The Seahawks Beat The Viking, Are Taking Years Off Of My Life

The fucking rain.

It’s like we’re the Wicked Witch of the West whenever a few droplets hit our jerseys! There was about a 2-minute period in the third quarter of this game where the rain stopped, and I honestly don’t think it’s a coincidence that those are the two minutes where the Seahawks exploded for 21 unanswered points!

There’s so much to discuss about this game.

Here are the broad strokes: the Seahawks won 27-26. The Seahawks converted exactly 0 of 7 third down opportunities. The Seahawks held the ball for just under 21 minutes of game time. The Seahawks allowed the Vikings to rush for 201 yards. The Seahawks allowed the Vikings to run 83 plays and convert 31 first downs. EVERYTHING about this game screamed not only a Vikings victory, but a Vikings BLOWOUT victory! And yet, somehow, here we are, with a 5-0 record heading into our BYE week (the first of multiple, maybe, depending on how these COVID outbreaks keep shaking out).

I can’t begin to tell you how bad the Seahawks looked in the first half. The Vikings jumped right out to a 7-0 lead on the first drive of the game and it wasn’t even all that difficult. This looked to be a modified version of our performance against the Dolphins last week – where we kept plays in front of us and forced them to dink and dunk down the field – but the difference was the fact that Dalvin Cook is maybe the best running back in all of football, and Kirk Cousins finds a way to elevate his game when he goes up against the Seahawks (not every time, but sometimes).

Ultimately, we did slow the bleeding – even forcing the Vikings to punt once in the first half – and it felt lucky that we were only down 13-0 at the break. It was pretty appalling how badly the offense was sputtering. There were breakdowns along the offensive line, there were bad throws by Wilson, and guys weren’t able to get open. But, more than anything, I think the Vikings out-schemed us. They took away anything and everything deep, and for at least a half we fed right into that. It seemed like we were looking to chuck it 40 yards on every passing play, but with nothing open, that meant Wilson was stuck back there getting clobbered by a fairly feisty pass rush.

We’ve seen these games before from the Seahawks. This felt like the most “normal” game for us in this brand new Let Russ Cook era: fall into a deep first half hole, spend the second half clawing our way back into contention. The main difference here is: the Let Russ Cook Seahawks are able to come back almost immediately! A 13-0 deficit morphed into a 21-13 lead less than halfway into the third quarter! Not only did it look like the score we expected all along, but it looked like we were going to run away with it!

It honestly seemed like the Vikings got away from their gameplan on offense – which was: pound the rock – and put the ball in Kirk Cousins’ hands. So, the fumble and BAFFLING interception on back-to-back drives certainly gave us all the confidence we needed in watching our Seahawks come back. He settled down, of course, and ultimately put the Vikings into a position to steal one. But, he’s not Russell Wilson!

In that two-minute stretch, Dalvin Cook looked like he pulled a groin, went to the locker room, and returned for one play only to sit out the remainder of the game. It didn’t matter, as his backup – Alexander Mattison – was running like a total beast. This was not the Seahawks rush defense I signed up for, nor the one I promised last week! There were glimpses of dominance – especially from Jarran Reed, who was all over the place in the interior line – but instead of giving up on it, the Vikings doubled down. The Seahawks linebackers not named K.J. Wright had a pretty awful game. They would come up big late in the fourth quarter, but Cody Barton especially looked overmatched, and reminded us why this team drafted Jordyn Brooks in the first round (hopefully he’ll return to action after the BYE week).

As soon as we took that 21-13 lead, the offense went right back into hibernation mode. 21-13 became 21-19, which then became 26-21 Vikings halfway through the fourth quarter. More long, clock-churning drives. And THEN, one of the worst interceptions I’d ever seen from Russell Wilson!

That gave the Vikings the ball back at midfield, with just under six minutes in the game. They drove it all the way (eventually) inside the Seahawks 10 yard line at the two minute warning, for the play of the game. 4th down & 1 at the Seattle 6 yard line. Kick a field goal, and the Vikings would lead by 8 points, necessitating the Seahawks to drive approximately 75 yards for a touchdown (and a two-point conversion) in just under two minutes with only 1 time out. OR, go for it and seal the victory by getting a single yard. For a team that averaged 4.9 yards per carry on the day, it seemed like a no-brainer. As a Seahawks fan, I was dreading them going for it, which should tell you all you need to know about their decision being a smart one. The fact that my aggressive ways agree with what the math tells you is just a bonus; every once in a while I find myself on the right side of history, and I agree, it feels weird. Of course, with the Vikings ultimately NOT converting 4th & 1, and losing the game, in retrospect makes the choice to kick a field goal there more enticing. But, I’d like to think I wouldn’t be furious with my team if I were a Vikings fan right now.

