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.

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).

Nobody Wants To Hear About My Fantasy Team 2020: Tua Be Or Not Tua Be, That Is The Question

For the first time all year, I actually got moderately-competent quarterback play from BOTH of my quarterbacks! A combined almost-58 points? If I’d been getting that every week, I daresay I’d have a much better win/loss record than I do now! Of course, I refuse to go back and double-check that math, because what could possibly be more of a waste of time? I mean, I’m already playing fantasy football; you can’t get much more time-wastey than that!

With that Thursday Night Miracle in hand, I’ll admit I was feeling pretty confident about winning this week. My projected points increased tremendously and if the rest of my team played according to how they’ve played all season, it should’ve been in the bag. But, you know me, I’m doomed to suffer. Things never seem to go my way. Close but no cigar and whatnot!

If I wanted to, I could blame the Atlanta Falcons for my loss. I could even blame Todd Gurley specifically! If he’d done what he should have done, they would’ve run out the clock and won their football game. Instead, he had to score a meaningless touchdown and that allowed the Lions to drive down and take the lead with a touchdown of their own to win the game. Which – thanks to my opponent having both the Lions’ quarterback and the tight end he threw that touchdown to – gave him just enough points to win his matchup against me, 165.05 to 156.40. Take away just the 12 points he got for the touchdown (6 for his quarterback, 6 for his tight end), and that’s a win for Nobody Beats The Wiz.

I could blame my misfortune on my running back keepers being totally worthless. Josh Jacobs and Ezekiel Elliott combined for 12.2 points when they were projected for a combined 35.63. I could blame my misfortune on the fantasy gods tearing Odell Beckham’s ACL in the first quarter of that Browns game where they racked up 37 points (surely some of those catches and/or touchdowns would’ve gone to their #1 receiver). Even if I’d had the gumption to stick with my three-headed running back hydra (CEH scored an improbable 13.3 points which seemed more flukey than a sign of things to come in that offense), the allure of playing ODB against the Bengals would’ve forced me to sit Deebo Samuel, who had 12.2 points of his own that I would’ve desperately needed to win this game.

The point is, there wasn’t much I could’ve done. If I would’ve played strictly by the projected points, I would’ve lost. Instead, I went by my gut and I lost. There was one combination of players that would’ve worked, and the odds of me figuring that out ahead of time was pretty minimal. This is the way.

I will say it wasn’t all doom and gloom. A.J. Brown had a monster game against the Steelers, getting me 27.3 points. The Rams’ defense was a great pickup, scoring 27 against the Bears on Monday Night. My kicker had his best game of the season, getting me 13 points.

Interesting waiver wire news: late last week, Beasts picked up Antonio Brown, who is headed to Tampa to play for the Bucs. Beasts, at the time, had four high-functioning quarterbacks, three of which already had their BYE weeks. There’s very little reason for anyone who’s fighting for a playoff spot to carry four quarterbacks on their roster when there are no longer any BYE weeks to work around. So, he ended up dropping his worst quarterback, Kirk Cousins. Who, as chance would have it, would be the second-best quarterback on my team had he been here the whole time. So, I put in a claim for him, dropping the most expendable receiver I had, Darius Slayton (who I would like to get back on my roster, if I’m so fortunate, especially thanks to ODB’s injury).

I also put in a claim for Chase Edmonds, because Arizona’s starting running back just got injured, but thanks to the Cousins claim, my waiver priority dropped down to 10th, so I assumed that was always going to be an impossible longshot. But, somehow, I got him! I guess maybe because Kenyan Drake will only be out for a few weeks, and because Arizona is on BYE this week, no one wanted to waste their waiver status. But still, I should get a couple good games out of Edmonds!

Finally, since I dropped ODB to pick up Edmonds, and since Deebo Samuel is in my IR spot for a bit, I picked up Brandon Aiyuk, also of the 49ers. He’s their impressive-looking rookie wide receiver who seems to be filling that Deebo Samuel-shaped hole in their offense. Since they’re going up against the Seahawks this week, you better believe I’m taking advantage!

The defeat drops me to 3-4 and in 8th place in the league. My opponent for this week is The Lance Petemans, who is 4-3 and in 5th place. He has the third-most total points (to my second-fewest), but he’s closer to the middle-of-the-pack than he is to the top two scoring teams. So, you know, it’s not an impossible task, but it will still likely require his team to underperform for me to beat him. Here’s what I’m looking at going with:

  • Carson Wentz (QB) vs. DAL
  • Tua Tagovailoa (QB) vs. LAR
  • A.J. Brown (WR) @ CIN
  • Brandon Aiyuk (WR) @ SEA
  • Josh Jacobs (RB) @ CLE
  • Clyde Edwards-Helaire (RB) vs. NYJ
  • Noah Fant (TE) vs. LAC
  • Ezekiel Elliott (RB) @ PHI
  • Harrison Butker (K) vs. NYJ
  • Indianapolis (DEF) @ DET

