Nobody Wants To Hear About My Fantasy Team: Playoffs Round 1

Spoiler alert:  I backed into the playoffs.

That’s right, I lost yet again to Korky Butchek, albeit narrowly, 154.40 to 149.45.  I had good games out of my QB’s (Wentz & Winston) as well as Elliott and Woods; but Tyreek Hill did nothing, Greg Olsen got hurt and is out for the rest of the season, and my Chicago defense royally shit the bed.  My opponent, meanwhile, got nothing out of his QB’s (Stafford & Goff) and had a paltry game out of Mark Ingram.  But, Antonio Brown killed it, the Seahawks defense dominated, and Zach Ertz did just enough to counter-balance my Philly quarterback going on Monday Night to fend me off.

Luckily, the guy I was fighting for that 6th and final playoff spot who had the same record as me also lost.  That game was pretty well decided before we even got to the Sunday Night game, so I had that going for me.

So, I’m 5-8.  I’m 3rd in total points scored, and 2nd in most points scored against.  It is what it is.  The bottom line is I got into the playoffs, and it all starts over from here.

If I had won, I would’ve jumped up to the 5th seed, playing the 4-seed in the first round.  We’ll see what happens this week, but that’s yet another thing I can bitch about if things don’t go my way.  Also, if I’d won, I would’ve knocked Korky Butchek out of the 2-seed (top two seeds get a first round BYE).  Instead, I’m the 6th seed, playing the team I would’ve bumped up to #2 had I won. He’s obviously not pleased with me.

That team:  Crazy N8’s Prostates.  That’s right, a third contest with the team that so far has beaten me twice by a combined 7 points.  He’s the team who won my way into the playoffs by beating my closest rival for the 6th seed, so obviously I’m pretty happy with this fella!  He’s already lost Alex Smith for the year, and now he’s down Colt McCoy as well.  I don’t know who he’ll play as his second QB this week, but he’s got options (albeit, not great ones).

First, here’s my lineup:

  • QB1 – Jameis Winston vs. NO
  • QB2 – Derek Carr vs. PIT
  • WR1 – Tyreek Hill vs. BAL
  • WR2 – Adam Thielen @ SEA
  • RB1 – Ezekiel Elliott vs. PHI
  • RB2 – Chris Carson vs. MIN
  • TE – Jimmy Graham vs. ATL
  • FLEX – Robert Woods @ CHI
  • K – Matt Bryant @ GB
  • DEF – New York @ WAS

My bench is:  Wentz, Peterson, Boyd, Adams, Chicago, Bell (IR).

I put in a claim for the Steelers’ backup running back, but of course I didn’t get it.  What’s worse, the ninnies with the highest waiver priority didn’t claim him either.  Which means Crazy N8’s Prostates – who suffered the devastating loss of James Conner – now gets to slide his backup right into his lineup and not skip a beat.  Great.

I did end up nabbing Jimmy Graham as my tight end.  I don’t feel super confident about that – because I’m a Seahawks fan, and I’ve seen what he brings to the table – but at this point I have to go for upside.  Jordan Reed with Mark Sanchez throwing to him isn’t exciting.  Austin Hooper is, like, Atlanta’s 4th or 5th option offensively.  And the rest is downhill from there.  All told, Graham should hopefully be okay.

And, I tried to stick to Chicago each and every week as my defense, hoping that maybe they’ll get just enough sacks or something to help me out and get me SOME points.  But, I’ve been burned against the better offenses.  I put them in against New England and I’m pretty sure that’s why I lost that week.  It seems like, if they’re not scoring touchdowns, they’re not doing anything for me; now, it speaks volumes that they’ve scored as many TDs as they have this year, but I just can’t throw them out there against the Rams.  I WANTED the Chargers – who host Cincinnati this week – but some guy who didn’t even need them used his high waiver priority on them over that Steelers’ backup running back, so I’m putting the blame (if I lose) squarely on that guy!  I don’t love the Giants’ defense, but I hate Washington’s offense, so I’m hoping for a miracle.  Any time you stream a defense that’s on the road, you’re just asking for trouble.

As far as matchups go for my guys, these are about as bad as they get.  The Cowboys and Saints both have terrific defenses.  Meanwhile, the Steelers aren’t great.  Considering the tear the Cowboys are on, I’ve got to go with the higher-upside plays over my keeper in Wentz.  It’s more likely Winston and Carr will be involved in shootouts; whereas the Eagles/Cowboys game is likely to be a grind-it-out affair.

Things don’t get better for my team from there.  Baltimore’s defense is one of the best in the league, the Vikings have to go to Seattle on Monday Night, and I could see the Bears shutting down Robert Woods.  I need to hope for crazy miracles up and down my roster or I’m toast.

Nobody Wants To Hear About My Fantasy Team: Week 4

This thing is a work in progress to say the least, but I think it makes much more sense to put these posts out in the days leading up to my matchup, rather than write half of it ahead of time, and the rest on the Tuesday after.  Also, keeping a set schedule will make things easier on me, so look for this post every Thursday, with the Week 4 results coming up NEXT Thursday.  This will, if nothing else, make it less confusing to read.

Well, the BYE weeks are upon us, and already my team is affected.  I have one healthy tight end – Jordan Reed – and he’s on a BYE this week.  I have a number of bench players I really like – Kenny Golladay, Robert Woods, Adrian Peterson – and given my less-than-stellar quarterback situation, I feel it’s only prudent to keep everyone I’ve got (Wentz, Carr, Dalton, and Fitzpatrick) and play the best two based on matchups; or, at the very least, get someone of value in return, from one of the handful of teams in the league in desperate need of improvement at their own quarterback positions.  Ergo, I’m pretty committed to just not playing a tight end this week.  Because of all the reasons I just listed, plus I don’t think I’ll be one free agent tight end’s worth of points away from winning this week.  Either the rest of my team will pick up the slack, or I’ll lose so bad that the missing 4-10 points won’t even matter.

((for what it’s worth, here’s a smattering of available tight ends:  Benjamin Watson, Eric Ebron, David Njoku, Austin Hooper, Jesse James, Cameron Brate, Austin Seferian-Jenkins, and George Kittle.  None of these guys are even REMOTELY focal points of their respective offensive attacks; they’re all touchdown-dependant fliers who are otherwise worthless because they don’t get NEARLY the amount of targets as the wide receivers on their teams do.  They’re all essentially akin to buying a lottery ticket from the gas station, which is essentially akin to setting my money on fire.  I’d rather not risk losing players of actual value and bite the bullet for one week))

The downside is that I’ll be in this same pickle in a week’s time, because the Bears will be on a BYE in Week 5.  I similarly don’t have a backup defense on my bench, and I REALLY don’t want to drop the #1 defense in our league.  But, we’ll get to that next week.  There are always potential injuries to worry about.

Thankfully, I don’t have Jimmy G in this league (though I do have him on another team, and am scrambling accordingly).  But, an unforeseen affect of his injury is that my kicker – Robbie Gould – isn’t as un-waive-able as he once was.  I wanted to pick up Detroit’s kicker, but someone put a claim in for him.  So, it looks like I’ll stick with Gould for now and just hope the 49ers are able to move the ball based on their head coach’s expertise alone.

