter end, before I read enough pundits who think he’s due to have a bounce-back year in his second season in the league. I can buy it. He doesn’t appear to have a lot of competition at the spot in Kansas City; even though they throw the ball WAY MORE than they run it, he could sneak in for some more touchdowns and still catch a lot of balls.

I had zero interest in keeping Josh Jacobs. He was supposed to be my horse last year, but he underwhelmed, and then the Raiders brought in Kenyan Drake (the bane of every fantasy owner’s existence wherever he plays, because he’s always stealing carries from someone more promising). I had a lot of fringey receivers I was mulling over (Jerry Jeudy, Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, D.J. Chark, and Rashard Higgins), but all of those guys are players that could easily be had in any fantasy draft.

As for my two quarterbacks, I had Kirk Cousins (who’s a non-starter for me, since he’s not vaccinated – which means there’s a high likelihood he misses games this year – and he’s just overall mediocre), and Tua Tagovailoa. I made a HUGE to-do about picking him up on waivers last year, thinking his Alabama pedigree might translate to NFL success. But, he just looked too shitty as a rookie last year. More often than not, you can see which rookie quarterbacks are going to be studs, and which ones are going to be Marcus Mariota. Tua looks like he’s going to be a left-handed Mariota.

In the end, my final keeper came down to CEH and Tee Higgins. I was THIS close to keeping Higgins, because I freaking love that dude, and I think in that Bengals offense he’s going to be steadily productive for the next decade. But, the Bengals also went out and drafted another elite receiver really high in this year’s draft, plus they still have Tyler Boyd, who’s solid. There ended up being too many cooks in that kitchen, and I was scared off. I still think Higgins will be the best of those three this year, but going forward, it’s iffy.

Plus, let’s face it, there are tons of solid wide receivers all throughout the league. Keeping three of them seemed like overkill. I would’ve been effectively handing over my FLEX spot to Higgins, and if for whatever reason he struggles, then I’ve wasted one of my keeper spots for a fringe fantasy starter.

***

I had a couple plans heading into the draft with my 6th overall pick. Trevor Lawrence would obviously be off the table (he, indeed, went #1 overall). I assumed Najee Harris would also be off the table (he ended up being taken with the third pick, for reasons I’ll get into in a moment). I ranked my top six players, and my third choice would’ve been Falcons tight end Kyle Pitts (who very well might’ve fallen to me, as he was ultimately taken 7th), followed by Matthew Stafford (who did fall to me, though I ended up trading him – SPOILER ALERT AGAIN), and then the Washington and Indy running backs as 5th and 6th (they ended up going 5th and 4th respectively).

I would’ve been elated to have Matthew Stafford, because I think he’s going to have an awesome year with the Rams. Plus, he’s only 33 years old, which means he could have another 7-10 years ahead of him if things break right!

My general plan was to load up on quarterbacks – taking lots of flyers on rookies, after Stafford – and running backs (to try to load up on depth in case of injuries and BYEs). This was always going to be a quasi-throwaway year for me, in hopes that I’d find the two quarterbacks I’d be rolling with for the next 5-10 years.

That was thrown out the window when Hahmez Wah 360 Allstars (don’t ask) texted the entire league saying his keepers were available for trade (in exchange for players and/or draft picks).

He actually had four pretty good keepers (Derrick Henry, D.K. Metcalf, George Kittle, and Stefon Diggs), but for whatever reason, he was looking to shake things up.

I didn’t want Henry because he’s being run into the ground and probably has 1-2 more years MAX before he begins his slide. I didn’t want Kittle because he could be an injury risk with the way he plays the game and how hard he is on his body. D.K. Metcalf is obviously a huge draw for me, as a Seahawks fan, and I think he’s someone who could be the #1 scoring wide receiver as early as THIS year. Plus he’s young and should be good for another decade. Sign me up!

I made Hahmez Wah 360 Allstars a lowball offer (I think a second rounder, or a fourth rounder plus A.J. Brown); he countered saying he needed my first rounder. I took a bit to think about it, before ultimately concluding that D.K. Metcalf with the 6th pick would be guaranteed to be better than anyone who might fall to me (there would’ve been the potential for higher upside with someone like Pitts, but there’s always a risk with any rookie).

