The Seahawks Can Be Legitimate Super Bowl Contenders

Last week, I prattled on and on about why the Monday Night game would be so important for the Seahawks’ chances. Ultimately, I believed that the Seahawks SHOULD be making a push for an NFL championship, but their defense would be their downfall.

What this blog post presupposes is … maybe the defense is okay?

It’s a lot more fun living in a world where the Seahawks are 8-2. It’s not ideal, but when have we ever had an ideal Seahawks season? Even in 2013, our biggest obstacle was right in our own (relative) back yard with the 49ers; here we go again.

The best part is, everything I wrote about the 49ers last week is still true; they’re still heading into – BY FAR – the toughest stretch of their schedule. And, now they’re heading into it with a loss under their belts. It’s not remarkably easier for the Seahawks, so I’m not clapping my hands together in a job well done – there’s still a lot of work to do in our own garden – but it’s far easier to foresee a scenario where the Seahawks and 49ers are playing for both a division title and a Top 2 seed in the NFC in Week 17. In a game that Seattle will host, that will almost certainly be flexed to the 5pm time slot.

There’s still so much to unpack from that Monday Night game that I didn’t really touch on. For starters, either team would’ve been lucky to come out of there with a win; really, if a game ever deserved to end in a tie, it was probably that one. I tend to focus on all the things the Seahawks did to try to throw that game away – Wilson’s interception, D.K.’s fumble, Penny’s fumble, Wilson’s fumble-turned-Ifedi’s-fumble-turned-49ers’-touchdown, the interceptions Wright and Wagner and Flowers (off the top of my head) dropped that could’ve sealed the victory – but there were tons of things the 49ers did wrong that should’ve sealed the deal (and eventually DID seal the deal) for the Seahawks (again, those near-picks, Clowney’s fumble return for a TD, the other Jimmy G fumble, the countless drops from his receivers who were afraid of getting punished by our hard-hitting safeties, and of course the missed field goal in overtime). One thing that’s tough to shake is what that game would’ve looked like if Kittle was healthy, or if Sanders had played the entire game (take nothing away from the Seahawks on that one, because our guys were hitting HARD on defense).

And that gets me back to the point of this BYE-week post. The Defense. My personal whipping boy pretty much all year. From the beginning, I’ve held the opinion that this side of the ball would get better as the season progressed, and that when we get into this very stretch we’re in right now, we’d be looking at something downright respectable! Well, if I’d only listened to September-Me, I wouldn’t have to backtrack so much abuse I’ve heaped upon these guys in the last few weeks.

Now, of course, some of them deserve it. Ezekiel Ansah looks beyond washed up. I think Pete Carroll said he’s undersized from the weight he was at in his prime, but he looks overweight and slow to me, so something doesn’t check out. Clearly, he wasn’t able to work out the way he would’ve liked this past offseason, with the injury he was recovering from, and it shows on the field. He’s a ZERO, bringing absolutely nothing to the table. At this point, he’s blocking someone like Shaquem Griffin, who HAS to have a higher immediate upside in the pass rushing department.

I loved that move, by the way. I thought it was the most inspired thing the Seahawks have done on defense all year. Jadeveon Clowney was a man possessed against the 49ers, and an obvious choice for Defensive Player of the Week; that might be the best single defensive performance we see in the NFL all year! But, he’s been rock solid all season; he’s also been the benefactor of near-constant double teaming by opposing offenses, and rightly so. He’s obviously the only guy on the Seahawks’ D-line that anyone has to worry about, so shifting protection his way SHOULD be priority number 1 for most teams. With Ansah doing nothing, combined with Rasheem Green, Quinton Jefferson (who’s also been battling injuries most of the year), and anyone else you’ve put opposite Clowney (L.J. Collier, where you at?), I mean, the Seahawks had to do SOMETHING. Shaquem Griffin has been languishing on Special Teams his entire career, he was a primary pass rusher in college, why not at least give him a shot?

And, I get it, he’s probably a liability against the run. So, don’t put him in those situations. I hate to say it, but maybe be a little more predictable! Just use Griffin on 3rd downs and in otherwise obvious pass rushing situations. Let him use his speed off the edge to try to – if not get to the quarterback – at least redirect him in the pocket. Make him move around, get off his spot, delay his throw, and hopefully miss his intended target. Sacks aren’t the be-all, end-all in pass rushing.

Anything is better than what we’ve been seeing out of this defense, which has been a lot of quarterbacks with enough time to make giant party subs in their respective pockets!

I don’t know if Griffin is the solution, but he’s a step in the right direction. With Clowney playing at a D-POY level, I don’t think you NEED the other guys to be superstars; you just need them to be competent and improve week-by-week. Jarran Reed coming back and getting into the swing of things certainly helped against the 49ers. That, in turn, helped the play of Poona Ford and Al Woods; the more teams have to worry about Reed, the more that’s going to open things up for the other tackle next to him. Hopefully, this will all lead to the younger guys opposite Clowney to incrementally improve, to the point where they’re making an actual noticeable impact by season’s end.

Another one of my whipping boys has been Bobby Wagner, and the linebackers in general. Mostly, I’m lamenting the lack of huge impact plays by these guys. They’re doing everything else they’re supposed to do, but we haven’t really seen them flash all too often. There’s been a play here and there from Kendricks. Wagner finally started to assert himself more against the 49ers. Wright still looks like someone who’s probably on his final legs, and I’d like to see Cody Barton mixed in there a bit more to at least see what we have in him. But, for the most part, Wright is one of this team’s primary leaders, and he’s not going anywhere, at least not this year.

And, for the first time all year, there’s actual reason for hope when it comes to the secondary. Shaquill Griffin is still playing at an elite level, so no worries there. Quandre Diggs made his debut and looked fantastic! I guess he got the start at free safety, but he was hitting dudes out there like a strong safety. Combined with a healthy Bradley McDougald, I think that could really settle things down in the defensive backfield; here’s hoping they can just stay out there. Tre Flowers still has room to improve, and I keep feeling like it’s going to break out for him any game now. The nickel is still a huge area of concern, so the team is going to have to coach guys up and scheme this problem into irrelevance.

All year, everyone’s been saying that we don’t expect this defense to return to its L.O.B. roots. With how great the offense is, just Middle of the Road would be fine! Teams constructed like this – with a smart coaching staff behind them – can ABSOLUTELY win championships! We’ve seen worse defenses than this one go all the way. But, a little improvement never hurt anyone.

The 49ers game was the best this defense has played all year; if we can stay right around that level, the sky is the limit.

There were calls from the more optimistic sect of Seahawks fans prior to the 49ers game calling for fans to lighten up. I believe Hawkblogger himself said it’s okay to believe. I wasn’t there with him; the 49ers looked too daunting. Turns out they’re human, like all the teams in the NFL. In that respect, the Seahawks are as good as any of the contenders out there. I’m ready to finally start believing. I won’t make us frontrunners; but we’re as good or better than the 49ers, Saints, Packers, Cowboys, and any other NFC team you throw our way.

The Seahawks are IN this thing! It’s gonna be a fun final six weeks.

Nobody Wants To Hear About My Fantasy Team: Week 11

Yeah, I lost again.  Crazy N8’s Prostates beat King Flippy Nips 175.40 to 171.55, meaning in two games against him this year, I lost by a combined 7 points.

These sorts of demoralizing defeats are coming so fast and furiously that I don’t really feel much of anything at this point.  Ho hum, live to fight another day, right?

By all rights, I had no business even being all that close.  Andy Dalton shit the bed, as I predicted he might.  Tyler Boyd did nothing for me (more on my ill-fated trade in a minute).  I went into the Sunday Night game losing by a considerable margin.  It took a combined 63.40 points from Wentz and Elliott to give me an improbable 20-point lead heading into Monday Night.  By that point, my score was locked in.  My opponent only had Odell Beckham Jr.  If the 49ers could’ve held him to under 20 points, I had a win in hand.  Instead, they left him wide open for 2 touchdowns and I lost.  Such is life.

Such is MY life, that is.

I’m currently 4-6, in 6th place in the league.  I still have the 3rd most points.  I still have the 2nd most points against.  Three teams have already clinched playoff spots.  The four teams currently below me are all at 3-7.  Thankfully, I have more total points than all of them, but at this rate, I’m going to lose the rest of my games and someone will beat me with a better overall record.

