The Seahawks’ 2018 Schedule Is Here (And I Don’t Care)

Now is usually the time I express my pleasure/get all up in arms over the newly released Seahawks schedule.  But, I’m on record as expecting an 8-8 season, so who gives a damn if a formerly west-coast game against the Raiders has been placed in London for no good God damn reason?  To wit:

  • @ Denver
  • @ Chicago (Mon)
  • Dallas
  • @ Arizona
  • L.A. Rams
  • @ Oakland (London) (10am) (Sort Of)
  • BYE
  • @ Detroit (10am)
  • L.A. Chargers
  • @ L.A. Rams
  • Green Bay (Thurs)
  • @ Carolina (10am)
  • San Francisco (SNF)
  • Minnesota (Mon)
  • @ San Francisco
  • Kansas City (SNF)
  • Arizona

So, one thing I actually kinda like is having 5 of the first 7 games (with a BYE week squeezed in) on the road; meaning obviously that 6 of the last 9 games are at home (including all the second half primetime games).  The entire month of December, we only have to travel as far as San Francisco!  4 of those 5 games are in Seattle!

As far as 10am games go, only three isn’t too bad.  I was pretty shocked to see a whopping 5 primetime games (2 Monday, 2 Sunday, 1 Thursday), considering we weren’t all that world-beating last year.  Someone made the point on Twitter and I wholeheartedly agree:  that’s the power of an elite, Top 5 quarterback.  I still think at least one of those Sunday Night games will be flexed out; if I had to bet the family farm on one prediction this season, that would be it.

One thing I noticed is that the more difficult games look to be at home, which is always a plus.  We play the NFC North, and the best two teams (presumably) are Green Bay and Minnesota, so getting them both in Seattle is pretty fortunate.  Not that the Bears or Lions will be pushovers, but you get my drift.  I particularly like seeing Green Bay having to come all the way out here for a Thursday game; FUCK YOU PACKERS!  Then, we play the AFC West and get the Chiefs and Chargers here, while we play the Raiders over in London (so no one will really have an advantage, although I bet there are more Raiders fans living in London than Seahawks fans) and we catch the Broncos in the first week of the season.  Will Case Keenum be up to snuff right out of the gate, with a new team and a new system?  Then, among the second place teams from last year, we get Dallas here and go on the road to play Carolina, which again I think is the more favorable draw.  I think Dallas will be good again, with full seasons out of Elliott and Dak (and the Dez situation is addition by subtraction), whereas who knows with Carolina?  That late into the season?  Are they going to be totally healthy?

It’s always a huge folly to try to predict the games this early, but it’s 4/20, SO LIGHT ‘EM UP BRO!

@ Denver – Safe money is on this one being a loss.  Going to the Mile High City, playing against a good defense (not at its peak, but still with plenty of talent) that will probably be as healthy as it gets, I think Keenum can do just enough to squeak one by us.  Maybe this one ends with a late Seahawks drive falling short with a pick in the endzone.  Denver 24, Seattle 17.

@ Chicago – I do think the Bears will be much improved, particularly with another year for Vic Fangio to ramp up that defense.  I just don’t know if Trubisky has what it takes.  This one should be a good barometer of the Seahawks’ season, though.  If we’re truly an 8-8 type team, we win this game.  If we’re doomed to bottom out entirely in 2018, then notch this one in the loss column.  I think there’s enough talent in Seattle to steal one, but it won’t be easy.  Seattle 19, Chicago 17.

Dallas – Loss.  No doubt about it.  The Cowboys’ running game will stomp us into hamburger, their quick-strike passing attack will befuddle us, and if our offense can’t keep up in a shootout, this one could be a laugher.  Dallas 33, Seattle 21.

@ Arizona – Sam Bradford?  Please.  The Seahawks go down to their winter home and take another shockingly easy W.  Seattle 27, Arizona 13.

L.A. Rams – Loss.  No doubt about it.  Did you ever think the Seahawks would start out their home schedule 0-2?  Don’t say I didn’t warn you when it happens.  This one PROBABLY won’t be as embarrassing as last year’s loss to the Rams … but it also might be.  Los Angeles 38, Seattle 18.

@ Oakland – I got this as a win.  I don’t know if the Raiders are very good, and I don’t know if Jon Gruden is very good.  I do think this game will be fun, and potentially high scoring.  Seattle 34, Oakland 27.

BYE – So, through six weeks, I have the Seahawks with a 3-3 record, having shockingly gone 3-1 on the road.  Let’s see if that holds up.

@ Detroit – This one has loss written all over it.  Every year, the Seahawks play at least one road game where they come out looking great, but gag it up in the end.  I think the Lions have offense for days and they’ll easily exploit our depleted secondary.  Detroit 38, Seattle 31.

L.A. Chargers – Don’t love this matchup.  I never love a matchup with this Seahawks defense against Philip Rivers, because he fucking carves us up every fucking time.  Los Angeles 35, Seattle 20.

@ L.A. Rams – One more loss to throw on the pile; things are looking BLEAK here folks!  I think the defense will show up a little better this time, but there’s still no doing anything against that Rams squad.  Los Angeles 24, Seattle 6.

Green Bay – Fuck you Packers, we’re winning this one!  With no time to prepare, and no time to fret over this 3-game losing streak, everyone will have written off the Seahawks by this point (if they haven’t already, like I have), and they’ll come out like a ball of lightning.  Seattle 36, Green Bay 28.

@ Carolina – Fuck you Panthers, we’re winning this one too!  One of those old school grudge matches.  Seattle 17, Carolina 13.

San Francisco – Fuck you 49ers, we’re also winning this one!  You don’t think the fans in this one are going to be fucking insane?  With all day to drink and stew over the return of Richard Sherman?  With the Seahawks and 49ers likely to be pretty close to one another in record (and probably fighting over the same Wild Card spot)?  I see a touchdown being scored on Sherm and I see the Seahawks running away with this one.  Seattle 26, San Francisco 10.

Minnesota – Here’s where the winning streak comes to an end.  Too much defense with these Vikings.  I think we hold our own against Cousins and their offense, but it won’t be enough.  Minnesota 13, Seattle 3.

@ San Francisco – We’re dropping this one too.  The 49ers are probably better than the Seahawks right now, and this will put them over the top.  San Francisco 19, Seattle 16.

Kansas City – I like this one to be a win.  First year starter at quarterback, who knows if he’ll hold up let alone be any good?  I think the Seahawks impose their will on the ground and grind out a close one.  Seattle 24, Kansas City 23.