I’m lucky I accepted the offer when I did, because by the next day someone had offered him the #2 overall pick for D.K. I told that guy (with the #2 pick) if Trevor Lawrence somehow – by the grace of God – fell out of the top spot, I’d trade him D.K. for Lawrence (which he agreed to, since he already has Russell Wilson and Justin Herbert as his keepers), but of course that was never going to happen.

Hahmez Wah, in the end, turned his aforementioned keepers into Jalen Hurts (#2 overall) & Chris Carson (he traded his #9 overall for the #2 overall, while also giving away Derrick Henry in the deal), Matthew Stafford (in the Metcalf deal), Tyler Lockett (in the Kittle deal, where he got the first pick in the second round), while still hanging onto Stefon Diggs. I wouldn’t love that for my team – if I were him, I would’ve stuck the keepers I had – but I understand the impulse in making a radical change. Also, it IS a game, after all; it’s supposed to be fun, right? What’s more fun than a crazy slew of trades?

***

So, heading into the second round, I had three receivers and two running backs. It was time to start looking into the quarterback position.

No other QB was taken after the three I already mentioned. Next up on my private dynasty rankings was Justin Fields, so I grabbed him with my second pick. No, he’s not starting right away, but the stories I’ve read about him were phenomenal, and I think he has real breakout potential. Trey Lance was going to be my next choice, but he was taken from me two picks before my spot in the third round, so I settled on Mac Jones. Also hearing great stories about him! Less of a running threat, but in a better team situation than Fields, so I like that.

Then, for good measure – because I needed someone to start right away in week one – I nabbed Jameis Winston. He’s been on and off my fantasy team for years, but he had last year off (for the most part) and has been learning the Saints’ system. If he’s even remotely more careful with the ball, he’s a guy who’s capable of throwing for 5,000 yards and 30+ touchdowns. We also forget: he’s also only 27 years old; so if he does change his entire career around, that could be a steal for me.

As chance would have it, Cousins was around for my fifth pick, but I zagged and went with the Rams’ defense. I feel like they have the potential to be solid for the duration of Aaron Donald’s career, so why not? Then, with my sixth pick, Noah Fant was still available. I had him as a rookie and it sounds like the offense is going to be vastly improved in Denver, so I like the idea of having him for the foreseeable future. Also, the drop-off after Fant was pretty considerable (the next guys taken were Goedert and Tonyan; I’m good with my choice).

Then, I finally had to break down and get a third running back. Obviously, my plan to load up on the position was a failure. It was down to Chase Edmonds or Raheem Mostert in the 7th round. Edmonds went one pick earlier, so Mostert it is! I like Mostert; when he’s healthy, he’s dominant (in many ways, he’s like Chris Carson). He just can’t stay healthy. But, if I can squeeze a few weeks out of him, I’ll look to hopefully address the running back position next year.

In the 8th round, I nabbed Justin Tucker. He’s only 31 years old and he’s the best kicker in football. He could be around for another 10-15 years if he takes care of himself. After that, I went back to the quarterback well, grabbing Jimmy G. Obviously, the 49ers drafted their quarterback of the future. But, if you look at the 49ers’ schedule, it’s pretty damn easy the first few weeks of the season. I’ll mix and match with him and Mac Jones for a while until Jimmy G ultimately gets benched, and hope he has enough pride to force the 49ers’ hand in benching a guy playing well. At the very least, he has a soft landing against the Lions in week one, where I expect him to be a Top 10 fantasy quarterback (for just that one week, anyway). Yes, I know there’s potential for Lance to snipe some snaps from him, but I don’t care. As long as he’s not getting entire chunks of plays in the red zone, I’ll be happy.

With my next-to-last pick, I took a chance on Buffalo’s Zack Moss. He was a rookie last year and the team obviously liked him enough to draft him in the third round. Maybe this is the year he assumes the starter job! Of course, even then, it’s not like Buffalo runs the ball all that much. I’m hoping they get such huge leads early in games, that they’ll be running the ball exclusively in the fourth quarter.

Finally, for my super sleeper, I picked Jordan Love, backup quarterback of the Green Bay Packers. I’m going to do my damnedest to hang onto him all year. The way I see it, if none of my rookie QBs pan out this year, and are not keeper-worthy in my eyes, I’ll just keep Love and roll the dice. They obviously drafted him to be Aaron Rodgers’ replacement sooner or later. If I have no one better, why not keep him and see if he’s elite?