Fuck it, I’m Ride Or Die with Tua. Daniel Jones is a complete non-starter for me going forward until he proves he’s not totally worthless behind that offensive line (he’s especially impossible to start this week going up against that elite Bucs defense). Cousins is enticing, but he’s at Green Bay, and it wouldn’t shock me to see him play a bad game there. I’d hate to miss out on the Tua bandwagon because I “played it safe” with someone infuriating like Cousins. Believe me, I harbor no delusions about what Cousins brings to the table; I had him on my other fantasy team until about a week ago. He’s had a couple good weeks – largely fuelled by Garbage Time points – but he throws WAY too many interceptions, on top of which he’s leading a conservative, run-heavy offense that’s getting Dalvin Cook back this week (I hope, for my other fantasy team’s sake). Tua could stink! We just saw the Rams’ defense have a field day against the Bears. But, I’m hoping that by playing at home, having two weeks to prepare, and being a complete unknown will be enough to shock the world and lead Tua to have a huge game.

Not for nothing, but Daniel Jones’ first start last year saw him score 4 touchdowns (and over 40 fantasy points in our league), so there is precedent for someone coming from out of nowhere to blow away the competition.

I’m more or less stuck playing my full three-headed running back hydra because I have so many wide receiver injuries this week. ODB is out for the year, and Deebo Samuel strained a hamstring in his game last week; he’s already ruled out this week, and maybe next week as well. That’s a tough loss for me, because I have zero confidence in the Dallas offense whatsoever with Andy Dalton at the helm; the fact that I have to start Ezekiel Elliott is bad enough, but there was no way I could also start CeeDee Lamb. My hope is that CEH – against a putrid Jets defense – gets a lot of love in that one, and maybe Jacobs has a bounce-back game against a less-stout Browns defense.

I’m only starting Indy’s defense because I feel there’s a conflict of interest in playing the Rams against my rookie quarterback. I’m hoping the fantasy football gods see the good mojo I’m trying to throw into the world and reward me accordingly.

No significant BYE week luck this week. The Lance Petemans has Gardner Minshew on BYE, but he probably would’ve been benched anyway. Ryan Tannehill is a must-start every week apparently, and Jimmy G is facing the also-putrid Seahawks defense. When you’ve got someone going up against the Seahawks, you have to play them; it’s a new rule they just brought down. Here’s his projected lineup:

  • Ryan Tannehill (QB) @ CIN
  • Jimmy Garoppolo (QB) @ SEA
  • Tyreek Hill (WR) vs. NYJ
  • Calvin Ridley (WR) @ CAR
  • Todd Gurley (RB) @ CAR
  • Melvin Gordon (RB) vs. LAC
  • Rob Gronkowski (TE) @ NYG
  • Miles Sanders (RB) vs. DAL
  • Ryan Succop (K) @ NYG
  • Philadelphia (DEF) vs. DAL

I only have myself to blame for trading him Tyreek Hill last year in an ill-advised deal to get the aging Tom Brady (With No Weapons To Throw To), who is clearly different than this year’s Tom Brady (On The Bucs Who Scores Tons Of Points Every Week). So, look for Hill to score 4 TDs. Calvin Ridley has come on as a real stud, which I honestly didn’t see coming. Tannehill, I should point out again, has been a really dominant force (scoring over 30 points in three of his six games). All of his running backs are great, with juicy matchups. He’s probably weakest on defense, and even then there’s a lot to like, because I think even Andy Dalton is hurt and the Cowboys are going with a much less-touted rookie who will probably be overwhelmed.

I don’t see a clear path to victory this week, unless I get lucky with a lot of my opponent’s guys underperforming. We’ll see, though. I don’t totally hate my matchups this week, for whatever that’s worth (it’s probably worth my team scoring the fewest points it has all year).

Nobody Wants To Hear About My Fantasy Team 2020: Literally Everyone Beats The Fucking Wiz

To Be Named By Casey was apparently … named by Casey between my last fantasy football column and this past weekend. To Be Named By Casey was the only 0-3 team in the league, and pretty safely had the lowest total points out of everyone. BUT, let me introduce you to Sausage Shaped Pest! Same guy, same collection of players, but he’s going up against Nobody Beats The Wiz, so OF COURSE he scores the second-most points in the league this past week.

Yes, I lost. I lost handily. 200.40 to 165.39. My score wasn’t great, but it was far from terrible; I would’ve beaten five teams in our league this week, so there was some good to come out of my suffering.

Odell Beckham Jr. put up 38.4 to lead the way. CeeDee Lamb rocked pretty hard with 26.24. Ezekiel Elliott put up a stout 20.50, and even Carson Wentz put up a respectable 23.35.

But, the lows were mighty low. For a second straight week, I started a quarterback who got benched midway through his game; in this case, Nick Mullens put up all of 6 points. That’s going to be hard to overcome for most teams, but particularly difficult for me when I had so many mediocre performances. Including Mullens, I had six guys get me 13 or less. Against someone who had six guys get 20 or more (including Joe Mixon, who looked like he might be too injured to play heading into this one, who dominated to the tune of 42.1 points), that’s just a recipe for disaster.