Oh yeah, that trade from last week.  Well, let’s see.  Predictably, Tyler Boyd struggled as the Bengals’ #1 receiver.  As long as A.J. Green is out, Boyd is going to suck, that’s the bottom line.  Jameis Winson, as we knew, didn’t play; I don’t think Fitzmagic has done enough to get re-benched, so nothing changes there.

Meanwhile, TheGangUnderperforms got 27.90 points from Fournette.  Had I held onto him, I would’ve won last week.  That’s a fact.  He beat Adrian Peterson’s score by almost 20 points, so there you go.  Kenny Golladay had 19.80 for his bench; he would’ve gotten me an additional 10 points over Boyd.  Had I just held onto Golladay and started him, I would’ve won last week.

The cherry on the sundae is the final nail in the Le’Veon Bell coffin for 2018.  He’s not returning to the Steelers and is officially eliminated from returning this season.  I still think it was a valiant effort – and I still think Fournette is an iffy prospect going forward, with all his injury issues – but in the end it’s looking like closer to a Worst Case Scenario for me in this deal.  The only way I can salvage anything is if Jameis Winston returns to starting – which would be an upgrade over Andy Dalton most weeks – but in looking at Cincinnati’s schedule, they play the Browns twice and the Raiders once going forward (including both teams in weeks 15 & 16), so I’m not sure even that would net me anything.  I’ve essentially traded at least one win in 2018 for a potential Le’Veon Bell keeper in 2019.  Here’s hoping that wherever he goes, he’s not in a timeshare.  Or behind a shitty offensive line.  Or gets immediately injured.

Is it possible for my life to get any worse?  Well, let’s see.  What if I told you I now get to go up against TheGangUnderperforms this very week!?  An opportunity not just to lose, but to lose by my own hand!

The only move I made this week was essentially the purchase of a lottery ticket.  Malcolm Brown is Todd Gurley’s handcuff; I don’t expect Gurley to get injured, but at this point I’m going to need a hail mary to win the league this season, so I might as well use my extra bench spot for something potentially useful.  Devonta Freeman probably isn’t coming back this year, and if he does, he probably won’t be effective.

Here’s this week’s lineup:

  • QB1 – Carson Wentz @ NO
  • QB2 – Andy Dalton @ Bal
  • WR1 – Tyreek Hill @ LAR
  • WR2 – Adam Thielen @ CHI
  • RB1 – Ezekiel Elliott @ ATL
  • RB2 – Adrian Peterson vs. HOU Chris Carson vs. GB
  • TE – Greg Olsen @ DET
  • FLEX – Robert Woods vs. KC
  • K – Matt Prater vs. CAR
  • DEF – Chicago vs. MIN

My bench is:  Boyd, Carr, Carson AP, Winston, Brown, Bell (IR).

The only decision to make was AP over Chris Carson.  While Carson is the superior running back at this point, the Seahawks are playing the Packers on a short week and I can’t imagine Carson will get the lion’s share of the carries in this offense.  I just have to hope he makes it through this game without a setback and that he regains his starting role in the weeks ahead.

THURSDAY PANIC UPDATE:  I’ve been mulling this over ever since I locked in my roster with this blog post, trying to find a way to talk myself out of Adrian Peterson and into Chris Carson.  I ultimately made the change for a number of reasons.  For starters, Carson was taken off of the injury report.  On top of which, every time Carson has missed a game (I count the second half of that Bears contest – where he was inexplicably not re-inserted for no good reason – as a “missed game” because he certainly could’ve done more there if given the opportunity), he’s come back the next week to rush for over 100 yards.  He obviously was held out of last week’s Rams game with an eye towards this Packers game tonight.  I don’t believe that Penny is going to significantly eat into the running back carries (barring injury to one of the other guys).  And, with this being a Must Win, I believe the Seahawks are going to ride their best players to either victory or defeat.  As Carson is the clearcut best running back on this team, I think that means he gets the kind of workload we saw in Detroit a few weeks back.  Conversely, the Texans are really good against the run.  The Redskins O-Line is in shambles right now.  Even though AP is as healthy as he’s been in a long time, I think his upside is relatively low.  I think that’s a low scoring game any way you slice it, and ultimately it comes down to the potential in a Chris Carson.  I think the likelihood of getting a 20+ point game out of Carson is higher than it is getting a 20+ point game out of AP.  That being said, obviously, I think AP’s floor is higher – he’s more likely to bottom out around 10 points, whereas Carson could get injured on the first series of the game – but at this point in my season, I need to take a shot.  I’ll know as early as tonight if I fucked up royally; I’m dreading this decision already.

Here’s who TheGangUnderperforms has going against me:

  • QB1 – Ben Roethlisberger @ JAX
  • QB2 – Marcus Mariota @ IND
  • WR1 – Julio Jones vs. DAL
  • WR2 – Kenny Golladay vs. CAR
  • RB1 – Kareem Hunt @ LAR
  • RB2 – Leonard Fournette vs. PIT
  • TE – Rob Gronkowski (BYE)
  • FLEX – Emmanuel Sanders @ LAC
  • K – Justin Tucker vs. CIN
  • DEF – Washington vs. HOU

His bench is:  Matt Breida (BYE), Baker Mayfield (BYE), Sam Darnold (BYE), Doug Baldwin, Marvin Jones Jr.

For a while there, he had Jordan Reed as his backup tight end.  As I joked with him on Monday, with him picking up Jordan Reed (on top of Fournette and Golladay dominating), he’s doing more with my team than I ever have!  But, with New England going on the BYE this week, it appears Yahoo took Gronk off of IR.  I don’t expect him to keep his tight end spot blank through the weekend, but for now I guess I get to have a little hope.  I also feel like even more of an idiot because I could’ve had Justin Tucker for absolutely nothing, as he was a free agent pick-up; that’s what I get for not paying closer attention to the various moves of kickers in our league.

I’ve got good matchups, or at least, I’ve got matchups that Yahoo seems to like.  They’ve got me pegged as among the Week 11 leaders in predicted points, so look for me to shit the bed HARD.  I don’t know anymore.  I need at least one win in the last three weeks – with some help – to hopefully sneak into the 6th seed in the playoffs.  It’s not looking likely.  I predict yet another demoralizing loss this week.

Nobody Wants To Hear About My Fantasy Team: Week 2

  • See my Intro to understand what this is all about.
  • See my Draft Recap to learn where my team started.
  • See my Week 1 Recap to get all caught up.

My Rationale Beforehand

Predictably, panic has set in as King Flippy Nips looks to rebound from a heartbreaking week 1 defeat (blowing a 20-point lead because Derek Carr sucks).  The longer I go without winning a game, the more panic moves I’m going to make.

There’s been a little roster shuffling already.  For starters, Yahoo has let me put Greg Olsen in my IR spot, as he figures to be out for a number of weeks.  This freed up a spot which I used to put in a waiver claim on Nick Foles.  At this point, it’s anybody’s guess as to when Carson Wentz comes back, and I can’t rely on Dalton and Carr alone to get me through.  I need quarterbacks I can COUNT on.  Foles and the Eagles are going to Tampa this week and the Bucs’ defense doesn’t impress-ah me much (as Shania Twain might also agree).  After some first week struggles, I fully expect Foles to bounce back, so he’s going right into my starting lineup in place of Derek Carr (who is going to Denver in another impossible defensive matchup).

That leaves my other QB spot with Dalton, playing Thursday Night against the Ravens.  I don’t love it.  I have no data on this, but it feels like Dalton always shits the bed whenever he’s playing in a nationally-televised game (Bengals fans, back me up here!).  I’m trying not to over-react to the Ravens’ defense, as they had a cupcake matchup against the Bills last week, and literally any defense would’ve looked at least almost as good.  I’m sticking with Dalton even though I made another move this week, dropping my beloved sleeper Kenny Stills to pick up Joe Flacco.  Flacco had a great week 1 as well, but again, I’m trying not to over-react to the fact that he played against Buffalo’s defense.  I think Cincy’s defense is a lot better, plus the Bengals are at home.  So, for now, I’ll stash Flacco on my bench (also, not for nothing, but my opponent might’ve been in the market for someone like Flacco, as he only has 2 healthy & active QBs, and Mariota is questionable this week; so preventing my rival from filling his squad is always ideal), and mix-and-match between all my QBs going forward based on matchups until I can settle on two guys I can trust.