***

There’s obviously a lot wrong with my team at this point in my dynasty. The quarterback situation is a mess and my running back depth is nil. But, I have just the three receivers: D.K., Brown, and Lamb, and I think all three of those guys are Top 10 calibre players at the position. I’m set! In non-BYE weeks (and, in non-injury situations), I have my two WR spots and my FLEX spot all locked down. Not having any receivers on my bench affords me the luxury of carrying extra RBs and QBs. If I’m ever able to lock down the quarterback spot to my satisfaction, that leaves me more room on my bench for even more RBs, as well as potential backups to tight end or defense (which always comes in handy).

I think I’m done making RBs a priority. Unless some super-stud rookie falls to me in the first round of the draft next year, I’m just going to do my best to either stream running backs or carry enough in those second-to-fourth tiers to play matchups and hope I get around 10 points from each. If my QBs and receivers can carry me, I think that’s a championship formula. Running backs are just too damn fickle and too injury prone; it’s impossible to rely on them to be 20+ point workhorses anymore. I’d rather go for elite receivers, hope they blow up a few times a year, and just get steady-if-unspectacular production from my RBs. Plus, if I’m able to find someone on the free agent scrap heap that comes from nowhere to crush it, all the better.

***

Now, it’s time to talk about this week. My team is Snoopy & Prickly Pete (Seinfeld reference, for the second straight year!). I’m going up against the reigning league champion, Car Talk With Josh Allen (guess who one of his quarterbacks is). He’s projected to finish third in our league (one game ahead of me), and – not for nothing – he’s projected to beat me in week 1.

Here’s my week 1 lineup, barring any unexpected last-minute COVID issues:

  • Jameis Winston (QB) vs. GB
  • Jimmy Garoppolo (QB) @ DET
  • CeeDee Lamb (WR) @ TB
  • A.J. Brown (WR) vs. AZ
  • Ezekiel Elliott (RB) @ TB
  • Clyde Edwards-Helaire (RB) vs. CLE
  • Noah Fant (TE) @ NYG
  • D.K. Metcalf (WR) @ IND
  • Justin Tucker (K) @ LV
  • L.A. Rams (DEF) vs. CHI

As I said, I love Jimmy G against a nothing Detroit defense; Mac Jones is my only other option and I’d rather not start a rookie in his first game, against a defense as good as Miami’s. As I also said, all my receivers are locked in, which means the only other choice was my #2 running back (though, I don’t love Zeke against that Bucs defense, with their All Pro guard out for this game). I briefly considered Mostert against Detroit, but I’d really like to see what the 49ers’ offense looks like, with their two quarterbacks, plus their new rookie running back angling to steal snaps. I’m rolling with all my keepers, at least for now!

Car Talk looks like he’s got the following:

  • Josh Allen (QB) vs. PIT
  • Ryan Fitzpatrick (QB) vs. LAC
  • Allen Robinson (WR) @ LAR
  • Julio Jones (WR) vs. AZ
  • Aaron Jones (RB) @ NO
  • Joe Mixon (RB) vs. MIN
  • Travis Kelce (TE) vs. CLE
  • Robert Woods (WR) vs. CHI
  • Tyler Bass (K) vs. PIT
  • Baltimore (DEF) @ LV

Our teams are pretty much even (he’s a little better at QB, I’m a little better at WR) except for the difference in our projected points from the tight end position. Kelce is the best in football; mine is just okay. That’s always a huge advantage and I hope I’m able to one day have something similar on my team. In the meantime, I’ll just have to hope the Chiefs run the ball more and throw their TDs to their wide receivers. That’s a tall ask.

I’m guessing I’ll lose this game. I’ll be down in the dumps on Sunday, but a dynasty league isn’t about just one week, or even one season. This is a transitional year, and I hope to be better at the end than I am at the beginning.

In the meantime, PATIENCE! I need to practice extreme patience, and accept losing for what it is: a temporary means to an end, that will one day result in my name on that championship trophy. Maybe not this year, but one year soon. Let’s fucking go.

