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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My Angry Fucking Seahawks/49ers Review

There’s a lot to dig into with this game, so I’m gonna split it up into two posts.  Look for My Happy Fucking Seahawks/49ers Review a little later.  Spoiler Alert:  it should be a lot shorter than this one.

The Seahawks played like dogshit yesterday.  There’s no other way to describe it.  Even when the offense was going good, there’d be a drop, or a breakdown in protection, or a lack of pocket awareness by Russell Wilson, or a baffling string of play calls, and all that good would be derailed.  And yeah, the defense held Brian Hoyer to 99 yards passing, but they gave up a whopping 124 yards rushing to Carlos Hyde, on only 15 carries!  On the day, the 49ers rushed for an average of 8.4 yards per carry!  If you put even a SEMI-competent quarterback on that team, the Seahawks would’ve lost handily.

Let me repeat that:  the Seahawks – AT HOME – nearly lost to the 49ers, a team coming off of a 2-14 season, with a new coaching staff, a rookie GM straight out of the broadcast booth, and a backup quarterback masquerading as a starting quarterback until they can draft somebody better in 2018.  Now, granted, I like Kyle Shanahan a lot.  I think he completely transformed the Falcons into a dominant force last season, and I think he’s got a lot of great things in store as a head coach.  I also like what they were able to do with their draft this year, and could see John Lynch really working out if they can manage to find their quarterback of the future (either via the draft, or via signing Kirk Cousins to a megadeal).  But, come on!  At this point, the 49ers shouldn’t pose a threat!  They CERTAINLY shouldn’t find themselves ahead 9-6 in the fourth quarter in the driving rain of Seattle, Washington!

Look, there was never a point where I was looking forward to this game last week.  It’s almost one of those proverbial “no-win” situations.  If you kill the 49ers, then great, you’ve killed the 49ers and it’s a boring game.  If you LOSE to the 49ers, then that’s it, the season’s over and we can all kill ourselves.  But … this?  Scratching and clawing to a 12-9 victory at home?  That’s almost as bad as a loss.  Now, obviously, it’s not worse.  A win is still a win and they all count the same, regardless of how pretty they are, but with the win everyone gets to gloss over the fact that the Seahawks looked terrible and in no way look like a viable playoff team going forward.

You know what I thought of when I was watching this team?  The Houston Texans.  The Texans are notorious for their 9-10 win seasons where – by virtue of the terrible division they reside in – they frequently make the playoffs as a 4-seed, before getting bounced in the first round whenever they don’t play the Bengals.  Yeah, it’s cool having an awesome defense, and it’s cool to call yourselves “Division Winners”, but how cool is it to lose every time you play a quality team?

And that’s the bottom line here.  The last two years, against the Best of the Best, the Seahawks have a record of 4-7.  When you go back to our two Super Bowl years, sure the Seahawks would drop a clunker every now and then, but they also seemed to get up for the big ones!  If they’re going to spend all their time just beating up on the bad teams and losing the games that really matter, they might as well call themselves the Mariners and get it over with!

But, if they keep playing offense the way they have through two weeks, I don’t think “beating up on the bad teams” is even on the table.

I’m going to start with Jimmy Graham, because this guy is the fucking worst.  Oh yes, I’ve found my new whipping boy!

Look, we all knew Graham was soft.  He was a big puffy cloud of cotton candy in New Orleans, and he didn’t suddenly get hard because he joined the Seahawks.  We KNEW this!  We knew this when we played against him:  if you hit Jimmy Graham in the mouth, he will become a non-factor for the rest of the game.  I don’t mean that literally, of course, but if I had all the time in the world, I’d love to do a deep dive into his career and watch all of his video.  What are his numbers when he takes a huge hit in the first quarter of a game?  Because it seems just from watching him that he shrivels up like a dick in the Arctic Ocean.  Gutless.  Weak.  A punk.  And probably worst of all:  a frontrunner.  When things come easy to him, when defenses play off-coverage, when he’s able to nab a few balls and get into the flow of the offense, Jimmy Graham will pile on the catches and yards and really look like a dominant force.  But, when the chips are down and you need a big catch in the fourth quarter of a game, where is he?  Nowhere to be fucking found.

