The Seahawks Continued To Shore Up Depth By Signing Phillip Dorsett

I honestly can’t remember the last time I’ve been this excited about the Seahawks’ free agency period. 2013 sounds like such a sucker answer, but it might be true!

The old adage, of course, is you build your NFL team through the draft, and you use free agency and the like to fill in any cracks. And, for a while, the Seahawks were the model of efficiency in that department. But, it’s IMPOSSIBLE to continue to hit with the success rate that the Seahawks ran from 2010-2012; indeed, as soon as 2013 we started seeing them fall woefully short in the draft, and therefore needing to rely more and more on crazy trades and trolling the bottoms of the seven seas for washed-up, has-been free agents on their last legs (due in large part to salary cap constraints, thanks to some of those trades, as well as extending our superstar draft picks from 2010-2012).

Through it all, coaching and Russell Wilson have kept this team afloat, as they’ve continued to stretch all they can get out of their salary cap dollars. But, this is the first year since 2013 where the Seahawks have had significant money to spend (and, indeed, there are more moves they can and will make to improve upon that amount), and I’ve never been happier with the results.

I’ve harped on it enough, but we all knew heading into the offseason where the major holes were/are on this team:

  1. Pass Rush/Defensive Line
  2. Offensive Line
  3. Secondary
  4. Offensive Weapons

I would say the Seahawks have had a nice START to filling out the #1 priority, but obviously there are a lot of things that can happen in that arena between now and the start of Training Camp. Multiple holes opened up on a pretty solid offensive line, thanks to injuries and free agency; and I’d say the Seahawks did the best they could with the resources they had available, to shore that up and at least maintain the level of consistency we’ve seen in 2018 & 2019. I would argue there isn’t a ton the Seahawks could do with the secondary, but the trade for a potentially-elite cornerback has to sit pretty well for most Seahawks fans. As for the offensive weapons, we’ve seen minor deals for tight ends – Greg Olsen, Luke Willson, and Jacob Hollister – but nothing in the receiver market.

Until yesterday, when it was announced Phillip Dorsett was signed to a 1-year deal.

Dorsett was a first round pick by Indy in 2015, and has largely been considered to be a disappointment. To that, I would say Andrew Luck missed half his games as a rookie with various injuries; Dorsett had a better 2016, but of course played second-fiddle to T.Y. Hilton. He was then traded to the Patriots for Jacoby Brissett. In 2017, he was way down the depth chart (behind Brandin Cooks, Gronk, and their bevy of running back targets), and in 2018 he was behind James White, Gronk, Julian Edelman, Josh Gordon, and others. He finally got a shot in 2019, but still was way behind Edelman and White.

Plus, let’s face it, the Patriots’ passing game was atrocious last year. Tom Brady’s arm has about had it, their offensive line frequently forced him to rush his throws, and in all honesty Brady over the last few years has been CONSTANTLY looking for the check-down pass as a means to avoid being hit. Yeah yeah yeah, Brady’s the G.O.A.T. or whatever, but I don’t blame Dorsett for Dorsett not breaking out in that offense. Brady is a My Way or The Highway kind of guy at this point in his career; he’s not making the receivers around him better, he’s demanding you get on his wavelength, or he’ll find someone else who does.

Russell Wilson, by contrast, is smack-dab in the prime of his career. He’s the best deep-ball passer in football. Dorsett is entering a situation with one of the three best QBs in football, where he doesn’t HAVE to prop up a shaky offense. There are other weapons! Tyler Lockett and D.K. Metcalf are the top two receivers on this team; they will continue to be that for the foreseeable future. On top of which, the Seahawks are one of the more-balanced teams in football; we’re not throwing the ball 40 or 50 times a game. Dorsett, in all likelihood, won’t see much more than 50 or 60 targets in 2020; but I can damn near guarantee he’ll put up better numbers than he ever has.

He’s fast, he’s being put alongside two other very fast guys in Lockett and Metcalf, which means he’ll see primarily single-coverage from defenses. I don’t know about his leaping, or his ability to go up and high-point a football, but I like his chances in any one-on-one situation, especially since he almost certainly won’t have to face the opposing team’s best, shutdown cornerback. Regardless, if he can run fast, Wilson shouldn’t over-throw him very often. I expect a high yards-per-catch average, and I expect him to grab anywhere from 6-10 touchdowns, probably somewhere around 500 yards or so.

Bottom line is he’ll be better than Jaron Brown, David Moore, and anyone else who’s been on this team in recent years as this team’s #3.

This is the sort of depth I’m talking about. Dorsett was never going to succeed in that Pats offense last year as their designated #2; but he will THRIVE as the Seahawks’ #3. And, with that success, it wouldn’t shock me to see him revive his career moving forward.

I have to imagine it was hard for him on the Pats. So much of football – especially the skill positions – is about confidence. Guys always talk a big game, but they also need to be put in spots to succeed, and I don’t think that was ever going to happen in New England, not even with Brady. But, it certainly CAN happen here.

A+ signing in my book. Most importantly, the Seahawks don’t necessarily have to worry about drafting a receiver now. Frankly, I don’t think the Seahawks need to draft anyone on the offensive side of the ball, period, except maybe a running back in the later rounds. That makes this year’s free agency period particularly exciting for me. While I’m sure the Seahawks will be pretty defense-heavy in the draft, they’re also more-or-less free to simply draft the Best Player Available.

If that BPA just so happened to be a quality offensive tackle who could learn under Duane Brown for the next couple years, all the better, but that’s neither here nor there.

The Russell Wilson MVP Hype Train Choo-Choo-Chooses You!

Back in June, I wrote about how Russell Wilson would be the MVP of the NFL for the 2019 season, so if you’re looking for someone to annoint as your lord and savior, I’m right over here.

After last Thursday’s thrilling victory over the Rams – in a game where Wilson threw for 268 yards and 4 touchdowns – his name is being bandied about in the MVP discussion. Which brings up one of my key points in getting him this award: he needs to show up in primetime games. The Seahawks – being on the west coast – tend to be overlooked. This isn’t a “Woe-Is-Us” lament, it’s just a fact. We need to do more way out here to get noticed; it’s a blessing and a curse. We normally play on Sundays in the late afternoon window in the other time zones. We might be overshadowed by a different key “Game of the Week” (especially if we’re playing a shitty team), so lots of people aren’t privy to Wilson’s awesome stats in games where the Seahawks roll over inferior opponents. So, he has to REALLY step his performance up when we’re the only game on television; to his credit, he usually does.

The buzz around Russell Wilson always spikes after wins like these. The Seahawks are pretty lucky, because we’re currently scheduled to appear in four more primetime games, all in a row, between November 11th through December 8th (at this point, I doubt any of them get flexed out; the question now is: will there be a sixth primetime game flexed IN this season?). That’s an important stretch of games for this team (49ers, Eagles, Vikings, Rams) and an important stretch for MVP voters to get a good, extended look at the best quarterback in football.

The other key to his candidacy has to do with wins and losses. The Seahawks – at 4-1 – are in a great position to win the NFC West this year. There’s a long way to go, of course, but we wouldn’t be having this conversation if the Seahawks had lost to the Rams (or, at the very least, the argument in his favor wouldn’t be as fervent).

The final criteria to look at are the stats. Wilson currently sits tied for 7th in the NFL in passing yards with 1,409 (Mahomes leads with 1,831). That’s good, but it’s remarkable when you factor in how many times the Seahawks actually throw the ball (he’s 20th in attempts). Wilson also leads the NFL in TD passes with 12, while he’s one of a small handful of qualifying QBs with 0 INTs. Wilson’s 9.0 yards per attempt is third. He’s second in completion percentage (73.1%), third in QBR (76.6) and first by a mile in passer rating (126.3; next-highest is Watson with 115.9).

There are arguments to be made about a lot of other guys. Mahomes could easily repeat with the way his season has been going. If Houston wins the AFC South, Watson should be in the running. And, if Christian McCaffrey continues to look like a combo of Bo Jackson and Marcus Allen in their primes, he’ll win a lot of people a lot of fantasy football championships, which should vault him into the conversation as well.

But, this has been Russell Wilson’s week, and I still contend if the Seahawks manage to grab an NFC West title and a top 2 seed, it’s his MVP award to lose. I’ll say this, if he gets to 4,000 yards, 40 TDs, and less than 5 INTs, lock him in right now.

These Seahawks are only going as far as their all-world quarterback takes them. Given the way the Seahawks’ defense has played to date, nothing could be more obvious. That makes him the most valuable player on this team. And, assuming that translates to great success in the standings, I don’t think there’s any way the rest of the NFL doesn’t see that as well.

One thing we can all agree on: making Baker Mayfield’s pre-season odds better than Wilson’s was a travesty of the highest order, and all of Vegas should be ashamed. We’ll cut ’em some slack on ranking Andrew Luck higher than Wilson; how could they have seen his retirement coming?!

Nobody Wants To Hear About My Fantasy Team 2019: We’re Back!

