Seattle Seahawks 2018 Preview Part 2: The Bad Stuff

Yesterday, we took a look at the bright side of this season.  If everything breaks right, what COULD happen, including a possible division title and beyond.  Today, we’re going hard negative.

If you played this season 100 times, probably 90 of them will be about the same:  the Seahawks will finish somewhere between 7-9 and 9-7.  The ceiling, while remote, is a division-winning playoff team (likely requiring the Rams to fall apart completely).  The floor, while also remote, is an 0-16 team pushing for that #1 draft pick in 2019.  How does that happen?  Well, if Russell Wilson has a season-ending injury in the first game of the year, then I’m sorry, but it’s Tank City.  While I don’t expect him to get injured, I’m not completely ruling it out.  Make no mistake, this year – as well as the foreseeable future – it’s going to be all about Mr. Wilson.  We go where he takes us.

A couple teams come to mind as comparable to the Seahawks.  For the purposes of this argument, throw out the New England Patriots.  Our coaching staff isn’t on par and Russell Wilson isn’t Tom Brady.  Not yet, anyway.  No, for this exercise, I’m thinking about the Green Bay Packers and the New Orleans Saints.

See, most years (in the Aaron Rodgers regime), the Packers boil down to an elite QB, some nice skill guys on offense, and a bunch of trash on defense.  Ditto the Saints under Drew Brees.  You could argue the Saints’ defense has been much more maligned, but I’ve seen more than my fair share of terrible Packers defenses.  And yet, the Packers are always seen as a potential division winner, solely because they have Aaron Rodgers at the helm; yet, the Saints more often than not are seen as a .500-ish ballclub, only being held afloat by the will of Brees.

So, where do these Seahawks fall?  One could make the argument that right now, Russell Wilson is as good as Aaron Rodgers.  He’s certainly just as important to the success of this team as A-Rod is to his.  Yet, me and most everyone else feels this team more closely resembles those mediocre Saints teams we’ve seen for much of the last decade.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t see a whole helluva lot of difference between Brees, Rodgers, and Wilson, so what gives?

Well, for starters, I think this defense is a lot closer to the bottom of the NFL than it is to the top.  I see a defense without a pass rush.  I see a defense that can’t force any turnovers out of its secondary.  I see a defense that’s just sort of okay at stopping the run.  And, I see a defense that’s tissue paper-thin.  If we start losing too many starters, there will be a tipping point, and we’ll be talking about the 32nd ranked unit in the NFL before too long.

So much has to go right just for this defense to be middle-of-the-road!  If we just talk about health, we’re already talking about a team with an injured K.J. Wright who’s missing at least Week 1, if not more.  Also, not for nothing, but when he was out there this pre-season, Wright wasn’t looking like his usual self; has he started the downside of his career?  There’s Dion Jordan, who’s supposed to be one of our main pass rushing ends; he missed the entire pre-season, has a lot of degenerative issues, and probably shouldn’t be counted on to finish more than 6-8 games this year (forget starts; anyone can start a game and go out after one series; I want to know how many games this guy can FINISH).  Even if Jordan is healthy, do we know if he’s actually good?  Sure, he looks the part, but looks don’t pressure opposing QBs.  Our other main rush end is Frank Clark; are we sure HE’S good?  He’s looked pretty good so far in his career, like a guy about to earn a big contract extension.  But, is he WORTH that kind of money?  Or, is he just going to get that money regardless of whether or not he takes another step in his development?  My main question with Clark is:  does he even WANT to be great?

It seems to me like this entire defense is being held together by Bobby Wagner and duct tape.  While he’s one of the best middle linebackers in the league, he can’t do literally everything.  It might be different if we had one more year of Earl Thomas in his prime, but that ain’t happening.  We’ve seen countless times how this team looks without Earl and Kam in the defensive backfield; now we start an entire era of football without those guys!  It’s not going to be pretty!

I’m curious to see the impact of potentially having Earl Thomas back for one more year.  He’s certainly a game-changer for this secondary, as the significant improvement of ET over TT could be a 2-3 game improvement in overall wins.  But, will his heart be in it?  Will the team still find a way to trade him midway through the season?  And, maybe most importantly, will he be able to stay healthy?  Without a training camp or a pre-season, how many times have we seen guys return from holdouts only to immediately twist an ankle or tweak a hammy or something?  I’ll believe he’s The Real Earl Thomas when I see it.

We’re all hanging our hats on Pete Carroll being a defensive-minded football coach whose specialty is the secondary, while we clap our hands and blindly say into the shadows, “We’ll be fine.”  But, will we?  Why?  Because Shaquill Griffin looked better than expected as a rookie?  How many career interceptions does he have?  One.  He has one.  Sure, he’s a fine cover corner, but he can’t cover literally everyone, and he’s not what anyone would call a “lockdown” corner, so he’s going to give up a good number of catches and yards.  He feels a lot closer to Marcus Trufant than Richard Sherman, and that’s a problem, because he’s supposed to be far and away the best corner on this team, which means the drop-off is significant.  Justin Coleman, almost certainly, is the actual best cornerback on this roster, and he’ll do well in his role covering slot receivers, but those guys don’t play every single down.  We have some schlub playing opposite Griffin who will almost certainly be the bane of our existence as early as the very first game of the season.

I think the defense is going to be very, very bad.  What’s worse, I’m afraid we won’t see the type of improvement over the course of this season to give us any hope for the future.  The L.O.B. is dead.  And it’s never coming back.

As I wrote about yesterday, the season hinges on the offense, and the offense hinges on Russell Wilson, so getting back to my point at the top, can he single-handedly carry this beached whale of a team into the playoffs?

I’m gonna guess probably not.  I do think he’s closer to Drew Brees than Aaron Rodgers (as I think this defense is closer to the very worst Saints defenses than it is to the Packers).  I also think the challenges presented within our division, within our conference, and with the schedule we’ve been saddled with, all conspire against us doing a damn thing in 2018.

The Rams are flat out better than the Seahawks, end of story.  You can question their long-term viability.  You can look at all the superstars they acquired the past couple seasons and think an implosion is on the horizon.  Indeed, even if the chemistry is top notch, they won’t be able to pay everyone forever, so EVENTUALLY things will break apart.  But, not in 2018.  In 2018, they’re going to be one of the 2 or 3 best teams in the entire NFL (hell, maybe THE best team).  Barring a multitude of injuries to the Rams, there’s no way we beat them in either game we play against them.

The 49ers are at least as good as the Seahawks, with a MUCH higher upside in the near future.  The 49ers could be a playoff team as early as THIS year, if Jimmy G continues to shred defenses like he did last year.  I have my doubts; I’m not nearly as high on them as some people – who have them as their dark horse darlings – but they’ll still be tough.  I can’t guarantee 2 wins against them; I can’t even guarantee 1!

Then, there’s the Cards.  They seem like they’ll be pretty bad.  But, that’s no guarantee that they’ll necessarily be bad against the Seahawks!  Sam Bradford is usually pretty careful with the ball; as long as he’s healthy, that’s a viable offense that should have zero trouble moving the ball against our defense.  And, they have just enough veterans on the defensive side of the ball to get stops and make our lives miserable.  The Seahawks probably SHOULD beat the Cardinals twice, but would it shock you to see us slip in either of these games?  Shit, at our very best, we still managed to lose to Jeff Fisher’s Rams more times than I care to count!

We catch the Broncos on the road; they have savvy vets all over the place.  We catch the Bears on a potential upswing (their defense looks like it could give us fits in week 2).  We play the Cowboys with their awesome rushing attack.  We have to go all the way to London for some stupid reason; who knows how that Raiders game turns out?  We go to Detroit who has an offense that should shred us no problem.  We host the Chargers, whose quarterback ALWAYS shreds even the very best versions of our defense.  We host the Packers on a short week, they’re expected to compete for a Super Bowl.  We go to Carolina, that feels like a demoralizing loss waiting to happen.  We host the Vikings on Monday night; they’re also expected to compete for a Super Bowl.  And, we host the Chiefs, who are always good and solidly coached under Andy Reid.

I’ve spent the entirety of this pre-season being pretty impressed by our starting units on both sides of the ball.  I think both our offense and defense have looked better than I anticipated (while our depth is non-existent).  My thought process all along has been that maybe the Seahawks can hang around, but once injuries mount, we’ll be toast.  But, the more I look at the schedule, at the crop of QBs we have to go up against, and everything else, I can present an easy argument on why the Seahawks might lose each and every one of those games!  Yet, the only argument in our favor is Russell Wilson.  Russell Is Magic, but he’s not THAT much magic!

I’m still of the belief that the O-Line will be much better than people think, but they’re still not going to be perfect.  They’re probably not even going to rank in the top 10!  When compared to past Seahawks O-Lines under Tom Cable, they’ll look like world-beaters, but that’s not saying much.  The point is, they should open up some holes to run through, and they should give Russell Wilson plenty of time to throw.

But, do we trust Wilson to always do the right thing?

I believe the Seahawks will be behind in a lot of games.  That’s going to put more of the burden on Wilson to pull our asses out of the fire.  He’s pretty great, but he still makes a good number of mistakes, trying to prolong plays, keep drives alive.  He’s always looking down field for the big play, and as a result misses a lot of positive plays around the line of scrimmage.  He takes too many sacks, and he puts a lot of balls in harm’s way.  I mean, we saw the Seahawks behind in a lot of games back when the defense was good; why was that?  A lot of times because Wilson turned the ball over or otherwise couldn’t get the fucking offense moving in the first quarter.  How much of that was on the O-Line vs. on Wilson himself?

Well, I guess we’ll find out this year.  Because the O-Line WILL be better.  And, when it is, if we still find Wilson making similar mistakes, then we have to admit that he’s not the be-all, end-all.  He’s good enough to take even the worst teams to an 8-8 record, but he’s not good enough to single-handedly get us into the playoffs.  He’s like almost every other quarterback in the league (particularly every other quarterback who doesn’t spend his entire career in the AFC Least); he needs help.  And the Seahawks don’t have enough help around him to get this team to where it wants to go.

The Seahawks won’t make the playoffs this year.  I know I predicted the Seahawks to go 9-7 in my season picks, but if I were you I’d bet the family farm on under 9 wins.  I’d even be inclined to take under 8 wins.

