The Seahawks Still Have Something To Play For In Week 17

For a while there, the Seahawks were renown for the way they closed out seasons. From 2012-2015, the Seahawks were 16-3 in the months of December and early January in the regular season; from 2016-2019, that record has dipped to 11-9. Even in those recent lean years, the Seahawks have been better in the second halves of seasons than in the early going (with one notable exception in 2017, as you’ll see below). Here are some of the crazy streaks the Seahawks have gone on in the Russell Wilson Era:

  • 2012: won 7 of last 8, finished 11-5
  • 2013: won 9 of last 11, finished 13-3
  • 2014: won 9 of last 10, finished 12-4
  • 2015: won 6 of last 7, finished 10-6
  • 2016: won 6 of last 9, finished 10-5-1
  • 2017: won 4 of last 9, finished 9-7
  • 2018: won 6 of last 7, finished 10-6
  • 2019: won 6 of last 9, finished 11-5

So far, with one game to go, the Seahawks have won 3/4 in December, and 5 of our last 6 games. It would be nice to go out on a high note, because as I’ve already written about, the Seahawks do have something to play for.

Also, let’s face it, we have no business losing to these 49ers. They are DECIMATED by injuries! The runners up from the previous season’s Super Bowl are notorious for having underwhelming seasons the following years, but this is truly a sight to behold. Last year’s 49ers were probably the best and most complete team in the NFL. Of course, even at their best, we still somehow managed to hang around until the bitter end. But, either way, there’s no reason why they shouldn’t have continued dominating games in 2020 (not for nothing, but I’m projecting the 49ers to bounce back in a BIG way in 2021).

Except for the fact that, as we head into the final game of the season, they’re missing their top two quarterbacks, their top two wide receivers, their top two or three running backs, at least two or three amazing defensive linemen, who knows how many offensive linemen, and at least Richard Sherman from the secondary. Look, I’m not a 49ers fan, so I don’t have the full rundown of players who have missed time this season, but if any fanbase can claim “bad injury luck” as an excuse, I’ll give it up to … whatever they call themselves (the Moustache Riders?).

He’ll always be the 49er Miner to me …

The Packers and Saints play at the same time as the Seahawks on Sunday. So, it’ll be interesting to see whether or not they get out to big early leads. Obviously, if both the favorites are up by 20 in the first halves of their respective games, there won’t be as much of a need for the Seahawks to go all-out. I would also say, for anyone still trying to come back from injury (I’m looking at you, Brandon Shell), maybe take an extra week and don’t try to push it. But, otherwise, I do think it’s important for the Seahawks to come out here and put a complete and dominant game on film, if for nothing else than the confidence boost it will mean as we head into the playoffs next week.

Priority Number One, of course, is to stay healthy. In the grand scheme of things – since we’ve already clinched our spot in the playoffs and as division champs – there isn’t a big difference between winning and losing this game, since odds are we won’t rise from the 3-seed even if we prevail. But, Priority Number Two should be: getting the offense – and, in particular, Russell Wilson – back on track.

After that, we should be all right. I don’t think it should require a Herculean effort to win this one. I know the 49ers just beat the Cardinals last week, in relatively-impressive fashion, but come on. They’re starting C.J. Beathard at quarterback and Jeff Wilson at running back. If we did what we just did to the Rams last week, then we should be able to pound the 49ers into submission!

I’m expecting something like a 27-17 Seahawks victory that no one will ever remember beyond this Sunday. That’s the best-case scenario. If this game IS memorable, for any reason, then I think that’s a really bad sign, and we should all be VERY worried about 2021 and what’s in store for us as a society!

Looking At Some Of The Impactful 2020 Seahawks Additions

Football teams have a number of players who carry over from year to year – you always try to do whatever you can to keep your very best players at your most important positions – but for the most part teams are constantly evolving. You need an influx of fresh blood every season if your goal is to improve; rare is the team that just tries to hold onto the players they’ve already got (even then, that only lasts about a year or so before the salary cap constraints force you to start the inevitable churn). So much of a team’s success depends on the quality of those incoming players (and the relative health of your best guys), that it can be easy to overlook their accomplishments.

The 2019 Seahawks were a pleasant surprise that made the playoffs, but they were never really serious contenders for the Super Bowl. The 2020 Seahawks have been a pleasant surprise that has already locked up the NFC West; it’s debatable if this team can contend for a Super Bowl, but it’s inarguable that these Seahawks are better than the ones from a season ago. So, let’s take a look at – and try to rank in order of their impact – the new guys who have pushed us a little further over the hump.

In honor of the 12’s, let’s talk about the Top 12 most impactful newcomers. As you’ll see, they’re not all technically new to the team, but I’m also including guys who were holdovers who hardly played at all before this year. Before we get to the Top 12, here are a few honorable mentions:

Snacks Harrison was a guy a lot of people talked about in the run-up to the season, as a potential free agent signee. But, run defense has never really been our problem, and that’s what he does best as a run-stuffing defensive tackle. Yet, we got him back into shape midseason, and he played quite well in Bryan Mone’s absence. With Mone back, Snacks sadly asked for his release; it’s a shame there wasn’t room for him in the rotaton. Freddie Swain is a rookie 6th round wide receiver I had ZERO expectations for, but he’s had a quietly nice season (13 catches, 159 yards, and 2 TDs). As a fourth receiver new to the NFL, I’ll take it. Greg Olsen is an overpaid veteran tight end who has nevertheless been a contributor. He’s still not worth the money it cost to get him here, and he did miss a few games with a foot injury, but he worked his way back for the playoff run, and has had some nice catches on third downs to keep the chains moving (24 for 239 on the season, with 1 TD). Finally, Ugo Amadi just misses the cut. He was a rookie last year, but he wasn’t trusted with much playing time on defense. He’s stepped into a nickel cornerback role we all figured he’d be well-suited for, and he’s been great! With two more years of team control on his rookie deal, Amadi is looking like a real find for us.

12 – Ryan Neal

If I wanted to pull a cop-out move, I would’ve had Amadi and Neal tied for 12th, but then that would’ve made this a Top 13 list, and that’s just … unlucky! I put Neal just inches higher than Amadi because he REALLY came from out of nowhere to help this team out when we were in a real jam! Allegedly, Neal was on the Seahawks in 2019, but I couldn’t tell you a single thing about what he accomplished. I think he was either a practice squad guy, or one of the very lowest men on the totem pole, and that continued into the 2020 season. But, then Marquise Blair and Lano Hill – our #3 and #4 safeties – went out with injury early this season. That bumped Neal up to #3 on the depth chart, which ultimately thrust him into a starting role when Jamal Adams (spoiler alert, he ranks VERY high on this list) was out for his own injuries for a few weeks. Neal not only held his own, but he has made huge impactful plays nearly every game he’s stepped onto the field! He had picks in back-to-back games and has had lots of huge hits. It’s comforting knowing he’s around to fill in as needed.

11 – Alton Robinson

Speaking of another rookie I didn’t expect ANYTHING out of, let me introduce you to our 5th round defensive end. Remember how everyone thought Darrell Taylor (our 2nd rounder) would be the guy from this draft class to step in immediately to make an impact? Well, Taylor has yet to get healthy enough to play (and almost certainly will be held out for the entirety of his rookie season); meanwhile, Robinson has been thrust into a reserve pass rush role and has 4 sacks on the season! That’s great! Not for nothing, but our leading sacker in 2019 also had 4 sacks, which gives you an idea of what we thought of our pass rush heading into this year.

