The Seahawks MUST WIN Their Football Game Tonight

As a football fan, I hate Thursday Night Football. It’s not enough time for players to rest and recover, which results in more injuries (perhaps factually inaccurate, but it sure as shit seems like the Seahawks suffer an inordinate number of devastating injuries in these games), and an inferior quality of game play (again, anecdotally-speaking, but the vast majority of football fans agree with me). Also, saddling us with a divisional opponent (the most important games you can play in football, from a tiebreaker perspective) seems all the more unfair. They’re plain and simply an obvious cash grab by the league, and the only upside is a so-called “mini-BYE week” as a reward (with 10-11 days before your next scheduled game); forgetting the fact that at this point, the NFL should be giving every team two full BYE weeks regardless, because the game of football is absolutely BRUTALIZING!

I will say, though, as a Seahawks blogger, I kind of love Thursday Night Football. I get to do my preview a day early, I get to write my recap before the rest of the NFL has played that week, and I get the whole next week to write about whatever the hell I want! Besides that, as a Seahawks fan, if we win tonight, the rest of the weekend is absolute gravy! All I’ll have to concern myself with is how my fantasy team does.

Okay, so maybe not “gravy” so much as a bowl of mayonnaise soup. Let’s move on.

So, if I’m as smart as I think I am, then the Seahawks will win tonight and we’ll all have a chance to calm down for a while. Considering I have it on pretty good authority that I’m hot shit, I’m willing to stick my neck out and confirm my previous suspicions that not only will the Seahawks beat the Cardinals, but we’ll go on to win out the rest of this season and nab that #1 seed in the NFC.

I would argue I have Vegas on my side, because there is NO reason why the Seahawks should be favored by three points (I don’t care that we’re at home, which isn’t even an advantage without fans anyway). Based on the way we’ve played in three of the last four games, combined with the way the Cardinals have played in that same span, there’s just no real logical reason why we should have faith in the Seahawks. When you see how the teams have played of late, and you see a line that sits counter to expectations, that’s a pretty big red flag that what’s GOING to happen isn’t necessarily what SHOULD happen; logic and reason have no place in the NFL sometimes (that’s why, in the long run, Vegas always prevails and the bettors can all get fucked).

I have no evidence to back this up, but I guarantee you the vast majority of the betting public has their money on the Cardinals, with a significant portion picking them to win on the money line. If Vegas is as smart as I think they are, that means the Seahawks will win by 4 or more and most of the country will be scratching their heads in wonderment.

So, what does a Seahawks victory look like? Well, for starters, it’ll help that Carlos Hyde and/or Chris Carson will be back tonight (we’re pretty sure about Hyde, less confident about Carson). It’s clear these two are a big upgrade over the backups on the roster. It’s also clear that this team can’t win by ignoring the run entirely. They can still let Russ cook, but they’ll need the running backs to do a little more prep work than we’ve been getting of late.

More importantly, we’re going to need Russell Wilson to play better. That’s it. That’s the key to the game. Not only has he NOT played like an MVP over the last month, he’s hardly played even competent football! He’s making Carson Wentz-esque mistakes that are so uncharacteristic, it’s led some fans to wonder if he’s been concussed for the last few weeks! With the amount of hits he’s taken, it wouldn’t shock me. Speaking of which, we haven’t called out the offensive line much this year, but they REALLY need to do a better job of keeping guys off of our All Pro. He has taken far too much abuse, and if we’re not more careful, Wilson WILL get hurt, and then we’ll be really screwed!

It’s going to be a lot to ask, but it would be nice if the defense picked it up. It feels like we’re SO CLOSE to turning a corner on this side of the ball! Unfortunately, we’re pretty banged up (our top two cornerbacks will once again miss the game, and our star safety, Jamal Adams, is playing hurt), so it’s going to take everyone stepping up and contributing. What we really need is to come out strong in the first half. Let the offense jump out to a lead, and try to play the second half from ahead instead of scrambling to catch up from behind.

The fact of the matter is, the Seahawks are probably the most injured team in football from top to bottom. Everyone talks about the 49ers, and they’ve surely lost a lot of top tier guys, but our depth is absolutely decimated and it’s taken a toll these last four games.

What can we learn from our loss to the Cardinals four weeks ago? Well, for starters, stop turning the ball over! I would also say, dropping everyone back in coverage and having a spy on Kyler Murray isn’t the way to go. Not only did he carve us up through the air, but our spy wasn’t nearly fast enough to contain him, so he also beat us with his legs. He’s still a young quarterback. You have to pressure young quarterbacks! For us, that probably means blitzing a lot more than we did last time. And, if he gashes us for big gains here and there with his legs, I’m willing to live with that as long as we can get him on the ground occasionally and force him into turning the ball over.

If I were less of a homer and more of a neutral fan, I’d probably be taking the Cardinals to win in this one. But, I’m a Seahawks fan and therefore totally irrational. I don’t have a lot of good reasons why the Seahawks should win this game. Probably the best one I’ve got is the fact that the Seahawks have never lost three consecutive games in the Russell Wilson Era. And it’s not like there haven’t been opportunities! We’ve lost two games in a row plenty of times. But, never three. And I don’t believe we’re going to start now.

Not as long as Russell Fucking Wilson has anything to say about it.

That Was The Worst The 2020 Seahawks Have Looked

Could I have hit the nail more on the head in last Friday’s preview post? I even got the part about being down double digits, scrambling late to pull it to a single score, and needing an onside kick that ultimately didn’t bounce our way!

Look, I can’t say with any certainty that I’m definitely psychic, but slots for my palm readings are filling up fast! Be advised, these are VERY sexual readings …

What I got wrong in that post, I got VERY wrong though. I never would’ve predicted a game where less than 40 total points were scored, but there you have it: Rams 23, Seahawks 16. That seemed pretty unthinkable in the first quarter, when the Seahawks got the ball on their first drive of the day and drove it 78 yards to take a 7-3 lead. The Rams promptly made it 17-7 midway through the second quarter, and this REALLY had all the markings of a no-defense special, something we’ve been lapping up all year like goons.

This game took a weird turn after that, and I couldn’t for the life of me explain why it ended the way it did. After pulling the game to 17-10, the Rams had the ball and it looked like they were set on blowing the game wide open. Instead, Jamal Adams got in there and forced a Goff fumble that the Seahawks recovered deep in enemy territory. It looked like we were set to tie the game up heading into halftime! Then, with nothing but green grass ahead of him, Russell Wilson inexplicably threw an interception in the endzone to kill that dream. The only reason I can think of for the decision is Wilson is counting his stats. He saw he hadn’t thrown a touchdown pass all day, saw one of his receivers briefly flash open, but failed to see the defender who had an EASY play on the ball.

This was always the worry of handing the keys to the Ferrari to Russell Wilson after years of his safe and reliable Subaru driving. He’s pretty talented behind the wheel, but when you REALLY open it up, those cars can be dangerous and spin off the road every once in a while!

Or, I guess we can stick with the cooking analogy. Wilson has spent his career making perfect golden-brown DiGiorno pepperoni pizzas and now we’re asking him to make Fugu; sometimes it turns out perfect, but prepare it wrong and it can kill you.

As much as we see Russell Wilson as a team-first guy who only cares about winning – and certainly, he says all the right things all the time – he’s also human. He’s a hotshot NFL quarterback with an ego the size of Virginia. He wants that MVP award and he’s going to do everything in his power to get it. Even if circumstances arise that he’s unable to see, and by trying to do too much on his own, he inflicts more damage upon his chances than settling for a simple rushing touchdown would’ve done.

