The Seahawks Just Can’t Beat The Chargers … Or Can They?

The Seahawks are 4-1 in their last 5 games, and with every passing week, they impress me more and more.  Heading into this year, my opinion of this team was as low as it can get.  So low, in fact, that they weren’t even BAD enough for me!  An 8-8 season is a million times worse than a completely winless season, because not only do you miss out on the playoffs, but you also have a crappy draft slot.  Starting 0-2 did nothing to dissuade me; it just reinforced my toxic beliefs.

Then, we beat the Cowboys in our home opener.  Okay, fine, but who are they?  The Cowboys are just as mediocre!

Then, we went on the road and barely beat the Cardinals, who were giving their rookie quarterback his first start.  A win is a win is a win and all, but we made Josh Rosen look like the second coming of, I dunno, Andy Dalton!  He’s since proven that he’s pretty dreadful (so far, in his very young NFL career at least), so our victory doesn’t look any more impressive.

Following our return to .500, we played the Rams super tough at home.  Now THAT was an eye-opening performance!  That loss was probably the best game we played all year.

Finally, we went to London, killed the Raiders, had our BYE, and followed that up with a dominating performance on the road in Detroit.  That’s three consecutive great games by the Seahawks, who have taken their new rushing-focused identity and (ahem) run with it.

All the comparisons to the 2012 season are absolutely justified.  The difference here is that our quarterback is no longer a rookie; he’s one of the best in the league (by the same token, our defense isn’t exactly riddled with future hall of famers like it was back then, but that’s neither here nor there).

It seems like every week, the challenge gets ramped up just a little bit more.  Playing the Rams tough is one thing.  Going all the way to London and crushing it is another step in our progression.  And, earning a comfortable road victory against a playoff hopeful like the Lions is even better.  Now, we’ve got the Chargers, who are just a little bit better than the Lions, before attempting to tackle yet another even-tougher task next week against the Rams (this time down in L.A.).

In recent years, if you told me to pick one team that the Seahawks absolutely can’t beat, I would’ve told you it’s the Chargers.  I don’t totally understand where this thought process came from, because now that I actually look back on this rivalry, there isn’t a ton of evidence to support this belief.

These two teams have played one another exactly once in the regular season in the Russell Wilson era.  That was in week 2 of the 2014 season.  We were at the height of our powers (maybe that’s part of it), the game was down in San Diego (in 100+ degree weather), and we lost 30-21.  Aside from our playoff defeats, that one stands out above everything else as a real eye-opener for me.  Knowing what we know now, the 2014 Seahawks went back to the Super Bowl and were oh-so-close to repeating as NFL champs.  We were smack dab in the middle of our would-be Dynasty run … and we absolutely got clobbered.

Russell Wilson was okay; he didn’t turn the ball over and he threw a couple touchdowns.  The running game was abandoned early and often, which was the usual Darrell Bevell M.O. in our post-title years.  We were pretty bad – but not totally inept – with a 3/9 conversion rate on 3rd/4th downs.  It was just one of those games that the Chargers controlled, and no matter what we did on defense, we couldn’t adjust to make the critical stops.  They were 10/17 on third down, and held the ball for over 42 minutes in the T.O.P. battle.  Rivers was 28/37 with 284 yards and 3 TDs (all to Antonio Gates, who absolutely shredded us all game); and in spite of 3 Chargers fumbles, none of them were recovered by the Seahawks.  It became – in my mind, at least – The Blueprint for how to beat the Seahawks at our very best:  dink and dunk, convert 3rd downs, score touchdowns, take care of the football, and put it away late before Russell Wilson has a chance to work his magic.

Remember, this was in a period where the Seahawks NEVER lost by more than 1 score.  So, a 9-point defeat really stands out!  But, it’s just one game.  Why have I built this team up so big in my mind?

On top of that one regular season game, there have been 5 pre-season games between the Seahawks and Chargers in the Russell Wilson era.  Obviously, Philip Rivers doesn’t play a lot in these games, so wins and losses don’t really matter.  Let’s take a quick look at how the Chargers fared with Rivers in the game in those meaningless contests:

  • 2013 – 1 drive, 13 plays, 74 yards, 7:25, field goal
  • 2014 – 1 drive, 9 plays, 37 yards, 4:51, punt
  • 2015 – 1 half (5 drives), 3 punts, 2 field goals
  • 2017 – 1 drive, 13 plays, 75 yards, 7:15, TD pass
  • 2018 – 2 drives, 1 punt, 1 TD run

So, we’ve got the regular season defeat, a few bend-don’t-break performances, and a couple drives the last two years that resulted in touchdowns.  I get that they’re able to put out some extended-play drives on us, but for the most part we’ve held our own in the pre-season.  Without knowing how the rest of those games would’ve gone with Rivers in there full time, we’ll never know the true outcomes.

In other words, I’ve made the Chargers out to be the Boogeyman when really they’re just a tree brushing up against my window on a dark and stormy night.

I did this last week, so let’s run it back:  what have the 2018 Chargers done that makes them so great?

They beat a bevy of bad teams, including the Bills, 49ers, Raiders, Browns, and Titans.  They lost at home to the Chiefs and across town to the Rams.  They’re 5-2, but it’s not exactly a murderer’s row of talent.  Their best win is probably the Titans (who have a solid defense, but not a whole lot going on on offense).  If they won in Seattle, it would be far-and-away their greatest feat to date.

I still think Rivers poses a unique and difficult matchup for our defense, but I don’t think he’s totally unstoppable.  They absolutely have the talent on offense to do what they did to us in 2014, but at the same time, it’s not like our defense is going to be demoralized by 100+ degree heat.  And, with them missing some starters on defense, I don’t see why the Seahawks should be held in check from doing what we want to do on offense.

A buddy and I were talking about this upcoming 4-game stretch the Seahawks are facing.  In looking at our remaining schedule, you figure the Seahawks should be 3-0 against the 49ers and Cards the rest of the way.  That gets us to 7 wins; we would just need to wrangle 3 more to get to 10 and a likely wild card berth.  My friend thinks we’ll lose our next 4 (or, at the very least, he can’t envision picking the Seahawks to win any of those games).  I think we’ve at least got 1-3 in us, with our most likely chance for a win coming up this week.  To wit:

  • vs. Chargers
  • @ Rams
  • vs. Packers
  • @ Panthers

The more I think about those road games, the more impossible they look on paper.  And I know I’m never confident in a game where A-Rod is going against us.  That leaves the Chargers.  The over-rated, mistake-prone Chargers.

Coming into today, I had an X marked next to the Chargers for this one.  But, I’m changing my tune.  I think the Seahawks keep doing what they’ve been doing, and they prevail in the end.  The 12’s are hungry for more winning, and I think our presence will be felt in this one, as the train keeps on a-rollin’.