For what it’s worth, I have a ton of wide receivers on my roster.  I have to start Tyreek Hill and Adam Thielen every week, and I really like Demaryius Thomas (who will be my FLEX guy for the foreseeable future).  After that, I had two receivers on my bench – Stills and Robert Woods – and I just like Woods a LITTLE bit more (plus he’s on an offense I know is going to be great all year, while I’m still unsure about Miami long term).  So, we’ll see.  I do expect Stills to be picked up by someone, but I think there’s a chance we’ve seen the best out of him already.

SUNDAY MORNING UPDATE – No one in my league picked up Stills on waivers, so I grabbed him as a free agent and re-waived Flacco.  The perfect crime!

Anyway, here’s my lineup:

  • QB1 – Andy Dalton vs. BAL
  • QB2 – Nick Foles @ TB
  • WR1 – Tyreek Hill @ PIT
  • WR2 – Adam Thielen @ GB
  • RB1 – Ezekiel Elliott vs. NYG
  • RB2 – Adrian Peterson vs. IND
  • TE – Jordan Reed vs. IND
  • FLEX – Demaryius Thomas vs. OAK
  • K – Robbie Gould vs. DET
  • DEF – Chicago vs. SEA

My bench consists of Carr, Flacco, Wentz, Woods, Stills, and Leonard Fournette.

The big choice this week was AP over Fournette.  Well, given Peterson’s dominant week 1 performance, combined with the fact that Fournette got injured in last week’s game and didn’t practice all week, sort of made up my mind for me.  Fournette was slated to be a true Game Time Decision, and unfortunately his game started in the afternoon, while AP’s game started in the morning.  So, I had to go with the sure thing and just pray the Jags would give Fournette a week off to rest.  That being said, don’t believe for a minute that I didn’t obsessively check Twitter for any last-second updates on Fournette’s condition.

This week, my opponent is TheGangUnderperforms, which I’m assuming is some sort of It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia reference(?), crossed with his usual brand of self-effacing humor.  He’s the 9th place team in our league – having scored the second-fewest points in week 1 – so it sounds like his team’s name is as fitting as they come.  He’s the poor sap in our league who’s stuck with Le’Veon Bell, with the unfortunate kick in the crotch that he failed to draft James Conner (even though, in real life, he’s a big Steelers fan and should’ve known better).  I should also point out, before week 1, I offered him a trade of Adrian Peterson and Robert Woods for Bell (who made it known he wasn’t going to come back to the team in time for the game) and he shot me down!  It must be his immense pride that has prevented him from crawling back to me asking for a re-do on that decision.  When will Bell return to the Steelers?  Maybe never!  And here I’ll be, reaping the rewards of a rejuvenated Adrian Peterson (with the security blanket of a Robert Woods on my bench for potential BYE week & injury fill-ins).

In spite of some injuries and depth issues on his bench, TheGangUnderperforms still has a pretty talented squad that is FULLY capable of wiping the floor with my ass.  In the next section, we’ll get to the results.

***

Week 2 Results

The week got off to a tremendous start!  Andy Dalton is a wonderland!  He nearly doubled the points of Flacco and absolutely doubled his projected point total.  On top of that, my opponent’s kicker – Justin Tucker – only managed 7 points, three below expected.  I started the week a coin flip, and after Thursday I was a 65% favorite heading into the weekend.

TheGangUnderperforms’ lineup looked like this:

  • QB1 – Ben Roethlisberger vs. KC
  • QB2 – Marcus Mariota vs. HOU
  • WR1 – Julio Jones vs. CAR
  • WR2 – Larry Fitzgerald @ LAR
  • RB1 – Kareem Hunt @ PIT
  • RB2 – Jamaal Williams vs. MIN
  • TE – Gronk @ JAX
  • FLEX – Emmanuel Sanders vs. OAK
  • K – Justin Tucker @ CIN
  • DEF – N.Y. Jets vs. MIN

It looked marginally dicey early when Ben Roethlisberger threw non-stop on a pathetic Chiefs defense; fortunately I was saved because Mariota didn’t play and my opponent didn’t have any room for any other QBs on his roster (aside from the rookies he has on his bench who aren’t starting yet, and Jameis Winston, who’s still suspended).  Nevertheless, Roethlisberger scored enough points to cover both QB spots, as he pushed 50 on the day.

TheGangUnderperforms didn’t have any help anywhere else though.  Gronk and Fitzgerald had bad days, Julio stayed true to the team name and underperformed, and everyone else was just sort of average.

My team, meanwhile, did even better than the week before!

Foles and Carr were about the same, so that didn’t bite me in the ass as both had around 20.  My receivers – Thielen and Hill – absolutely torched the competition once again, for a combined 50+ points.  My kicker doubled his kicker; my Chicago defense had a field day; Zeke had a solid game.  And, while AP, Demaryius, and Reed didn’t impress, they also gave me SOMETHING, in the range of 6-10 points.

All told, it was a 194.59 – 130.90 drubbing!

I’m currently in 3rd place with a 1-1 record, though I have the second-most points in the league behind the guy who kept Mahomes, Rivers, and Kamara (clearly getting more out of his keepers than anyone else in the league).  As chance would have it, I have to go up against that juggernaut this very upcoming week.  Luckily, it looks like I get Carson Wentz back, as well as (hopefully) Leonard Fournette.

Nobody Wants To Hear About My Fantasy Team: Week 1

See my Intro to understand what this is all about.

See my Draft Recap to see where we are heading into the first week of the season.

I’ll be the first to admit I obsess WAY TOO MUCH about fantasy football.  Thinking about my roster, listening to podcasts, reading articles, pouring over the rankings of other people, scouring the waiver wire for potential pick-ups, conjuring trades to try and swindle my friends out of their elite players.  My productivity in general takes a HUGE hit during the football season for those reasons and many others, but I’m no more insane than I am in the lead-up to Week 1.

It’s no more or less important than any other regular season week, but it FEELS like the most important game of the season.  At the same time, I’ve been trying my best in recent years not to tinker too much with my roster before I’ve actually had a chance to see these guys play.  I mean, if I liked these guys enough to draft them a week ago, why am I sitting here second-guessing myself before they’ve done anything to convince me they’re no good?

Last year, I think I managed to go all the way through the first week before making a roster change; this year I wasn’t as strong.  But, I feel I had a good reason:  the Bears made a huge trade for Khalil Mack over the weekend – the day AFTER I drafted Baltimore’s defense – so I used my relatively high waiver priority (3rd in the league) to swap defenses.

My draft strategy this year was simple:  wait until the very last minute to draft a defense.  There are a few you have to feel good about – the Rams, the Jags, the Vikings, maybe the Eagles – but a lot of the time, defense is about matchups.  Likewise, there are countless stories of defenses that came out of nowhere to lead the fantasy league in points, just as there are countless stories of supposedly-elite defenses succumbing to age or injury or simple over-rating.  Why get caught up in the fervor of taking one of the top pre-season defenses early in the draft when you can get one pretty close to just as good at the end of the draft or on waivers after the first week.  So, in this league, I picked up the Ravens’ defense, because they’re going up against Buffalo in Week 1, and that felt like a good one to stream against until some other team popped out as one to go with from Week 2 onward (or, if I got lucky, and the Ravens’ defense was really good in general – and not just against the Bills – then I just got them in the next-to-last round while the suckers in my league wasted precious earlier draft picks on the same quality).

The thing is, even heading into the draft, I liked Chicago’s defense as a possible sleeper.  I think Vic Fangio is an excellent defensive coordinator – on a tier just below Wade Phillips – and I seemed to remember them really going hard after young talent in the draft on this side of the ball.  They seemed poised like a breakout candidate BEFORE trading for Mack; now that they have him, and his sack potential, I like the Bears enough to make them my ONLY defense.

Also, not for nothing, but I like my bench players an awful lot (heading into Week 1, my bench includes:  Greg Olsen, Carson Wentz, Robert Woods, Adrian Peterson, and Kenny Stills).  I don’t want to drop ANY of those guys at the moment, as I feel like they could all play important roles on my team this year.  If I did have to drop someone, it would likely be one of those two receivers, so seeing how they both look in the first week is going to be critical in my line of thinking going forward (gun to my head:  I’d probably choose Woods over Stills, as I like the Rams’ offense more than Miami’s; but Stills could end up as the Dolphins’ best receiver this year, while the Rams have a lot of guys who will divide Goff’s attention).