That pick was a bitter pill to swallow. But, my sharpest criticism of this game falls on Pete Carroll. Forget the fact that he and the rest of his staff didn’t seem to have the team properly prepared for this one, but his in-game decisionmaking was atrocious. The Seahawks brought the game to 17-13 at halftime – thanks to a franchise-record 61-yard field goal as the clock expired by Jason Myers, who is having a fabulous year – and got the ball first in the second half. On 3rd & 4, Wilson nearly scrambled for a first down, but was deemed to be less than a yard short. On 4th & Inches, on our own 42 yard line, we wasted a challenge on the spot, then wasted 25 full seconds with that bullshit where the quarterback stands at the line of scrimmage barking fake signals to try to get the defense to jump offsides. This NEVER FUCKING WORKS and I wish the Seahawks would put this tactic in a rocketship with “icing the kicker” and “Michael Dickson’s onside drop-kick that never gives us a chance to recover” and send them all on a collison course with the fucking sun, because they’re all equally as asinine. Then, with a 5-yard delay of game penalty, we punted. Fucking hell!

I lost my mind after that. Forget the fact that our defense had shown us NOTHING at that point, except one fumble we wasted. All you have to see is the fact that we lost by one score – needing the aforementioned onside kick that fell into Robert Woods’ open arms – and you can point to this wasted possession. I don’t care where we were on the field; the Rams can score from any distance (indeed, they drove RIGHT down the field right after that punt, 88 yards, to take a 23-13 lead); but if we can’t convert INCHES, then we obviously have no business even playing the game.

With the Rams able to safely sit on a two-score lead, they teed off on Russell Wilson. Knowing the Seahawks like to strike plays deep down field – and knowing we NEEDED to do just that, with time ticking away – it makes a lot of sense that our offense did next-to-nothing the rest of the way, because they could have their secondary play back and force us to check down. Most importantly, the Rams were able to take the ball out of the hands of their biggest liability – Jared Goff – and we suffered as a result. Sure, we forced the Rams’ offense into some second half punts, but we missed out on the opportunity for Goff to turn the ball over and give us some more short fields! The Rams could’ve knelt down on every offensive play and prevailed once they were up by 10 points.

I was especially dismayed with the way Wilson ignored D.K. Metcalf the entire game. Sure, Jalen Ramsey was locked onto him for most of the game, but he wasn’t shadowing him 100% of the time; there were plays for Metcalf to make! He was open and Wilson didn’t even bother checking in. Also, not for nothing, but D.K. Metcalf is a fucking monster; even when he’s got blanket coverage he’s still open! Why not toss him a jump ball or two when it’s one-on-one coverage? Make the All Pro defender make a play or two; Ramsey isn’t perfect! He’s been beaten before and he’ll be beaten again!

One of the biggest take-aways from this one is how much the team is missing Chris Carson. Alex Collins got a lot of carries and I thought looked pretty good, but he’s no Carson. He’s not the pass-catching threat that Carson is. Nor is he the total badass that Carson is!

It’s tough to totally make out whether or not the defense made any progress in this one. We had three more sacks, but two of them were via Jamal Adams blitzes. Obviously, only giving up the six second half points is a positive, but as I mentioned, the Rams went hyper-conservative towards the end.

Nevertheless, I’m not panicking yet. As predicted, the Cardinals beat the Bills (on a last-second hail mary touchdown, which is insane), so the Seahawks are currently third place in the division thanks to head-to-head tiebreakers. We can rectify that – and get to work on our atrocious divisional record – this Thursday night, at home, against those very Cardinals. If we prevail, my prediction for a 7-game winning streak to close the season is very much in play.

If we lose … then yes, I will be panicking. And so should you.

Don’t Expect The Seahawks To Fire Ken Norton Jr. Anytime Soon

After a one-week blip where the Seahawks’ defense looked semi-competent against the 49ers (not counting the fourth quarter where Nick Mullens – the same guy who managed all of 291 yards in a blowout loss to the Packers last Thursday – torched our prevent defense in those 15 minutes for 238 yards), they were back to their old tricks, giving up 415 yards to Josh Allen and only forcing a measly two punts the entire game.

The Seahawks are giving up a league-worst 455.8 yards per game, which if that holds for the entire season, will be the worst of all time by a considerable margin. The defense is “led” by a league-worst 362.1 passing yards per game, which is saying something considering the amount of talent we have in the secondary. Granted, the front office really dropped the ball when it came to building a pass rush in the offseason. But, there are ways to paper over these deficiencies and it starts with coaching up these guys and scheming to their strengths.

The most frustrating part of this season – where the offense has adapted to feature the strengths of Russell Wilson’s passing arm, after YEARS of being one of the most run-centric offenses in all of football – is that this team hasn’t similarly adapted its defense. They seem to be caught in between. Pete Carroll’s traditional scheme – which he has employed to great effect in his time in Seattle – has been to play zone, give up plays underneath, rally to the football, and force teams to dink and dunk down the field, all the while hoping either our pass rush gets home, or the opposing quarterback makes a mistake and turns the ball over. This was an excellent scheme – number one in all of football from 2012-2015 – but it really only works when you’ve got the kind of talent on your roster that can make this work. The Seahawks don’t have that now.

Not only are teams able to dink and dunk with ease, but when we buck the system and throw blitzes their way, opposing quarterbacks have had tremendous success beating us deep. Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas in their primes aren’t walking through that door anytime soon. Shaquill Griffin and Quandre Diggs – while good players – are obvious steps down compared to the original L.O.B. members. While Jamal Adams resembles Kam Chancellor in many ways, I would argue his coverage skills are MUCH worse (while his blitzing is MUCH better). None of that matters since we don’t have anyone NEARLY as good as Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril in their primes (we hope Carlos Dunlap comes close, but that will remain to be seen for now). On top of all of that, Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright are closer to the ends of their careers than the beginnings.

All of this adds up to this defense needing to create a new identity for itself. Clearly, what we’ve been doing hasn’t been working (aside from three successful quarters against a gimpy Jimmy Garoppolo). We tried going all in on a conservative approach against the Dolphins and Cardinals; it was fine against a mistake-prone Ryan Fitzpatrick, and a disaster against an electric Kyler Murray. We tried going all in on a blitz-heavy approach (at times) against the 49ers and Bills; it was fine against Jimmy G (but then we pulled too far back against Mullens), and while we had a season-high seven sacks against Allen, the defense ultimately gave up 44 points and generated zero turnovers.

As I said before, I’m not panicking because of a relatively-meaningless loss to the Bills. It seems like a lot of Seahawks fans are, but that tends to happen after EVERY loss, so what else is new? The blogs are calling for Ken Norton Jr.’s head, but, I mean, you know what that’s going to get you, right? It’s not Pete Carroll’s style to fire his assistants mid-season, particularly when he is so involved with the scheming of the defense as well.