The Mariners Are Finally Done With Houston For 2021

The Mariners lost to the Astros on Monday 11-2. It was the fourth time we’ve had to face Lance McCullers since the All Star Break, and the only time we didn’t get beaten was in Seattle on August 31st when we threw that shutout by Kikuchi & Co. and Toro hit the grand slam off of Graveman to win it 4-0 (note: McCullers gave up 0 runs in his five innings of work, still managing to keep us off-balance, even in defeat).

I don’t know what his record is against the Mariners, but it seems like he kills us every single time, and not only that, but it seems like our own pitchers absolutely fall apart. Kikuchi also went in the game this week and couldn’t get out of the second inning, giving up 6 runs (4 earned), all in that fateful second. The only positive in this game was Toro continuing to rake against his old team, getting two hits (including a 2-RBI double).

Tuesday’s game was one of those losses where you think you might have the Astros licked, then they rip your guts out at the last minute. We withstood a Logan Gilbert start where he didn’t quite get through the fifth, but only gave up 2 runs. J.P. Crawford hit a 2-RBI double in the top of the fifth to tie it up, and Kyle Seager hit a solo bomb in the sixth to take a 1-run lead. Our bullpen held it down from there, and our offense even tacked on an insurance run in the top of the ninth to make it 4-2. Paul Sewald time! We had it in the bag!

But, then, of course, Alex Bregman hit a 2-run home run into their insanely short porch in left field to tie it up. We failed to score in the 10th, and Yohan Ramirez gave up a leadoff ground rule double to end it.

Once again, we were staring down the barrel of a sweep, but somehow pulled out the win on get-away day. Tyler Andersen didn’t quite have it – though, it sounds like the ump was all over the place, of course – giving up 4 runs in a little over 4 innings. But, once again, the bullpen was fucking nails and gave the offense enough time to scratch across the winning runs!

Toro had a 2-RBI double in the first, finishing with two hits on the day. Kelenic hit a 2-RBI double in the seventh to tie it at 4-4. Marmolejos hit a 2-RBI single in the ninth to take the lead, and J.P. Crawford hit a 2-run homer to salt it away at 8-4. Even though Bregman hit yet another homer off of Sewald in the bottom half, it did very little damage, as we won 8-5.

It’s always a relief when you can put the Astros in your rearview mirror. I go into every Astros series wondering just how in the hell are we even going to win AH game?! I don’t do that with any other team. Wins seem more possible against the rest of the league. But, I’ve been watching the Mariners lose to the Astros for so long now, it’s fucking demoralizing.

At press time, we’re 5.5 games behind the Astros for the A.L. West. We’re only 2.5 games behind the Yankees for the second wild card (the Red Sox are still clinging to the first wild card), but the Blue Jays have been scorching hot and went and surpassed us (we’re one game behind them; but two in the loss column).

Thankfully, we’re back home and get three more games against the Diamondbacks. I don’t know what we did to deserve such luxury, but we ABSOLUTELY MUST TAKE ADVANTAGE!

No fucking around anymore, Mariners! We’re just over three weeks away from the finish line; it’s time to put the pedal to the metal here.

Predicting The 2021 NFL Season

YES! My favorite post of the year! Back again, boys and girls! Here are all of my prior entries:

First thing’s first: let’s take a look back at how I did last year.

Welp, bad start with the NFC East: I was all in on Dallas and had Washington dead last. That’s a big 0 or 1 right out of the box.

Big whiff on the NFC North: for some reason I was EXTREMELY high on the Vikings last year, who finished 7-9. I shorted the Packers (but gave them a wild card berth), who finished 13-3. And, I said the Bears were “heading in the wrong direction” even though they finished 8-8 and made the playoffs. I was only correct about the Lions, but who couldn’t see that coming?

Ugh, the less said about my NFC South prediction the better: I had … the Falcons winning it? I did have Tampa second, but not making the playoffs, famously saying their defense was “a year or two away”. Yikes. You don’t read this blog for expert analysis, do you? How am I getting WORSE at these picks the more I do them?!

God, even my NFC West take was horrible: I had the Rams winning it (they did make the wild card), with both the 49ers and Seahawks making the wild card (in that order). Of course, in reality the 49ers were in last place after a bunch of injuries; hard to blame me for not predicting that.