Arizona – Who will be Arizona’s starting quarterback by week 17?  Not Sam Bradford, that’s for damn sure!  The Cards will be falling apart by this point and the Seahawks will cruise.  Seattle 30, Arizona 10.

Any way you slice it, that’s 8-8.  They’ll be a streaky team, they’ll deflate us, then get our hopes up, then break our hearts again.  Wake me when it’s 2019.

A Christmas Miracle: Seahawks Beat Cowboys

I really tore one on this weekend, and as such wasn’t able to roll my ass out of bed until about 1pm on Sunday, and spent the duration of the Seahawks game with a massive hangover.  So, I very well might have hallucinated into existence a Seahawks victory over the Cowboys, and if I did, please don’t wake me up!

With Christmas in between, and me missing a lot of the third quarter as I did my Christmas shopping as I always do – at the last minute, at my local Safeway, buying gift cards for everyone on my list – I don’t remember much about what happened.  There was a sweet punch-out of the football from Byron Maxwell to Dez Bryant that resulted in our first touchdown and a 7-6 lead late in the second quarter.  There was a Justin Coleman pick-six that I missed, giving the Seahawks a 14-9 lead early in the third quarter.  And there was one good offensive drive by the Seahawks with a nifty Doug Baldwin TD at its conclusion to make the score 21-12.  From there, a couple late field goal misses by the Cowboys sealed the deal.

Here are the take-aways from this one:  the Seahawks’ offense was garbage.  Still no change in the running game, obviously, because that’s going to be something that needs its fixing in the offseason with new personnel.  And, one of the poorer Russell Wilson games, who only threw for 93 yards.  The best thing you can say about this one was that he avoided turnovers, but no praise whatsoever should be reserved for this offensive group.

Defensively, however, it was a sight for sore eyes.  Ezekiel Elliott – who had that bet with Eric Dickerson that he’d run for 200 yards in his first game back from suspension – was solid, but still held to 97 yards.  Dak Prescott continued his second-half slide as he threw a couple picks, but one of them was off of a deflection, as he received zero help from his so-called #1 receiver Dez Bryant, who finished with 3 catches, but had a number of others go off of his hands (and one of those receptions did end up as the aforementioned fumble forced by Maxwell).  I don’t know if there was any one reason for the defensive turnaround – though, it surely helped having a healthy K.J. Wright and a healthier Bobby Wagner – so much as this was a total team effort.  It also helped that the Dallas passing attack is broken, so we were able to expend our energy in trying to stop the run.  Better tackling was important too.

The miracle part of this thing didn’t just come with the Seahawks winning in Dallas, though I’ll be the first to admit I wrote a post last week predicting a Seahawks loss.  Really, I think the bigger surprise was waking up on Sunday afternoon and discovering that the Bengals beat the Lions!  With that out of the way, and with the Falcons losing to the Saints, there’s now a clear path for the Seahawks to make the playoffs.

First, they have to beat the Cardinals this Sunday.  That sounds easy enough, but we’re gonna need to see more from the offense than we have in recent weeks.  Then, the only other thing we need is for Carolina to go into Atlanta and beat the Falcons.  I like the Panthers a lot, and think they’re the better team this season, but there are a couple things going against us.  One, the Falcons aren’t terrible.  With their season in the balance, it wouldn’t shock me to see the Falcons go out there and lay the smack down.  And two, if the Saints beat the Bucs, the Saints win the division, meaning the Panthers would have nothing to play for.  As both games start at the same time, we’re at least assured that the Panthers will play all their starters.  However, if the Saints run up a huge lead, it wouldn’t shock me in the slightest to see the Panthers resting their stars at the end of the game.  Just in time for the Falcons to sneak away with a late victory?

You could argue it behooves the Panthers to knock the Falcons out of the playoffs, and I’ll buy that to a point, but if they’re stuck as a 5-seed and the Falcons a 6-seed, they wouldn’t meet until a hypothetical NFC Championship Game matchup, which is unlikely in its own right.  And besides, if you did want to see a potential 5-seed home game in the NFCCG, that means you NEED the 6-seed to get there too, and who is more likely to win two road games it the playoffs, the Falcons or the broken and old Seahawks?

Make no mistake, there’s the Team No One Wants To Play every year in the playoffs; well, the Seahawks are the Team No One Would Mind Playing.  Which leads me to the next issue:  should we root for the Seahawks to make the playoffs at all?

It’s an age-old argument.  The Seahawks almost certainly have no shot – as a 6-seed – to run the table through the NFC and get to the Super Bowl.  They’re too beat up, and this offense – including Russell Wilson – has been too terrible over the last month to give any indication that we can win even ONE playoff game, let alone 3-4.  Ergo, just by making the playoffs, you’re sticking yourself with a worse draft pick.  And, every playoff game you win, the further down the draft board you fall.

The counter-argument to that is:  anything can happen on any given Sunday.  Just make the playoffs and hope to get hot; hell, it’s how Joe Flacco won a title!  Plus, if the 2010 Seahawks had missed out on the playoffs as we hoped heading into that post-season, we never would’ve had the Beastquake run.  Does that mean anything on its own?  Of course not, but it’s a fond memory, and it set the table for the Never Say Die ethos of those championship teams a few years later.

Even though it runs against all rational thought, I’ll still root for the Seahawks to make it.  I just want to see at least one more week of meaningful football for my favorite professional team.

Merry Christmas: The Seahawks Are Gonna Lose This Week

I don’t really have much to say about the game this Sunday.  It’s taking place in the afternoon on Christmas Eve, so I would think you have other things you could be doing.  But, if while you’re doing those other things, you notice a football game on in the background, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Ezekiel Elliott made a bet with Eric Dickerson that he’d run for 200 yards on the Seahawks, which coincides with his return from the 6-game suspension that wiped out two of my fantasy teams’ playoff hopes in utter, contemptible failure last week.  Part of me thinks it would be delightful for the Seahawks – with a healthier Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright – to smack his ass right back down, but honestly?  I could kinda see it happening.

What has this defensive line done the last two weeks to inspire any semblance of confidence?  Absolutely nothing.

And yet, even if we do somehow keep Elliott in check, you have to figure that just opens up everything in the passing game.  We might see the best game out of Dak Prescott since the LAST time Ezekiel Elliott took the field, which isn’t at all surprising or hot of a taek, and which makes Dak’s offensive rookie of the year award in 2016 completely ridiculous when the REAL offensive ROY was right there on his own team.