Now, if you want to talk about firing Norton after the season, believe me, I’m right there with you. He would have to improve things DRAMATICALLY over the next eight games – and likely take us to the Super Bowl – to save his job at this point. Norton has proven – both in his time with the Raiders, and now with the Seahawks – that he’s not a good defensive coordinator. He just isn’t. It’s okay; he’s a fine linebackers coach and that’s ultimately going to be his destiny within the league (now, if he gained an interest in coaching the college game, I could see him getting hired at a smallish school as a head coach or DC or something, but he’s maxed out his reputation in the pros). Unless the Seahawks make the Super Bowl, Ken Norton Jr. needs to be replaced, by literally anyone who’s even remotely qualified, I don’t care who.

So, how does he save his job? I think many of the blogs are on the right track; I too believe the Seahawks need to go all-in on a blitz-heavy scheme, even more than what we’ve done the last two games. It’s really the only way. Our cornerbacks are too banged up at the moment (we’ll probably be without both Dunbar and Griffin this week against the Rams, which is a FUCKING calamity) and the ones who are healthy aren’t the greatest. They can’t cover these receivers all day. They’re going to need quarterbacks to make quick, precise decisions, starting with Jared Goff (who struggles MIGHTILY when he’s got guys in his face).

Will we give up big plays in the process? Against the good quarterbacks, we will. But, we’re already giving up big plays to those guys anyway! We might as well try to force a mistake or two; instead of consistently giving up 30.4 points per game (good for third-worst, just ahead of the lowly Cowboys and Jaguars), maybe we could limit teams to – I dunno – 27.0 points per game (which would still be 12th-worst, but with the way our offense is humming, might be good enough to win it all).

The defense is bound to look pretty good in the four consecutive games where we face the Eagles, Giants, Jets, and Washington. But, I’m more concerned about the two times we face the Rams, and the next time we face the Cards and Niners. Those are HUGE games, and we’re going to need our defense to do SOMETHING.

Or else Ken Norton Jr. will be on his ass at the end of the season and (unfortunately) no sooner.

As Expected: The Seahawks Lost A Weird One In Buffalo

You never quite know how it’s going to go, but like pornography, you know it when you see it. When the opening kickoff to the Bills sailed five yards deep into the endzone, and the return man ran it back 60 yards to set up Buffalo with a short field, you could tell this game had all the makings of exactly what I talked about in my Friday preview post:

I expect the Seahawks’ defense won’t look as good as it did a week ago. I expect a lot of Bills yards through the air. I expect the Seahawks on offense will need to rack up lots of points like it has all season. And … I expect weird, freaky mistakes might prevent us from accomplishing what we want to accomplish.

Let’s break it down. When you lose 44-34, I think it’s safe to say the defense didn’t look as good as it did a week ago. Josh Allen throwing for 415 yards is, indeed, a lot of Bills yards through the air. Buffalo jumped out to a 24-7 lead in the first half, and as the final score indicated, the Seahawks needed to rack up A LOT of points in this one. And, ultimately, the weird, freaky mistakes showed up in droves!

Russell Wilson had 2 interceptions and 2 lost fumbles, for starters. I know that sounds like a bad game – and it is – but I have a hard time blaming the quarterback for trying to do too much when the defense forces two punts all game and generates zero turnovers of its own. The best thing the defense did in the entire first half was hold Buffalo to a missed field goal as time expired. That was, of course, on a drive where they started on their own 25-yard line and had only 67 seconds in which to play with, so time constraints were on our side.

The defense did tighten up a little bit in the second half – as 13 of Buffalo’s 20 points in that time came off of turnovers – but the real back-breaker of the game happened on the 82-yard touchdown drive the Bills generated immediately after Seattle cut the deficit to seven points. You want to talk about weird, freaky mistakes? Take a look at the defense on THIS drive! We had them at 2nd & 20 near midfield, before giving up an 11-yard pass to make it 3rd & 9. We got immediate pressure AND a sack to force a punt … except Jamal Adams – making his return from a few weeks off with a groin injury – was flagged for an obvious illegal contact penalty. Then, after stuffing a run for -6 yards, we ultimately had them at 3rd & 16 before giving up a 33-yard wide receiver screen pass to get near the goalline, which made the touchdown all but automatic.

You know what’s probably the weirdest thing of this entire game? The defense generated SEVEN sacks, easily a season-high! You know what’s the second-weirdest thing of this entire game? The Bills were limited to only 34 yards rushing, 14 of which came off of quarterback scrambles. How does a defense get seven sacks, limit a team to those kinds of rushing numbers, and STILL manage to give up 44 points? I’ll tell you, it boggles the mind (and is best not to think about too much).

It does, I think, speak to another point I made in my last post, when I talked about this defense maybe needing a week or two to gel. Jamal Adams was the impact player he was before his injury, in both good and bad ways. He finished with 1.5 sacks and 3 QB hits, but he also looked VERY rusty out in coverage. Coverage was never his strongest suit, but he needs to clean that up considerably, because there were guys running free all over the field. Those might not have been all his own missed assignments, but he’s one of our safeties and as such, assumes a higher percentage of the blame when so many big chunk plays are given up.

Carlos Dunlap saw his first action since the trade from Cincinnati, and what a revelation! He finished with 1 sack, 3 tackles for loss, and 2 QB hits, which is simply outstanding for his first game! His presence clearly helped out everyone else, as Jarran Reed finished with 2.5 sacks, which involved cleaning up plays where Allen was forced up into the pocket and Reed’s open arms. Considering the rest of our line did relatively little (the other two sacks came from linebackers Wagner and Wright), I’d say Dunlap was a sight for the sorest of eyes.

Ultimately, this game was decided by the single biggest disappointment on the team: the secondary. Since we’re talking expectations vs. reality here, many might point to the pass rush as the biggest disappointment, but we all EXPECTED this part of the defense to stink! Conversely, we expected the secondary to be among the best in football, with newcomers Adams and Quinton Dunbar leading the way. Not having Shaquill Griffin in this one – due to injury – is probably the single biggest reason why we lost. Dunbar ended up starting in his place, and it was noted after the game he’s still dealing with a nagging knee injury that slowed him down considerably and led to many breakdowns in coverage. He ultimately had to be pulled from the game due to his ineffectiveness, and is looking like one of the bigger busts on this team. An injured Dunbar means more playing time for Tre Flowers – who has been better the last couple games, but still doesn’t look like he’ll ever be a valuable starter – and the trickle down from there is pretty significant (with Linden Stephens getting snaps at the end of the game. Who is that? Exactly).

It’s a bummer, because for a little while there in the second half, I did start to believe we were going to complete the comeback. Even after we blew it on that 82-yard drive, it seemed like we might be able to pull a rabbit out of our hat. But, the Bills on defense were able to tee off on our quarterback, and they weren’t giving up much in the way of deep passes (aside from a breakdown that led to a pretty 55-yard touchdown to David Moore). D.K. Metcalf had a huge presence in all the pre-game shows in the morning, and he delivered with 7 catches for 108 yards and a touchdown. But, it obviously wasn’t enough.

The lack of a run game was pretty alarming. I know the Seahawks have been letting Russ cook to an amazing result, but we still look our best when we have Chris Carson running between the tackles. The drop-off to DeeJay Dallas and Travis Homer (who combined for a miserable 47 yards on 13 carries) is ENORMOUS. They’re just not capable of getting those tough yards. They’re fine 3rd down backs, or in 2-minute situations, but I don’t know if we’ll ever be able to trust them as bellcow backs. Rashaad Penny, honestly, can’t come back soon enough for me.

