The Seahawks Are Ready To Ramp Up For The Playoffs

That was just a terrific football game on Sunday, from start to finish!  The Seahawks got the ball first (of course) and went 3 & Out (of course).  The Panthers proceeded to drive all the way down to inside the Seattle 10 yard line, and this one looked like it was gonna go sideways in a hurry.  But, an unexpected wrinkle:  we held them to 4th & 2 and prevented them from converting!  It was as close as could be, and we certainly benefitted from what appeared to be a favorable spot, but all in all we held when we needed to, and this game took on a different feeling.

Not right away, of course.  We punted on our very next possession, then Wilson missed an open touchdown to Doug Baldwin, but early in the second quarter it was 3-3 and based on the way the game was played to that point, it felt like we should’ve been down by two scores.

I’ll say this about the Panthers:  their offense with Norv Turner at the helm was and is absolutely phenomenal.  Cam Newton is as good as he’s ever been, Christian McCaffrey is the ultimate offensive weapon, and they’ve got enough young talent at receiver to be even more potent when they get a little more experience and learn to gel.  This thing – barring any health issues – could be a juggernaut in 2019.

I mean, 125 yards on 17 rushes for McCaffrey, plus another 112 yards on a whopping 11 receptions!  The Seahawks’ pass rush isn’t any great shakes as it is, but when Newton is holding the ball for a millisecond and getting it into McCaffrey’s hands with a ton of open yards in front of him on seemingly every play, it was truly a genius-level game-plan by the Panthers.  The Seahawks’ defense, by its nature, is always going to allow the checkdown, so defaulting to the checkdown as your primary route – before whoever is supposed to come cover the running back out in the flat has time to get there – is absolutely the correct play call 9 times out of 10.  Quite honestly, I wondered if the Seahawks were ever going to shadow McCaffrey; the answer to that question was:  NOPE!

I don’t know how the Seahawks prevailed, except I do know, and his name is Russell Motherfucking Wilson.

Sorry to write almost 400 words before I get to my abandoned premise for these recap posts, but …

What I’m Geeked Out About After Eleven Games

It’s Russell Wilson!  The guy is phenomenal!  Sure, he missed that early TD to Baldwin, but he finished 22/31 for 339 and 2 TDs against 0 INTs!  The Panthers were taking away the run, loading up the box with practically the entire defense.  And, when they weren’t holding our running backs to a 2.7 yards per carry average on 28 attempts, they were blitzing the hell out of my boy!  The Panthers got to him for a couple sacks, but he made them pay for their disrespect so many more times.

Other Things That Caught My Eye (In A Good Way)

Tyler Lockett, dare I say it, is the best receiver on this team!  5 for 107 and a TD.  I know Doug Baldwin has been hurt all year, and that’s hampering his numbers quite a bit, but Lockett has really stepped up this year, and John Schneider is a very smart man for signing him to that extension when he did.  Perfect timing, perfect value, and I’m glad Lockett is going to be a Seahawk for many years to come.

Also, Doug Baldwin, who has had a knee issue dating back to Training Camp, came down with a groin pull earlier last week in practice.  He was by no means a lock to play in this one, but he gutted it out and came up pretty big.

Can’t leave out David Moore, who caught the game-tying 35-yard touchdown on 4th & 3 late in the game.  Dude is a stud, no doubt about it.

Defensively, Bobby Wagner is the straw that stirs the drink.  11 more tackles for the best middle linebacker in the game.  You want to throw Luke Kuechly in my face?  Yeah, he’s pretty good too, but look at what he’s got around him and compare it to the string and duct tape job the Seahawks are pulling on defense.  Without Bobby, the Seahawks would EASILY be giving up 30+ points every game; it takes every ounce of his blood, sweat, and tears to keep this unit afloat until we sign some re-inforcements this upcoming offseason.

Tre Flowers didn’t have the best game, but he made a game-saving tackle on the Panthers’ final drive to hold them to a 52-yard field goal attempt that sailed wide-right.  More importantly, it saved the Seahawks almost two full minutes to drive down (with plenty of time to spare – so much time that we had to kneel twice to run down all the clock – thanks to our master quarterback) and kick the game-winner.  That tackle alone might’ve been the play of the game.

The Seahawks gave up 27 points in this one, but they held early and they held again late.  In a 3-point victory for the Seahawks, the Panthers left at least 6 points on the field because they couldn’t convert when it mattered most.

Also, it was cool to see Naz Jones make a play, when he’s been in the doghouse for most of the year.