Beware The Divisional Round Game

The NFL has a bit of a flawed playoff system, owing primarily to the fact that each conference has 4 divisions.  Dating back to when this system started, there’s always a division winner who is marginally to drastically worse than at least one if not both Wild Card teams.  These are teams that just have zero shot whatsoever of winning the Super Bowl, who get the privilege of hosting playoff games; it’s insanity!  Every once in a while, you’ll see the inferior home team pull it out (the 2010 Seahawks & the 2014 Panthers come immediately to mind), but you knew those teams would lose the very next week!  And, lo and behold, so it was.

For the most part, the better teams win in the Wild Card round, and often that can mean the road teams (like this past weekend, when all four road teams moved on).  The Divisional Round is the great equalizer, though.  You’ve got the four plucky Wild Card hopefuls trying to ply their trade against the top four teams in the league (record-wise).  And what happens?  The home teams win about 75% of the time.  They’ve got home field, they’ve got the week of rest (while the Wild Card teams have been beating themselves senseless in the freezing cold), and in most cases, they’re simply the BETTER football teams.  There’s usually a reason why you win your division and grab one of the top two seeds in a conference:  because you’re really fucking good!

I’d say in the AFC, the home teams ARE the better teams (not so scared of PIttsburgh when Roethlisberger is playing on a bum wing; but talk to me again in a week if he shows up healthy as a horse and wills his team to the championship game).  I don’t know why I ever thought it would be a good idea to go to Tahoe to do some sports gambling in the middle of the regular season:  we should all go to the nearest sports book RIGHT NOW and put all our money on Denver and New England to win big.  Hell, throw Arizona into the mix as well, because I don’t think Green Bay has a chance to even keep it close.  We’d all be RICH, I guarantee it!

This Seattle/Carolina game, however, might be the lone outlier on the weekend.

From a pure matchup standpoint, I don’t think I’ve ever been as excited for a football game since the NFC Championship Game against the 49ers a couple years ago.  This game will not only be the best, most exciting, most entertaining game of the weekend, I think it has a better than good chance of being the best, most exciting, most entertaining game of the entire playoffs.  I think I said it here last week and I’ll say it again:  the winner of this game is winning it all.  Seattle @ Carolina IS the Super Bowl for the 2015 season, mark it.

There are a bunch of reasons to be nervous about this game, from a Seahawks perspective, and I don’t even plan on talking about the in-game matchups today.  We’re going on the road for a third straight week, against a third straight REALLY TOUGH defense.  We’re flying all the way across the country, as far as possible given the NFC playoff field, and we’re once again saddled with the early game on Sunday.  We’re coming off of one of the hardest hitting, most brutal games since the fucking Ice Bowl, only to fly all the way back to Seattle from Minnesota, only to fly all the way back out again across the country a few days later.  Meanwhile, they’ve had a week off to rest and get healthy.  They had one of the easiest roads to a 15-1 record I’ve ever seen, but you know what?  They took care of business, they got their one loss out of the way, they locked up home field, and they looked like they’ve been having the most fun of any team in the history of the NFL.  They’re big, physical, and rested; and they’re talented, confident, and hungry.  I wouldn’t be surprised by any stretch of the imagination if this was the end of the line for the Seahawks.

I could see the Seahawks coming out flat and tired, making a bunch of mistakes, struggling to convert third downs.  I could see the defense not laying a finger on Cam Newton as he methodically drives down the field for multiple scores.  If I’m being totally honest, I could see the last three years finally catching up with the Seahawks – all the long playoff runs, all the pressure of being the best – with them laying their first real egg of the Russell Wilson era.  You gotta admit, the Seahawks have been living a charmed fucking life since 2013.  It’s HARD to be this good for this long.  Even Belichick’s Patriots had some Divisional Round exits on their record.

Part of this, of course, is the tried and true Reverse Jinx, but part of it is also trying to lessen the blow of a very real possibility.  Carolina is a good football team.  Winning on the road is difficult, even against bad football teams.  If the Seahawks had an emotional let-down (as they did a little bit after last year’s NFC Championship Game Miracle, though no one wants to talk about that), I wouldn’t blame them at all.

Here’s what’s giving me hope, though.  We forget, because the last two years have seen the top seeds in each conference make the Super Bowl, but that isn’t always the case.  In 2012, we had the 4-seeded Ravens against the 2-seeded 49ers.  I mean, yeah, Baltimore had a home game in the Wild Card round, but they beat the 1-seeded Broncos and the 2-seeded Patriots in back-to-back weeks!  Don’t tell me it can’t be done!

In 2011, we had the 4-seeded Giants, at 9-7, mow through the up & coming Falcons at home, then the 15-1 Packers in the Divisional Round (red faced Coughlin, anyone?), before upsetting the 2-seeded 49ers in that game where that guy muffed all those punts, before winning it all against one of the best-ever Patriots teams.

In 2010, we had the 6-seeded Packers, at 10-6 (sound familiar?), win on the road against a probably-inferior Eagles team (one of Andy Reid’s last years there), before nailing top-seeded Atlanta (NFC South winner) and taking care of business in a grudge match against divisional rival, and 2nd-seeded Chicago (propelling them into the Super Bowl where they beat a very good Steelers team, in one of the better and more unheralded Super Bowls of the last 20 years).  Why couldn’t that be us?

Want to see some more weird similarities?  Those 2010 Packers were a good team, with a good quarterback, who caught some tough breaks.  10-6 record, same as Seattle this year.  In 5 of those 6 defeats, Green Bay had a LEAD in the 4th quarter, only to have it taken away late, same as Seattle this year.  Three of their defeats were to eventual division winners (just like us), and they also had a couple of mind-boggling defeats to some real pieces of shit (Detroit & Washington had combined 12-20 records, or pretty much the St. Louis Rams).  And yet, they were a good, veteran team.  They got hot at the right time.  And, they plowed through the NFC playoffs battle-tested and ready to kick some fuckin’ ass in the Super Bowl.

Why not us?

History is probably against us, so long as you don’t just pick & choose which examples you want to point to like I’m doing here.  But, they play the games on fields instead of computers for a reason.  Anything can happen, up to and including winning it all as the 6th seed in a conference.  The Seahawks have shown resiliance, toughness, and at times they’ve been lucky as all get-out.  On a neutral field, under neutral conditions (i.e. no BYE week for the other team), I wouldn’t even be having this conversation.  The Seahawks ARE the better team.  But, as I’ve said before and I’ll say again, the best team doesn’t always win.  In this case, with one arm tied behind our backs, we go into Carolina the underdog in every meaning of the word.  Will we have the fortitude to get past this biggest of hurdles?

If so, it looks a lot better for us in the NFC Championship Game, I promise you.  There, it’s more of a 50/50 proposition as to whether the home team wins or not.

I just don’t want these playoffs to end without my team hoisting the Lombardi Trophy, if for no other reason than to get last year’s taste out of our mouths.

Predicting The 2015 NFL Season

I love doing this post, I don’t care how wrong I am.  Last year, I was pretty far off in a lot of ways.  Detroit winning their division, Green Bay out of the playoffs entirely, New Orleans as the clear-cut second-best team in the NFC (and maybe NFL), Tampa and Atlanta both sneaking in as wild cards (essentially, I was high on everyone in what would be the worst division of all time – the 2014 NFC South – except the actual division winner).  And, of course, I made the mistake of picking a repeat Super Bowl matchup, which is about the dumbest thing you can possibly do.

I did have this little nugget of wisdom heading into the 2014 season, and if you replace all the Denver parts with New England parts, it rings eerily true:

My thing is – and I’ll deny it to my grave if I’m wrong – I have a SERIOUS nagging worry that the Seahawks and Denver will both make it back to the Super Bowl, but it’ll be the Broncos hoisting the Lombardi trophy while we sit and watch, devastated.

Of course, my official pick was a repeat Super Bowl championship, and we all know how that turned out.

So, let’s turn the page to 2015.  Here are my picks, in all their glory:

NFC East

Dallas
NY Giants
Philadelphia
Washington

Seemingly every year, I find the NFC East to be a crapshoot, where the hottest team in December ultimately wins the division.  That USUALLY means the Cowboys are on the outside looking in, but in 2014, they finally put it all together.  For 2015, I don’t see a whole lotta drop-off.  They still have that offensive line, so their running game should be all right, which means their offense should continue to be the strength.  Do just enough on defense, and I think they’ll take it.

Coming into this month, I would’ve had the Giants as my pick.  I like the way they finished last year; and a full season of Eli to ODB should be gangbusters.  But, I hear too much bad stuff about their defense for comfort (then again, that same bad stuff was said about the Cowboys’ defense last year, and they turned out okay).  I have a hard time trying to peg Philly.  I think they could be as good as a top 2 seed in the NFC, or they could be last in their division with 4 wins.  I choose to believe that Sam Bradford will at some point be lost for the year.  I also believe their defense got lucky on a lot of return TDs last year, and DeMarco Murray is another injury waiting to happen.  Ultimately, all the tinkering will have made them worse.  As for Washington, the less said about them, the better (though, I do believe with their new GM – Scot McCloughan – they have a chance to turn it around in a hurry; so long as Dan Snyder doesn’t fuck things up first).

NFC North

Green Bay
Detroit
Minnesota
Chicago

Well, if I’m going to put the stink on anyone, it might as well be the Packers.  I’ve got them as the biggest challenge to the Seahawks making it to a third straight Super Bowl, and right now, in fact, I have them with the edge for that #1 seed (by way of them hosting us in week 2, and by way of their incredibly easy schedule for a first place team).  The loss of Jordy Nelson for the year isn’t great, but with James Jones back in the fold, they should have enough receivers to get through the year just fine.  One of the strongest Packers teams I’ve seen since they went 15-1.

I still like Detroit – indeed, I like them as a Wild Card pick – and think they’ll have no trouble winning 10 games, even with the losses they’ve suffered on defense.  I like Minnesota to take a step forward, as Teddy Bridgewater gets more comfortable as a passer.  And, I like Chicago to be one of the very worst teams in the entire NFC (and therefore, the world).

NFC South

Carolina
Atlanta
New Orleans
Tampa Bay

I still find this division to be pretty pathetic, and I still doubt the winner of this division will have more than 9 wins.  I don’t like Carolina much, but I like the teams I’ve ranked below them even less.  Atlanta is still far from solid on defense, and they’ve got exactly two good players on offense (Matt Ryan & Julio Jones).  That’s it.  In games it wins, I’m sure the Ryan to Jones connection will be on point.  But, good teams will be able to shut that option down, and thereby shutting down the entire offense.  They don’t have a running game at all, Roddy White is very near retirement, and they’re STILL trying to figure out a way to replace Tony Gonzalez (will the mummy Antonio Gates be a free agent anytime soon?).