I didn’t have anything on my bench that would’ve put me over the top, either. Daniel Jones finished with an even 10 points, and it’s looking increasingly idiotic to have made him a keeper. A guy who has no offensive line, no quality weapons, a new offensive coordinator, and a fanbase that’s certainly riding his ASS every fucking day of his life, it can’t be fun to be Daniel Jones right now (on the plus side, he’s a millionaire quarterback in the NFL, in his 20’s, who can date probably anyone he wants, so in the grand scheme of things he’s doing all right).

At 1-3 on the season, I know it’s not technically over for me, but I’m already sort of eyeballing who my keepers might be for next year. I can’t envision a scenario where any of them are the quarterbacks I currently have on hand, but part of me doesn’t think I’ll ever be able to quit Carson Wentz for some masochistic reason.

In free agency news, my tight end – Noah Fant – got injured in his game on Thursday night, so I had to scramble to pick up someone to start for this upcoming week. That person is Jimmy Graham, an ex-Seahawk I hate more than life itself. I dropped that rookie receiver Justin Jefferson, which I’m sure I’ll live to regret.

On the plus side, I have Deebo Samuel back from his early-season IR stint. It sounds like they’re bringing him back slowly, but he could very well provide a boost for my struggling team. I won’t play him until Jimmy G is healthy again, but once he is, watch out! With A.J. Brown in the fold, that’ll be five receivers (with Darius Slayton being #5) that I won’t mind starting!

I’m banking on a strong second half to make my season relevant again. That’s going to require good health, and some positive regression from my uber-struggling QBs (and probably a lot of luck).

I would love to tell you about my OTHER fantasy football league, where I’m 3-1 and actually LIKE what my life has become (if only to show that I’m not completely and utterly bereft of fantasy football acumen), but this is a family fantasy football column, and I don’t think my X-rated MacGruber references are going to fly in the flyover states.

So instead, let’s look ahead to Week 5. I’m facing off against Sloane N Steady. Here’s what I’m thinking:

  • Carson Wentz (QB) @ PIT
  • Daniel Jones (QB) @ DAL
  • Darius Slayton (WR) @ DAL
  • CeeDee Lamb (WR) vs. NYG
  • Ezekiel Elliott (RB) vs. NYG
  • Clyde Edwards-Helaire (RB) vs. LV
  • Jimmy Graham (TE) vs. TB
  • Josh Jacobs (RB) @ KC
  • Harrison Butker (K) vs. LV
  • Indianapolis (DEF) @ CLE

Here’s the deal, am I potentially a fool for sitting ODB a week after he just exploded for 38.4 points? Probably. Am I over-thinking things as usual? 100%. But, recency bias is a bitch, and in fantasy football I fall for her charms more times than I like to admit. Guys go from hero to zero and vice versa all the time! I also don’t want Cleveland to do well because they’re going up against my defense (and, not for nothing, but Yahoo! tells me Indy gives up the 4th-fewest points to opposing receivers).

I’m playing a hunch here. I’m hoping the Cowboys/Giants game will be a huge shoot-out. Dallas has an elite offense, so I want as many of their guys (Lamb & Elliott) as possible. The Giants have a TERRIBLE defense. On top of which, Dallas has a bad record and will look to throw a pounding on the Giants to get right. On the flipside, I’m stuck with Daniel Jones because I literally have no other alternatives. But, Dallas’ defense is also pretty awful, so maybe this is also a get-right game for Jones? I sure hope so, and I sure hope he throws all of his touchdowns to Darius Slayton (who hasn’t had a game over 10 points since week 1, when he had 28.2).

So, since I’m counting on Cowboys/Giants being high-scoring, feel free to use that knowledge and bet the UNDER 54.5 total points, because this game being a low-scoring snoozer is all but guaranteed thanks to me.

I need to see Deebo Samuel and A.J. Brown play well – coming off of injuries – before I’ll be comfortable starting them. With Brown going up against the Bills (if that game even happens at all), I’m comfortable keeping him on my bench against their top-tier defense.

Sloane N Steady gets bitten a little bit by the BYE week, as he’ll be without MVP candidate Aaron Rodgers. His replacement is Nick Foles, which doesn’t inspire much confidence. Sloane N Steady also got hit by the injury stick, as Nick Chubb will miss some time. Here’s what his lineup is looking like:

  • Baker Mayfield (QB) vs. IND
  • Nick Foles (QB) vs. TB
  • Adam Thielen (WR) @ SEA
  • Amari Cooper (WR) vs. NYG
  • Dalvin Cook (RB) @ SEA
  • Jonathan Taylor (RB) @ CLE
  • Tyler Higbee (TE) @ WAS
  • Tyler Boyd (WR) @ BAL
  • Randy Bullock (K) @ BAL
  • Seattle (DEF) vs. MIN

I don’t love his quarterback matchups. His wide receiver matchups across the board are pretty elite (he’s even got Diontae Johnson going up against Philly’s decimated secondary, if he gets cold feet about Tyler Boyd). Even though Dalvin Cook is a stud, the Seahawks don’t give up many points to running backs. But, Cleveland’s defense sure does, so Taylor should make up for the loss of what Cook would normally bring. It’ll be interesting to see if Sloane N Steady continues to go with the Seahawks defense, since he has so many Vikings on his roster (and since the Seahawks are so iffy on that side of the ball).