If you want to read back through my 2018 season, click HERE. Follow the links at the top to go back all the way.

This weekly blog post was such a rousing success (and by “success” I mean literally zero people read it) that I absolutely had to run it back. How will it differ? Well, I’m throwing this up on the fly, so we’ll see!

I was in the middle of my great 5-week, cross-country road trip when we drafted on Friday, August 30th, so I was in a motel in Boise when the shit went down. There weren’t too many significant rule changes in our offseason fantasy football meeting, but a major one was an increase from 3 to 4 keepers. As you can see from the link above, I had a pretty good pile of players to choose from. Without belaboring things, here are the four I went with:

  • QB – Carson Wentz
  • RB – Ezekiel Elliott
  • RB – Le’Veon Bell
  • WR – Tyreek Hill

The final spot came down to Hill or Adam Thielen; when it looked like Hill might miss some games to a suspension, I was rolling with Thielen (when Hill was let off the hook, I obviously changed my mind). The fact of the matter is, Hill has the much higher upside. Of course, this was before he got injured in Week 1, causing him to miss a few weeks of the season, so that’s kind of a bummer. Fortunately, it’s only a clavicle injury, so he should be back and ready to rip once the bone heals.

Due to my fourth place finish in the playoffs last year, I ended up drafting 8th overall. It’s a straight draft – as opposed to a snake draft – which means I was picking 8th in every round. With everyone going with four keepers, that’s 40 players off the board before we do anything, so it should be pretty clear the best of the best were gone by the time I selected. My plan going in was to grab Kyler Murray, but he went second overall (after Thielen was taken first), so I had to pivot earlier than I expected. I’ll give you the total rundown, then explain my rationale afterward:

  1. QB – Ben Roethlisberger
  2. RB – Josh Jacobs
  3. WR – T.Y. Hilton
  4. WR – Cooper Kupp
  5. RB – Derrius Guice
  6. WR – Christian Kirk
  7. TE – Vance McDonald
  8. RB – Tony Pollard
  9. K – Justin Tucker
  10. QB – Daniel Jones
  11. DEF – Buffalo

So, if you know anything about our league, you know quarterbacks are vital. It’s a 2-QB league, with TDs worth 6 points (and INT’s worth -4 points), so if you’re not picking quarterbacks high (or keeping them from last year), then you’re not doing it right. I’d already missed out on Lamar Jackson, and lucked out that someone took Jameis Winston, so it came down to Roethlisberger or Rivers for me (though, I may regret letting Dak fall to a rival in the next round).

I had been eyeballing Jacobs for quite some time, and felt fortunate he was still there the next time I picked. There was no debate whatsoever, as plenty of those second-tier RBs were flying off the board. Jacobs should be good right out of the gate, plus he could be a possible keeper in the years to come, should one of my other guys age out.

It got dicey with my third pick, because I’d been salivating over Kenny Golladay all offseason, after it had been announced he was going to be their #1 receiver. The Lions aren’t great, but they like to throw the ball a lot, and Golladay has been looking like a breakout candidate for some time now. He went one pick ahead of me, which left me scrambling. I needed someone to pair with Tyreek Hill, and I had too many running backs already to start filling up my bench with more. In a panic, it came down to Hilton, Tyler Lockett, and Tyler Boyd. I REALLY didn’t want any of these guys, for a variety of reasons. In general, I don’t like having Seahawks on my fantasy roster as a rule; I especially don’t like having Wilson or any receivers, because they can be wildly inconsistent from a fantasy perspective. Boyd is someone I had last year, who was very underwhelming when A.J. Green was out of the lineup and he was thrust into the #1 receiver role (which he would be in the first month or so of the season, with Green’s foot/ankle injury). Hilton is another inconsistent receiver who can be really awesome or get you less than 10 points, with seemingly little in-between. But, the fact of the matter is, I wanted a true #1 receiver to pair with Hill, and even with Luck retired I still like that Indy team. Jacoby Brissett isn’t totally inept, so I rolled the dice with Hilton.

The funny thing is, by the time it got around to my next pick, both Lockett and Boyd were still available! They went with the subsequent two picks after mine. I went with Kupp because I’d heard all the great things about his pre-season and his improved health, plus I just REALLY wanted a piece of that Rams offense, and he was the last viable candidate left on the board. In an ideal world, I’d have Robert Woods back, but he was snagged a few picks before I took Hilton. Kupp isn’t a world-beater, but he’s always good for a chunk of targets, and you never know if/when he’ll have a breakout game/season.

With my next pick, I thought I had something special. I thought I had a potential League Winner. Guice was Washington’s main dude in the draft in 2018 before he got injured and lost his rookie season. With him back in the fold, it felt like only a matter of time before he took over sole possession of the RB1 role on that team. Even if I had to hold onto him for a few weeks before he ascended, it would’ve been worth it.

I took Kirk next because Will Fuller V went a few picks earlier, and I really wanted a piece of that Arizona offense. I took McDonald because there weren’t many good tight ends left, and with AB gone in Pittsburgh, it seemed only natural that he’d see an uptick in targets. I took Pollard as an Elliott handcuff, as he still wasn’t extended by the time we drafted. I took Tucker because kickers are weirdly important in fantasy (even though they should be totally outlawed, and I’ll never stop fighting for this cause, because the variation is too random from week to week) and I wanted a guy I didn’t have to worry about. I took Daniel Jones because I still hadn’t drafted a backup QB. Roethlisberger’s BYE isn’t until week 7, and my hope was that he’d take over the starting job by then (and, if he pans out, he could be a possible keeper candidate for 2020). I took Buffalo because they were on the board, and I’d heard some good things (if nothing else, they were playing the Jets in Week 1, so that felt like a safe way to grab some cheap points).

Before Week 1 started, once everyone on waivers reverted back to free agents, I grabbed A.J. Green and stashed him in my IR slot. If he comes back in October, that could be a real boon. I wouldn’t expect him to play the rest of the season upon his return, but if he can get me a few big weeks, that should be something.

My team’s name is Space Pirates! There’s another team in the league referencing the good ol’ Space Force, so I’m going the other direction with it. We like to have fun.

Anyway, in Week 1, Space Pirates! squared off against Korky Butchek (the third place finisher in the playoffs last year). He’s the guy who knocked me from the 7th overall draft pick to the 8th; he’s also the guy who took Golladay from me. So, the revenge factor was pretty high on my part.

I got absolutely great games out of Wentz, Hilton (of all people), Bell, and Jacobs (all ranging from 23-34 points each). Buffalo got me a solid 17 points, Tucker got me 11, and everyone else did just enough (Roethlisberger, of course, stunk up the joint, and Hill’s injury knocked him out pretty early which also hurt ME). Korky Butchek had great games from DeAndre Hopkins and Evan Engram, but it wasn’t nearly enough. I took care of business to the tune of a 172.25-152.70 victory. That was good for just the fourth-highest total of the first week, putting me in fourth place.

I didn’t put in any waiver claims with my #3 waiver priority, so I held off until the wee hours of Wednesday morning before making my pickups. As a result, I now have the #1 waiver priority, which I fully intend to hoard until someone amazing comes along.

First thing’s first, I grabbed T.J. Hockenson from the Lions. He had a tremendous first week, and with people comparing him to Gronk, that felt like a no-brainer (I dropped Tony Pollard, because with so few bench spots, keeping handcuffs is a luxury few can afford). I also got Darren Waller, as with AB gone from the Raiders, he’s set to see a huge number of targets in the passing game (I dropped McDonald, because I just don’t trust Roethlisberger or the Steelers to ever make their TE a focal point in the passing game). Finally, with Guice set to hit the actual IR for the next 8 weeks, I set him loose, picking up a proper backup QB in Gardner Minshew. Consider me a believer in the moustache! Again, if he pans out (and he was terrific in replacing an injured Nick Foles last week), that’s another possible keeper for next year.

See, with a league like this, you have to always be thinking about the next year. Selling out to “win now” just isn’t tenable, because you’ll set yourself back YEARS in the process, all for what’s essentially a lottery ticket. I feel like I have a pretty good mix of both veterans who are great now, with younger guys who could develop into stars.

The obvious downside to my season so far is that the injury bug is crippling my depth. Hill is out 4-6 weeks, which is actually less time than Green is expected to be out, so I moved Hill to the IR spot. And, with Guice gone, my RB depth takes a big hit (for a position that gets injured as much as this one, you just can’t have enough quality RBs on your roster). I opted to go Waller over Hockenson for my TE spot, because I need to see at least another week out of the Lions’ rookie before I totally fall for the Gronk hype. I’ve got Hilton and Kupp as my starting receivers, as Kupp is more dependable than Kirk (plus the Cards are playing the tough Ravens defense). Everything else is the same, with my 3-headed RB hydra of Elliott, Bell, and Jacobs all locked in (two RB slots and my FLEX).