10 – L.J. Collier

Here’s another holdover who did nothing as a rookie last year. Collier has gotten plenty of snaps at both defensive end and tackle, and while he hasn’t flashed as you’d hope a first round draft pick might, he has 3 sacks on the year and a number of other impactful plays along the line of scrimmage, to be significantly better than the bust I was ready to label him as. I can’t say the sky is the limit, but getting even just competent play out of him is better than nothing.

9 – Carlos Hyde

With Rashaad Penny starting the year on the PUP list, and with Chris Carson as our injury-prone starting running back, the Seahawks were in need of a quality backup. Hyde was on the market and got a fair market value. I don’t know if he’s exceeded expectations – because he’s always been a pretty good and underrated running back – but he’s met them, and that’s enough. 356 rushing yards (4.4 average), plus another 93 receiving yards on 16 receptions (and 4 touchdowns) is everything I wanted out of him, especially since he was solid while Carson was out with his annual injury.

8 – Ethan Pocic

Here’s another guy who hadn’t done ANYTHING with the Seahawks since we drafted him in the 2nd round in 2017. Finally healthy, and finally playing his strongest position – center – he was a surprise winner of the job over incoming free agent B.J. Finney. Not only has he taken the job and ran with it, but he afforded the Seahawks an opportunity to trade Finney away for even more talent (coming up later in this post).

7 – Jordyn Brooks

Our top draft pick this year was a surprise to many. No one thought the Seahawks needed a weakside linebacker, especially considering we’ve had one of the best in K.J. Wright since the 2011 season. Nevertheless, Wright is getting up there and is in one of his final seasons. In spite of that, the first round seems kinda high to draft a linebacker, but Brooks has quietly been one of the best rookie linebackers in the league, and he’s really thrived of late now that he’s starting. On top of which, he’s allowed the team to move Wright to the strongside linebacker spot, where he has been KILLING IT! That’s been vital since Bruce Irvin – brought in to fill that role – has been lost for the season. Brooks looks like a solid starter for us for years to come, which is very encouraging to see as a rookie.

6 – Benson Mayowa

He would be higher if he hadn’t missed those games with his injury, but he has 4 sacks on the year and as part of this MUCH improved pass rushing rotation, his pressure rate is off the charts. When he was forced to play a high percentage of defensive snaps early in the season, he was far less effective, but with the emergence of those around him, they’ve afforded the Seahawks the opportunity to keep Mayowa to his part time role where he’s best suited.

5 – D.J. Reed

He would also be much higher if he hadn’t missed so many weeks with his offseason injury. But, the Seahawks are INCREDIBLY lucky to have him, and if we were basing these rankings off of the last month alone, he’d probably be second overall. Reed was a castoff from the 49ers whose season almost ended before it began. We claimed him, kept him on the NFI list, and worked him back slowly as he recovered. His return coincided with injuries to both Quinton Dunbar and Tre Flowers (as well as Shaquill Griffin, briefly); Reed has taken over that right cornerback spot and is absolutely DOMINATING! He’s the best RCB we’ve had since Byron Maxwell in his prime; on top of which, Reed can return punts! What a godsend!

4 – Carlos Dunlap

He’d be higher on this list if we had him to start the season. But, it took a rebuilding Bengals squad to take their veteran for granted, and a nifty little mid-season trade to get him here, and he has single-handedly made everyone around him on that side of the ball better. Our pass rush went from one of the very worst in all of football to 7th in the league in sacks! Even with nagging injuries slowing him down, he’s helped transform the defense as we head into the playoffs, into a unit that can actually win us games, instead of holding us back. He’s also accumulated 5 sacks in 7 games, which is phenomenal; imagine what he could do if he was fully healthy!

3 – Brandon Shell

We’ve seen what he means to the right side of this offensive line, both via the improvement over Germain Ifedi from last year, as well as via the dropoff from the guys filling in for him while he deals with his ankle sprain. This offense was never better than when we had all five of our offensive linemen fully healthy; the offense (and Russell Wilson specifically) has struggled as guys have gone down. But, Shell should be back for the playoffs, and we’re all hoping that makes all the difference.

2 – Damien Lewis

This was the rookie we were all banking on as being our biggest contributor, and he HAS exceeded expectations! I think we all expected a lot more growing pains with Lewis, but he’s stayed mostly healthy throughout the year and there have been very few breakdowns in protection where he’s concerned. And, unless I’m mistaken, I think he’s been rated quite high in the offensive line rankings on PFF (I haven’t checked myself, but I see glimpses on Twitter every once in a while). Either way, getting a starting lineman who’s actually worth a damn as a rookie is pretty rare for this team, and I’m giving him props accordingly.

1 – Jamal Adams

As if there could be any doubt. The dude is leading the team in sacks from the safety position with 9.5! He’s a generational talent and the catalyst for this defense being as special as it’s been. Yes, we gave up a ton to get him here, and we’ll have to pay him a ton to keep him here, but the dude is special. Now, if only he would start catching some of these interceptions that keep hitting him in the hands (granted, he is playing with multiple broken fingers, but still), we’d be looking even better with this guy!

Looking At Potential Seahawks Playoff Seedings

Okay, the Seahawks have won the NFC West; now what?

Well, as we all know, there are seven teams going to the playoffs in each conference: the four division winners and three wild card teams. That means instead of the usual top two teams in the NFC getting a round one BYE, there’s only one team with that honor. That makes things that much harder for everyone else.

Here’s what we know: the Seahawks can finish with either the first, second, or third seed in the NFC. Here’s a quick breakdown on how that all works:

#1 Seed – To get this, and the resultant first round BYE, the Seahawks would need to defeat the 49ers this week. We would also need the Packers to lose at the Bears, and the Saints to lose at the Panthers. This is the least likely scenario. While it’s conceivable that the Bears could win – as they are playing for a wild card spot – the Panthers are pretty terrible (with a 5-10 record). It’s encouraging, at least, that all of these games are on the road, as well as divisional matchups (which should come with more familiarity and hatred of their respective opponents), but the talent discrepencies are probably too much for the underdogs to overcome (saying nothing of the distinct probability that it’s entirely possible for the Seahawks to biff it against the 49ers, who just defeated the playoff-contending Cardinals last weekend).

#2 Seed – To get this, the Seahawks would need to defeat the 49ers, and have either the Packers or Saints lose. If the Packers win and the Saints lose, the Packers would be 13-3, the Seahawks would be 12-4, and the Saints would be 11-5; if the Saints win and the Packers lose, all three teams would be 12-4 and by virture of tiebreakers, the Seahawks would land in the middle (with the Saints taking the top spot and the Packers falling to third). I would buy this, but it doesn’t seem quite as likely as the next scenario.

#3 Seed – The Seahawks end up here if they lose to the 49ers, regardless of what happens in the other two games. The Seahawks also end up here if they beat the 49ers and the Packers and Saints both prevail as well.

I don’t have to tell you that being the 3-seed is far from ideal, but I guess it all depends on what happens with the wild card teams.

There are four teams vying for three wild card spots. Tampa Bay is in the driver’s seat for the 5-seed (and the right to go on the road in the first round to face the hapless winner of the NFC East – still, somehow, to be determined), so we’re all but guaranteed to avoid Tom Brady & Co. in the first round. The only way Tampa would fall to a 6-seed (they can’t be lower than that) is if they lose at home to a 4-win Falcons team, and the Rams beat the Cardinals (without Jared Goff).

The Cardinals need to beat the Rams in L.A. to make the playoffs. If Arizona and Green Bay win, then Arizona will be the 6-seed playing the Seahawks (assuming the Saints also win, which I am taking as a given for the rest of this article). If Arizona and Chicago win, then the Cardinals will be the 7-seed playing the Seahawks (sending the 6-seeded Bears to the 3-seeded Packers).