And I’m not buying this argument that the Seahawks don’t use him right.  Fuck that.  If you’re a tight end, you have to do ALL the things tight ends do.  If you want to be a wide receiver, then tell your team that ahead of time.  But, I’ll tell you what, I don’t know a lot of teams that want a slow wide receiver on the outside with bad hands.  Sure, it’s fine when you throw fades to him in the red zone, when he can contort his body and only has to contend with one defender.  But, that’s not realistic.  He NEEDS to be able to make catches in the middle, in traffic, absorb the hits, and most importantly COME DOWN WITH THE FUCKING FOOTBALL!

The Seahawks use him just fine.  They throw to him probably MORE than he deserves.  And what has HE done to deserve the benefit of the doubt?  There’s got to be a give and take here.  Quite frankly, I no longer think it’s a coincidence that this team looked VASTLY improved in the second half of 2015 when he was OUT of the lineup.  You know what, throw all your bullshit stats at me; I’ll throw “Scoreboard” back at you.  How has this offense looked throughout 2016 and through the first two games this year?  How did this offense look in those few games in 2014 when they tried to revolve the offense around Percy Harvin.  Prima donnas don’t fucking WORK in this offense!  At this point, I’d take 8 Jermaine Kearses over an offense that tries to make Jimmy Fucking Graham its centerpiece.

So, what do you do?  I mean, you can’t cut him, but I think you can demote the shit out of him.  I think you can make Luke Willson the starter.  I think you can keep Graham on the bench outside of clear-cut passing situations.  I don’t need him fumbling blocks and being a waste of space on all running plays.  On any straight hand off to the running back, it’s already 10 vs. 11 because the quarterback is a non-factor; but, with Graham on the field, it’s like 9 vs. 11, and that’s why this team time and time again fails to move the ball on the ground.  I agree, you CAN’T call Jimmy Graham your starting tight end, but only play him in passing situations; so stop starting him.

And, when he’s out there in passing downs, keep throwing him into heavy coverage.  Either he’ll adapt to the harder hits and start catching these fucking passes, or he’ll get himself injured, and you can just cut him and move on.  Yes, I’m ACTIVELY rooting for Jimmy Graham to get injured; better him than someone who can actually help this team win fucking football games!

I would suggest trading him, but that doesn’t seem very realistic either.  Part of me thinks putting him in the AFC would be ideal (my fantasy team would appreciate it if he joined the Patriots, who very much should be trying to trade for him at this point, what with their receiver situation and Gronk’s injury history), but from a strict football standpoint, I think it’d be better for the Seahawks to send him to an NFC rival.  Stick him on the Packers, let them start to depend upon him, and then beat the shit out of him in the playoffs and leave them scrambling to find answers for when he inevitably no-shows.  It’s how we kept beating the Saints; I don’t see why it wouldn’t work again!

And, again, as with Percy Harvin costing us a chance to extend Golden Tate, I wonder if having Jimmy Graham around cost us a chance to keep Jermaine Kearse around for one more year.  I won’t overreact to his 2-TD day with the Jets yesterday, but I will say that I’d straight up trade Graham for Kearse right now.  Regardless, having Kearse around would’ve been nice considering Tanner McEvoy dropped everything thrown in his direction, including a surefire touchdown that would’ve changed the complexion of the entire game.  Between him, Prosise, and the rest, guys were dropping balls left and right!  Prosise particularly, as Russell led him with a pass that would’ve taken him straight into the endzone on our opening drive.  He also dropped a potential third down conversion later in the game that was a crusher.

It really made Russell Wilson’s day look so much worse.  I’m not going to sit here and say he played great – he definitely had his share of poor throws and poor decisions – but it could’ve been a decent, forgettable performance had he not been greeted by so many drops.  Also, let’s not kid ourselves, he’s still running for his fucking life back there, even when the protection is kinda okay.