Anyway, how I plan to do this is I’m going to write up my thought process heading into the week ahead of time, that way my rationale won’t be tainted by events that already happened.  You’re going to know exactly what I’m thinking heading into this week, because I’m writing it before the games start.  Then, I’m going to write a section after the fact, letting you know how my week went.  So, without further ado:

My Rationale Beforehand

Here’s my roster for Week 1:

  • QB1 – Derek Carr vs. LAR
  • QB2 – Andy Dalton @ IND
  • WR1 – Tyreek Hill @ LAC
  • WR2 – Adam Thielen vs. SF
  • RB1 – Ezekiel Elliott @ CAR
  • RB2 – Leonard Fournette @ NYG
  • TE – Jordan Reed @ AZ
  • FLEX – Demaryius Thomas vs. SEA
  • K – Robbie Gould @ MIN
  • DEF – Chicago @ GB

Obviously, if Wentz was healthy, he’d be my QB1 and I’d probably end up sitting Carr this week.  On waivers, the available QBs (at the time of this writing) are Tyrod Taylor, Joe Flacco, Sam Bradford, Ryan Fitzpatrick, and both Bills quarterbacks.  Of those guys, I might marginally prefer Taylor to Carr based on matchups (I could see Carr getting in trouble against that Rams defense, while Taylor is always careful with the football and the Steelers don’t really pose much of a threat to make his life miserable), but not enough to make a roster change.  I have a lot riding on Carr this year, based on the fact that I drafted him so high and because I believe the Raiders will be throwing a lot, so I kinda need him to work out for me early in the season.

I don’t have a lot to say about my starting WRs and RBs; they seem pretty self-explanatory.  I will say that I’m pretty confident about my FLEX guy as well, as I think Thomas could have a field day against this Seahawks defense.  For what it’s worth, I like Emmanuel Sanders a lot this year, but not particularly in this game.  The Broncos tend to move Thomas around quite a bit, and honestly I don’t see him going to Griffin’s side as much as Sanders.  I don’t think they play Thomas in the slot very much, so that negates Justin Coleman’s impact.  If I’m right, and Thomas is lining up opposite of Griffin’s side on the other end, I think 150 yards and a TD or two is well within his capabilities.  If I wasn’t playing Thomas, I would’ve gone with AP, but I’d like to take a wait-and-see approach with the veteran running back before I commit to giving him regular time in my fantasy lineup.

My biggest sticking point is in my TE spot, where I’ve already waffled once and it wouldn’t shock me if I waffled again.

Here’s the deal:  I drafted Olsen in the 8th round.  As I noted previously, I didn’t intend to use that high of a pick on a tight end this year, seemingly content with taking the leftover scraps.  But, Olsen was sitting there, and I would’ve felt like a fool if I’d let him drop any further.  He’s obviously a tremendous talent, both in fantasy and in real life, and in a usual circumstance, I’d be happy to start him against the Cowboys.  But, then in the 12th round, Jordan Reed was sitting there.  He’s got Alex Smith throwing to him.  He’s in an offense that utilizes the tight end to a great extent even before Alex Smith got there.  And, it’s week 1.  He’s healthy!  He’s probably as healthy as he’s ever going to be.  Indeed, I wouldn’t be shocked if this was the last chance I got to start him, that’s how fragile he is!  He’s going up against the Cardinals, which feels like a juicy matchup, and they’re on the road, so I expect the Redskins will need to throw the ball more than they would if they were at home and more likely to be sitting on a lead in the 4th quarter.  Ultimately, I feel like there’s better touchdown potential for someone like Reed over someone like Olsen, factoring in everything around both players.  The Panthers just have more weapons on offense, and I don’t believe Cam will be as inclined to look for his TE in the red zone as Smith will be.  We’ll see; I have a feeling I’m going to regret whatever I do here.

Also, thinking long term, I fucked up when I took Reed, because both players have Week 4 byes, which means if they both stay healthy between now and then, I either have to drop a really productive guy, or I’ll have to roster a third tight end for a week (or I guess I could take a 0 at that spot for one game, but that seems idiotic that early in the season).

Anyway, that’s that.  Below, read about how my fantasy week went.

***

Week 1 Results

Well, I didn’t want to believe it, but Derek Carr fucked me ALREADY!

I had a 20-point lead heading into Monday Night.  I had Carr left to go; usually, when you’re winning and you have a quarterback still to play, you’re in pretty excellent shape.  I want to say I was an 80% favorite heading into the night.  My opponent, Crazy N8’s Prostates, had Marvin Jones and the Rams’ kicker.  It was a lock, right?

Not so fucking fast.

If Carr had just thrown a single TD, I would’ve won.  If he’d just thrown TWO interceptions – instead of three – I would’ve won.  If Legatron had just missed one of those field goals (he ended up with 17 points in total), I would’ve won.  Instead, I’m a 3-point loser and everything is meaningless.

For a while there, I was looking like a genius with the Bears defense.  I also looked like a fucking boner, because remember how I had to drop Baltimore’s defense to pick up the Bears?  Well, not only did they go off (to the tune of 31 points in our league, way over their expected 17.12), but they went off FOR MY OPPONENT (who picked them up and played them against me!).  At one time, with Aaron Rodgers out of the game, the Bears had 35 points, but then the Packers started scoring, so that total fell to 20 (still well above the expected 9.06 Yahoo projected).

My big decision of Jordan Reed over Greg Olsen ended up panning out somewhat, with Olsen being the one to leave his game with an injury.  Reed beat Olsen by 9.5 points, so bully for me.

That Fournette injury is obviously a concern.  He was on his way to a monster day, but I guess his injury woes aren’t behind him.  Now, every time I have him in my lineup, I have to wonder if he’s going to get me 30 points or 3 points.  As long as Adrian Peterson is healthy – and in a plus matchup – I really have to consider putting him in there more often.

Demaryius Thomas acquitted himself well as my FLEX guy.  Predictably, the Seahawks’ defense posed little threat.  The bigger threat is Keenum’s rapport with Emmanuel Sanders, who went OFF in that game.  Still, my value pick is looking solid so far.

My biggest shining star was Tyreek Hill, who blew up to the tune of 46.10 points this week (he led all non-Fitzmagic players in my league).  He almost pulled my ass out of the fire, but you just can’t overcome a 3-point week out of your top available QB.

Crazy N8’s Prostates’ lineup looked like this:

  • QB1 – Kirk Cousins vs. SF
  • QB2 – Alex Smith @ AZ
  • WR1 – ODB vs. JAX
  • WR2 – Keenan Allen vs. KC
  • RB1 – Shady McCoy @ BAL
  • RB2 – David Johnson vs. WAS
  • TE – Travis Kelce @ LAC
  • FLEX – Marvin Jones vs. NYJ
  • K – Greg Zuerlein @ OAK
  • DEF – Baltimore vs. BUF

I ended up being the highest scorer of all the losers and had the third-highest points in the league this week.  Pretty sad state of affairs, all things considered.  Carson Wentz can’t come back soon enough.  Starting to think about picking up Fitzpatrick.  Things are looking bleak already!

Nobody Wants To Hear About My Fantasy Team: The All-Important Draft

See the first post in this series for what I’m talking about here.

Well, we did it.  I drafted my team and, if I do say so myself, I think I did a pretty good job!  Of course, I always say so myself, because why wouldn’t I?  I brought in these players, I must like them to some extent!  Because they’ve yet to disappoint me.

It’s all downhill from here.

As I talked about last time, my 3 keepers are Wentz, Fournette, and Elliott.  Since I had my RBs set, I didn’t have to focus on them too much in the early going.  So, after the first three rounds took care of the keepers, I went to work bolstering my WR unit.

I picked 8th, in every round.  I won’t list out every single pick, but I’ll at least show you the first round, to give you an idea of the players we had available:

  1. Le’Veon Bell
  2. Saquon Barkley
  3. Melvin Gordon
  4. Cam Newton
  5. Keenan Allen
  6. Davante Adams
  7. Matthew Stafford

So, those were the guys taken right before me.  Both of the top QBs that were left out there, the top 3 RBs, and my two favorite WRs.  I was bound and determined to get a receiver; the available ones were:  A.J. Green, Mike Evans, Gronk (technically a TE, but still), T.Y. Hilton, and Tyreek Hill.  I went with Hill.  I like Mahomes a lot, I like that offense, I think Hill is a stud in the prime of his career who will be the focal point of that passing game (as opposed to the tight end-centric offense run under Alex Smith), and I just believe he has the highest upside to really blow out some games.

I should point out that all of those other receivers I listed off were taken by the time I drafted again.  I still wanted to go WR – to knock that position out of the way – even though I desperately needed a second QB (and, one might argue, a FIRST QB, since who knows when Wentz will be ready).  Adam Thielen was sitting there and he felt like an obvious pick, so I took him (the other WRs were Amari Cooper, Jarvis Landry, Larry Fitzgerald, and Doug Baldwin; I think I made clearly the best choice).