Here’s this week’s lineup:

  • QB1 – Carson Wentz @ TEN
  • QB2 – Andy Dalton @ ATL
  • WR1 – Tyreek Hill @ DEN
  • WR2 – Adam Thielen @ LAR
  • RB1 – Ezekiel Elliott vs. DET
  • RB2 – Leonard Fournette vs. NYJ
  • TE –
  • FLEX – Demaryius Thomas vs. KC
  • K – Robbie Gould @ LAC
  • DEF – Chicago vs. TB

My bench is:  Fitzpatrick, Carr, Peterson, Woods, Golladay, Reed, and Olsen.

I opted for Dalton over Fitzpatrick based on matchups.  I never like the idea of putting a quarterback in there against the defense I’m also playing, and I truly believe Chicago’s defense is a monster and could pop the bubble that is FitzMania.  Everything else is pretty self-explanatory.  I will say this:  I’m one more mediocre performance out of Demaryius Thomas away from benching him for either Woods or Golladay (who have been out-playing him all year and really deserve to be starting on an every-week basis).  Considering the Broncos are playing the Chiefs, I expect this game to be high-scoring.  As such, I expect the Broncos will be throwing the ball a lot.  So, if I was ever going to give somebody one final chance, this is the scenario in which to do it.  If Thomas can’t get me 20+ points in this game, then he’s probably not worth holding onto.

My long climb to fantasy relevancy doesn’t get any easier this week, as I go up against Korky Butchek.  He doesn’t have anyone on BYE this week and is stacked at just about every position:

  • QB1 – Jared Goff vs. MIN
  • QB2 – Matthew Stafford @ DAL
  • WR1 – Antonio Brown vs. BAL
  • WR2 – DeAndre Hopkins @ IND
  • RB1 – Alex Collins @ PIT
  • RB2 – James White vs. MIA
  • TE – Zach Ertz @ TEN
  • FLEX – Matt Breida @ LAC
  • K – Stephen Gostkowski vs. MIA
  • DEF – Seattle @ AZ

He’s also got Mike Williams on his bench, as well as T.J. Yeldon (in case Fournette is held out yet ANOTHER week), just in case he wants to swap out his flex or RB2 at the last minute.

I dunno, I don’t feel great.  Wentz’s favorite target is Ertz, so that right there pretty much wipes out my best player.  I should have a pretty good idea of how my week’s looking before we even get to the Sunday afternoon games.  I have Hill and Thomas going on Monday; while he’s got Brown and Collins going Sunday Night.  Either my guys blow their expected points out of the water (right now, Yahoo has me losing approximately 161 to 149), or I predictably shit the bed and start my season 1-3.  The way my year’s going, both of our teams will somehow underperform, yet I’ll still get my ass waxed.

Doug Baldwin Signed His Extension

4 years, $46 million, to keep Doug Baldwin locked down through the 2020 season.

$24 million is guaranteed, including his entire 2017 salary and half of his 2018 salary.  So, at the very least (because I know this is what people like to think about as soon as a contract is signed – how soon can we break out of it?), figure Baldwin’s status with the team is safe at least through the 2018 season.  But, assuming his production remains where it has been, it’s pretty safe to say Baldwin will be a Seahawk for Life.

It’s impressive that this is one of the top 7 or 8 richest contracts for a wide receiver in the league today.  Which gets me to wondering:  what are people thinking about this deal outside of the bubble of Seattle?  Obviously, as Seahawks fans, I think you have to love the deal.  WE know the true value of someone like Doug Baldwin.  He’s not a guy who’s going to get 50 million targets like Antonio Brown or Julio Jones.  Baldwin’s eliteness doesn’t come with 10 force-fed targets per game.  Indeed, until his supernatural run in the second half of last season, where – starting with the Arizona game – he caught 12 of his 14 touchdowns, and 724 of his 1,069 yards, Doug Baldwin is the LAST name you’d want to see on your fantasy football team!

Baldwin’s value is in how he does more with less.  His efficiency is tops in the game today.  Stick him in Tom Brady’s offense, and he’d put up better numbers than Wes Welker in his prime.  Stick him in San Diego, Green Bay, or pair him with Chip Kelly and any competent QB, and you’d see a guy making many multiple Pro Bowls on his way to a Hall of Fame career.  His proficiency in the slot is top notch, but his versatility to line up anywhere and catch passes anywhere is truly what sets him apart.  When you tack on the Jerry Rice work ethic and his intangible leadership qualities, as a Seahawks fan I can tell you that 4 years and $46 million is a bargain.

But, what does the rest of the nation think?  I’d be curious.  I think the more in touch commentators trust he’s a perfect fit in this system.  But, I have to believe, deep down, the vast majority of the football-viewing public saw this deal and laughed their asses off.  Not that it matters!  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not THAT insecure.  But, I think I’d like to see their faces over the next few years, as Baldwin is firmly entrenched in his prime, with this unequivocally being Russell Wilson’s team – understanding that the mentality will always be run-first, but let’s face it, you don’t keep a cherry red Corvette locked up in storage only to drive it three times a year – the numbers Baldwin will put up will be astonishing.  If Baldwin doesn’t finally make a Pro Bowl in the next four years, I’ll be legitimately shocked.

This deal ensures Baldwin will go down as the second-greatest receiver in franchise history.  Which is appropriate.  He’s already in the top 10 in franchise history in most important figures, and he’s only been here for 5 seasons.  Just imagine where he’ll be when you DOUBLE the number of seasons!  Especially if he takes off, like I think he can.

Biggest Concern This Week: The Receivers

Doug Baldwin is good.  Really, really good.  He’s not what you would consider an elite #1 a la Julio Jones, DeAndre Hopkins, or A.J. Green, but nobody asked him to be.  That’s not his game.  He’s not going to run a bunch of vertical routes, leap over defenders, and make crazy catches in traffic.  He’s also not a burner, a la T.Y. Hilton, Brandin Cooks, or John Brown; he’s not going to blaze past defenders for a bunch of 40-yard bombs.  He works out of the slot, but he’s MORE than your traditional slot guy, a la Wes Welker, Percy Harvin, or Randall Cobb.  He can do it all, he can line up anywhere, and his best attributes are his hands, his smarts, and his route running.  With those three things, Doug Baldwin is just as capable and effective as any of the guys I’ve listed in this paragraph.  He doesn’t need freakish size or speed.  The best comp, in all honesty, is probably Antonio Brown, who I feel is the best wide receiver in the game of football today (although, to be fair, Brown does have superior speed to get to those deep balls).  In a more pass-friendly offense, Doug Baldwin would be a top 5 or at the very least a top 10 receiver in this league.

In Seattle, Doug Baldwin is a #1 who’s not really a #1.  And, this week, he may be looking at his greatest test since the Super Bowl against New England.

The Panthers are down to one healthy starting cornerback.  He just so happens to be Josh Norman, who is on the final year of his deal while at the same time playing the best football of his career.  He’s a legit Top 5 shutdown corner in the league, and he’s looking at a significant payday once his season ends.  Much like Richard Sherman, Norman generally plays on the outside.  While he CAN follow receivers into the slot, he usually doesn’t.  This is the rationale for why Seahawks fans should be comfortable with the receiving matchups this week; because other than Norman, Carolina is forced into playing a couple guys they “picked up off the streets”.