I’d LIKE to think that, but, you know me …

The Seahawks still needed to score a touchdown to win it, and that was no sure thing! Not with the way we’d been trying to move the ball for all but two minutes of the game! Indeed, we were on our own 23 yard line, 4th & 10, with the game on the line and I was convinced it was over. I just couldn’t believe how badly Wilson was missing the mark on some of his patented deep throws! It seems impossible for him to over-shoot these guys when he puts so much arc on them, but there were a number of opportunities that shot well over the intended mark (I don’t know HOW you over-throw D.K. Metcalf, but he found away!). Anyway, thank Christ for Metcalf, who caught a lob ball down the left sideline to convert that 4th down; just a beauty of a 39-yard play! From there, the game-winning TD felt inevitable, and my main concern was not scoring TOO fast, to leave the Vikings time to go down and kick a field goal!

And yet, there we were, 4th & Goal at the 6-yard line with 20 seconds left. I guess that’s the third “Play of the Game” in this one? Once again, who does Wilson go to but D.K. Metcalf coming across the middle of the endzone?! With 15 seconds to go in the game, the Vikings converted one short pass and fumbled on the final play of the game to end it.

Not the best game in the world for Wilson – 217 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT – but his rating was still over 100. The rushing attack probably could’ve been leaned on more as Wilson, Carson, and Homer combined for 124 yards on only 16 carries (for a 7.8 average). D.K. was obviously the receiving star, with 6 catches for 93 yards and 2 touchdowns.

Defensively, K.J. Wright was phenomenal (including a 1-handed interception after dropping so many last week!). Shaquill Griffin had a strong coverage game. Ryan Neal continues to make plays at safety in lieu of Jamal Adams. Jarran Reed came up huge a number of times. Benson Mayowa looked good (the line combined for 3 sacks, which isn’t terrible). And, honestly, the best performance on either team might’ve come from our punter, Michael Dickson, who dropped 4 of 5 punts inside the 20 yard line, including two that landed inside the 2-yard line! The fact that our defense couldn’t make them pay for such poor field position is quite concerning.

The BYE week – as I’ve been saying for a while now – couldn’t come at a better time for this team. We’ve had a ton of guys show up on the injury report in recent weeks; most of them should be healthy as we head into our Week 7 matchup down in Arizona. More importantly, I hope to see some of the defensive issues cleaned up in these next two weeks, before we take on a potent-looking Cardinals offense.

For now, we get to take a deep breath and relax. The rest of the NFL is a COVID nightmare, but we’re 5-0 and alone in first place in the NFC (for the time being). Part of me knows it might not get any better than this, but I’m a romantic at heart, and I want so desperately to believe the best is yet to come! I think the Seahawks have what it takes.

But, just in case, let’s build a giant bubble to put over them so that nasty ol’ rain doesn’t interfere!

Nobody Wants To Hear About My Fantasy Team 2019: Consolation Bracket Bound

That’s it. The regular season is over. I finished 6-7, a game outside of the playoffs. The top two seeds get a first round BYE, 3 vs. 6 and 4 vs. 5 play one another this week, but that doesn’t affect me, so whatever.

I won a meaningless game last week against the last place team, 172.20 to 96.50; it was just the third time out of 13 weeks where I exceeded my projected points. I finished with the 7th most points scored. There’s another 6-7 team ahead of me in total points who got knocked out of the playoffs on a heartbreaker, losing by less than 2 points this past week. He has the third-most points scored in the entire league and is on the outside looking in, which is just a kick to the crotch (though he did start Julio Jones on Thanksgiving, who ended up not playing).

I did end up with the second-most points scored against me (only the last place team had a higher total against him, but he also scored by far the least amount of points in the league, so his 2-11 record was well-earned), but as I’ve said countless times, I can’t blame the fantasy gods for this one. My team underachieved, plain and simple, and when they didn’t underachieve, I made a series of terrible decisions to eliminate myself from the playoffs.

***

I’m on BYE this week as the Consolation Bracket has to wait until Week 15 to get going. It’s unfortunate, because most of my matchups are truly magnificent. Brady vs. Kansas City, Wentz vs. the Giants, Kupp vs. Seattle, Le’Veon Bell vs. Miami; those guys alone should’ve propelled me to the next round of the playoffs. Instead, I get to watch those guys rack up a ton of points for my bench.

No roster moves this week. I picked up the backup running backs for Dallas and Minnesota last week, mostly to be a dick I guess? I mean, if the guy who has Dalvin Cook couldn’t be bothered to handcuff him, that’s not really my problem (my longterm goal is for the Vikings to trade Cook in the offseason and commit to his backup going forward, before it’s time for us to declare our keepers).