Sloane N Steady is 4-0, the only undefeated team in our league, and has scored the third-most points. Nobody Beats The Wiz is 1-3, in ninth place, and has scored the second-fewest points. YOU KNOW, FOR SOME REASON I JUST DON’T THINK THIS WEEK IS GOING TO BE MY WEEK!

I’ve lost one game to someone who absolutely sucked, because I scored the fewest points in the league; and now I’ve lost two games to teams who’ve surpassed 200 points. The fantasy gods aren’t happy with me for some reason (which wouldn’t be a problem if any of the other gods thought enough of me to throw me a damn bone once in a while; I’m looking at you Lotto gods). Should I sacrifice a chicken? Pull out my old lucky rabbit’s foot? Suck it up because in the grand scheme of things I’ve got it pretty good right now, all things considered?

I can’t do that! Fantasy football is the bane of my existence! If it’s not making me miserable, then am I really alive?!

Nobody Wants To Hear About My Fantasy Team 2020: Corona-Draft Prep

  • Pre-Season Week 1 HERE

Well, the keepers are set in place, and now I get to look forward to our draft this Friday. There were some minor surprises – and a couple big ones – so without further ado, let’s take a quick glance at how wrong I was about my projected keepers for the rest of the league:

  1. Russell Wilson, Christian McCaffrey, Chris Godwin, Matt Ryan (all correct)
  2. Dak Prescott, Josh Allen, James Conner, Travis Kelce (Odell Beckham Jr., Mark Ingram, and Keenan Allen all available to draft)
  3. Deshaun Watson, George Kittle, Derrick Henry, Cam Newton (Aaron Jones)
  4. Jared Goff, Drew Lock, DeAndre Hopkins, JuJu Smith-Schuster (A.J. Brown and Raheem Mostert)
  5. Kyler Murray, Saquon Barkley, Michael Thomas, Joe Mixon (Mike Evans)
  6. Aaron Rodgers, Nick Chubb, Dalvin Cook, Adam Thielen (Amari Cooper)
  7. Patrick Mahomes, Alvin Kamara, Davante Adams, Tyler Lockett (all correct)
  8. Jimmy Garoppolo, Tyreek Hill, Gardner Minshew, Todd Gurley (Matthew Stafford)
  9. Lamar Jackson, Julio Jones, Austin Ekeler, Kenyan Drake (Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold)

I remember being MUCH more successful in predicting my league’s keepers before last season, so I don’t know what that says about me or the state of the NFL right now, but it makes the upcoming draft more interesting!

Until I saw the actual keepers, I wasn’t too thrilled about my prospects as the guy with the #2 overall draft pick. It just seemed like there wouldn’t be anyone really dominating for me to select. BUT, I see two guys among the leftovers who are VERY exciting! Not just for 2020, but for many years to come potentially!

Of this group, Mike Evans and Aaron Jones are both VERY enticing to me. Either one of them could fall to me and I’d be ecstatic with whoever I get. I know I bemoaned Tom Brady’s noodle arm last week, but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t be interested in the weapons he has to throw to. For starters, Brady isn’t totally inept; he hasn’t fallen completely off the cliff just yet. While Mike Evans has been mostly a deep threat thus far in his career, he still has a ton of value as a red zone target, and should thrive with someone like Brady throwing jump balls his way. If, by the grace of all that is holy, both Evans and Jones were to fall to me, I’d have to go with Evans simply because the drop-off at receiver is so steep among him and the rest of the leftovers.

Odell Beckham Jr. is, of course, one of those leftovers. I can’t say that I agree with exposing him to the rest of the league while keeping someone like Josh Allen, but you know, there’s a reason why I haven’t won a league championship in the fantasy trophy era (2010-Present). I think the Cleveland Browns – and by extension, their players – are pretty underrated in 2020, after being so very OVER-rated heading into 2019, so there could be some good value in guys like ODB and Baker Mayfield. If I picked lower in the first round, I’d be over the moon if someone like ODB fell to me; someone is going to get an absolute steal.

Aaron Jones was one of the best running backs in all of football last year, at least from a fantasy perspective. So, it’s shocking to see him available. But, it’s telling that he is, because the owner who exposed him is also a lifelong Packers fan. If HE’S not keeping Aaron Jones, there must be a reason (he’s also the reigning league champion, but that’s in spite of him auto-drafting last year, as well as never checking his e-mail, so we’re all in agreement that this was a fluke, and if his wife weren’t cc’d on all league e-mails, we’d probably never hear from him again). I have to believe Aaron Jones still has a lot of value, though, so if Mike Evans goes to the guy drafting #1 overall, I’m okay with nabbing Jones, even though I’ve already kept two running backs. There’s still the FLEX spot, and there are only so many bona fide, workhorse running backs in the league, so you really can’t have too many.

That would, of course, necessitate my drafting wide receivers in both the second and third rounds (which might see me needing to reach for some lesser players, but that’s the price you pay, I guess).

As I stated before, I still haven’t done a ton of research heading into the draft, as my objective at this point is still to mostly go by what Yahoo tells me. But, to pique my curiosity, I checked the season projections and found some surprising guys among the leftovers.