But, for the most part, it wasn’t okay.  It’s never GOING to be okay.  Mark Glowinski is a disaster, and he needs to not be starting for this team anymore.  I know Oday Aboushi is just a veteran on a 1-year deal, but I refuse to believe he’s worse.  I think the Seahawks see a guy they drafted, a guy under club control for a bit longer, and they want to shoot for continuity over simply just playing the five best linemen, and I get that to a point.  I think we’re in a no-win situation with Luke Joeckel, because if he turns it around and somehow plays well, he’s going to command a mint on the open market.  If he’s terrible, then he’s likely going to find himself back on the street next offseason, playing for another 1-year prove-it deal (only this time as a clear backup).  Either way, it doesn’t seem likely that he’s a longterm solution for the Seattle Seahawks at left guard.  So, to play two of these types of guys – with Aboushi at right guard – and risk losing both to free agency next year if they both play well, is a lot to handle.

But, I mean, how much more of THIS can we withstand?  Sure, there are a couple of underwhelming defensive fronts the next two weeks with the Titans and Colts, but then it’s right back to getting your ass kicked against the likes of the Rams, Giants, Texans, Cardinals, Falcons, 49ers, Eagles, Jags, Rams again, and the Cardinals again.  That’s 10 of your remaining 14 games against really good defensive fronts that should certainly give this Seattle O-Line fits.  RARE is the game we can look forward to this team being in control of the line of scrimmage.  And, I’m sure, even against those terrible fronts, we’ll still struggle, because of course we will.  No name assholes will make mincemeat out of us, and Russell Wilson will have the bumps and bruises to prove it.

And holy shit, what was THAT on defense?  That’s two years in a row where Carlos Hyde has come into our building and come away with a 100-yard game!  We’re supposed to be this elite defense at stopping the run, and we can’t stop a just-sort-of-okay running back?  He almost single-handedly cost us the game with his explosive plays!  They couldn’t do SHIT aside from his long-distance runs!

But, you know, pobody’s nerfect.  The defense has been outstanding these first two weeks, only to be repeatedly let down by this offense.  Really, since 2012, we’ve been sitting around and daydreaming about a time where the offense finally takes over.  We thought, maybe in 2014, the script would flip.  Then, after that dominant run to close out the 2015 season, we thought YES!  2016 is the year!  And here we are, now in 2017, and this offense is more inept than it’s ever been.  The defense is STILL carrying this team.  And somehow, we’re not greeted with weekly rantings by disgruntled stars on that side of the ball.

You know how I know that pre-season Seth Wickersham article is 100% accurate?  Particularly the parts that talk about the defense being upset with this offense costing the Seahawks ballgames?  Because I’m sitting here watching this team fall all over itself in the running game, and in the red zone, and everywhere else, and I know for a fact I’d be going ballistic if I was a member of this elite defense and I knew every single game was on our shoulders.  We all wanted to dismiss Wickersham – myself included – but this is a real problem, and if we blow another shot at a championship with all these stars in the prime of their careers, I think we’re going to see all the bad vibes start to snowball.

Having Seen The Seahawks Play, Should We Revise Our Expectations?

In my preview & prediction post ahead of the Seahawks’ week 1 game in Green Bay, I had us going 13-3.  One of those wins I had pegged for us was that very game against the Packers, which obviously didn’t go according to plan.  So, is 13-3 totally off the table?  Are a lot of other things off the table as well?  Let’s dive in real quick.

If the Seahawks lose this week against the 49ers, we’ve got bigger problems than just losing out on the #1 seed in the NFC.  I can’t imagine a world where that happens, so let’s take for granted that the Seahawks will be 1-1 after this weekend.

I’m still concerned about the Titans, but decidedly less so than I was before week 1.  The Raiders were able to move the ball at will against them, both through the air and on the ground.  I don’t see a ton of difficult pass-rushers or interior D-linemen on their roster.  I think if the Seahawks can keep their rushing attack in check, we can force Mariota into enough errors on third down to prevail.  I had the Seahawks 2-1 after three games in my preview, and I think that’s still on the table.

I think the Colts look much worse than advertised, and that Sunday Night game has no business being anything other than a laugher.

Then, there’s that road game against the Rams.  Aaron Donald is predictably back in the fold, and I can’t see any way he doesn’t lay waste to our pathetic offensive line.  The only question being – 5 weeks into the regular season – will our O-Line have improved enough over the first month to at least keep Wilson upright?  Our only hope is that they will have gelled JUST enough to keep the pigs at bay.