I’ve got New Orleans in the 3-hole, but I could easily see them as dead last.  Who are Brees’ options?  Are they REALLY going to devote their offense more to the run?  Do they even HAVE a defense?  I could see this year going sour in a hurry.  Tampa actually has some upside, and if their #1 QB gets the hang of this game, they could approach 6-8 wins.

NFC West

Seattle
St. Louis
Arizona
San Francisco

I’ll get to the Seahawks throughout the week in a series of previews, but suffice it to say, with all the turnover, I still feel the Seahawks are one of the best two or three teams in the NFL.  In a little more shocking news, I finally like the Rams to get over the hump and into the playoffs.  I think this is the year their defense puts it all together.  I don’t like Nick Foles a ton, but he is a starting quarterback in this league, and I’d much rather have him than someone like Cutler, Dalton, Fitzpatrick, Bradford, Cousins, Hoyer, and QB Browns.  Furthermore, I don’t think they’ll have to do much at all on offense to win games this year; I foresee a lot of 16-13 wins, as teams struggle to move the ball.  The schedule doesn’t help them out much early (3 of first 5 on the road, with games vs. SEA, vs. PIT, @ AZ, and @ GB), but after their week 6 BYE, they have a stretch where they play 6 of 9 at home, featuring (vs. CLE, vs. SF, @ MIN, vs. CHI, @ BAL, @ CIN, vs. AZ, vs. DET, vs TB).  I see them winning 7 of those games alone, and with a couple of unmentioned road games against the 49ers and Redskins, it’s not impossible to see this as a 10-win team.

I don’t like Arizona at all.  I think they got incredibly lucky in 2014 (which is a ridiculous statement, considering how unlucky they were with injuries, specifically with the quarterback position) and were not as good of a team as their record.  Carson Palmer is back, but I can’t imagine he has much left in the tank.  They’ve lost a bunch of guys on both sides of the line, and they still don’t have a running game at all.  They might get off to a good start early (home games against the Saints, 49ers, and Rams in the first four weeks, with the only road game being at Chicago), but look for the wheels to come off as that stretch is followed by the following (@ DET, @ PIT, vs. BAL, @ CLE, BYE, @ SEA, vs. CIN, @ SF, @ StL).  I could easily see them losing 6 of those games, and that doesn’t factor in a tough stretch of mostly home games to close out the season (vs. MIN, @ PHI, vs. GB, vs. SEA).  With Palmer surely injured by this point, I could see them losing out and having at least 10-11 losses this year.

And with all of that said, I STILL think the 49ers will be worse!  My hope is that they’re terrible, but not so terrible that they get a Top 5 pick.  Is that possible?  Well, considering all their good people are either retired or playing/coaching elsewhere, we might actually be looking at the future #1 overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft.  Not quite my worst nightmare, but it’s close.  The only things they have going for them is a Week 10 BYE and they get to host us on a Thursday (#ShortWeek).

AFC East

New England
Miami
Buffalo
NY Jets

With Tom Brady embiggened emboldened by the overturning of his 4-game suspension, I fully expect him to lay to waste any defense that comes across his path.  The thing with that is, teams aren’t just going to roll over and die (well, MOST teams; I fully expect the Steelers on Thursday to roll over like the good doggies they are, as I’m playing against my friend in Fantasy Football who’s starting Brady this week).  The Dolphins, Bills, and Jets all have pretty tough defenses.  I don’t expect them to beat the Pats a whole lot, but I’d LIKE to see them knock Brady around, to wipe that smug fucking smirk off his face.  They also face the defenses of Houston, Denver, and Dallas who should all be pretty tough as well.  How they managed to dodge playing the Ravens in the regular season is a crime against NFL scheduling (though, I obviously understand how NFL scheduling works, wouldn’t the hype for that game – which would invariably be played on either a Sunday or Monday night – be deliciously over the top?).

Elsewhere, like the Rams, I think this is the year the Dolphins finally make it over the hump.  Mike Wallace is gone, so that’s addition by subtraction.  I think they have the weapons in both the passing game and the running game to be a consistent force on offense.  With the addition of Suh on defense, that gives their run defense instant credibility, forcing other teams to be one dimensional.  That formula (combined with playing the NFC East and AFC South) should be more than enough to get them to 10 wins and a wild card.  I like Buffalo for approximately 7-8 wins (mostly due to their very-strong defense and lack of a quarterback), and I like the Jets for even less than that (mostly due to their less-strong defense and even BIGGER lack of a quarterback).

AFC North

Baltimore
Pittsburgh
Cincinnati
Cleveland

The Ravens won the Super Bowl in the 2012 season, then suffered an immediate setback thanks to the Joe Flacco contract.  They shed older players, reloaded through the draft, and now they’re back once again, ready to contend for more championships.  You know I love me some Seahawks front office, but I have only the utmost respect for the Ravens’.  And, not to get off on a tangent here, but I like the Ravens’ front office even more than the Patriots’.  Yeah, the Pats may have been more successful over the last decade and a half, but they’ve also been cheating throughout, and most importantly, they’ve EASILY had the lowest level of divisional competition by a fucking thousand miles.  If you swapped the Ravens and Patriots (so the Ravens were in the AFC LEast and the Pats were in the AFC North), I can make a pretty easy argument for the Ravens being the last great dynasty in the NFL, and the Pats still being pretty good, but nowhere near 6 Super Bowl appearances in 15 years.

Like the Giants, if you’d asked me to rank the divisions a month ago, I probably would’ve put Pittsburgh on top.  Again, you gotta like the way their offense played down the stretch.  But, that defense is clearly rebuilding, and they’re unlikely to remain as lucky with injuries as they were in 2014 (their center is already out for at least half the year, being put on the IR-designated to return).  If I had to predict the 2016 division champions, I’d probably tell you the Steelers will finally be ready.  But, as it stands now, I think they win no more than 9-10 games, and I think that’s still not good enough to crack the Wild Card.  I like Cincy to fall below .500 for the first time since Andy Dalton came into the league.  I also think Andy Dalton’s stranglehold on the starting QB job is in jeopardy and he starts losing some snaps to A.J. McCarron (Wave of the Future!).  Finally, I think Cleveland is a mess and that’s the end of that analysis.

AFC South

Indianapolis
Houston
Jacksonville
Tennessee

Indy is quickly taking over the reign of Worst Divisional Opponents In The NFL from New England, which is pretty easy to do when you’re good and the rest of the teams in your division don’t have any quarterbacks.  I think Hoyer and that Texans defense will be good enough to get to around 8 wins.  I think Jacksonville will make some strides towards .500 this year, but I don’t believe in Bortles as far as I can throw him; he’ll be another bust.  And the Titans are too young to do much of anything.  Mariota being Jake Locker 2.0 is probably their worst nightmare.

AFC West

Kansas City
Denver
San Diego
Oakland

I think we’re reaching the end of the line for Peyton Manning.  I like them to sneak into a wild card spot, but I’m not even really high on that, to be honest.  This is sort of a hedge pick; if Manning stays healthy, and the defense keeps up their end of the bargain, the Broncos could be divisional winners.  If Manning gets hurt, I think they could fall as far as last place in the division.  So, I decided to meet in the middle – maybe Manning misses a bunch of games in the middle of the season and they get him back for a hot stretch run in December.  Either way, I feel pretty good about the Chiefs grabbing control of the division.  Most people blame Alex Smith for their offensive woes last year; I blame their sub-pedestrian receivers (led by the corpse of Dwayne Bowe).  With a REAL number one receiver in Jeremy Maclin, I think this offense hums along like those old Andy Reid Philly teams.  And, considering their defense is pretty fearsome, I wouldn’t be shocked if this team won 12 games and a BYE in the first round of the playoffs.

I could see the Chargers sneaking past the Broncos for that final wild card spot, but I dunno.  The Chargers seem to be a team that always has all the promise in the world, but ultimately falters to a .500 finish.  I’m going to say their defense isn’t up to the charge (!), their running game isn’t where it needs to be, and Rivers doesn’t quite have the receiving weapons to get the job done.  As for the Raiders, it all hinges on Derek Carr.  That’s a scary proposition.

NFC Playoffs

  1. Seattle
  2. Green Bay
  3. Dallas
  4. Carolina
  5. St. Louis
  6. Detroit

AFC Playoffs

  1. New England
  2. Indianapolis
  3. Kansas City
  4. Baltimore
  5. Denver
  6. Miami

Wild Card Round

Dallas over Detroit
St. Louis over Carolina
Kansas City over Miami
Baltimore over Denver

Divisional Round

Seattle over St. Louis
Dallas over Green Bay
New England over Baltimore
Indianapolis over Kansas City

Championship Round

Seattle over Dallas
Indianapolis over New England

Super Bowl

Seattle over Indianapolis

In 2012, the Colts – with rookie Andrew Luck – won 11 games, made the playoffs, and lost in the first round to the Ravens.  In 2013, the Colts won 11 games again, made the playoffs again, beat the Chiefs in the Wild Card round, and lost to the Patriots in the Divisional round.  In 2014, the Colts won 11 games one more time, made the playoffs, beat the Bengals in the Wild Card round, beat the Broncos in the Divisional round, and lost to the Patriots in the AFC Championship Game.  My point being:  the Colts have gotten better every single year under Andrew Luck.  Their first year was just seeing what they had – and what they had was the next Peyton Manning.  The next year was seeing if the first year wasn’t a fluke.  Last year was taking that next step towards being elite.  THIS year is where they put it all together.

They’ve got Andre Johnson to go with T.Y. Hilton, which is a vast improvement over Reggie Wayne towards the end of his career.  They’ve got the steady presence of Frank Gore who’s been nothing if not healthy and is dying for a chance to win a ring.  And, FINALLY, I think they’ve made real strides to toughen up that defense.  I think this is the year they finally get over the hump of the Patriots running the ball down their throats.  I think they’ve got the complete package – even an elite shutdown corner in Vontae Davis (if he can stay healthy) – and I think this is the year they make their reemergence into the Super Bowl.