Miles Sanders, running back for the Eagles, is rated VERY high. Even higher than Aaron Jones! I can’t remember the last time an Eagles running back was worth more than an in-season free agent pickup (probably Shady McCoy), because they so often are in a time-share with multiple backs. But, he’s been definitively named the starter by the head coach, which is saying a lot but also not saying anything at all. Why would the head coach be motivated to give away such news for free to the rest of the league? Also, there’s no saying he has to stick with that, if Sanders under-produces or gets hurt. Sanders was really good towards the end of last year though, so I think that’s where the hope lies.

Not ODB nor Mike Evans is the highest-ranked wide receiver remaining; that falls to Allen Robinson of the Bears. I don’t totally get that, but ESPN also has him ranked pretty high, so I guess I have to believe it. With Chicago’s quarterback situation being what it is, I don’t have ANY faith in any of their players, but if he somehow falls to the second round, I might have to take him anyway.

Kenny Golladay is also rated above ODB and Evans, and he seems like a safer pick. He has elite talent, and Matthew Stafford is healthy again. It’s looking highly likely that MANY wide receivers are going to fly off the board in the first three rounds of our draft, so I’ll be interested to see who I’m able to grab.

Mark Andrews, Zach Ertz, and Darren Waller are the three tight ends I’m looking at right now. Andrews is probably the only guy worth reaching for (maybe in the second or third round, if he’s still there), but if the draft doesn’t fall the way I want it to, I have no problem waiting until the end of the draft to pick up a tight end. There will be someone on waivers worth claiming in the first week or two of the regular season.

I need to resist the urge to get a third quarterback too early, but there are LOTS of veteran options out there (who I would anticipate get snapped up before I have a chance), including Drew Brees, Brady, Stafford, Ben Roethlisberger, Philip Rivers, Kirk Cousins, Derek Carr, Ryan Tannehill, and Tyrod Taylor. There’s also Baker Mayfield, who still has a lot of potential to be great, as well as Darnold and Dwayne Haskins (who stunk last year, but is still young enough to turn it around). And then, of course, there are the rookies. The more I think about it, the less inclined I am to want to reach too early for any of them. I also wonder if Joe Burrow won’t be the first overall player taken in the draft, considering the guy picking there and how badly he’s been looking to shore up his QB spots. Having Lamar Jackson and Joe Burrow for the next generation might be too tantalizing to pass up.

Nobody Wants To Hear About My Fantasy Team 2020: Here We Fucking Go Again

If you want to read about my 2019 fantasy football season, click HERE and you can see all the prior links at the top. And, if you want to read about my 2018 season (which has a lot of good info at the beginning about how our league works), click HERE.

Note: please don’t go back and read all of that. There’s a reason why this series is called, “Nobody Wants To Hear About My Fantasy Team”. You’ve been warned; this isn’t necessarily a generic fantasy football column like you may be used to, this is specifically about MY team, and if the players I write about happen to be relevant to your situation, then all the better, I guess.

Just a quick reminder: this is a 10-team, 2-quarterback PPR league where quarterback points are slightly inflated compared to standard leagues (20 yards per point, 6 points per TD, -4 points per INT). So, you know, it’s pretty important to have a couple quality quarterbacks.

We had our annual fantasy football meeting last week, without much tweaking of the rules. For our purposes, the league season only counts – as it relates to the championship and related prizes therein – if the NFL completes nine regular season weeks. I don’t think that will be much of an issue, but apparently we have to account for these things in these COVID times. We also are allowed one extra IR spot (on top of the IR spot we already get) specifically if someone is diagnosed with COVID and placed on leave accordingly. Seems unlikely that anyone super good will catch it, so I’m not too concerned.

It’s another year with four keepers, so here are mine:

  • Carson Wentz (QB)
  • Daniel Jones (QB)
  • Ezekiel Elliott (RB)
  • Josh Jacobs (RB)

The only holdovers from my 2018 squad are Wentz and Elliott. I made an ill-advised trade for Tom Brady midway through last year – costing me Tyreek Hill in the process – and for that I have much regret. Nevertheless, Danny Dimes looks like he has true stud potential, and as someone I held onto all year in spite of not playing him very regularly, I’m pretty devoted to seeing how he plays out in his second season in the league. Josh Jacobs, from the moment I drafted him, was someone I eyeballed as a potential keeper for years to come (and someone I see has a HUGE upgrade over LeVeon Bell, who was mired on a terrible Jets team with a God-awful offensive line).

The only other serious contenders as keepers were the aforementioned Tom Brady and Le’Veon Bell. Brady is REALLY intriguing, as we all know he’s now in Tampa, with a ton of weapons, and with an offensive-minded head coach in Bruce Arians. Like many around football, I’m not totally sold on Carson Wentz. The bloom is off the rose with him, even though he played in all 16 games, had a career high in passing yards (4,039) in spite of having no great wide receiver options to throw to, and still had a very commendable 27:7 TD:INT ratio. I don’t know if the weapons situation is all that much improved, but they went after wide receiver HARD in the draft, and hopefully will see some younger guys from prior seasons step up. So, there was a serious look at Brady over Wentz, but in the end Brady is just so old, and that noodle arm looked SO feeble last year. The offense under Arians tends to feature a lot of deep downfield plays in the passing game. I could see Brady starting off the season on fire, but when I would need him the most – in the fantasy playoffs – I just don’t think he’ll have it. Besides that, Wentz is obviously still very young and should still be viable for many more years; Brady is on his very final legs and could be forced into retirement at any time.

