I was pretty, I dunno, laid back I guess, in my analysis of last week’s game. While we’re all used to the Seahawks going on these terrific runs to close out their seasons under Pete Carroll (particularly with Russell Wilson behind center), it seems like every year they have at least one slip up. A game they lose in November or December – en route to a solid playoff run – that they really should’ve won, but for whatever reason didn’t.
Last year, we lost at home to the Rams. The year before, it was a road game in Kansas City. The year before that, it was that crazy home loss to the Cards where Carson Palmer threw four picks and still managed to lead them to a late win. The year before that, in Wilson’s rookie season, it was that loss in Miami against a pretty mediocre Dolphins team.
So, again, I wouldn’t take too much stock in their loss to Tampa last week. On the road, across the country, a foe we don’t play very much, with injuries on both sides of the ball.
However, if we lose THIS week … we’ve got issues.
This week, we’re at home, on Sunday Night Football, against a team we’re VERY familiar with, who has had to fly across the country and stay out in San Jose for the week instead of going back and forth twice in two weeks. And, whereas the Seahawks are getting their guys back – Bennett, Earl, Shead, and Britt have all practiced this week, so as long as they hold up through Saturday, they should play – the Panthers are the ones dealing with major injuries on both sides of the ball. They’ve lost multiple O-linemen for the year, Luke Kuechly is dealing with another pretty severe concussion, and Kelvin Benjamin has been limited (though he figures to give it a go with a bum shoulder). The Panthers are also, not for nothing, mired in a post-Super Bowl hangover season where they find themselves 4-7 and in last place in their division.
Make no mistake, as long as they’ve got Cam Newton, they’re more than capable of going on a run to close out the season, but it just feels like this team is dealing with more than simple injury woes. There’s a fundamental flaw with this team that’s going to keep them out of the playoffs. MAYBE it’s simply the loss of Josh Norman! They are giving up 275 yards per game through the air, compared to 234 last year. I mean, that’s pretty steep. I know if I were a Panthers fan, I’d be ripping their GM on a weekly basis.
Here’s the thing, though: being familiar with a team – because you play them so much – isn’t necessarily a good thing. With all things being equal, it usually leads to a game being relatively close and exciting. But, if they terrorize our offensive line like they’ve been known to do in recent years, we could be in for another LONG day.
We’ll see how it goes. I tend to believe the Seahawks – by getting everyone back healthy – will go out and crush the Panthers this weekend. If we don’t, though, then you have to wonder what that means for the rest of our season.
Next week, we go to Green Bay, another team we’re VERY familiar with, and another supposedly great team having a bad season. If we can’t beat the Panthers this weekend, what hope do we have of beating the Packers next weekend? Then, we’re home for the Rams and Cardinals. I don’t need to tell you about the Rams; and as for the Cards, they’d be the third team in four weeks who went to the playoffs last year and appear to be dead this year.
I mean, this is SUPPOSED to be among the easiest remaining schedules in the NFL! And yet, every team (except the 49ers in Week 17) terrifies the living dickens out of me!
Except, not really. I’m of the belief that the Seahawks should win out, because they’re clearly the most talented of the remaining teams on their schedule. What I’m REALLY afraid of is the Seahawks themselves. More often than not, if the Seahawks lose, it’s because they beat themselves. Too many penalties, too many sacks and QB pressures allowed, getting too cute with roster construction (particularly along the O-Line), getting too cute with the play-calling, holding onto the ball too long, taking too long to settle down on defense (or, conversely, giving up too many big plays late), not getting off the field on third downs on defense, not converting third downs on offense. These are all things that are within OUR control, and when we lose games, it’s because there’s a major breakdown in one or more of these areas.
The Seahawks just need to go out, play Seahawks football, stop losing so many key players to injury, and get the fucking job done. Cat feesh?