And, with all that being said, I think they’re going to get beat by the Seahawks.  You could argue that the first 10 games of the 2014 season saw the Seahawks wrapped up in a long term Super Bowl Hangover.  I think there’s no such hangover this year.  Everyone has their eyes on that prize and they’re going to do anything and everything to make people forget about The Play Call That Shall Not Be Named.

I have no such doubts about this year like I did going into last year.  I’m not QUITE as confident as I was going into the 2013 season (where I knew as soon as the 2012 playoffs ended that we’d be the team to beat), but that team was as complete as can be on both sides of the ball.  This team is almost there, but I worry about a few growing pains early.  If we beat the Rams and Packers in the first two weeks, all doubt will be washed away going forward.

The course for a Seahawks Dynasty is still very much on track.

Seahawks! Eagles! Sunday Sunday Sunday!

Earlier in the week, I got more into why this game with Philly is important.  Today, I’ll be looking at what we’ve got to do to beat them.

For starters, while Philly is a team you definitely want to take seriously, it’s not a team you necessarily want to mythologize.  Their most impressive victory is probably the week 2 barn burner on Monday night in Indianapolis.  They don’t really have any bad losses on their record (at SF, at AZ, at GB), but aside from that win in Indy and the drubbing they laid down in Dallas on Thanksgiving, I don’t see a lot of meat on their schedule.

They got the AFC South, which aside from the Colts is pretty terrible.  The Redskins and Giants are God-awful.  But, then again, the Seahawks catch their share of dogs as well.  Against common opponents, the Eagles are 5-3 while the Seahawks are 6-2.  Against teams with winning records, the Eagles are 2-3 while the Seahawks are 4-3.  So, there’s a BIT of a discrepancy there, but it’s hardly an overwhelming argument in our favor.  Yeah, the Seahawks have had a slightly tougher schedule, and yeah, the Seahawks are slightly better.  But, all in all, that doesn’t mean a whole lot come Sunday afternoon.

The Eagles have a lot of really good players, a smart head coach, and a dynamic offensive system.  The Seahawks have a lot of really good players, a smart head coach, and a dynamic defense.  SOMETHING’S GOTTA GIVE and whatnot.

The Eagles are 6th in total rushing yards.  They’re only 12th in yards per attempt (at 4.2), but they’re tied for 5th in attempts.  The Eagles are almost always in a hurry-up mode and are among the league leaders in total plays run.  Their offensive line is impressive, having only given up 18 sacks (5th fewest in football).  Overall, their offense is something to behold.

Then, of course, there’s the Mark Sanchez thing.  He took over in their Week 9 game and has led the team to a 4-1 record.  He’s averaging 280.8 yards in his 4+ games this year, with a 63.4 completion percentage.  You could argue his weakness is what his weakness has been all along:  turnovers.  He’s got 8 TDs and 6 INTs and another 2 fumbles.  You hate to boil a game down to who wins the turnover battle, but it would be a big help.  Of course, it won’t be everything, because their offense is so potent, it could and HAS overcome such troubles.

Aside from the quarterback, the Seahawks will have to watch out for LeSean McCoy.  From a fantasy football perspective, he’s having a down year.  Darren Sproles is cutting into both his touchdowns and his targets in the passing game.  But, he’s still a Top 5 runner in this league and someone to take seriously.  The aforementioned Sproles is another dangerous weapon; we’re all familiar with him from New Orleans last year.  I don’t really remember him gashing us too much, as we’ve got speedy linebackers who are able to neutralize him, but if we put all of our focus on McCoy, Sproles is a guy who could burn us.

At wide receiver, it doesn’t get any easier.  Jeremy Maclin is a straight up stud.  He’s actually my worst nightmare in this game, if I’m being honest.  These speedy receivers tend to give us fits.  On the plus side, Mark Sanchez isn’t Andrew Luck.  By all accounts, Sanchez isn’t a guy who’s going to challenge you deep very often.  However, it only takes one sometimes.  I could see Maclin having a nothing day, or a huge day, and pretty much nothing in between.  Jordan Matthews is a really good-looking rookie, but at 6’3 and without the speed of Maclin, I see him being pretty easily handled.

Defensively, the Eagles are aggressive.  They’re among the league leaders in getting after the quarterback, so it’s going to be important for our O-Line to handle they business.  You can run on the Eagles, and lord knows the Seahawks can run the football, so we could be looking at Marshawn Lynch being a big part of this game.

And, you know what?  Quite frankly, this could be Russell Wilson’s time to really shine.  I could seriously see the Eagles going all out to stop Beastmode, forcing Wilson to scramble around and find open receivers.  If the Eagles are able to put up points on us, I wouldn’t be shocked in the slightest to see Wilson throw for over 300 yards with 3 or 4 TDs.

My main concern with this game is getting off to a slow start.  The NFL graced us with an afternoon kickoff, even though it’s being played in the Eastern time zone, but that doesn’t necessarily preclude us from starting slowly.  We haven’t played the Eagles in quite some time.  2011, in fact.  Remember?  When Tarvaris Jackson was quarterback for the Seahawks, Andy Reid was coach of the Eagles, and one Vince Young was starting in place of Mike Vick.

Yeah, suffice it to say, these are a couple of VERY different teams.  I could easily see this as a game where the Seahawks’ offense struggles early, the Seahawks’ defense lets them dink and dunk their way down the field, and we’re unable to hold them to field goals when we need to.  In many ways, I find this game resembling the Atlanta game from the playoffs a couple years ago.  I could see the Eagles getting a 3-touchdown lead on us, with us playing catch-up in the second half.

I know our defense has been playing lights out of late, but the offenses of the Cardinals and 49ers are pretty pathetic.  If nothing else, don’t count on the Eagles being held to 3 points.  Promisingly, their defense isn’t that of the Cardinals and 49ers either, so figure the Seahawks are good for more than 19.

Or, shit, let’s just have the Seahawks keep winning games 19-3 every week for the rest of time.  Sounds good to me.

Seattle Sports Hell 2014 NFL Power Rankings – Week 12

Get a load of this clown and then come on back.

If you give two shits about Marshawn Lynch not talking to the media, then you either need to find some more meaningful shit to do with your life, or you’re a self-righteous, self-important member of the media who needs to find some more meaningful shit to do with your life.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying ALL members of the media are pompous windbags who start immediately sniffing their own farts once they smugly turn in one of their articles or click “Publish” on their blog posts.  Indeed, I enjoy the works of many of our local beat writers and such.  And I’m sure they’d LIKE it if Lynch would talk more, and give more satisfying answers to their questions – Lynch is a unique person and as a fan, I’m sure I’d be endlessly entertained if I had the opportunity to sit around and bullshit with Beastmode – but they understand Lynch’s stance of not talking to the media.

It’s when you start talking about these national guys and gals.  The people who survived the struggle of local sports coverage and really “made it” in the bigtime.  These people who think it’s their job to police everything media related, even when they only have about a quarter of the actual story.  The same people who read a misleading headline and automatically label Lynch as disgruntled without any insider knowledge whatsoever.  They like to make you BELIEVE they have all this insider info, but few of them ever do.

Here’s the lo-down, from what I can tell:  one of these members of the national media tattled on Lynch, because he wasn’t talking to anyone after games.  The NFL, in turn, fined Lynch for continuing to not talk (after a brief reprieve on Media Day during Super Bowl week earlier this year).  As such, hoping not to be fined further, Lynch sat down and gave a ridiculous Q&A session to some reporters around his locker after the game last week.

Were Lynch’s actions juvenile?  Yes.  But, that’s because the NFL’s actions – and the media’s REACTION – towards this whole thing is fucking disgraceful.

I understand the rules the NFL sets out.  If you play in the NFL, you have to abide by the rules, or else you’ll get punished.  In this case, the punishment is in fines collected.  Considering he’s a millionaire, I’m sure he can afford it, so don’t think I’m sitting here defending a one-percenter because he’s inconvenienced out of some pocket change.

But, the rules are fucking retarded, and this Ed Sherman guy takes the retard cake.  In his post – linked above – he talks about the struggle the NFL faced many, many, MANY decades ago, when it was a fledgling sport trying to gain traction in a baseball-obsessed world.  Yes, I’m sure in the 1920s and 30s, the print media was king, and so it behooved the NFL to kowtow to the newspaper writers in order to get attention, sell tickets, and ultimately bloat the league into the monster it is today.

But, guess what?  Print media isn’t king anymore.  And, besides that, the media needs the NFL WAY more than the NFL needs the media.  How do you sell papers?  Or, more importantly, how do you generate clicks on the Internet?  You write about what people want to read about.  In this case, the NFL is king, and without access to it, what would all these sportswriters do for a living?

Let’s take this to its illogical conclusion:  if we let one guy ignore the media, what’s to stop the next guy, and the next guy?  Hell, what’s to stop every single player from ignoring the media?  That’s the argument they’re trying to make, right?  Surely, society would collapse upon itself!  Surely, without the almighty written word of beat writers and national pundits, the NFL would fold and the American public would have to spend time with their families on Sundays during the fall and winter months!

Oh, wait, that wouldn’t happen at all.  People would still watch the NFL, because people can’t get enough of football.  “Mutter(ing) a few short answers,” and “throw(ing) in a cliché or two” won’t make a fuck-all of difference.  What Ed Sherman is proposing is that everyone just “plays the game” and we’ll all go home happy.  Except, you’re forgetting one thing:  the overwhelming majority of sports fans HATE clichéd answers to their bullshit questions!  Sports clichés have a lower approval rating than the fucking U.S. Congress!

And, besides ALL of that, NFL players aren’t going to simply up and stop talking to the media.  Why?  Because many NFL players are still businessmen at heart.  Some have aspirations after football.  Those aspirations usually include some role in the very media we’re talking about!  Even if Richard Sherman doesn’t have an ounce of interest in being a studio analyst after football, or being a color analyst, or hosting his own sports-related talk show, he knows he has a brand and a persona that he wants the world to see.  The sky is the limit for someone like Richard Sherman BECAUSE he’s so good with the media, talking to large crowds and before the cameras and whatnot.

Marshawn Lynch, and people like Marshawn Lynch, who might not necessarily have any post-football aspirations to be in the public life, shouldn’t be required to do something they’re obviously uncomfortable doing, for whatever reason.  It’s another form of bullying and it’s absolutely unacceptable to hold someone to this asinine rule just because the media used to be important to the NFL’s fledgling success back in its infancy!