All right, not too terrible with the AFC East: I nailed the Buffalo division winner. Buuuuut, I had the Pats making a wild card.

I’m quite happy with my AFC North prediction: I had all of Baltimore, Pittsburgh, and Cleveland making the playoffs (they did!). I did have the Ravens winning the division instead of the Steelers, but otherwise I’m taking that as a win.

I’ll accept partial credit for my AFC South take: I loved Indy; not so much Tennessee. I didn’t have Houston making the playoffs, but never anticipated they’d be as bad as they were. I nailed Jacksonville getting the #1 overall pick.

As for the AFC West: good stuff in making KC my number one overall team; bad stuff in saying that Justin Herbert wouldn’t be the Chargers’ quarterback of the future. It is what it is.

If we just count playoff teams, I got 9 out of 14 (though I got 6 out of 7 in the AFC). I only got 1 out of 4 teams in the conference championship games – the Chiefs – but I had … Jesus Christ, the Vikings over the Ravens in the Super Bowl. Fucking A.

***

All right, wash that taste out of your mouth! It’s all uphill from here! Without further ado.

NFC East

  • Dallas Cowboys
  • Washington Football Team
  • New York Giants
  • Philadelphia Eagles

I’m going to say we’re going to have most of a full season (if not ALL) out of Dak, and that ultimately makes all the difference. There’s lots of Washington chatter, and I don’t blame you; that defense is legit. But, Fitzmagic? I’m out; I think he’s good for maybe 9 wins. I think Dallas can get to 10. The Giants likely won’t be as bad as people expect, but I still think they’re around 6-7 wins. The Eagles MIGHT be as bad as people expect; either way, I don’t think the NFC East will be the punching bag people have come to anticipate.

NFC North

  • Green Bay Packers
  • Minnesota Vikings
  • Chicago Bears
  • Detroit Lions

We’re not fucking around this year. The Packers have won 13 games the last two years and I think that will stay the same this year. I don’t know what to say about the Vikings after last year’s display of futility; probably won’t be worse? The Bears will take a step back with Dalton, before taking a step forward with Fields. The Lions will continue to be a punching bag.

NFC South

  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  • New Orleans Saints
  • Atlanta Falcons
  • Carolina Panthers

I know I’m going to be screwed by the Bucs in one way, shape, or form. They do have the target on their backs, but there’s just SO MUCH talent on that team. I guess Brady could start showing his age, or injuries could take a toll, but I dunno. I’m going with the safe pick this year. I kind of like Jameis; is that weird? I mean, I like him on this team, in this offense. I think they’ll be okay! I don’t know anything about the Falcons, but I hear they could be frisky. The Panthers seem the opposite of frisky; lethargic, I guess? Sam Darnold sucks.

NFC West

  • Los Angeles Rams
  • San Francisco 49ers
  • Seattle Seahawks
  • Arizona Cardinals

I wanted to put the Seahawks as the division winner here, but the more I think about it, the more I’m concerned by this team. First-year offensive coordinator; you think there won’t be growing pains? You think there won’t be frustrating losses where the offense can’t move the ball? I’ll have more on this on Friday’s official season preview, but it just looks like the Rams are too stacked. Stafford will throw for 5,000 yards and they’re probably in line for the top seed in the NFC. The 49ers are just all-around talented, and regression should dictate a healthier season from them. I still like the Seahawks to crack the wild card though. And the Cards should play around .500 ball again.

AFC East

  • Buffalo Bills
  • New England Patriots
  • Miami Dolphins
  • New York Jets

I think this is the easiest division to predict; Buffalo by a mile (and the AFC’s top seed). I think the Pats are improved across the board and will get just enough game-managing out of their rookie quarterback to sneak into the wild card. I think Tua is a bust and will hamper the Dolphins, though they’ll be close to making a wild card. I think the Jets are the Jets.

AFC North

  • Cleveland Browns
  • Pittsburgh Steelers
  • Baltimore Ravens
  • Cincinnati Bengals

We’re not going to see three playoff teams from this division this year, and the odd-team-out will be the Ravens. The way the injury bug is decimating this team already, I think they’re in for a Year From Hell season. I think the Browns simply have too much talent throughout that team to be held back. I think the Steelers will figure out their O-Line and continue to dominate along the D-Line. I think the Bengals will continue to grow with Burrow, but it’s going to be another year or two before we can consider them playoff material.