On the flipside, the Seahawks have been reduced to the following because of injuries:  Doug Baldwin, Jermaine Kearse, Tyler Lockett, Kevin Smith, and Kasen Williams.  I might be in the minority here, but I just don’t see why Carolina would choose to play status quo defense when they’ve got a shutdown corner and the Seahawks have one of the hottest receivers in the league.  We’ve seen Richard Sherman follow a receiver all around the field from time to time this year; I’m sure Josh Norman has done the same thing.  If I’m coaching for Carolina, this is the week I’m taking full advantage of all that Josh Norman has to offer.  And, while Doug Baldwin will get SOME catches, I highly doubt he’ll have this huge, impactful game (if, indeed, my theory is correct).

So, where does that leave us?  Well, for starters, I’m not expecting much at all out of our running game this week.  Carolina’s front seven is as good as it gets and should have no problem keeping us in check.  This game is going to hinge on the arm of Russell Wilson, which means it’s going to hinge on the other receivers getting open for him.

I like Jermaine Kearse as much as the next guy.  He runs pretty clean routes in his own right, and for the most part I trust him to catch whatever he gets his hands on.  But, his frequency of making big plays has diminished considerably this year; he’s essentially become a possession receiver in 2015.  Maybe he’s just saving it all up for another chance to be the hero in the NFC Championship Game, but this week would be a really good opportunity for him to break out.

The one person I forgot about when I started this post is Tyler Lockett.  He has, by all measures, had a wildly successful rookie season.  He’s an All Pro returner, and has cemented himself as this team’s third receiver.  He’s had a few big games (three combined touchdowns in the two games against the 49ers, 7 catches for 90 yards in the first Minnesota game, 6 catches for 104 yards and 2 TDs in the Baltimore game), but for the most part has had the kind of season you’d expect from a quality rookie receiver trying to break through on a championship-calibre team (averaging approximately 3 catches for 41.5 yards per game and a TD every third game or so).  We’ve seen Lockett’s over-the-top speed beat some defenders for big plays this year, but where his game is lacking a little bit is his ability to high point a ball and win those deep catches in traffic.  Obviously, it’s not the easiest thing in the world to do, but how many times have we seen Russell Wilson launch a 50/50 jump ball to Lockett, with that ball ultimately falling incomplete?  That’s where you miss a guy like Golden Tate; that’s where you’d ultimately like to draft a guy like DeAndre Hopkins to do that for you.

If the Seahawks are going to be successful against the Panthers this week, Tyler Lockett is going to have to really bust out.  There’s no reason why he shouldn’t get open on the reg against the likes of Cortland Finnegan (who I actually suspect will try to manhandle Kearse throughout the game) or Robert McClain.  I honestly sort of expected him to have more of an impact in the Vikings game last week, but the cold rendered that moot.  THIS WEEK, however, should be the week where he breaks his foot off in their asses.

I suspect, unless injuries arise, we won’t see much out of Kevin Smith or Kasen Williams this week outside of special teams.  I nevertheless maintain my belief that we will see at least ONE huge play out of Kevin Smith that nobody will see coming.  Maybe it’s a deep ball in traffic, maybe it’s a short catch and a lot of YAC.  Something!  Just watch.  As for Williams, I feel the Seahawks are missing a great opportunity there.  Williams DOES have a great ability to high point balls and come down with difficult catches in traffic.  If we’re smart, the Seahawks will include a few sub-packages with Williams, like we did with Chris Matthews in the Super Bowl last year.

This week is also the perfect week to get Luke Willson back.  I can’t even begin to tell you how tired I am of Cooper Helfet being our #1 tight end.  Not that I don’t like Helfet.  I think as a #2 or a #3, Helfet is quite effective.  But, his game is diminished the more he’s forced into the limelight.  I would assume Carolina’s defense is pretty stout against tight ends, what with their monster linebackers, but at least Willson presents a respectable challenge and will have to keep them honest.

I may be off base in this part of the game being my biggest concern – after all, Carolina’s secondary right now is much more palatable than it is at full strength – but it’s going to be imperative that our guys find ways to get open and get open quickly.  Their pass rush is insane, so being on time and staying on schedule is the best way we have of winning this game.

The Seahawks Finally Beat A Good Team

Not for nothing, but that game was EXACTLY what the doctor ordered.

Let’s face it, the defense won’t be dominant forever.  Depending on the opponent, the defense might not even be all that good.  It’s a hard truth akin to finding out there isn’t actually a Santa Claus, and one we’re all going to have to come to realize in our own time.  Some of you might be holding out hope, arguing that those are just the Legion of Boom’s HELPERS you’re seeing at every shopping mall.  But, in a quiet moment of reflection, ask yourself this:  do you feel confident that the Seahawks can hold down the best offenses in football, the way we had for the most part from 2012-2014?

I don’t know if I do.  Which means:  we’re going to need to lean on our offense now more than ever before to win us ballgames.

There are various monkeys the Seahawks got off their backs with this win over the Steelers.  For starters, the 2015 Seahawks finally beat a team with a winning record.  Indeed, should they keep some semblance of health, the Steelers should even be a playoff team.  So, that’s encouraging.  We took the best shot against one of the best passing games in all of football, and we dished it back out to them.  Even more encouraging is that this wasn’t some miracle comeback like we’ve been prone to witness.  The Steelers didn’t jump out to a 20-point lead for us to overcome; this was nip & tuck the whole way through, neither team going ahead by more than one score until the very end, when the Seahawks scored on that 80-yard touchdown to Baldwin to go up 9 points with two minutes to go.  After the Steelers broke the 0-0 tie with a field goal, there were SEVEN lead changes the rest of the way!  No huge lulls by the offense (except maybe for the bulk of the third quarter), and probably most importantly, no turnovers by the offense.

The other major monkey, of course, was that the Seahawks finally beat a team when that team scored over 25 points or some absurd number.  It’s not like the Seahawks NEVER score in the 30s under Pete Carroll and Russell Wilson, but it’s just that usually the other team is held in check.  We’ve never won a shootout with those principles in place, breaking I believe (off of memory) a 12-game losing streak.  Dating back to the beginning of the 2014 season (when we finally had Percy Harvin healthy, and we were expecting this team every week to look like they did in the Super Bowl against Denver), Seahawks fans have been wondering when the offense would finally surpass the defense.  It might be safe to say that moment happened yesterday, against a Steelers defense that isn’t necessarily amazing, but has had its share of success in carrying that team to a potential Wild Card berth with Roethlisberger missing much of the season.

Then again, that’s probably just me overreacting to recency bias in a 1-game sample.