Other Things That Caught My Eye (In A Bad Way)

I thought Frank Clark had a rare dud of a performance, in an otherwise amazing season.  He looked like he was chasing sacks (and his future millions) more than he was interested in containing Newton and limiting big chunk plays.  Now, to be fair – as I mentioned before – the Panthers schemed to get the ball out of Newton’s hands most of the day.  But, there were a few times Newton was able to scramble, and Frank just ran himself right out of the play.

The secondary, again, gave up a disturbing number of big plays that I’m going to hope is just growing pains for this unit as it eventually figures it out.  Again, an elite QB and all, but not something we’re used to seeing as Seahawks fans the last half-dozen years.

Also, shit man, you know McCaffrey is their best offensive player … maybe try to account for him on – I dunno – half of their plays at least?  How many GAPING holes did he run through unharmed?  Again, I’ll register my complaint that Poona Ford was a healthy scratch, as this is another one where run defense should’ve been our ultimate focus.

Maybe the run defense is just bad.  Where’s Tony McDaniel when you need him?

This team needs K.J. Wright in the worst way.  Let him get back to 100% – we have time, with some cupcakes coming up on the schedule – but if this team is going to get to the playoffs, and maybe even make some noise when they get there, we’re going to need Wright and Wagner leading the way together.

The Seahawks’ Season Might Be On The Line In Carolina

It’s interesting, because last weekend through arguably yesterday, everything the Seahawks needed to have happen has gone according to the script you’d want to see.  I mean, let’s go through the list:

  1. Seahawks beat Packers on Thursday
  2. Dallas beat Atlanta to knock them down a peg
  3. Detroit beat Carolina
  4. Houston beat Washington
  5. New Orleans beat Philly
  6. Chicago beat Minnesota
  7. Chicago beat Detroit
  8. New Orleans beat Atlanta to knock them down another peg

The only thing you could argue isn’t so great is Dallas beating Washington yesterday, but that could really go either way.  At this point, the Cowboys are leading the NFC East, which means our victory over them doesn’t do a whole lot for our wild card situation.  My thinking is the Redskins without Alex Smith are toast, so ideally we’d keep pace with Dallas, and someone like Philly would surpass them for the division.  But, who knows?  Maybe Dallas is just really good now, and with their schedule being relatively easy the rest of the way (3 of 5 at home, including the Saints, Eagles, and Bucs; with their road games being at Indy & the Giants), maybe they go 3-2 or 4-1 and finish with a better record than us anyway.

That’s not really the point here, which is that our season really hinges on this game against the Panthers on Sunday.  If we win, we improve to 6-5, pass them with a tie-breaker, and if the Packers beat the Vikings, we’d soar past both of those teams as well.  Then, it’s only a matter of the Redskins continuing to spiral before we worm our way into the wild card spot.

If we lose, then we drop to 5-6, Carolina improves to 7-4, and they hold the tie-breaker over us.  Depending on what Philly does, we could possibly fall to 10th in the NFC.  Not good.

Now, obviously, our schedule eases up quite a bit the rest of the way.  4 of our last 5 at home, with three games against the 49ers and Cardinals.  We’d also host the Vikings to try to get past them, and I dunno, maybe we win a miracle game over the Chiefs to get to 10 wins the hard way.  Or, failing that, we’re mired at 9-7 and need some help.

I don’t want to get too into the whole scenario with all the viable teams, but suffice it to say, the Seahawks could make it A LOT easier on themselves if they just win on Sunday and go forward with the confidence that only winning a game in Carolina can give you.

But … when have the Seahawks EVER made things easy on themselves?

I’ve been poo-pooing the Seahawks’ chances a lot lately, to the point where now it feels like I’m trying to reverse-jinx them with every blog post.  It’s just that this team is so hard to read!  One week, they look really strong, then I get my hopes up and they lay an egg.

If I just go by my gut on this one, Carolina FEELS like the better team.  They’re at home, which is always a plus, and I think if any team could sneak up on us and stop our rushing attack, it would be the team led by one of the best middle linebackers in football in Luke Kuechly.  I also think that their offense – with Norv Turner at the helm – is really dynamic and poses a lot of challenges.

The Seahawks don’t stop the run very well.  Carolina has one of the best rushing quarterbacks in the game.  They’ve also got a gadget running back in Christian McCaffrey who does it all.  He could make things miserable for the linebackers who try to cover him, just as he could dominate through the gaping holes our D-Line gives up on the reg.

