We got into the Glass Half Empty side of things yesterday. Today, it’s all about Glass Half Full.
I’ll start here where I started yesterday: the offensive line. In this run of dominance the last four years, the Seahawks have never really had a world-beating O-Line. Sure, Okung was a nice player and a talented first rounder, but he also often found himself injured and being replaced by the likes of Alvin Bailey. Has that stopped us from winning ballgames or running the ball among the best teams in the league? Absolutely not! We’ve gotten by with the likes of James Carpenter, J.R. Sweezy, Breno Giacomini, and Patrick Lewis – all fine players in their own rights, but ultimately all replacement level players who made their money on the back of this team’s success.
People like to denigrate Russell Wilson, saying he’s just a “system quarterback”, and that had he been put into the wrong situation, he’d be another nobody right now. Well, by the same token, this is a “system” offensive line, behind Tom Cable’s vision for what this unit should do and do well: run the football. It’s always going to struggle somewhat in pass protection – it has the last four years anyway – but like I said before, that hasn’t stopped us yet.
Because we DO have Russell Wilson! And while he might want to thank his lucky stars the Cleveland Browns didn’t draft him, I think he’s pretty great, and fully capable of making up this O-Line’s shortcomings. Will he be perfect? No. He’ll occasionally run himself into some sacks. He’ll hold onto the ball too long when he should’ve just thrown it away. But, he’s also going to do some truly amazing things that only he can do. And, in the end, that’s going to be more than good enough to make up for the O-Line.
I like our ability to run the ball. I like the continuity of our receiving corps. And while I don’t necessarily think Russell Wilson is going to double his second half of last year and turn it into a full season this year, I think he’ll certainly take another step in his progression and by season’s end have had his best year ever. I don’t know if the offense is going to be the dominant Seahawks unit over the defense, but I think we’ll have put up the most points in franchise history when all is said and done.
I also don’t know if the defense will be able to make it 5 straight years with the fewest points allowed, but if not, they’ll still be close to the top. I just think, at this point, you know what to expect from this defense. With everyone here, happy, and healthy to start the season, I think that puts us in the driver’s seat compared to last year, where we had so many issues. Just having the vets around, practicing, playing, is going to be great for our younger guys. The kids won’t have to play right away, they can soak in more of the system, more of the game plans, so by the time they ARE pressed into duty, because of injuries or whatever, they’ll be that much better than if they had to start right away and be thrown into the fire prematurely.
Finally, I like what the schedule has to offer. Let’s break it down, week by week:
Miami, to kick things off on Sunday. I think this game starts off a little too close for comfort in the first half, but ultimately I think the Seahawks start to blow it out in the second half for a double-digit victory.
At Los Angeles, for their regular season home opener. By all rights, I’d be a fool to lock this one down as a win. The Rams, particularly under Jeff Fisher, have had our number in ways I’m not even comfortable thinking about. With this being their first game back in L.A., with upwards of 90,000 fans in a rabid froth, it won’t be easy. I think this game is a slog, but I also think the Rams are remarkably worse than they’ve ever been, and I think we take this by a field goal to start 2-0.
San Francisco in week three. Absolute pushovers from top to bottom. Nothing about this team scares me. I think we beat them by three touchdowns.
At New York, to play the Jets before our BYE week. A lot of people have this down as a loss for the Seahawks. I can see why. You’ve got a cross-country trip and a 10am start. You’ve got a team with an excellent defense, some strong weapons on offense, a savvy veteran quarterback, and one of the better up & coming head coaches in the NFL. But, at the same time, I think you’ve got a team that doesn’t match up with us very well. Sure, they’ve got Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker, but we’ve got one of the top secondaries in the league. I think we easily shut down their passing attack, and just as easily shut down their mediocre rushing attack. This game will depend on how well the Seahawks can move the football. The Jets’ D-Line is ferocious, so it’ll be tough sledding for our O-Line. They’ve also got Revis, but I think we have what it takes to beat him. If he clamps down on Doug Baldwin, I think Tyler Lockett has a big game. I also think the Seahawks take advantage of Kearse’s size in this one and he leads the team in receptions. I also think our tight ends will be a huge factor, as Jimmy Graham should have played his way back into the #1 role. It’ll be a dogfight, but I’m seeing something like 17-13, with the Seahawks on top.