As for Bell, I couldn’t tell you what the Jets have done to bolster their O-Line (other than pay a lot of money to George Fant to be their left tackle, a position he’d rarely been asked to play as a member of the Seahawks). I don’t know if I totally buy Bell as still having it. He was a steady fantasy player last year, but he’s getting up there as well, and if that offense continues to struggle, I don’t know if I see him having a lot of TD opportunities. I’m of the opinion that Jacobs will be a superstar, and Elliott already IS a superstar. Kind of a no-brainer there.

In coming in second place in the Consolation Bracket last season, I earned the second overall draft pick in the upcoming draft on Friday, September 4th. This presents me with a unique opportunity. The deadline for everyone to declare their keepers is this Friday, August 28th, so before next week’s column, I should know who’s available to me.

Since there isn’t a ton to write about this early in the pre-season, I’ll try to take a stab at guessing who the keepers will be for the other nine teams (with guys in parentheses being alternate options):

  1. Russell Wilson, Christian McCaffrey, Chris Godwin, Matt Ryan (Tyler Boyd)
  2. Dak Prescott, Odell Beckham Jr., Mark Ingram, Travis Kelce (Keenan Allen)
  3. Deshaun Watson, George Kittle, Derrick Henry, Aaron Jones (Cam Newton)
  4. DeAndre Hopkins, Jared Goff, A.J. Brown, JuJu Smith-Schuster (Raheem Mostert)
  5. Kyler Murray, Michael Thomas, Saquon Barkley, Mike Evans (Joe Mixon)
  6. Aaron Rodgers, Nick Chubb, Dalvin Cook, Amari Cooper (Adam Thielen)
  7. Patrick Mahomes, Alvin Kamara, Davante Adams, Tyler Lockett (Zach Ertz)
  8. Tyreek Hill, Jimmy Garoppolo, Todd Gurley, Matthew Stafford (Gardner Minshew)
  9. Lamar Jackson, Kenyan Drake, Baker Mayfield, Julio Jones (Austin Ekeler, Sam Darnold)

Honestly, I’m not in love with any of these potential leftovers. I’m tempted to more or less auto-draft. I’m happy with my keepers, but I was REALLY hoping there’d be someone super exciting for me to select with my #2 overall pick. Thankfully, we have a straight draft, so I’m #2 in every round. By auto-drafting, I figure I can’t do much worse than I’ve been doing over these last dozen or so years.

I haven’t done much of any research so far this off-season, and I don’t know what I’ll end up getting to prior to the draft. My hunch is: not much. Again, being prepared hasn’t done a damn thing for me; my name sure as shit isn’t on that league trophy, I’ll tell you that much!

One idea I’ve been mulling over is using my #2 overall pick on one of the incoming rookies. I have three players in mind, two of them being the most prominent rookie quarterbacks: Joe Burrow and Tua Tagovailoa. Gun to my head: I like Tua more than Burrow. But, he’s projected to start this season as Miami’s backup, and their BYE week isn’t until Week 11. So, either Ryan Fitzpatrick sucks and Tua’s thrown to the wolves prematurely, and without a proper BYE week to prepare, or FitzMagic continues to do his thing and we don’t see Tua until very late in the season. The point being: there’s a great chance Tua doesn’t help me much at all this year, and I’d be throwing away yet another season trying to get my shit together when it comes to the quarterback position (with a very small, but important chance that Tua is the next Mahomes and I’d be missing out on my one and only opportunity at getting in on his ground floor).

It just figures that I have this great draft pick for the first time in YEARS, and there are no real stud running backs that would change the course of my fantasy franchise for years to come. Where’s MY Saquon Barkley?!

We’ll see, though. Once the keepers are locked in place, I’ll hop back into the league site and see who Yahoo thinks I should take. It does seem kind of idiotic to have a third quarterback on my roster before even getting ONE wide receiver. At some point, I need to stop playing for the future and start playing for today.

How many times have I admonished myself the last few years by saying that very same thing?

The Chiefs Blessed Us With This Impending 49ers Hangover Season

I couldn’t help comparing this game to the Seahawks’ championship game against the Broncos a few years ago: awesome offensive team from the AFC West going up against the well-rounded, strong defensive team from the NFC West. When push comes to shove, always bet on the better defense, right?

Well, we learned a couple things. The 49ers defense was nowhere NEAR as loaded as the Seahawks from 2013; and clearly Patrick Mahomes is leaps and bounds more talented than Peyton Manning in his last great season.

