The Seahawks Hired Mike Macdonald To Be The New Head Coach

Did the Seahawks just hire the best head coaching candidate available?

It’s interesting to go through the list of current NFL head coaches – in order of year hired – and see the different head coaching classes. When the Commanders finally get their asses in gear, 19 of the 32 head coaches will have been hired in 2022 or later. WELL over half of all head coaches have been in their current jobs for 2 seasons or less.

There are currently only three from the 2021 class: Dan Campbell (whose stock is as high as can be, in spite of some questionable decisions in the NFC Championship Game), Robert Saleh (who feels like he needs a HUGE 2024 with a healthy Aaron Rodgers and probably a deep playoff run if he still wants to be with the Jets in 2025), and Nick Sirianni (who took the Eagles to the Super Bowl in year two, only to almost get fired in year three).

The 2020 class has just two members: Mike McCarthy (in desperate need of a deep playoff run to save his job) and Kevin Stefanski (who probably earned Coach of the Year with the job he did with the Browns in 2023). There’s two left from 2019: Zac Taylor & Matt LaFleur (not going anywhere). No one from 2018. Pretty big three from 2017: Sean McDermott, Sean McVay, and Kyle Shanahan. Then, you have to go back to the Old Guard: 2013 – Andy Reid, 2008 – John Harbaugh, 2007 – Mike Tomlin.

So, what does that tell us? Unless there’s a VERY big surprise looming, there are currently seven members of the 2024 class of new head coaches: Raheem Morris (Atlanta), Dave Canales (Carolina), Jim Harbaugh (Chargers), Jerod Mayo (New England), Brian Callahan (Tennessee), Mike Macdonald (Seahawks), and whoever the Commanders hire. What the above tells us is that in three years, over half of these guys aren’t going to hit.

How to predict where it’s going to work and where it isn’t is kind of a fool’s errand. Canales seems like a longshot to be good. He’s going to the least stable franchise of the bunch (with a crazy owner, a legitimately bad team, and no first round draft pick this year), he’s coming off of only a year as a coordinator, and he just has the feel of a guy who took a job nobody else wanted (I wonder if the same will be said for whoever Washington hires). I’m always leery of the Head Coach In Waiting, ever since it went so poorly with Jim Mora Jr. in Seattle. Seems like Mayo has a huge job ahead of him to right the ship in New England. And I’ll be honest, I had no idea the Titans hired Callahan – or even who Callahan was – until I looked him up and realized he was the OC for Cincinnati. Oh, you mean the offense with the best quarterback we’ve seen since Patrick Mahomes, with one of the most talented and elite wide receivers in the game? Seems hard to NOT have success in that job.

After Raheem Morris’ initial stint as one of the worst active head coaches in the NFL from 2009-2011, I’ll admit he wasn’t on my short list of favorite candidates. Didn’t Bill Simmons coin the phrase WARM (Wins Above Raheem Morris) as a play on baseball’s WAR stat? I’m sure he’s come a long way in the intervening years, but he joins a Falcons team with no quarterback, and no real great shot at drafting one of the top three. If we’re just going by which team – who hired a new coach this offseason – is set up the best from a personnel perspective, then I would say Jim Harbaugh has the best chance to succeed. If the Chargers can’t find a way to win with Justin Herbert and a competent head coach, then they’re more cursed than I realized.

So, unless one of these guys really surprises me, I think Mike Macdonald has a real chance to be great. He’s joining a really solid franchise in the Seahawks, with a lot of good, young, talented players. He’s got a strong GM who should continue to draft well and sign the right guys, now that he’s the head man in charge. And, just based on what I’ve heard about him, it really seems like he has a special aura about him. Very intelligent, very gifted (at least at running a defense), players love him, and he becomes the youngest head coach in the NFL at the moment (if you’re that young and rising through the ranks this fast, you must be doing something right).

Obviously, there are two ways to go with hiring an NFL head coach: bring in a retread, or find someone new from among the college or coordinator ranks. By my calculations, there are currently eight head coaches with previous head coaching experience. Admittedly, that’s sort of an educated guess; I didn’t go through every single bio. Best-case scenario of those guys? Andy Reid, and he obviously gets to enjoy the talents of Mahomes after a successful run in Philly. While there are occasional hits (Pete Carroll obviously being one of them), the retreads never seem to work out too well. For every Bill Belichick, there’s dozens of Mike McCarthys and Dennis Allens. Oddly enough, Bill Belichick was one of the guys available in this go-around, but clearly John Schneider wasn’t ready to hand over the keys to personnel after he just got them handed to himself.

If I had to go with a retread, I would’ve been happy with Mike Vrabel, but I’ll admit I’m pretty thrilled we’re going with someone new and young. I know there’s lots of new, young guys hired every year, but if you find that dynamic someone, it can really be a boost for your franchise for years to come. I find it incredibly heartening that Mike Macdonald is being described as the defensive version of Sean McVay. And not just as a play caller or a schemer, but as someone who can transition into the head coaching job, find the right coaches to put around him, and has the vision to make it all work. On top of which, you know he’s hungry and you know he’s going to give it everything he’s got. Can you say the same thing about Sean Payton or Doug Pederson?

In 2022, in his first year as the Ravens’ DC, they were 3rd in fewest points scored and rushing yards allowed (10th in total yards allowed), as well as tied for fifth in sacks. In 2023, the defense improved to 1st in points allowed, 1st in sacks, and 1st in lowest passer rating allowed, all the while improving to 6th in total yards allowed. And that’s with blitzing less than all but seven teams, according to this article. The more I read about him and hear about him, the more impressed I am!

But, you know, as with any head coach, there are so many variables at play. So many other decisions left to make. Who will be his assistant coaches? What are we doing with Geno Smith? What are we doing in the draft? How long until the team is sold? How solid is John Schneider’s job in the organization?

I’ll tell you what, though, this hire gives me a lot of hope! It’ll ultimately be decided on the football field, likely over the next 2-3 seasons. But, I think we’ve set ourselves up very well to succeed the greatest head coach in franchise history and a legitimate hall of fame candidate. I can’t wait to see what these new Seahawks look like. If nothing else, I’m expecting a rapid turnaround of the defense. And, as we all know, that’s when the Seahawks are always at their best.

Pro Sports Should Get Rid Of Divisions & Conferences

This is a tough argument to make, because almost everyone has taken advantage of this at one point or another. The team that gets not only an automatic playoff berth, but home field/court advantage through the first round, in spite of its VERY mediocre record, only because they took advantage of an even-worse slate of divisional opponents.

Although, I wonder, has this team ever gone on to win it all? No one comes instantly to mind. There have certainly been a number of wild card teams who’ve gotten hot late and rode that wave to the promised land. But, what happens with that crappy division winner? Usually a first-round exit. Once in a while – like the Seahawks in 2010 – they win an exciting first round matchup before succumbing to their rightful fate. But, at this point, in 2022, it’s just silly.

It’s silly that the NFC South winner this year (currently Tampa leads with a 6-7 record) should be a 4-seed and host a first round game, while a team like Dallas or Minnesota (favorites for the 5th seed, currently with identical 10-3 records). That’s a 4-game difference! And Dallas has that record in spite of being in a division where all the teams are currently slated to make the playoffs!

It’s incredibly stupid that a 101-win Mets team should be a lower seeded team than a 93-win Cardinals team, just because they had the good fortune of being in a trash division. You could go on and on with these egregious examples.

Why do we have conferences and divisions? Well, because it’s always made more sense for teams – geographically speaking – to play the bulk of their games together. But, is that really necessary anymore? And is it worth the backlash of penalizing great teams and rewarding inferior teams in the post-season? Why is winning your terrible division more important than winning FOUR MORE NFL GAMES, against better opponents?

Also, who cares about all the travel? Major League Baseball is starting to make moves towards eliminating divisions and conferences. For the first time in the modern era, in 2023 every MLB team will play every other MLB team at least once. As a result, the number of divisional games will decrease from 19 games per opponent, down to 13 games. That’s not nothing. I say why stop there, though? Split it up evenly (or as evenly as possible) across the board, play every team the same number of games, and then take the top 12 teams regardless of “conference” or “division”. Give the top 4 teams first round BYEs, let the other 8 teams fight it out in a wild card round, and go from there.

It’s a little trickier with the NFL, given there are fewer games played than there are teams in the league. But, you could still set it up based on the previous year’s records; they have computers to figure this shit out!

I’m just saying, these teams fly in the lap of luxury. They’re already flying to other countries and whatnot; clearly if the money is there, these guys are going to roll with the punches. It just seems to me that conferences and divisions are antiquated notions from bygone eras.

You’ll hear critics lament the loss of rivalries, but who cares? The Packers and Bears supposedly have the greatest rivalry of all time, but when was the last time these two teams were relevant simultaneously? If one team is great and one team is shitty for 50 years, who cares that they play twice a year?

The Seahawks went from the AFC West to the NFC West in 2002, losing 25 years of history as a “rival” with the Raiders, Broncos, Chiefs, and Chargers. You know what happened? We got lumped in with the 49ers, Rams, and Cardinals and started all new rivalries!

If you want those old traditional rivalries to continue, then that can still happen. You both just have to play at the same-enough level to continue being scheduled against one another! Until then, tough titty for the team that’s vastly inferior; you need to earn the right to continue playing the team that stays great!

Who was the greatest rival of the Patriots for the majority of the Tom Brady era? I’ll give you a hint: it wasn’t the Bills, Jets, or Dolphins! It was the Colts and Broncos with Peyton Manning. It was the Ravens under John Harbaugh. It was the Steelers with Roethlisberger. Occasionally, it was the Chargers with Rivers. It was the GOOD teams of the AFC, and those teams – year in and year out – weren’t playing with them in the AFC East.

Of course, the easy fix is to just not reward the shitty division winners with home field/court advantages in the playoffs. But, I would also argue that a lot of these division winners have it too easy for too long. Speaking of those Patriots, how many times could they coast to the top seed because their division sucked? How many times recently have the Packers dominated simply because they lucked into the easiest schedule in football? It’s boring! Great teams sometimes only have a small handful of tough games per year, and the rest of the time they’re feasting on the dregs of their own division and conference.

Anyway, thank you for listening to my Hot Take TED Talk.

Culture Is Everything In The NFL

Buyer beware, because I can already tell this is going to be a long, rambling mess. Buckle up!

I’m on record as being in favor of the Seahawks retaining Pete Carroll, even if it’s at the expense of Russell Wilson demanding a trade out of Seattle. Yes, I’ll acknowledge the obvious: it’s really fucking hard to find a franchise quarterback in the NFL who’s capable of leading you to a championship.