If you take a closer look at that game, ugly as it was from a defensive perspective, there’s actually some promising elements to take away.  For starters, Richard Sherman had himself a day!  He finally nabbed his first interception (after a season’s worth of dropped picks) on a day where he shadowed the best receiver in the league, holding Antonio Brown to 51 yards on 6 receptions.  Obviously, the elephant in the room is Markus Wheaton’s 9 catches for 201 yards and a touchdown, which points to an obvious lack of depth in our secondary.  But, it also points to Ben Roethlisberger being the best deep ball passer in the entire league, not to mention the Steelers are absolutely fucking loaded at the wide receiver position.  When a guy like Wheaton is your third receiver, I’d say you’re pretty loaded.  For what it’s worth, though, I thought DeShawn Shead looked pretty good in his first real extended look as the team’s corner opposite Sherman.  He found himself playing catch-up a lot to the speedy Martavis Bryant, but he recovered well enough more often than not to hold him to 5 catches for 69 yards.

On a quick side note, can you imagine what this game would’ve become had Cary Williams not been benched entirely and kept inactive?  I don’t think we’ve seen the last of him in a Seahawks uniform, considering Burley can’t keep himself healthy, but his days as a starter here HAVE to be over.

It’s honestly weird to praise a unit that helped give up the most passing yards in franchise history (Roethlisberger threw for 456 yards, with Landry throwing for another 34 yards once Big Ben went out with a concussion), but we were going to struggle against this passing attack regardless; even at our peak back in 2013, we still would’ve given up yards in bunches.  But, there’s reason for optimism, if for no other reason than we won’t see a passing attack NEARLY this good again until the final week of the season (when the Cardinals may or may not be resting starters, as they will likely have locked themselves into the 2-seed at that point).

Getting back to the offense, it was good to see Wilson getting the ball out on time, in the rhythm of the offense.  Also, when your offense scores six TDs and is perfect in the red zone, I think you HAVE to be obligated to praise the offensive coordinator.  I give Darrell Bevell a ton of shit – and rightfully so – but I also have to give him credit when it’s due.  He’s still as inept as the day is long when it comes to calling plays for 2-point conversions (seriously, a fade to Kevin Smith?), but in the end it didn’t totally screw us over, so I think I’ll let it slide (as if he cares what I think).

Finally, big ups to Baldwin, Kearse, and Graham for catching damn near everything in sight.  It’s tough losing Graham for the season, but I tend to side with the people that believe this will free the OC and quarterback in their decisionmaking, as they won’t necessarily have to cater to anyone’s ego when calling plays and dishing out passes.  Mix in a little good ol’ fashioned Ewing Theory, and we might be poised for a timely and important streak of wins!

Shut The Fuck Up About Jimmy Graham Not Getting The Ball Enough

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m more concerned about the Seahawks being 0-2 (and how that’s a hole you don’t necessarily want to be in) than I am about a lack of production out of Jimmy Graham.  It’s like, have you SEEN the Seahawks play football before?  Are you not totally aware by now that they like to spread the ball around to as many receivers as possible?  And, when they’re not doing that, they’re trying to run the ball as much as possible because they have one of the best running backs in the game?

HELLO!  Anybody home?

I’m sure everyone (like myself) found their assholes clench up a little bit when they heard reports this week about Jimmy Graham being upset about not getting the ball enough.  But, what is that really?  Just another diva playing the role of Squeaky Wheel in an attempt to have the quarterback look his way more the following week.  It’s been this way since the dawn of time (or, I suppose, whenever Michael Irvin came into the league).  He’s not going to hold out, he’s not going to start pulling himself out of games or start picking fights with teammates like Percy Harvin.  Because he’s got too much pride and self respect to act the fool like a certain ex-Seahawk.  Jimmy Graham wants to win football games, whereas Harvin wants everyone to pay attention to him and kiss his ass like a spoiled brat.

What are the Seahawks doing?  What could they possibly be thinking?  Oh, I don’t know, how about not getting into a situation like the one we were in this time last year!  Is September of 2014 really too far back to remember?  Well, here’s a refresher:  all we heard about in the off-season and pre-season heading into last year was how Darrell Bevell was configuring the offense to showcase the unique talents of one Percy Harvin.  In the first game against the Packers, it was a phenomenal success.  The Pack had no answer for him, through the air or on fly sweeps.  It looked like a brilliant marriage.  The following week, he had a couple big plays against the Chargers in a losing effort, but only 1 reception on offense.  Things deteriorated to the point where we had the Dallas debacle, followed by him being traded that week, and the rest is history.

In case you’ve forgotten, the Seahawks’ offense looked pretty mediocre after that game against the Packers last year.  That is, until Harvin was let go and we stopped force-feeding him the ball all the time on all those fucking bubble screens that were progressively less effective every time we used them.

You really have to ask yourself:  do you want the Seahawks’ offense to perform at its most efficient and effective?  Or, do you want Russell Wilson to throw the ball to Jimmy Graham 12 times a game, regardless of whether he’s wide open or in triple-coverage?

Look, sometimes, the option just won’t be available.  Sometimes, Graham will be covered too well, either by one defender or multiple.  Sometimes, the pressure will get to Wilson too fast, resulting in him having to run for his life, while the opportunity to throw to an open Graham goes by the wayside.  And, shit, sometimes Wilson just won’t see him, because there isn’t a good passing lane and he’s not 6’5.  But, just because Graham is on the Seahawks doesn’t mean he’s going to turn into a poor man’s Anthony McCoy.  He’s GOING to get his opportunities.  I’d just rather he get them in the natural flow of the offense.

I’d also like the offense to design quality plays to effectively get him open and involved in mismatches, but that’s another issue entirely.

And another thing:  we’re two games in.  Not only that, but it’s not like Graham has gotten NOTHING thus far in these two games.  Against the Rams, he had 6 catches on 8 targets, for 51 yards and a touchdown.  For a tight end, on this team, that’s an amazing fucking day!  If he expects anything more than that on a regular basis, then his thinking heading into this season was probably WAY out of whack!  Yes, against the Packers, he had 1 catch on 2 targets, and that’s not what you want out of your top pass-catching weapon.  But, at the same point, is that something we’ve never seen anywhere else?  Look at #1 receivers all around the league, from Julio Jones to Calvin Johnson to … well, not Antonio Brown, but MOST receivers have a shit day every now and then.  It happens!  One game out of two is not a sign that the Seahawks don’t know what the fuck they’re doing with Graham.  It just means – as I said above – that the Packers did a good job covering him, and Wilson didn’t have an opportunity to get him the ball when they weren’t covering him so well.  Shit happens, get over it.

Winning football games is all that matters.  Not how well Graham performs for your fantasy football team.  If you didn’t have enough sense to stay the fuck away from drafting Jimmy Graham, then you only have yourselves to blame.

Seattle Seahawks 2015 Schedule Madness

  • Week 1 – @ St. Louis, 10am
  • Week 2 – @ Green Bay, Sunday Night
  • Week 3 – Chicago, 1:25pm
  • Week 4 – Detroit, Monday Night
  • Week 5 – @ Cincinnati, 10am
  • Week 6 – Carolina, 1:05pm
  • Week 7 – @ San Francisco, Thursday Night
  • Week 8 – @ Dallas, 1:25pm
  • Week 9 – BYE
  • Week 10 – Arizona, Sunday Night
  • Week 11 – San Francisco, 1:25pm
  • Week 12 – Pittsburgh, 1:25pm
  • Week 13 – @ Minnesota, 10am
  • Week 14 – @ Baltimore, Sunday Night
  • Week 15 – Cleveland, 1:05pm
  • Week 16 – St. Louis, 1:25pm
  • Week 17 – @ Arizona, 1:25pm

Right off the bat:  gotta like the BYE week right smack dab in the middle of the season.  It’s neither here nor there the fact that ALL teams should have the same BYE week right in the middle of the season, but at least it’s something I shouldn’t have to bitch about going forward.