I had a legitimately great weekend, all things considered! We flipped the calendar to February – putting Dry January in the rearview mirror – and I got to totally blow it out. Went to see Dusty Slay perform comedy on Friday night, followed that up with a lazy Saturday morning at the diner with my newspaper. Took in Leslie Jones’ Netflix special, then coasted on into the afternoon with bowling on TV and beer pong in our hearts. A Sunday hangover is a small price to pay, especially when my Super Bowl menu consisted of two different pizza establishments – Papa Murphy’s & Round Table – with wings and a fruit platter on the side.

And, as a bonus, the game was pretty good! Certainly a huge step up in entertainment value compared to the snooze that was Patriots/Rams.

Hot take: I thought the halftime show was just okay. Listen man, if you want J-Lo doing gymnastics on a stripper pole and shaking her ass to good music, go rent Hustlers and proceed to spend the next five years thanking me, because that movie is fun as hell. No one will ever top Prince’s halftime show and I can’t believe this is still up for debate.

Getting back to the game, this was GREAT as a Seahawks fan. The next-best thing to actually being there and winning the whole thing is for a rival to be there and completely gag it away in the closing minutes. Instead of the coronation of Kyle Shanahan as the next great head coach, we’ve got Kyle Shanahan: The Guy Who Keeps Blowing 4th Quarter Leads In The Big Game.

On top of that, we’re saved the ignominy of Richard Sherman throwing it in our faces yet again for letting him leave Seattle. We get to slow the roll of George Kittle being Gronk 2.0. And, we hopefully get to look forward to a nice, quiet Super Bowl Hangover season next year for the losing 49ers. Won’t that be fun? Of course, the Rams are still lurking, but no one said it would ever be easy.

My biggest takeaway is this whole Jimmy G plotline. All week, the talk from the 49ers camp is that Jimmy G Isn’t A Burden. Look For Jimmy G To Step Up & Shock A Lot Of Haters. Their confidence in their guy didn’t stop the national pundits from continuing to hammer that point home: Jimmy G Is The 49ers’ Weakest Link, and now those pundits get to feel pretty smart about themselves.

While I wouldn’t say he was having a whale of a game, through three quarters I think he was something like 17/20 passing with only that terrible first half interception as his blemish. He nevertheless didn’t keep the 49ers from taking a 20-10 lead into the 4th quarter.

I’ve consistently struggled with how good he really is. He looked great with the Patriots, particularly when he took over for a suspended Brady in 2016. The last thing I wanted was for them to trade him to the NFC West, so of course that’s exactly what happened, and when the 49ers finally let him take the wheel, he played like a superstar in his first six games there. At least, that was my recollection; his numbers might not be so sterling now that I actually look at ’em. Then, in 2018, he only participated in three games before tearing his ACL.

I was prepared for a somewhat mediocre 2019 out of him, but that’s based on a history of quarterbacks returning from ACL surgery and usually taking a full season before returning to their former glories. In that sense, Jimmy G throttled my expectations. But, the 49ers clearly took a lot of the load off of his shoulders; with that elite running game, it’s easy to see why.

He’s still good. His best days are likely still ahead of him. But, there’s no chance he’ll ever be the best QB in the NFC West as long as Russell Wilson is around. We all wondered how Jimmy G would play if the game was on the line and he needed to drive them down for a score, and we saw all we needed to see. He’ll go on to win a lot of games in his career, but he’ll never be elite. There’s a ceiling for Jimmy G – just as there’s a ceiling for Jared Goff with the Rams – and it’s a lot lower than we thought a couple years ago. This bodes well for the Seahawks to eventually re-take control of this division in the near future. The Rams & 49ers aren’t as imposing as they looked to be, and the Seahawks haven’t gone anywhere. We’ve taken their best punches, and now (God willing) we’ll be ready to respond in 2020.

The scary thing we’ve all got to worry about is: are the Kansas City Chiefs a new Death Star?

I hate going to these extremes, recency bias what it is, but Patrick Mahomes MIGHT BE the greatest quarterback to ever walk the Earth. I know he’s a few more championships away from Tom Brady, so we all have to pretend like he’s still the GOAT, but this was Mahomes’ second year starting in the NFL. He’s aligned with one of the best head coaches in the league, and Andy Reid will only be 62 in a couple months, so he’s got plenty of good years ahead. And he’s in a division with the walking disaster that are the Raiders, an Elway-helmed Broncos team that continuously misfires on their quarterback prospects, and a nothing Chargers team that’s effectively wasted an entire career with a Hall of Fame quarterback in Rivers by never actually putting a team around him. With the Patriots aging into obscurity, it feels like the Chiefs can rip off back-to-back-to-back-to-back Super Bowl appearances as long as Mahomes is healthy. If all they have to do is survive Baltimore, that doesn’t feel like a big ask.

I’m just glad he’s in the AFC. I’ve gone back and forth when I think about how the Seahawks were forced to switch conferences. It’s certainly been a blessing at times when the NFC West has been terrible. But, for the last almost-decade, it’s consistently been among the toughest divisions in football. Nevertheless, I’m glad I don’t have to go up against Mahomes twice a year (plus the playoffs). Let them have their Chargers, they make much better whipping boys.