Carolina also has a lot of dynamic pieces in the passing game.  Greg Olsen, again, is a guy who can expose even our athletic linebackers.  D.J. Moore is an up-and-comer.  Devin Funchess has a terrific catch radius.  They’re a team that loves play-action and we’re a team that falls for it more than it’s supposed to.  We’re susceptible to the big play and Carolina thrives on it!

I think a lot of Seahawks fans are expecting one of those traditional Seattle/Carolina slugfests with a score like 12-10 or something.  I fear this could venture into the shootout territory, and if we’re not careful with the football, possibly even a blowout.

For the Seahawks to win, they’re going to have to do all the things they usually do in Seahawks wins.  Limit turnovers, get after the quarterback, be good on 3rd down while limiting the other team’s.  Pretty standard fare.  I don’t think we’ll stop them from moving the ball, and if I had to guess, I’d say this will look a lot closer to a Seahawks/Rams game than, I dunno, a Seahawks/Cardinals game.  High scoring, back-and-forth, with the team holding the ball last winning the game (or, at least, having a chance to win it).

My guess its it’s Carolina 31, Seahawks 24.  I think there are better days ahead, but I’m finding it really hard to see the Seahawks finishing this one.

Nobody Wants To Hear About My Fantasy Team: Week 9

Man, that was a squeaker!

By all rights, I should’ve lost last week.  In the end, I have my opponent to thank.

In the flurry of mid-week moves made in our league come Wednesday morning of last week, The Lance Petemans picked up Dion Lewis and dropped Chris Carson.  Per his description, Carson fucked him all year long, so of course the week he drops him is the week I claim him and he goes for 105 yards and a touchdown (20.40 points in total).  Had someone with a higher waiver priority made a play for Carson, my backup emergency fill-in RB for Ezekiel Elliott on his BYE was likely going to be Kenjon Barner (my thought process being: Sony Michel was injured, the Pats were likely to kill the Bills, and hopefully Barner would get me a goalline TD for my trouble).  Barner ended up getting all of 0.40, a full 20 points less than Carson.  King Flippy Nips beat The Lance Petemans 171.70 to 160.94, so you go ahead and do the math while I wait here and smoke this victory cigar.

I never in my wildest dreams figured I’d pick up a running back I actually wanted to keep around on my roster; I thought I’d get a guy for the week, be disappointed, and drop him as soon as humanly possible.  But, Carson isn’t only a viable plug n’ play, he might actually be a Must Start.  I don’t want to get ahead of myself, because he’s only had 2 good games out of 7, but this is the guy I was expecting coming into the draft (when I selected him in my other league WAY too early).

I got a lot of good play up and down my lineup.  Derek Carr got me almost 40 on my bench, but Wentz & Dalton both had 27+.  Thielen and Peterson also got me over 20, and the rest of my skill guys got me 10+.  Matt Prater had a crap game, and Chicago’s defense certainly missed Khalil Mack, but all in all it was a full team effort.

Having Tyreek Hill go down with a groin injury is far from ideal, but if there’s a position I can afford to have some injuries in, it’s wide receiver.  Woods is a Must Start for me at this point, and I’ve got plenty of depth to fill out my FLEX spot.  I just hope Hill’s injury doesn’t linger too long, and he isn’t beset with constant setbacks.

The victory brought me back to .500 at 4-4.  I’m in 4th place, comfortably in 3rd place in total points scored, and 6th in points against.

Week 9 is the week I’ve been dreading (and had blocked out of my mind to this point) all year.  On top of Leonard Fournette being on BYE (here’s hoping he’s back and starting in Week 10), I have not one but TWO quarterbacks on BYE.  Yes, this is a 2-QB league, and yes, I only have 3 QBs on my roster.  What’s more, Wentz was a keeper and the other two were draft picks, meaning I did this to myself.  Did I realize it when I picked Dalton?  Probably not.  Did I do anything about it back when I had a chance to grab someone off waivers?  Well, I owned FitzMagic for a hot minute, but dropped him back when he was benched for Jameis.

You can see where I’m going with this.  By picking up Chris Carson, my waiver priority fell; I was 9th out of 10 teams heading into this week.  Now, luckily I got the win last week, which I absolutely prefer to getting a chance to claim FitzMagic this week, so in that sense I don’t totally regret missing out on him.

Brock Osweiler was the only free agent quarterback available who looks like he’ll get a start this week.  That’s suboptimal, but what are you gonna do?  In the flurry of waiver moves on Wednesday morning, Sam Darnold was thrown to the wolves, so I put in a claim for him.  It won’t go through until Friday, so stay tuned!