This week, I’m going up against Sloane N Steady, who is the only guy in our league with worse luck right now, in that he has no Luck at all (HI-YO!). He had the unfortunate occurrence of locking in Andrew Luck as one of his four keepers just a day before he announced his retirement. With Luck & Aaron Rodgers as two of his keepers the last few years, he was probably the most settled of anyone in the league at his QB spots. But, not only did he get Thielen with the first overall draft pick, in the second round he got Rivers as his QB2, which is an awesome find.

Sloane N Steady’s team looks quite formidable. Rodgers and Rivers. Thielen and Amari Cooper. Dalvin Cook and Nick Chubb. Delanie Walker (TE) and James White (FLEX). Dallas’ kicker and New England’s defense. With bench spots devoted to Mike Williams, Jordan Howard, Donte Moncrief, and Derek Carr. At the time of this posting, I’m favored by less than 3 points; I have to imagine it’s going to be as close as advertised.

When the dust of Sunday settles, it’ll be Chubb vs. Bell on Monday Night Football to likely decide who wins or loses. Space Pirates! had a mighty scare when Bell went in for an MRI this week, but it looks like he’s playing. Regardless, if his touches are limited as a result of whatever this shoulder thing is, I think I’m toast. The rest of Sloane N Steady’s team plays in the 10am Sunday window, so I’ll certainly be playing from behind for the entire day.

Predicting The 2019 NFL Season

It’s that time again! My favorite sports blog post of the year! I’ll never top the year where I predicted the Ravens beating the 49ers in the Super Bowl, followed up by the very next season predicting the Seahawks over the Broncos, but I’ll be damned if I don’t try every year.

Check out all my predictions from past seasons:

As you can see last year, I had the Jags over the Rams in the Super Bowl, which was Half Right and Half Laughably Stupid. I only had 2/6 NFC playoff teams correct (though I had Eagles as division champs, not a wild card). I had 4/6 AFC playoff teams correct (though only one division champ – New England). Without further ado, here we go 2019!

NFC East

  • Philadelphia
  • Dallas
  • Washington
  • New York

Give me a first class ticket to the Philly Hype Train, because I’m ALL ABOARD! I also have a hard time believing the Cowboys won’t make the playoffs (barring a thousand injuries), so count me in for 2/6 playoff teams coming from the East. I like Washington to be around 7 wins, and I like the Giants to be among the worst teams in all of football.

NFC North

  • Minnesota
  • Chicago
  • Green Bay
  • Detroit

I have a tough time reading this division, but for some reason the Vikings really strike me as a tough team on the cusp. I also think the Bears are due for some regression. The fact of the matter is, I believe the Bears are probably a 10-win team, but I think they’ll get axed out by another 10-win team with a better conference record. As for the Packers, you can never rule them out with A-Rod at the helm, but they feel like they’re in a mediocre, 8-8 spiral right now until they improve the defense. There will be growing pains nevertheless, with a new coaching staff at the helm. Honestly, it wouldn’t shock me in the slightest if the Packers finish 4th in the division; the Lions could be a little underrated (but probably not).

NFC South

  • New Orleans
  • Atlanta
  • Tampa Bay
  • Carolina

We call this one: Playing It Safe. I agree the Saints are probably the shakiest one of the bunch, with Drew Brees as old as he is, and as ineffective as he is on the road in open-air stadia. But, they were the deserving team to make the Super Bowl last year, and I believe they would’ve beaten the Patriots. That fire is only going to make them tougher to beat this year, even with the target on their backs. Atlanta feels like a 9-win team on the outside looking in. The Bucs could be one of the surprise teams of the NFC if Jameis Winston figures out a way to put it all together under Bruce Arians. I think the Panthers are destined to lose Cam Newton to injury at some point and will win about 4 games.

NFC West

  • Seattle
  • Los Angeles
  • San Francisco
  • Arizona

Boom! Bombshell! Here’s the deal – and we’ll get into this more during my official Seahawks preview – but I think the Seahawks are more poised than they’ve been in YEARS to start off strong. Last year, the Seahawks were 3-3 at the BYE, and eventually fell to 4-5 before finishing on a 6-1 run. By and large, in this run under Pete Carroll, that’s been in line with tradition: starting off okay, finishing on a tear. I think it’s well within the realm of possibility for the Seahawks to start 4-1 with a home win on Thursday night over the Rams to take a brief edge in the divisional battle. If that comes to fruition, we could be looking at something special, as over the subsequent five weeks, the Seahawks should also go 4-1 to be 8-2 heading into the BYE week. From there, we close out the season – again, traditionally the time we play the best – with a few potential NFC contenders and a few of the dregs in the last three weeks. I mean, if things break right, 13-3 or 12-4 is on the table. I fully anticipate the Rams to be right around that level as well, but with a tiebreaker based on head-to-head, the Seahawks could take the nod and potentially secure a BYE. I think the 49ers are a year away from double-digit wins, and I think the Cardinals are just happy to be here.

AFC East

  • New England
  • Buffalo
  • New York
  • Miami

The only question here is who will be better, the Bills or the Jets; I’m banking on Buffalo, who I think could be in line for a wild card spot. What’s for certain is the Patriots winning the division (and probably a playoff BYE) and the Dolphins being in the running for the #1 draft pick.

AFC North

  • Pittsburgh
  • Cleveland
  • Baltimore
  • Cincinnati

For some reason, I love the Steelers this year. I’ve been going after them like they’re the antidote in my fantasy drafts. I think with a locker room free from head cases, they’re poised to take a step forward on offense. And, I think their defense is criminally underrated. I like Cleveland to keep pace, and ultimately come down with one of the wild cards, because they’ll be fun and talented on both sides of the ball. I’m not buying the Ravens at all; I think they’re a 7-win team, mostly because their defense is strong. The rest of the league will figure out Lamar Jackson, though, and he won’t be able to throw his way to victories. The Bengals will be bottom feeders.

AFC South

  • Houston
  • Indianapolis
  • Jacksonville
  • Tennessee

This could be the most mediocre division in football, with the highest floor but the lowest ceiling. I’m projecting between 7-9 wins for all four of these teams; and it wouldn’t shock me in the slightest if the Colts actually come away victorious. With Luck, I would’ve had them on top, but without Luck this is still a solid team through and through. I’m giving the nod to the Texans because I think they’re pretty dynamic in the passing game.

AFC West

  • Kansas City
  • Los Angeles
  • Denver
  • Oakland

Will the Chiefs regress in Mahomes’ second full season starting? Absolutely. Nevertheless, he’s so good that even his regression will still make them among the best teams in all of football. I like the Chiefs to repeat as division champs and crack the top overall seed. I still like the Chargers, but I’m not quite as high on them as their 12-win campaign proved them to be in 2018. They’ll be a wild card and like it. I think Denver will be okay, and I think the Raiders are still a mess, though they should be more fun offensively.

NFC Playoffs

  1. Philadelphia
  2. Seattle
  3. New Orleans
  4. Minnesota
  5. Los Angeles
  6. Dallas

AFC Playoffs

  1. Kansas City
  2. New England
  3. Pittsburgh
  4. Houston
  5. Cleveland
  6. Los Angeles

Wild Card Round

  • New Orleans over Dallas
  • Los Angeles over Minnesota
  • Pittsburgh over Los Angeles
  • Cleveland over Houston

Divisional Round

  • Seattle over New Orleans
  • Philadelphia over Los Angeles
  • New England over Pittsburgh
  • Kansas City over Cleveland

Championship Round

  • Philadelphia over Seattle
  • Kansas City over New England

Super Bowl

  • Kansas City over Philadelphia

My backup guess is a Super Bowl of the Rams vs. Chiefs, with the Rams prevailing, but I’ll never hang my hat on another team in the NFC West outside of Seattle winning it all.

Is Russell Wilson The Greatest Dual-Threat Quarterback Of All Time?

The first thing we have to ask is: what constitutes a true Dual-Threat Quarterback? I think it’s pretty easy to whittle things down on the Eye Test alone. For starters, we’re talking about quarterbacks who can also run with the football. So, we’re not talking about the greatest Running Quarterback, because if you looked at just the 2018 season, you’d have to say Lamar Jackson was the best Running Quarterback in the league. But, Dual-Threat means he can beat you with his legs AND his arm, and it’s pretty safe to say Jackson hasn’t built up that arm half of his game just yet.

So, I went into Pro Football Reference and played around with the numbers. First, I separated all the quarterbacks into a list of those who’ve run for 1,000 yards in their careers. But, that’s not quite good enough, because Tom Brady has 1,003 rushing yards in his career, and he is NOBODY’S idea of a Dual-Threat. So, I went ahead and bumped it up to 1,500 career rushing yards (mostly to knock him the hell off of a GOAT list, because he has enough GOATs in his life).

When you list them by rushing yards, you’ll find someone by the name of Tom Matte, who is listed as a quarterback and a running back. Among all quote-unquote Quarterbacks in NFL history, Matte has the 4th highest rushing yards total with 4,646. But, he only threw for 246 yards, so he’s obviously got to go. To be considered as the Greatest Dual-Threat Quarterback Of All Time, I figure at a minimum you need 20,000 passing yards. That drops our total from 53 to 38, which is a number I can get behind.