For as down as I am on the Seahawks, I don’t think this game will be as bad as the 42-7 drubbing we saw against the Rams last week, so that’s something I guess.  I mean, it’s not like the Cowboys are world-beaters on defense or anything; Russell Wilson and the Seahawks will get theirs.  In a lot of ways, I could see this game looking like last year’s Christmas Eve Fuckfest against the Cardinals:  high scoring, and disappointing at the end.

If I’m wrong, then great, the Seahawks will improve to 9 wins and will still be in the hunt for a playoff spot in some way, shape, or form.  If I’m right, however, then the Seahawks will be officially eliminated from the playoffs for the first time since 2011, and the front office will have a lot of ‘splainin’ to do.  Is that an offensive reference nowadays?  Does anyone even GET that reference?  I don’t care.

Season’s Greetings and whatnot.  Did you know it’s actually Season’s Greetings and not just Seasons Greetings?  You gotta have that apostrophe in there if you want to be grammatically correct!  Or, I can just go fuck myself, your choice.

The Seahawks Just Got Destroyed By The Rams

You could see a game like this coming; I certainly did.  The best the Seahawks could’ve hoped for was a high-scoring shootout, because you knew with all the injuries to the defense, the Rams would have no trouble moving the ball.  It was only a matter of whether or not the Seahawks’ offense would show up.  Would this be another slow start for Russell Wilson and the boys?  Well, again, given how this Rams defense – anchored by Aaron Donald and Co. – has always been really tough against us, and that was BEFORE Wade Phillips The Greatest Defensive Coordinator Of All Time took the helm, yeah, a slow start was pretty likely.  Things just kept piling up and piling up and before you knew it, the Seahawks lost 42-7 at home.

The one thing that did surprise me a little bit was how poorly the special teams played, giving up long punt return after long punt return.  But, I think that’s an indication of how banged up this team is.  You get hurt on defense, you pull from special teams to fill the holes, and now you’re weaker everywhere as a result.

There isn’t anything good to say about any of the Seahawks in this game, so I’ll spare you some half-assed attempt at regurgitating the stats.  Every single person was terrible.  I will point out that Bobby Wagner ended up starting, even though he was clearly limited, and looked terrible until he was mercifully pulled from the game after it had gotten out of hand.  Earl Thomas said something to the effect that he probably shouldn’t have been out there, followed by Wagner going on Twitter to call him out.  So, that’s how it’s going in Seahawksland, everyone.

The Seahawks are now 8-6 and in the 8th spot in the NFC playoffs.  And yet, they still have a chance – however remote – to sneak into the playoffs as a 6-seed.  First and foremost, they need to win out (obviously).  That’s next week, in Dallas, with Ezekiel Elliott returning from suspension to rush for 200+ yards on us, and then in the finale, at home, against the hapless Cardinals.  The Rams may be elite, the 49ers may be on the fast track for immediate success, but at least we’re not Cardinals fans, you guys.  That may be the silverest of linings I can think of.

Anyway, on top of winning out, the Seahawks need the Falcons to go 1-2, because of their head-to-head loss to them on Monday Night.  The Falcons play in Tampa tonight, which means they need to lose their final two games:  at New Orleans and vs. Carolina.

Then, because of tie-breakers, the Seahawks need the Lions to finish 1-1.  They play at Cincinnati and vs. Green Bay.  So, either we hope for a miracle in Cincy, or we hope Aaron Rodgers is still playing in a meaningless football game (for the Packers) two weeks from now.

So, as you can see, it’s not a great set of odds, but the Seahawks haven’t been officially eliminated.

But, I mean, why would you root for that?  If you’re a Seahawks fan, why would you want to see THIS team make the playoffs?  Just so they can get destroyed again against the Rams in the Wild Card round?  What does that get you?

For what it’s worth, I believe the point is moot, because I think the Seahawks will lose down in Dallas next week.  And I think it’s a coin flip that we beat the Cards in Week 17.  8-8 is still very much a possibility, which is a total bummer.

There’s going to be a lot of talk about blowing it up and rebuilding this week, and in the weeks ahead.  It’s not going to be fun.  Then, it’ll be baseball season and that won’t be fun either.  Sports around here are going to be pretty hard to watch for a while.  Happy Monday, everyone.

I Don’t Know Why We Should Expect The Seahawks To Win This Weekend

My world is a little upside down right now, when it comes to the Seahawks.  I was pretty sure they were going to lose to the Jags, but they were supposed to lose a 14-9 slugfest (that would, of course, assume Blair Walsh could actually make three fucking field goals, so right there the faulty logic bit me in the ass).  Under no circumstances, however, should Blake Bortles have out-played Russell Wilson in damn near every facet of the game!  And, to a lesser extent, the Seahawks’ defensive line should’ve probably done SOMETHING aside from bend over and take the ol’ dick in the ass, but that’s neither here nor there.

What am I supposed to make of a defense that couldn’t stop The Bort?  Just a matter of flying across the country and playing on the road?  Bullshit!  That shouldn’t matter.  Hangover from the big Philly win?  Bullshit!  With so much on the line, and so many losses already under our belt, they could ill afford to give away yet another game.

Ergo, I have to assume that the Seahawks’ defense just isn’t very good.  I mean, Cleveland held the Jags to 19 points.  The Chargers held them to 20.  The fucking RAMS went to Jacksonville and limited them to 17!  The Jets held them to 20, the Titans held them to 16.  I mean, aside from the Rams and Chargers, we’re not talking about world-beating defenses here.

So, if the Seahawks’ defense isn’t very good, and the Jags were able to rack up 30 points … and if we assume the Rams’ offense is better than Jacksonville’s (which it very much is), I can only believe that the Rams should have no problem whatsoever coming into Seattle and moving the ball at will.

And don’t you DARE give me this 12th Man bullshit.  CenturyLink Field is not what it once was!  We’ve already suffered 2 losses at home.  The Falcons came in here and put up 34, the Texans put up 38; and on the road we have the aforementioned 30 from Jacksonville, and 33 from Tennessee.  That’s 4 teams so far – including two teams when we were pretty much at full strength – who have dropped 30+.  So, no, I’m not gonna buy the It’s Loud In Seattle argument.