There are differences between run of the mill franchise quarterbacks, and those who can take you all the way. Andy Dalton was a franchise quarterback for many years; he led the Bengals to the playoffs a number of times. But, he was never going to win them a title. Not without a remarkable level of talent around him, particularly on the defensive side of the ball. I would lump guys like Joe Flacco, Matt Ryan, and Matthew Stafford into that camp, even though Flacco won it all, Ryan very nearly won it all, and Stafford very well might win it all this season. Flacco rode an elite defense and a red-hot playoff streak to a title; Ryan had the biggest Super Bowl choke job in NFL history; and Stafford has a crazy fantasy roster around him helping prop up his damaged throwing hand and shaky decision-making.

The point is, none of those guys are on the level of Russell Wilson. And I would still pick Pete Carroll over him, even though odds are Carroll’s time in the NFL will come to an end first. Because I would argue it’s just as hard – if not harder – to find a quality head coach in the NFL to build the kind of winning culture you need to succeed for many years.

Head coaching in the NFL is a neverending revolving door. Really, you can extend that to all the major professional sports.

The Seahawks have been lucky in that regard. We’ve had three Grade-A culture builders in our relatively short tenure in the NFL. Chuck Knox was the first, and arguably one of the most underrated; if he was blessed with a proper ownership group, there’s no telling where he could’ve taken this franchise. Even still, from 1983-1991, he led the Seahawks to the second-best winning percentage in franchise history (minimum of 10 games), even better than Mike Holmgren (who everyone points to as the first great culture builder in Seahawks history). Holmgren, obviously, helped build and lead the Seahawks to their first-ever Super Bowl appearance. Then, we’ve got Pete Carroll, hands down the best of the bunch. Those three guys comprise 31 of the Seahawks’ 46 seasons of existence; we’ve been spoiled with great culture builders!

You’ll notice, though, of the 15 other years, we had a total of 5 separate head coaches. And that’s common throughout the NFL. I couldn’t tell you what the average is, but it feels right to say guys get approximately 3 years to prove if they’re winners or not. When you consider it’s predominantly the worst organizations who are doing most of the hiring of new coaches – you don’t see the Steelers, Ravens, Patriots, or Seahawks hiring and firing guys all willy-nilly all the time – it’s doubly hard to turn things around. You really have to catch lightning in a bottle with the right quarterback, the right roster construction, the right scheme, and the right salary cap situation to see those kinds of quick results. All just to prolong your tenure an extra few years! But, as you’ll frequently see, even guys who’ve won it all don’t get a free pass forever. One or two bad years and suddenly you’re washed up. This leads to going the complete opposite direction with who you hire next: a stern disciplinarian might give way to a “players’ coach”, a defensive guru might give way to an offensive mastermind, etc.

Now, take a step back and look at the Mariners, for instance. Lou Piniella was our greatest and longest tenured manager in franchise history; he was out following the 2002 season. Scott Servais is already the second-best and second-longest tenured manager in Mariners’ history at only 6 seasons. Of the Mariners’ 45 years in existence, Piniella and Servais have managed for 16 seasons; of the remaining 29 seasons, the M’s have had 18 official managers (interim or otherwise). That’s insane. Merely taking into account the 13 seasons between Piniella and Servais, we had 8 managers. When you think of the worst-run, most-dysfunctional North American professional sports franchises, you think of – among many others – the team with the longest playoff drought: the Seattle Mariners. Is it any surprise that we would have 8 managers in 13 seasons, until finally stabilizing things under Servais and Dipoto? I’m not saying either of them are perfect, but unless things go totally FUBAR, they should be the ones to lead us back into the post-season (even if an extra playoff spot will help necessitate it). I’d say it’s looking good – with the talent we have at all levels of the organization – that they’ve done a good job of both finding the right talent and turning the culture into a winning one. They still have to go and do it, of course. But, that’s how hard it can be. That’s how long it can take. The Mariners were one of the best baseball organizations from the mid-90s through the early 2000’s; then they were one of the worst for almost two full decades. That has everything to do with the culture we let fall apart with the loss of Lou Piniella and Pat Gillick; finding their replacements has been exceedingly difficult.

Now, take a look around the rest of the NFL. The longest tenured head coaches are Bill Belichick, Mike Tomlin, John Harbaugh, Pete Carroll, and Andy Reid. All are guys at the top of their profession, who regularly take their teams into the playoffs and have won at least one championship. But, aside from Belichick, they’ve all weathered some down periods. Down periods that lesser organizations might’ve fired them over. Of course, they’re still employed because those down periods aren’t very long, nor are they very bad, but still. Head coaches have been fired for a lot less, because their organizatons lack the fortitude to ride out the rough patches.

Every coach aside from those top five have been hired in 2017 or later. Not coincidentally, I would argue those head coaches are one or two bad years away from also joining the unemployment line, even though they’re coaches who’ve led their teams to conference championship games and Super Bowls.

Not all of them, of course. I think there’s a valid point that a great head coach needs a great quarterback, but I would also say the reverse is true: a great quarterback needs a great head coach. Granted, great quarterbacks have been propping up good-to-mediocre head coaches since time immemorial, but a great QB by himself is only going to take you so far. How many titles has Aaron Rodgers won in his Hall of Fame career? How about Drew Brees? On down the line.

I would argue great quarterbacks are helped along and nurtured to their fullest potential by the elite head coaches who’ve built a culture in which they can thrive. It’s when they try to bash heads with the head coach and the culture where things go sideways. And organizations – fearing reprisal from the fanbase – will almost always side with the elite QB over the elite head coach.

For those who wanted to put the issue to bed after one Tom Brady championship in Tampa Bay, just look at what Belichick has done in that same time: he had a down year with Cam Newton at the helm, then he turned right around and made it back to the playoffs with a rookie QB. Now, it looks like the Patriots are set up for another decade of success, while Brady just went and retired. THAT is what an elite coach – with an elite culture – can do for an organization.

Meanwhile, look at the Dolphins. They just fired Brian Flores after back-to-back winning seasons. His first season with the team was arguably his best, in spite of a 5-11 finish. The ownership and GM did everything to strip that team of all its talent; yet, Flores managed to win 5 of his last 9 games with a nothing roster.

Now, he can’t get hired anywhere, even though I think he’s proven to be an effective and winning head coach with a great culture. The reason why the Dolphins failed to make the playoffs in 2021 has everything to do with being saddled with a sub-par quarterback. And yet, Flores still managed to coach them to a winning record! He’s suing the NFL and I think he has a point; the Giants knew who they wanted to hire well before they “interviewed” Flores for the job. Flores was only cursorily considered for the job because he’s a person of color, and therefore fits the requirement under the Rooney Rule.

Look at David Culley of the Houston Texans. He – another person of color – replaced Bill O’Brien, someone who gutted the organization in his desperation to cling to his job. O’Brien, not for nothing, was a mediocre coach and culture builder, responsible for some of the worst and most lopsidedly terrible trades I’ve ever seen. How he kept his job for as long as he did is baffling. Culley only won 4 games this year and was fired after one season on the job. A season, mind you, where the Texans – much like the Dolphins in 2019 – gutted the roster to try to tank for the top draft pick. The fact that they won any games at all is a testament to the job Culley did.

These are just two examples of dysfunctional organizations; I haven’t even mentioned the Washington Football Team, which seems to embarrass itself on a monthly basis with its variety of scandals. Or the Jaguars, who churn through terrible head coaches like cheap sticks of gum. Or the Lions or Bears or Cowboys or Raiders or Jets, who have done nothing but underachieve for years and years and years. They continue to fuck up on the regular, with zero accountability from the top.

Is that what you want for the Seahawks?

Most franchises pay a lot of lip service to diversity and doing the right thing; very few actually back that up in their hiring practices and the way they construct their organizations. The Seahawks aren’t perfect; no team is. But the Seahawks do it better than most.

I don’t worry about the Seahawks paying lip service to hiring their next defensive coordinator. Because they have the culture in place, and a proven track record of hiring based on their scheme and the qualifications of the coach, regardless of race. If the Seahawks hire a white guy, I’ll at least be satisfied with the fact that they searched far and wide for the best person for the job. If the Seahawks hire a person of color, ditto.

The thing about culture is it has to be about what’s best for the organization, what’s best for everyone involved. It can’t be all about one man’s ego trip. That’s where you see pitfalls throughout professional sports. The ego of the owner, the ego of the general manager, the ego of the head coach, the ego of the quarterback (or that team’s best player, whoever it may be). Once it becomes about one man’s quest to be the best, all is lost. That person is the cancer, and that person is who needs to go. Unfortunately, that’s much easier said than done, the higher they are on the organizational chart.

The NFL’s Best Game Of The Week Is The Ravens At The Seahawks

Intensity of a thousand suns take: we’re going to watch some fun football this weekend.

I’m utterly fascinated by the Baltimore Ravens this year. Honestly, I wish I could’ve seen more of them to date; if I had NFL Sunday Ticket, I’d be tempted to put them on just about every week! After two games, they looked on track to compete for a Super Bowl slot with the Patriots and Chiefs; but were we watching fool’s gold? Wins over the Dolphins and Cardinals – blowouts that they were – are obviously not very impressive. You’re supposed to kill those teams.

Nevertheless, my expectations for this Ravens team heading into the season were completely out of whack compared to what they put out into the world. I was not a Lamar Jackson believer, for starters. I thought he was a fine fantasy quarterback, in the same way Josh Allen is a fine fantasy quarterback. Rushing yards can make all the fantasy difference at the QB position. But, in real life? In the NFL, where wins matter above all else? Where you need to prove you actually have an arm and can use it for something other than jabbing it into a defender’s face as you run by him for extra yardage? I couldn’t buy it.

The fact of the matter is, the Ravens’ offense from 2018 threw me off the scent. Lamar was a rookie, after all, and they used him like one. He sat behind Joe Flacco for an uncomfortably long time. Then, when he got in there, the offense looked so drastically different, it seemed like they pared down the playbook to a post-it note. I figured, at some point – probably as soon as Week 1, 2019 – defenses would adjust to the Run-First/Run-Second/Run-Third ethos of what John Harbaugh was trying to instill, by stacking the box and forcing Lamar to throw deep.

And, they might have very well done that! But, funny thing: Lamar just went over the top and blew everyone’s doors off!

He threw for over 300 yards and 5 touchdowns against Miami (with only 6 yards rushing). He followed that up with another 272 yards and 2 more TDs against Arizona; and the MVP chatter was in full effect.

I watched that Ravens/Chiefs game in Week 3 pretty closely for a while, until the score got out of reach (I missed a lot of the garbage-time points the Ravens scored late), and honestly I liked what I saw. The Ravens took chances, went for it on 4th down, went for two on the game’s opening touchdown; they knew that field goals and field position weren’t going to be enough to beat the high-flying Chiefs offense. It was a brilliant strategy, poorly executed (especially in the first half).

What I saw over everything else was a defense that isn’t NEARLY as good as I expected them to be. The Ravens’ defense, in 2018, really carried the mail. They were the reason I had them in the hunt at all for a possible wild card spot. I figured it would be more of the same as 2018; that’s usually my mistake when making pre-season predictions.