By my next pick, all of those receivers were gone, as well as the next two best tight ends (Kelce and Ertz), so I went into the QB well.  No more QBs were taken after Cam & Stafford, so I had my pick of the shit-filled kitty litter.  I went with Derek Carr, upside over recent success.  I think he’ll be a transformed player under Jon Gruden and even if the Raiders are a terrible team, I think they’ll be behind in a lot of games and throwing the ball a ton.  Plus, they don’t really have a defined #1 RB (a respectable committee led by Beastmode), so I think this could be great for me.  The other QBs available were Ben Roethlisberger, Alex Smith, Blake “The Bort” Bortles, Dak Prescott, and Case Keenum.  Ben is obviously better, but I can’t trust him to play a full season.  I might regret not taking Alex Smith though.

When it came back to me, in Round 7, Demaryius Thomas was still sitting there at the top of the Yahoo rankings.  I needed a flex guy, and honestly the value I was getting for Denver’s #1 receiver was too good to pass up.  I might’ve gotten the steal of the draft, or he might be the bust that everyone is expecting.  We’ll see, I’ll take my chances.  By taking him, though, I missed out on Chris Carson, his teammate Emmanuel Sanders, Jacksonville’s defense, the Rams’ defense, Allen Robinson, and Corey Davis, among others.

In Round 8, I took the best tight end available (who was also among the best overall players available), Greg Olsen.  My plan going into the draft was to wait until one of the last three rounds to take a tight end (as well as a defense and a kicker), but Olsen is elite, and the drop-off in tight ends was significant (plus, like I said, he was one of the top players remaining).  I missed out on Marquise Goodwin, Mark Ingram, and Minnesota’s defense, among others.

Next, I started filling my bench, with Robert Woods leading the way.  At this point, I still haven’t grabbed a third RB, and that might be my undoing if I have injuries to my top two guys.  A run on RBs went right after I took Woods, with guys like Lynch, Peyton Barber, Rex Burkhead, Chris Thompson, Dion Lewis, and Carlos Hyde all going off the board.

In Round 10, I went back to QB, because it’s always smart to have a competent third (in case of injuries, BYEs, or if Derek Carr really does suck), so I bought low on Andy Dalton.  In Round 10 of a 2-QB league, I think I got really good value on this one too.  Plus, I think everyone is severely underrating him this year, and I like him to bounce back in a big way.  I passed on Jameis Winson, because I can’t have his 3-game suspension hanging over my head if I don’t know Wentz’s status those weeks and I didn’t want to have to roster 4 QBs.  I also passed on guys like Mitch Trubisky, Mayfield & Darnold, Ryan Tannehill, and Eli Manning, which I’m okay with.

Next up, Adrian Peterson was still there, so I grabbed him.  I don’t know if that’s going to work out for me, but he’s a #1 RB in the 11th round, so beggars can’t be choosers.  The other RBs available were all backups or in time-shares (Latavius Murray, Sony Michel, James Conner, Nick Chubb, Kerryon Johnson, and Marlon Mack, among others).  If worse comes to worse and I need an RB off waivers, I’m sure I can find someone, so I’m not too worried about it.  If best comes to best, then in AP I have a 1,000-yard rusher on a good offense.  (I will say that I’m disappointed that Will Fuller V was taken 2 picks after this; I think he’s a stud).

In Round 12, Jordan Reed was still there, so I grabbed him.  Yep, the guy who was going to wait and take whatever TE was left over in the final rounds … ended up drafting TWO of them.  But, when healthy, Reed is a Top 3 TE.  And now he has Alex Smith throwing to him, the ultimate in TE-friendly QBs.  Plus, Greg Olsen is getting up there, so it’s nice to have some TE insurance.

In the lucky 13th round, I grabbed Kenny Stills.  All the podcasts I was listening to in the week leading up to the draft cited this guy as a potential break-out player.  Tannehill apparently loves him, he’s a target monster, and with Landry out of the picture, he should be the team’s #1.  I am CRUSHING this draft with all the value I’m getting!

In the final two rounds, I finally had to go grab a defense and a kicker.  I drafted Baltimore’s defense in the 14th, and ‘Frisco’s Robbie Gould in the 15th.  Whatever.

Yahoo’s stupid grading system put me in the middle of the pack with a B grade.  It hated my Derek Carr pick (about 6 rounds too early according to ADP?), but it loves my Thielen pick, as well as my RB keepers.  My team is the 2nd oldest in the league, which might be troubling; then again, my tendency is to draft a lot of young guys and where has it gotten me?  Nowhere near the championship trophy, that’s for damn sure.

So, we’ll see how it goes.  My schedule is one of the toughest in the league, so that’s fucking great.  Then again, why should I trust Yahoo’s grading?

Seattle Sports Hell 2014 NFL Power Rankings – Week 14

I think, regardless as to how it plays out, as a fan you’re always happy when your team is able to win its division.  You’re ecstatic when your team is able to finagle its way into a first round BYE.  And, you’re on cloud nine when you’ve got home field throughout the playoffs.

At this point, I wouldn’t put a lot of confidence in Seattle’s chances at getting that top seed in the NFC.  Even if we win out – which I DO have a lot of confidence in us achieving – we’ve got the Cowboys and the Packers to contend with.  The Packers have 3 losses with 3 games to play:  at Buffalo, at Tampa, and at home vs. Detroit.  It’s certainly not IMPOSSIBLE for the Bills to beat the Packers, but it would go down as a VERY big shock to the NFL landscape.  It would require an uncharacteristically bad game out of Aaron Rodgers and/or an early game-ending injury out of Aaron Rodgers.  So, for your sanity, just count on that being a win for the Packers.  Tampa is about as hapless as it gets, so don’t even go there.  That puts the onus on the Lions in week 17, playing in the frozen climate that is Green Bay.  Certainly, the Lions have the best chances of anyone to beat the Packers in this regular season slate, but don’t be shocked if they fall short.

Then, there’s Dallas.  Yes, the Tony Romo & Jerry Jones & Jason Garrett-led Cowboys.  I know they’re the laughingstock of the league (non-Bay Area edition) and that they always fall apart in December and are the kings of mediocrity, but they’re a thorn in our side and they’re driving me crazy.

They have a tiebreaker over us based on our head-to-head matchup, because we somehow let them come into our home and walk all over us.  The ONLY reason why we’re in the playoffs right now and they’re not (if the season ended today) is because Detroit also shares a 9-4 record with us.  In a 3-way tiebreaker with the Lions and Cowboys, we come out ahead on wins in common games and conference games.  But, if the Lions fall out of that 3-way tie, then the first tiebreaker immediately reverts to head-to-head matchup, which as I said before, Dallas wins.

That’s a problem!  While the Cowboys have the most difficult remaining schedule (at least, in my opinion) the rest of the way (at Philly, vs. Indy, at Washington), it’s not impossible for them to win those games.  Philly has flaws (as we just witnessed), Indy has flaws (as the Browns just exposed), and the Redskins are terrible.  If Dallas wins out, and Seattle wins out, and Green Bay wins out, then we’re looking at Green Bay & Dallas as the NFC’s top two seeds, with the Seahawks hosting either the Lions, Eagles, or Cardinals in the first round of the playoffs (sending us to Dallas in round 2 if we were to win, followed by a road trip to Green Bay or back to Seattle against either the winner of the NFC South or whoever comes away with the 5-seed in the NFC Championship Game).

It’s discouraging that the Seahawks don’t control their own fate beyond the NFC West.  Everyone just ASSUMES the Cowboys will lose a game between now and season’s end, but that’s far from guaranteed.  Ideally, we’re going to need Philly to win at home against the Cowboys this week, otherwise things might get VERY hairy.

But, getting back to my original point, as a Seahawks fan, you just want to see the Seahawks get in.  Of course, it’s better to have that first round BYE, but it’s by no means ALL IMPORTANT for the Seahawks to have that in order to advance to the Super Bowl.