Such a list includes favorites like Jim Zorn, Andrew Luck, Joe Montana, Warren Moon, Archie Manning, and even Ryan Fitzpatrick! But, it also includes such stiffs as Vinny Testaverde, Boomer Esiason, Jay Cutler, Johnny Unitas, and Brett Favre. While they’re all pretty good-to-great, I don’t think you’d ever fear for your life if they were running with the football. Those guys mostly just hung around long enough to qualify for my arbitrary cutting-off point.

So, to whittle it down further, I had to put a limit on Yards Per Game. Yards Per Attempt isn’t worth a damn for a quarterback, because most guys scramble once or twice per game, and with the defense not expecting it, they tend to rack up a lot of garbage yards in the process. We need to focus on guys opposing defenses are specifically game-planning for. Setting it at 10 yards per game gets us down to 30 guys, and just barely keeps Jim Zorn on the list. But, it also keeps Jay Cutler on the list, and I just can’t have that. So, I increased it to a minimum of 13 yards per game, which also managed to cut off Joe Theismann, Ken Anderson, and Mark Brunell (who had 12.5 yards per game). While I like Brunell an awful lot, I don’t mind lopping him off because I don’t think he belongs in the conversation.

1,500 career rushing yards, 20,000 career passing yards, and 13 rushing yards per game put us at 25 quarterbacks. But, a couple of names still bothered me, because mediocre quarterbacks like Jeff Blake and Aaron Brooks were still hanging around. So, I made the cutoff 22,000 passing yards, and we’re left with a Top 23. This fits better with my idea of a Dual-Threat Quarterback.

For what it’s worth, I was going to be more strict with the Rushing Yards Per Game, and set it at 20, to really separate the wheat from the chaff, but that ended up cutting off guys like John Elway, Fran Tarkenton, Roger Staubach, and Aaron Rodgers. While I don’t consider A-Rod to be a “running quarterback” per se, he’s still lumped into that Dual-Threat mold, even though his arm is VASTLY superior to his running ability (I’d put it at somewhere like 90/10, or 80/20 at the very most). And, while Elway certainly slowed down on running in his old age, you just can’t have this conversation without him.

There are a number of ways to go about ranking these guys, but I’m just going to go by Who I Would Most Want On My Football Team, at the beginning of their careers, for the duration of their careers.

I’m also going to split them up even further, because ultimately I have a Top 4 REAL Dual-Threat Quarterbacks.

There’s no perfect way to rank these guys, because all of the ones in the aforementioned Top 23 are much more passers than runners. But, I would argue that the vast majority of them are more “scramblers” than actual threats to run downfield with the football. So, if I had to pick a Top 10, I would definitely include guys like Andrew Luck (10), Donovan McNabb (9), Steve McNair (8), Fran Tarkenton (7), John Elway (6), and Aaron Rodgers (5). Those guys have a ton of rushing yards, pretty solid Yards Per Game averages, and a ton of passing yards. But, to me, they’re not REAL Dual-Threat Quarterbacks in the sense I’m defining here.

Just outside my Top 10, I might add, we have Alex Smith, who I wouldn’t have expected to show up here, except he has over 34,000 passing yards, over 2,600 rushing yards, and averages over 15 rushing yards per game. I’m also leaving out Michael Vick, because his passing game was far too weak to be considered, even though he leads all QBs in total and per game rushing yards.

My Top 4 includes Randall Cunningham (4) and Cam Newton (3). I LOVE me some QB Eagles, and if their careers both ended today, he’d actually rank ahead of Cam. But, given Cam’s age and the fact that he has so much left in the tank, he’s easily the superior option. Even though I don’t love the way he reacts in losing situations, it would be idiotic to keep Newton outside of the Top 3.

My Top 2 should come as no surprise. In some order, it’s Russell Wilson and Steve Young. Young has over 33,000 passing yards, over 4,200 rushing yards, and over 25 yards per game. He’s right in that sweet spot of elite passer and elite runner, and if you just count his prime (from 1991-1998), you’re talking about eight Hall of Fame seasons where he averaged nearly 4,000 passing yards and 28 passing touchdowns, with an average of over 400 rushing yards and 5 rushing touchdowns. I mean, just unstoppable production, and his total career could’ve been so much better if he A) wasn’t saddled behind Joe Montana for so long, and B) didn’t succumb to head injuries (among other maladies) late in his career.

So, if we’re just talking about today, I have Steve Young at #1 and Russell Wilson #2, but it won’t be too much longer before Russell Wilson is the All Time Greatest Dual-Threat Quarterback, with Cam Newton coming in at #2 (in other words, we’re watching the two greatest Dual-Threat Quarterbacks while they’re in their primes, and that’s pretty amazing).

Not for nothing, but if you compare Young’s best 7 years to Wilson’s only 7 years, you can see what I’m talking about:

  • Steve Young 1992-1998: 24,266 passing yards, 178 TDs, 68 INTs, 66.9% completions; 2,450 rushing yards, 29 TDs, 5.8 yards per attempt
  • Russell Wilson 2012-2018: 25,624 passing yards, 196 TDs, 63 INTs, 64.2% completions; 3,651 rushing yards, 16 TDs, 5.7 yards per attempt

As I said, it’s only a matter of time before Wilson surpasses him in all career numbers. And, considering Wilson’s best statistical years might still be ahead of him, it could be sooner than we think.

Finally, I know nobody likes talking about superficial things QB Winzzz or Pro Bowl/Playoff appearances, but I’m sorry, you just can’t have this discussion without bringing those into the mix. Young’s record as a 49ers quarterback was 91-33 over 13 years; Wilson is 75-36-1. Young was in 7 Pro Bowls to Wilson’s 5, and he was on 3 First All Pro Teams to Wilson’s 0. Young has 14 Playoff Games Started to Wilson’s 13, with an 8-6 record to Wilson’s 8-5. Young, of course, has 3 rings to Wilson’s 1, but two of Young’s were as a backup to Montana. Finally, Young has 2 MVPs to Wilson’s 0, and 1 Super Bowl MVP to Wilson’s 0. Wilson is RIGHT THERE in so many areas, but just not quite over the hump.

Not yet, that is.

Russell Wilson Will Be The NFL MVP For The 2019 Season

SCORCHING MOLTEN LAVA TAKE ALERT! This is one of those things where if I’m right, I’ll be crowing like a jackass for the rest of my life. And, if I’m wrong, then it’ll never be spoken of again.

Remember the time I predicted the Seahawks would beat the Broncos in the Super Bowl before the season started?

Remember the time before that when I predicted the Ravens would beat the 49ers in the Super Bowl just 1 week into the regular season?

I’ll leave it to the rest of you to find all the times I’ve been wrong, and go out on a limb to say I’m the greatest sports mind of our generation.

I don’t often do a lot of prognosticating on the NFL’s MVP award – or ANY MVP award, really – because I kind of don’t care about it. The only time a Seahawk has won was in 2005, when Shaun Alexander ran for 1,880 yards and 27 touchdowns in leading the Seahawks to their first-ever Super Bowl appearance in a 13-3 regular season. I argued this at the time and maintain it to this day: the most important player to the Seahawks’ success that year was actually Matt Hasselbeck (we NEVER would’ve gotten anywhere without him), but since he didn’t have insanely gaudy stats (3,459 yards, 65.5% completions, 24 TDs, 9 INTs) he didn’t stand a chance.

Which brings me right back to this year and begs the question: if gaudy stats are a precursor, WHY IN THE HOLY HELL WOULD I PREDICT RUSSELL WILSON FOR THIS AWARD?

Look, it’s not the most thought-out opinion I’ve ever had. 99% of everything I say on here I pull straight from my gut, which has been notoriously inconsistent over the years. But, I’ll try to make an argument and you take it with however much salt you want.

Last year, Wilson had a pretty impressive season: 3,448 yards, 65.6% completions, 35 touchdowns, 7 interceptions, and a 110.9 passer rating. Of course, that was nothing compared to Patrick Mahomes’ season (the actual MVP): 5,097 yards, 66.0% completions, 50 TDs, 12 INTs, and 113.8 rating. Every step of the way (except for INTs) he was better than Wilson.

Well, the first part of my argument is that I believe Mahomes takes a step back in his second full year as a starter. I think he’ll come down to Earth and be more in the middle of the pack. He’ll almost certainly throw for over 4,000 yards, but I don’t think he’ll approach 50 TDs again, and I think his INTs will increase. I would also argue that whenever someone wins as thoroughly as he has, there’s inevitably a backlash among voters, who are constantly looking to give the award to someone different. If you don’t believe that to be true, then please explain to me why LeBron James has zero MVP awards since the 2012/2013 season, in spite of the fact that until this year, he carried his teams to every single NBA Championship series in that span. Also, while you’re at it, tell me why Bill Belichick hasn’t won since 2010 and yet Bruce Arians and Ron Rivera have both won twice in that span.