To be fair, I don’t know exactly what they did exceptionally last year, but I’m assuming it was the front seven. With the addition of Earl Thomas in the backfield, I figured he would do what he did for many a mediocre Seahawks’ defenses in the last few years: pick them up on his back and make them look much better than they actually were.

But, he hasn’t really stood out (aside from almost killing that Steelers quarterback), and I contend they’re using him wrong. I haven’t watched the tape or anything, but I can’t believe he’s lost that much of a step after looking fantastic in his few games in 2018; yet he’s seemingly never in a position to make a play. I put that on the scheme. My hunch is they’re playing more of a Tampa 2 when he’s coming from a Single High scheme. Let your dog hunt! Set Earl loose and watch the magic happen!

Anyway, the Ravens biffed it against the Chiefs, and completely fell apart against the Browns (giving up 33 and 40 points respectively). That’s on the defense. Things have settled down the last two weeks – they beat the Steelers and Bengals in closer games than they probably should’ve been – but again, those are terrible teams. The Ravens are 4-2 and have beaten probably the 4 worst teams in the league through six weeks.

So, what does that tell us?

I don’t know if it’s told us a whole lot. Lamar Jackson has looked much more like the player I was expecting in the last few weeks. Fewer passing yards, more rushing yards, fewer TDs, more picks. But, he’s yet to face this Seahawks defense.

A defense that’s as much of an enigma as I’ve ever seen.

Jarran Reed returns this week. I hope and pray that brings with it a bit of stability, but I’m worried he won’t play as much as we probably need him to. He drastically improves our depth in the front seven and in particular in the defensive tackle rotation. He’s a great run stuffer, and as he showed last year, he can be a whiz rushing the passer. We need the middle of that line to be as good as it’s been all year to slow down the Ravens’ rushing attack. Between Lamar and Mark Ingram, they’ve got a couple of LOADS that are tough to stop, who only get stronger as the game goes on.

I would hope that our defense will shut down their deep passing attack, but I’ve seen so many breakdowns this year, it wouldn’t shock me in the slightest to see one or two get behind us for big gains. I’m more concerned with the rush defense though, and the pisspoor tackling we’ve seen from pretty much everyone.

I’ve stopped banking on this team actually getting sacks, but if it’s EVER going to happen, this would probably be the game to see ’em. The Ravens love some play action and Lamar loves to extend plays, so we should – if nothing else – see some coverage sacks.

I’d honestly be surprised and a little lot disappointed if we let the Ravens score in the high 20’s or 30’s. This is probably a game the Seahawks should win in a semi-grudge match. Something like 24-16.

It should be raining, which is always a concern for the Seahawks’ offense. The last time it rained for a home game was against the Saints, and you saw all the freaky shit that happened.

I have to believe the Ravens will sell out to stop the run, which is playing right into Russell MVP Wilson’s hands. There’s no doubt Earl will make his presence felt in this one, but the rest of their secondary is pretty ordinary, so we shouldn’t have any trouble throwing on the outside.

I’m expecting a workmanlike, forgettable Seahawks victory in this one. I’m also expecting to be surprised by the Ravens as I’ve been pretty much all year, so I can’t wait to watch this game.

The Hellacious Seattle Seahawks 2015 Season Preview!

There was supposed to be three full days of previews – befitting the excitement level of going into yet another Championship Season in this current Championship Window – but my dad picked up a cold over Labor Day weekend, which remained dormant in my body until Tuesday afternoon, when it revealed its presence, dragging down my fragile frame in the process.

The subsequent two days were spent in various states of repose, between my couch and my bed, filling my body with a steady diet of bananas and Vitamin C while I filled carefully folded bundles of toilet paper with mucus from my ever-running nose.  I’m still nowhere near 100%, but season previews don’t write themselves!  So, here goes nothing.

As you could probably tell from this post, I’m pretty high on the Seahawks getting back to the Super Bowl and winning it yet again.  In fact, I’m higher on the Seahawks THIS year than I was last year, when we were essentially the same starting units on both sides of the ball less a couple key components.  Where the 2014 Seahawks really bought the farm was in the loss of Golden Tate.  Had we never made the trade for Percy Harvin, and instead focused on giving Tate the deal he deserved, the rest of the receivers on this team would’ve slotted out where they were supposed to be, and we wouldn’t have been throwing a goalline pass to Ricardo Lockette of all people on our final offensive play of the Super Bowl.  But, it’s not fair to lay all the blame on one guy (or lack thereof), when the real culprit of 2014 was a lack of quality depth.

That’s where 2015 comes on to shine.  Harvin and Tate have been replaced by rookie Tyler Lockett.  Turbin and Michael have been replaced by Fred Jackson and Thomas Rawls (two steadier and more capable backs).  Willson and Helfet get knocked down to the second & third tight end spots with the trade for Jimmy Graham.  Our pass rush that was – by season’s end – pretty much just Bennett, Avril, and Irvin, gets bolstered with the addition of rookie Frank Clark, and the growth and maturity (and hopefully health) of Cassius Marsh and Jordan Hill.

2015 should also offer additional gains out of our already-established stars.  Guys like Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright, Bruce Irvin, Russell Wilson, Doug Baldwin, Jermaine Kearse, and Tharold Simon should all see considerable improvements in play as they enter the primes of their careers.  And, while guys like Earl Thomas and Richard Sherman are coming off of significant injuries, it’s still fair to expect their very best play, as we would with veterans like Bennett, Avril, Okung, Mebane, Lynch, and Chancellor if/when he ever shows up again.

If you assume everyone will be healthy all year (which, I understand, is ridiculous), then on paper the only real weakness we’re looking at is the offensive line.  You could make an argument for secondary depth being the primary weakness, but as long as the rest of the defense is able to stay on the field, it should more than make up for what’s going on opposite Richard Sherman.  The O-Line is truly the problem area, but I also feel that’s a bit unfair.

For starters, when you compare the O-Line to the other position groups on this team, OF COURSE it’s going to rank dead last!  But, more importantly, I would argue this position group has always been a little bit neglected from a talent perspective, and they’ve made up for it by employing one of the very best O-Line coaches in the league.  AND, not for nothing, but the Seahawks have gone to two straight Super Bowls with two pretty sub-par offensive lines, and it hasn’t prevented us from winning yet.

They tinkered with it in the pre-season and came away with a starting five that’s as good as it’s going to get (since we can’t really afford to bring in quality outside help).  But, that doesn’t mean it’s as good as it’s ever going to be.  We’ve got three guys – Britt at left guard, Nowak at center, Gilliam at right tackle – who are getting their first professional starts at their respective positions.  Will it be a struggle early?  I think, from what we’ve seen of the running game this pre-season:  yeah, it’s going to be a little ugly.  This O-Line is going to struggle against the better D-Lines in the league (which makes it utterly horrific that we have to play the Rams in week 1), but it’s going to look downright competent against the lesser D-Lines.  And, I think these guys have a real chance to mature and gel, to where by season’s end, we’ll be looking at a solid group of guys on an offense that’s humming along with the best of ’em.

When even your weakest point is still good enough to be argued into a strength, you know you’ve got a great team on your hands.  I think we’re all pretty much in agreement that this team has the potential to be better than their 2014 counterparts, with a ceiling being at the 2013 level (which is really saying something, because I’ll always believe the 2013 Seahawks were one of the all time greatest teams in the history of the league).

That doesn’t mean there aren’t concerns.  There are always reasons to worry, especially early in the season.  Will Earl Thomas be back to his usual self?  Will Kam Chancellor ever end this idiotic holdout?  Will Richard Sherman make it through the full season?  Will the offense mesh well with Jimmy Graham, or will they try to force it to him too many times, stalling too many drives?  Will the O-Line be able to open holes for Lynch?  Will Russell Wilson be a better pocket passer?  And, most importantly, in an overall sense:  will the key players and key positions be able to stay healthy?

Health is the ultimate X-Factor.  I say it every year, and ever year it’s no less true.  Poor health can take a championship team and prevent them from even making the playoffs.  It can rear its ugly head at any time – and often at the worst of times – leaving you grasping at straws for a solution.  Did the Seahawks lose the Super Bowl because of the one goalline play?  Or, did the Seahawks lose the Super Bowl because our entire fucking secondary was injured, and Cliff Avril had a concussion that reduced our pass rush to nothing, thereby allowing the Patriots back into a game we were controlling?  You can make compelling arguments for either, but the fact remains the same:  if the Seahawks were mostly healthy in that game, it probably doesn’t come down to a goalline pass in the first place.

So, that’s what you’ve gotta do:  pray for health and let the chips fall where they may.  Let this be the last word on health for the rest of this preview.

The first half of this season is fairly tough.  Five of eight on the road, five of eight against 2014 playoff teams, and not very many soft landings.  Let’s run through the schedule to see where we are.

Week 1, at St. Louis, 10am

Honestly, I have my doubts about this one.  I know I probably shouldn’t; I know they’re going through something similar on their offensive line as we are, and I know their starting two running backs are both injured, but I can’t help but look at this game and see our offense struggling.  I see Lynch getting bottled up, I see growing pains with Graham, and I see the Rams doing just enough on offense to kick one more field goal than us.  I’m putting my life savings on this game being within one score either one way or the other, and if you put a gun to my head, I’ll tell you the Rams come out on top in this one, 16-13.

Week 2, at Green Bay, 5:30pm (Sunday Night)

Bounce back game, and one the Seahawks desperately need (with tie-breakers and whatnot).  I know the Packers will be fired up, and I know their fans will be insane after a day’s worth of tailgating, so it probably won’t be easy coming out of the gate.  After a sluggish first quarter, I expect the Seahawks to move the ball with regularity and defeat the Packers with ease in the second half.  Somewhere along the lines of 31-20.

Week 3, vs. Chicago, 1:25pm

This one should be a walk-over, but I expect the Bears to put up a bit of a fight, as they’ve got some nasty, talented guys in Jeffery and Forte.  But, given that this is Seattle’s home opener, I’d look for the home team to jump out to an early lead and keep it pretty comfortably in the 1-2 score range the rest of the way.  33-27.

Week 4, vs. Detroit, 5:30pm (Monday Night)

The return of Golden Tate!  There’s no way he doesn’t make a big play or two in this game.  But, with Seattle back home for a primetime game, I’m expecting another win for the good guys.  Maybe not quite the blowout we’re used to, but we’re going to scratch it out.  27-24.

Week 5, at Cincinnati, 10am

I’ve been wary of this game from the moment I saw it on our schedule.  Something about road AFC games in the morning, teams we rarely get to go up against, and them having just enough talent to get by.  I’m on record as hating on Andy Dalton pretty hard, but I think he’s going to go into this game with extra focus in not turning the ball over.  Combine that with the fact that this game isn’t in primetime and I think you’ll see Good Andy Dalton on this day.  Plus, their running game is legit, and they’ve got enough talent at receiver to move the ball on us if they want.  I see an upset here, with Cincy taking us down 20-13.