You could maybe remind me that we held the Rams to 10 points, but I’ll again remind you of all the injuries we have now, and double down on the fact that the Rams had their fair share of drops in that game.  By all accounts, they should’ve WON that game, if Kupp had held onto the ball in the endzone at the end of the game.  Plus, there was the Earl Thomas forced fumble that hit the pylon.  That game was more fluke than anything else.  On top of that, the Rams have played a bunch more games since then, and have to be more comfortable in their offense.

That doesn’t factor in how great the Rams’ defense is.  They’ve ALWAYS been great against the Seahawks, and this year they’ve got Wade Phillips, the best defensive coordinator in the league.  You can’t tell me that defense isn’t vastly improved over where it was at the beginning of the year.

Again, I’ll reiterate, I just don’t know why we should expect the Seahawks to win this weekend.  From here on out, with all the nothing we’re getting defensively, I think you have to require the Seahawks to score 30+ to win, and I just don’t think they’re capable of doing that, ESPECIALLY against the Rams, and regardless of how money Russell Wilson is playing this year.

I’ll do you one better:  unless we see some serious magic the rest of the way, I can easily envision a scenario where the Seahawks finish the year 8-8.  I’m already calling this Rams game a loss, which will drop us to 8-6.  At that point, we’d need to win out and get help to make the Wild Card, which makes that game in Dallas all-important (because I fully expect them to beat the Raiders this weekend).  Dallas will have Zeke Elliott back, which will make their offense whole again.  And, if we can’t stop the Jags or Rams, I don’t see why we should stop the Cowboys at full strength.  There’s a possible record of 8-7, at which point we’re officially eliminated from the playoffs.  By then, you figure anyone playing through injuries will just go on the IR and call it a season.  And, with nothing left to play for, I’ve heard of crazier things than the Cardinals winning in Seattle (like, for instance, last year on Christmas Eve).

I’m not necessarily guaranteeing an 8-8 record, but I’m also not poo-pooing the idea either.

The Seahawks are broken, and it really feels like the championship window is slamming shut right before our eyes.  I fucking HATE it when the Seahawks’ defense is bad; it literally ruins my whole life.  You know what my vision of Hell is?  All those bad New Orleans Saints teams we’ve seen under Drew Brees.  You know the ones:  where he’s great, throwing for 5,000+ yards and the offense is tops in the league, but the defense is the very fucking worst and they end up anywhere from 7-9 to 8-8.  Bad enough to consistently miss out on the playoffs, but not bad enough to get a draft pick that’s actually worth a fucking damn.

That’s what I see in the Seahawks’ immediate future, as we continue to try to lean on aging veterans on the defensive side of the ball, who can’t help but get injured every fucking year.  Sometimes, it’s the usual suspects, like Kam Chancellor, Jeremy Lane, and to a lesser extent Bobby Wagner; sometimes it’s someone you never expected, like Earl Thomas, Cliff Avril, or Richard Sherman, and your season goes down the toilet as a result.  If you keep those guys and ride them out, then yeah, you’ll be pretty good, but your seasons will end disasterously as one by one they get picked off in the annual churn that is NFL injuries; if you dump everyone and start over, then you’ve got to suffer through a rebuild, and there’s no guarantees that the next crop of draft picks will be able to return this defense to its Top 5 form.  Plus, given Pete Carroll’s age and personality, there’s no way in a million years I see them blowing this team up.

What a miserable time to be alive.  Oh sure, Russell Wilson will be in the MVP discussion every year, but the rest of the team will be mediocre so what’s the point?

At least we still get to enjoy fantasy football.  That’s certainly not a huge bundle of agitation and disappointment waiting to happen every fucking year.

The End Is Near Seattle Sports Hell Power Rankings

I pre-wrote a whole thing about how the Patriots are depressingly the best team in the AFC, and a breakdown of all the teams who might keep them out of the Super Bowl (because, Jesus Christ, could we all use a Super Bowl free from the Patriots).  Then, they went and looked like dogshit against the Dolphins last night, and it didn’t seem very timely, so we’ll move on.

For the record, I still think the Patriots deserve the top spot in the rankings, as they were due – just like every other team who’s lost recently – to drop a game before the playoffs.  I’m more than convinced they’ll take down the Steelers this week, so yeah.  On to the rankings:

  • New England (10-3)
  • Carolina (9-4)
  • Minnesota (10-3)
  • New Orleans (9-4)
  • Pittsburgh (11-2)
  • Jacksonville (9-4)
  • Philadelphia (11-2)
  • L.A. Rams (9-4)

In spite of my questioning of Cam Newton, I was very impressed by what they were able to do against the Vikings this weekend.  Giving up nearly 40 points to the Ravens?  Now you know why I have so little respect for the Steelers.  Philly gets dropped bigtime as they face a Nick Foles future.

  • L.A. Chargers (7-6)
  • Atlanta (8-5)
  • Seattle (8-5)
  • Baltimore (7-6)
  • Green Bay (7-6)
  • Detroit (7-6)
  • Dallas (7-6)
  • Tennessee (8-5)

Look for the Chargers to jump into the Top 8 next week.  Green Bay continues to climb the ladder as Brett Hundley continues to find a way to beat crappy teams.  Dallas is in an interesting position, particularly if they can win one more and get Zeke back.  Look for the Titans to fall out of this grouping as they continue to look terrible.

  • Kansas City (7-6)
  • Buffalo (7-6)
  • Miami (6-7)
  • Arizona (6-7)
  • Oakland (6-7)
  • N.Y. Jets (5-8)
  • Washington (5-8)
  • Cincinnati (5-8)

Everyone is all hyped up on the blizzard bowl between the Bills and Colts, but I feel like if I had to watch the whole affair, it would’ve been torture.  I saw the overtime period, and that was exactly the right amount.  It’s crazy how the Cards keep hanging around, even though they’re still definitely out of the playoff hunt.  Ugly loss for the Bengals to end their playoff hopes.

  • San Francisco (3-10)
  • Denver (4-9)
  • Chicago (4-9)
  • Tampa Bay (4-9)
  • Houston (4-9)
  • Indianapolis (3-10)
  • N.Y. Giants (2-11)
  • Cleveland (0-13)

Exciting times for the 49ers, as they get to not only enjoy a quality draft pick, but a ton of hype heading into next year, as they’ll certainly be the darlings of the dark horse circuit in pre-season predictions.  The Bears stole one with their defense, and it wouldn’t surprise me if they did it again before the year is out.  Tough, hard-luck loss for the Colts, who probably would’ve won that game if there wasn’t 90 feet of snow.  Boy, that Giants offense is brutal, Eli or no Eli.  REALLY tough, hard-luck loss for the Browns, who might reverse run the table.  Josh Gordon looks good though!