If the Rams and Packers win, then the Rams will be the 6-seed playing the Seahawks. If the Rams and Bears win, then the Bears will be the 7-seed playing the 2-seeded Seahawks. Of all of the scenarios where the Seahawks fail to get the #1 seed, I think this last one is most ideal. That would send a 10-6 Rams team to Green Bay, which is conceivably a matchup they could win (assuming Goff is cleared to return for the playoffs). The downside, of course, is having to face the Packers in the Divisional Round, albeit we’d get the game in Seattle. And, if the Bucs could figure out a way to go into New Orleans and prevail, there’s a world where the Seahawks don’t have to leave Seattle until the Super Bowl.

My prediction for how this shakes out is this: the Packers, Saints, and Seahawks all win (making that the order of the top three seeds). Finally,I’m guessing the Cardinals beat the Rams, to make the first round look like this:

  • Green Bay – BYE
  • New Orleans vs. L.A. Rams
  • Seattle vs. Arizona
  • Washington vs. Tampa Bay

With the AFC looking like this:

  • Kansas City – BYE
  • Buffalo vs. Miami
  • Pittsburgh vs. Indianapolis
  • Tennessee vs. Baltimore

The Seahawks Won Their First Division Title Since 2016

The Seahawks haven’t felt special in a while. In looking over the list of recent seasons, nothing has really stood out since our last trip to the Super Bowl. Losing before the conference championship game has become commonplace. Sure, that probably sounds spoiled; Jets fans/Lions fans/Browns fans/Bengals fans/Jaguars fans would LOVE to have that problem. But, there are two different types of football teams in the NFL: those who already have a championship-calibre quarterback and those who are still looking for a championship-calibre quarterback.

There are only so many elite quarterbacks out there, but when you have one, as a fan your life is totally different from most other fanbases. You go into EVERY season believing there’s at least a chance of winning it all, if not outright expecting to win it all. Now, that doesn’t mean you can’t win it all with a lower tier guy (Nick Foles, Joe Flacco, and Eli Manning come immediately to mind), but a lot has to go right (mainly, having a defense and skill position guys who can carry the team). The margin of error is greater as the talent level of your quarterback improves.

The Seahawks have had a championship-calibre quarterback since 2012. We went to back-to-back Super Bowls in the 2013 and 2014 seasons. It felt like we were just getting started on a nonstop upward trajectory, but the last half decade has felt pretty mundane. Like the Seahawks were just going through the motions. Like winning 10 games and making the playoffs was “good enough”. In the grand scheme of things, it’s a pretty impressive achievement to see what the Seahawks have done. They really have sustained success throughout the Pete Carroll/John Schneider marriage, particularly when Russell Wilson was brought in to complete the ménage à trois.

From the 2010 season through this year, we have five NFC West titles, nine playoff appearances, and nine consecutive winning seasons; and yeah, two Super Bowl appearances are great in such a timespan, but only one title feels a little like a rip off. Even though – OF COURSE – it’s friggin’ hard to win a championship in the NFL! A dynasty like the one the Patriots sustained for two decades is unprecedented, even in the pre-free agency eras. Yet, that’s the standard, so that’s what we have to compare ourselves to. Because it’s been pretty much just the Patriots and Seahawks over the last decade as the top two organizations in the league, and we are lagging WAY behind (with the Chiefs and Patrick Mahomes getting set to leap right over us).

With all the talent we amassed, it’s always going to feel like the Seahawks have underachieved … until they win the next one. And, if they never win another title with Pete Carroll and Russell Wilson, then it’ll forever feel like something got away from us.

It remains to be seen if the 2020 Seahawks are special. But, they’ve made a big first step. I’ve written ad nauseam about how important it is for the Seahawks to not have to play on the road throughout the playoffs. So, getting to host a game at least in the first round is better than the alternative. But, clearly, being that #1 seed is the ultimate goal, and as I’ve previously mentioned, losing to the Giants all but eliminated us from contention (I’ll write about how it’s not technically impossible in the next day or so). For these Seahawks to be special, they’re probably going to have to do something they’ve only done once in the history of the franchise (1983), and that’s win a road game in the Divisional Round of the playoffs.

I do feel better about these Seahawks than I have since probably the 2015 season (when we won six of our last seven games, though ultimately had to settle for a wild card spot), for a couple of reasons.

First and foremost, it does feel we’re in the midst of another upward trajectory period, albeit less pronounced than the rocketship into the atmosphere that was the period from 2012-2014. The Seahawks really bottomed out in 2017, while missing the playoffs for the first (and still only) time since Russell Wilson entered the league. The 2016 divisional championship even felt like a bit of a fraud, since no one else in the NFC West won more than 7 games. We got back to the playoffs in 2018, but that felt like a bit of a fluke; we were certainly just happy to be there, especially after starting that season with a 4-5 record. With last year’s team, it felt like we were more on the right track, but injuries really derailed things by the end, as we lost three of our last four games (ultimately falling just a yard short of beating the 49ers in the final game of the regular season to win the division).

Just as 2019’s Seahawks were incrementally better than they were in 2018, this year’s team feels similarly improved over last year. First thing’s first: we won the division. We also have a +85 point differential through 15 games; last year we were only +7 (meaning that, even though we won 11 games last year, we were unsustainably lucky to not be closer to 9-7 or even 8-8). Also, even as we’ve seemed to struggle throughout the season, it’s impossible to ignore how much we’ve improved.

The defense was an undeniable disaster through the first eight games of this season. And, as the offense has regressed towards the mean (to say it kindly) or totally fallen off the fucking map (to say it bluntly), it’s been encouraging to see the defense not only step up and assume its share of the responsibility in this relationship, but actually turn into the strength of this team as these Seahawks look remarkably like some of those Seahawks teams of old: where we needed our defense to keep us in games, while the offense sputtered along until it managed to win games in the end one way or another.

It’s scary to think about how the 2020 Seahawks have yet to really put together a complete game (I don’t count the Jets debacle; I don’t care how many games they’ve won in the subsequent two weeks). Scary in the sense that it might not ever happen (and we might be tantalized with thoughts of what might’ve been), but also scary in that if these Seahawks ever DO figure it out, they’ll be right up there among the very best teams in football.

Ultimately, though, I think the main reason why I feel better about these Seahawks than I have in years is a matter of being relieved. We got back over that hurdle of winning the NFC West again. This has been a difficult division, probably the best in all of football the last three seasons; the last two NFC West winners have made it to the Super Bowl, I don’t think that’s a coincidence. I’m also relieved because we knocked the Rams down a peg; I’ve considered them to be our primary rivals this year, so it was important to get them out of our way (at least, until we have to play them again in the playoffs).

While relieved, though, I can’t say yesterday’s game inspired a lot of confidence. The Seahawks’ offense – once again – failed to surpass 20 points. Russell Wilson just looked sort of okay; he didn’t have any turnovers, but there was a surefire interception that the Rams dropped. The rushing attack was so-so (24 carries for 95 yards). The offensive line predictably gave up 5 sacks (remains to be seen what was Wilson’s fault vs. what was just poor blocking). Lots of little mistakes added up to a 6-6 tie at halftime. The Seahawks mounted a touchdown drive to start the second half, then did nothing until midway through the fourth quarter when they generated a second touchdown drive to seal the deal.

This game was all about the defense, which was better than I’ve seen it in YEARS! Three sacks (two by Jarran Reed, to give him 6.5 for the year, which makes his new deal money well spent so far), 7 tackles for loss, 7 passes defensed, and a whopping 9 hits on the quarterback. Jared Goff looked as miserable as ever, which was a refreshing change of pace. The Rams were able to convert some frustrating third downs, but we kept them out of the endzone, capitalized on one of the most baffling interceptions of all time, and ultimately injured his thumb to the point where Goff will either be lost for the year or will have to have offseason surgery to get it fixed.