I’ll say this loud enough for you to hear:

FANS DON’T GIVE A SHIT IF MARSHAWN LYNCH TALKS OR NOT.

The only people who care are these elitist fuckwads like Ed Sherman.  Fuckwads who end up running off and crying to Papa Goodell because the bad man won’t talk words to us when we want him to!  Grow up.  No one is sympathetic to members of the media.  At all.  You earn your living by writing about professional sports; you pretty much have the best jobs in the world outside of people actually PLAYING those sports.  If you can’t “do you job” because a few guys won’t talk to you, then obviously you’re not very good at your job.  Quotes from Marshawn Lynch won’t make or break your story.  Just talk to the punter, obtain a cliché or two, and you’re out the door.

It really isn’t that difficult.

***

  1. New England Patriots (9-2) – The curse of the #1 team is in full effect; you’ve been warned.
  2. Denver Broncos (8-3) – Some serious holes with this Broncos team, but either way, it should be a fun AFC playoffs.
  3. Green Bay Packers (8-3) – This defense isn’t as good as advertised.  Better than last year, sure, but they’re not going to continue to dominate the rest of the way.
  4. Arizona Cardinals (9-2) – I don’t know if it’s fair to expect the Cards to come into Seattle and win that game.  Did we expose some flaws in their overall scheme?  I’d like to think so, but I’m not sure the New England Patriots themselves could have come up here and won that game, with the way our defense was playing.  That game was more about how the Seahawks FINALLY brought their A-Game more than the Cardinals struggling or otherwise regressing back to the mean (hopefully we’ll see signs of that when we go down to Glendale in December).
  5. Indianapolis Colts (7-4) – When I saw that T.Y. Hilton was about to be a father on Sunday morning, I would have bet everything I own on him scoring a touchdown that day.  Luckily, he’s a major factor on my fantasy team, so all’s well that ends well.
  6. Detroit Lions (7-4) – Hitting a bit of a rough patch.  I had no idea their offense was this inept!  With Stafford, Johnson, and Tate, they should be putting up 30 points a game!  I still have faith in the Lions, but it’s good to see them lose a few games.  The last thing I need is another amazing run defense weaseling its way into the playoffs.
  7. Philadelphia Eagles (8-3) – The Eagles would get more credit in my eyes as soon as they use Mark Sanchez to win a football game against a good opponent.
  8. Kansas City Chiefs (7-4) – A loss to the Raiders = moving down in my rankings.
  9. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-4) – Pretty jealous of anyone who gets a week 12 BYE.  This is the last time I’ll get to say this, but the NFL needs to fix this shit.  Starting next year:  two BYE weeks for each team.  Get on it.
  10. San Francisco 49ers (7-4) – It’s mindblowing how bad their offense is right now.
  11. Dallas Cowboys (8-3) – Oh, I wish they would’ve blown that game against the Giants.
  12. San Diego Chargers (7-4) – It took a goalline interception by their defense to beat the Rams, but that might be the play that saves their season.  Good for them.
  13. Seattle Seahawks (7-4) – Forget the Seahawks, I need them to beat the 49ers this week!  If I have to go 10 days between Thanksgiving and the next game in Philly, stewing over a loss to the Santa Clara Fuckwads, I might go insane.
  14. Cincinnati Bengals (7-3-1) – Just don’t figure them to win many games when the national spotlight is focused on them and they’re sure to go far.  What are the odds the Bengals can get the NFL to televise all of their playoff games within the region of Cincinnati and its opponent exclusively?
  15. Baltimore Ravens (7-4) – That’s a nice win down in New Orleans, but it’s not THAT nice.  Let’s see them run the ball that well against a respectable defense, then we’ll talk.
  16. Miami Dolphins (6-5) – Season hanging on by a thread; things should get easier with 3 of their remaining 5 games against the Jets and Vikings.

The Loser’s Bracket:

  1. St. Louis Rams (4-7) – I don’t care that they’re 4-7, they’re better than the Browns!  And, obviously, they’re better than a few of the teams in the winner’s bracket.
  2. Cleveland Browns (7-4) – Didn’t deserve to beat the Falcons.  Then again, they didn’t deserve to beat the Browns.  This one should have been decided by penalty kicks.
  3. Houston Texans (5-6) – If their defense hadn’t scored that touchdown off of an interception, it would’ve been a terrible fantasy week for them.  How you gonna let the Bengals move the ball up and down the field like that?
  4. New Orleans Saints (4-7) – Not gonna lie to you, I really wasn’t prepared for the Saints to lose to the Ravens.  I understand the defense is pretty brutal, but why is the offense so inept so often?
  5. Buffalo Bills (6-5) – That Mario Williams is a nasty mofo.
  6. Chicago Bears (5-6) – They’re hovering, but they won’t sneak up on anyone.
  7. Atlanta Falcons (4-7) – Mike Smith is the most toothless, spineless, ineffectual head coach in the NFL when it comes to managing the game.  If anyone ever tries to point to Andy Reid or Jim Caldwell, you send them over to see me.
  8. Carolina Panthers (3-7-1) – Hello darkness, my old friend.
  9. Minnesota Vikings (4-7) – Did they … did they play this week?  They did, right?
  10. New York Giants (3-8) – You are one pathetic loser!
  11. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-9) – More like Josh McCLOWN, am I right?
  12. Washington Redskins (3-8) – You had one job:  beat the 49ers.  ONE JOB.
  13. New York Jets (2-9) – Wow.
  14. Tennessee Titans (2-9) – There are no words.
  15. Oakland Raiders (1-10) – Those defenders celebrating after that 3rd down sack, almost resulting in the Raiders being penalized for being 30 yards offsides on the 4th down snap are my favorite things I’ll see all year in the NFL, except maybe for that ODB catch Sunday night.
  16. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-10) – Now, this feels right, doesn’t it?

Seattle Sports Hell 2014 NFL Power Rankings – Week 4

This week’s intro is called:  “Taking A Revised Look At The Seahawks’ 2014 Schedule”

Every year, I do a preview/prediction post where I take a look at the Seahawks’ schedule and try to predict the winners and losers.  This year, I went and predicted a record of 14-2, where I guessed the Seahawks would lose at San Francisco and at home against the Rams in Week 17 when we’re resting all of our starters.  As you can discern, I’m already way off base, as the Seahawks’ first loss was at San Diego in week 2 (when, in all fairness, I did predict a fairly close, high-scoring game; and I even got San Diego’s score right on the nose with 30 points!).

Anyway, we’re now four full weeks into this thing, and while it’s impossible to know how everything is going to play out this early into the season, four weeks is enough to give us something of an idea of how it’s all going to shake out.

Next week, we play the Redskins on Monday night.  I WAS a little concerned about things with Kirk Cousins taking over, but his performance on Thursday night brought that dream back down to Earth.  I don’t think he’ll be as bad as he was against the Giants, but he’s still not all that good.  They have talent, but I don’t think the Seahawks will have much trouble shutting down their offense.  And their defense is THE WORST, so even if they do manage to put up some points, they won’t put up enough.

One trend I’m noticing out of this season is the sheer volume of high-scoring offenses we’re facing on a regular basis.  For one reason or another, it’s reasonable to at least somewhat fear the following:  GB, SD, Den, Was, Dal, and Phi.  Obviously, six isn’t a high percentage, but out of the gates we’ve got the first five games against these high-scoring teams.  Dallas is no different.  Though, Dallas still has the iffy quarterback play, so I don’t see this game being much of a contest.  I stand behind my prediction of this being a comfortable win.

After the Dallas game, we’ve got two road, 10am starts, against the Rams and Panthers.  The Rams aren’t a good team, period.  Injuries have killed them, obviously.  But, beyond that, they’re just not gelling as a team.  Their defense isn’t anywhere near as good as they should be.  And, their offense isn’t stepping up and improving as they should.  Even without Sam Bradford, on paper, the Rams should be a .500 team with a bullet.  We should be fearing the Rams as a divisional contender for years to come; but they keep spinning their tires.  Is it the coaching staff?  That’s quite possible.  Jeff Fisher isn’t some coaching god.  He’s just another guy, like Shanahan and Andy Reid and all these other coaches who go from one good situation to a bad situation.  He caught fire in a bottle once, but he’s not good enough to capture it twice.  The Rams are toast and should not be feared.

Until I saw the Panthers’ defense get crushed in the last two weeks – against the likes of the Steelers and Ravens – I considered that game to be a legitimate threat.  But now?  Even if they somehow shut down our run game, we shouldn’t have much trouble shredding them through the air.  And, as for their offense?  Ye Gods!  As expected, Cam Newton doesn’t have any weapons around him.  At worst, it’ll be another low-scoring affair just like the last two times we’ve played this team.  But, I’m starting to get the feeling that this will be yet another comfortable win.

We follow that stretch with two home games against the Raiders and Giants.  Is it possible that these teams are even WORSE than expected?  I don’t see how, but that’s exactly what’s happening.  The Raiders certainly aren’t getting the return on investment with all the veterans they signed.  As for the Giants, they’re a fucking zoo (I don’t care they beat the Texans and Redskins the last two weeks).  The offense will be crushed, and the defense will be decimated.  If the Seahawks are flying high and still mostly healthy, I expect us to beat the Giants by 50.  Anything less will be a mild disappointment.

We play the Chiefs on the road.  I wasn’t expecting much out of them originally, but after watching them dismantle the Patriots on Monday night, I think I short-changed them a little bit.  That defense, while wounded and missing some pieces from last year, is still pretty strong.  Plus, they’ll be at home, in the loudest stadium in the world, so that’s fun.  I still don’t think they’re making the playoffs, but they’re just as good as any other AFC Wild Card team in contention for that 6-seed.

We wrap up our 8-game stretch of Teams The Seahawks Should Beat with a home contest against the Cards.  Right now, the Cards are 3-0 and look to be the first REALLY tough defense we will face.  I have to believe that teams will have figured them out by the time we play them in week 12, so they absolutely should not still be leading in this division.  With this being a home game – and with the Seahawks still pretty salty about losing at home to them last year – I fully expect us to complete this 8-game stretch with another victory.  But, it’s probably going to be a lot tougher than I would’ve thought.

On the flipside, the Thanksgiving game in Santa Clara looks a lot EASIER than it did before the season.  I don’t know what happened to the 49ers, but they look like they’re going down in flames.  The defense looks average-at-best, and the offense is spinning their wheels (even with added firepower in the passing and running games).  To put it this way, I’m no longer guaranteeing that this game is a Seahawks loss.  How does that make you feel?