***

One of the last remaining decisions to make is who my keepers will be. I’m pretty committed to keeping Daniel Jones, considering all it took to get him and keep him on my roster this year. Here’s to hoping for that Year 2 bump.

I’m also pretty dialed in on keeping Ezekiel Elliott. He’s got his big payday, he’s still in the prime of his career, so he’ll be one of my starting RBs for a good while yet.

I’m also very committed to Josh Jacobs with the Raiders. He’s had a great rookie campaign and figures to really bust out next year, assuming he stays healthy and all that good stuff. He’s over 1,000 yards and has 7 TDs through 12 games; I’d say that’s keeper-worthy.

The fourth one is probably my most vital decision. Right now, I’m leaning towards Carson Wentz. He’s shown he’s pretty capable when his receivers are healthy; the main problem is his receivers have NOT been healthy. Like, at all this year. I also don’t want to put too much stock into one mediocre season. The last time I did that was Dak Prescott’s second year (where he took a step back after a fine rookie campaign). He ended up turning things around in Year 3 and has been a legitimate MVP candidate in Year 4 this season. Assuming Wentz makes it through this last month healthy, there’s no reason to NOT expect a bounce-back year in 2020.

My next-best option is Le’Veon Bell. He’s been a target-monster this year in a terrible offense with a terrible offensive line. I’ll be looking at him very closely, to see where he ends up next year, and how good his situation appears. If he stays with the Jets, they better beef up their O-Line something fierce.

Beyond Wentz or Bell, it’s a lot of fliers. I have Tom Brady, but he seems like he’s finished. Even if he plays in 2020, he’s already a shell of his former self, so I can’t imagine how mediocre he’ll be at age 43. He can’t throw the ball down field at all, and if they don’t put elite receivers around him, no one can get open with enough space to do anything after the catch. If they get whoever’s the equivalent of Randy Moss in 2020, maybe I’ll consider him.

Another guy I’ll be watching closely this month is Derrius Guice. He’s shown flashes of his original potential, but obviously injuries have killed his first two years. Nevertheless, if he can make it through this next month injury-free, and goes the whole offseason in good health, I could easily see myself keeping him over some of these other guys (especially if he’s declared to be far-and-away the #1 starter on their team).

My aforementioned fliers include rookies Terry McLaurin and Darius Slayton. They’re nice fallback options – along with Cooper Kupp – if things go horribly, horribly wrong with the rest of my keepers. But, at this point, I’ll be following them with an eye towards drafting them next year. I think both could be future Pro Bowlers, and fantasy dynamos.

(also, not for nothing, but if we turn this into a Dynasty League in the offseason, I feel I’m well prepared with the youth on my roster).

Finally, the afore(not)mentioned Alexander Mattison is a lottery ticket, in case Dalvin Cook gets traded or injured in pre-season. On that team, he’d be a no-brainer as a keeper if he was the Vikings’ #1 back.

We get until a week before next year’s draft to declare our keepers, so I’ll have the entire offseason to mull it over and obsess over every little thing I read. Should be a good time and not at all unhealthy!

***

I won’t be running this post next week, so I should probably explain our league’s Consolation Bracket, for those unaware.

In an attempt to keep the entire league engaged and trying to the end of the season, we set up the Consolation Bracket to determine the next year’s draft order for the top 4 picks. Winner of the Consolation Bracket gets the #1 pick, which is huge considering every team keeps 4 players. It’s been made even bigger this year when we switched from a Snake Draft to a Straight Draft, so the winner of the Consolation Bracket not only gets the #1 overall pick (after keepers), but the #1 pick in every round of our draft.

This year, the top three draft slots from the previous year all jumped into the playoffs (including the guy who drafted first overall; he ended up with the 2-seed and a first round BYE). Of course, the guy who drafted fourth overall ended up in last place; whereas the guy who drafted ninth in every round ended up with the 1-seed, so it’s clearly a crapshoot.

***

When it’s time for me to play again in Week 15, I’ll be going up against Korky Butchek. I beat him in Week 1, but lost to him in Week 10.

I’ll be riding or dying with my usual lineup. Brady @ CIN, Wentz @ WAS, Kupp @ DAL, Bell @ BAL, Elliott vs. LAR, Waller & Jacobs vs. JAX, Tucker vs. NYJ, Buffalo D @ PIT. My one change (assuming everything stays the same; i.e. Hilton is out & Haskins is still the QB of Washington, rendering McLaurin unstartable) is putting in Darius Slayton vs. MIA. He’s less valuable when the rest of the Giants’ starters are playing, but he’s still got big play ability and Miami’s defense is pretty terrible. We’ll see; a lot can happen in two weeks.

Like Danny Dimes coming down with an ankle injury and Eli Manning getting a start. If that keeps up, I’ll have to go away from Slayton, for what should be obvious reasons.