In seven games, the Seahawks’ defense went from the very worst, to only the 10th worst in yards allowed. Granted, we’ve still given up the most passing yards in the league, but it’s no longer the most passing yards given up ALL TIME. Also, we went from giving up among the most points per game, to almost exactly middle-of-the-road. The Indianapolis Colts are considered to have one of the better defenses in the league this year; we’ve given up exactly the same number of points through 15 games. That’s an impressive turnaround!

But, as I said, we won’t really know if these Seahawks are special until at least a month from now. Things are trending in the right direction, but I won’t be truly happy until we’re playing for championships again. Steven A. Taylor settles for nothing less than the best!

The Seahawks’ Season Hinges On Beating The Rams This Weekend

This is it: this is the (regular) season. If the Seahawks beat the Rams this weekend, the Seahawks win the NFC West and guarantee themselves at least a Top 3 seed in the playoffs. Otherwise, if the Seahawks lose to the Rams for a second time, there is a VERY strong likelihood that we have to settle for a Wild Card berth and almost certainly a first or second round exit in the playoffs.

Of course, a divisional championship is no guarantee of playoff success either, but a wild card – for this team – IS a guarantee of playoff failure. It is SO hard to win three road playoff games to get to a Super Bowl. To further illustrate, let me walk you through what that probably looks like:

If the Rams win this weekend and next week against the Cardinals in Los Angeles, they’ll almost certainly own the 3-seed. At five losses, that puts us in a dead heat with the Bucs, who I think will also be locked into a wild card spot when it’s all said and done. If we get the 5-seed, that puts us on the road in the first round against Washington. If we win, and the Saints (likely 2-seed) and Rams both prevail, that puts us on the road in the Divisional Round against the Green Bay Packers, who – as the top seed – will have had a first round BYE. Traditionally, teams with first round BYEs win in the Divisional Round approximately 75% of the time. It would be all but a guarantee that we would lose that game. BUT, if by the grace of God we win, that simply means we have to go back on the road again to play either the Rams or the Saints in the NFC Championship Game. I just don’t see it working out for us in any of these scenarios.

Of course, the bad news in all of this is that it’s highly likely we end up playing the Rams for a third time this year, even if we do end up beating them this weekend. A loss for the Rams likely means they fall to the 6-seed, so if we can’t find a way to leap over the Saints (who would need to lose one of their remaining games while we win out), it’s kind of a nightmare scenario either way. BUT, having at least one home playoff game (while avoiding playing the Packers as long as possible) is always better than having to play on the road throughout.

So, how do we do that? How do we beat the Rams this weekend? Well, shit, how did the fucking Jets do it? That seemed to work out okay.

It’s mind-boggling to me that the Jets can go on the road and get their first win of the season last week (with the Rams looking like utter dogshit for most of the game), meanwhile I know for a FACT the Rams are going to come into Seattle this weekend and probably look better than they ever have in the history of their franchise. WHAT THE FUCK?! Jared Goff sucks against MOST of the league, but for some reason he can carve the Seahawks up like we’re a soft turkey-shaped slab of butter.

I fucking hate the fucking Rams, so fucking much.

How do you beat the Rams? I don’t fucking know! Pixie dust? Rubbing a magic lamp and using one of your three genie wishes? Tricking the Rams’ head coach into running over a witch with his car, whose family curses him for all eternity? Is there time enough to do ANY of these things before Sunday?

Otherwise, I don’t know. I get the appeal of looking at how the Seahawks crushed the Jets, then went on the road and took care of business against a stout Washington team, while looking at what the Rams just did and say, “Oh yeah, the Seahawks should have no problem winning this week.” But, I’m here to tell you: one thing has nothing to do with the other. The Rams could’ve lost to a junior varsity high school team last week and I’d still be convinced they will come up to Seattle and thrash.

Russell Wilson has been garbage for half a season now. That’s just for starters. The defense has shown plenty of signs of life – especially since we traded for Carlos Dunlap – but look at who we’ve played in that stretch: the Rams (who we held to 23 points, but their offense has been far from elite with Goff at the helm, and they still won by 7 points), the Cards on Thursday night (with Kyler Murray working on an injured shoulder), then the Eagles, Giants, Jets, and Football Team. Not really a murderer’s row of offensive talent. We have looked better regardless, but that’s only compared to the first half of the season, when it was literally impossible to look any worse. And, moreover, the Seahawks’ coaching has been atrocious of late! From the gameplan in the Giants’ game, to the lack of in-game adjustments in general, to the baffling conservative choices on fourth down, to the lapses on defense in the second halves of the Giants and Football Team games. It’s been a total team effort to look this mediocre (except for Michael Dickson and Jason Myers, who have been killing it this season and were BEYOND deserving of making the Pro Bowl; no notes, you guys!).

So, again, I dunno. How do you beat the Rams? Play fucking better! That’s my recommendation. That’s my analysis for this game. If the Seahawks can just play better in all phases, they should win. Otherwise, strap in for another wild card disaster.

And, yeah, I know there’s a world where the Seahawks lose this weekend, then beat the 49ers in Week 17 while the Rams lose to the Cardinals, but is that really how you want to back into a divisional championship? Wouldn’t it be better to ride this regular season momentum and build up some confidence ahead of the playoffs? I think so.

Nobody Wants To Hear About My Fantasy Team 2020: Thank Fucking Christ I Don’t Have To Think About Fantasy Football Again For Another Year

  • Pre-Season Week 1 HERE – Here We Fucking Go Again
  • Pre-Season Week 2 HERE – Corona-Draft Prep
  • Fantasy Draft HERE – Nobody Beats The Wiz!
  • Week 1 HERE – Crisis Averted!
  • Week 2 HERE – Everything That Could Go Wrong
  • Week 3 HERE – Some Nobody Did, In Fact, Beat The Wiz!
  • Week 4 HERE – Literally Everyone Beats The Fucking Wiz
  • Week 5 HERE – Signs Of Life!
  • Week 6 HERE – And Tua All A Good Night
  • Week 7 HERE – Tua Be Or Not Tua Be, That Is The Question
  • Week 8 HERE – Tua Thine Own Self Be True
  • Week 9 HERE – Tua The Window, Tua The Wall!!!
  • Week 10 HERE – Tua Infinity & Beyond!
  • Week 11 HERE – Tua Err Is Human
  • Week 12 HERE – Although We’ve Come Tua The End Of The Road
  • Week 13 HERE – Tua No Avail
  • Playoffs HERE – It’s Time To Pound Some Cunth!

Piss on this game and anyone who plays it!

Nobody Beats The Wiz lost its 5th Place Game to conclude things, meaning I’ll be drafting sixth overall next season. What’s worse, Pound Some Cunth just got ANNIHILATED by Vinegar Strokes, 197.13 to 151.17 in the Splinter League this week. It was (fantasy) bad all around this weekend! The less said about it, the better.

Actually no. First, let me reiterate just how FUCKING STUPID fantasy football is! My all-world stud quarterback, Russell Wilson, should be a no-brainer when we’re talking about who to start in a 2-QB league like mine. What does he do? He goes up against a stout Washington defense and gets me 15.27 points. Meanwhile, Jalen Hurts – a rookie making his second-ever career start – goes on the road to Arizona (with a defense that can do a lot of damage to an inexperienced quarterback with their disguised blitz packages and whatnot) and absolutely fucks their (fantasy) shit up to the tune of 52.83 points. And I’m supposed to use my fucking crystal ball to predict this, to win a fucking (fantasy) playoff game. Who would EVER come to that conclusion ahead of time?! It’s IDIOTIC! WHAT THE FUCK ARE WE EVEN DOING HERE?!