Why I’m Dreading This Seahawks/Jaguars Game

There’s a lot riding on this game.  Frankly, there’s a lot riding on ALL of the remaining games on the schedule, thanks to a couple of bumbling home losses to the Redskins and Falcons.  The Seahawks are a game back of the Rams, and if they want to hold out any hope of winning the division – or even a remote hope of getting a top 2 seed, which is highly unlikely, but still – they almost certainly need to run the table.  Winning out at home is a must, and is very do-able (so long as the Seahawks don’t lose any more key starters to injury), and that road game against the Cowboys doesn’t look nearly as imposing as it did before the season.  But, here, this week, against the Jags, is where I’m most afraid.

I don’t need to tell you that the Jags have the best defense in the league.  Their secondary is second to none, and their D-Line is as ferocious as any in football.  They lead the league in fewest total yards allowed, passing yards allowed, and total points allowed.  By a pretty considerable margin, I might add!  They lead the league in sacks, are tied for second in interceptions, are tied for fourth in forced fumbles, and tied for first in fumble recoveries, as well as lead the league in turnovers returned for touchdowns.

In other words, they lead all of football in just about every important defensive statistic.  Where they’re middle-of-the-road is in rush defense, which just so happens to be the area of the Seahawks offense where they struggle the most.  Yay.

I’ll say this, apropos of nothing:  the Seahawks picked the worst possible week to have their most significant victory of the season.  Coming off a game where they thoroughly destroyed the best team in football, you just know the Seahawks will have spent this week sniffing their own farts and reading their own press clippings, to the detriment of the on-field product this Sunday.  Sure, the Jacksonville defense will have something to say about it, but when the Seahawks’ offense comes out flat and we’re all mashing our respective Twitter keyboards in frustration, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

The problem is, a loss like the one I’m predicting this Sunday is often seen as a “wake-up call” for a good team.  Better to get that unexpected defeat out of the way now, before the playoffs, when that type of performance will end your season.  But, here’s the thing:  the Seahawks don’t NEED any more wake-up calls!  They’ve had 4 already this year!  The next wake-up call will send us hurtling to a Wild Card spot, and the wake-up call after that will keep us out of the playoffs entirely.  WE’RE AWAKE!  And, if you don’t see this Jaguars team for what it is – a real, legitimate threat to your 2017 season – then you might as well go the fuck back to bed.

To spin it another way, though, it’s not like all hope is lost.  The Seahawks CAN win this game, but they have to tread lightly.  The Rams and Cardinals both put 27 on them; the Titans earlier this season put up 37.  The Jags’ defense isn’t infallible.  But, I don’t think we can afford a slow start and a big 2-score early deficit.

Thankfully, the Jacksonville offense is absolutely nothing to write home about.  Led by Blake “The Bort” Bortles, we’re talking about a 4-year pro who is just the worst, most bustiest bust who is somehow still starting for an NFL team and not a car dealership’s sales team.  They’ve effectively chopped his balls off this season, which is absolutely the correct call, in making this a run-first, run-second, and run-third offense.  The beneficiary of that move is rookie Leonard Fournette, who started his career absolutely on fire, in looking like Ezekiel Elliott 2.0 through six weeks.  But, then an ankle injury and a suspension set him back.  Over his last four games, he’s averaged only 2.94 yards per carry, with just the 1 rushing touchdown (after 6 in the first 6 weeks).  He’s coming into a game against the Seahawks, who are 7th in the league in rush defense.  So, it’s appropriate to believe we should be able to hold their ground game in check.

And, if we can do that, we should have no trouble whatsoever in holding The Bort in check, L.O.B. or no L.O.B.

So, ultimately, the question is:  can the offense go out there and do its job?

That doesn’t necessarily mean we need Mike Davis to rip off 100+ yards, or Russell Wilson to go out there and continue his MVP pace.  I’m not asking for the moon and the stars here!  How about:

  • Can Russell Wilson avoid turnovers?
  • Can the O-Line avoid free rushers at the quarterback?
  • Can our receivers and running backs hold onto the football?
  • Can we all limit our penalties?

The way to lose this game is to cough up the ball and put our defense on its heels with short fields.  I don’t expect the Jags to score a bunch of touchdowns or have a bunch of lengthy, ball-control drives.  But, they might have one or two.  So, I wouldn’t expect to hold them to single-digits (if we do, our odds of winning this game goes up tenfold).  But, if we give them those short fields, I don’t think it’s out of the question for the Jags to score 20+ points, in which case it’s going to be VERY difficult for the Seahawks to win this game.

I don’t expect the Seahawks to look very good on third down.  Likewise, I don’t expect to see a lot of big plays out of our offense.  It’s not hopeless, but it’s going to mean taking advantage of our limited opportunities.  Touchdowns instead of field goals.  Hitting long field goals instead of punting, or worse.

If the Seahawks are going to win this one, it’s going to have to be in that 20-17 range, and it’s likely going to require a last-minute drive for go-ahead points.  There is a universe where I can imagine that happening.

But, there are also plenty of other universes out there, where I see the Seahawks losing 15-9, or 16-6, or 10-9, or 11-8, or 23-12.  In those games, I see Russell Wilson getting sacked 6 times and suffering a safety.  I see a couple fumbles and a pick.  I see the Jags moving the ball at will early in the game and the defense needing to adjust on the fly.  I see Fournette – against all rational thought – having a monster game and making the likes of Earl Thomas and Bobby Wagner look foolish on his cutbacks.  And, I see that Jags defense dancing on our grave.

Look, I want to be there with you guys.  I want to BELIEVE!  I want to cast off the shackles of this Haterade I’ve been drinking and sail the Good Ship 12 into the Harbor of Positivity, but as a Seattle sports fan, I’ve been beaten to a pulp over the years.  Granted, a lot of that was from the Mariners, who continually get my hopes up, only to pull the rug out from under me, but the Seahawks of the last couple seasons have played their part.

I will say this, if you allow me to put on the rose-colored glasses:

The offensive line is as good as it’s been since 2013/2014.  That’s not hyperbole.  With Duane Brown healthy and getting healthier by the week, we’ve already seen the dividends being paid.  With Luke Joeckel healthy and getting healthier by the week, the left side of that line is terrific!  With Ethan Pocic taking over for the revolving door of Mark Glowinski/Oday Aboushi, the right guard spot is no longer a total bust.  And, as he continues to get more comfortable at the right tackle spot, I no longer find myself cursing the name Germain Ifedi on a play-by-play basis.