So, if you bet Mahomes at +400, you’re throwing your money away. Which brings me to the current betting odds:

  • Patrick Mahomes +400
  • Drew Brees +700
  • Aaron Rodgers +800
  • Andrew Luck +800
  • Tom Brady +1000
  • Baker Mayfield +1400
  • Russell Wilson +1600
  • Carson Wentz +1900
  • Philip Rivers +2200
  • Deshaun Watson +2500

That’s just the top 10. Some things stand out. All of those guys are quarterbacks (the most important players in the game) and all of those guys are projected to be in the playoffs (or at least contending for the playoffs). While being a quarterback isn’t a MUST, it’s certainly the safest bet. For a non-quarterback to win it, he has to do something REALLY special. Like Shaun Alexander’s touchdown totals. The last non-quarterback to win it was in 2012 when Adrian Peterson came within 8 yards of the all-time rushing yards record in a single season. The time before that, it was LaDainian Tomlinson the year after Alexander, when he ran for 1,815 yards and broke Alexander’s rushing touchdown record with 28.

If I were going to pick a non-QB in 2019, I’d lean towards Saquon Barkley (at +4000), but the Giants are so bad that he would literally have to break every single rushing record for it to happen.

Anyway, as you can see, Wilson is firmly in the Top 10 (shamefully behind Baker Mayfield, which is just a crime against humanity at this point), so Vegas likes his chances. With his new contract extension, Wilson’s name is in the zeitgeist. And, at this junction in his career, I believe there are enough fervent Wilson believers out there to really help make his case and keep his name alive.

Now, he can’t do it alone. It’s going to require the Seahawks to get back to the playoffs. It’ll probably even require the Seahawks to win the NFC West, which I believe this team is capable of. Ideally, the Seahawks will be a top 1 or 2 seed and have a BYE in the playoffs. Something like 12-4 could accomplish this, if everything breaks right. The Rams, you figure, are in for a Super Bowl hangover. The Saints and Bears figure to be our biggest obstacles, as I believe the NFC East will feast upon itself to keep their records down.

Playing well in marquee games is also a must. The Seahawks have five primetime games scheduled, including three in a row late in the season, right in that window where we separate the men from the boys in races like these. Wilson has traditionally stepped up big in these games, so I don’t see that as being an issue either.

With the team playing well, and with his reputation intact, that just leaves his biggest hurdle: his numbers.

Wilson has thrown for over 4,000 yards only twice in his career (though he was 17 yards away in 2017 from making it three times), and last year he was obviously limited by the offense’s design. Part of that was a backlash against the losses in our first two weeks, when the coaching staff had to re-set everything. But, ultimately this team was so successful running the ball that there wasn’t always a serious need to get things done through the air. While the plan heading into the season will be more of the same run-centric style, it wouldn’t totally shock me to see our effectiveness on the ground weaken (much in the same way that I see Mahomes’ numbers taking a dive). Opposing defenses will game plan better. And, I figure injuries will play a more significant role (Carson played in 14 games; I could see that dropping as he doesn’t seem like a guy who can stay healthy for the duration) with both the running backs and the O-Line. There’s no Mike Davis, who was a solid contributor, and I seriously question whether Penny will be up to the task if he’s thrust into the #1 role. There should be just enough of a dip in the running game to add a few hundred more yards to Wilson’s passing total.

On top of that, Wilson’s rushing yards are going to continue to go down with every year. He’s a quarterback, and an elite one at that. Elite quarterbacks throw the ball or hand it off, period. He’s heading into his 8th season, which puts him squarely in his prime. He’s had a Hall of Fame trajectory to this point in his career, and I don’t know a whole lot of Hall of Fame quarterbacks who haven’t won an MVP award. With that in mind, it sort of feels like it’s his destiny to win this award at least once. If we get to the end of the season, and no one has really stood out with awe-inspiring numbers at any position, maybe the voters will look around, see Wilson sitting there with 0 career MVPs, and figure he’s due. People have voted for things based on dumber logic before (say hello to every politician who ever seemed like a guy you’d want to have a beer with).

Getting back to the numbers, though, Wilson’s best chance seems to be with his touchdowns. While he was a far cry from Mahomes’ 50 last year, Wilson was still tied for third with 35. In 2017, he led the league with 34. In 2015, he came in sixth also with 34. I could easily see that number jump up into the 40’s, which should put him well within range. More than that, he’s usually very careful with the ball. Last year he tied a career low with only 7 INTs. I feel with his ability, he can shave that down even further. If he has an insane TD:INT ratio of something like 40:3, that’s the sort of stat that could push him over the top.

Finally, if we’re truly talking about the Most VALUABLE Player, then who has had more value to his team than Russell Wilson in his career to date? The knock against him has always been that he’s had an elite defense (except for last year) or an elite running game (except for a few years there post-Beastmode). Well, I’ve already argued that I don’t believe the running game will be as exceptional as it was in 2018, and as for the defense, it was already middle-of-the-road last year; this year, I think middle-of-the-road will be this unit’s CEILING. I think the defense could be truly terrible this year. We’ll likely rank in the bottom third or bottom quarter in the league in sacks and turnovers.

In 2018, the Seahawks had 43 sacks, 13 of which belonged to Frank Clark. 43 put us 11th in football; 30 would’ve been tied for 30th. Ziggy Ansah figures to mitigate some of that, but I highly doubt he’s going to get us all the way there. In fact, I don’t think he’ll even get us halfway there (yes, I’m putting Ansah’s over/under of sacks at 6.5, and I’ll bet the under). With no one else coming in to help account for the loss of Clark’s production (both in sacks, and in the help he provided someone like Jarran Reed, who saw his numbers skyrocket playing with Clark on the outside next to him). If Reed is our only pass-rushing threat (assuming Ansah misses multiple games, or plays through injury and is ineffective as a result), he can be easily neutralized, sending the D-Line tumbling towards the bottom of the league.

In 2018, the Seahawks had 12 interceptions, 5 of which belonged to Earl Thomas, Justin Coleman, and Frank Clark. 12 put us tied for 18th in football; 7 would’ve been tied for 29th. Bradley McDougald had 3 of his own last year, but he’s also an injury waiting to happen. Of our younger core in the defensive backfield, Shaquill Griffin, Tedric Thompson, Delano Hill, and Tre Flowers all combined for 3 total INTs (Hill and Flowers combining for 0). Who did we add to this group? A couple of rookies, and presumably whatever veterans we bring into Training Camp later this summer. There just isn’t a lot of turnover production in this unit. With the D-Line unable to get pressure, that puts more of the onus on the secondary, which is not NEARLY as talented as the Legion of Boom in its prime.

Now, of course, the Seahawks tied for the league lead in fumble recoveries in 2018, but as we all know, that’s largely based on the luck of the bouncing ball. We did tie for third in forced fumbles, which you’d hope would translate, but again our leader in that category – Frank Clark – is gone.

My point with all of this is to further indicate that I think the Seahawks’ defense will be bad. Our only hope is that we hold teams to an inordinate amount of field goals. But, my expectation is, for the Seahawks to win a lot of games, we’re going to rely exclusively on our offense. That means Russell Wilson will have to do considerably more than he had to do in 2018.

All that being said, it still doesn’t feel like a strong argument, and I get that. All I can say is, with this being the second season with a new offensive coordinator, you have to figure Brian Schottenheimer has had a full year to work with this team, and a second full off-season to tinker with his scheme. While it’ll be foolish to expect the running game to take a complete back seat, I think his ability to adjust in games will improve. With the defense putting us into more passing situations – based on game score alone – I think it’ll open things up for Wilson to really shine like he’s never quite shone before.

Wilson has had spurts. The back-half of his 2015 was as brilliant as it gets; if he had a full season of that, he’d be a hands-down winner of the MVP. I also thought 2018 was his best year yet, particularly from an efficiency standpoint. If we keep the efficiency (or even improve upon it slightly), increase touchdowns, decrease turnovers, and boost up those yards, there won’t be any other excuses to keep him from his due. ESPECIALLY when you consider Baldwin retired, and Lockett is his only quality veteran receiver heading into this season. Voters won’t have the L.O.B. to fall back on, nor will they have as dominant of a running game. They’ll have 8 full years’ worth of elite game play, with 2019 as a coronation of sorts.

In a muddled year of MVP candidates, Wilson will win it in a close voting battle. Mark my words (unless I’m wrong, then forget this ever happened).

Can The Seahawks Win With Russell Wilson Making A Million-Billion Dollars?