After the BYE, it’s a road game against the Giants.  I can no longer, with good conscience, consider this game a win for the Seahawks.  Not with the way their D-Line balls out.  I can’t guarantee a loss either, because with Eli Manning, there’s always a chance.  So, I’ll say this:  the Seahawks will lose one of the two games between the Rams and Giants, and I wouldn’t be surprised in the slightest if it’s the Rams game we doof once again.

I still like our chances at home against both the Texans and Redskins.  I can’t see a rookie QB coming into CenturyLink Field and withstanding our pressure.  It might be a lot uglier than we’d like, but even a 6-3 victory is still a victory.  As for the Redskins, their defense is hot garbage, and all the Kirk Cousins in the world won’t be able to save them.

So, after 8 games, I have the Seahawks at 6-2, with an outside chance at 5-3 if they lose to both the Giants and Rams.

Kicking off the second half is that Thursday Night game against the Cards.  Carson Palmer still looks bad.  D.J. will miss this game with injury.  The rest of their offensive weapons are pretty suspect outside of the Hall of Famer Larry Fitzgerald.  They also don’t have Calais Campbell in the middle.  I want to call this game a coin flip, but I have to believe we’ll still prevail.

Monday Night against Atlanta becomes a real concern.  I’ll say this:  I’m glad the Seahawks are home for this one.  I could see this one being a huge score-fest, but their D-Line doesn’t totally petrify me.  Close Seahawks victory.

Again, I can’t imagine a world where we lose to the 49ers this year.

Suddenly the Philly game becomes a serious concern.  Their defense is legit.  Unless injuries start to take hold on that side of the ball, it wouldn’t shock me in the slightest to see the Seahawks muff this one.

I would also express some concern about the Jags game.  They’ve poured tons of resources into their defense (what are YOU doing here, Calais Campbell?!).  And, while I know they’ve got massive issues at the quarterback position, I could see them remain dedicated to the run, slow the game to a crawl, and if they make a couple plays here and there on defense, it could be one of those 14-6 games like we saw in Tampa last season.  I’m calling it right now:  the Seahawks WILL lose to either the Eagles or Jags, but definitely not both.

At home against the Rams, I’m marginally confident.  Let’s move on.

On the road against Dallas, again, I think we have to question some things.  While the Cowboys don’t terrify you on defense, I think they’re just good enough on offense to keep moving the chains.  By then, they should have their Ezekiel Elliott situation settled one way or the other (either he’ll play out the entirety of 2017, or he will have already had his suspension completed), and I’m a big Dak believer.  I’m notching this one in the L column just to be safe.

Finally, home against the Cards, with them having nothing to play for, is a recipe for success if I’ve ever heard one.

That puts us at 12-4, or maybe 11-5.  That most certainly keeps us out of the #1 seed and might even dump us into Wild Card weekend.  Losing games to Packers, Giants, and Cowboys could be just the tie-breakers to torpedo this season once again.

It’s not enough to just win the games you’re SUPPOSED to win.  You need to steal some wins against legit contenders!  4-0 against the AFC is about as useless as it gets when you lose 4-5 games against the NFC.  So, I hope I’m wrong, and the Seahawks still figure out a way to get to 13 wins.  Otherwise, it’ll all be as pointless as it was in 2016.

My Big Fat Seahawks Preview 2017

It’s insane at work right now, so I’m looking for little pockets of time to write this out and get it done on time before the weekend.  If it feels disjointed, just blame the scapegoat du jour.

I’ve already written a couple of preview-ish things on the 2017 Seahawks.  Back in April, when the schedule came out, I took a preliminary stab at predicting the outcomes.  Now that we’re just days away from the start of the season, I’ll update that with the power of new information!  Then, back in July, I took a look at the roster as we were barrelling toward Training Camp.  I don’t know how much my opinion has changed – from either of those two earlier posts – so if I harp on the same points, forgive me, but I just don’t have the time to re-read all of my blatherings.