AFC South

  • Indianapolis Colts
  • Tennessee Titans
  • Houston Texans
  • Jacksonville Jaguars

I would say I’m a quasi Carson Wentz believer. Behind a good offensive line, with a great head coach, I think he can be special. The Colts’ defense is underrated; the only question is their receivers (especially with T.Y. Hilton out). I think the Titans come close to making the playoffs, but that defense is just too awful. A lot of people are predicting the Texans to have the worst record in football, but I think Tyrod Taylor will pull it out in enough of those 50/50 games they play with other terrible teams. Don’t get me wrong; Houston is probably still winning 3-4 games, but that should be more than the Jags.

AFC West

  • Kansas City Chiefs
  • Los Angeles Chargers
  • Denver Broncos
  • Las Vegas Raiders

I think the Chiefs and Bills will fight to the bitter end for that top seed, but the Bills will prevail. The Chargers are more of an aspirational pick for me, because I think they’re fun. I also think their defense is a little underrated, and with proper head coaching, they should be in line for a record boost. I think the Broncos will be steady, maybe 9-8. I think the Raiders will fall on their faces pretty hard, with Jon Gruden on the hottest of seats.

NFC Playoffs

  1. Los Angeles Rams
  2. Green Bay Packers
  3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  4. Dallas Cowboys
  5. San Francisco 49ers
  6. Seattle Seahawks
  7. Washington Football Team

AFC Playoffs

  1. Buffalo Bills
  2. Kansas City Chiefs
  3. Cleveland Browns
  4. Indianapolis Colts
  5. Pittsburgh Steelers
  6. New England Patriots
  7. Los Angeles Chargers

Two playoff teams from the NFC East? Have I learned NOTHING?!

Wild Card Round

  • Green Bay over Washington
  • Seattle over Tampa Bay
  • Dallas over San Francisco
  • Kansas City over Los Angeles
  • New England over Cleveland
  • Pittsburgh over Indianapolis

Divisional Round

  • Los Angeles over Seattle
  • Green Bay over Dallas
  • Buffalo over New England
  • Pittsburgh over Kansas City

Championship Round

  • Los Angeles over Green Bay
  • Buffalo over Pittsburgh

Super Bowl

  • Buffalo over Los Angeles

My backup guess is Buffalo over the Packers, but either way I’m all in on the Bills. Since I was all in on the Vikings last year, they should be TERRIFIED. Buffalo just seems like a juggernaut any way you slice it, though.

Seahawks Position Breakdown 2021: Defensive Line

Well, I waited as long as I could possibly wait before getting to the defensive line. I even rearranged my whole posting schedule for the last month to give the team time to make any more moves they were going to make to the D-Line before the regular season started (this post was supposed to happen almost two weeks ago!). I guess we’re keeping Geno Atkins on ice until we get past the first game?

I mean, it makes sense. The defensive line has largely been set since earlier this offseason, when we waived Jarran Reed and re-signed Carlos Dunlap. It’s actually one of the great strengths of this team, at least on paper! Meanwhile, the Seahawks continue to tinker with the cornerback spot until – who is Bless Austin, you ask? I have no idea – we’re all left wondering what the hell is going on. Oh well, better luck for my posting schedule next year!

I’m a big fan of what the Seahawks have going at defensive line. I was really happy with the group in the second half of last year, and that starts with Carlos Dunlap. Oh sure, he’s going into his 12th season, but he’s just a solid, steady dude who gets regular pressure on the quarterback and is able to convert enough of that pressure into sacks.

Dunlap leads a pretty impressive DE group that gets production all the way down to the last man. Benson Mayowa returns; he has 13 sacks over the last two years. As a part-time pass-rush specialist, he’s nails.

Alton Robinson and Darrell Taylor are sort of hybrid DEs and SAM linebackers who we’re all excited about. I’m loathe to expect too much of a jump from year one to year two (especially with someone like Taylor, who didn’t even play last year), but we saw Robinson’s baseline last year and 4.0 sacks as a rookie is nothing to sneeze at. If he runs it back, fine. If he does slightly better, great!

