Sometimes, football makes no sense. Sometimes, you can have all the facts and figures and stats and Vegas all screaming in your face that a certain team is going to win. And sometimes that means something! New England at home against the Miami Dolphins? Of course, pick New England, they’re obviously going to win. And yet, sometimes, your gut is just as good an arbiter of picking football games.
I do this weekly pick ’em contest with my friends where we just pick the winners of all the games (no spreads). Last night, the Redskins were in Dallas to play the Cowboys, who had been on a 3-game losing streak and just looked GOD FUCKING AWFUL since Ezekiel Elliott was suspended, and some of their offensive linemen got banged up. Dak Prescott looked totally lost and inept, the running game never got going, and the offense as a whole just looked slow and ordinary.
Whereas the Redskins, sure, they’re as injured as any team in the league, but they’ve been frisky in just about every game! Hell, they came into Seattle at their MOST decimated and walked away victorious! They played tough against the best the NFC has to offer – and their schedule has been brutal to boot – so you could say the Redskins are battle tested.
And even though the betting public (the rubes, as it were) loves nothing more than to slap their money down on America’s Team, this line swung heavily to Washington’s favor. On paper, it seemed like a no brainer. Even in my pick ’em league, it was heavily on Washington’s side. And, truth be told, I should’ve been right there with ’em.
But, my gut said Dallas. Against all rhyme or reason, my gut thought that MAYBE they’d finally figure out how to play without their star running back. Never in my wildest dreams would I have predicted a 24-point Cowboys blowout, but the gut wants what the gut wants.
This Sunday Night, as noted in the title, the Seahawks host the Eagles. It’s our final primetime game of the regular season, unless some games get moved around, which seems unlikely. It’s also about as big a game as the Seahawks have played in quite some time.
The Seahawks are on a 2-game home losing streak, which sounds insane, but there it is. The Eagles are 10-1 and in first place in the entire NFL; the Seahawks are 7-4 and in seventh place in the NFC. Depending on where you look, the Eagles are 5-6 point favorites. In Seattle. Where the 12’s reside and the dead fish fly.
Some of the reasons why that’s the case include the fact that the Eagles are remarkably healthy up and down their roster; the Seahawks are missing countless starters and stars. The Eagles have looked steady and dominant in their games; the Seahawks have looked inconsistent and sloppy. Some will point out that the Eagles have a pretty weak schedule – at least as weak as Seattle’s – but is that true?
The Eagles’ only loss was against the Chiefs, when they were the best team in football for the first month of the season. They beat the Redskins twice; the Seahawks lost to them at home. The Eagles killed the 49ers; the Seahawks have struggled to beat them twice. The Eagles destroyed the Cardinals; the Seahawks scratched and clawed to a close victory. The Eagles also went on the road and beat the Panthers and Chargers, who are currently two of the hottest teams in the NFL. What are Seattle’s impressive wins? A game we almost blew to the Rams in the final seconds? A shootout at home against the Texans when they still had Deshaun Watson and we still had the entire Legion of Boom?
I’m sorry, but anyone trying to put
pen to paper words to website making the argument that these two teams are evenly matched – or CLOSE to evenly matched – is a homer of the highest order.
The Eagles are flat out better in every single phase of the game, period.
They have better, more consistent quarterback play; it doesn’t take Carson Wentz three quarters before he finally gets hot! He’s hot from the starting gun! (and I should know, he’s on my keeper league fantasy team). They have a defense that generates better pressure and flies to the ball. They’re better in yards allowed per game (6th vs. 8th), points allowed per game (3rd vs. 9th), and rushing yards per game (1st vs. 9th). The only statistical category they trail the Seahawks is in passing yards per game (10th vs. 17th), but those numbers were largely built on having a healthy Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor. And, don’t forget the Eagles’ rushing offense; third in the league in yards per attempt. The Seahawks? 23rd. And, I’m sure it’s dead last when you take quarterback scrambles out of the equation.
The Eagles are better and more disciplined. So, why do I get the feeling that the Seahawks are going to win this?
I dunno. My gut! It’s the only rational excuse!