I will say this:  whereas before I was cautiously optimistic – believing if everything broke right, it wasn’t hard to imagine this team back in the Super Bowl – now I’m a rock-hard, veiny, throbbing erection of populist Seahawks swaggeration!  I haven’t felt this confident about my team since the start of 2013!  Except, to be honest, I’ll have to walk that back a bit and say I haven’t felt this confident about my team since the start of 2014.  I mean, look, that 2013 team was CRAZY deep and CRAZY talented, up and down the roster.  On top of that, the 2013 team actually had a competent offensive line, whereas this year’s team is still very much in doubt (in spite of recent improved pre-season play, which I’ll get to in a bit).  Frankly, I was still pretty stoked on the Seahawks heading into 2014, and indeed pegged them for a repeat championship, which they had in their grasp one yard from fruition, but it wasn’t as solid a feeling as 2013.

This year is the same, in my mind.  The talent is there, no question.  In fact, in some areas, the talent is vastly improved (at least on paper).  And, the depth is in some ways back to where it was in 2013.  But, the last few years of creeping failure is clouding my enthusiasm JUST enough to have this nagging creature of doubt in the corner of my mind-grapes.  I’m doing my damnedest to give that guy the finger though, because I want to be ALL IN on the ground floor with this Seahawks team.

TL;DR:  WE’RE BACK, BABY!!!

Let’s just take this position by position, to show you how strong this team is, and to show the world how foolish it is to doubt us.

Quarterback – Top 5 in the entire league, fully healthy, in great running shape (the better to compensate for a questionable-to-say-the-least offensive line).

Running Backs – A deep stable of runners of all stars and stripes!  Lacy, the power back.  Prosise, the speed/pass-catching back.  Rawls, the good mix of both.  McKissic, the Prosise insurance.  Carson, the overall back & everyone else insurance.  If you can’t have Marshawn Lynch in his prime, then the next best thing is to stockpile 5 guys who add up to 1 Beastmode.

Wide Receivers – A Top 10 guy in Baldwin.  A burner in Lockett.  Another burner with outstanding ball skills in P-Rich.  A tall red zone threat in McEvoy.  And a rookie project in Darboh.  Not as deep without Kearse in the fold, but if you throw in McKissic and Prosise, you’ve got a lot of versatility in the passing game.

Tight Ends – A Top 3 guy in Graham.  Another tall receiving threat in Willson.  And a young blocking tight end with a good pedigree in Vannett.

Defensive Line – Off-the-charts talent all over the place.  Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril are proven studs.  Sheldon Richardson is the pass-rushing interior force we’ve been looking for since Cortez Kennedy retired.  Frank Clark is an up-and-coming dominant force who should look to take a giant step into the spotlight this season.  Jones and Reed are young interior talents with a lot to prove.  Smith and Bass are young ends with a lot to prove.  This could go down as the best D-Line we’ve ever had in Seattle, and yes even better than that 2013 unit that laid waste to the entire league.

Linebackers – More off-the-charts talent in guys like Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright; guys who can cover all over the place, who are dominant against the run, and who can rush the passer on occasion.  Depth here is vastly improved over the last couple seasons, with proven vets in Wilhoite & Garvin.  Injuries should not be as much of an issue as they would’ve been in years past.

Secondary – The L.O.B. is still here and still as good as ever.  Earl, Kam, and Sherm comprise the best threesome of any secondary in the NFL.  Jeremy Lane is a solid all-around corner, with emphasis on nickel.  Shaq Griffin is the only question mark, but he’s got a good pedigree and should get plenty of safety help in the early going.

Special Teams – Blair Walsh looks like he’s starting to get back on track, but will have to prove it when the games matter.  Either way, he shouldn’t be as bad as Hauschka was last year, particularly on extra points.  Jon Ryan is still going to keep opposing offenses pinned back inside their 20 more often than not, and overall control the return game with his quality punts.  The return game is bolstered with McKissic as insurance for Lockett, should the team opt to bring him back slowly, or otherwise take some of the duties off his plate.  And, coverage units look a lot better with Neiko Thorpe, D.J. Alexander, and our rookie secondary guys.

The only real area of uncertainty is, obviously, the offensive line.  Everywhere else, the Seahawks have elite, top-shelf talent and depth.  So, let’s dig into this.