The newcomer is Kerry Hyder, who has racked up two seasons of 8+ sacks in his 5-year career. I don’t know his full story, but by all accounts he’s a hard worker and is someone who will fit into our scheme really well.

Then, there are the low men on the totem pole, Rasheem Green and L.J. Collier. Granted, both have been varying degrees of disappointing, but even they bring SOMETHING to the table. I know we all expected more out of Green, who left college early; we kept hearing about how he needed to grow into his body or whatever. Well, it’s been three years and he has a total of 7.0 sacks to show for it. Heading into the last year of his rookie deal, it’s really a make-or-break season for him. He did play pretty exceptionally during the pre-season; I honestly don’t remember him ever showing out like that before. So, maybe things are starting to click; or maybe he’s finally grown into that body. I guess we’ll see.

It was interesting to hear how many people on Twitter were speculating about the Seahawks possibly trading away or cutting L.J. Collier during and after the final roster cut-downs. I mean, I can see why they said those things; he didn’t have a particularly great pre-season. You never hear stories about him in practice or training camp. His rookie year was largely a bust and his 2020 season was improved, but no one’s writing home to mom about 3.0 sacks. I don’t have a lot of positive things to say, other than he’s another guy to throw onto the pile. He did show flashes of making an impact at times last year, and ideally I think that’s all you need. Collier isn’t a starter for this team. He’s in the rotation. He can slide inside to play defensive tackle (as well as Green and Hyder, for that matter), and ultimately I think the team likes him. I also think his value is so low that you’d essentially be throwing him away for nothing. He was a first round pick and he’s probably currently worth a 6th round pick in return. For an able body you can plug and play, that’s not a trade I’m looking to make, especially when there’s at least SOME upside, if you squint your eyes and focus real hard.

My favorite guys on the team are always the defensive tackles, and I think the Seahawks have some good ones!

Poona Ford is our anchor here, with Jarran Reed being waived and signing with the Chiefs. That’s a scary proposition for some Seahawks fans, considering Reed has a semi-proven track record of making an impact in the pass-rush game from the interior; Poona has 2.5 career sacks across three season. But, the Seahawks gave him a raise this offseason for a reason: I think they see great things ahead for this erstwhile undrafted free agent. I do too! He’s got remarkable quickness that I think will translate to running into some more sacks and tackles for loss now that he’s the main guy in the middle.

Al Woods is just a huge plug in the middle of that line. He’s another aging veteran, going into his 11th season, but it doesn’t look like he’s lost anything. As long as he’s healthy, he should provide the run-stuffing we need, at a great value, I might add.

Finally, Bryan Mone rounds out the trio. He’s another undrafted free agent who is providing a lot of value and depth in the middle. He’s heading into his third year and is just an all-around pro already.

So, I can see why Geno Atkins is a target for this team, I just don’t know who you cut to pick him up. All of these guys will contribute, and at Geno’s age it’s fair to wonder what he has left in the tank.

As I’ve noted before, there’s a lot of excitement from the fanbase surrounding the pass rush on this team. This does appear to be as deep as we were in 2013. But, I think you have to take that with the caveat that there isn’t quite the top-tier talent in this group that there was in our Super Bowl-winning year. No one is holding a candle to Michael Bennett or Cliff Avril in their heydays.

I guess I’m happy with this unit, but I’m also a little anxious too. There’s a lot riding on these guys, especially with how poor the cornerback group looks. When you look at the defense as a whole, we’re counting on a lot of production from a lot of unproven guys. So, at least in the early going, it would be nice to see a big impact from the likes of Dunlap, Mayowa, Hyder, and the other studs on this defense.

I’m giving the defensive line a solid B+, with an opportunity to get into the A range if they manage to generate sacks into the 40’s this year. I’m less worried about the run defense, but obviously that needs to be a point of focus, because if teams are in a lot of 3rd & Shorts, they’re definitely going to convert a high percentage of them thanks to this weak secondary.

The Mariners Swept The Diamondbacks, Part I

I’m really setting myself up for disaster with this title.

Friday’s 6-5 victory was even wackier than the usual wackiness we’re confronted with on a near-daily basis with the Mariners. Tyler Anderson was absolutely DOMINATING through six innings, giving up just the one run and keeping his pitch count crazy-low. It wouldn’t have been outside the realm of possibility to see him get the CG, or at least get through eight innings unscathed.