Next up:  where are our night games?  We kick off a 5-game series of night games this year with a showdown for the ages in Green Bay in Week 2.  If you want to take a look at the Packers’ cream puff schedule this year, I’ll give you a moment; they catch the AFC West on a down year for all teams involved, they get the NFC West which is chock full of wild card teams who could be great or terrible, their own division houses the underwhelming Bears and Vikings, then they get the Cowboys at home and the inferior Panthers on the road.  Like the Seahawks of last year, all the Packers’ hardest games are at home.  Which leads me to believe 1 – if they stay healthy, they’ll be the team to beat for the NFC again this year, and 2 – our showdown with them could very well determine who gets the better overall playoff seed.

This is NOT a game the Seahawks can afford to lose, if the Packers are as good as I think they’ll be (then again, this time last year I was pretty fucking convinced the Saints were the real deal, so take my words with a grain pound of salt).

Moving on down the line of night games, the Seahawks host the Lions on our only Monday Night game of the year.  So, you know, be prepared for all the Golden Tate talk you can possibly handle that week.  Next up, we go to Frisco for our lone Thursday night game again this year.  Boy, there’s a team that doesn’t scare you at all, huh?  Then, we come out of our BYE week with a Sunday night home game against the Cardinals (I believe the NFL is trying to make amends a little bit by making 2 of our 5 night games at home, so thank Christ for small miracles).  Finally, one of the more interesting matchups of the year – The Battle Of The Best Front Offices In Football – as the Seahawks travel to Baltimore in Week 14 to square off against the Ravens.  I’ll tell you this much:  if either of these two teams are less than great, NBC will flex out of that one in a heartbeat.  So, if you want to see the Seahawks five times in primetime this year, you better be a huge Ravens fan.

After that, gotta look at the 10am starts.  Only three this year, with two of them in the first five weeks (at St. Louis & at Cincinnati).  I like our chances of winning an ugly game in St. Louis in Week 1, but I think that Bengals game has loss written all over it.  It’s not that I think Cincy is all that great, but they’re pretty solid.  Plus, it’s coming off of our Monday Night game, which I’m sure is going to be an emotional battle of titans.  Even the best Seahawks teams of recent years managed to lay a turd in at least one AFC road game (2012 at Miami, 2013 at Indy, 2014 at San Diego & Kansas City), so if I find myself in a sportsbook, you better believe I’m betting the farm on the Bengals in Week 5 (have I sufficiently reverse-jinxed this matchup?  OK, moving on).  The final 10am start is in Minnesota, which is another cheesy one.  I like the Seahawks to be 2-1 in 10am starts.

Overall, it strikes me as very balanced.  I really don’t mind starting on the road the first two weeks of the season, especially when we’ll have a 4-week stretch (starting with the BYE week) where we’re at home the entire time.  Being home for the month of November?  How cushy can you get?  This is what happens when you prove to the NFL that you’re one of the model franchises:  you start getting these perks in the schedule.

I guess if I had to pick “The Tough Stretch”, it probably starts with the Lions and goes through Cincy, Carolina, San Francisco, and Dallas.  Still, as long as we don’t blow games early, I could see us going 3-2 or 4-1 in that 5-game run and not having it affect our season too badly.  Again, the game against the Packers is ALL IMPORTANT.  Win that game, and we’ve got a fighting chance at the #1 seed again.  Lose that game, and we’re probably fighting for the 2-seed with the likes of Arizona and whoever pops in the East.

Remember this time last year when we were all slapping our foreheads over the closing stetch of games – with five of six against our division, and a tough one against the Eagles mixed in?  Well, how about our final 8 games this year?  I’m not saying they’ll be pushovers, but I like five of eight at home, with the only truly difficult matchup being against the Ravens on the road (but, again, that’s a primetime matchup, and clearly we dominate at night).  I think the most fun we’ll have all year is that game against the Steelers.  If everyone’s healthy, I could see that being quite the scoreboard spinner (spoiler alert for my Seahawks coverage later this year:  I think teams are going to be able to throw all over whoever’s opposite Richard Sherman, and it’s going to be very painful at times to watch).  Roethlisberger to Brown is the type of elite combo that transcends even the greatest defenses, so look for both teams to get into the 30s in that game.

I’ll have a more in-depth look at the schedule when we get into August, so that’s it for now.  A lot to like, if I’m being honest.  Some real marquee games against the Packers, Lions, Steelers, Ravens, Cowboys, and maybe the Bengals and Panthers.  Some real potential pushovers with the Bears, Browns, Vikings, and maybe the Bengals and Panthers.  Then, the usual slate of division games, but this time only 2 games in the last third of the season.  And, for the first time in practically forever, our Week 17 game ISN’T us hosting the Rams (albeit, pushed all the way back to Week 16).

A lot to like.  Now, let’s tuck it away in the rear of our brains.  We’ve got a baseball season to contend with!

Predicting The 2014 NFL Season

This was me last year.  I like doing these posts because I’m an idiot.  So, without further ado, here’s how I think the NFL season is going to go down.

(How’s that for an intro to get your juices flowing?)

NFC East

Philadelphia
NY Giants
Dallas
Washington

I tend to have a pretty good idea of where things stand – or, at least, where I THINK things will stand – by this point in the pre-season.  But, I’m more befuddled this year than probably any other year.  I start to REALLY second-guess myself when I start predicting repeat division champions, because that’s generally what all the national pundits go with and the national pundits are fucking morons.

That having been said, you might see a lot of repeaters out of me this year.  Since I can’t predict where injuries are going to fall, I have to look at straight up talent.  And Philly has it all over the rest of the teams in the East.  For the record, all four of these teams have just the worst defenses, but I think the Eagles have it a hair above the others.  It wouldn’t be unreasonable to see something of a bounce-back year out of the Giants and Eli Manning to perhaps get to 9 wins.  Dallas will score a lot and they’ll give up a lot, and Tony Romo will be Tony Romo.  Something in the 7-win range is in order.  RGIII is looking at a new coaching staff and probably some more growing pains.  If you’re a Redskins fan, you probably hate to see your young quarterback suffer coaching instability this early into his career.  I wouldn’t be surprised to see him stay healthier this year, but also take a step back as they try to turn him into a pocket passer.  Watch out for a potential QB controversy here as well.

NFC North

Detroit
Green Bay
Chicago
Minnesota

Gotta take a chance in your predictions somewhere.  I thought Detroit was poised to crack the playoffs last year, but ultimately their coaching staff was comprised of nothing but fuckups.  Your team reflects that.  This year, they’ve got a calming influnece in Jim Caldwell.  I didn’t like him as much trying to follow Tony Dungy in Indy, but I like him here taking over a hyper-talented offense.  That team should be averaging 30 points per game; how they improve their rushing attack will dictate how efficiently they’re able to score.  And the defense HAS talented pieces.  I think Caldwell’s staff will be able to get the most out of this unit, and I think the Lions will push through to take the division with 10 or 11 wins.