How an entire season can hinge on a decision this asinine is beyond me. In real life, you would NEVER in your WILDEST fucking dreams consider benching Russell Wilson for Jalen Hurts. Yet, in fantasy, you’re a fucking pissant moron if you don’t somehow read the tea leaves and sense this. Unbe-fucking-lievable.

All right, rant over. Probably. I could always have another aneurysm between now and the end of the post.

Getting back to the intention of this column, let’s now re-forget about the Splinter League and get back to Nobody Beats The Wiz, the latest in a long line of huge, buttfucking disappointments. I have decisions to make between now and the start of next season (so, thankfully, I have many months before this decision will be official), namely: who will be my four keepers?

Remember my keepers for this year?

  • Carson Wentz (QB)
  • Daniel Jones (QB)
  • Ezekiel Elliott (RB)
  • Josh Jacobs (RB)

Two of those guys (the quarterbacks) weren’t on my team any longer by season’s end. Ezekiel Elliott was a tremendous disappointment once Dak Prescott went out injured. And Josh Jacobs was an okay player, but obviously not a difference-maker. Not someone who ever single-handedly swung any games for me. Neither was he someone who consistently got me around 20 points per week (those would be the two hallmarks of QUALITY keepers in our league).

The fact that I made the playoffs at all is almost impossible to fathom, and speaks to how very lucky my team was this year.

So, here are the players I have on my roster at press time:

  • Kirk Cousins (QB)
  • Tua Tagovailoa (QB)
  • Ezekiel Elliott (RB)
  • Josh Jacobs (RB)
  • Clyde Edwards-Helaire (RB)
  • Rashaad Penny (RB)
  • A.J. Brown (WR)
  • Brandon Aiyuk (WR)
  • CeeDee Lamb (WR)
  • Tee Higgins (WR)
  • Jerry Jeudy (WR)
  • Deebo Samuel (WR)
  • Rashard Higgins (WR)
  • Irv Smith (TE)
  • Harrison Butker (K)
  • L.A. Rams (DEF)

You can cross out Smith, Butker, and the defense, as well as Kirk Cousins right off the bat. They are non-starters in the keeper game. From there, let’s look at the running backs.

Ezekiel Elliott is a really interesting one for me. 2020 is just his fifth season in the league. I did not assume that this would be his last year with me, coming in. But, he signed a huge deal before last season and already appears to be suffering the consequences of Overpaid Running Back Syndrome. He looked mediocre this year! Even before Dak went down, he didn’t look quite right. Now, a lot of that might have to do with the injuries along the Cowboys’ offensive line. If they can get that fixed up ahead of next season – and, of course, if Dak returns by Week 1 – then I think he’s a candidate for a bounce-back year. But, at some point – and some point relatively SOON – Zeke is going to fall off the cliff. And when he does, he will be totally unstartable. In the NFL, it’s usually better to cut someone a year too early than a year too late. I might want to adopt that for fantasy as well.

Josh Jacobs would be a “safe” choice to be one of my keepers. I imagine we’ve seen what his ceiling looks like, and it looks like his 2020 season. Through 13 games, he has 907 yards and a 3.7 yard average. He doesn’t catch enough balls to be elite, and his fantasy numbers are propped up by the 10 rushing touchdowns he’s accrued. That, and the fact that the Raiders haven’t drafted someone to significantly eat into his carries, leads me to lean towards a Yes when it comes to keeping Jacobs.

CEH is probably out for me. As my top draft pick, I was hoping for a long and fruitful (fantasy) career with him as one of my lead guys. But, the shame of it is that the Chiefs just don’t run the ball enough (especially at or near the goalline), and they’ve got too many viable running backs who are all basically the same. Unless I read reports that Kansas City is going to make a concerted effort to declare CEH their lead back, I think I’ll expose him to the rest of the league to snap up.

Finally, I picked up Rashaad Penny – the Seahawks’ running back who just returned from injury this past week – on the off-chance we let Chris Carson walk in free agency and Penny becomes the #1 of this team. I don’t think that’s very likely, but anyway it’s more important for me to make sure these types of guys aren’t kept by OTHER teams. I want Penny available to be drafted (by me) if it turns out he is the starter.

In the last couple weeks, I made a big push to pick up a lot of young receivers, so that’s what I find most interesting among my options.

A.J. Brown feels like a definite keeper to me. He’s the only guy I feel REALLY good about.

There are three other guys I’ll be watching VERY closely in the offseason, to see how their teams look and how their prospects will be in 2021: Tee Higgins, CeeDee Lamb, and Brandon Aiyuk. It took Aiyuk about half of this – his rookie – season before he was really incorporated into the 49ers’ offense. But, once he assumed lead receiver duties (helped by Deebo Samuel’s injury-plagued year), he’s been quite effective. Other than a week missed to COVID, Aiyuk has averaged in the 20’s or high teens in 6 of the 49ers’ last 8 games. What’s unknown is how Aiyuk will look next to a fully-healthy Deebo in 2021. But, presumably Jimmy G will be back at quarterback next year, so that should help both of those guys a lot. Lamb was one of the better-looking rookie receivers until Dak went out; assuming Dak is healthy, Lamb might be a no-brainer. And, Higgins was ALSO one of the better-looking rookie receivers until Joe Burrow went out; assuming Burrow will make it back, Higgins should return to his former glory (and maybe then some).

None of my other receivers are likely to be kept by me, but again, I just want them among the draftable talent pool for next year. I don’t know what the rest of my league is thinking with their keepers, but there’s no point in helping them out when I don’t have to.

Finally, to Tua or not to Tua? That is the biggest (fantasy) question.

Going into a season with zero fantasy keepers at quarterback seems reckless. But, let’s look at it realistically here: I went into 2020 with Wentz and Dimes and came out with Cousins and Tua and still managed to make the playoffs. What I NEED more than anything else is talented players I can rely on – week-in and week-out – to provide me steady points. Keeping four receivers seems idiotic, but keeping two receivers and two running backs might be something to consider! Likewise, keeping three receivers and one running back could be an option (though, a little overkill, since we have just the one FLEX spot, and none of my receivers are what you would call super-elite).

I would need to see quite a bit more from Tua than what I’ve seen so far this season. At this point, Tua has started seven games. He has four games over 20 points. That’s pretty terrible. He has two games over 25 points (which is kind of the baseline average you’d want out of a QB in our league). And, of course, just the one game over 30; no 40 or 50-point explosions you see out of some of the game’s best. Those are the types of games that single-handedly swing weeks in your favor.

Now, Tua is young. He’s still getting his feet wet. He’s on a team that’s contending for a playoff spot and it’s pretty clear they haven’t taken the training wheels off of him. Nevertheless, if they do make the playoffs, I’ll be watching him VERY closely. At some point, they will be down late in a game, and I’ll need to see him do something remarkable to make me a believer.

Otherwise, if this is all he is – what we’ve seen from him in his almost half-a-season – then I feel more than confident exposing him to the draft next year. I highly doubt anyone in the Top 5 picks will snap him up, so if I REALLY want him, I should be able to get him back.

But, keeping guys based on potential? Fool me once, Danny Dimes, shame on you. Fool me twice, Tua?

Chris Flexen Is A Guy The Mariners Might Be Counting On (and Some Thoughts On The Six-Man Rotation)

The six-man rotation for the 2020 season felt like a great way to give our guys some semblance of experience this year, while at the same time protecting them during a wonky situation where we had a long break, then the ramp-up to Spring Training, then another long break, then a quick ramp-up, followed by a 60-game season. Pitching baseballs for a living under normal circumstances is quite taxing, but this had the potential for real leaguewide disaster!