In short:  the offensive line IS good.  I’ll say it!  Come at me, brothers and sisters!

It’s going to take a while before they get the credit they’re due, but I’m charging through as conductor of this bandwagon, and there’s plenty of room if you want to come along for the ride!

I’ll also say this:  the depth on this team is what we thought it was.  Heading into the year, after bemoaning our fate vis-a-vis the O-Line, the depth on this team was all I could talk about.  When our 2016 season was so thoroughly derailed by the loss of Earl Thomas, and the thinning of our D-Line, 2017 is going a long way towards subsiding those concerns.

A year ago, the thought of losing Kam Chancellor, Richard Sherman, AND Cliff Avril would’ve brought about a rash of suicides among the 12’s.  Yet, aside from some tough times against the Falcons, we’ve largely looked okay.  Getting Byron Maxwell back, and watching him play his ass off like he never left, could prove to be the luckiest move of the year.  Having Shaq Griffin grow into a bona fide starter, signing Bradley McDougald as Kam-insurance, Jeremy Lane failing his physical with the Texans, snatching Justin Coleman from the cornerback-starved Patriots (at the time, anyway; they’ve since improved their secondary play as guys got healthier), all of these events – along with the impending return of DeShawn Shead (fingers crossed!) – has helped this secondary not miss much of a beat, and could be critical going forward, as we look to face the likes of the Rams, Vikings, Saints, and Eagles in the playoffs.

Then, there’s the depth along the D-Line.  Sheldon Richardson coming over via trade, Frank Clark taking that next step, Naz Jones coming alive as a rookie, Jarran Reed becoming an every-down monster in the middle, the Dion Jordan flier actually turning into a useful rotation piece, the return of Quinton Jefferson, the production we’ve gotten out of the likes of Branden Jackson and Marcus Smith, on top of the fact that Michael Bennett is an ageless wonder who still thrives on playing just about every single defensive snap against all rational thought.  We’re not only super deep in this all-important area of the football field, but we’re also improving as the season goes along and these guys learn one another’s strengths and tendencies.

Finally, I’ll say this:  Russell Wilson has arrived.  Yes, he’s been great since he came into the league in 2012.  Yes, we would never have reached the heights we reached in 2013 & 2014 without him, and he’s carried this team on his back (particularly late in 2015 when Lynch and Graham were lost with injury).  But, he’s putting it all together now, in 2017, with the running game being what it is and this team NEEDING him to be The Man.  It’s what the all-time greats do, they pick their games up when their teams need them.  This is the difference between Pro Bowl quarterback, All Pro quarterback, and Hall of Fame quarterback.  Russell Wilson is playing like a Hall of Famer in his prime.  All he needs now to make that Hall of Fame a reality is time.  Continue playing like he’s playing for the next 5-8 years, and slowly fade into his 40s, and he’ll be a lock for the golden jacket.

If anybody can lead this team across the country, against a young, hungry defense, and come away victorious, it’s Russell Wilson.  In Russ We Trust.  Time to go out and take care of business.

The Seahawks Have A Huge Game Against The Eagles This Sunday Night

Sometimes, football makes no sense.  Sometimes, you can have all the facts and figures and stats and Vegas all screaming in your face that a certain team is going to win.  And sometimes that means something!  New England at home against the Miami Dolphins?  Of course, pick New England, they’re obviously going to win.  And yet, sometimes, your gut is just as good an arbiter of picking football games.

I do this weekly pick ’em contest with my friends where we just pick the winners of all the games (no spreads).  Last night, the Redskins were in Dallas to play the Cowboys, who had been on a 3-game losing streak and just looked GOD FUCKING AWFUL since Ezekiel Elliott was suspended, and some of their offensive linemen got banged up.  Dak Prescott looked totally lost and inept, the running game never got going, and the offense as a whole just looked slow and ordinary.

Whereas the Redskins, sure, they’re as injured as any team in the league, but they’ve been frisky in just about every game!  Hell, they came into Seattle at their MOST decimated and walked away victorious!  They played tough against the best the NFC has to offer – and their schedule has been brutal to boot – so you could say the Redskins are battle tested.

And even though the betting public (the rubes, as it were) loves nothing more than to slap their money down on America’s Team, this line swung heavily to Washington’s favor.  On paper, it seemed like a no brainer.  Even in my pick ’em league, it was heavily on Washington’s side.  And, truth be told, I should’ve been right there with ’em.

But, my gut said Dallas.  Against all rhyme or reason, my gut thought that MAYBE they’d finally figure out how to play without their star running back.  Never in my wildest dreams would I have predicted a 24-point Cowboys blowout, but the gut wants what the gut wants.

This Sunday Night, as noted in the title, the Seahawks host the Eagles.  It’s our final primetime game of the regular season, unless some games get moved around, which seems unlikely.  It’s also about as big a game as the Seahawks have played in quite some time.

The Seahawks are on a 2-game home losing streak, which sounds insane, but there it is.  The Eagles are 10-1 and in first place in the entire NFL; the Seahawks are 7-4 and in seventh place in the NFC.  Depending on where you look, the Eagles are 5-6 point favorites.  In Seattle.  Where the 12’s reside and the dead fish fly.

Some of the reasons why that’s the case include the fact that the Eagles are remarkably healthy up and down their roster; the Seahawks are missing countless starters and stars.  The Eagles have looked steady and dominant in their games; the Seahawks have looked inconsistent and sloppy.  Some will point out that the Eagles have a pretty weak schedule – at least as weak as Seattle’s – but is that true?

The Eagles’ only loss was against the Chiefs, when they were the best team in football for the first month of the season.  They beat the Redskins twice; the Seahawks lost to them at home.  The Eagles killed the 49ers; the Seahawks have struggled to beat them twice.  The Eagles destroyed the Cardinals; the Seahawks scratched and clawed to a close victory.  The Eagles also went on the road and beat the Panthers and Chargers, who are currently two of the hottest teams in the NFL.  What are Seattle’s impressive wins?  A game we almost blew to the Rams in the final seconds?  A shootout at home against the Texans when they still had Deshaun Watson and we still had the entire Legion of Boom?

I’m sorry, but anyone trying to put pen to paper words to website making the argument that these two teams are evenly matched – or CLOSE to evenly matched – is a homer of the highest order.