Oh sure, you can point to the Seahawks being at home, but I just told you how we’re on a 2-game losing streak at home! You can point to the Seahawks’ record in night games, but they JUST lost on Monday Night Football to the Atlanta Falcons, and the Seahawks have the best all-time record on MNF! You can point to how it seems like the Seahawks turn it up a notch when the calendar flips to December, but last year they were 2-2, the year before they were 3-1, and in their championship season of 2013 they were 3-2! They don’t ALWAYS dominate the month of December, and besides that, even if they did, that has no bearing whatsoever on what’s going to happen THIS December.
So, what gives? Honestly, I don’t know what to tell you. I don’t know how to spin this in a way that makes it sound logical that the Seahawks should win on Sunday. I will say that this is a team Russell Wilson SHOULD be able to pass the ball on. They don’t get a ton of interceptions, and while the pressure should be there, they don’t get home as much as you’d think (especially when you factor in how the Eagles are constantly ahead in the fourth quarter, with opposing teams passing to try to catch up; shouldn’t they be higher than 18th in sacks?). Also, we’re going into this game with the best offensive line formation we’ve had in YEARS. Duane Brown-Luke Joeckel-Justin Britt-Ethan Pocic-Germain Ifedi. We just got through a whole entire game without Wilson taking a sack. Granted, it was the 49ers, but still. It feels like the offense has a nice little rhythm, with Wilson leading the charge. There’s also the chance that Mike Davis comes back. If that’s the case, you could make an argument that the running game could be slightly improved.
Defensively, Bobby Wagner is playing like a DPOY. The D-Line should be pumped up for this one. And, I just wonder if this is an offense that our defense could handle. Wentz strikes not just me as a Ben Roethlisberger type; someone always looking for the deep shot down field. He’s not a Philip Rivers type, I’ll tell you that! Philip Rivers is our G.D. kryptonite. I just don’t know if Wentz has the patience and awareness to dink and dunk his way down field.
The key is going to be how well we cover their guys. Zach Ertz is one of the best tight ends in the league, and I could see him torching us if we consistently leave K.J. Wright on him. Alshon Jeffery is past his prime, but he has made his share of plays this year; I could easily see him jumping over Jeremy Lane for a big gainer up the sideline. They also have a nice collection of running backs who could conceivably carve us up, but I’m less concerned about that. I really need to see our secondary do its job and allow the front seven a chance to get to Wentz.
My gut also tells me that I need Wentz to have a good game so I can win my fantasy matchup this week and play my way into the better playoff bracket, so OF COURSE the Seahawks are going to eat him alive to the tune of 3 picks and a fumble. But, that’s neither here nor there.
At this point, I’m even questioning my gut, because it sounds like a lot of other peoples’ guts are telling them something similar. There’s something in the air, and it’s giving a lot of hunches to a lot of prognosticators out there to make the Seahawks their “upset special”. When I hear things like that, I start to think about going the other way. It’s like my gut’s gut is telling me to abandon this line of thinking!
Because I know this Seahawks team! They have tons of penalties at the worst possible times! On defense, these penalties prolong drives, turning punts into touchdowns. On offense, we’re consistently behind the sticks! Promising drives turning into drivel. Then, there’s First Quarter Russ, who is consistently off-target and now throws mind-boggling interceptions into good coverage?
To win this game comfortably, the Seahawks will need to play a near-flawless game. They’ll need to score more touchdowns than field goals, and they’ll need to score these touchdowns starting in the FIRST quarter! Now, like I said, I know this team, so I know the likelihood of that happening is pretty remote. It happened against Denver in the Super Bowl, and maybe 2-3 other times in this Pete Carroll run.
What’s MORE likely is that the Seahawks will fall behind early, scramble to catch up, and if they’re going to win, they’re going to have to do it with some late-game heroics. That’s CERTAINLY more likely to happen than the Seahawks being good from the jump and enjoying a comfortable victory. But, is it more likely than the Seahawks finding a way to lose it late? Or, worse, getting blown out at home by the consensus Best Team In Football?
I don’t think it is.
I’ve been waffling back and forth on this one all week (indeed, even since the start of this post!), and I might continue waffling on it up until gametime, but right now, I gotta say I see an Eagles victory.
NO WAIT! Seahawks.
NO … no, hold on. Let me think about it some more.