The six-man rotation also offered the Mariners an opportunity to get a good sample size from numerous starters. Going in, we had two guys who were deserving locks to crack the rotation (Marco Gonzales and Yusei Kikuchi), two guys who were coming off of devastating injuries and multiple years away from the game (Taijuan Walker and Kendall Graveman), and two rookies who had never (to my knowledge) cracked an Opening Day starting rotation (Justus Sheffield and Justin Dunn). That’s four unproven guys, plus a number of minor leaguers (including Nick Margevicius and Ljay Newsome) who we would end up throwing in there when Walker was traded and Graveman went down with another injury (and ultimately landed in a bullpen role). As the M’s are in the middle of a full rebuild, it was necessary to get a good look at as many different guys as possible. Hence, the six-man rotation was born.

But, now we’re talking about carrying over the six-man rotation into 2021, when things are (hopefully) returning back to normal. Part of that has to do with protecting the guys (we don’t know how their arms will respond, going from pitching so few innings in a year, to a full 162-game season), part of that has to do with the Mariners still being smack-dab in the middle of a full rebuild (though ideally closer to being contenders than having to scrap it all and start over), but an interesting wrinkle is that part of the decision might reside in this is just where the game of baseball is headed. The Mariners MIGHT be on the ground floor of revolutionizing the sport in a major way. That’s kind of exciting!

The thing is, it’s going to be difficult to quantify whether or not this is an effective way to run a pitching staff. We likely won’t know until we’ve had multiple seasons of data on injuries and effectiveness; it would also be helpful if other teams joined in on our quest to normalize the six-man rotation, to give us all even more data on the matter (but, that also might take away our competitive advantage, if indeed this will be the new normal). The thing is, professional sports are inherently risk-averse. If the Mariners come out and shit the bed in 2021, they might be inclined to blame it on the six-man rotation (particularly if our starters struggle in spite of the extra rest they’re getting between starts), and then the concept will likely die.

I’m always in favor of trying new things in sports. It gets back to that competitive advantage notion. When you reach the highest levels of your sport, everyone has the same information. Every team has an analytics department. Teams have the smartest minds working as hard as possible, all in an effort to get the SLIGHTEST edge over their opponents. To the point where it feels more like luck than anything else when a team has sustained success.

It’s jarring when a pro team does anything remarkably outside of the ordinary. Teams in recent years have dabbled with the “Opener” – a relief pitcher starting a baseball game, pitching one or two innings (to get out the opposing team’s very best batters) before the actual starter comes in and goes the next 5-7 innings while hopefully seeing the top of the order fewer times in that particular game (because the stats say the more times a batter gets to go up against the same pitcher in a game, the more success they’ll have as the game goes along). There have been decidedly mixed results on how the Opener has worked out, but I think consensus is trending toward the direction that it’s a flop. Too many of these relief pitchers starting games are getting pounded and putting their teams in big holes (which leads me to wonder, with the top of the order properly warmed up against a fireballer like that, are they having more success against the softer-tossing starting pitchers who follow them out there?). But, hey, you can’t gain a competitive advantage without breaking some eggs!

The last really successful organization that found an edge against the rest of the league was the Oakland A’s around the turn of the century. They were the first team to really adopt the concepts of Bill James and other prominent analytical baseball minds to their advantage. They were a roaring success, though weren’t quite able to translate that into World Series titles (all they did was infuriatingly make it so the Mariners were denied two more opportunities to make the postseason, in 2002 and 2003, the last two truly great M’s teams).

It’s hard for me to say that a six-man rotation will be on par with what the A’s were doing, but I do believe it has significantly more value than the Opener.

For starters (!), the Mariners really don’t have an elite rotation. Marco Gonzales continues to shatter my expectations, but I also wouldn’t put him on par with the best of the best ace starters in the game today. Justus Sheffield and Justin Dunn also impressed me a lot in their rookie campaigns, but they too have clear ceilings that aren’t at that ace level. Yusei Kikuchi has been a disappointment through two years, but it’s still too early to give up on him as he transitions from Japan to America. Margevicius and Newsome are not likely to be long-term rotation guys, as we have younger pitchers we will be looking to promote either in 2021 or 2022 at the latest. Graveman, as I mentioned, is now a bullpen guy going forward, due to his chronic neck issue that he apparently refuses to have surgery on, yet doesn’t prevent him from throwing really hard for an inning or two every other day. Taijuan Walker could always be re-signed if the price is right, but for now the Mariners have gone in another direction.

I had never heard of Chris Flexen before word came down that the Mariners signed him to a 2-year, $7 million deal. This obviously has the feel of another one of those buy-low Jerry Dipoto deals where he’s trying to squeeze out significant value from a candidate to have a bounce-back in his career. Except, in this case, Flexen was NEVER good … until he went over to the Korea Baseball Organization for the 2020 season. He had a lot of success over there in his 21 games started. Strikeouts were up, walks were down, it was everything you could ask for. With the caveat that the level of competition is obviously not where it is in the Major Leagues. It sounds like he was able to take advantage of their aggressive style of play in getting hitters to swing at his stuff outside of the strike zone. So, it’s hard to say if his stuff will translate back to the U.S.

The upside is: there is precedent for someone to go to the KBO and come back and pitch well. Also, the money is quite nice. $7 million over two years is nothing in MLB terms (even in the wake of a pandemic-related financial collapse). If he turns into a useful starter, then he’s an absolute bargain! And, if he stinks, then hey, no sweat off our noses.

Probably best not to expect too much out of Flexen, but feel free to leave yourself open to believing that he might keep the good times rolling. My hunch is he’ll look good out of the gate, then the league will start to adjust to what he’s doing out there, and then we’ll know if he’s worth a damn or not. If he can adjust to how the batters adjust to him, then we might have something. But, if he can’t figure it out, then it was a nice idea that just didn’t pan out (but maybe he can still be a useful bullpen guy for a while).

I think we were all hoping for a little more out of free agency when it came to bolstering the rotation, but if this is indeed truly it, then I think I’ll be slightly disappointed. Yes, the Mariners have a lot of highly-rated prospects working their way through the minor leagues in the next two years, but not ALL of them are going to pan out, for one reason or another. Remember “The Big Four” of Danny Hultzen, Taijuan Walker, James Paxton, and Brandon Maurer? Hultzen never pitched in the Majors with the Mariners due to injuries, Walker had middling success until he was traded away, and Maurer eventually had to convert to a bullpen role and hasn’t pitched since 2018. Paxton was the only guy who panned out, and he still had his share of injuries throughout his career, ultimately getting traded to the Yankees for Sheffield when we started our rebuild.

Nothing is a given, is my point. And, if we’re truly going to go forward with this six-man rotation, it seems like there should be plenty of room for a guy like Flexen, as well as a free agent with more substance. We’ll see if the Mariners think the same way as I do or not.

Seahawks Do Just Enough To Defeat Football Team

Look, a 20-15 win is a 20-15 win. We’re on to the Rams.

The Seahawks looked great for most of the first three quarters of this one. The gameplan was sound: get the ball out of Wilson’s hands before he gets killed. That meant short, quick passes (with a long of only 15 yards, and very few shots deep downfield, all incomplete); he completed 18/27 for 121 yards and quite frankly was just SLIGHTLY off all day. We nearly had a long TD to Freddie Swain, but one of his feet came down out of bounds. We had David Moore wide open down the other sideline, but he overshot him by about two yards out of the back of the endzone. Wilson’s lone pick was a tipped ball that looked to be heading into heavy coverage.