But, that seventh came around and the train jumped the tracks, killing a town full of people and one medium-sized orphanage. He got zero outs, ultimately giving up two runs in the process, and the M’s required two relievers to get out of the inning with a tie ballgame. Just like that, a 5-1 lead was wiped out. The offense THOUGHT they’d done enough, with a Tom Murphy RBI walk in the first, and 2-run homers by Haniger and Kelenic in the fifth and sixth, respectively.

Thankfully, Steckenrider and Sheffield (reliever extraordinaire!) were the tourniquet that got us to extra innings. From there, a Kelenic single gave the Mariners an unearned run advantage, while Yohan Ramirez worked a clean bottom of the tenth to get his second save of the season.

I’ll be honest, I don’t know a lick about what happened Saturday; all I remember is I had terrible sleep, with this recurring nightmare that the Huskies somehow lost to Montana at football less than a year after losing to them at basketball (but I know that can’t be true). It appears that Marco Gonzales had a get-me-over five innings, giving up five runs on 8 hits (including 2 homers) and 1 walk, while striking out 2. He only ended up with the win because the Mariners managed five runs of their own through four innings, before Seager hit his second 3-run home run of the game in the top of the sixth. The 8-5 victory was cemented then and there, with both bullpens doing excellent work the rest of the way.

Other than Seager’s 2 for 5 day with 6 RBI, J.P. Crawford went 4 for 5 with 2 runs and a 2-RBI single. Toro and Marmolejos both had multi-hit games, and Haniger, France, Kelenic, and Torrens all chipped in with one hit apiece. Diego Castillo returned from the IL to get the save in this one.

The sweep didn’t come easy, even though the Mariners won Sunday’s game 10-4. Would it shock you to know that game went into the 11th inning? It shocked me, and I watched the whole thing!

The M’s manufactured a couple runs in the fourth to take a 2-0 lead, while Chris Flexen was predictably rolling. He finally stumbled in the sixth, though, ultimately giving up three runs before his day was done. Thankfully, the Mariners got right back on the horse in the top of the seventh, where a Kelenic double play still managed to score the tying run.

That was it for a while. Swanson, Sewald, and Steckenrider got the game to extras. The M’s failed to score their ghost runner (or ANY runner, really) in the top of the 10th, but thankfully Yohan Ramirez has morphed into a reliable back-of-the-bullpen arm we can trust. He got through the bottom half unscathed, which allowed the Mariners to score 7 runs in the top of the 11th.

This is a fun one to re-live, because batting around for this team is so rare. Haniger and France walked to get things started. Then, Kyle Seager – as fire-hot as I’ve ever seen him – hit a 2-run double to make it 5-3. The Diamondbacks went to their second reliever of the inning, who gave up back-to-back RBI singles to Toro and Murphy to make it 7-3. He struck out Kelenic and got Moore to pop up before Jake Bauers pinch hit for the pitcher’s spot, who mashed a double to right to score two more, making it 9-3. That led to the Diamondbacks going with their third reliever of the inning, who gave up an infield chopper to Crawford, and a Haniger RBI single to make it 10-3. He would go on to hit France in the arm guard before getting Seager to finally ground out to end the inning.

I got my first look at Matt Andriese in the bottom of the 11th, who got as soft of a landing as you’ll ever see in an extra innings/game-ending situation. I didn’t LOVE what I saw, he appeared to struggle early – almost walking a guy before giving up an RBI single to Ketel Marte – but he settled down and didn’t require us to use a reliever we might desperately need in this Astros series coming up, so I was happy.

The Mariners are 75-62 after that sweep, and would you LOOK at THAT! We’re officially one game AHEAD of the Oakland Athletics! Huh?! That’s not supposed to happen!

We’re officially 4.5 games behind the Astros – playing our final three regular season games against them starting today – but what’s more important is we’re only 3 games behind the Red Sox for the second wild card spot. This is usually where the Mariners start to falter again – so we’re going to Houston right on cue – but it’s still amazing that it’s Labor Day and we’re RIGHT THERE in the thick of it!

Talk to me again in three days and we’ll see where I’m at. But, what a wild ride, huh?