Here’s this week’s lineup:

  • QB1 – Derek Carr @ SF
  • QB2 – Brock Osweiler vs. NYJ
  • WR1 – Adam Thielen vs. DET
  • WR2 – Robert Woods @ NO
  • RB1 – Ezekiel Elliott vs. TEN
  • RB2 – Adrian Peterson vs. ATL
  • TE – Greg Olsen vs. TB
  • FLEX – Kenny Golladay @ MIN
  • K – Matt Prater @ MIN
  • DEF – Chicago @ BUF

My bench is:  Wentz (BYE), Dalton (BYE), Fournette (BYE), Carson, Hill, Devonta Freeman (IR).

As usual, the big decision I had was Olsen vs. Reed.  This week, I like the Panthers TE against the poor Bucs defense because they give up a ton of points to tight ends (whereas the Falcons’ defense is middle-of-the-road against tight ends).  Since Fournette is no longer an option for the IR spot, I had to create two openings before I could make any moves.  I dropped Jordan Reed so I could slide Fournette back to my bench.  Both Reed and Olsen are injury-prone (in spite of the fact that Reed hasn’t missed a game this year), but I like Olsen’s upside in a more prolific offense.  The other move was dropping Calvin Ridley for Osweiler.  Considering I’ve still got Golladay on my bench – and his role figures to increase now that the Lions traded Golden Tate – I feel I have plenty of top-shelf wide receiver depth on my roster.

The other big decision this week was Golladay over Carson for my FLEX.  Carson is really touchdown-dependent, but the Seahawks have been super-committed to him (as well they should be, because he’s far-and-away the best running back on this team and it’s not even close).  Golladay conversely, got lost in the shuffle the last two weeks with all the other Lions’ weapons stepping up.  Minnesota’s defense is pretty good against wide receivers, so for a while there I had Carson in my lineup.  But, with the trade of Golden Tate, Golladay HAS to see an increase in production.  Considering I feel the Lions will have to throw a lot to stay in this game, I think Golladay is both the safer play and the higher-ceiling play (as you’ll see tomorrow, I don’t have a ton of confidence in the Seahawks beating the Chargers).

This week, I’m going up against Beasts.  Last week, I talked about how The Lance Petemans have won the league championship every other year for the last too-many-years; well, the guy who’s won the league championship ALMOST every other year that The Lance Petemans failed to wrap it up was Beasts.  In back-to-back weeks I’m playing arguably the two best fantasy owners in our league’s history.  Great.

Here’s Beasts’ lineup:

  • QB1 – Russell Wilson vs. LAC
  • QB2 – Matt Ryan @ WAS
  • WR1 – Brandin Cooks @ NO
  • WR2 – Jarvis Landry vs. KC
  • RB1 – Christian McCaffrey vs. TB
  • RB2 – Phillip Lindsay vs. HOU
  • TE – Kyle Rudolph vs. DET
  • FLEX – Julian Edelman vs. GB
  • K – Graham Gano vs. TB
  • DEF – Minnesota vs. DET

His bench is:  Bortles (BYE), Tevin Coleman, Cooper Kupp, Doug Martin, Amari Cooper.

His quarterbacks should be rock solid in their games.  It’s sort of appalling how often the Rams try to force it into Cooks (when Woods is so much more wide open all the time!), and Landry is just a target machine against a terrible pass defense.  McCaffrey is a fantasy god going up against an even worse defense, and Phillip Lindsay pretty much owns that backfield now.  There really isn’t a weak player in the bunch; I guess I don’t love Minnesota’s defense against an offense like Detroit’s.  Nevertheless, my team is going to need to bring its A-game.

For what it’s worth, I like my non-QBs this week.  Chicago has a legitimate chance to be the best defense of the week (so watch them lay an egg somehow).  My kicker figures to have a nice bounce-back performance in a should-be high-scoring game.  All of my receivers look like they’ll be in games where their teams are throwing a lot.  And, here’s hoping Zeke comes back with a vengeance after a BYE week’s rest.  My hunch is that I lose this one, but I’ve got some guys that can keep me close.

Huskies Are Back On The Map With A Drubbing Of Stanford

The largest crowd in Husky stadium history since the renovation got to witness something special last night.  Millions of people across the country watching on ESPN got to witness something they haven’t seen in 25 years.