It seemed to me that Wilson had it beaten into his brain that this Washington defensive front was going to destroy him, and he was a little jittery as a result. Which, you know, the way he’s taken a beating this season, I don’t blame him! Probably better to be a half second too early than a half second too late against this unit.

And either way, it worked. With Dwayne Haskins at quarterback, the Seahawks’ defense didn’t need to do too much, and quite frankly shouldn’t have had to do too much! So, why put Wilson in harm’s way in a game we can just eke out the way we did?

Haskins was as miserable as ever through most of the first three quarters of this one. He ended up completing 38/55 for 295 yards, but only a 5.4 yards per attempt average. He’s not accurate. He’s ESPECIALLY not accurate down field. We never had to worry about that, and as a result, we could give him all the underneath routes he could handle. And, for most of the game, he couldn’t even hit THOSE receivers with any consistency. Finally, as this game headed into the final quarter, Haskins started to nail those checkdowns. But, it took drives of 14 and 11 plays and a combined 9:46 in game clock to score their two touchdowns.

Things started to look marginally worrying on Washington’s final drive of the game, as once again they were able to dink and dunk into Seattle territory. But, considering they needed a touchdown (a field goal would’ve done them no good considering how much time was left), I still felt relatively secure that Seattle would pull it out. And, sure enough, L.J. Collier and Carlos Dunlap recorded back-to-back sacks to force them into a 4th & 24 Hail Mary situation that fell incomplete to end the game.

Outside of those last three drives, the Seahawks’ defense once again looked phenomenal! They had four more sacks on the day (including number 9.5 by Jamal Adams), hit the quarterback 8 times, and knocked down 7 passes. Also, not for nothing, but we had two interceptions in this one, and I’m honestly surprised we didn’t get more! D.J. Reed was a man possessed, mostly stifling Scary Terry. And Shaquill Griffin seemed to rarely see any targets in this one at all. Most of Washington’s offense went through the tight end and running back checkdowns, which we will take all day.

Offensively for the Seahawks, the story was all about the run game. 181 yards on 26 carries for the team. Carlos Hyde had a 50-yard touchdown to kick off the second half. Chris Carson led the way with 63 on 15 carries. Even Wilson had a 38-yard scramble; he finished with 52 yards on 6 carries.

The receivers didn’t do much in this one, as it looked like it was tough to get open, especially in the second half. There was a scare early on, when it looked like D.K. Metcalf might’ve rolled an ankle or torn a knee ligament, but he finished the game in okay shape.

There were some developments this week, as the Seahawks advanced to 10-4 and officially clinched a playoff spot. The Saints lost to the Chiefs, to drop to 10-4. The Packers had no trouble winning to take the lead in the race to the top seed at 11-3. BUT, the craziest thing of the entire season happened in the afternoon: the Rams lost – at home – to the winless Jets. That means the Rams are now 9-5 and – if we beat them next week – we will clinch the NFC West title. That’s the good news.

The bad news, of course, is that if we hadn’t screwed that Giants game, next week wouldn’t matter as long as we beat the 49ers in Week 17. Also, if we hadn’t screwed that Giants game, we’d still be in legitimate contention for the #1 seed. But, that’s in the past; spilled milk and all that.

Here’s what we’ve got to look forward to: the Seahawks currently have the 3-seed. Assuming things stay the same the rest of the way – and we beat the Rams to win the division – that means we’d end up playing the 6-seed in the first round of the playoffs. The Saints currently have a tiebreaker edge over Seattle because they’ve won one more conference game (they would need to lose to either the Vikings or Panthers the next two weeks to fall under us).

Right now the Rams and Bucs are tied at 9-5, with the Rams having a tiebreaker edge over the Bucs because they beat them head-to-head. The Bucs finish up against Detroit and Atlanta, two terrible squads. Now, the Seahawks MUST win the NFC West … but there’s a strong chance that – in doing so – we will knock the Rams into the 6th seed, meaning we will have to play them again in the first round of the playoffs.

The last thing we want is to have to play as a Wild Card team, but the second-to-last thing we want is to have to play the fucking Rams for a third time! So, there’s something else to fucking dread, just in case you needed a put-me-down (the opposite of a pick-me-up?) as we slide into Christmas this week.

There Is No Reason To Look Forward To This Seahawks Game In Washington

It’s time to face facts that our loss to the Giants eliminated any reasonable hope for the Seahawks to get the number one seed. At 9-4, we have two teams better than us (Green Bay and New Orleans) who we’d have to surpass (currently with 10-3 records). For tie-breaking purposes, both have a better conference record (8-2 to our 6-3), meaning we’d have to win out and they’d have to lose to another NFC team (and even then, further tiebreakers I won’t get into here might prevent us from climbing to the top).

The Packers have the Panthers and Bears left (as well as a meaningless game against the Titans that doesn’t help us if they lose to them). The Saints have the Vikings and Panthers left (as well as a meaningless game against the Chiefs this weekend). The odds of the Packers AND Saints losing to one of those NFC teams seems remote, so it’s pointless to even think about.

Our top priority in this brave new world should be the NFC West. We’ve been second place in this fucking division three years running, and as a DIRECT result, we have failed to advance past the Divisional Round of the playoffs. When you’re forced to play Wild Card weekend, and then go on the road in the second round, you have an exponentially more difficult time advancing to what is our ultimate goal every year we have Russell Wilson as our quarterback: the Super Bowl.

The difference this year is a two or three seed in the playoffs (and a home game in the first round) or probably a five seed wild card slot, and a road game in the first round (likely against this very same Washington team). In that sense, isn’t this Sunday’s game vital? Not really! The only game that matters is next week, when we host the Rams (also 9-4); the winner of that game will almost certainly win the NFC West.

I guess the Washington game is somewhat important, though. If we win this one AND beat the Rams, that buys us an opportunity to lose to the 49ers in Week 17 (I think, don’t quote me on that; I haven’t worked out all the possible scenarios in my head yet).

Anyway, the point is: the last thing any of us want is to play in Washington TWICE. Fuck, I don’t like playing there at all! Their field is fucking atrocious and it seems like an ACL or two are torn this time of year there every fucking season. Their field should be fucking outlawed along with their stupid former nickname.

I’m not dreading this game simply for the likelihood that a few of our guys will get injured this weekend (though that cloud will be hanging over me until Sunday afternoon, to be sure). I hate this matchup for any number of reasons! This will not be a fun game to watch. Much like the game against the Giants, it will be a fucking defensive slog, with lots of mistakes, punts, and probably turnovers. So, if that gets your juices flowing, then God help you.

The Washington Football Team has a tremendous defensive line and pass rush. As someone depending on Russell Wilson to win him a fantasy football playoff game, I’m fully expecting another bed-shitting performance. I would hope we’ve learned our lesson from the loss two weeks ago, and will rely more on quick passing and running the football, but I’m not holding my breath that even that will work. Our offensive line has been chewed up, and we’re seeing more critical missed blocks than we have all season. Wilson isn’t a spring chicken; he’s not escaping these increasingly-faster defenders as he ages into the middle of his prime. I expect him to be hit, a lot. And bad things tend to happen when Wilson takes a pounding.

The good thing is, like the Giants, Washington doesn’t have much of an offense to speak of. Their great running back appears to be hampered by an injury (if he plays at all). They’re down to a reliable Alex Smith (avoids turnovers, but also avoids making many big plays down field) and an elite receiver in Scary Terry McLaurin. If we can keep him in check, they’ll surely be in check-down mode all game.

Their offense is like a slightly better version of the Giants’ offense. So, instead of giving up 17 points, I would expect us to give up around 23. We are certainly capable of besting that mark, and even though it’ll be a challenge, I do expect we’ll get there.