The two Super Bowl teams in franchise history have had the luxury of home field advantage throughout.  That’s certainly nothing to sneeze at, as it’s pretty fucking difficult for teams to come in here and win.  But, there’s something to be said for being a team that can win the tough ones on the road.  If things go as planned, and the Seahawks win out, we will finish the season 7-1 at home and 5-3 on the road.  I know, it’s not like we’re talking about big time road warriors or anything; but if the Seahawks who lost in St. Louis and San Diego (and Kansas City, for that matter) were playing as well as THESE Seahawks have been playing against the Cardinals, 49ers, and Eagles, you’d be looking at a team that’s cruising into the top overall seed.  In any event, the Seahawks have won twice in a row on the road against supposedly really good teams.  It took a bunch of flukey shit for us to lose in St. Louis.  We were pretty injured for that Chiefs game.  And it was 120 degrees in San Diego way back in week 2.  If you shuffled this year’s schedule like a deck of cards and caught some of these teams during their weaker moments, who knows where we’d be right now?

The point is, I like that the Seahawks are looking at having another winning road record.  I like the fact that CenturyLink Field has already been demystified by losses to the Cardinals late last year, and to the Cowboys earlier this year.  We’re NOT just a team that’s impossible to beat at home!  We’re a well-rounded team that can win anywhere, at any time of day.  Under the white lights of a national audience, we only get stronger.  You can’t say that about everyone.  I mean, shit, the Cowboys are only 3-4 at home!  Who’s afraid of going to Dallas to play THEM in the playoffs?  That atmosphere is as sterile and impotent as anything Santa Clara has to offer, with all the comforts of being in a climate-controlled environment.  Shit, at this point, that sounds a HELLUVA lot more inviting than playing under potential rainstorms in Seattle!

Regardless, these Seahawks are a scary bunch.  No one in football wants to play us at our best.  Don’t forget, when you’re talking about the Seahawks, you’re talking about the Champs.  The target is still on us, remember?  Except, it’s really not.  Not anymore.  So many people (Seahawks fans included, myself especially included) wrote off this team earlier this year.  They’re still focused on Green Bay and the big dogs in the AFC.  And yet, if you really think about it, where does the pressure lay?  The Packers can’t afford to lose another game, otherwise they might fall out of the top 2 seeds.  The Cowboys can’t afford to lose another game, otherwise they might fall out of the playoffs entirely.  Same goes for the Eagles, Cardinals, and Lions.  And sure, the Seahawks are in danger if they screw up somehow, but does anyone REALLY see that happening?

The 49ers are a Chernobyl right now.  The Cards have their hands full tomorrow in St. Louis, with another road game in Santa Clara sandwiching a home game against us; color me unimpressed with Arizona’s so-called home field advantage.  Don’t forget, we handled them pretty easily down there last year.  Then, in week 17, we get our usual home date with the Rams.  The Seahawks don’t lose at home to the Rams in week 17, it just isn’t DONE!

Yes, the Seahawks could use some help around the NFC to get one of those top two seeds, but I’m not going to go out and say they NEED help.  The Seahawks are in control of their own fate regardless.  Two playoff games before the Super Bowl or three playoff games before the Super Bowl, it doesn’t matter.  The Seahawks ARE going to the Super Bowl, and it seems like we’re the only people who know it.

***

  1. Green Bay Packers (10-3) – Some things are even more powerful than my first-place jinx.  And those things are the Atlanta Falcons and their defensive ineptitude.
  2. Denver Broncos (10-3) – This running the ball horseshit needs to end now, or else I’m going to be 2001 Mariners’d out of the fantasy football playoffs this year.  Gonna need Sanders to have a nice, big game this week.
  3. New England Patriots (10-3) – Getting a lot of heat this week about a possible Seahawks/Patriots Super Bowl.  Not gonna lie to you, I’d be for it.  Over/under on the times people use variations on the phrase U Mad Bro?:  7 million.  I’m taking the over.
  4. Seattle Seahawks (9-4) – Number four with a bullet!  To be frank, I think the Seahawks could beat any team in the nation right now, the way the defense is playing.  But, there has to be a penalty for that mid-season swoon.
  5. Indianapolis Colts (9-4) – Every team from here on down has serious flaws that will cost them in the playoffs.  I can’t trust their defense, and I still think Luck is a little too mistake-prone for comfort.
  6. Detroit Lions (9-4) – The defense is solid, but the offense is oddly inept.  It’d be pretty rad to see the Lions match up with the Seahawks in the playoffs, though.
  7. San Diego Chargers (8-5) – I don’t much care for their defense or their running game.  I also don’t much care for their remaining schedule; they’re by no means a lock to make the playoffs.
  8. Philadelphia Eagles (9-4) – Obviously, there are issues at quarterback and in the secondary.  Just need them to take care of business this week and after that, who gives a shit?
  9. Arizona Cardinals (10-3) – Again, big time trouble at quarterback.  Only, they don’t have Nick Foles possibly looming on the horizon to save them.
  10. Dallas Cowboys (9-4) – Very good up and down on offense.  But, Tony Romo’s struggles have to be in the back of your mind at all times.
  11. Baltimore Ravens (8-5) – Easiest remaining schedule of the bunch in the AFC North.  Gotta like their chances to run the table.  Plus, their defense should get healthy come playoff time.  Scary team in the AFC, to be honest.
  12. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-5) – Too up & down to be threatening.
  13. Cincinnati Bengals (8-4-1) – Just not that good.
  14. Kansas City Chiefs (7-6) – Even worse than the Bengals, if that’s possible.
  15. Miami Dolphins (7-6) – Probably needs a quality head coach.  Wouldn’t mind seeing Jim Harbaugh there next season if I’m a Dolphins fan.
  16. San Francisco 49ers (7-6) – Obviously time for a change.  They should see if they can trade Harbaugh & Kaepernick to the Dolphins for Tannehill and a mid-round pick.

The Loser’s Bracket:

  1. St. Louis Rams (6-7) – Honestly:  the team I fear the most in the Seahawks’ remaining three games.
  2. Houston Texans (7-6) – At worst, they’ll be 8-8.  At best, probably 9-7 and on the outside looking in at a playoff spot.
  3. Buffalo Bills (7-6) – At best, they’ll be 8-8.  At worst, at least they’re staying in Buffalo and have discontinued those awful Toronto “home” games.
  4. Cleveland Browns (7-6) – Good GOD is Hoyer a fucking disaster!  I’ve seen paper airplanes made by 6 year olds fly with better accuracy than his footballs!  Also, don’t ask what I’m doing around 6 year olds with paper airplanes.  NO COMMENT.
  5. Minnesota Vikings (6-7) – Pretty brutal schedule the rest of the way, but at least it looks like they’ve got the best rookie quarterback of the bunch this year.  That’s not nothing!
  6. Atlanta Falcons (5-8) – Don’t blame the Falcons for losing to the Packers.  After all, they did us a solid by taking out the Cards.  You can’t expect them to do EVERYTHING for us.
  7. Carolina Panthers (4-8-1) – I, uh, yeah.  I dunno.  They got home games against Tampa and Cleveland before a road game in Atlanta.  The Falcons’ other games are home against Pittsburgh and at New Orleans.  The Saints go to Chicago and Tampa for their other two games.  I’ve got the Panthers at 6-9-1, the Falcons at 6-10, and the Saints at 7-9 (with an outside shot of them also losing at Tampa, which would be the ultimate fuck you to the NFL playoff system).
  8. New Orleans Saints (5-8) – Hello darkness, my old friend.
  9. Chicago Bears (5-8) – They’re really blowing the last good years of Matt Forte’s career.  You hate to see it.
  10. New York Giants (4-9) – With Eli, ODB, and maybe an explosive running back in next year’s draft, we could see the Giants turning this thing around as early as next year.  Watch out, America.
  11. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-11) – Look, it’s pretty obvious that they’re angling for Marcus Mariota, and I for one hope they get him.  My question is:  do I go out of my way to draft Mariota next year in fantasy?  I play in a QB-heavy keeper league, so the answer to this question is kind of important.
  12. Washington Redskins (3-10) – If they’re smart, they’ll cut RGIII loose, fire Jay Gruden, and hang Dan Snyder with piano wire.
  13. New York Jets (2-11) – Can you imagine if there was a Ryan brother who focused exclusively on being an offensive coordinator?  Would every play be a Hail Mary?
  14. Oakland Raiders (2-11) – OK, you beat the 49ers, so you’re solid in my book.
  15. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-11) – Blake Bortles or no Blake Bortles, if the Jags get the number one pick, I still say they continue to go after a quarterback until they get it right.
  16. Tennessee Titans (2-11) – You are one pathetic loser!