I am a little more concerned with the Eagles game, though.  Before the season, I predicted a high-scoring game where we still manage to win comfortably.  At the moment, this is a real coinflip for me.  Don’t get me wrong, I would still rather play a team with an offense-first mentality (and a shitty defense) over the alternative of a crappy offense and an overly-stout D.  But, there are a couple factors at play that really scare the bejesus out of me.  First and foremost, is this going to be a game where the weather is freaky?  Like, are we going to run into a huge snow storm or something?  The game against the Chargers had super-high temperatures that really affected our defense.  Will super-crappy Philly weather do us in the same way?  The other thing is:  we haven’t faced this particular team in a while (similar to the Chargers).  Thankfully, with the Thanksgiving game, we’ll have a few extra days to watch tape and prepare.  But, that doesn’t compare to actual game experience.  Since they’re so foreign to us, will they come out of the gate and blow us out of the water?  That’s a legitimate concern we should all be prepared for.  If I weren’t such a homer, I’d put this game in the loss column right now.

Our season closes out with three games against the division.  The 49ers at home, which we should win.  Then, on the road in Arizona.  I could see that one being a loss too!  If their defense holds up and they catch some breaks on offense, who knows?  At least the weather should be relatively mild for the time of year.  Finally, we come back to play the Rams.  If it’s a game we NEED to win to get home field, then I expect us to win.  If it’s not, and we rest all of our starters after a few series, then probably mark that one a loss.

14-2 is still in play, but after four weeks, if I were a betting man, I think I’d hedge my bet and lock us down for 12-4 or 13-3.  Giddyup.

***

  1. Seattle Seahawks (2-1) – So, Zach Miller will be out a few weeks.  That sucks harder than it sounds.
  2. Denver Broncos (2-1) – I kinda figured the Broncos would be tested by the Chargers, but if the Chiefs turn out to be decent, it might not be the easiest road for the best team in the AFC.
  3. Cincinnati Bengals (3-0) – Anyone want to tell me why we have six teams with BYEs last week, but only the Dolphins & Raiders this week?  Hey NFL, how about a little consistency!  No one likes the BYE weeks!  How about just doing 6 teams a week for five weeks and 2 teams that last week?
  4. Detroit Lions (3-1) – It finally looks like the defense is rounding into form.  This could be a dangerous team.
  5. San Diego Chargers (3-1) – I picked up their defense in fantasy – because Cincy was on a BYE – and they got me a nice chunk of change.  With some of the cupcakes they’ve got on the schedule, it looks like I’m going to keep them around for a while.
  6. Philadelphia Eagles (3-1) – Nick Foles isn’t God.  If you cut him, he will bleed!  And every once in a while, he’s going to have a shitbird of a game.
  7. Arizona Cardinals (3-0) – I’m pretty happy they took the 49ers down a peg, but the Cardinals will cease to be perfect starting this week.
  8. Indianapolis Colts (2-2) – 0-2?  BFD.  This is where the sucky division and cheesy overall schedule comes into play.
  9. San Francisco 49ers (2-2) – I know people were recommending that we root for the 49ers over the Eagles, but how was that game any different than the Saints/49ers game last year?  Sure as shit, we needed the Saints to win that game for us to take the division title and the #1 overall seed.  I don’t think the Eagles are #1-seed material, and it SURE would have been nice to see the 49ers fall to 1-3 and REALLY fall into a tailspin.
  10. New Orleans Saints (1-3) – It’s getting harder and harder to continue to believe in this team.  Yeah, they’ve only played one home game, but that wasn’t the most impressive victory in the world.  And, if they can’t win on the road, is this still a team I should worry about?
  11. Green Bay Packers (2-2) – The defenses they face start to get easier as the season goes along.  But, I still don’t think they’re on the same level as the Lions.
  12. Kansas City Chiefs (2-2) – Way to bounce back, Chiefs!  I had low expectations coming into the year, and your first two games only reinforced that opinion.  Seriously, how did you lose a game at home against the Titans when you just pulled off that type of performance against the Patriots?
  13. Dallas Cowboys (3-1) – OH BOY, the Cowboys are 3-1!  Looks like we better start taking them seriously and projecting them into the playoffs!  Except, who do they play in December again?  @ Chicago, @ Philly, vs. Indy, @ Washington.  Hmm.  CAN YOU SMELL WHAT THE TONY ROMO MELTDOWN IS COOKING???
  14. Atlanta Falcons (2-2) – I said it about the Saints and I’ll say it here:  if you can’t win on the road, then you’re just wasting everyone’s time.  You think you’re going to play a home game EVER in the playoffs?  Think again.
  15. Baltimore Ravens (3-1) – Pretty good record now, but check back in with me after they’ve played their next four of five games on the road.
  16. New England Patriots (2-2) – They haven’t had the most difficult schedule, yet even in their victories they haven’t looked good on offense.  Who knew that the O-Line would be important?  Oh, that’s right, anyone who knows anything about football knew that the O-Line would be important.  It’s like Bill Belichick goes into every season asking himself, “How can I make Tom Brady’s life a living hell THIS year?”  No receivers, no offensive line, a tight end who can only play once every five plays; let’s try that and see if he blows his brains out.
  17. Chicago Bears (2-2) – See, Chicago, that was a test.  That was a test and you failed.  At home, if you want to be a contender, you’ve got to BEAT Green Bay.
  18. Pittsburgh Steelers (2-2) – These God damned Steelers are the 8-8est team I’ve ever seen in my life!
  19. Carolina Panthers (2-2) – In their first two games – both victories – the Panthers’ defense was rock solid and they looked like they could hang with the Panthers of 2013.  In their last two games – both losses – they’ve given up 35+ points per game and have caused fantasy football owners to pull their hair out.  So, what’s it going to be, Panthers?
  20. New York Giants (2-2) – Well, they’re not good enough to beat the good teams, but they should be just okay enough to beat the crappy ones.  Which means, of course, that they have as good a chance as anyone to win the NFC East (zing!).
  21. Houston Texans (3-1) – Sorry, still not buying it.  You can beat all the Redskins, Raiders, and Bills that you want, but you’re still not a good team.  And, quite frankly, there aren’t enough shitty teams on your schedule to prop up this sinking ship!  Mark it down now, they’re losing 4 of their next 5 and will go into their BYE with a record of 4-5.
  22. Miami Dolphins (2-2) – Miami coaches, just do me this favor:  feed your running backs and take the ball out of Tannehill’s hands.
  23. Washington Redskins (2-2) – On the one hand, boy does Cousins look like a dumpster fire waiting to happen.  But, on the other hand, never trust a Thursday night performance – good or bad.
  24. New York Jets (1-3) – You know, if this team has even a halfway decent record by season’s end, it’ll be really impressive.  They’ve got a pretty tough schedule considering they’re in the AFC Least.
  25. Buffalo Bills (2-2) – Not gonna lie to you, giving Kyle Orton the starting job is the first step in everyone from the GM on down getting their asses shitcanned.
  26. Minnesota Vikings (2-2) – I don’t know if I’m ready to live in a world where Teddy Bridgewater is the best quarterback of his class.
  27. Cleveland Browns (1-2) – You got me, I don’t have anything on the Browns.
  28. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-3) – Better with Glennon?  Probably.  A good team with Glennon?  Absolutely not.
  29. St. Louis Rams (1-2) – So, who’s their starting quarterback again?  I’m serious, I have no idea.
  30. Tennessee Titans (1-3) – This is why you pay Charlie Whitehurst the big bucks.
  31. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-4) – So, here’s the deal.  The Jags play Pittsburgh, @ Tennessee, Cleveland, Miami, @ Cincinnati, and Dallas before their BYE week.  Any of those first four games are totally games you could win if you’re the Jags.  If they don’t win any, I think you’re well within your rights to fire the whole coaching staff and start over after the BYE.  This is where you realize whether you’ve got something you can work with or not.  Is Gus Bradley the real deal?  He’s going to have to prove it in the next four games.
  32. Oakland Raiders (0-4) – So, when the Raiders needed to use a backup quarterback, their first choice was Matt McGloin?  No wonder their coach got fired this week!

Is This A Joke?

I wasn’t going to write about this when I first heard about it last night, because it’s pointless and stupid.  It’s a list, of the 32 NFL head coaches, ranked in order of best to worst.  I guess.  Anyway, it’s dumb.  Everyone makes lists all the time and they’re all retarded, except this guy KINDA takes the cake.

Remember the name Elliot Harrison, because this guy’s going places.  I mean, if he can generate this type of chatter in the middle of July, he must be pushing just the right buttons.

I’ll get to what’s really grinding my gears in a bit, but first, I’ll just say that for the most part, I don’t have a problem with this guy’s rankings.  The guys at the bottom are there for a reason – they lack NFL head coaching experience.  I might have ranked Gus Bradley a little higher, partly because I’m biased and partly because I like to look at someone’s potential when I do these types of things.  I think Gus Bradley has a chance to be great.  And, I think the Jags will be one of the most improved teams this year.  So, to get in on the ground floor, I probably would have put Gus around 20 or 19 or something.

I would have put Jason Garrett dead last.  He is, BY FAR, the worst head coach of them all.  I know he doesn’t get many favors from his GM (except further employment for some ungodly reason), but he has bungled more than his fair share of games and probably should’ve been fired a season or two ago.

I also think Joe Philbin is a ninny and should be placed closer to the bottom than he already is.

I’m a little higher on Ron Rivera and probably would’ve put him in the mid-teens.  I think Rex Ryan’s coasting on his AFC Championship games he had way back when and isn’t nearly as good as his ranking.  Mike Smith is probably a little too high, as is John Fox, but really, these are all minor quibbles.

Pete Carroll is ranked 7th.  In a vacuum, that doesn’t sound so bad.  If I looked at him, then shut my eyes, and tried to think of a good ranking for him, I feel like the number 7 would pop right into my mind.  But, that’s without any consideration for the other coaches listed above him.

Mike McCarthy is ranked 6th.  Say what?

Tom Coughlin is ranked 5th.  Ehh, that feels right.  Guy has been around a long time, has a couple championships to his name.  Yeah, he’s missed the playoffs a few times, but the guy has made a champion of Eli Manning twice over!