We’ve had some mildly impressive wins in recent years.  A 5-win Husky team in 2009 upsetting #3 USC with their backup QB, a Thursday-night blackout win at home against UCLA in 2010 (with Jake Locker playing with broken ribs) to help kickstart our run back to bowl game relevancy, a couple of defensive home victories against top 10 teams in 2012, even last year’s road victory against USC as a nice bookend to Sark’s head coaching career.

But, those were all deeply flawed Husky teams.  Those were all Husky teams who’d lose to the REALLY great teams.  Those were Husky teams who, in the biggest games, would find one way or another to shit the bed.  Fumbles, penalties, missed tackles, inability to get off the field on third down.  Most times, against the very best, it wouldn’t even be close.

There I’d be, getting my panties in a wad, getting all excited about that week’s showdown against Oregon or Stanford or whoever the fuck was going to be the stepping stone to bigger and better things – IF ONLY WE COULD GET OVER THE HUMP – and then there I’d be, not even an hour into the game, standing there in the stands, voice already hoarse from screaming, brown-out drunk from the 10 hours of tailgating, rain dumping on my pocho-less body, asking myself why.  Why do I keep showing up for these games, getting way too excited, when I should know better?  These are the Huskies.  They don’t beat a Top 10 Stanford team!

They sure as shit don’t dominate them like they did last night!

Last night was … a treasure.  If this were a Sark-run Husky team, for starters they would’ve made it one of those inane blackout games that almost never achieve their intended effect.  Secondly, we’d be all in a lather at the opening kickoff, and by the end of the first quarter, we’d be a group of quiet, sullen chumps snookered into yet another lie.  But, this ISN’T a Sark-run Husky team doing just enough to win 7 games and make an inferior bowl game; this is Chris Petersen’s team, and he’s got higher ambitions.

He’s also got a team, in 2016, that’s really fucking good!

Last night, we were in a lather.  Oh boy, were we in a lather!  And with every big Husky play, with every big Husky sack, with every big Husky stop on 3rd/4th down, the crowd grew louder and more confident.  6-0, 13-0, 16-0, 23-0, 30-0 just after halftime.  The more time that passed, the more our lead grew, the stronger we got.  We all got to share in the experience of kicking the asses of one of the teams that’s tormented us the most.

God, it was glorious!  Christian McCaffrey was held in check, unable to run free like he does in most of his other games; we probably held him to what will be his worst game of the season!  Think about that!  We’ll get to say we saw the Heisman Trophy winner at his most bottled up!  Hell, we might have done just enough to prevent him from GETTING that trophy!  Some voters might think, “Well, so-and-so didn’t have a crappy game like McCaffrey had up in Washington,” and we’ll never know.

Jake Browning was his usual effective, efficient self (210 yards & 3 touchdowns).  John Ross got another touchdown, as did Dante Pettis.  Myles Gaskin had 100 yards rushing and 2 TDs, Lavon Coleman broke a 25 yard TD run late in the game to rub salt in the wounds.  All told, as a team, we had over 200 yards rushing while holding Stanford as a team to 29.

We bullied the bullies.  We clogged up their all-world offensive line (always the best of the best prospects they ever draw down in Stanford) with our massive and overpowering defensive linemen.  We punished their backfield with 8 sacks and 10 tackles for loss, while our own offensive line (long the source of frustration for Husky fans, as our best Washington state high school linemen keep getting poached by the likes of the Cardinal) had a relatively clean game of 0 sacks and only 1 tackle for loss.  We did to them what they always do to us, and for that reason a 44-6 football game has never been more satisfying.

I don’t need to tell you what this means.  For starters, we’re entrenched as a Top 10 team going forward.  We got to open the eyes of a national audience plagued by East Coast Bias.  Last night, we were the only game in town!  The only game in the whole damn country!  They turned their televisions on last night to see an entertaining game against two Top 10 teams they don’t normally get to see.  What they ended up seeing was the dawning of a new age!  A Washington team – celebrating our 1991 championship team during commercial breaks – looking to return to prominence.  They saw we belong.  While our record to this point could’ve been in question based on the level of competition we played, there’s no doubt about the impressiveness of our dominance over Stanford.  That team is legit, and we CRUSHED them!

Not only are we entrenched as a Top 10 team, but we’re on the map for the College Football Playoff if we win out.  But, at the very least, we’re in the driver’s seat for the Pac-12 North, which puts us in the driver’s seat for the Pac-12 Championship Game, and ultimately a shot at getting back to the Rose Bowl.

Now, we just have to beat the piss out of Oregon next week.