I still think Green Bay will be good, but they’ve got a brutal schedule.  They start 4 of 6 on the road, including games at Seattle, Detroit, Chicago, and Miami.  They also have to go to New Orleans and Tampa, while catching New England, Atlanta, Carolina, and Philly at home.  Like I said:  BRUTAL.  Chicago still stinks on defense and shouldn’t be anything to worry about.  Jay Cutler is still Jay Cutler and he’ll continue taking stupid chances that will be picked off in big situations (Tony Romo-lite, as it were).  Minnesota will be a bottom-feeder.

NFC South

New Orleans
Atlanta
Tampa Bay
Carolina

You’re going to see a minimum of two playoff teams in this division, but I’ve got a feeling (and I’m staking my reputation on it) that we’ll see three.  I think New Orleans is – with Seattle – among the best two teams in the conference (and maybe in all of football).  Their offense is still amazing, but their defense REALLY impressed me last year, and only figures to get better as players gel and exceed expectations under their second year with Rob Ryan.  It’ll be neck-and-neck with the Saints and Seahawks for the top two seeds, but ultimately the Saints will win a minimum of 12 games and hang onto that second seed.

Elsewhere, with Atlanta healthy, they’re sure to rebound.  Matt Ryan is an elite quarterback and they’ve got one of the best wide receiver duos in the league with Julio Jones and Roddy White (still effective after all these years).  What you have to hope for, if we’re all being honest, is that Steven Jackson doesn’t get in the way.  He’s done.  He’s old and slow and useless.  MAYBE if they used him (when he gets healthy again) exclusively as a goalline back, he might be somewhat decent.  But, they’ve got to turn that running game over to the younger backs we’ve watched on Hard Knocks this year.  Defensively, they can’t help but improve just by having healthy bodies on the field.  Really, they have to do just enough to make other teams work for their points and let their offense get a lead.  The secondary is young and went through their growing pains last year; I would expect a good step forward out of them in 2014.

Tampa is my third playoff team.  Lovie Smith is a pro’s pro at head coach.  Josh McCown is a great pickup for them.  He should prove for that team what Alex Smith was for KC:  a steady influence that will manage the offense, keep mistakes to a minimum, and let the players around him be the stars.  Defensively, Tampa is stout.  Young and fast and hungry.  With Lovie’s defensive-mindedness, we should be looking at a Top 10 unit, with the upside of a Top 5.

As for Carolina, I just don’t see a repeat of 2013 in their immediate future.  As it was, they had practically no weapons on offense, and then they lost their top two receivers to free agency (well, Steve Smith was released, but still).  Their horrendous cap situation has destroyed this team, leaving no one around Cam Newton to pick up the slack.  He may be elite, but he can’t literally do EVERYTHING.  The defense lost some pieces too, which should contribute to their free fall in 2014.  If they get knocked around by the injury bug, you’re looking at a 4-win team.  At best, I think they’re only a 6- or 7-win team.

NFC West

Seattle
San Francisco
St. Louis
Arizona

I’ll get into this more on Thursday when I come out with my big prediction post, but I think the Seahawks – with this vastly improved offense and still-great defense – will get to 14 or 15 wins.  San Francisco’s defense is getting KILLED by injuries and suspensions.  Without that unit being a Top 5 (or even Top 10) unit, I think the offense will struggle as it’s tasked with carrying the load.  My guess:  8-9 wins and on the outside looking in at the playoffs.

Elsewhere, I think the Rams are young enough and talented enough at certain spots to overcome the loss of Sam Bradford and look decent.  Maybe they struggle early, but I could see this team coming together and stringing some quality games out towards the end of the season.  Arizona is facing a similar situation with injuries and suspensions to their key defensive starters; they’ll take a step back in that area.  And, I still don’t buy that the coaches will give Ellington the superstar role he deserves.  With the atrocious Carson Palmer at the helm, I wouldn’t expect his health for anywhere near 16 games; and even when he IS healthy, I expect him to continue to be far below average.  That’s a 3-4 win team if I’ve ever seen one.

AFC East

New England
Miami
NY Jets
Buffalo

Tom Brady continues to be the man.  I don’t necessarily care for their receivers, but if Gronk can return to anywhere near his form two years ago, they’ll manage.  The running game is always a question mark for this team, but I think they’ll get by with their committee approach.  I like Miami’s potential on offense, as they bring in a new coordinator who worked with Philly last year.  Up-tempo, lots of short passes for Tannehill, and an improved running game should be just what the doctor ordered.  I REALLY wanted to pick them as a Wild Card team, but I think they’ll just miss out.  Still, we could be looking at a 9- or 10-win team, giving them hope for the future.  The Jets still should be good on defense, but I don’t think they’ll have enough on offense to win late in games.  Buffalo kind of looks like a trainwreck right now.

AFC North

Cincinnati
Pittsburgh
Baltimore
Cleveland

The AFC is where you’re going to see a lot of the repeat predictions out of me.  Cincinnati is a nice, well-rounded team.  Andy Dalton will probably never make the jump to elite status, and will thus struggle to win games in the playoffs.  But, in the regular season, against some of the lesser teams in the AFC, with the talent around him, he’ll continue to put up good-enough numbers to stay employed.  Defensively, I like them a lot.  Again, nothing flashy, but just all-around solid.  I’d expect a lot of 24-10 games out of this team in 2014.

Pittsburgh was an 8-8 team last year and they were old and injury-riddled throughout.  Their offensive line should improve just by staying healthy, if they can manage it.  Roethlisberger may be on the downside of his career, but he’s got enough in the tank for a couple/few more runs at the playoffs.  Antonio Brown is a stud, and if their running backs manage to bounce back from their weed-smoking infraction late in the pre-season, we could be looking at a very solid team.  How the Steelers will fare depends entirely on working in younger players on defense around the veteran starters they retained.  I think it’ll be just enough to snag a 6-seed.

Baltimore still looks to be reeling from that insane contract they gave Flacco.  Their running game sucks, and if they continue to lean on their wacky pass-first mentality, it figures to be a long season for them again.  Joe Flacco had that great Super Bowl run a couple years ago, but he’s not an elite quarterback.  Torrey Smith tantalizes in fantasy, but ultimately falls short of expectations.  Defensively, I’m not convinced they’ll be in the top half in the league.  And, as for Cleveland, you’re looking at one of the worst teams in football.  They’ll be drafting high again; so Browns fans better hope they have the general manager in place – with all of their draft capital – to rebuild smartly.

AFC South

Indianapolis
Jacksonville
Tennessee
Houston

Has anyone led a more charmed life than Colts fans over the last couple decades?  They have maybe the best quarterback of all time for the bulk of his career – culminating in two Super Bowl appearances and one title – then he gets injured for one year, they win the #1 pick, and they have the great fortune to draft Andrew Luck:  another guy who may end up as one of the best of all time.  AND, to top it all off, just as Luck comes into the league, the rest of their division totally falls apart, giving him every opportunity to win this division for the foreseeable future.  It’s Indy and everybody else in the AFC South.