The Eagles are flat out better in every single phase of the game, period.

They have better, more consistent quarterback play; it doesn’t take Carson Wentz three quarters before he finally gets hot!  He’s hot from the starting gun!  (and I should know, he’s on my keeper league fantasy team).  They have a defense that generates better pressure and flies to the ball.  They’re better in yards allowed per game (6th vs. 8th), points allowed per game (3rd vs. 9th), and rushing yards per game (1st vs. 9th).  The only statistical category they trail the Seahawks is in passing yards per game (10th vs. 17th), but those numbers were largely built on having a healthy Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor.  And, don’t forget the Eagles’ rushing offense; third in the league in yards per attempt.  The Seahawks?  23rd.  And, I’m sure it’s dead last when you take quarterback scrambles out of the equation.

The Eagles are better and more disciplined.  So, why do I get the feeling that the Seahawks are going to win this?

I dunno.  My gut!  It’s the only rational excuse!

Oh sure, you can point to the Seahawks being at home, but I just told you how we’re on a 2-game losing streak at home!  You can point to the Seahawks’ record in night games, but they JUST lost on Monday Night Football to the Atlanta Falcons, and the Seahawks have the best all-time record on MNF!  You can point to how it seems like the Seahawks turn it up a notch when the calendar flips to December, but last year they were 2-2, the year before they were 3-1, and in their championship season of 2013 they were 3-2!  They don’t ALWAYS dominate the month of December, and besides that, even if they did, that has no bearing whatsoever on what’s going to happen THIS December.

So, what gives?  Honestly, I don’t know what to tell you.  I don’t know how to spin this in a way that makes it sound logical that the Seahawks should win on Sunday.  I will say that this is a team Russell Wilson SHOULD be able to pass the ball on.  They don’t get a ton of interceptions, and while the pressure should be there, they don’t get home as much as you’d think (especially when you factor in how the Eagles are constantly ahead in the fourth quarter, with opposing teams passing to try to catch up; shouldn’t they be higher than 18th in sacks?).  Also, we’re going into this game with the best offensive line formation we’ve had in YEARS.  Duane Brown-Luke Joeckel-Justin Britt-Ethan Pocic-Germain Ifedi.  We just got through a whole entire game without Wilson taking a sack.  Granted, it was the 49ers, but still.  It feels like the offense has a nice little rhythm, with Wilson leading the charge.  There’s also the chance that Mike Davis comes back.  If that’s the case, you could make an argument that the running game could be slightly improved.

Defensively, Bobby Wagner is playing like a DPOY.  The D-Line should be pumped up for this one.  And, I just wonder if this is an offense that our defense could handle.  Wentz strikes not just me as a Ben Roethlisberger type; someone always looking for the deep shot down field.  He’s not a Philip Rivers type, I’ll tell you that!  Philip Rivers is our G.D. kryptonite.  I just don’t know if Wentz has the patience and awareness to dink and dunk his way down field.

The key is going to be how well we cover their guys.  Zach Ertz is one of the best tight ends in the league, and I could see him torching us if we consistently leave K.J. Wright on him.  Alshon Jeffery is past his prime, but he has made his share of plays this year; I could easily see him jumping over Jeremy Lane for a big gainer up the sideline.  They also have a nice collection of running backs who could conceivably carve us up, but I’m less concerned about that.  I really need to see our secondary do its job and allow the front seven a chance to get to Wentz.

My gut also tells me that I need Wentz to have a good game so I can win my fantasy matchup this week and play my way into the better playoff bracket, so OF COURSE the Seahawks are going to eat him alive to the tune of 3 picks and a fumble.  But, that’s neither here nor there.

At this point, I’m even questioning my gut, because it sounds like a lot of other peoples’ guts are telling them something similar.  There’s something in the air, and it’s giving a lot of hunches to a lot of prognosticators out there to make the Seahawks their “upset special”.  When I hear things like that, I start to think about going the other way.  It’s like my gut’s gut is telling me to abandon this line of thinking!

Because I know this Seahawks team!  They have tons of penalties at the worst possible times!  On defense, these penalties prolong drives, turning punts into touchdowns.  On offense, we’re consistently behind the sticks!  Promising drives turning into drivel.  Then, there’s First Quarter Russ, who is consistently off-target and now throws mind-boggling interceptions into good coverage?

To win this game comfortably, the Seahawks will need to play a near-flawless game.  They’ll need to score more touchdowns than field goals, and they’ll need to score these touchdowns starting in the FIRST quarter!  Now, like I said, I know this team, so I know the likelihood of that happening is pretty remote.  It happened against Denver in the Super Bowl, and maybe 2-3 other times in this Pete Carroll run.

What’s MORE likely is that the Seahawks will fall behind early, scramble to catch up, and if they’re going to win, they’re going to have to do it with some late-game heroics.  That’s CERTAINLY more likely to happen than the Seahawks being good from the jump and enjoying a comfortable victory.  But, is it more likely than the Seahawks finding a way to lose it late?  Or, worse, getting blown out at home by the consensus Best Team In Football?

I don’t think it is.

I’ve been waffling back and forth on this one all week (indeed, even since the start of this post!), and I might continue waffling on it up until gametime, but right now, I gotta say I see an Eagles victory.

NO WAIT!  Seahawks.

NO … no, hold on.  Let me think about it some more.

Shit.

The End Of November Seattle Sports Hell Power Rankings

Just wondering, are any other fantasy football owners of Ezekiel Elliott now limping into the playoffs, soon to meet a staggering demise when they’d once looked like world-beaters?

I have him in two (10-team, 2-QB) leagues.  In one league, I drafted him in the middle of the fourth round.  That team is currently in first place; thankfully, I was able to maneuver my team and gather in enough reinforcements to keep things afloat.  If things continue, I see no reason why I shouldn’t compete for a championship (with Elliott returning in Week 16 to give me that final boost over the top).

In my other league, it’s not only a 10-team, 2-QB league, but it’s also a 3-Keeper league with 6 playoff spots (top 2 get BYEs in the first round).  Elliott was to be another team’s keeper, and with the 6-game suspension looming, I pounced on him before the draft, giving up Brandin Cooks in the process.  I figured I’d struggle in the early going, but go on a run towards the end of the season, maybe sneak into the playoffs and roar through to a championship.  That was the plan anyway.

And then the suspension kept getting kicked down the road, and I thought maybe I’d luck out and he’d avoid the suspension altogether!  Or, at the very least, either knock it down a few games, or delay it to the 2018 season.  Instead, the suspension kicked in at almost the worst possible time.