Week 6, vs. Carolina, 1:05pm

Notice we can’t help but beat on Carolina every damn year and no one ever talks about them getting fired up for us like they do about the Packers getting up for us.  Pretty much, Carolina is Seattle’s younger brother, and we can’t help but hold them down, rub our asses in their faces, and fart repeatedly until they call mom to get us to stop.  No change here.  I expect something along the lines of 27-14.

Week 7, at San Francisco, 5:25pm (Thursday Night)

The 49ers are going to be terrible this season and I expect them to look terrible whenever we play them.  Without Gore, I expect their running game to be non-existent.  Without Harbaugh, I expect their offense to be pathetic and their overall output to be among the worst.  There’s no reason why this shouldn’t be a cakewalk, in a long line of ugly, unwatchable Thursday Night Football games.  Seahawks 38, 49ers 3.

Week 8, at Dallas, 1:25pm

This game would normally scare the bejesus out of me, and scream “Third Loss Of The Season!”  But, I dunno.  I like the Seahawks with 10 days to prepare.  I like the Seahawks a week before their BYE.  I like the fact that the Cowboys embarrassed us on our home turf last season.  And, quite frankly, I like how Dallas has zero home field advantage to speak of whatsoever.  I predict a huge following by the 12’s, I predict a solid day out of our offense, I predict a return touchdown from someone (probably Lockett) and ultimately I predict a Seahawks victory, to the tune of 24-23.

Week 9 – BYE

Week 10, vs. Arizona, 5:30pm (Sunday Night)

I’d be shocked if Carson Palmer isn’t injured at this point in the season, but even if he’s managed to stay healthy, I don’t expect the Cards to be as good.  This game feels like a gift from the scheduling gods – at home, after a BYE, on Sunday night?  Are you kidding me?  This has blowout written all over it!  26-9.

Week 11, vs. San Francisco, 1:25pm

Just played them three games ago, I don’t know why anyone would expect a different outcome.  Seahawks 30, 49ers 7.

Week 12, vs. Pittsburgh, 1:25pm

Three home games in a row after a BYE!  That’s what I’m talking about!  This one looks like a difficult matchup.  I like the Steelers’ offense a lot, particuarly their passing game.  I don’t care for their defense, but that hasn’t stopped some fringey defenses from coming in here and making us look bad.  Ultimately, I think this game will be a shootout, and I think it’ll prove to be the most exciting game of the entire season.  And, as much as it pains me to say it, I think the Steelers come in here and steal one.  They have JUST the right mix going for them:  veteran quarterback, difficult to take down or rattle in the pocket, superstar wide receiver, superstar running back.  I just think they’re going to expose us the way no other offense on our schedule will.  Pittsburgh 31, Seattle 30.

Week 13, at Minnesota, 10am

I like Minnesota’s rebuilding plan.  They’ve got a lot of young talent on both sides of the ball, with a hungry Adrian Peterson and a quarterback in Teddy Bridgewater with a lot of potential.  He might not ever be an MVP of the league, but I think he can lead this team to some winning seasons in his career.  In this game, I like the Seahawks to bounce back on defense and make life difficult for the Vikes.  Seahawks 17, Vikings 6.

Week 14, at Baltimore, 5:30pm (Sunday Night)

This might be the most hyped non-divisional, non-playoff game on the horizon.  Two sterling franchises, two stud quarterbacks, two sound defenses.  All the storylines in the world, from Lynch vs. Forsett, to Pete Carroll vs. The Other Harbaugh, to this being a matchup of two of the last three Super Bowl winners.  Both teams should be in great positions in the standings by this point (likely leading their respective divisions) and I think we’ll all be talking about how it’s a real strong probability that this is the eventual Super Bowl matchup in February.  A lot of people will predict a Ravens victory, but I just like the Seahawks too much in primetime.  I see Seattle winning 27-23.

Week 15, vs. Cleveland, 1:05pm

Please, dear lord, give me one chance to see Johnny Football obliterated by the Seahawks in Seattle.  It’s all I ask.  Seattle 28, Cleveland 0.

Week 16, vs. St. Louis, 1:25pm

No tricks, just hardnose football.  The Seahawks make up for the week 1 defeat as we almost always do this time of year when the Rams come to town.  This game effectively wraps up the division, if not Home Field Advantage, pushing the Seahawks to 12-3 on the season.  20-13, Seahawks.

Week 17, at Arizona, 1:25pm

I don’t expect the Seahawks to need this victory, so I don’t expect many of the starters to play for too long.  As a glorified pre-season game, I see the Seahawks going down to the Cardinals 28-17.

12-4 is pretty tame for a #1 overall seed, but with tie-breakers over the Packers and Cowboys, I think it’s just enough.  What we have to hope for at that point is that we don’t get stuck playing the Rams, or some other difficult defensive team in the playoffs.  As always, I’ll take a battle of offenses over a grudgematch on the defensive side of the ball, as I think our defense is better than most any offense you can put on the field.

Now, all we have to do is play the games.  NBD.

Seattle Sports Hell 2014 NFL Power Rankings – Week 11

On a scale from 1 to 10, this season is legit 12 aggravating.  I can’t sit here and tell you that it’s the worst season, because it’s not.  The worst seasons are always the ones where you win the fewest games.  The 1992 Seahawks are the reason why I stopped giving a shit about the Seattle Seahawks until about 1996 or so and they were threatening to move to L.A.  Pieces were being put into place, we’d just come off a .500 record, things were looking up!  Of course, little did I know just how many .500 seasons I’d have to endure under Dennis Erickson, but that’s another post for another time.

The only salvation you get out of a miserable season like 1992 or 2008 is that you get to reap the rewards of a high draft pick.  But, since we’re talking about the Seahawks, we even manage to fuck THAT up, with the likes of Rick Mirer and Aaron Curry.

The underrated travesties are those 8-8 seasons, because not only are you mediocre, and not only are you missing out on the post-season, but you also draft pretty low in the first round.  Like the high teens, where there’s just scraps and wishful thinking of would-be stars.  No thank you.

But, this year?  It doesn’t come around all that often.  Indeed, when you’re talking Seahawks, the only seasons that could possibly rival 2014 are the two seasons following our first Super Bowl apperance.  These are years where expectations are sky high.  Where you’re still in that Championship Window, but you can see that it’s already closing, and no matter how many times you’re reminded that these windows are fleeting, you’re not prepared for the comedown.  It’s what I imagine a cocaine binge hangover to feel like.

Everything sucks and you wish you were dead.

2013 was supposed to be the beginning of a dynasty!  The second coming of the 90s Dallas Cowboys.  The third coming of the 80s 49ers.  The fourth coming of the 70s Steelers.  The fifth coming of the 60s Packers.  The sixth coming of the 50s Browns.  And so on and so forth.  We were young, we were fierce on defense, we were in a position of strength regarding our cap, where we could afford to extend our stars & still fill in admirably around them with the role players to succeed.

Now, we’re just this injured, dysfunctional mass of mistake-prone, unclutch nonsense.  Losing games late in the fourth quarter we should win.  Holding teams to touchdowns instead of field goals whenever they reach the red zone.  Killing countless drives with idiotic penalties.  Dropping passes, missing blockers, missing tackles, letting absolute gift interceptions clank off of our chests.  6-4, clinging for dear life to Wild Card dreams while the Arizona fucking Cardinals somehow suffer even worse injuries and manage to sit atop the entire NFL with a 9-1 record.  I mean, ARE YOU SHITTING ME?

We should be better, we COULD be better, but we’re not.  And, God damn it, I still haven’t seen the Rams pull any of their special teams bullshit against anyone else in the league; WHY IS IT ALWAYS US???

Fuckin’ hubris, man.  We got a taste of the good life in 2013, and man did we live like kings!  We were the toast of the NFL!  Defenses wanted to be us, league officials created rules to stop us, Richard Sherman’s out there getting Kardashian-level ink spilled about him on a daily basis.  We extended all the stars we were able to extend.  ESPN devoted a whole block of programming just to show how we PRACTICE!  (not a game, not a game …).  And there we are, The 12th Man in all our blue & green glory, not just soaking it all in, but actively rubbing it in the faces of anyone who will listen.

WE’RE the best!  Not y’all!  WE’RE the team that can’t be stopped.

Like we did anything at all.  The Seahawks won a Super Bowl and all of a sudden our 12th Man dicks are dragging on the floor behind us.  Oh, this ol’ thing?  That’s just my 12-foot long dick; didn’t you hear?  We won the Super Bowl and we’re going to win every Super Bowl until Russell Wilson decides to hang ’em up.  No big deal.  And believe me, I’m as guilty of this as anyone.

See, as Seahawks fans – as Seattle fans in general – we didn’t know how to act, so we acted like we imagine every other fan who’s rooted on a champion acts.  The Seahawks winning the Super Bowl was akin to giving Honey Boo Boo and her family their own TV show for the 12th Man.  Everyone else is trying to tell us to “act like we’ve been there before,” but we’re too busy painting our bodies in Seahawks colors and eating spaghetti with butter.

Losing all these players to free agency?  Who cares!  We’ve got Pete Carroll and John Schneider; it’s only a matter of time before the next crop of 5th round draft picks turn into All Pros!  Never considering for a moment that maybe they just caught lightning in a bottle that one season, and that it’s fucking HARD to do it a second time.

A lot of shit has to go right.  But, the Seahawks in 2014 are too talented!  There are too many stars on this team!  WE’RE TOO BIG TO FAIL!

And here we are, 6-4, third place in the division, on the outside looking in at a playoff spot, with the world’s most difficult schedule over these last seven games, and we’re about to get 2010 Seahawks’d right out of a playoff spot because the NFC South is about to get a 7-9 home playoff game.

I want each and every one of you to remember what you said at the end of 2010 when the world was telling us we didn’t belong in the playoffs, let alone hosting the world champion Saints.  Because, I guaran-fucking-tee all those people defending the 7-9 division champion Seahawks will be calling for a revamping of the NFL playoff seeding system come January.

That’s why this season is so aggravating.  Because we should’ve seen it coming and we ignored it.  I mean, this is Seattle!  Why would we expect to have long term greatness?  Just consider us fucking lucky that we got the one Super Bowl and we still have our health.  Winter’s coming.  And Arizona Hell is coming with it.

In other news, this is the week where I’ve opted to split the power rankings into the Haves and Have Nots.  The top 16 teams all have as good a chance as any of making the playoffs this year.  The bottom 16 is comprised of all the fucking losers, which obviously includes the NFC South.  Enjoy!