There are two schools of thought dominating the NFL landscape nowadays:

  1. You can’t win without a Franchise Quarterback
  2. You can’t win with a Franchise Quarterback taking up too high of a percentage of your salary cap

Which essentially boils down to:

  1. You can only win with a Franchise Quarterback on his rookie deal, or
  2. You can only win if you have Tom Brady and you cheat the salary cap in some way that has yet to be exposed

So, that’s great if you’re the cheatin’-ass Patriots, but otherwise it’s a pretty minuscule window of opportunity for the rest of the league. For starters, how many Franchise Quarterbacks are there in the league right now? Let’s count ’em out, in no particular order:

  1. Tom Brady
  2. Ben Roethlisberger
  3. Andrew Luck
  4. Patrick Mahomes
  5. Philip Rivers
  6. Aaron Rodgers
  7. Matt Ryan
  8. Cam Newton
  9. Drew Brees
  10. Russell Wilson

I think that’s pretty much it. You could make an argument for Deshaun Watson, Carson Wentz, and Kirk Cousins, but I think you could also make plenty of arguments against those guys as well. Anyone I haven’t listed here is on that next tier down; doesn’t mean you can’t win a Super Bowl with those guys (see: Eli Manning, Nick Foles, Joe Flacco), but obviously you need to hit on a roster full of studs around them.

Regardless, we’re talking approximately a third of the league having bona fide Franchise Quarterbacks. Everyone else has some variation on a question mark. Everyone else needs to be special in other ways (like the Rams, with their coaching staff) or they’re selling out to find that elusive game-changer at the game’s most important position.

So, let’s pull it back to just the cream of the crop; how many are Tom Brady or on a rookie deal? Well, Tom Brady is Tom Brady, so the Pats are set. Other than him, you’re talking about Mahomes, Watson, Wentz, the Rams (in spite of Goff more than because of him), and let’s throw in the Browns for shits n’ giggles. We’re talking about 6 teams who are in a prime position with their quarterback and salary cap situations; should we just lop off the rest of the teams in the league?

Or, do the Seahawks have a shot?

It’s funny, because in the days leading up to Russell Wilson’s contract extension, everything I read was some variation on: DON’T BE STUPID, YOU HAVE TO EXTEND WILSON BECAUSE HE’S AMAZING! Then, as soon as Wilson announced his signing, everything I’ve read since was: THE SEAHAWKS ARE PAYING TOO MUCH FOR THEIR QUARTERBACK, THEY’LL NEVER WIN!

Ostensibly, the argument is: if you’re going to run all the damn time, what’s the point in paying a quarterback $35 million a year? Pay someone adequate like Case Keenum to be a game manager, and use the rest of the money to bolster other areas.

The first knock against that line of thinking is that you’re never going to build the perfect team. The 2013 Seahawks were a fucking unicorn; being able to draft or otherwise acquire that much Hall of Fame talent in one roster is nearly impossible. There are always going to be holes and weaknesses, even on the best teams, and that’s before you get into the injury attrition that nearly every team faces every single year.

The second knock against that line of thinking is that, even on the best teams, you’re still going to need your quarterback to put the team on his back and win you a handful of games. Even the 2013 Seahawks needed some Russell Wilson magic against Carolina, St. Louis, Tampa Bay, and the 49ers in the NFC Championship Game (before The Tip, there was the 4th down bomb to Kearse). Could you envision that team with the likes of Case Keenum winning it all? Because I can’t.

In fact, I would argue that it’s even MORE important to have someone as clutch and efficient as Wilson on a team like the 2018 Seahawks, where running on 1st & 2nd downs were the norm. There’s so much more strain on Wilson to do more with fewer opportunities than there is on someone like Mahomes, who threw it 36 times a game compared to Wilson’s just under 27 attempts.

Ultimately, in the reality we’re living in, would you rather have Wilson on the deal he got, or whatever’s behind Door #2 (maybe trade him for draft picks while he’s got the most value, then either try to acquire whatever semi-competent veteran is still on the market, suck for a year with Paxton Lynch, and/or draft a new QB in this year’s questionable class)?

For me, I’ll take the certainty that Russell Wilson provides.

The obvious trade-off, though, is that there’s not as much money left to spread around the rest of the roster. Which gets us back to the topic of this post: can the Seahawks win with Russell Wilson making a million-billion dollars?

The answer, of course, is yes. How likely is it? I dunno, but let me flip it back on you: how likely is it for ANY team to win a Super Bowl? Because, that’s what we’re talking about, right? The worst nightmare of any NFL fan is ranging anywhere from 8-8 to 10-6 and at best winning a Wild Card berth while going nowhere in the playoffs and constantly drafting in the mid-20’s. If that’s what we’re doomed to be for the next 5 years with Russell Wilson under this contract, then I’ll admit to being pretty disappointed. It’ll further fuel the fire of those who list off all the Super Bowl champion teams with quarterbacks making under such-and-such percent of their team’s cap (conveniently ignoring the cap status of those teams who lost their respective Super Bowls, though they were just as capable of winning those games had certain things broken their way).

Ultimately, it’s all randomness! There’s no one blueprint to winning a Super Bowl (unless you cheat and get away with it like the Patriots). You need a good quarterback, we know that. Beyond that, you need the strengths of your team to overcome the weaknesses. You don’t NEED a dominant defense, you can easily overcome that the way the Chiefs did last year by scoring a ton of points. Even the Pats never really have super great defenses, but the coaches scheme the shit out of their opponents and ultimately those D’s do just enough to put Brady & Co. in position to win (the fact that the Pats constantly get to coast to a division championship every single year because the Bills, Dolphins, and Jets are all inept notwithstanding).

I would argue, the Seahawks have a Top 5 quarterback. The Seahawks have a Top 5 coaching staff. The Seahawks have enough skill position players on offense to move the ball and score on the regular, as well as an offensive line that can keep the whole thing moving. The question at this point would be: do the Seahawks have enough talent on defense to take it to the next level and compete for a divisional title? Or, conversely, do the Seahawks have enough on offense to mask their defensive deficiencies? That ultimately remains to be seen.

More than anything, if the Franchise Quarterback is 1-A most important, luck is 1-B. Good luck with injuries. Good luck with hitting on draft picks and free agent signings. And good luck with key roster guys making big leaps from year to year. And, quite frankly, good luck in those 50/50 games that keep a 10-6 team from being 12-4 or better. The Rams were 3 games better than the Seahawks, but beat us by a combined 7 points in two games. What happens if we find a way to win those two? What happens if we beat the Broncos in week 1, or the lowly 49ers in week 15? Just a couple bounces of the football here or there. What happens if we keep Dak from scoring on that insane 4th down run in the Wild Card game?

Sure, you need the Franchise Quarterback to put you in a position to win those 50/50 games, but it’s luck more than anything else that decides if you’re going to be 13-3 or 10-6.

My thought process, heading into the 2019 season, is we’ve got the most important piece locked in. Luck will hash out the way it hashes out. But, beyond that, I think the Seahawks have a winning formula they can follow. I believe in this team running the football, using its giant goons up front to punish opposing defenses. Running the football keeps the clock moving, keeps the defense off the field, and limits the punishment Wilson has to face (especially when you factor in how our O-Line still isn’t super great at pass protection).

The Seahawks were 6th in points per game with 26.8. That’s with a new offensive coordinator, a new offensive line coach, and a lot of new pieces on that side of the football. Sure, it ended crappy in Dallas, but I think with the continuity in place, this coaching staff learned a lot about what this team is made of. I think they’ll be able to tweak things enough to improve upon those points per game and be even more efficient going forward, without the need to drastically increase the number of times we throw the football. Having all of this set and ready to go TODAY – as opposed to learning on the fly and figuring things out heading into Week 3 last year – puts us at a greater advantage over the 2018 squad. From there, I’ll trust that this coaching staff and front office knows what it has to do to improve the defensive side of the ball.

Plus, let us not forget, we’ve got a Pro Bowl kicker now. You scoff, but let’s go back to that whole luck argument: how many games did a kicker cost us in 2017?

To Seahawks Or Not To Seahawks, That Is The Question

Since Russell Wilson came into the league, the Seahawks are 4-2 coming out of the BYE week.  Does that mean anything?  No it does not.

The two post-BYE losses happened in 2012 and 2015, exactly 3 years apart.  It’s been 3 years since our last post-BYE defeat, ergo we’re due for another one in 2018.  Does that mean anything?  No it does not.

The Seahawks are as healthy as they’re ever going to be the rest of the year; now that DOES mean something.  K.J. Wright is practicing again, Ed Dickson is ready to come off the PUP list, Rasheem Green is out there mixing it up.  Doug Baldwin had an extra week to rest his knees.  Our offensive linemen had an extra week to rest their everything.  Russell Wilson’s hammy (or whatever) is another week fresher.  And, everyone else who’s dealing with nagging whathaveyou’s, I’m sure, has enjoyed the break.  Hell, even C.J. Prosise is probably … nah, let’s not go THAT far.

I don’t know if there’s necessarily ever a “perfect” time for a team to hit its BYE week, but this one was as good as it’s gonna get for this particular team in this particular year.  Now, we hit the road to play the Detroit Lions, in an early 10am start after they beat up on the Dolphins in Miami the week prior.

By all accounts, I think the Seahawks are the better of the two teams.  At worst, these two teams are dead even, which is what Vegas appears to think.  The Lions are favored by 3 points, which is generally the figure granted to a team playing at home.  That’s not the ONLY reason why I think the Lions will win on Sunday, but it’s up there.