John Harbaugh is ranked 4th.  Again, I’d probably rank him ahead of Pete Carroll as well.  He’s had a lot of sustained success since he got the head coaching job with the Ravens.  They share the same number of championships; I’m okay with that.

Here’s where it gets me – and I’m sure it was intentional.  Jim Harbaugh is ranked 3rd.  You see, this is the genius of Elliot Harrison.  Ideally, if he wants to piss off any fanbase, it’s probably that of the Patriots.  They’re the loudest and most easily-peeved by any slight against them.  But, to do so would have meant ranking Harbaugh over Bill Belichick, and that’s just insanity.  Belichick might go down as one of the greatest head coaches of all time.  To rank anyone ahead of him would immediately render his list as invalid.

So, instead, Elliot Harrison decided to troll TWO fanbases – Seattle & Baltimore – by not only ranking our most hated rival FOUR SPOTS ahead of Pete Carroll, but also ranking the wrong Harbaugh brother ahead of the other.

Let me see if I get this straight:  the two Harbaugh boys coached against one another in the Super Bowl before last, and the LOSER of said Super Bowl ends up getting ranked ahead of the victor?  Just because he’s 3 for 3 in NFC Championship appearances, that gets him the nod?  Even though John Harbaugh had made the playoffs in five consecutive seasons, making three AFC Championship Games and the aforementioned Super Bowl victory over his brother … he gets docked a point for missing the playoffs one time?  Are you KIDDING ME?

I think I’m more upset about this whole John/Jim fiasco than I am with Harbaugh being ranked so far ahead of Pete Carroll.

You want my opinion?  Here’s my top ten (I’m not going all the way to 32, because what’s the point?):

  1. Bill Belichick
  2. Sean Payton
  3. John Harbaugh
  4. Tom Coughlin
  5. Pete Carroll
  6. Jim Harbaugh
  7. Andy Reid
  8. Jeff Fisher
  9. Lovie Smith
  10. Mike Tomlin

Now there’s a ranking that’s somewhat respectable.  But, it’s not a ranking that’s necessarily going to draw a bunch of fire from pissed off fanbases.  It’s just a ranking that makes SENSE.  Jim Harbaugh inherited a team that already had a ton of talent on it.  Pete Carroll, and some of these other coaches ahead of Harbaugh, took over teams that were pretty bad.  They’ve BUILT something.  They’re not living off of the success of previous regimes.  You know what’s going to happen when the talent on the 49ers gets too old?  You’re going to see Jim Harbaugh start missing the playoffs more and more.

However, the Seahawks – a team not afraid to play younger guys at key positions – should be able to regenerate on a yearly basis, thanks to Pete Carroll’s coaching style and philosophy.

I’ll say this:  this Elliot Harrison guy’s rankings will look a lot different next year, after the Seahawks are coming off their second of two championship seasons.

Seattle Sports Hell 2013 NFL Power Rankings – Week 14

You always read about how everyone loves fantasy football, how it makes the game more exciting, how it has turned the NFL into far-and-away a more popular sport than it ever was … but you never read about how fantasy football is a horseshit institution full of heartbreak and agony!

Every year, I ask myself, “Why do I do this?”  And yet every year, there I am, suckling at the teet of Yahoo’s free fantasy football game.  I’m not here to piss and moan about Yahoo – I’d be writing this even if the old stalwart Sandbox.com was still around.

Unless you somehow lucked into far-and-away the best team in your league, there’s nothing but frustration going on!  You obsess about setting your lineup.  You obsess over who’s out there on waivers.  You obsess on Sunday morning, trolling Twitter for the latest injury updates.  Then, you forget to check the fucking WEATHER, and you come to realize Torrey Smith is out there playing in a blizzard and you were THIS CLOSE to picking up Marcel Reece at the last minute, but you didn’t want to be That Guy who tinkers with his lineup at the last minute in a week where you need to win to make the playoffs!

Then, you sit there all day on Sunday and you’re just miserable.  You’re dead inside because your fantasy team is sucking dick that day and it totally takes you out of the moment of the game you’re watching right now.  The game you’re watching not necessarily because you have a rooting interest in any of the players (although, indeed, I’m paying the price for having Colin Kaepernick on my team going up against the Seahawks defense), but because you have a rooting interest in the TEAM.  Oh, the Seahawks are losing?  Fuck that, I’d trade a million Seahawks losses if it meant I could win my Fantasy Championship!

And then you realize how crazy that sounds.  Then, you try to brush it all aside and keep your eyes on the bigger picture.  Your team – your flesh and blood team that you’ve been following since you were five years old – is in the middle of its very best season ever.  And you’re sitting here worried about fucking fantasy football?

That’s when you start to sympathize with some of these old fucks out there.  Who keep saying that fantasy football is ruining the game.  Of course, they don’t say that much anymore, because they’ve been drowned under a sea of Everyone Else who loves the fucking game and is involved in not just one, but multiple fucking fantasy teams.  I’ve been guilty of that.  All of it.  Mocking the elderly.  Having multiple fantasy teams (though, thankfully, I’m now down to just the main one, and even then I’m looking for some sort of clean exit strategy).

In a way, Fantasy Football IS ruining the game.  It’s taking away from what’s REALLY important, and that’s illegal sports gambling!  Who gives a fuck about whether Jordy Nelson scored a touchdown when the miracle Vikings/Ravens game is about to cover the Over inside the final two minutes of the game???

And who gives a fuck about your fantasy team making the fantasy playoffs when your real team is still dialed into the #1 seed?

Once you’re able to let that sink in, you start to realize it’s not so bad.  I’ve still got the consolation bracket, which in my league means you’re fighting for the #1 pick in next year’s draft.  I’ve got a number of quality choices for keepers on my team, so I’m not scrambling.  All in all, I’m set up quite well for next year!

Then, you take a look at the message boards and your asshole friends are there to remind you of your futility.  Don’t get sucked in!  Turn off the web browser, go back to your Christmas specials.  Take a deep breath and relax.  There are more important things going on.  Like the Pittsburgh Steelers and Green Bay Packers eating shit.  Like Gonzaga basketball is NEVER winning a national championship.  Like the San Francisco 49ers are still WELL behind the Seahawks for the NFC West and are still in a dogfight to even make the playoffs!

Did that about cover it, you chickenfuckers?  Until next year then, when I somehow get sucked back into this fucking farce.  God, I hate Fantasy Football.

On to the rankings.

***

  1. Seattle Seahawks (11-2) – 14-2 just doesn’t have the same ring as 15-1.
  2. Denver Broncos (11-2) – Russell Wilson is not the MVP.  He was never going to be the MVP.  Peyton Manning is, was, and always will be the MVP.

The Rest:

  1. New Orleans Saints (10-3) – The Saints now have control in the NFC South, but they still have to go back to Carolina in two weeks.
  2. New England Patriots (10-3) – A win is a win, even though they really should have lost to the Browns.
  3. Kansas City Chiefs (10-3) – Andy Reid’s team defeats his old hated rivals in the Redskins.  The Chiefs defeat their old hated rival Mike Shanahan!
  4. Carolina Panthers (9-4) – The Panthers take a pretty big dive after losing to the Saints, which is what happens when you get blown out the way they did.
  5. San Francisco 49ers (9-4) – It’ll be interesting to see what this team is able to do on offense against a not-top-three NFL defense.
  6. Philadelphia Eagles (8-5) – I’ve waited all year for Shady McCoy to go down with an injury.  Now that I’m out of the fantasy playoffs, I guess I can go fuck myself.  Way to go on that TD run, Chris Polk!
  7. Cincinnati Bengals (9-4) – They look good now, but Dalton still has another 3-INT game or two left in him before the year is done.
  8. Indianapolis Colts (8-5) – Shit happens when you party naked.
  9. Detroit Lions (7-6) – They were moving the ball pretty well in that driving snow; I don’t know what to tell you.
  10. Arizona Cardinals (8-5) – I have to admit, this is leaps and bounds better than I would have thought they’d be at this point this year.
  11. Baltimore Ravens (7-6) – That was a helluva finish to that football game against the Vikings.  Couldn’t have thrown a few more dozen balls Torrey Smith’s way, though?
  12. Chicago Bears (7-6) – Is there some way we can get it so both Chicago AND Dallas make the playoffs?  Those defenses are my wet dream.
  13. Dallas Cowboys (7-6) – I mean, who didn’t see this coming?  The Bears’ defense can’t stop the run to save its life, so why even TRY to have a dedicated running game (even though, when you did run, it worked out as splendidly as it could).
  14. Miami Dolphins (7-6) – I don’t care anymore.
  15. St. Louis Rams (5-8) – It’s just impossible to get a quality read on this team!
  16. San Diego Chargers (6-7) – If for nothing else than the moderate weather, I would give everything I own to be living in San Diego right about now.
  17. Pittsburgh Steelers (5-8) – And now, my friend, you die.
  18. Green Bay Packers (6-6-1) – Who is going to step up to win this thing?  You can’t even GIVE this NFC North title away!
  19. New York Giants (5-8) – I can’t wait for the Seahawks to take out all of their aggression on this soft pudding-pop of a football team.  We’ve had a knack over the years of forcing Hall of Fame-ish head coaches into retirement; is this where Tom Coughlin calls it quits?
  20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-9) – I don’t remember who you played this weekend, but you got the win, so good for you.
  21. New York Jets (6-7) – The AFC Everybody:  where this Jets team still has a decent chance to make the playoffs!
  22. Atlanta Falcons (3-10) – I don’t know how you let Matt Flynn beat you, but there you go.
  23. Buffalo Bills (4-9) – EJ Manuel, you go right to the top of my shit list.
  24. Cleveland Browns (4-9) – That’s a bummer, man.  You had the Patriots and you let ’em off the hook.
  25. Tennessee Titans (5-8) – Rumors abound that the Titans will clean house after this season.  The players reward those rumors with a good first quarter or so and then totally fall off the cliff.
  26. Oakland Raiders (4-9) – I’m sorry, what’s that?
  27. Jacksonville Jaguars (4-9) – Your 2013 Jacksonville Jaguars!
  28. Washington Redskins (3-10) – FIRE THEM!  FIRE THEM ALL!!!
  29. Minnesota Vikings (3-9-1) – Adrian Peterson getting injured, that’s all you need.
  30. Houston Texans (2-11) – I can’t remember a time where the Jags weren’t the worst team in football.  I guess that’s reason-enough to get your head coach fired.