***

  1. Arizona Cardinals (9-1) – More annoying Super Bowl storyline:  the Harbaugh Brothers facing one another, or the Cardinals hosting their own Super Bowl?  It’s a toss-up for me right now; all I know is I’m rooting for whoever comes out of the AFC.
  2. New England Patriots (8-2) – It’s been a LONG time since their offensive line was a trainwreck and Tom Brady owners in fantasy were pulling their hair out.
  3. Denver Broncos (7-3) – I don’t know what to say about that loss to the Rams, but it has to be at least mildly concerning, right?
  4. Green Bay Packers (7-3) – I know the Packers aren’t as good as they’ve looked in recent weeks, but I’ll be damned if I can tell you how this team is going to blow it going forward.
  5. Detroit Lions (7-3) – Defense is amazing, and you still don’t want to face them in the playoffs, but they ran up against the Arizona juggernaut on Sunday.
  6. Kansas City Chiefs (7-3) – I can’t see this team contending with the Broncos, but it’s nice for them to think they can.  Blame St. Louis when all your hopes are dashed later this year.
  7. Indianapolis Colts (6-4) – I seem to say this all the time, but it must be nice to play in such a shitty division.
  8. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-4) – Playing down to the level of their competition?  Now, where have I seen that before (*cough cough* SEAHAWKS).
  9. Philadelphia Eagles (7-3) – So, will the real Mark Sanchez please stand up?
  10. San Francisco 49ers (6-4) – Yeah, they’re hanging in there, but they’re still struggling mightily on offense.  If the Seahawks are doomed to miss the playoffs; I’ll gladly play spoiler if it means we can also keep the 49ers out.
  11. Dallas Cowboys (7-3) – It’s almost that time!  December in Dallas must be the best time of year for antacid sales.
  12. Miami Dolphins (6-4) – Well, they proved they’re better than the Bills.  Not saying a whole lot, but it’s something.
  13. San Diego Chargers (6-4) – Well, they proved they’re better than the Raiders.  Not saying a whole lot, but it’s something.
  14. Seattle Seahawks (6-4) – What are the Seahawks going to do when we start facing great run defenses?  I’d wager to guess that the Seahawks are going to continue losing.
  15. Cincinnati Bengals (6-3-1) – Andy Dalton plays Cleveland, has one of the worst games possible for a starting quarterback making millions upon millions of dollars.  Then, he turns around – when every fantasy owner in America has benched him – and throws three TDs and dominates on the road against the Saints.  Troll +1.
  16. Baltimore Ravens (6-4) – With no one really running away with this division, I guess they still have as good a chance as any to sneak in there.  Odds are, though, they lose via tiebreaker somewhere.

The Loser’s Bracket:

  1. St. Louis Rams (4-6) – Seriously Rams, fuck you!  Who the hell are you to be good enough to beat the Broncos and Seahawks, yet bad enough to still have a losing record?
  2. Houston Texans (5-5) – J.J. Watt has four touchdowns this year?  Including two on offense?  Maybe Darrell Bevell isn’t a complete idiot; maybe he’s just running goalline plays that only work if you have J.J. Watt in there on offense.
  3. Cleveland Browns (6-4) – Hey, so Cleveland?  Playoff teams don’t lose home games to the Texans when they’re starting a first-time starting quarterback.
  4. Atlanta Falcons (4-6) – I can’t believe this is the team that’s currently leading the NFC South.  I also can’t believe I sort of think they might hang on and end up winning it at season’s end.
  5. New Orleans Saints (4-6) – Can’t say I’m TOTALLY shocked the Saints choked to the Bengals at home.  If I thought the Saints were going to run away with that one, I would’ve considered benching Cincy’s running back.  Suffice it to say, I came away from Sunday pretty happy with my decisions.
  6. Chicago Bears (4-6) – The Bears are better than the Vikings; stop the presses!
  7. Carolina Panthers (3-7-1) – Hello darkness, my old friend.
  8. Buffalo Bills (5-5) – It doesn’t get any better than a couple weeks ago, when you were 5-3 and enjoying a nice BYE week.  Fortunately, it doesn’t get much worse with home games against the Jets and Cleveland coming up.  Hi there 8-8!  It’s been a while.
  9. Minnesota Vikings (4-6) – So much for Adrian Peterson salvaging your season.
  10. New York Giants (3-7) – You are one pathetic loser!
  11. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-8) – Mike Evans is my fantasy football wet dream right now; single greatest waiver wire pickup I’ve made in AGES.
  12. Washington Redskins (3-7) – I just need Alfred Morris to continue to be decent through the last few weeks of the season.
  13. New York Jets (2-8) – I’m telling you, I still think the Jets have a chance to save Rex Ryan’s bacon.  Here’s their schedule to close out the season:  @Buf, Mia, @Min, @Ten, NE, @Mia.  Got some real turds in that punchbowl.
  14. Tennessee Titans (2-8) – Seems like you should be building for the future by giving Bishop Sankey the lion’s share of the offensive load.  You know, to see what you’ve got, and to see if what you’ve got is a bellcow running back?
  15. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-9) – Could the Jags lose out and still gain that number one pick?  I think they can, I think they can, I think they can.
  16. Oakland Raiders (0-10) – Because I highly doubt the Raiders are going 0-16.  At some point, they’re going to Raiders this whole thing up and miss out on the number 1 draft pick.

Is This A Joke?

I wasn’t going to write about this when I first heard about it last night, because it’s pointless and stupid.  It’s a list, of the 32 NFL head coaches, ranked in order of best to worst.  I guess.  Anyway, it’s dumb.  Everyone makes lists all the time and they’re all retarded, except this guy KINDA takes the cake.

Remember the name Elliot Harrison, because this guy’s going places.  I mean, if he can generate this type of chatter in the middle of July, he must be pushing just the right buttons.

I’ll get to what’s really grinding my gears in a bit, but first, I’ll just say that for the most part, I don’t have a problem with this guy’s rankings.  The guys at the bottom are there for a reason – they lack NFL head coaching experience.  I might have ranked Gus Bradley a little higher, partly because I’m biased and partly because I like to look at someone’s potential when I do these types of things.  I think Gus Bradley has a chance to be great.  And, I think the Jags will be one of the most improved teams this year.  So, to get in on the ground floor, I probably would have put Gus around 20 or 19 or something.

I would have put Jason Garrett dead last.  He is, BY FAR, the worst head coach of them all.  I know he doesn’t get many favors from his GM (except further employment for some ungodly reason), but he has bungled more than his fair share of games and probably should’ve been fired a season or two ago.

I also think Joe Philbin is a ninny and should be placed closer to the bottom than he already is.

I’m a little higher on Ron Rivera and probably would’ve put him in the mid-teens.  I think Rex Ryan’s coasting on his AFC Championship games he had way back when and isn’t nearly as good as his ranking.  Mike Smith is probably a little too high, as is John Fox, but really, these are all minor quibbles.

Pete Carroll is ranked 7th.  In a vacuum, that doesn’t sound so bad.  If I looked at him, then shut my eyes, and tried to think of a good ranking for him, I feel like the number 7 would pop right into my mind.  But, that’s without any consideration for the other coaches listed above him.

Mike McCarthy is ranked 6th.  Say what?

Tom Coughlin is ranked 5th.  Ehh, that feels right.  Guy has been around a long time, has a couple championships to his name.  Yeah, he’s missed the playoffs a few times, but the guy has made a champion of Eli Manning twice over!

John Harbaugh is ranked 4th.  Again, I’d probably rank him ahead of Pete Carroll as well.  He’s had a lot of sustained success since he got the head coaching job with the Ravens.  They share the same number of championships; I’m okay with that.

Here’s where it gets me – and I’m sure it was intentional.  Jim Harbaugh is ranked 3rd.  You see, this is the genius of Elliot Harrison.  Ideally, if he wants to piss off any fanbase, it’s probably that of the Patriots.  They’re the loudest and most easily-peeved by any slight against them.  But, to do so would have meant ranking Harbaugh over Bill Belichick, and that’s just insanity.  Belichick might go down as one of the greatest head coaches of all time.  To rank anyone ahead of him would immediately render his list as invalid.

So, instead, Elliot Harrison decided to troll TWO fanbases – Seattle & Baltimore – by not only ranking our most hated rival FOUR SPOTS ahead of Pete Carroll, but also ranking the wrong Harbaugh brother ahead of the other.

Let me see if I get this straight:  the two Harbaugh boys coached against one another in the Super Bowl before last, and the LOSER of said Super Bowl ends up getting ranked ahead of the victor?  Just because he’s 3 for 3 in NFC Championship appearances, that gets him the nod?  Even though John Harbaugh had made the playoffs in five consecutive seasons, making three AFC Championship Games and the aforementioned Super Bowl victory over his brother … he gets docked a point for missing the playoffs one time?  Are you KIDDING ME?

I think I’m more upset about this whole John/Jim fiasco than I am with Harbaugh being ranked so far ahead of Pete Carroll.

You want my opinion?  Here’s my top ten (I’m not going all the way to 32, because what’s the point?):

  1. Bill Belichick
  2. Sean Payton
  3. John Harbaugh
  4. Tom Coughlin
  5. Pete Carroll
  6. Jim Harbaugh
  7. Andy Reid
  8. Jeff Fisher
  9. Lovie Smith
  10. Mike Tomlin

Now there’s a ranking that’s somewhat respectable.  But, it’s not a ranking that’s necessarily going to draw a bunch of fire from pissed off fanbases.  It’s just a ranking that makes SENSE.  Jim Harbaugh inherited a team that already had a ton of talent on it.  Pete Carroll, and some of these other coaches ahead of Harbaugh, took over teams that were pretty bad.  They’ve BUILT something.  They’re not living off of the success of previous regimes.  You know what’s going to happen when the talent on the 49ers gets too old?  You’re going to see Jim Harbaugh start missing the playoffs more and more.

However, the Seahawks – a team not afraid to play younger guys at key positions – should be able to regenerate on a yearly basis, thanks to Pete Carroll’s coaching style and philosophy.

I’ll say this:  this Elliot Harrison guy’s rankings will look a lot different next year, after the Seahawks are coming off their second of two championship seasons.

Seahawks Death Week: Why We Will Be Great Next Season

It’s time to start pulling ourselves out of the doom and gloom.  It’s been four days since the Great Atlanta Tragedy.  The sting of the suddenness has worn off, finality has set in, we’re already making plans that conflict with this weekend’s games, because seriously who wants to watch football at a time like this?  Especially when you know we’re headed for an All-Harbaugh Bowl anyway?

Stop that.  This is supposed to be an uplifting post.

The Seahawks are set up beautifully for a long and successful stretch of football.  This is what I’ve tried to ignore hearing about up to this point because all I’ve wanted to do is wallow.  But, it’s really true.  All we have to do is survive what is suddenly an unexpectedly competitive Washington Husky basketball season, and a sure-to-be-bad, though also a sure-to-be-differently-bad-than-what-we’ve-seen-thus-far-these-last-few-years Seattle Mariners season.  It’s going to be a long, dark seven months until we’re smack dab in the middle of preseason football.  But, we’ll all be better for having survived it.

What were the big question marks going into 2012?  It was starting quarterback, it was the wide receivers, it was the offensive line to a lesser extent, and it was the defensive line.

Well, the defensive line is still a huge question mark going into 2013.  But, the offensive line proved to be fantastic, the wide receivers (at least our top 3) improved a great deal, and we found ourselves our Franchise Quarterback.  I’d say that’s a pretty good haul in one season!