I like Jacksonville to continue to improve under Gus Bradley.  Blake Bortles will contend with Derek Carr of the Raiders for best QB in his draft class.  Hopefully, they can bring him along slowly and give him a soft landing somewhere around mid-season.  I can easily see this team scratch its way to 8 wins.  I don’t think Locker will ever be able to stay healthy and prove what he’s capable of.  Even if he does play the bulk of their games, this just isn’t a good team.  They have an upside of probably 7 wins.  Houston will fight with Cleveland, Buffalo, and the Raiders for that top draft pick in next year’s draft.

AFC West

Denver
San Diego
Kansas City
Oakland

Manning has another year in him.  Their defense is vastly improved.  They shouldn’t miss Decker too much with Sanders in the fold.  The running game will always be secondary as long as Manning is behind the center.  This is a Top 2 team in the AFC.  San Diego should look even better than last year’s team that snuck into the playoffs.  They’ll still be a Wild Card team, but I like them to be one of the better Wild Card teams in football and give either Cincy or Indy a run for their money in that 4/5 playoff game.  Kansas City lost pieces in the defense and they still don’t have an elite receiver.  They’ll go as far as Jamaal Charles takes them, and I really wonder about his health.  The Raiders will start to be interesting as soon as they bench Schaub’s ass and put Carr into the starting role be much more exciting with Carr as a starter.  Carr may not light the league on fire the way he did against the Seahawks in that final pre-season game, but he’ll look plenty good and keep them in some ballgames.  Still, you hate to see one of the worst teams also as one of the oldest.  I could see injuries take this team down for the count early.

NFC Playoffs

  1. Seattle
  2. New Orleans
  3. Detroit
  4. Philadelphia
  5. Atlanta
  6. Tampa Bay

AFC Playoffs

  1. Denver
  2. New England
  3. Indianapolis
  4. Cincinnati
  5. San Diego
  6. Pittsburgh

Wild Card Round

Detroit over Tampa Bay
Atlanta over Philadelphia
Indianapolis over Pittsburgh
San Diego over Cincinnati

Divisional Round

Seattle over Atlanta
New Orleans over Detroit
Indianapolis over New England
Denver over San Diego

Championship Round

Seattle over New Orleans
Denver over Indianapolis

Super Bowl

Seattle over Denver

Predicting a repeat of the previous year’s Super Bowl matchup is about as hokey as it gets, I know.  But, one thing I won’t do is predict something different just because the odds are so far against a repeat matchup.  Seattle and Denver are, by far, the best two teams in football again this year.  And, it’s not like it’s an impossible feat – Dallas and Buffalo had a couple repeat Super Bowl matchups in the early 90s.

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.  Again, that’s not what I THINK will happen, but it’ll always be in the back of my mind until Peyton Manning breaks an ankle around midseason and completely blows up this predictions post.

For the record, I’m two for my last two in predicting Super Bowl matchups and Super Bowl winners.  I had Baltimore over San Francisco, and I had Seattle over Denver.  I’m on a pretty good run here, so let’s see if I can keep it going.

Always Never A Doubt In My Mind

At one point in this game, Russell Wilson had scrambled his way into an opening-play fumble (recovered by the 49ers), LaMichael James had muffed a punt (recovered by the 49ers), and Colin Kaepernick had the ball stripped on a sack (recovered by a 49ers lineman, ran for 6 yards).  That final piece of lunacy saved a touchdown drive and gave the 49ers a 17-10 lead, and it left Seahawks fans wondering if the football gods were EVER going to smile down upon us.

Ask anyone who knows anything, and they’ll tell you that going 0 for 3 on fumble recoveries is pretty fucking rare.  A fumble is generally a 50/50 proposition, and if the Seahawks went down because of this stat, you’d call it one of the unluckiest breaks in football.  Of course, one game is pretty much as small of a sample size as you could get; nevertheless, I couldn’t help but believe that this streak couldn’t continue FOREVER.  There would HAVE to be fumbles forthcoming that would bounce our way.

Sure enough, from that point in the third quarter where the 49ers went back up by a touchdown, the Seahawks caught all the breaks.  Colin Kaepernick was strip-sacked by Avril (recovered by Michael Bennett).  A fumble by Jermaine Kearse at the goalline that was recovered by Marshawn Lynch at the 1.  And, on the very next play, a Russell Wilson/Marshawn Lynch fumbled exchange on 4th & Goal from the 1 yard line (recovered by Michael Robinson, which doesn’t sound so great, because we failed to score the touchdown or even keep the 49ers pinned back inside the one yard line, but if you look at it again, you’ll see a ton of 49ers players around that football, with a clear opportunity to return that thing for a 99-yard touchdown).  Kaepernick was intercepted by Kam (which wasn’t a lucky break, per se, but it was a turnover).  Another Russell Wilson fumble on a busted play (recovered by Wilson, resulting in an offensive pass interference penalty).  And finally, the game-ending interception on the tip from Sherman to Malcolm Smith.

To be honest with you, I don’t know how to feel about a game that hinged so deeply upon luck.  There’s the obvious turnover issues I described above, there were referee issues (some iffy penalties, some iffier non-calls, and that fumble recovery that couldn’t be reviewed, which ended up not really mattering anyway), there were injury issues (I don’t know if we’ll ever know the impact of the 49ers losing their best offensive guard and their best linebacker in Iupati and Bowman respectively), and there was the play of the game.

To set it up, the Seahawks pulled to within 17-13 on a Hauschka field goal.  We forced a 3 & out thanks to the refs missing what probably should have been roughing the punter.  We got the ball at our own 38 yard line, and we drove to the San Francisco 34 yard line, with 2nd down and 6 coming up.  Russell Wilson was called for a clear Intentional Grounding, which put us back to the 50 yard line, for a 3rd down and 22 to go.  This is the nightmare scenario, but to our credit, we called something reasonable.  A nice little pass to Zach Miller out on the flat, who rumbled for 15 yards to the San Francisco 35 yard line.  At this point, it was 4th and 7.  Maybe within the range of Hauschka, but not really something you feel comfortable about in this situation.  It was the beginning of the fourth quarter, and the Seahawks very nearly decided to kick it, but ultimately burned a timeout.  Had we lost this game because we were short on timeouts, I’m sure everyone would have pointed to this situation.  As it stood, that timeout was probably the smartest decision we made all game.

We put the offense back out on the field to pick up the seven yards.  Russell Wilson nailed the hard count, which got the 49ers to go offsides.  To their credit, the refs didn’t whistle the play dead (for the record, in a similiar situation this season, the refs blew the play dead and cost us an opportunity to make a huge play).  All the receivers broke off of their intended routes and ran for the endzone.  Wilson made the perfect throw, and Jermaine Kearse came down with an amazing catch.