But, as I said last week, this is probably the least-important game on our schedule. It took place clear across the country in Buffalo, NY. It’s an AFC opponent we likely won’t see again for another four years. And we’ve got a MUCH more important game coming up against the Rams. On top of which, the Dolphins did us a real solid by beating the Cardinals for us, so we still hold possession of the top spot in the NFC West (and are still tied for the #1 seed in the NFC).

I’m as unaffected by the outcome of this game as can be. I won’t say it’s a good thing, but it’s also not the end of the world. Anything that could have gone wrong did go wrong; that’s one of those performances you immediately flush, and if that shit tries to come back out of the bowl, you plunge that shit down until it’s eliminated from your memory!

No, the defense didn’t look good. Yes, it seems Russell Wilson has more of a problem with pressure defenses than we thought. But, these are still elements of our game that can be tinkered with and – if not fixed – at least tightened up somewhat. And, meanwhile, there were positive things to come from this! Seven sacks is great! Dunlap looks fantastic! We still have more guys coming back (hopefully sooner rather than later)! And, maybe this takes part of the target off of our backs and lets people forget that the Seahawks even exist.

We’re officially halfway through the season. I’m very happy with a 6-2 start and I think there’s reason for optimism for what’s to come. I was going to say let’s run it back and I’ll take 12-4 right now, but that’s a lie. I still thing 13-3 is very much on the table. Quite frankly, 12-4 would be a disaster, because that would mean 2 of those losses are coming to divisional opponents, or against some of the very worst teams in all of football. Because that’s all we’ve got remaining on the schedule! Four games against the NFC West (including two against the Rams) and four games against the dreck of society. So, let’s win seven of those games and take hold of that #1 seed!

I’m As Excited As I’ll Probably Ever Be For A Seahawks/Bills Matchup

My all-time favorite memory of the Seahawks playing the Bills is from 2012, when we went into Buffalo Toronto and stomped them into the ground by a score of 50-17. Obviously, that was Russell Wilson’s rookie season, and the real Seahawks fans remember this period as the beginning of the Great Seahawks Renaissance.

My memories of this period have to be akin to what it feels like for fathers remembering the days of their children’s births; I feel such PRIDE! And a longing to return to those sweet and innocent times!

Two weeks prior, the 2012 Seahawks were 6-5 and coming off of a disappointing loss to the Dolphins. They needed a spark. They needed their rookie quarterback to take a big leap forward in his development. And, he did just that in an overtime victory in Chicago. From there, the Seahawks dismantled the Cardinals 58-0. In combination with the aforementioned Bills victory, and the subsequent throttling of the eventual Super Bowl losers (the 49ers) by a score of 42-13, you still won’t find a more dominant three-game stretch in all of Seahawks history. In those three victories, we won by a combined score of 150-30; those are insane college football numbers!

That was also in the middle of a 5-game winning streak to close out the season. The damage had been done – we had to settle for a Wild Card spot, as the 49ers took the division that year by half a game – but in spite of our loss to the Falcons in the Divisional Round, hopes were never higher for Seahawks fans. Had we managed to nail our comeback in Atlanta, I think we’re all in agreement that we would’ve taken the 49ers out in the NFC Championship Game, with a victory against the Ravens in the Super Bowl all but assured.

While it’s a stretch to say the 2012 Seahawks were better than the 2013 version that DID manage to win it all, I seem to remember there being advanced metrics out there that showed those Seahawks were quite the force to be reckoned with.

These 2020 Seahawks aren’t the same (clearly), so I’ll temper my expectations accordingly. Nevertheless, through seven games, these 2020 Seahawks are still legitimate Super Bowl contenders. And, as chance would have it, we have another road date against the Bills on the schedule (this time in their actual hometown).

I’m weirdly excited for this game! When you factor in divisional/playoff tie-breakers, this game – a road contest against an opposite-conference opponent – is among the least important. But, since there are only 16 regular season games, that’s a relative statement, because ALL games are important in football!

And, sure, I’m excited because the Bills are a quality opponent (we are 1-1 against teams with winning records, with the lone victory being against a rebuilding Dolphins team), but the opponent is irrelevant. I’m mostly excited because we’re starting to get healthy again!

Jamal Adams and Benson Mayowa both figure to return this week. And sure, we’re down Shaquill Griffin, but D.J. Reed returned last week and looked phenomenal! Jordyn Brooks made it through unscathed. AND, we get to see Carlos Dunlap for the first time since we traded for him!

I’ll be honest, 75% of my hype is devoted to Dunlap. I am SO READY for a competent defensive end to grace us with his presence! I would put my feelings on par with how I felt about Jadeveon Clowney last year. In a vacuum, I’d prefer 2019 Clowney to 2020 Dunlap, but considering just how atrocious our pass rush has been this year, I feel like I’m even MORE starving for … ANYTHING! The fact that he took a pay cut to come here – converting $3 million of what he was owed into a roster bonus next season (meaning, if we cut him before then, he gets none of it, but immediately becomes a free agent; or if we keep him, we likely look to extend him an extra year or two beyond 2021) means he might be the most motivated player on this roster right now! I LOVE that!

I need to be ready to be underwhelmed, of course, but this feeling is more than just about this one game. The Seahawks as a whole are getting healthier. Shaquill Griffin will eventually return to full strength. Rasheem Green is on his way back from his stinger. Alton Robinson is already blowing away expectations as a rookie defensive end. We’ll actually have a defensive line ROTATION for once, where we can keep everyone fresh and hopefully maximize their effectiveness (rather than running the same two guys into the ground as they continue to get stonewalled).

The defense will be a work in progress all year. BUT, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t expect to see improvement if we can get these guys healthy and (more importantly) keep our key guys healthy. And, hopefully, it won’t require us to blitz over 50% of the rest of our snaps to do it.

Now, all of that being said, just because I’m excited for this game doesn’t mean I actually believe the Seahawks will win. This isn’t just one of those deals where Steven Isn’t Allowed To Have Nice Things In His Life, but it’s a weird fucking thing about the Seahawks and AFC games (particularly against the better AFC opponents we face, usually on the road).

Since 2012, the Seahawks – I think we can all agree – have been pretty good-to-great. And yet, we’ve managed to stumble against at least one AFC opponent in every season except one (randomly, in 2016, when we also played against the AFC East). We’ve lost an AFC road game at least once in six of those eight seasons. It’s not even that we get blown out or look particularly bad; weird shit just seems to happen when we least suspect it!

Now, the saving grace here is the fact that most of us – when we were going through the schedule when it was initially released – marked this game down as a likely defeat. Until the Seahawks got off to this remarkable start, most of us kind of wrote this game off. The Bills were projected to be a very good team this season, and low and behold – at 6-2 – they are! I would argue, however, even that hasn’t gone according to plan. Josh Allen looks much better than any of us expected (particularly in engineering a comeback victory over the Rams back in Week 3), but also the Bills’ defense looks much worse than any of us expected (when many projected them to be at least in the Top 3 in the NFL). The Bills have given up 26 or more points in half of their games (including a whopping 42 in a loss to the Titans). Fantasy owners are dropping the Bills’ defense left and right, and for good reason!

That’s why I think lots of Seahawks fans are predicting a Seahawks victory this week. Our defense just produced its best game of the season last week, we’re getting a lot of key additions to that side of the ball, AND the Bills have shown they’re weaker than their record might suggest.

To me, that puts me back on edge, coming around full circle to think that we WILL lose this game, as unexpectedly as we have in years past. If and when that does happen, it shouldn’t reduce our excitement for the rest of this season!