I’m going to write up a post sometime soon about my undying affection of Russell Wilson, so I’ll keep my praise brief.  But, this is really something.  He just finished one of the greatest rookie seasons for any quarterback in the history of the NFL, and he STILL won’t win the Rookie of the Year award.  That doesn’t change the fact, in my mind at least, that he’s the best rookie of this class and will go down as having the best career of them all (which is really saying something, because Andrew Luck is the real deal who is going to keep that Colts team competitive for years to come).

Our core on offense is set up beautifully for the next good long while.  We’ve got our quarterback.  We’ve got an elite running back and we’ve got another good running back we just drafted.  We’ve got a solid up-and-down offensive line that’s also very young.  We’ve got a couple wide receivers in Tate and Baldwin who should be productive every season going forward.  Add a couple more weapons for Wilson to play around with, and I think this offense will be as unstoppable as it gets.

On defense, we’re even better.  We’ve locked up Mebane and Bryant to long-term deals to anchor our run defense.  Granted, it wasn’t the best run defense to close out 2012, but I think if we manage to find another run-stuffer to plug in between those two guys, we’ll be all set.  We drafted Bruce Irvin who had 8 sacks in his rookie season.  Experience will only make him more of a monster in that regard.  Don’t be surprised if you see him in that 18-20 sack range before too long.

Two of our three starting linebackers have two years of experience or less (K.J. Wright & Bobby Wagner).  Those guys are locked in for years to come.  We’ve got solid linebacking pieces who are also young that can fill in on the other side, but look for this team to draft one anyway.

Then, you look at our secondary, and we’re talking about the greatest secondary in all of football.  Earl Thomas:  best safety.  Richard Sherman:  best cornerback.  Kam Chancellor:  hard-hitting Pro Bowler.  Brandon Browner:  hard-hitting Pro Bowler.  We’ve got young depth behind them and don’t be surprised if they try to supplement that depth even more in the draft.  The diamonds in the rough reside here, for sure, and they’re being coached up in a big way.

The loss of Gus Bradley as defensive coordinator seems like a bigger blow than it really is.  I feel like this defense coasted more on talent than it did succeed through scheme.  If we’re able to bring in the right guy, whose willing to ramp up the heat on opposing offenses, I don’t think there’s any limit to what this defense can do.  Can they lead the league in points allowed?  Well, they’ve done it before, this past season in fact.  Can they lead the league in yards allowed?  They very nearly did that this past year as well.  Can they lead the league in turnovers?  Why the Hell not?  Can they set the NFL record for most shutouts in a single season?  The SKY is the limit, people!

I’ll get into some of this tomorrow, when I reflect on the positives that have come out of the 2012 season, but suffice it to say everything this team needed to accomplish was accomplished.  They improved over 2011.  They found their quarterback.  They made the playoffs.  They won in the playoffs (to nip that in the bud before it turns into a monkey on the back).  They very nearly made it to the NFC Championship game before tasting bitter defeat.  The most bitter of bitter defeats.  Like sucking on an aspirin like a lozenge.

This team is hungry.  STARVING.  The players, for the most part, were passed over time and time again, either by falling in the draft or by being released from other teams.  They got no respect as individuals and they get no respect as a team.  They’re loathed league-wide.  They’ve got a chip on their shoulder the size of Gibraltar.  They know the formula to succeed:  Home Field Advantage.  They’re better in January than they were in September, which means we shouldn’t see any early-season fumbling-away of football games we’re supposed to win next year.  Every team will be taken seriously.  Every week will be another opportunity to pound the other team into submission and turn it into a glorified preseason game.

2012 was just the start of something huge.  2013, the fun really begins.  Raise your expectations, because from now on this team is one of the elites.  Enjoy it, because this opportunity doesn’t come around very often.  Thank your lucky stars you’re not a fan of the Bills, the Jags, the Dolphins, the Cardinals, the Raiders, the Chiefs, the Jets, the Browns, or the Rams.  They are SO FAR AWAY from being where we are right now, it’s not even funny!

Seattle Sports Hell NFL Power Rankings, Vol. 10

Every team in the NFL has played 10 games.  The final BYE week has come and gone.  We’re officially in the home stretch.  So, it’s time to start thinking about the playoffs, for real this time.

Playoffs???  Playoffs!!??!!

Damn right.  Let’s go with the AFC first.

Houston, Baltimore, New England, and Denver are your divisional leaders right now.  All but Baltimore have a 3-game lead; Baltimore is up by 2 and they JUST beat Pittsburgh, the next-closest team in the North.  I think it’s pretty safe to say, barring some unforeseen set of injuries, these four teams win their divisions.

The rest of the way, Houston is on the road 4 of 6.  They play Indy twice, which should prove pivotal in the overall playoff race.  They embark upon a 3-game road trip this week on Thanksgiving in Detroit.  Then, they go to Tennessee and finish it with their toughest remaining game against New England.  My guess?  They go 1-2 in this stretch, then follow it up by going 3-0 the rest of the way to finish 13-3.  They will have lost to New England, but they will still win the #1 overall seed thanks to their head-to-head win over Baltimore.

The only team of the top four to play every other team is Denver.  They’ve already lost to Houston and New England, so that puts them at a pretty big disadvantage.  Nevertheless, they have probably the easiest remaining schedule:  two against KC, one against Cle and Oak, one at home vs. Tampa and their toughest remaining game:  @ Baltimore.  That Ravens game will be key.  I don’t think they win that one, but I do think they finish 5-1 to end up 12-4.

Speaking of Baltimore, I think they manage to finish 5-1 as well, but I can’t rightly tell you which one they lose.  They could theoretically lose ANY of their remaining games (@SD, vs. Pit, @ Wash, vs. Den, vs. Giants, @ Cin).  My guess?  They keep winning until week 17 and drop an unnecessary game to the Bengals (that game rendered unnecessary when Houston wins in the morning and Baltimore’s game gets moved to the afternoon).

Which leaves New England.  They’re going to lose to the 49ers in Week 15 and that’s going to kill any hope they had of getting a BYE in the first round.  Honestly, they might lose another game or two with that defense of theirs, and it wouldn’t shock me.  Hard to read.  Either they go 5-1 and get the 3-seed over Denver, or they do something considerably worse and get stuck with the 4-seed.

That brings us to the Wild Card.  I see Indy blowing this bigtime.  I see Cincy and Pittsburgh clawing their way to 9-10 wins and grabbing the final two spots.  I see Cincy losing in the first round again and as an upset I see Pittsburgh winning to go to the next round.

Which leads to Houston and Baltimore winning handily, and Baltimore making the Super Bowl.  They’ve been close for a number of years now.  With New England not much of a threat, I think it’s finally time for Baltimore to shine.

***

In the NFC, you’ve got Atlanta and you’ve got San Francisco … and you’ve got everyone else.

Atlanta will continue to run away with their division and more than likely – thanks to San Fran’s tie against the Rams – grab the #1 overall seed.

San Francisco has it a tad tough.  Four of their final six are on the road (NO, Rams, Sea, NE), with home games against Miami and Arizona.  The 49ers are a tough team to read too, because they have these slip-ups at inopportune moments.  The loss to Minnesota, the loss at home to the Giants, the tie at home to the Rams.  But, with that defense, I think they continue to stiffen up as they did against the Bears last night.  I think, as the playoffs get closer, their focus is only going to intensify further.  That having been said, it wouldn’t shock me to see them fall to a #3 seed.  None of those remaining road games are cakewalks by any stretch.  I think they fall to the Seahawks and one other (don’t sleep on those Rams who took them to the brink).  With 4 losses and the tie, I think that knocks them out of the #2 seed by a half-game.

Who gets the #2 seed?  As much as it sickens me, I think it’s the Packers.  They play Minnesota twice, they go on the road to play a banged-up Bears team and a banged-up Giants team (with whispers of Eli playing through some significant arm/shoulder pain), and then they have Detroit and Tennessee at home.  I can EASILY see them going 5-1, ending up 12-4 and beating the 49ers by a half game.

As for the East and that #4 seed, so far the Giants have a leg up, but it’s not looking good.  Their schedule:  GB, @ Wash, NO, @ Atl, @ Bal, Phi.  Can they win three more games?  I like them against the Eagles and Saints.  I hate them against the Pack, Ravens, and Falcons.  That leaves that all-important road game in Washington D.C.  That might be the one that pushes them over the top.  If not …

Then watch out for Dallas.  Four of their final six at home.  Two against Washington, Philly, Pittsburgh, and New Orleans.  Their other road game is in Cincy.  As they split their season series with the Giants (and currently sit with 1 divisional loss to New York’s 2), all Dallas really has to do is win out against Washington and Philly.  That gives them 8 wins.  One more against Pittsburgh, New Orleans or Cincy is all it would take.

Gun to my head?  I like Dallas.  Call me crazy, but I think the Giants suffer the post-Super Bowl malaise and the Cowboys win the division in a crazy Week 17, knocking the Giants not just from the divisional lead, but out of the playoffs entirely.

I think Seattle is a lock.  Health at all positions, an improving quarterback, a defense that will RAVAGE YOU, and a schedule that’s quite favorable.  The Seahawks should win at both Miami and Buffalo.  The Seahawks should kill the Rams and Cards at home.  That puts them at 10, and 10 puts them into the playoffs any way you slice it.  They probably drop that game in Chicago, but I still think the Seahawks narrowly defeat the 49ers to complete the 8-0 season at home.  That makes the Seahawks 5-1 the rest of the way, 11-5 overall, and probably a 6-seed.  Not bad for a rookie quarterback.

That just leaves the 7-3 Bears (trending downward with their questionmark at the quarterback position) and the 6-4 Bucs (trending upward with their high-flying offense and doing-just-enough defense).  Both teams have 3 road games left.  The Bears luck out by getting their toughest opponents at home.  The Bucs luck out by catching the Falcons in Week 17 when they’re likely to not be trying too hard.  Here are the schedules:

  • Chicago Bears:  Min, Sea, @ Min, GB, @ Ariz, @ Det
  • Tampa Bay Bucs:  Atl, @ Den, Phi, @ NO, Rams, @ Atl

Since neither team has played one another, that sets Tampa back.  Since Tampa is a game behind, that’s another strike against them.  The Bears are currently 4-2 in the NFC, Tampa is 3-4.  Strike three, you’re out?

I know Tampa has been on a roll, but it’s been mostly against inferior opponents.  I think they win at Atlanta against the Falcons’ backups, and I think they handle the Rams and Eagles to give them 9 wins.  The question remains:  can they beat Atlanta at home and New Orleans on the road?  I think they have to win BOTH of those games, finish 5-1 (11-5 overall) and hope for some breaks.