Atlanta at home, after the BYE. I just don’t think the Falcons are very good. At all. Matt Ryan has been a mistake-prone mess ever since Tony Gonzalez – his security blanket – retired, and ever since Roddy White’s aging body turned him into a nobody. Sure, he’s still got Julio Jones – making Jones one of the most valuable receivers in the game, for fantasy purposes – but we’ve got Richard Sherman. Beyond that, good fucking luck. I think the Seahawks steamroll in this one by a good 2-3 touchdowns.
The next two weeks are at Arizona and at New Orleans. The Arizona game is a Sunday Night game, the Saints game is a 10am start. I think the Seahawks go 1-1 in this set of games, but I’m not going to commit to which game they win and which one they lose. What does that mean? Well, USUALLY it means I think the Seahawks will win the game they’re supposed to lose, and lose the game they’re supposed to win. It’s probably idiotic, but even at Arizona’s best, we’ve been able to handle them pretty savagely on their home turf. Combined with the fact that we’ll be out for revenge after they embarrassed us on Sunday Night in 2015, and the opinion that I secretly hold – which is that the Cards are due for some regression in 2016 – and I could see the Seahawks walking all over the Cards and solidifying our hold on first place in the division. As for the Saints game, I’ve seen this one play out too many times before. It reminds me of the Chargers game in 2014, the Lions game of 2012, and ESPECIALLY the Colts game of 2013. They have a dominant offense, with a Hall of Fame quarterback who will put up 30+ points against us. Meanwhile, we’ll probably make one too many mistakes on offense – against a shitty, but improved Saints defense – and gag it away at the end. Saints 35-27, to put our record at 6-1.
Buffalo on Monday Night to close out the first half of our schedule. This one should be another home walk-over. We’ll be jacked up for a home Monday Night game, and the Bills – who have no experience in our environment – won’t know what to do with themselves. 7-1 to close out the first half.
At New England on Sunday Night to kick off the second half. I try to run this game through any number of scenarios, and I just can’t find a way the Seahawks win, short of Tom Brady being injured. Another cross-country trip. All the hype from it being a Super Bowl XLIX rematch. And, let’s face it, if any team is going to put into use the main strategy of beating the Seahawks – dink & dunk, then try the seams on double moves with their taller receivers – it’s the Patriots. On the plus side, I think the Pats’ defense is much worse than two years ago. So, if the Seahawks DO win this game, it’s almost certainly going to require this game being a shootout like last year’s Steelers game. But, I don’t see that happening. Patriots by a single score.
Home for Philly and another walkover. You’ve got a team starting a rookie quarterback, but more than that, you’ve got a team clearly playing for next year. They’re stocking up on draft picks and kicking out all the old players on the roster, compiled by Chip Kelly. I don’t see this one being particularly close either.
At Tampa in yet another cross-country flight. We really got hosed by playing the AFC East and NFC South (which are all pretty much in the East anyway). This game strikes me as one of those traditional slow starters for the Seahawks. I think we have to overcome a double-digit deficit, and perhaps have to win this one in overtime, just like the last time we played the Bucs, back in 2013 (except that game was in Seattle). Ultimately, I think we have just enough to pull this nailbiter out.
Home for Carolina in another Sunday Night game. If both teams are at full strength, we could be looking at the best game of the regular season. I just love how these teams match up. I also wonder how healthy Cam Newton will be, considering all the hits he took in last night’s game. Will his recklessness in taking hits finally catch up to him? I kinda, sorta have a feeling this game will come down to who’s actually playing, and for whatever reason I have a feeling Cam will be out for this game. Either way, I like our chances at home, on Sunday Night, trying to rectify the disaster that was our 2015 season against the Panthers (going 0-2 in two games). It’ll be a nailbiter, but Seahawks win.
At Green Bay in December. I think this is another one of those games we’re supposed to lose, but in fact we turn the tables and steal one. Is it weird for the Packers and their fans to hate Seattle more than teams in their own division? Well, when we keep ruining their playoff hopes, I guess it’s not!
Home for the Rams and Cardinals the next two weeks. I think we go 1-1 here too, and while I’m not yet ready to commit, I will say that I feel it’s more likely we beat the Rams and lose to the Cards. I still think this is the year the Rams go 6-10 or 5-11 and Jeff Fisher gets fired. A girl can dream, can’t she?
Finally, at San Francisco to close it out. If we’re playing for anything, I think we win easily. If we’ve somehow got the #1 seed wrapped up, I think we let the kids get the majority of the snaps and probably lose it in the end. Let’s just say we win and call it a day.
13-3, number one seed in the NFC, and an inside track for another Super Bowl. This year, we get back to it, and this year we win the whole fuckin’ thing. Mark it.