It might take a week or two for these new/returning stars to gel. The team might be looking ahead to our date in L.A. against the Rams next week (which will be a HUGE showdown for NFC West supremacy). Or the Bills just might be better on this particular given Sunday! I’m not going to sweat the outcome of this one, even though it would be fantastic to win and keep our cushion against the rest of the division for one more week.

I expect the Seahawks’ defense won’t look as good as it did a week ago. I expect a lot of Bills yards through the air. I expect the Seahawks on offense will need to rack up lots of points like it has all season. And … I expect weird, freaky mistakes might prevent us from accomplishing what we want to accomplish.

But, it won’t be the end of the world (even though it’ll be infuriating in the moment). I’m mentally preparing to be 6-2 at this time on Monday morning. I’m also already ready to flush this game and move on to the next one as soon as humanly possible. The Rams are on a BYE this week, meaning they’ve got two weeks to prepare for a home date against us that will be our biggest game of the season (so far). My mind is already in Los Angeles.

Well, technically, my mind is in Vegas for our early December trip, but close enough.

The Seahawks Needed A Win Like That

When the best thing the Seahawks have going for them in the run-up to a game is my gut telling me the other team is bound to be victorious, it’s never really a great sign. And yet, my gut has literally never failed me (by, ironically enough, always being wrong)!

I don’t really know how you see a game like that coming, though. I know a 37-27 victory doesn’t LOOK like the defense was worth a damn, but 20 of those points happened in the fourth quarter when Nick Mullens came in for Jimmy G and ate up a good amount of garbage-time yards and points. For the first three quarters of that game, the Seahawks’ defense properly dominated – taking a 27-7 lead into the final frame – and while giving up 20 points and however many hundreds of yards at the end doesn’t look great, if you gave me a 20-point lead heading into every single fourth quarter, I would gladly accept no questions asked.

I read somewhere that the Seahawks blitzed on over 50% of their plays in this one, which is pretty crazy for anyone, but especially for this team! Given that Jimmy G is a little hobbled, it made sense, as he really wasn’t going to get away from us. That translated to three sacks, an interception, eight quarterback hits, and somehow 6.5 tackles for loss (how do you end up with a fractional tackle for loss? Your guess is as good as mine).

Bobby Wagner was a man possessed in this one, and that’s saying something (that he’s the lead story for this game) considering Russell Wilson threw four touchdown passes. He led the game in tackles (11, 3 for loss) and had two of our sacks (while hitting the quarterback two more times). This was, honestly, the first time Wagner really flashed in a game this season, and was his single-greatest performance in YEARS. I dunno, that could be an exaggeration; for all I know he could’ve had a similar game in 2019 sometime. But, nothing really stands out to me; these games have been the exception, not the rule, in recent seasons. And, when you factor in all the injuries (Benson Mayowa, our best defensive line pass rusher, was out; Jamal Adams couldn’t make it back; Shaquill Griffin and Ugo Amadi also had to sit), that made it all the more impressive. We’ve been lamenting the lack of talent around Bobby Wagner as the main reason for his decline, but this game showed he still has some of the good stuff left in him (and we needed every bit of it).

The injury bug didn’t stop there, as our top two running backs couldn’t make it back either; Chris Carson is week-to-week with a foot injury, and Carlos Hyde apparently pulled something while celebrating last week? Jesus Christ. That meant that DeeJay Dallas got the lion’s share of the carries; he did what he could, but the 49ers seemed to be particularly stout against our inside rushing game in this one (he finished with 41 yards on 18 carries, but did score two TDs, including one through the air while catching 5 balls for 17 more yards).

As such, this game was always destined to be a Russell Wilson-heavy affair, and he didn’t disappoint. 27/37 for 261 and 4 touchdowns. This one didn’t have a ton of razzle dazzle, but the MVP Hype Train is chugging full steam ahead.

The offense struggled a bit in the first half, as we could only muster a 13-7 halftime lead. But, we really put the game away in the third quarter, and I was impressed by how we attacked them in the fourth when they were mounting their futile comeback attempt. The 49ers pulled it to 30-20 with just over four minutes left, and that could’ve been a drive where we just ran it three times and bled their time outs. Past Seahawks teams might’ve won this game 30-27, needing a stop at the end to prevent a disaster, with no one really coming away feeling good about what transpired. But, we got the ball back near midfield (after a failed onside kick attempt) and proceeded to resume throwing the ball, scoring that back-breaking touchdown while ALSO bleeding their time outs. That’s what championship-calibre teams do.

The fact that I’ve gone this long without mentioning D.K. Metcalf is utter lunacy. He caught 12 balls for 161 yards and 2 touchdowns, and it looked EASY. The 49ers couldn’t do a damn thing with him, and if Wilson had pressed the issue, Metcalf could’ve accounted for the entirety of our offense. Whoever was defending him looked like a 10 year old boy trying to cover a full-grown man. If Wilson hadn’t been just a bit short with one of his deep balls, there would’ve been a third touchdown and closer to 200 yards receiving. Just an all-around dominant performance from one of the most dominant receivers in the game today.

As such, it was a relatively quiet day for everyone else on the offense. On defense, the return of D.J. Reed was a sight to behold! He came up with the interception, plus two passes defended and six tackles. We picked him up this past offseason from the 49ers (who waived him as he was injured at the time) and this was his first game back; the timing couldn’t have been more perfect! It looks like he’ll start taking snaps from Ugo Amadi, but at some point we’ll have to think about him taking snaps from Tre Flowers (who, to his credit, played a pretty strong game from what I saw, though I didn’t see how many of those yards in the fourth quarter he might have given up). Also, it was nice to see Alton Robinson return with a sack. And, look at that! Tight end Stephen Sullivan got some run on the defensive line and had that half-a-tackle-for-loss!

It’s hard to know what this game means in the grand scheme of things. We looked great against the 49ers starters, but then their quarterback, running back, and all-world tight end all got injured and they ran up 20 points against our prevent defense. While I’m sure we were playing it safe there towards the end, you also KNOW we really wanted to keep the score down and crow about this being the start of something big. As it stands, I think we should feel very good about what we did in this game as a whole. But, obviously, it’s not as great a day as it should have been.

Ultimately, it was nice to see no hangover whatsoever from that Arizona game. At 6-1, we’ve taken back our spot as the top team in the NFC (thanks to a Packers loss, everyone else has at least two defeats). Now we get to look forward to as meaningless of a regular season game as it gets when we go to Buffalo next week.

The Seahawks Need To Bounce Back In A Hurry From A Very Messy Loss

Normally, the first loss of a season is a great team’s initial sign of vulnerability. The longer that team goes undefeated, the more invincible they feel. While I would argue our offense makes us great in the first place, this team has felt FAR from invincible at any point this season, and that kind of loss down in Arizona was exactly what we all expected would come eventually. By all rights, it probably should’ve happened already.

These are kind of scary times in Seahawkland. We suffered a number of injuries down in Arizona (seriously, what’s in the fucking water down there, because we seem to lose key guys every fucking time we play there!) and our on-roster reinforcements aren’t yet ready to return from their previous injuries, it would seem. Tack on the fact that Carlos Dunlap won’t pass his COVID protocols until after this game takes place, and we’re as thin as can be heading into our home matchup against the 49ers.