For the Bears to get to 11-5, all they have to do is beat a slumping Vikings team twice, a Seahawks team vastly inferior away from home, and a Cardinals team with no quarterback.  Yeah, the Bears looked like ass against the 49ers, but they still have a solid defense that’s going to keep them in most games.  I think the Bears easily go 4-2 the rest of the way and steal that 5th seed from the Seahawks.

Where does that put us for the NFC playoffs?  #6 Seattle at #3 San Francisco, a.k.a. my worst fucking nightmare.  Meanwhile, the Bears get the fucking beach resort vacation that is Dallas.  I like my Seahawks, but if they’re forced to play the 49ers on the road, they’re GOING to lose.  As for Dallas, forget it, they’ll just be happy to make the playoffs.

That puts San Francisco in a re-match with Green Bay, only this time in Lambeau.  The 49ers will systematically dismantle the Packers.  And the Falcons will make quick work of the Bears for their first playoff victory in quite some time.

That pits San Fran against Atlanta, and I’m sorry, but the Falcons just aren’t in their league.

San Francisco vs. Baltimore in the Super Bowl.  You heard it here first.  Probably.  Or not.  It’s sure to be a good game, but the hype machine going into that week will make us all want to puke.  I see nothing but good things from the 49ers as they win the Super Bowl in overtime, 26-23.

On to the rankings:

  1. San Francisco 49ers (7-2-1):  Defense.  Wins.  Championships.  ‘Nuff said.  It speaks volumes about this team that you can stick in their backup QB and not miss a beat.  I’m saying it now:  San Francisco WILL be in the Super Bowl.  (Last Week:  4)
  2. Atlanta Falcons (9-1):  It’s a very good sign of the quality of your football team that you can play like such utter ass and still win.  No team should win the game after turning the ball over 6 times, I don’t care who you’re playing.  The fact that they DID win leads me to believe they’re firmly entrenched in the NFC Championship game come January.  (Last Week:  2)
  3. Houston Texans (9-1):  Had they beaten Jacksonville by 6 points, but it was something like a 12-6 final score, Houston would still be ranked first in my poll.  The fact that they gave up 458 fucking yards and 37 fucking points, on the other fucking hand, means they drop to third.  Why?  Because they single-handedly cost me a fantasy football game by getting negative points instead of the fucking 40 they were SUPPOSED to get.  It’s been that kind of a season; I won’t bore you with details, but rest assured this is purely a choice based on emotion.  Fuck Houston.  Fuck the Texans.  Fuck the entire fucking state of Texas.  (Last Week:  1)
  4. Green Bay Packers (7-3):  Well look who’s won five in a row!  Three of them on the road!  Nevertheless, this team still has problems.  If the Bears lose Cutler for a significant amount of time beyond this one week, I think the Pack run away with the North.  If Cutler’s back to stay, however, I’d be wary of giving this winning run too much credence.  (Last Week:  5)
  5. Baltimore Ravens (8-2):  What can you say?  They keep winning ugly, but the key portion of that is:  they keep winning.  In the AFC, with just about every team having some weakness or another, you have to like Baltimore’s chances as much as anyone.  An All-Harbaugh Super Bowl?  I’m already getting ready to boycott all of ESPN and sports radio for those two weeks.  (Last Week:  6)
  6. Denver Broncos (7-3):  I know as a Seahawks fan, I’ve been conditioned to loathe Denver and their Broncos; after all, John Elway and his new lifted face have pretty much zero redeeming qualities.  That having been said, with Manning behind the wheel, it’s easy to like this team.  Week 16:  @ Baltimore.  That’ll be a must-see showdown.  If it’s not on regular TV, I might have to park my ass at a bar and soak it all in.  (Last Week:  9)
  7. Chicago Bears (7-3):  This drubbing against the 49ers doesn’t bode well.  Even at full strength, I don’t think the Bears make much of a dent last night.  Cutler’s pretty good and all, but he’s no match against a swarming, aggressive defense.  Look for the Bears to fold and fold often in the playoffs … if they make it that far.  (Last Week:  3)
  8. New England Patriots (7-3):  Yeah, their offense is good, but I wouldn’t trust them as far as I can throw them on defense.  They really lucked out with this cakewalk of a division though.  The AFC East is the new NFC West.  (Last Week:  7)
  9. New York Giants (6-4):  They’ve got a rough go the rest of the way.  And now Dallas is heating up.  Has the world officially jumped off the bandwagon?  Is it safe to start picking the Giants again?  (Last Week:  10)
  10. Seattle Seahawks (6-4):  So, there’s absolutely no reason for the Seahawks to lose to Miami this week.  I’m not saying we should roll all over them, but we definitely shouldn’t lose.  Load the box, send blitz after blitz, and see if Tannehill can beat you.  When he doesn’t, you can send my defensive coordinator check directly to my home.  (Last Week:  11)
  11. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-4):  Boy howdy do I like this team!  Which sucks because I don’t think I’ve seen one minute of their gameplay this season.  Still, of all the Wild Card teams, I think it’s the Bucs I fear most.  We don’t get to play them, so it may come down to Conference Record.  Right now they’re 3-4 and we’re 4-4.  Our conference games include Chicago & San Fran; theirs includes Atlanta twice and New Orleans.  Could be close, is all I’m saying.  (Last Week:  13)
  12. Indianapolis Colts (6-4):  My gut tells me that in spite of their record, this isn’t a playoff team.  I keep thinking there’s going to be some huge surging mediocre team that will come along and usurp them.  Of course, my gut has been known to be faulty before.  (Last Week:  12)
  13. Cincinnati Bengals (5-5):  Like the Bengals, for instance.  They’ve got three games they should win easily (Oak, SD, Philly), which leaves them needing probably just one more to get to 9 wins and a 6th seed.  Can they take out Baltimore in Week 17 when the Ravens will be resting all their starters?  Signs point to yes.  (Last Week:  16)
  14. New Orleans (5-5):  Very impressive run to get to 5-5 after that God-awful start.  It ends starting next week, though, when they play San Fran, go to Atlanta for a rematch of the Falcons’ only loss, then it’s @ the Giants, vs. Tampa, and @ Dallas.  They could very well lose their next five before a meaningless week 17 win over the Panthers ends their season.  Calling it right now.  (Last Week:  17)
  15. Pittsburgh Steelers (6-4):  Ben Roethlisberger will be back, but will he be back in time?  Bad loss to the Ravens is magnified given their quarterback situation, but it shouldn’t be as dire as you’d think.  They still play Cleveland twice as well as San Diego and Cincy.  They won’t win their division, but 9-10 wins should still be on the table.  If they win the games they’re supposed to win – even if it’s as ugly as Big Ben’s big stupid ugly face – they’ll get their starting QB back for a playoff run.  In this AFC, I wouldn’t count them out.  (Last Week:  8)
  16. Minnesota Vikings (6-4):  Green Bay twice, Chicago twice, @ Houston and @ St. Louis.  Does this once-promising team finish 6-10?  I wouldn’t doubt it.  Vikings, meet fork.  This fork right here.  That I’m sticking in you.  (Last Week:  14)
  17. Dallas Cowboys (5-5):  The winner of this NFC East is PROBABLY going to have 9 wins.  In that sense, I guess Dallas has as good a chance as any.  That having been said, they won’t be making any noise come playoff time.  Consider them the Dallas Librarians.  (Last Week:  15)
  18. Detroit Lions (4-6):  Man, Detroit, you can’t be frittering these games away like you did against Green Bay!  That would’ve been a good one to steal, no doubt about it.  (Last Week:  19)
  19. Washington Redskins (4-6):  Three more wins gets them to 7-9, which I think they can do.  If they blow my mind and go 8-8, I would take that as a HUGE victory on the season, and I’d be scared shitless of them next year.  (Last Week:  20)
  20. San Diego Chargers (4-6):  I thought they played pretty gutsy against Denver, but that offensive line is atrocious and Philip Rivers has had about a 2-season case of the yips.  They need a new GM and head coach like nobody’s business.  Clean house, give Rivers someone else to play for, and hope that gives him new life.  He could be an elite quarterback again if he has the right pieces around him.  And a running game wouldn’t kill them either.  (Last Week:  21)
  21. St. Louis Rams (3-6-1):  Four of their final six on the road.  If they somehow go 3-3, I think they’d take it.  Give them some good talking points going into next year.  (Last Week:  22)
  22. Tennessee Titans (4-6):  They should be licking their chops with their remaining schedule.  Two against Jacksonville, one @ Indy and at home against the Jets.  For a team as messed up as they are, 8-8 isn’t out of the question.  Probably a bad thing, for them, considering they could use the high draft picks to bolster their defense.  Then again, this is Tennessee, so that’s like throwing your draft picks in the garbage.  (Last Week:  23)
  23. Arizona Cardinals (4-6):  Good God, Whis!  Atlanta gift wrapped that game for you, then offered to suck your dick for good measure!  What were you thinking putting Ryan Lindley in there???  I’m sorry, but Kurt Warner won’t be running out of that tunnel for you anytime soon; you’re just going to have to pick an inferior quarterback and STICK with him!  (Last Week:  24)
  24. Buffalo Bills (4-6):   Yeah, you beat the Dolphins, BFD.  (Last Week:  27)
  25. New York Jets (4-6):  Yeah, you beat the Rams, BFD.  (Last Week:  29)
  26. Miami Dolphins (4-6):  Ryan Tannehill, meet Richard Sherman.  Richard Sherman, Ryan Tannehill.  (Last Week:  18)
  27. Oakland Raiders (3-7):  Shitty, shitty, SHITTY defense.  Holy crow.  (Last Week:  25)
  28. Cleveland Browns (28):  I don’t know what to say; they’re the Browns!  (Last Week:  28)
  29. Carolina Panthers (2-8):  Carolina at Philly this week.  The winning head coach has an outside chance of keeping his job.  The losing head coach is SO FIRED.  (Last Week:  30)
  30. Philadelphia Eagles (3-7):  My bet is on Andy Reid getting the ax.  This is a Monday Night game.  NFL owners don’t like getting embarrassed on Monday night.  Reid might not make it past Tuesday.  (Last Week:  26)
  31. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-9):  Helluva deal, them sticking it to the Texans and almost winning.  Helluva deal.  (Last Week:  31)
  32. Kansas City Chiefs (1-9):  Kansas City never plays Jacksonville, so we might not ever know who is truly worse.  Then again, it might not be either, as long as Philly is still a thing.  (Last Week:  32)

Seattle Sports Hell NFL Power Rankings, Vol. 7

I guess I understand why this is a story:  the Seahawks are having injury issues at wide receiver, Kansas City is terrible, Dwayne Bowe is reasonably good, the trade deadline is this week … it’s not unfathomable that the Chiefs would trade him to us for the right price.  Plus, you know, this is a story because media types need to write stories during the week.  They need to talk about shit on the radio.  Bloggers have to endlessly write and produce content in order to survive (to not produce content is to die starving in a ditch, ravaged by spinal meningitis).

You’ll hear every side of the argument, because nowadays everyone has to present every fucking side of the argument; but I’m going to tell you right now:  trading for Dwayne Bowe is a bad fucking idea.