In reviewing the respective schedules, it looks like the Lions have better-looking victories (Patriots, Packers, at Dolphins); while the Seahawks beat a mediocre Cowboys team at home, a bad Cardinals team on the road, and a God awful Raiders team in London.  I guess we can all hang our hats on a close home defeat to the Rams, but that’s not really much comfort to me.

You can look at these two teams and see a clear advantage for both offenses.  The Seahawks want to ground and pound; the Lions’ defense has been among the worst in the league in defending the run.  They did just trade for Damon Harrison, who is a tremendous big body in the middle that should shore up that weakness, but can one guy really make that much of a difference?  I guess we’ll see.  I still like our O-Line an awful lot, and as long as those guys stay healthy, we should be able to open up some holes for Carson & Co.

The Lions’ offense, meanwhile, has traditionally been a more professional version of the Air Raid.  Matthew Stafford just airing it out left and right, winning and losing on his powerful right arm.  But, this year, with the introduction of rookie phenom Kerryon Johnson, they’re MUCH more balanced.  I feel like Matt Patricia’s influence as their new head coach has a lot to say about how the offense is run this year.  He’s seen what it takes to win, and for as good as Brady has been in his career, the Patriots have always had balance (especially late in the season, when the weather turns bad).  The Seahawks’ defense is better than we all had any right to expect, but it’s been susceptible to the run game at times.  Compound that with a lack of a pass rush, and the quick-strike ability of them to still kill you through the air, I think if anything this game is going to be high scoring.  The over/under is 49.5, so officially put me in for the OVER.

What needs to happen for the Seahawks to prevail is we’re going to have to avoid allowing too many big plays.  That’s sort of our specialty, so I wouldn’t expect it to be a problem, but if anyone will be able to fit the football into some tight windows down field, it’s Stafford.  He’s that good and that reckless.  Ideally, the Seahawks will take advantage of those times where he tries to bite off more than he can chew, and hopefully we’ll see a couple take-aways.

More than anything, the Seahawks are going to need to be efficient passing the ball.  The way I see this game going might be a little different than everyone else.  We’ve seen the Seahawks – over their last 4 games – really dominate with the run and see excellent results.  But, I don’t think it’s going to be that easy this time around.  I think there will be SOME rushing, but we won’t overwhelm them.  Where we can make some hay is through the air.  The Lions are pretty stingy with their passing yards allowed, but they’re among the worst in the league as far as passer rating is concerned.  That’s where the Seahawks can shine.  Stick with the rushing gameplan, by all means, but know when to strike through the air.  There will be opportunities to hit the Lions with deep balls, and we’re going to have to connect on them to make this thing happen.

All of that being said, do I see a Seahawks victory on Sunday?  I honestly don’t.  It’s more of a gut feeling than anything else.

We have these weird, flukey games every season in the early going.  Last year, in week 3, we lost a shootout to the Titans of all teams.  The year before that, we had that wonky loss down in New Orleans.  In 2015, we had that overtime defeat to the Bengals where we blew a late lead.  In 2014, it was a week 2 loss in 100+ degree heat in San Diego.  And, who can forget the shootout loss in Indy in 2013 to Andrew Luck?  Don’t get me started on our 2012 loss to the very same Lions in Detroit.  The score was 28-24, and I see something awfully similar happening this time around.

What do all of those losses have in common?  They were all against pretty good-to-great quarterbacks, they were all on the road in the first half of their respective seasons, and they were all games where our offense ostensibly did enough to win the game, but the defense just didn’t have what it took to put those teams away.  Sometimes, the Seahawks take control early and gag it away late; sometimes the other team goes up big and we mount a furious comeback that falls just short.  I could see either one of those things happening on Sunday.

What I can’t see is a Seahawks victory.  I hope I’m wrong.  Because the Seahawks REALLY need this one if we want to contend for a playoff spot.

Nobody Wants To Hear About My Fantasy Team: Week 7

At some point heading into last weekend, I dropped Alfred Morris for Bilal Powell.  Morris was an absolute last-ditch option for me (I assumed the 49ers would get KILLED by Green Bay and throw it constantly, not necessarily that they wouldn’t play him whatsoever).  I had Bilal Powell in my lineup for a hot minute – as a potential hedge against the iffy proposition of starting a semi-injured Adrian Peterson – but then before gametime Sunday morning, I saw that Isaiah Crowell was active, and I reverted back to having AP get the nod.  Even though the Jets were at home, and in a favorable-appearing matchup with the Colts, I still liked the chances of AP over any sort of Jets timeshare.

As soon as I knew I wasn’t going to need Powell on my team, I swapped him out and picked up Detroit’s kicker (who was on BYE), who will be my guy going forward.  Yes, Robbie Gould had a fantastic game against the Packers, but I’m not counting on the 49ers being this high scoring going forward; Detroit’s offense is always going to be good as long as Stafford is around.

All in all, these moves had very little to do with my 184.95 to 142.25 drubbing of DelBocaVistaPhase2.  Truth be told, I had this week in the bag as soon as he traded away James Conner (28.90) and kept Dak Prescott (35.35) on his bench.  It’s hard to blame him for the trade, because who knows how long Conner is going to be Pittsburgh’s starting RB; and I know I won’t fault him for benching Dak, who was going up against the Jags (a defense I liked an awful lot in that matchup in Big D).  Those are the What If’s you have to live with as a fantasy owner; it’s why this game is a total mindfuck sometimes.

My ass was pulled out of the fire by Hill (39.20), Wentz (33.30), Thielen (29.30) and Dalton (23.45).  I got a shameful amount from my Bears defense, and Calvin Ridley’s day was cut short by an ankle injury.  Ridley will be on my bench going forward, as Robert Woods is too prolific to keep off my starting lineup any longer.  5 straight weeks of 14+ points!

I’m now 3-3, holding steady in 5th place in the league.  I have the 3rd most points scored, and I’m down to the 3rd most points against, so we’re slowly but surely starting to even out.

No waiver claims for me this week, as I’m not on the Ito Smith train just yet.  Gonna need to see him REALLY take over that Devonta Freeman role before I believe it (someone did pick up Ito Smith as a free agent and actually waived Freeman even though we have an IR spot at our disposal, which is something to think about).  That puts me up to 6th in the league’s waiver priority going forward, which isn’t great, but it’s better than nothing.

I was eyeballing David Njoku – who’s got a juicy matchup against the worst defense in football against tight ends – but Yahoo was dicking around with my IR designation on Fournette, as there’s apparently a quote/unquote chance that he plays this week.  Apparently, if you’re not ruled out completely, you’ve still got to be rostered on the bench.  Since I didn’t really want to give up on Calvin Ridley just yet – on top of the fact that I have 2 tight ends on my roster already – I decided to let Njoku sit out there.  He was promptly picked up Thursday morning, so we’ll see if I’m regretting this come next week.

Here’s this week’s lineup:

  • QB1 – Carson Wentz vs. CAR
  • QB2 – Andy Dalton @ KC
  • WR1 – Tyreek Hill vs. CIN
  • WR2 – Adam Thielen @ NYJ
  • RB1 – Ezekiel Elliott @ WAS
  • RB2 – Adrian Peterson vs. DAL
  • TE – Greg Olsen @ PHI
  • FLEX – Robert Woods @ SF
  • K – Matt Prater @ MIA
  • DEF – Chicago vs. NE

My bench is:  Carr (BYE), Ridley, Fournette, Golladay, Reed.

Watch this be the week that Jordan Reed goes off, but I don’t care anymore.  God dammit is he sucking my will to live!  I know Philly is pretty amazing against the TE position, but they also haven’t played very many elite tight ends so far this year, and it’s not like they’re perfect.  I’ll take my chances with the upside of Olsen (and hope he doesn’t re-injure his foot mid-game) over the steady mediocrity of Reed.

As I said before, Woods is in my lineup to stay.  Most likely.  I might mix n’ match him and Golladay depending on who they’re going up against, but Ridley is gonna be riding in the bitch seat for a while (his days on King Flippy Nips are probably numbered, if I need to make any emergency roster moves).

Up next, I’ve got a date with Sloane N Steady, who I’m catching on a pretty good week, as one of his main guys is Aaron Rodgers, who will be on a BYE.

Sloane N Steady has arguably had even worse luck than King Flippy Nips this year!  Last week, he suffered the same fate I did a couple weeks prior, in having the second-most points for the week in a losing effort.  But, his loss was by only 2.9 points.  He’s also had another loss earlier this season by a mere 0.45 points, so to say he’s due for an unlikely win is an understatement.  Here’s who he’s got:

  • QB1 – Andrew Luck vs. BUF
  • QB2 – Case Keenum @ AZ
  • WR1 – Josh Gordon @ CHI
  • WR2 – Devin Funchess @ PHI
  • RB1 – Melvin Gordon vs. TEN
  • RB2 – Isaiah Crowell vs. MIN
  • TE – Trey Burton vs. NE
  • FLEX – Allen Robinson vs. NE
  • K – Adam Vinatieri vs. BUF
  • DEF – Houston @ JAX

His bench is:  Rodgers (BYE), Dalvin Cook, Lamar Miller, Nick Chubb, T.Y. Hilton.