The 49ers who, not for nothing, are on a 2-game winning streak, taking out the Rams and dismantling the Patriots. They’ve come a long way since gagging against the lowly Eagles and Dolphins at home the two weeks prior (namely, they have their starting quarterback back). Jimmy Garoppolo isn’t an MVP candidate by any stretch of the imagination, but he fits their system well, and against our defense, you don’t even have to be GOOD to look like a monster!

The 49ers will never be at full strength this year; they’ll never be as good as they were in 2019. This year is a real opportunity, in that sense. There’s an opening at the top of the NFC West, and we need to take advantage, strike while the iron is hot and all that. But, that doesn’t mean they’re bad. They WERE bad, when they were totally decimated by injuries, but some of those guys have returned, and so we’ll have a real test on our hands.

Luckily, Raheem Mostert and Deebo Samuel are out for this one (what’s bad for my fantasy teams is good for the Seahawks). But, that doesn’t mean they don’t have plenty of talent. We don’t have anyone to stop George Kittle, for starters (Jamal Adams still seems to be at least another week away, to my utter fucking hangdog dismay). Everyone is calling Brandon Aiyuk the second coming of Deebo Samuel (which is why I picked him up in both fantasy leagues), and that’s just in time for Shaquill Griffin to spend this week in the concussion protocol (a.k.a. he’ll be out). Look forward to lots of Tre Flowers getting used and abused! Happy Fucking Hungover All Hallows’ Day!

So, once again, we’re going to need the Seahawks to score 30+ points to have any prayer of winning this game. Even scraping by in the low 30’s feels insufficient; we might need to drop 40!

Which will be exceedingly difficult if we’ve only got one running back, rookie DeeJay Dallas (who has been the only running back to practice this week, which means we likely had wide receivers back there to fill out the rotation). In that sense, though, this could be really interesting. How does Letting Russ Cook look when he HAS to cook? When he’s the only chef in the kitchen? Does he throw 50 times in this one? Are we just rocked with screens, both of the bubble and traditional variety?

I actually have a sneaking suspicion that Chris Carson will try to find a way onto the field in this one, so I don’t know if we’ll see this possible peak of Let Russ Cook mania, but it’s fun to think about.

For as ravaged as the 49ers are on offense, the defense really got hit hard as well. But, again, there’s still talent there. The pass rush isn’t as ferocious as it once was, but it’s okay; I suspect it will be something close to what the Cardinals were able to produce last week. The secondary is probably weaker than Arizona’s, so I would still expect Wilson to have a field day with his deep balls.

The bottom line in this one is that the Seahawks have everything they need to win in a high-scoring shootout. But, my concern remains: when do we run into the game where the offense just doesn’t have it? Because I contend: it’s coming. Will it be this week? Will this be the perfect storm of mistakes and trying-to-do-too-much?

I’ll tell you this much: I have no confidence in this defense whatsoever to even get a stop! The 49ers might as well not even pack a punter, because I don’t think they’re going to need him! I think we’re going to give up an immediate touchdown and spend the rest of the day trying to play catch-up. But, at the same time, Jimmy G is prone to mistakes. He’s the wild card in all of this. You have to account for his inaccuracy and turnovers. If he screws up, he’ll single-handedly keep us in this game. But, if our pass rush doesn’t touch him, and he plays a clean game, the 49ers could win by two touchdowns.

So, I dunno. I don’t feel great about this one. I want to say the Seahawks are the better team, but I think things have been exposed about our offense in back-to-back games. I think the Vikings showed what a 2-high safety look can accomplish in limiting our over-the-top plays, and I think the Cardinals showed what a tricky zone-blitz scheme can do in frazzling our protection. Threatening an all-out blitz before pulling most of them back – except some turd off the side from the secondary – and generating pressure too quickly for us to react.

It’s not unprecedented for the Seahawks to lose two games in a row. I want to say having someone like Russell Wilson is an asset, and that he’d never let us succumb to such a lowly state, but the talent around him makes me wonder. My gut keeps telling me the 49ers are going to dump us on our asses (which is probably the best sign the Seahawks will win that I can come up with).

This Might Be Bobby Wagner’s Last Year With The Seahawks

I keep seeing trades happen for defensive ends and the Seahawks aren’t involved. I hear about free agents still out on the scrap heap, but no calls from our end. Coming into this year, the pass rush was assumed to be a disaster, and through six games that’s been proven accurate.

Now, the Seahawks have the least amount of extra cap space in all of football. That’s not hyperbole, that’s just a fact. The coffers are bare. But, there are ways to re-work contracts to free up some extra space. That’s why you hear about the Seahawks being “in” on a lot of guys, even if they don’t manage to land them. We’re just waiting for the right deal, the one that hurts us the least in the long term.

We’re getting to the point, though, where the lack of pass rush is a real emergency. Say what you will about how difficult it can be to bring down someone like Kyler Murray, this team had two weeks to prepare. It’s not just that we couldn’t get him on his ass, we couldn’t even get close enough to SEE his ass! For as difficult as it is to bring in guys with COVID happening all around us, we’re at a crisis point, and they’re going to have to do something soon, or else risk throwing away a real, legitimate chance at a Super Bowl. If we falter to another Wild Card finish, I’m afraid heads might roll.

What I’m wondering is: are they reluctant to take on any more money because they know Bobby Wagner is going to be cut after this season?

The Seahawks committed one of the cardinal sins when it comes to football contracts: you do NOT pay top dollar for running backs or linebackers. We paid marginally-top dollar with Marshawn Lynch back in the day, but the way his contracts were structured made it so we could get out from under them pretty easily. Bobby Wagner was another story, though. Not only did we extend him with a year already left on his deal, but we made him the highest-paid linebacker in the game. 3 years, $54 million, a little over $40 million of that guaranteed. If he sees it through to the end, he’ll be here through the 2022 season, when he’s 32 years old.

Now, at the time, we figured, “Okay, he’s worth it.” He was – more or less – the last remaining star from our glory days on defense. He was squarely in the prime of his career as the best middle linebacker in the game, and based on history, middle linebackers can play well into their 30’s if they stay healthy. But, from a value standpoint, to be worth the money he’s making, he has to continue to be THE best middle linebacker in football, and that clearly isn’t the case. Blame it on the team around him, and I agree with you: they ARE mediocre. But, he’s not elevating his game, nor does he seem to be elevating the people around him.

So, look at his contract status. There’s an out after this season. His cap hit next year is set to be over $17 million; we can get out from under his contract by eating $7.5 million. That is a SPICY meatball to have to eat, but you can’t pay him what he’s set to earn for what he’s bringing to the table now (saying nothing of the amount of decline he’ll see being another year older). At this point, he’s NOT the best middle linebacker in the game. Is he in the Top 10? Maybe. But, he’s still making Top Dog Middle Linebacker money, and that’s unacceptable. When you figure he’s much too proud to take a pay cut, that points to one alternative: the Seahawks have been eyeballing his exit all along.

There is money that could be better spent at other positions. For instance, Jamal Adams will be looking for a new deal after this season. Shaquill Griffin as well. And, of course, we’re still going to be in need of a pass rushing defensive end. Jordyn Brooks will probably be ready to take over one of the linebacker spots from K.J. Wright after this year, and the Seahawks can just as easily dip their toe into the second round of the draft next year to find Bobby’s replacement. Even if we have to slog through a season with Cody Barton; I know he’s not great, but is he SO MUCH of a drop-off at middle linebacker, relative to the money he’s making? What is Bobby Wagner bringing to the table with this defense that’s elevating things for the team?