First and foremost, it just never works.  Trading for ANYONE in the middle of the season, but particularly wide receivers, just doesn’t work.  It takes weeks and weeks of reps in practice to understand the intricacies of a new offense.  By the time Dwayne Bowe would be worth a damn, it would damn near be time for the playoffs; only in the meantime he would constantly be out on the field underperforming because he hasn’t acclimated himself to the scheme, thereby causing us to miss out on the playoffs anyway!

What I want to see the Seahawks do is exactly what they’ve done:  promote Jermaine Kearse.  A guy who has been with the team since just after the draft.  A guy who should know the playbook inside and out.  A guy who has gotten some valuable experience on the practice squad.  A guy who’s over 6-feet tall with reasonably good hands (I know we liked to complain about him with the Huskies and his drops, but look at how much they miss him now).

Is it an ideal situation?  No, of course not.  But, it’s not like we’re replacing a hall of famer here.  I like Ben Obomanu as much as the next guy.  He’s an asset on special teams, he’s pretty much average everywhere else.  He might be the embodiment of “Replacement Level”.

What’s fuelling the speculation is this particular week.  Doug Baldwin is another week away (at least) from returning.  Braylon Edwards has some mystery malady that’s keeping him off the field.  We’re down to Sidney Rice, Golden Tate, Charly Martin … and the rest.  It’s scary!  It’s absolutely frightening out there.  But, look at it this way:  even if the Seahawks were able to bring in a Dwayne Bowe tonight, that would give him the rest of the evening to learn the playbook.  He’d have a practice tomorrow, a practice Thursday, and a walk-thru.  That’s not NEARLY enough time to be game-ready by Sunday.  I’m sorry, but you’re better off going with the practice squad guy and hoping that Edwards and/or Baldwin comes back the following week.

On to the rankings:

  1. Atlanta Falcons (7-0):  4-0 on the road.  That’s what you’re looking at.  A powerhouse the last few years at home has figured out how to be dominant on the road.  Yeah, the Eagles are a mess, but that win was still pretty impressive.  (Last Week:  1)
  2. Houston Texans (6-1):  Houston leapfrogs the Bears while not playing a game.  A – because of how impressive they looked against the Ravens the week before.  And B – see below.  (Last Week:  3)
  3. Chicago Bears (6-1):  Jesus, Chicago!  You almost got taken out by the Panthers!  On your home turf no less!  A great defense is pretty great, but you gotta be able to score or you’re going nowhere in the playoffs.  (Last Week:  2)
  4. New York Giants (6-2):  Huge win by the Giants in Big D.  Huge.  They’re now 2-2 in their division, AND they’ve got a 3-game lead over the rest of the pack.  I don’t there’s much left to do but hit the cruise control button and wait for the Bears to stumble so you can glide on home as the #2 seed in the NFC.  (Last Week:  4)
  5. San Francisco 49ers (6-2):  Granted, the 49ers have a little something to say about who gets the #2 seed, but as we’ve seen, they tend to stumble at inopportune times.  Plus, the Giants have the head-to-head tiebreaker.  It’s easy to see how both of those teams could end up 12-4 and the 49ers getting the shaft.  (Last Week:  5)
  6. Baltimore Ravens (5-2):  Perfect time for a BYE.  After that Texans loss, I’m sure Harbaugh has them in a lather.  Bad week to be a Browns fan (but, then again, when ISN’T it a bad week to be a Browns fan?).  (Last Week:  6)
  7. Green Bay Packers (5-3):  Yeah, it was another win, but it was another uninspired win.  Aside from that week they dominated the Texans, it’s hard to get the taste of that Colts game out of your mouth.  I would expect more of the same, a ho-hum win this week over the Cards.  (Last Week:  7)
  8. New England Patriots (5-3):  These London games are so fucking stupid.  Really?  This is how you promote your product to an international audience?  You should be ashamed, NFL.  You should also be ashamed that the Rams now only have 7 home games this season.  Not that I’m complaining.  (Last Week:  10)
  9. Miami Dolphins (4-3):  The Dolphins couldn’t be more highly regarded in my book thanks to that drubbing they posted on the Jets.  A 7-spot increase is about as good as it gets in my rankings.  It’s not unreasonable either.  I vastly underestimated the Dolphins, which has me utterly concerned for the Seahawks’ week 12 matchup.  A surefire win is now a huge question mark (who am I kidding, as it stands now that should be counted as a loss in any rational fan’s mind).  (Last Week:  16)
  10. Denver Broncos (4-3):  Nice win over the Saints.  I’m not going to fall all over myself lavishing praise upon Manning, but he does look like someone who’s getting stronger by the week (as I think a lot of us predicted).  The next two weeks will be interesting.  @ Cincy and @ Carolina.  That Cincy game especially.  Any conference win is a good conference win.  (Last Week:  12)
  11. Seattle Seahawks (4-4):  Is it a brief bump in the road for this supposedly top-notch defense?  I don’t think the next two weeks are going to tell us much of anything, because they’re home games against unimpressive offenses.  Truly GREAT defenses will stop anyone, including elite quarterbacks.  They don’t let Titus Young score two touchdowns on them; they don’t let Detroit score 28 points.  Anyone can coast against the scrubs of the league, but I want to see this defense work hard and shine all 16 games plus playoffs.  Until that happens, you won’t see a Super Bowl Championship in Seattle anytime soon.  (Last Week:  9)
  12. Pittsburgh Steelers (4-3):  Is it just me, or did those Steelers jerseys make the Seahawks’ old lime green jerseys look terrific?  I know I’m coming from a position of resentful Seahawks fans, but I can’t imagine even the most ardent of Steelers fans thought those were remotely okay.  (Last Week:  13)
  13. Minnesota Vikings (5-3):  They got bit by the Thursday bug and a fired-up Bucs team.  Now they go into Seattle, a place where they absolutely CANNOT win.  Quite a way to blow all the goodwill they built up with victories over San Francisco and Detroit.  Suddenly, seeing the Vikings make the playoffs isn’t such a sure thing.  (Last Week:  8)
  14. Dallas Cowboys (3-4):  They moved up in my rankings even though they lost to the Giants.  Hmm.  Well, they did show a lot of moxie in coming back from 23-points down.  On the flipside, there’s a reason why they were 23-points down in the first place.  It’s the same reason why they won’t make the playoffs this year.  I’ll give you a hint:  his name rhymes with Everyone, From The Ownership Group On Down To The Towel Boy.  (Last Week:  17)
  15. Washington Redskins (3-5):  Ah HA!  Last year’s Cam Newton (Cam Newton) faces this year’s Cam Newton (RGIII).  There can only be one … (Last Week:  18)
  16. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-4):  It’s never too late to get back into the playoff race (until it’s too late, that is), but they better go on quite the tear.  A good start would involve beating the Raiders and Chargers.  (Last Week:  24)
  17. Detroit Lions (3-4):  Yeah, they beat the Seahawks, but I just can’t see it for this team this year.  9-7 is my best-case scenario, and I just don’t see that giving you the playoffs for this NFC.  They still play Green Bay twice, in Minnesota, vs. Atlanta, vs. Chicago, and vs. Houston.  Even if they win the other three, can you honestly tell me they’re going to win four of those games I just listed?  (Last Week:  25)
  18. Indianapolis Colts (4-3):  Fuck, man, I don’t know!  They seem to beat the bad teams, except they get killed by Jacksonville and the Jets.  Their schedule gets a lot tougher in the second half (including a 3-week stretch where they play the Texans twice).  But, for now, I guess you tip your cap and avoid betting on their games like the fucking plague.  (Last Week:  21)
  19. Cincinnati Bengals (3-4):  In the next five weeks, they play the entire AFC West.  Given their conference record, and the fact that they have Pittsburgh and Baltimore ahead of them in the standings, they probably need to win all four of those games to stay alive.  Denver this week will be HUGE.  I anticipate Denver still winning their division, but the psychological edge it would give the Bengals is far greater.  After humbling defeats to Miami, Pittsburgh, and Cleveland in consecutive weeks, Cincy needs something to hang its hat on.  Lose to Denver and you might as well start shopping for a new head coach right now (just, whatever you do, stay the fuck away from Norv Turner!).  (Last Week:  22)
  20. St. Louis Rams (3-5):  It’s all falling apart for the Rams.  They must have hated playing Green Bay and New England after the Seahawks embarrassed them both.  I imagine, even if the NFC West is improved, teams outside our division still can’t STAND losing to us.  (Last Week:  14)
  21. Philadelphia Eagles (3-4):  Sorriest fucking dream team I’ve ever heard of … (Last Week:  15)
  22. Arizona Cardinals (4-4):  Talk about your pieces of crap.  From 4-0 to 4-4 with no end to the losing in sight.  @ Green Bay, BYE, @ Atlanta.  Say goodnight, Alice.  (Last Week:  11)
  23. San Diego Chargers (3-4):  Remember when the Seahawks went into Cleveland and lost 6-3 last year?  We had Charlie Whitehurst as our starter; what’s YOUR excuse?  My guess:  Whitehurst is just plain bad luck when he’s on your roster, and you’re playing in Cleveland.  (Last Week:  19)
  24. Oakland Raiders (3-4):  Two wins against two shitty opponents (Jax & KC), don’t get your panties in a bunch about Oakland contending for a playoff spot.  It’s NOT fucking happening.  (Last Week:  28)
  25. Tennessee Titans (3-5):  Tennessee, what HAPPENED?  It wouldn’t have made any sense to put any stock in that Thursday night win against the Steelers, but that showing against the Bills inspired some hope!  Then, you lay a 13-point egg against Indy?  For shame, Doc!  (Last Week:  20)
  26. New Orleans (2-5):  I’m counting two, maybe three more wins for this team, tops.  2012 can’t end fast enough for the Saints.  (Last Week:  23)
  27. Buffalo Bills (3-4):   Hahahahaha, the Bills go to Houston and then to New England in back-to-back weeks.  I wish I was still alive in my Suicide Pool so I could pick against them in successive weeks.  Whatever the spread, I don’t care, BET AGAINST THE BILLS the next two weeks!  (Last Week:  27)
  28. Cleveland Browns (26):  Yeah, you beat the Chargers, BFD.  (Last Week:  31)
  29. New York Jets (3-5):  The Jets get a BYE before they come to Seattle.  Will they officially make the switch to Tebow full time?  If not, why in Christ’s name not???  (Last Week:  26)
  30. Carolina Panthers (1-6):  Dead Head Coach Walkin’ … (Last Week:  29)
  31. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-6): So … they’re drafting another first round quarterback again next year, aren’t they?  WHY didn’t you just trade for Tebow, you stupid fucks???  I guarantee you’d at least have 2-3 more wins at this point!  (Last Week:  30)
  32. Kansas City Chiefs (1-6):  At least they’re not actively choosing to start Brady Quinn anymore.  Baby steps … (Last Week:  32)