The keys to this game are the same as any other. Try to get them off the field, so they’re not absolutely killing us in Time of Possession. Force them into field goals instead of touchdowns as much as possible. And for the love of all that is holy, the Seahawks’ offense MUST NOT go in the tank for huge stretches of this game!

The odds of a blowout win for either team seems remote. The lack of fans makes home field irrelevant (presumably, we’ll pack the proper cleats we need, but I guess you never know; we’ll find out if our guys are slipping and sliding around). From a pure talent perspective, I would say the Seahawks have a better than 50% chance of prevailing. The coaching is relatively equal on both sides. Nevertheless, I wouldn’t give the Seahawks more than a 60% chance of winning this one; there is work to be done.

Thankfully, it’s a 10am game (imagine if I’d ever said that in the Mike Holmgren years; you’d think I’d belong in a looney bin!), so either way this game will be over with plenty of time to move on to more enjoyable things. Christmas movies, Christmas music, Christmas TV specials, Christmas cookies, and just enjoying all of our Christmas decorations!

Nobody Wants To Hear About My Fantasy Team 2020: It’s Time To Pound Some Cunth!

  • Pre-Season Week 1 HERE – Here We Fucking Go Again
  • Pre-Season Week 2 HERE – Corona-Draft Prep
  • Fantasy Draft HERE – Nobody Beats The Wiz!
  • Week 1 HERE – Crisis Averted!
  • Week 2 HERE – Everything That Could Go Wrong
  • Week 3 HERE – Some Nobody Did, In Fact, Beat The Wiz!
  • Week 4 HERE – Literally Everyone Beats The Fucking Wiz
  • Week 5 HERE – Signs Of Life!
  • Week 6 HERE – And Tua All A Good Night
  • Week 7 HERE – Tua Be Or Not Tua Be, That Is The Question
  • Week 8 HERE – Tua Thine Own Self Be True
  • Week 9 HERE – Tua The Window, Tua The Wall!!!
  • Week 10 HERE – Tua Infinity & Beyond!
  • Week 11 HERE – Tua Err Is Human
  • Week 12 HERE – Although We’ve Come Tua The End Of The Road
  • Week 13 HERE – Tua No Avail

At the risk of putting this column’s stink on my other fantasy league, honestly I don’t know how I could do any worse, since I limped into the playoffs over there riding the wave of a four-game losing streak. But, here’s the thing: Nobody Beats The Wiz took his first round playoff exit like a man, and all that’s left is the Fifth Place Game (going up against the heavily-favored Space Forcin’ for the right to draft fifth in next year’s fantasy draft; I would otherwise draft sixth if I lose).

Colinoscopy Time beat me 171.10 to 149.95. That’s probably not a surprising score if you’ve been following my team all year, but it’s particularly heartbreaking when two of my guys got injured VERY early in their respective games (DeVante Parker and Deebo Samuel), netting me a combined 0.90 points. If they had simply gotten what they were projected to get, I would have won easily. If I had substituted them for my two bench receivers, I would’ve won even easier. Alas, that’s the way it goes sometimes.

The Rams’ defense really got me off to a fantastic start, scoring 33 against the Patriots. Tua was next up with a SOLID 32.2. A.J. Brown and Kirk Cousins also scored over 20 to keep me somewhat respectable.

Fuck it though, it’s time to talk about my other league!

MacGruber!

If you’ve never seen the film MacGruber, then a team name like Pound Some Cunth might not make a lot of sense. But also, come on, you get it. Anyway, the rules of the other league are remarkably similar, except it’s only a four-team playoff. And, instead of having a mandatory tight end and one FLEX spot, I have two FLEX spots where you can play a tight end (or two) if you want (also, no kickers in this league, because kickers are dumb).

A team called Look At Me Run did indeed run away with the regular season, with a 12-2 record. But! Pound Some Cunth was NOT far behind! I started out 8-2, keeping pace with the consensus best team in the league, but have since gotten quite unlucky. I scored the second-most points in the league by a pretty significant margin this season, making me the best of the three 8-6 teams to make the playoffs. I’ve also had the second-most points scored against me, to show how unlucky I’ve been.

I rode an early-season blitzkrieg thanks to my super-studs: Russell Wilson, D.K. Metcalf, Dalvin Cook, Drew Brees, Terry McLaurin, and Tee Higgins (who was elite until Joe Burrow got injured). Once Brees went down – forcing me into starting Taysom Hill – it’s been quite a shitshow; not necessarily Hill’s fault, either! Wilson has stunk, my various 49ers players (Raheem Mostert, Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk) have all missed chunks of the season with injuries and/or COVID, and I was forced into trading away Miles Sanders in the middle of the season to help fill out my roster (getting Cooper Kupp and Kareem Hunt back, while also trading away Kirk Cousins to complete the deal).

This week, Pound Some Cunth is going up against Vinegar Strokes – the two sexiest names in the league, apologies to Vagician’s Assistant and 50 Shades Of Gritty – in the 2 vs. 3 matchup (my brother, Beer Thirty, is the sacrificial lamb facing Look At Me Run). Here’s the loaded roster I’ve got going:

  • Russell Wilson (QB) @ WA
  • Taysom Hill (QB) vs. KC
  • D.K. Metcalf (WR) @ WA
  • Terry McLaurin (WR) vs. SEA
  • Dalvin Cook (RB) vs. CHI
  • Cam Akers (RB) vs. NYJ
  • Cooper Kupp (WR) vs. NYJ
  • Brandon Aiyuk (WR) @ DAL
  • Cleveland (DEF) @ NYG

I don’t love the Seahawks’ offense at Washington, nor do I love Scary Terry’s prospects against a resurgent Seahawks defense. My flex receivers should be okay, but they can be weirdly hit-or-miss. I’m mostly going with the Browns because I know how bad the Giants’ offense CAN be, and I’m hoping they prove me sage this time around. Cam Akers was a new pick-up this week, and he’s been GOING OFF for the Rams the last couple games. So, I’m hoping he eats the Jets’ defense for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

And, here is what Vinegar Strokes will be throwing against me:

  • Lamar Jackson (QB) vs. JAX
  • Matt Ryan (QB) vs. TB
  • Davante Adams (WR) vs. CAR
  • Jamison Crowder (WR) @ LAR
  • Jonathan Taylor (RB) vs. HOU
  • David Montgomery (RB) @ MIN
  • Brandin Cooks (WR) @ IND
  • Stefon Diggs (WR) @ DEN
  • Pittsburgh (DEF) @ CIN

He’s got some FANTASTIC matchups. Pittsburgh, Lamar, Davante, and Jonathan should all destroy. I’m going to need the other guys to have abnormally bad games, and I’m also going to need my team to over-perform.

This is really the best fantasy team I’ve fielded in quite a while. When Russell Wilson was in MVP mode, I was tough to beat. But, lately it’s just been one continuous slump that I’m hoping can turn around as of this week. I just need to go 2-0 over the next two weeks and I can win this league! I haven’t done so great since I took myself out of the commissioner’s seat in the original league and started this Splinter League (so I could set my own rules and keep them the way I want them forever), as you can see by my finishes:

  • 2019 – BrundleFly: 3rd Place
  • 2018 – ManChine: 5th Place
  • 2017 – Gamel Of Thrones: 3rd Place
  • 2016 – PimpDaddySupreme: 5th Place
  • 2015 – Toad Load Weekly: 3rd Place

As you can see, I’ve broken the streak of 3rd-5th-3rd-5th-3rd place finishes, so CLEARLY Pound Some Cunth is something special. We’ll see if that’s actually the case or not!

Next week, I’ll have an answer to that, as well as talk about my potential keepers in my regular league. It’s all happening!