All things considered, I probably couldn’t be playing him in a better week.  No A-Rod, he’s got a bunch of guys banged up, the Browns haven’t recognized that Chubb deserves to be getting the lion’s share of the carries in that backfield (I have him on another team and it’s a constant source of frustration, as I absolutely REFUSE to drop him from my team; it’s a matter of principle at this point).

Sloane N Steady is 1-5 and in last place in the league (he’s 5th in points scored, and has the 2nd-most points against), but it wouldn’t shock me in the slightest if he makes a second half run.  With Rodgers and Luck dealing, with Gordon, Cook, and Chubb all eventually healthy and starting, with solid points out of his receivers and a good defense and kicker, he could definitely make some noise if he goes on a winning streak.

As for this week, however, it would take quite an upset.  We’ll see.  That wouldn’t shock me in the slightest either; my fantasy teams tend to play down to their competition, so if I’m back on here bitching about a loss next week, don’t say I didn’t warn myself.

Predicting The 2018 NFL Season

So, I did that dumb thing where you print out the whole season schedule and predict every single game.  It’s incomprehensibly stupid and a total waste of time – because obviously I’m not going to predict anywhere CLOSE to all the games correct – but it actually kind of worked out I think!  We’ll see.  The records I came up with look like they could hypothetically be accurate – I don’t have anyone going 16-0 or 0-16, for instance – and I’m going to assume all the totals add up to whatever the number of regular season NFL games is supposed to be.

Check out some predictions from past seasons:

I’ll take just a QUICK look back at how I did in 2017 to get that out of the way.  See my division winners on the left (my predicted playoff seeding in parentheses) and the actual division winners on the right (with the actual playoff seeding in parentheses):

  • Seattle (1) – Los Angeles (3)
  • Green Bay (2) – Minnesota (2)
  • New York (3) – Philadelphia (1)
  • Carolina (4) – New Orleans (4)
  • New England (1) – New England (1)
  • Kansas City (2) – Kansas City (4)
  • Pittsburgh (3) – Pittsburgh (2)
  • Tennessee (4) – Jacksonville (3)

Wildcards:

  • Tampa Bay (5) – Carolina (5)
  • Dallas (6) – Atlanta (6)
  • Oakland (5) – Tennessee (5)
  • Houston (6) – Buffalo (6)

So, as you can see, I fucked up the NFC entirely (only predicting Carolina to make the playoffs, but I had them as a division winner and they only were a wildcard), but I picked 3/4 AFC division winners and 4/6 of the AFC playoff teams.  I’ve had better years though (obviously, since last year I predicted a Super Bowl of Seattle over Oakland).

Let’s just wipe that from our memory banks, if we can, and move on to this year.

NFC East

  • Philadelphia:  9-7
  • Dallas:  8-8
  • Washington:  8-8
  • New York:  5-11

I still like Philly a lot, and may have under-shot their record here, but I can’t help but see some regression out of this team.  I do think their second half will be a lot better than their first half, and I think the rest of their division is pretty mediocre, so it shouldn’t be a stretch for them to repeat as NFC East champs.  I think the Cowboys have a relatively easy schedule, which accounts for their 8 wins.  I actually believe the Redskins will be better than the Cowboys, but for whatever reason I see an uneven season out of them (winning some games they should lose, but also losing some games they should win).  I don’t like the Giants whatsoever and I think Eli is finished.

NFC North

  • Green Bay:  13-3
  • Minnesota:  10-6
  • Detroit:  9-7
  • Chicago:  4-12

I’ll say it right now:  I’m guaranteeing a full healthy season out of Aaron Rodgers.  He just signed a huge extension, so obviously he can’t be too disgruntled with that team.  I think he’ll be on the warpath this year and really carry that team to new heights.  I still like the Vikings a lot, but I think there’s some regression there (as well as some growing pains with a new QB in Cousins) and I just think there will be an adjustment period for them (I could also see the Vikings getting hit hard by the injury bug).  I like Detroit okay – and their new coaching staff has to be an improvement over last year’s – but they’re probably a year or two away from really competing for the division again.  I have a lot of doubts about the Bears and don’t really think this quarterback is going to hit big.

NFC South

  • Atlanta:  11-5
  • Carolina:  10-6
  • New Orleans:  9-7
  • Tampa Bay:  2-14

The big thing here is I believe the Falcons’ defense will take a big step forward this season.  I don’t trust Sark as an offensive coordinator and I never will, but I don’t think this offense is going to have to be as elite to rack up a bunch of wins.  I think the Panthers are just solid all the way around, and they’ve got a relatively easy schedule as it is.  I think the Saints take a little bit of a step back as I wonder if the offense will be as good with all the changes in the skill players.  I could also see the Saints getting a lot of guys injured.  I think the Bucs are going to compete for the #1 overall draft pick next year.

NFC West

  • Los Angeles:  12-4
  • San Francisco:  9-7
  • Seattle:  9-7
  • Arizona:  3-13

I think this is the year for the Rams.  I think they put it all together and go to the Super Bowl.  I think the Seahawks and 49ers will be about the same, but the 49ers will have the edge based on conference wins.  I actually – upon further review – have the Seahawks going 5-1 before the BYE, before going on a 5-game losing streak, then finishing the season on a 4-1 streak (don’t know what that’s about).  I think Arizona will be terrible.

AFC East

  • New England:  12-4
  • Miami:  7-9
  • New York:  5-11
  • Buffalo:  2-14

What a surprise!  The Patriots roll to an easy divisional title because the AFC East is the worst fucking division in all of football!  Of the poo-poo platter that is the rest of this division, I think with Tannehill back, the Dolphins will win the most games of the bunch (but still not enough to make the playoffs or even go .500).  I think the Jets will struggle with a rookie QB at the helm.  And, I think the Bills will compete with the Bucs for that #1 overall draft pick.  TANKING AT ITS FINEST IN THE AFC EAST!

AFC North

  • Pittsburgh:  13-3
  • Cincinnati:  9-7
  • Baltimore:  7-9
  • Cleveland:  4-12

A lot of gods & clods in the AFC this year.  I think the Steelers dominate a pretty easy schedule.  I think Cincy is better than expected (but falls just short of the playoffs).  I think the Ravens will be okay.  And I think too many people are buying the Hard Knocks hype; stay away from the Browns this year and thank me later (they’ll be better when they fire Hue Jackson).

AFC South

  • Jacksonville:  13-3
  • Houston:  11-5
  • Tennessee:  7-9
  • Indianapolis:  4-12

This division is going to be FUN!  Here, I love me some Jags; I think they play the Rams in one of the most entertaining Super Bowls of all time.  I’m also on the Houston bandwagon, but I think they fall just short of a division title.  I don’t like the Titans to repeat as a playoff team; and I think Andrew Luck will win them a few games single-handedly, but the Colts overall will be pretty bad.

AFC West

  • Los Angeles:  12-4
  • Kansas City:  9-7
  • Denver:  6-10
  • Oakland:  4-12

It’s probably bad that I’m drinking the Kool Aid on L.A., Houston, Pittsburgh, AND Jacksonville, but here we are.  I think the Chargers finally put it all together and the city of Los Angeles enjoys the best professional football in the country.  I don’t see the Chiefs as the powerhouse that other teams do – they’ll also have some growing pains with a new QB in Mahomes – but I think they’ll get better as the season goes along and sneak into the playoffs.  I just don’t buy the Broncos, and I think Jon Gruden will be a terrible hire for the Raiders.

NFC Playoffs

  1. Green Bay
  2. Los Angeles
  3. Atlanta
  4. Philadelphia
  5. Minnesota
  6. Carolina

AFC Playoffs

  1. Jacksonville
  2. Pittsburgh
  3. New England
  4. Los Angeles
  5. Houston
  6. Kansas City

Wild Card Round

  • Atlanta over Carolina
  • Philadelphia over Minnesota
  • New England over Kansas City
  • Los Angeles over Houston

Divisional Round

  • Los Angeles over Atlanta
  • Green Bay over Philadelphia
  • Jacksonville over Los Angeles
  • New England over Pittsburgh

Championship Round

  • Los Angeles over Green Bay
  • Jacksonville over New England

Super Bowl

  • Jacksonville over Los Angeles

Now that I look at it, it looks silly to have the Steelers over the Pats in the regular season (betting against the Patriots getting that first round bye is always a bad move), but I can’t go back and change it!

I have 5/8 division winners repeating and 9/12 playoff teams returning, which also feels like a few too many.  We’ll see, I guess.  I haven’t felt this strongly about a Super Bowl matchup since Seahawks/Broncos; I would bet a lot of money it’s these two teams.