Entrenched in my mind, I have this one as a Pick ‘Em game. Meaning that on a neutral field, I think the Chefs are a little better than the Seahawks; but at Qwest anything goes. Hence: pick ’em.
So, it might make things a little more clear if I go down through the strengths and weaknesses of these teams, if for nothing else than it’s something to do on Black Friday.
Starting with Quarterbacks, neither team really has a world beater on their hands. Matt Cassel has actually played one more game than Matt Hasselbeck and has about 35 fewer yards passing. In fact, aside from that Denver game where he racked up a whopping 469 yards in a 49-29 defeat, he’s averaging about 178 yards per game. Nevertheless, that doesn’t matter because A. this is primarily a rushing team, and B. he doesn’t make mistakes. He’s thrown 4 interceptions and has been sacked only 15 times in 10 games. Conversely, Hasselbeck has thrown 7 picks and has been sacked 23 times in 9 games.
What I will say here is that Hasselbeck has been ON the last two games. 699 yards, 2 touchdowns, 0 interceptions. There’s something to be said for a hot hand, so I’m giving the advantage to Hasselbeck.
Next up, running game. This is no contest. Kansas City is the Number 1 rushing team in football at 165 yards per game. They have a 2-headed attack with Jamaal Charles (the speed) and Thomas Jones (the power) that absolutely is blowing teams away. Now, were this week 3 instead of week 12, I’d be somewhat optimistic. However, we’ve since fallen from the Number 2 to the Number 13 rushing defense. We’ve been particularly manhandled in our last three losses against the Saints, Giants, and Raiders.
Now, I know a major key to our success this year has been 3rd down defense. We’ve been able to get other teams off the field with amazing regularity, and this Sunday it’ll still be a priority. However, more importantly will be our 1st and 2nd down defense. Because if they’re able to run the ball and get into a bunch of 3rd and shorts, watch out. That’ll spell a long day for our defense in both time of possession and ultimately points given up. Advantage: Chefs (notice I didn’t say anything about our own running “attack”. While they’re only 12th in the nation in rushing defense, that doesn’t matter; this game is sure to improve that status).
It’s tempting to pit the entire receiving corps as a contest of 6’2 Dwayne Bowe vs. 6’5 Mike Williams. I know that’s what I’d like to do. In that regard, give the nod to KC, but only because Bowe is a monster when it comes to catching footballs in the endzone. He’s got 11 TD’s to Mike’s 1. That’s pretty pathetic. Somebody teach Matt Hasselbeck how to throw a fade to the back of the endzone!
Fortunately for us, it’s not just those two guys. I like our supporting cast. Handjobs all around for Stokley, Obomanu, and Butler! They work hard and they play hard! I honestly couldn’t name another Kansas City receiver and I have their roster pulled up right in front of me.
I also think that we’ll be able to somewhat neutralize Bowe a little bit. We’ve done it twice to Larry Fitzgerald and I don’t care who’s throwing the football, that guy is one of the best in the game. Period. The teams who’ve torched us this year have done so with All Pro quarterbacks (except for Oakland, which was the God damned apocalypse). Brees, Eli, Rivers … Matt Cassel is not in their class. My hope is we keep 7 or 8 in the box and make due with their wideouts. I think we can be okay on this end, even if their O-Line is untouchable. Advantage: ‘Hawks.
Sprinkle in a little special teams magic alongside Hasselbeck’s hot hand, and I’m calling this a close victory for the Seahawks. 31-28, with a touchdown late, and a huge defensive stop inside two minutes. This one should be exciting, I for one can’t wait.