All of that being said, I’m sure the team could rework Russell Wilson’s contract to free up money. I think I even read a headline talking about extending Tyler Lockett to tinker with the salary cap. There are options.

One of those options doesn’t appear to be – and frankly CANNOT be – shuffling money around on Bobby Wagner’s deal (moving future base salary to signing bonus, thereby increasing the amount of dead money we’d have to eat by cutting him next season). If we do that, we’re essentially guaranteeing his 2021 season at that inflated cap number.

Until now, I would’ve been 100% convinced Wagner would still be here at least for one more season. But, in looking at the numbers, and the situation as it’s laid out in front of us, it’s feeling remarkably slim.

This Game Is For The Birds! Seahawks At Cardinals

I think the Cardinals are one of the more interesting teams in the NFL this year. Last Monday Night was really my first time seeing them in 2020; it was pretty eye-opening, but I wish they’d had an opponent that could’ve given them more of a challenge (and not the Dak-less Dallas Cowboys).

The 2019 Cardinals weren’t all that great, but they were breaking in top pick Kyler Murray as well as a new coaching staff. Even though they finished last year 5-10-1, almost everyone had the Cards pegged as a potential Wild Card team this year, figuring Murray and the offense for a significant boost with experience and better consistency. So far, that’s played out about as well as can be expected; they’re 4-2 and tied for second in the NFC West.

But, who have they played? Well, they’ve beaten the Cowboys and Jets – two pretty abysmal teams – as well as Washington and the 49ers to start the season. Meanwhile, they’ve lost to Detroit (kind of mediocre) and Carolina (kind of okay). So, Seattle will be their first real test.

Of course, by the same token, it looks like the Cardinals will be OUR first big test. Our best win is against the Patriots, who have been struggling (in many ways, thanks Corona …) of late. The only difference is: we have the MVP, and didn’t gag away a couple of those games we were supposed to win.

I like our chances in this one, but obviously I’m mighty concerned. Kyler Murray is coming into his own, and he’s one of the best scrambling quarterbacks in all of football. DeAndre Hopkins is one of the best wide receivers alive and will be a tremendous challenge to our secondary that has looked pretty inept this season. Kenyan Drake has his detractors – mostly due to his injury issues and age, which I find ridiculous – but he’s coming off of a game where he just TORCHED the Cowboys (to say nothing of the last time we saw him in late 2019, when he ran it up to the tune of 166 yards and 2 touchdowns on 24 carries), so I’d rank him up there among the bellcow running backs left standing this season. Plus, they’ve got Larry Fitzgerald and Christian Kirk, both of whom are outstanding weapons who can both stretch the field and get those tough 3rd down-converting catches in traffic.

That’s a lot of offensive firepower to tangle with. Of the teams we’ve faced so far, I’d put them up there with the Dak-full Cowboys in Week 3 as the best. So, how do you combat that?

Well, I’ll tell you, I’m very nervous about Murray’s legs. I don’t know how often we employ a defensive spy (it doesn’t feel like a lot), but one might come in handy this week. Who to use in that role, though? The thought of Cody Barton trying to ankle tackle him is bringing back bad memories of Isaiah Kacyvenski! This is precisely the reason why we drafted someone like Jordyn Brooks, which makes his injury troubles all the more annoying. It doesn’t look like he’s recovered yet, but even if he has, he hasn’t played in many weeks, so would we trust him to follow around one of the most dynamic players in all of football? Seems risky, to say the least. In reality, it’s going to be a team effort.

Not for nothing, but this is a game where having a bad pass rush might actually be to our advantage. As long as our edge rushers don’t over-commit and run themselves out of the play, we could just clog things up and force Murray to stay in the pocket. Not that he’s a BAD pocket passer, but he’s not yet at a Russell Wilson level, and he’s more prone to make mistakes while he’s in there.

Honestly, the Seahawks need to keep doing what they’ve done the last couple of weeks: Bend/Don’t Break. Murray throws a nice deep ball – again, not on Russell’s wavelength, but good nonetheless – and so we’re going to have to limit deep gains to hopefully zero. Force the Cardinals into longer, 10-, 12-, 15-play drives. I guarantee you Murray won’t be as consistent as Kirk Cousins; he’ll get antsy, he’ll miss some guys, he might even throw a pick or two.

To go along with that, we MUST keep Drake in check. Giving up first down-converting runs to Murray is going to happen once in a while. But, allowing Drake to run for huge chunks of yardage is a huge no-no. The Vikings were able to exploit us in that regard (with Cousins obviously not being NEARLY the threat Murray is with his legs) and that game ended up being a lot closer than it should’ve been. We need to get back on track and force the Cardinals into being one-dimensional.

It would be nice to get Jamal Adams back for this one, but it looks like he’s going to miss another week. Sigh. Look, I get it, we want him 100% from this injury so he isn’t hampered the rest of the way (especially when it matters most: the playoffs), but it’s fucking annoying because we could REALLY use him in this one. His pass rushing, and his speed in general, would solve a lot of our defense’s ills when it comes to containing Murray.

Offensively, the Seahawks need to keep doing what they’ve been doing. It’s hard to say how good Arizona’s defense is, because the Cowboys were SO BAD in the game I saw. If that was the only game you ever saw the Cardinals play, you’d think they are nothing but a bunch of world-beaters. But, that’s obviously not the case, as their two losses would indicate (on top of losing Chandler Jones for the rest of the season).

Hopefully, the Seahawks have done a little self-scouting, as I think the Vikings exposed a lot of flaws with our offensive attack. I mean, opposing defenses should just do what we’re trying to do on defense: sell out to limit the big plays and force the Seahawks to dink and dunk down the field. We have the talent to do that; Russell Wilson is certainly capable of moving the ball in such a fashion. It’s just a matter of execution, and staying patient. Continue to take what the defense gives you, and the big plays will still show up occasionally.

I’m sure the Cardinals are fine along the front seven, but I’m not overly concerned there. Where they’re REALLY strong is in the secondary, led by UW standout Budda Baker, who is an absolute MACHINE! Every time I’m reminded that the Seahawks passed him over in the draft for some lunkhead who never played a down in the NFL, I grow more infuriated with what we all knew at the time was a moronic decision by the front office. Anyway, he was all over the place against Dallas, and I expect him to be just as big of a pain in our asses come Sunday.

One thing we have going for us is we’re coming off of a BYE week. The Seahawks – under Pete Carroll, and with Russell Wilson – are 6-2 after a BYE week. One of those losses? To the Cardinals (in Seattle, on Sunday Night Football); but I wouldn’t be too worried, because unlike that weekend, this time I won’t be in the state of Nevada losing hundreds upon hundreds of dollars (that won’t happen again until the first weekend in December, when the Seahawks play the lowly Giants).

I ultimately believe the Seahawks will (and should) win this game. We weirdly own the Cardinals in Arizona (6-1-1 in the Russell Wilson era, with the lone defeat being his very first game in the NFL). But, if there ever was a game where I wouldn’t be shocked if we blew it, this would be it. The good news is: we’re pretty healthy, with more reinforcements on their way. The bad news is: we’re still missing a few key pieces to the puzzle, and so our perfect record will continue to be in jeopardy as long as they’re out.

The Seahawks Beat The Viking, Are Taking Years Off Of My Life

The fucking rain.