Seattle Sports Hell 2013 NFL Power Rankings – Week 12

This topic doesn’t deserve its own post, because frankly, I’m getting sick and tired of writing this fucking post.

Walter Thurmond!  Thank you!  I mean, God damn, what would a championship season be without an unnecessary road block or two?  It’s like, you saw everyone coming back healthy, you saw this team starting to gel and really hit its stride, and you thought:  “I’m gonna get a little high.”

You're a towel!

You’re a towel!

One game.  We had one game with pretty much everyone healthy and playing (save Sidney Rice, of course, and I guess Brandon Browner).  One game with all of our positions at full strength.  Now, we get to go into the most important game of the season to date, against one of the best passing attacks in the league, down two of our top three cornerbacks.  Great.

I think suspensions for smoking weed are pretty fucking stupid.  But, this is the NFL.  You don’t come to the NFL for progressive, forward-thinking individuals.  You come to the NFL for stodgy, “No Fun League” ethos.  This is the same league that puts crazy restrictions on touchdown celebrations and so-called taunting.  You REALLY think they’re going to let something like smoking weed go by without making a huge stink?  If they could, they’d ban ingestion of anything harder than warm milk!

Nevertheless, you know what you’re getting with the NFL.  The rules are clearly spelled out.  Furthermore, you’re on a team that’s had more than its fair share of players being suspended for being idiots.  You knew the importance of this season from a team perspective (Super Bowl contender) and you knew the importance of this season from a personal perspective (contract season) and you did it anyway.  Why?  Who gives a shit why?  You did what you did knowing the consequences.  Smug Seahawks fans like to play the “Don’t Throw Stones” card in these situations, but I like to think the majority of people who know the fucking consequences of certain situations would be strong enough and smart enough to NOT FUCKING SMOKE WEED.  It’s fucking weed!  I completely understand how much fun smoking weed can be, but it’s not like it’s delicious, delicious alcohol or anything!

I keep telling myself it’s stupid to get angry about these types of things, but I can’t help it.  Right before the Saints game?  God damn it all!

***

Everything above this point was written on Sunday afternoon / Monday morning.  This little bitty section here is being written Monday night, after news that Brandon Browner’s season is over.

WHAT THE FUCKING FUCK?  It’s not like I expected him to make a miraculous comeback before the Saints game, but I SURE AS SHIT was counting on him for the playoff run!

I guess this makes some of the decisions for next year a little easier.  We won’t have to wonder about the Seahawks giving Browner a huge contract extension.  If he comes back, it’ll likely be for the minimum, on a short-term deal (especially if the 1-year ban holds and he can’t come back until week 13).  But, from what it sounds like, we’re just flat-out moving on.

This is just shitty, shitty news that I didn’t need to be hearing about now.  Or ever, really.  I liked Browner.  I still do, I guess, but this is more disappointing than enraging.  He earned the major contract he was going to get.  Working for peanuts for the Seahawks, going from CFL star to NFL Pro Bowler in the best secondary in football, he had everything going for him.  Of course, I guess you could say it’s his own fault that he’s not going to get paid, since he fucked up and broke the rules again.  Still, I feel for the guy.  He should at least qualify for a Super Bowl ring when we win it all, right?

On to the rankings.

***

  1. Denver Broncos (9-2) – Well, they lost a tough road game against a good opponent, but it’s not quite enough for me to knock them off the top spot.  Especially considering what the Seahawks lost this weekend (I would argue losing Thurmond is more important to us than Moreno is to them).  This upcoming week will say a lot.  Denver goes to Kansas City to possibly decide the AFC West and the conference’s #1 seed.  After this week, it’s pretty smooth sailing for the Broncos.
  2. Seattle Seahawks (10-1) – I’ll tell you this, though:  if the Seahawks find a way to beat the Saints, I’m putting them back in the top spot, regardless of what Denver ends up doing in Kansas City.

The Rest:

  1. Kansas City Chiefs (9-2) – Well, they really didn’t need to lose to the Chargers.  Possibly a case of them looking forward to Denver again.  Then again, defensive injuries won’t be their friend going forward.
  2. Carolina Panthers (8-3) – Lordy!  You don’t want any part of Riverboat Ron right now!  I know everyone is going to vote for Andy Reid as Coach of the Year, but my vote goes squarely to Ron Rivera.
  3. New England Patriots (8-3) – Gutty.  Now, all they need is for Denver to lose one more game.  Preferably this week, because the rest of their schedule is cake.
  4. New Orleans Saints (9-2) – Thanks to Thurmond, I’m officially having my doubts about a Seahawks victory at home.  So, thanks for that.
  5. Indianapolis Colts (7-4) – Given their division, I don’t think they can possibly blow this, but they sure do look shitty all of a sudden.
  6. San Francisco 49ers (7-4) – 49ers fans have to feel a lot better about Kaepernick after last night’s performance.
  7. Arizona Cardinals (7-4) – A team I had dismissed since pretty much the beginning is now in the driver’s seat.  Well, at least they control their own destiny.  And, with wins over the likes of the Panthers, Lions, and Colts, you’re looking at a team you legitimately have to be concerned about.
  8. St. Louis Rams (5-6) – Holy shit, the Rams are just destroying teams!  And to think I’d written this team off just five weeks ago.
  9. Philadelphia Eagles (6-5) – This game against Arizona this week looks like the most entertaining one on the schedule.  Where did that come from?
  10. Detroit Lions (6-5) – Hey Lions?  Don’t look now, but you’re fucking this up.
  11. Chicago Bears (6-5) – Uhh Bears?  Don’t look now, but you’re blowing this.
  12. Dallas Cowboys (6-5) – Huge win to keep pace with the Eagles.  In the end, this will come down to their showdown in Week 17.
  13. Cincinnati Bengals (7-4) – I like this team about as far as I can throw it.  There are a lot of lose-able games on the horizon, so I wouldn’t be counting any chickens right now.
  14. Baltimore Ravens (5-6) – Game of the year for the Ravens on Thanksgiving against the Steelers.  If they lose, Pittsburgh takes a 1-game lead and owns the tie-breaker, effectively ending the Ravens’ season.  If they win, then certainly you have to consider them alive.  They play at Cincinnati in Week 17.  Win that game and they’d have the tiebreaker over the Bengals, so all they have to do is win out and hope the Bengals bungle a couple along the way.  Definitely possible.
  15. San Diego Chargers (5-6) – Man, that game sure took a turn, didn’t it?  I still don’t believe in this team, but when Philip Rivers gets on a roll like he can from time to time, this offense is as good as any in football.
  16. Pittsburgh Steelers (5-6) – This is certainly something.  Bet they wish they hadn’t gagged away that Titans game in week 1.  If Roethlisberger can stay healthy, I could easily see them powering past Cincinnati.
  17. Green Bay Packers (5-5-1) – It’s about God damn time they gave Flynn the starting job!
  18. Miami Dolphins (5-6) – You’re a huge disappointment and nobody likes you.
  19. New York Giants (4-7) – To be honest, I’m kind of glad Dallas won that game.  I don’t need the Giants on this insane hot streak worming their way into the playoffs.
  20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-8) – You heard it here first:  this is a team on the rise!  It only took half a season, but WATCH OUT, NFL!
  21. Buffalo Bills (4-7) – I still haven’t given up hope!  Things could very well start breaking their way and leave them around 9-7 or 8-8 depending on how their quarterback plays and how their defense holds up.
  22. New York Jets (5-6) – Whatever you do, don’t go benching Geno Smith now.  Unless he’s bothered by some nagging injury, you don’t sell the cow now for some magic beans, because this year you absolutely have no shot at anything.
  23. Cleveland Browns (4-7) – Weeden is like an STD that you just can’t shake.  You think you’ve got things cleared up with medication, then you meet a pretty girl and suddenly your face is outbreak central.
  24. Tennessee Titans (5-6) – Yeah, you’re in the hunt now, but your next three games are @IND, @DEN, and vs. Arizona.  Then, it’s @JAX and vs. Houston.  So, 6-10 here we come!
  25. Oakland Raiders (4-7) – Rooting for the Raiders must, in some small way, be like rooting for the Mariners.  A hopeless team, a hopeless franchise, and a hopeless future.
  26. Washington Redskins (3-8) – You know, you’re just helping the Rams get a better draft pick, don’t you?
  27. Houston Texans (2-9) – Well, I picked up their defense for a 1-week trial (because the Seahawks were on BYE and they were playing the Jags.  I guess I got my money’s worth, but come on!  How do you lose to that team?
  28. Atlanta Falcons (2-9) – As the Falcons go, so does my fantasy team:  right down the shitter.  I have Matt Ryan and Tony Gonzalez.  After a semi-brilliant start to the season, it’s been non-stop agony.
  29. Minnesota Vikings (2-8-1) – I don’t even know how to process a tie right now.  Odds are, it means they’ll be a half-game better than a few teams and it’ll hurt their draft spot.  The only thing worse for them would’ve been an outright win.
  30. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-9) – Your 2013 Jacksonville Jaguars.

The Seahawks Return Home Triumphant, Prepare To Feast

There is nothing to be scared of in this game on Sunday.  Teams like Tampa are 0-7 for a reason.  In the NFL, it comes down to coaching and quarterback play, and the Bucs have had neither the entire season.

Which is kind of a shame, because this is an exciting team with a lot of good, young talent on defense.  If you gave this team even a halfway decent head coach (like Andy Reid) and a halfway decent quarterback (like Alex Smith), and I’m pretty sure you’re looking at a team that’s anywhere from 5-2 to 7-0.

Anyway, I don’t have a whole lot to say about this game that hasn’t already been said.  It would be nice to finally get that “complete game” we’ve all been clamoring over, but I don’t think it’s gonna happen.  And, quite frankly, I don’t think we need it!  We’re at home, playing against a clearly-inferior opponent; all we’re gonna need is anywhere from 17-20 points and I think the day is ours.

It would be nice to get the running game going.  Maybe give Beastmode the ball 25-30 times and let him go to work.  If we can do that, and keep Russell Wilson from getting killed, I think the day will be a rousing success.

I also wouldn’t mind seeing a shutout notched on this defense’s resume.  If you’re going to be considered among the all-time greats, you’re going to have to put up some round numbers on your opponents.  It’s games like these where the elite make their names.  So, let’s go out and thrash.