Three weeks ago, in this keeper league, I was in first place, looking like a strong candidate for one of the BYEs.  Three weeks later, I’m on a 3-game losing streak.  This week will be the last one before the playoffs; I could very well lose in the first round, before I even get a chance to put Elliott back into my lineup!

The real kick in the pants is that Dak Prescott has fallen apart; he’s one of my two quarterbacks (alongside Carson Wentz, who is looking like the best QB I’ve ever kept).  You’d think a GOOD quarterback would step up to the occasion; with Elliott down, he’d pick up the slack and keep the Cowboys’ offense moving.  Instead, he’s gotten me less than 1 point in the last two weeks, and is causing me to reconsider his candidacy as one of my three keepers for next year (the other option would be Leonard Fournette, whose first six weeks were Elliott-level outstanding, but whose last six weeks have been sucking my will to live).  I mean, if Dak can’t get it done because everything around him isn’t absolutely perfect (RB suspension, offensive line injuries), then how can he be counted upon for the long haul?

I’d hate to be a Dallas Cowboys fan right now, I’ll tell you that much.  Bring back Tony Romo indeed!

  • Philadelphia (10-1)
  • New England (9-2)
  • Minnesota (9-2)
  • Pittsburgh (9-2)
  • L.A. Rams (8-3)
  • New Orleans (8-3)
  • Carolina (8-3)
  • Atlanta (7-4)

A lot of good teams beat up on a lot of bad teams this past week.  The most impressive win was probably the Vikings over the Lions; they look like the real deal.  The Rams also took down the Saints, which gives them quite the boost.  I’ll be interested to see how the NFC South shakes out.

  • Jacksonville (7-4)
  • Seattle (7-4)
  • L.A. Chargers (5-6)
  • Detroit (6-5)
  • Tennessee (7-4)
  • Baltimore (6-5)
  • Buffalo (6-5)
  • Kansas City (6-5)

The Jags’ amazing defense is going to keep them in every game, which is good.  Their terrible offense is going to give them a chance to lose every game too.  They’re simultaneously the team no one wants to play in the playoffs as well as the team no one really fears all that much.  I think the Chargers are going to steamroll over the competition the rest of the way; look out for them in the Wild Card round.  And what the fuck happened to the Chiefs???

  • Washington (5-6)
  • Dallas (5-6)
  • Oakland (5-6)
  • Cincinnati (5-6)
  • Arizona (5-6)
  • Green Bay (5-6)
  • Tampa Bay (4-7)
  • N.Y. Jets (4-7)

All those 5-6 teams thought they were going to be considerably better heading into the season.  And yet, none of them are really eliminated!  I’d watch out for Oakland and Cincy, as I could see either of them snatching that 6-seed in the AFC.  The loser of the Dallas/Washington game this week is probably finished.  Also, good on the Packers for looking frisky against the Steelers (who notoriously play down to the level of their competition, but still).  If the Packers can steal a couple games before Aaron Rodgers gets back, I’d be concerned if I was the rest of the NFC.

  • Miami (4-7)
  • Houston (4-7)
  • Denver (3-8)
  • Indianapolis (3-8)
  • Chicago (3-8)
  • N.Y. Giants (2-9)
  • San Francisco (1-10)
  • Cleveland (0-11)

I give you:  the least fun teams to watch on TV and/or root for.

The Bitterly-Disappointing Seattle Sports Hell Power Rankings

I have absolutely nothing to say up here, so let’s jump right into the rankings.

  • Philadelphia (8-1)
  • New England (6-2)
  • Pittsburgh (6-2)
  • L.A. Rams (6-2)
  • New Orleans (6-2)
  • Dallas (5-3)
  • Kansas City (6-3)
  • Minnesota (6-2)

A lot of shuffling of teams who were on a BYE this week.  While the Rams may or may not be the real deal, they have almost the exact same schedule as the Seahawks, and they’re playing a helluva lot better.  Dallas is certainly taking charge, though again, we’ll see if Elliott gets re-re-re-re-re-suspended, and what that means for their consistency.  The Vikings feel pretty good to me, but no where near a Super Bowl-calibre team.

  • Seattle (5-3)
  • Detroit (4-4)
  • Washington (4-4)
  • Carolina (6-3)
  • Buffalo (5-3)
  • Tennessee (5-3)
  • Jacksonville (5-3)
  • Oakland (4-5)

I can’t rank the Seahawks behind the Redskins; WE’RE BETTER THAN THEM!  They didn’t beat the Seahawks, the Seahawks beat the Seahawks (and they tend to do that a lot).  Detroit could be poised to go on a nice little second-half run, if they can take down the Vikings a second time.  I’m not so much a believer in Carolina because I’m not so much a believer in Cam Newton.  Starting to really come around on that Jacksonville defense though.  Don’t let me down, Oakland.  I feel like putting the Raiders in the top half is a stretch, and more leap of faith than anything else.

  • Atlanta (4-4)
  • N.Y. Jets (4-5)
  • L.A. Chargers (3-5)
  • Baltimore (4-5)
  • Denver (3-5)
  • Miami (4-4)
  • Arizona (4-4)
  • Indianapolis (3-6)

These are the teams that are boring as fuck to watch.  So, yay to this week’s Seattle/Arizona Thursday Night game, I guess.  Part of me wishes the Colts would just fire their coaching staff already.  I feel like Chuck Pagano would be better served in an organization that knew what the fuck it was doing.  Like the Steelers, or the Packers or something.  I mean, almost any other coach with that Colts team is probably winless right now.

  • Chicago (3-5)
  • Houston (3-5)
  • Tampa Bay (2-6)
  • Cincinnati (3-5)
  • Green Bay (4-4)
  • N.Y. Giants (1-7)
  • San Francisco (0-9)
  • Cleveland (0-8)

Lotta teams no one expected to be in this group (Houston, Tampa, Cincy, Green Bay, Giants).  The 49ers are secretly turning into my worst nightmare:  a young, talented team, tanking this year, though they just traded for a potential franchise QB, and they’re almost guaranteed to get another Top 5 draft pick in 2018.  They are going to be SCARY in 2-3 years (maybe as early as NEXT year)!  Cleveland is the opposite of that.  Though, let’s be real, they probably dodged a huge bullet in not pulling off that A.J. McCarron deal.  If that guy isn’t a dud, then my name isn’t Steven A. Taylor.