The Super Bowl Is Happening This Sunday

It’s actually pretty rare when we run across a Super Bowl matchup that I’m interested in. This one on Sunday will be the 54th such game in NFL history; the 39th such game since I was born, and probably the 32nd since I became a fan of football. Of those 32, three have involved the Seahawks (which means I was VERY interested); the rest of the games have been spotty at best.

Last year, for instance, was a no-win situation for me. I can’t root for the Rams, because they’re in the same division as the Seahawks. But, how could I possibly root for New England after they’ve won literally every Super Bowl that’s ever taken place?!

This year, I think we’re in for a treat. The 49ers are involved, which gives me a reason to root for the AFC squad. The Chiefs haven’t been in the game in 50 years and are otherwise inoffensive to my delicate sensibilities, so here we go! Saddle up! I get to be a Chiefs fan for an afternoon!

The Chiefs are favored by 1 point. I would assume there’s plenty of action on both sides, but my guess is that a lot of the fairweather fans are putting their money on Mahomes & Co. If I were in Vegas, that’s certainly where I’d go, and I’m as fairweather as they get! When my dad and brother gather around the television set with me on Sunday, we’re going to make a lot of little bets – on the game and various props – and I’ve already made my intentions known that I want to root for the Chiefs, so that’s where I’m putting my money.

But, is it the smart thing to do?

I mean, isn’t this the exact opposite argument we were all making when the Seahawks were going up against the Denver Broncos and their all-time great offense? When push comes to shove, an elite defense will almost always trump an elite offense (especially when they have 2 weeks to prepare), so you have to figure the smart money is on the 49ers!

I feel like I’m heading into a situation where I might as well just set my money on fire. And, yeah, I know, we’re talking about maybe $5 on the game, and a lot of little $1 bets on other shit; I’m not going to lose the Taylor Family Farm on this thing (especially since I’ll be betting with other Taylors, so really, there’s no way to lose our stranglehold on this thing). But, it’s the thought of watching a coronation of the 49ers for 4+ hours that just sickens me to my very core. Kittle can suck it, Jimmy G can suck it, their bald defensive coordinator can suck it, Richard Sherman can suck it. They can ALLLLLLLL suck it as far as I’m concerned! That fullback whose name I absolutely refuse to learn how to spell … you get the idea.

Deebo Samuel is cool, though. Really, anyone named Deebo (the name of my future first born) is all right in my book.

Wait a minute. Deebo Samuel was born in January of 1996. The movie Friday came out in April of 1995. (*counts on fingers*) THAT’S NINE MONTHS LATER!

Oh, wait a minute, Deebo is just a nickname. Yeah, that makes more sense. Still, Deebo Rockwell Taylor has a pretty good ring to it.

What was I talking about? Oh yeah, how can the Chiefs beat the 49ers?

Well, it’s gotta be on Mahomes. He needs to keep up this run of excellence he’s been on since the playoffs started. Which leads me to some of my favorite prop bets.

  • The over/under is 54.5; give me the over.
  • Will Mahomes throw an INT; I say yes.
  • Will either team score in the first 6:30; I say yes.
  • Will either team score in the final 3:30 of regulation; I say yes.
  • What will happen first, a 49ers score or punt; I say score.
  • What will happen first, a Chiefs score or punt; I say punt.
  • Total yardage of all TDs in the game, over/under 102.5; I say over.
  • Points by both teams in the highest-scoring quarter, over/under 21; I say over.
  • Will the opening kickoff be a touchback? Yes.
  • First offensive play; Run.
  • First team to score; 49ers.
  • First team to 10 points; 49ers.
  • First team to 20 points; Chiefs.
  • Will the team who scores first win the game? No.
  • What will happen first: sack or TD? Sack.
  • Total sacks by both teams: Over 5.5.
  • First team to punt: Chiefs.
  • Will there be a scoreless quarter? No.
  • Largest lead, over/under 16.5 points; Under.
  • Will the game ever be tied again after 0-0? Yes.
  • Will either team score 3 unanswered times? Yes.
  • Longest TD, over/under 44.5 yards; Over.
  • Shortest TD, over/under 1.5 yards; Over.
  • Longest FG, over/under 47.5 yards; Under.
  • Shortest FG, over/under 26.5 yards; Over.
  • Which team will score the longest FG? 49ers.
  • Total number of players with a passing attempt, over/under 2.5; Over.
  • Will the game end on a QB kneeldown? Yes.
  • Will the last team to score win the game? Yes.

If the game goes the way I want it to go; the 49ers will get off to a hot start, and the Chiefs will roar back like they’ve done the last two weeks. They can’t make the total points high enough, I think this game goes WAY over 54.5 for the game. Ultimately, I think the Chiefs score last to take the lead, and their defense finds a way to shut the 49ers down with enough time for Mahomes to kneeldown to run out the clock.

The worst-case scenario is the 49ers dominate throughout – because the Chiefs have a mediocre defense – and Mahomes is harassed all day with numerous sacks and turnovers. Even in this situation, the game could still go over 54.5, but it would be a blowout and no one will enjoy themselves, because the commercials are always overrated, the musical performances stink, and everyone’s going to spend their time re-watching the new Christopher Nolan trailer that will surely be released at some point during the game.

The Seahawks Can Be Legitimate Super Bowl Contenders

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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