Squeaker: Seahawks Pick Their Jaws Up Off The Floor Long Enough To Beat The Broncos In Overtime

How about that Jon Ryan, huh?  I know that’s probably not where you want to start after a game like this, but you could really make an argument that he was the most important player on the field yesterday.  Take a look at it like this:  against the better offenses in the league, the Seahawks tend to play a Bend/Don’t Break style of defense.  Give up nothing deep, and as a compromise, the Seahawks will give the opportunity for completions underneath.  To be fair, the Seahawks are certainly one of the very BEST Bend/Don’t Break defenses in football, but they’re still going to give up some yards every now and again.  So, to pin them deep, to flip the field position battle every time our offense failed and we were forced to punt, was just what the doctor ordered in a game this tight.  Denver starting inside the 10 yard line vs. starting around their own 30 is all the difference between forcing Denver to punt vs. forcing them to kick a field goal.

I dunno.  I just think if you’re EVER going to lavish praise upon a punter, it might as well be after a game like that.  I mean, shit, did you see that free kick after the safety?  Have you ever SEEN one of those kicks travel all the way to the opposing goalline?  Usually in those situations, the other team ends up with the ball around the 30 or 40 yard line!

So, yesterday, I was pretty surly.  Long story short:  the vast majority of my fantasy players had played in the morning and not a God damn one of them got me any touchdowns.  I was staring down the barrel of an embarrassing defeat and what’s worse was I was losing because I followed some very bad advice by the so-called fantasy experts out there (seriously, Joique Bell can eat all the dicks until Reggie Bush gets injured).  Anyway, going into the Seahawks game, I really needed a pick-me-up, and for the most part I got one.  That was quite the enjoyable football game!  Got a little scary at the end – had some flashbacks to the Seahawks’ defense of 2012 (where we were mostly great, but had a few too many late-game breakdowns that let other teams beat us) – but the good guys won and that’s all that matters.

Before I go any further, let me just say this about Phil Simms.  I was reading Twitter during commercial breaks, and catching a few text messages from friends, and the general consensus is that overall Phil Simms sucks as a broadcaster and in particular he sucks because he was overly-favoring the Denver Broncos.  I want to be there with you guys, I really do, but here’s the thing:  I don’t have the energy to hate any more sports announcers.  I’m kinda all wrapped up in this whole Dave Sims Is The Worst thing, and then I ended up spending yesterday morning listening to Ronde Barber stammer his way through the Saints/Vikings football game alongside Chris Myers for three straight hours.  When you tack on Joey Harrington and the vast majority of announcers on the Pac-12 Network, I just don’t have what it takes to lump in Phil Simms.

Is he ideal?  No.  But, they can’t all be Cris Collinsworth or Gus Johnson or Kevin Calabro.  I’m sorry.  If you’re like me, you’ve been listening to Phil Simms talk about football for about 20 years now.  I don’t look to him for smart insights.  I’ve gotten used to his down-home, folksy charm.  And for crying out loud he wasn’t rooting for the Broncos, he was rooting for a good, exciting football game.  Considering the Seahawks grabbed control of the contest from the get-go, of course he’s going to talk about what the Broncos have to do to get back in the ballgame!

But, enough about that.

There was more than punting and poor announcers in this contest.  There was getting the best of Peyton Manning yet again!  There was holding their running game to almost nothing.  There was Emmanuel Sanders getting nearly 27 points for my bench in fantasy.  There was Aqib Talib nearly picking off a pass, then getting beat for a 39-yard touchdown to Ricardo Lockette, then later deflecting a ball that would lead to a pick by someone else and eventually a Broncos touchdown.

This game had it all.  Or, at least, it had it most.  Lots of good things to build upon, lots of bad things to work out.

The offense looked a lot more balanced.  Denver’s got a pretty stout run defense up the middle, so it was nice to see those fake fly-sweeps work to our advantage with Beastmode.  Oftentimes, I see the sweep coming and when it’s a fake, I wonder what would have been had we given it to a sprinting Percy Harvin instead.  These are especially lamentable when the defense isn’t prepared to put a body on our receiver and they end up clogging up the run straight ahead.  But, it looks like the word is out on these plays, as teams are concentrating more on Harvin, thus giving us a chance to gash.

One play I particularly like is when Harvin runs across the formation pre-snap, then Wilson fakes the swing pass, turns around, and throws a swing pass to the opposite side (to Lynch, mostly).  These misdirection plays are fantastic and I’d like to see them more often when we get down into the red zone.

Aside from that Lockette reception, there wasn’t a whole lot available with the deep pass in this game.  That’s a shame, and also a real testament to Denver’s dedication in shoring up their secondary.  I don’t have the numbers in front of me, but my gut feeling is that the Seahawks haven’t been able to take advantage of the deep pass as much through the first three games of this season.  Which leads me to wonder:  are we running these play-action passes with less regularity?  Are defenses playing us differently, knowing how we get off on making secondaries look silly?  Or, is this some sort of commentary on our wideouts and their inability to get open on deeper routes (or our quarterback’s inability to look off an opposing safety?).  I tend to believe it’s how other teams are scheming us, to which I reply:  do so at your own peril.  Because, let’s face it, you’re playing right into our hands when you do that.  We WANT to run the ball a ton!  So, by you playing deep and giving us less-populated fronts on which to run against, we’ll just continue running for 5 yards per play and methodically wear you out.

Defensively, we were much better than we were against the Chargers.  Denver only converted 6 of 16 third downs, which I will take every single time against an offense that potent.  Of course, a couple of those plays were curious draw plays on third & long, which led many to wonder if they were just giving up on those drives.

Overall, the run defense has been FANTASTIC this season!  Yesterday, the Broncos really made it their mission to pound it on the ground, and they were taken to task accordingly.  20 rushes for 36 yards, which is just God awful.

We saw a little bit of the good pass defense (2013) and the not-so-good pass defense (2012) in yesterday’s game, when the fourth quarter came around.  In 2012, we generally found ways to lose games like these, as teams like Detroit, Miami, and Atlanta in the playoffs ultimately drove on us late in ballgames to secure victories.  In 2013, we mostly found ways to win those types of games.  Even if teams would drive on us late, we made just enough big plays to hold them off.  Well, yesterday the Broncos had a chance to score a go-ahead touchdown, but Manning was picked off by Chancellor, who ran it all the way back to field goal range for the Seahawks.  We ran them out of time outs and knocked the clock all the way down to just under a minute, while taking an 8-point lead that looked practically insurmountable given the circumstances.  And yet, we all know what happened:  Manning drove them down 80 yards on 6 plays (on the back of two big passes on similar routes down the sideline) in 41 seconds to tie the game.

I have no doubt about one thing in this game:  had Kam not brought that interception all the way down, allowing us to eventually hit that field goal to go up by eight, we would’ve lost this game.  Let’s say, for the sake of argument, when the Seahawks were up 17-12, that instead of the INT, Denver scored a touchdown there, with something like 2 minutes left to go:  I have very little faith that we would’ve been able to generate a drive in that short of time to either tie the game or take the lead.  Not with the way we were playing offense in that second half.

Overtime was the biggest blessing (aside from winning that coin toss in overtime, of course).  With a fresh quarter in which to work with, the Seahawks were able to methodically drive the length of the field to score.  80 yards in just under 6 minutes.  See, in this scenario, we could take our time.  We were still deprived of anything deep, which meant that Russell Wilson was able to take advantage of all those keepers he turned down through the first four quarters.  There were LOTS of opportunities where Wilson handed off to Lynch instead of pulling the ball back for moderate gains on the outside.  Obviously, I’m not going to bash him for this, because I want him to remain healthy and I want him to improve as a pocket passer.  But, when push comes to shove, it’s nice to know that he’s got his running ability in his back pocket.  We NEEDED to score a touchdown in overtime, because no one wanted to see Denver’s offense back on the field.  It was Russell Wilson’s grit and determination that made this victory possible.

Just when you think you’ve got the Seahawks figured out and bottled up, we find another way to get the job done.

Aside from the obvious stars – Jon Ryan, Russell Wilson, Marshawn Lynch – I’d like to give it up to the receivers for getting the job done against a tough secondary.  Kearse, Baldwin, Harvin, Walters, and Lockette had a bigger collective impact on this game than their individual numbers may indicate.

I thought Maxwell was overall pretty solid, even though he’s absolutely getting picked on each and every game.  It’s hard to ask a cornerback to be perfect when teams are actively avoiding the other side of the field and going after you on a near-constant basis.  Shout out to Marcus Burley as well for doing a great job in the nickel corner spot.  I find it’s no coincidence that Denver was able to start moving the ball easier once he was knocked out by a little friendly fire.  Secondary depth is a little iffy at the moment, but when we’re able to get Jeremy Lane back, all should be awesome in the stretch run (here’s to hoping Lane is available by the time we play the Eagles in week 14, if not sooner).