How does luck come into it?  Well, if that throw is offline, or if the 49ers defender makes a better play on the ball, and it falls incomplete, then we’re looking at 4th and 2 from the 30 yard line.  At that point, I don’t think there’s any question that the Seahawks go for the field goal, to pull within 17-16.  And who KNOWS how the game turns from there!  What if Hauschka misses the 47 yarder?  Of course, he would go on later to make a 47 yarder, but Hauschka was on record – after the game – as saying that he really didn’t want to kick that field goal when it was going to be a 52 yarder.  What if, in his shaken state, Hauschka pulls that one?  Then, the 49ers would get great field position, and most importantly, we’d get no points.  Even if we assume he would make it, that still would have left us down a point with a quarter left to go.  That touchdown was the difference between the 49ers ultimately needing a touchdown to win the game vs. needing a field goal to win the game.  If that’s the case, I don’t think there’s any doubt we’re sitting here today lamenting the fact that the 49ers are playing for the championship.

Just a wild, crazy game.  Here are some other observations:

Russell Wilson was REALLY driving me crazy in that first half.  I understand that you’ve got to take the good with the bad with a guy like Wilson, and it really COULD be worse.  I’m not sitting here wishing that we had some gunslinger like Tony Romo who would ultimately cost us more in big games than he’d help us.  But, it really looked like Wilson was playing tentative yesterday.  Holding the ball too long, looking to scramble out of the pocket (which couldn’t have been worse, because more often than not – with our linemen pushing their ends outside and around the pocket in a circle – he was just running himself INTO pressure) when he should have just stepped up and made a throw (especially when he’s got Golden Tate streaking downfield with single-coverage).

Of course, Wilson ended up having enough in him to lead us to victory, so it’s not like I can complain too hard.  And, if he leads us to a Super Bowl victory, it’s going to be hard for me to EVER badmouth the man again.

Good God, do we need someone better to spy Colin Kaepernick on the run!  It struck me that Bruce Irvin probably would have been perfect, but it didn’t look like we used him all that much in this game.  He seriously whiffed on one play, where he bit on the play fake and let Kaep run around him for a huge gain; but, if Irvin’s sole job was to simply follow the quarterback wherever he went, I think Irvin’s speed could have neutralized him.

Marshawn Lynch had another huge game, going for 109 yards on the ground and a touchdown.  This was the first time anyone had run for over 100 yards on the 49ers this year, and for a minute it looked like one of the rare times that the Seahawks would lose a game where Lynch went over 100 yards.  That fumble at the goalline wasn’t even his fault, so I’m glad they didn’t put that on him in the scorebook.

Doug Baldwin, as always, was a revelation.  One of these days, he’s going to get the respect he deserves, but for now, let the doubters keep doubting him.  He’ll just keep making them look stupid.  With 6 catches for 106 yards, it looked like he was going to be the MVP of the game.  He still might be, especially when you consider his 69 yard kickoff return ultimately led to a field goal (and probably should have been a touchdown drive, if our offense wasn’t still sputtering so frustratingly.

Finally, what can you say about a defense that’s the best in the game.  From the first play, where we were placed at a disadvantage thanks to the Wilson fumble, this defense showed up and put in their usual outstanding work.  Bobby Wagner led all tacklers with 15, and Kam Chancellor wasn’t far behind with 11.  Kam also came down with that interception (on just an AWFUL pass by Kaepernick) and had another two passes defended.  Our D-Line wasn’t able to get as much pressure as you’d like, but I thought they played a lot smarter in the second half, not letting Kaepernick just immediately have the edge to run.  Even though we were playing so safe, Bennett and Avril were still able to wreak some havoc.  And the run defense?  Aside from Kaepernick (who got most of his rushing yards on scrambles when a pass play broke down), this part of their game was completely shut down.  Frank Gore finally started looking his age, running for 14 yards on 11 attempts.

I don’t really know what the next-day narrative is going to be today (aside from Everything Richard Sherman, which I will write about tomorrow), but I have the feeling that Colin Kaepernick is going to get a lot of love from the national media.  This is a mistake.

Yes, it’s quite the breathtaking thing to see Colin Kaepernick with the football, running in the open field.  Dodging tacklers, graceful as a gazelle, he’s a weapon unlike any other in the game of football.  If he didn’t have all that, you know what he’d be?  Without the ability to run for dozens upon dozens of yards, Colin Kaepernick would be Jeff George:  a rocket arm attached to a mental midget.

When he’s on, he’s something to behold.  That touchdown pass to Boldin in the back of the endzone from 26 yards out was as good as it gets.  Nevertheless, it was a STUPID decision and the ball was very nearly tipped or picked off entirely.  Then, there’s that aforementioned interception to Kam.  He was standing RIGHT THERE the whole time!  There was no deception out of Kam to bait him; Kaepernick saw him the whole time and still threw the damn pass right to him!  He said he thought he could get it over Kam … but Kam’s 6’3!  There were his two fumbles, which resulted from him trying to do too much with a play (which I can’t really fault him for, unless I feel like jumping down Wilson’s throat every time he does something annoying like that).  And, of course, the game-clinching interception when he challenged Richard Sherman with less than 30 seconds to go in the game.

He said he’d take Michael Crabtree in a 1-on-1 matchup with anyone in the league.  He said he wouldn’t change a thing about his decision-making process.  Did he say this because he’s stupid?  Because he’s arrogant?  Because of his blind hatred of the Seahawks and especially Richard Sherman?  Any way you slice it, it’s foolish thinking from a foolish individual.  Maybe if Crabtree magically transformed into Randy Moss in his prime, I could see it.  But, Crabtree isn’t anything special.  I’d take Doug Baldwin over him any day.  Crabtree is only considered an “elite” receiver by the national media because he was drafted in the first round, plain and simple.  There’s nothing about his game that’s elite.  He’s okay.  Off the top of my head, I can think of 25 wide receivers who are better than him (Baldwin, Tate, Fitzgerald, Dez, Marshall, Jeffery, Megatron, Jordy Nelson, Cobb, Demaryius Thomas, Decker, Welker, Hilton, Garcon, Green, Brown, Cruz, Desean Jackson, Andre Johnson, Keenan Allen, Josh Gordon, Cordarrelle Patterson, Julio Jones, Vincent Jackson, and Jimmy Graham – who is actually a wide receiver, in spite of what they try to label him as in New Orleans).

The point is, he’s not better than Richard Sherman.  And if Kaepernick is too stupid or too stubborn to realize that, then maybe Kaepernick isn’t the guy who’s going to lead you to a championship.  His talent may be good enough to get him past most teams in the league, but his hubris is ultimately going to be his undoing against the best teams in the league.  He thinks that just because he has a strong arm, he can make every throw, and that’s just not the case.  And, if that throw’s not there, no worries, he can just run for any first down he wants.  Except, here’s the thing:  when his team is down and he’s got to mount a comeback, the same shit he gets praised for is what’s going to ultimately cost his team ballgames.

In the end, this was a game about two quarterbacks.  One a little too cautious, one a little too reckless.  Somewhere in the middle, you have the perfect NFL player.  But, ultimately, it’s easier for a cautious quarterback to take a few more chances than it is for a reckless player to settle for the sensible decision.  That’s why the Seahawks won this football game.  That’s why the Seahawks are in the Super Bowl and the 49ers are licking their wounds.