It’s like we’re the Wicked Witch of the West whenever a few droplets hit our jerseys! There was about a 2-minute period in the third quarter of this game where the rain stopped, and I honestly don’t think it’s a coincidence that those are the two minutes where the Seahawks exploded for 21 unanswered points!

There’s so much to discuss about this game.

Here are the broad strokes: the Seahawks won 27-26. The Seahawks converted exactly 0 of 7 third down opportunities. The Seahawks held the ball for just under 21 minutes of game time. The Seahawks allowed the Vikings to rush for 201 yards. The Seahawks allowed the Vikings to run 83 plays and convert 31 first downs. EVERYTHING about this game screamed not only a Vikings victory, but a Vikings BLOWOUT victory! And yet, somehow, here we are, with a 5-0 record heading into our BYE week (the first of multiple, maybe, depending on how these COVID outbreaks keep shaking out).

I can’t begin to tell you how bad the Seahawks looked in the first half. The Vikings jumped right out to a 7-0 lead on the first drive of the game and it wasn’t even all that difficult. This looked to be a modified version of our performance against the Dolphins last week – where we kept plays in front of us and forced them to dink and dunk down the field – but the difference was the fact that Dalvin Cook is maybe the best running back in all of football, and Kirk Cousins finds a way to elevate his game when he goes up against the Seahawks (not every time, but sometimes).

Ultimately, we did slow the bleeding – even forcing the Vikings to punt once in the first half – and it felt lucky that we were only down 13-0 at the break. It was pretty appalling how badly the offense was sputtering. There were breakdowns along the offensive line, there were bad throws by Wilson, and guys weren’t able to get open. But, more than anything, I think the Vikings out-schemed us. They took away anything and everything deep, and for at least a half we fed right into that. It seemed like we were looking to chuck it 40 yards on every passing play, but with nothing open, that meant Wilson was stuck back there getting clobbered by a fairly feisty pass rush.

We’ve seen these games before from the Seahawks. This felt like the most “normal” game for us in this brand new Let Russ Cook era: fall into a deep first half hole, spend the second half clawing our way back into contention. The main difference here is: the Let Russ Cook Seahawks are able to come back almost immediately! A 13-0 deficit morphed into a 21-13 lead less than halfway into the third quarter! Not only did it look like the score we expected all along, but it looked like we were going to run away with it!

It honestly seemed like the Vikings got away from their gameplan on offense – which was: pound the rock – and put the ball in Kirk Cousins’ hands. So, the fumble and BAFFLING interception on back-to-back drives certainly gave us all the confidence we needed in watching our Seahawks come back. He settled down, of course, and ultimately put the Vikings into a position to steal one. But, he’s not Russell Wilson!

In that two-minute stretch, Dalvin Cook looked like he pulled a groin, went to the locker room, and returned for one play only to sit out the remainder of the game. It didn’t matter, as his backup – Alexander Mattison – was running like a total beast. This was not the Seahawks rush defense I signed up for, nor the one I promised last week! There were glimpses of dominance – especially from Jarran Reed, who was all over the place in the interior line – but instead of giving up on it, the Vikings doubled down. The Seahawks linebackers not named K.J. Wright had a pretty awful game. They would come up big late in the fourth quarter, but Cody Barton especially looked overmatched, and reminded us why this team drafted Jordyn Brooks in the first round (hopefully he’ll return to action after the BYE week).

As soon as we took that 21-13 lead, the offense went right back into hibernation mode. 21-13 became 21-19, which then became 26-21 Vikings halfway through the fourth quarter. More long, clock-churning drives. And THEN, one of the worst interceptions I’d ever seen from Russell Wilson!

That gave the Vikings the ball back at midfield, with just under six minutes in the game. They drove it all the way (eventually) inside the Seahawks 10 yard line at the two minute warning, for the play of the game. 4th down & 1 at the Seattle 6 yard line. Kick a field goal, and the Vikings would lead by 8 points, necessitating the Seahawks to drive approximately 75 yards for a touchdown (and a two-point conversion) in just under two minutes with only 1 time out. OR, go for it and seal the victory by getting a single yard. For a team that averaged 4.9 yards per carry on the day, it seemed like a no-brainer. As a Seahawks fan, I was dreading them going for it, which should tell you all you need to know about their decision being a smart one. The fact that my aggressive ways agree with what the math tells you is just a bonus; every once in a while I find myself on the right side of history, and I agree, it feels weird. Of course, with the Vikings ultimately NOT converting 4th & 1, and losing the game, in retrospect makes the choice to kick a field goal there more enticing. But, I’d like to think I wouldn’t be furious with my team if I were a Vikings fan right now.

I’d LIKE to think that, but, you know me …

The Seahawks still needed to score a touchdown to win it, and that was no sure thing! Not with the way we’d been trying to move the ball for all but two minutes of the game! Indeed, we were on our own 23 yard line, 4th & 10, with the game on the line and I was convinced it was over. I just couldn’t believe how badly Wilson was missing the mark on some of his patented deep throws! It seems impossible for him to over-shoot these guys when he puts so much arc on them, but there were a number of opportunities that shot well over the intended mark (I don’t know HOW you over-throw D.K. Metcalf, but he found away!). Anyway, thank Christ for Metcalf, who caught a lob ball down the left sideline to convert that 4th down; just a beauty of a 39-yard play! From there, the game-winning TD felt inevitable, and my main concern was not scoring TOO fast, to leave the Vikings time to go down and kick a field goal!

And yet, there we were, 4th & Goal at the 6-yard line with 20 seconds left. I guess that’s the third “Play of the Game” in this one? Once again, who does Wilson go to but D.K. Metcalf coming across the middle of the endzone?! With 15 seconds to go in the game, the Vikings converted one short pass and fumbled on the final play of the game to end it.

Not the best game in the world for Wilson – 217 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT – but his rating was still over 100. The rushing attack probably could’ve been leaned on more as Wilson, Carson, and Homer combined for 124 yards on only 16 carries (for a 7.8 average). D.K. was obviously the receiving star, with 6 catches for 93 yards and 2 touchdowns.

Defensively, K.J. Wright was phenomenal (including a 1-handed interception after dropping so many last week!). Shaquill Griffin had a strong coverage game. Ryan Neal continues to make plays at safety in lieu of Jamal Adams. Jarran Reed came up huge a number of times. Benson Mayowa looked good (the line combined for 3 sacks, which isn’t terrible). And, honestly, the best performance on either team might’ve come from our punter, Michael Dickson, who dropped 4 of 5 punts inside the 20 yard line, including two that landed inside the 2-yard line! The fact that our defense couldn’t make them pay for such poor field position is quite concerning.

The BYE week – as I’ve been saying for a while now – couldn’t come at a better time for this team. We’ve had a ton of guys show up on the injury report in recent weeks; most of them should be healthy as we head into our Week 7 matchup down in Arizona. More importantly, I hope to see some of the defensive issues cleaned up in these next two weeks, before we take on a potent-looking Cardinals offense.

For now, we get to take a deep breath and relax. The rest of the NFL is a COVID nightmare, but we’re 5-0 and alone in first place in the NFC (for the time being). Part of me knows it might not get any better than this, but I’m a romantic at heart, and I want so desperately to believe the best is yet to come! I think the Seahawks have what it takes.

But, just in case, let’s build a giant bubble to put over them so that nasty ol’ rain doesn’t interfere!