I noticed Cassius Marsh got some quality reps in the first half and made a great impact.  He’s going to be really good for us if he manages to stay healthy.  Mebane was his usual rock-solid self as well.

Now we go into our BYE week.  Because fuck you NFL schedule-makers.  Then, we have to go play the Redskins on their abysmal field in two weeks.  Oh joy, I’m sure none of our guys will get injured in that game!

The Seahawks Have A Very Important Game Against The Broncos This Weekend

This is the part where I’m supposed to tell you that I’m nervous.  That I’m worried about this weekend’s game and the possibility of the Seahawks losing said game.  This is the part where I concoct a scenario where the other team could plausibly wrench victory from the jaws of defeat.

Except, this isn’t just an ordinary game preview post where I’m trying to fill a self-imposed word-quota (more than 300, less than 30,000).  I can ACTUALLY see a way the Broncos could defeat the Seahawks.  The answer, more or less, lies in last week’s game in San Diego.

The Seahawks lost to the Chargers.  Why did they lose?  Because we faced an All Pro-type quarterback having one of the better games of his career.  Because while we mitigated their explosive plays over our heads, we still had a helluva time getting off the field on third down.  Because we made mistake after mistake on defense and an old, veteran, Hall of Fame tight end took advantage of our aggressiveness and made us pay.

Well, the Broncos have an All Pro-type quarterback.  The Broncos are generally pretty good at converting third downs.  And, rather than having an old, veteran, Hall of Fame tight end; they’ve got a young, explosive, potential FUTURE Hall of Fame tight end.  On top of a lot of other great players, and a VASTLY improved defense compared to the one we saw in the Super Bowl.

Oh yeah, that.  The Broncos also have an entire offseason where they heard nothing but praise about how dominating the Seahawks are.  How the Seahawks might be the next dynasty.  How the Seahawks’ defense is among the greats like the 60s Vikings, 70s Steelers, the 85 Bears, and the 2000 Ravens.  How the Broncos wilted, were afraid, GAVE UP in what was – for the non-Peyton Manning members of the team – the most important game of their lives.

Think about that.  This is no longer a rivalry like it was in the 80s and 90s (though, try telling that to John Elway, current GM and Vice President), but just imagine if our situations were reversed.  The Seahawks got plastered in the Super Bowl, while everyone in the world thought we were the better team and should have won easily.  Imagine all these months, listening to various Broncos players on First Take or Jim Rome or whathaveyou, flapping their gums about how they knew what plays we were going to run.  About how our receivers couldn’t handle running crossing patterns in the vicinity of whoever their strong safety is.  Wouldn’t you be a little salty?  Wouldn’t you expect your local columnists to write ham-fisted articles about how much more improved we are this year?  About how tired we are of hearing all their talk?

Yes, we’ll always have the Super Bowl.  No one can take that away from us.  But, it’s a new season.  No sense in living in the past, even if it only happened seven-or-so months ago.

Talent, motivation, health:  the Broncos have it all going for them this week.  One could argue that the Seahawks have all that going for them too, and on top of that, we’ve got home field advantage.

A little something about that.  For starters, I don’t necessarily think the 12th Man has the type of power it once had.  There’s no element of surprise anymore.  EVERYONE is aware of how loud it is up here in Seattle.  It’s been showcased on countless national broadcasts; we’re not catching anyone off guard anymore.  No one is taking the noise lightly anymore.  They’re preparing for it and overcoming it.  Yes, the noise is nice, and I’m sure opposing teams don’t like going on silent counts, but these are professionals we’re talking about.  This isn’t some Pee Wee Football League team playing in front of thousands of screaming fans for the first time.  PLUS, this is an afternoon game.  Even if I’m being overly dismissive of the 12th Man’s effect on a game, everyone HAS to admit that it’s just not the same compared to nationally-televised night games.  For one thing, the Twelves haven’t had as much time to get sauced!  Take it from someone who could turn Pro in weekend warrioring:  those extra 3-4 hours of beer chugging make all the difference between a little snooty intoxication and outright belligerent jack-assery.

In short, you can’t dismiss the home field advantage straight away, but let’s stop building it up to be something it’s not.  We have seven more regular season home games; every God damn one of them will be played in the afternoon.  After the first series or two, the crowd settles into a predictable routine and the opposing offense settles into a potent weapon capable of knifing through the noise.  Once the initial surge is overcome, the home field advantage goes away and it’s all up to the players on the field (if you don’t believe me, go back and look at that Arizona game last season).

As for the players on the field, you know who they are.  The Broncos are pretty much the same team on offense as they were last year (swap Decker for Sanders and Moreno for Ball).  On defense, their stars are healthy, and their new players are impactful.  DeMarcus Ware and Aqib Talib are the obvious new additions and they are still playing at the peak of their abilities.  Factor in Von Miller back to full health, and Terrance Knighton clogging up the middle, and it certainly won’t be as easy to move the ball up and down the field, regardless of our pumped up offensive weapons.

What can I say about this game?  Either we’ll find a way to stop them with some regularity on third down, or we won’t.  Either the game will be close, or it won’t.  Either we’ll win, or we won’t.  I’d like to think our defense will look better than it did against San Diego.  It won’t be as hot, for starters.  Peyton Manning isn’t as mobile as Philip Rivers.  We’re a little more familiar with their offensive scheme, since we spent the better part of two weeks prior to the Super Bowl studying their tendencies.  And, we HAVE to be a little salty ourselves, considering we gave up a 30-spot for the first time since October of last year when we lost to the Colts.

In closing, I’ll talk about why this game is so important.  There are a couple of obvious, conflicting points at play here.  On the one hand, if we want to get home field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs, we probably can’t afford to lose more than three games.  Losing to the Broncos here would drop us to 1-2 already, with most of a full season left to go (not to mention, we’d be 1-2 going into a BYE week, which means starting in October, it’ll be 13 straight weeks of games with little respite).  On the other hand, like the Chargers, the Broncos are in the AFC.  If you’re going to lose two games, they might as well be to teams in the opposite conference, as that still leaves all of your key tie-breakers in play (with you in control of your own destiny).  I already discussed the following 8-game stretch of cream-puffs on our schedule.  Yeah, we could be 1-2 after this Sunday’s contest, but we could also be 9-2 going into our Thanksgiving battle royale with the 49ers.

But, here’s something that only recently occurred to me.  If we lose this game, we will have lost two games against good-to-great opponents.  And, if Green Bay isn’t necessarily the world-beater we all thought they’d be, then you have to ask:  are the Seahawks as good as they were last year (when we managed to beat three good, playoff teams in the regular season)?  What does it mean if a team only pounds on the bad teams, but loses heartbreakers to the good ones?  I know it’s early for all of this type of talk (and essentially meaningless, considering the NFL doesn’t care about the types of teams you beat like they do in college), but it’s a psychological component that nobody’s talking about.

How do you know you’re good?  When you beat other good teams.  What do you call a team that has a good record, but hasn’t beaten anyone of note?  The 2013 Kansas City Chiefs.

Are we the 2013 Kansas City Chiefs?  Or, are we going to kick Denver’s shit in on Sunday?!

Look, I have us winning this game, but I’m going to tell you right now, it’s ONLY because I’m a huge homer.  If I were a fan of literally any other team, I’d be making the Broncos my Upset Special.  I still think the Seahawks are more or less going through the motions.  I still think there’s a lot of talk going around about how the Seahawks are “taking this week seriously” and putting in the type of practice required to win a big game at home.  But, I honestly feel that’s a lot of bullshit and Denver is going to come in here and move the ball around with ease and escape with a comfortable victory.  Peyton Manning isn’t the be-all, end-all of quarterbacks, but I’ll tell you this much:  I don’t like playing his teams this early in the season.  I like playing his teams when it’s cold and the weather is shitty and the pressure of the moment overwhelms his robot brain.

I like playing his teams when the NFL hasn’t spent the entire offseason catering to his every want and need by increasing the emphasis on defensive holding and illegal contact in the secondary.

When you factor in the Mariners playing the series of their lives down in Houston – against pitchers who have generally crushed our feeble lineup – I can see this being a REAL bad weekend for the professional teams of Seattle.  Somebody hold me; I need a hug.