An argument can easily be made that past seasons’ O-Line groups were made to look better than they actually were because Marshawn Lynch was so money, and I’m hard pressed to go against that line of thinking.  Can any of the runners we have now live up to that and make this group of guys look better than they are?  I think, maybe, in small doses, Lacy can be that type of runner who limits negative rushes and falls forward for impressive gains.  I also think, in between injuries, Rawls can certainly be a Baby Beastmode with his style, but the question with him is how long will those healthy stints last?  Prosise has the speed to get around the edge and through holes before they close, but he’ll have to prove he can stay healthy too.

Indeed, even in the pass-protection portion of the O-Line game, the major concern is health:  can they keep Russell Wilson from getting injured?  Obviously, Wilson can help out his own cause by getting the ball out quickly and eluding pressure before it’s right on top of him; but they’re going to have to drastically reduce the amount of free runners at the quarterback if this thing is going to work.

In a lot of ways, injuries are a matter of luck, and the Seahawks were pretty fucking unlucky last year.  Not 2017 Mariners unlucky, but not too far off either.  What are the odds that Wilson will spend the entire season hobbled again?  In a vacuum, I’d have to say not very good; but with this line I think you have to consider it a coin flip at best.  Luck is one thing, but there are things a team can do to limit the amount of bad luck that comes your way.  Getting improved O-Line play is one of them.

For what it’s worth, I do think this line will be better than last year’s, and I think it’ll be better right from the start.  This is key, as there are a lot of important games early in the season, and we can’t afford to slog through 10 weeks of growing pains before we go on our annual year-end hot streak.

I think Odhiambo, with a year under his belt, will be better than Brad Sowell and 2016 George Fant.  Since Fant, last year, was about as bad as you can get, I’d say that’s a huge upgrade (and Odhiambo doesn’t even have to be GOOD to achieve this level of improvement!).  Now, obviously losing 2017 Fant to injury is about as devastating as it can get, because he really did look like he was going to take a huge step forward in his development, but I’ll take baby steps at this point over what we had last year.

Luke Joeckel looks like a solid upgrade over Glowinski at left guard.  Paired with Britt at center, I think that side of the line will be just fine.

Glowinski slides over to right guard, which appears to be his better side.  He’s been playing somewhat evenly with free agent Oday Aboushi, so it’s good to know at least the right guard spot should be adequate (and probably a step above 2016 Ifedi).

My biggest concern is 2017 Ifedi, having moved back to right tackle (where he played in college and was projected to play in the NFL).  I’ve seen this movie before, but usually it’s a right tackle who gets moved to one of the guard spots, and not the other way around.  The consensus being:  tackle is a harder position to play than guard (which is a harder position to play than center … hi Justin Britt!).  So, the rationale ends up as:  if Ifedi was pretty terrible at right guard last year, what hope is there for him as a right tackle?  Indeed, I don’t have a good answer for you there.  Again, I suppose I’ll bring up the experience angle.  The leap from rookie to second year player, particularly along the O-Line, is pretty pronounced.  You gotta figure he’s at the very least more comfortable in his assignments.  And, at his size, you’ve gotta give him the power advantage over what should be smaller defensive end/linebacker types going up against him (whereas when he was a guard, he was going up against mammoth D-tackles).  His limitations are obviously in the speed game, where his footwork comes into play.  I have very few concerns about Ifedi the run blocker, but I have a SHITLOAD of concerns about him in pass protection, as I think some of the better pass rushers can rope-a-dope the shit out of him.  We’ll see I guess.

Overall, as I said, I have hopes that instead of being the 32nd-rated offensive line, the Seahawks can jump up to the 25th-best.  Even that modest increase could prove to take this offense to as-yet-unseen heights of efficiency and scoring prowess.

Things to watch this season on offense will be:

  • 3rd down efficiency
  • Red zone efficiency
  • Yards per rush

In 2016, it seemed like the Seahawks were more prone to mistakes (penalties, missed blocking assignments) on third down, which is just a ball-buster.  No one is expecting the Seahawks to cut out the penalties entirely (indeed, some of their very best teams were among the most penalized in the league), but they’ve got to do a better job of not holding on long rushing plays, not getting called for offensive PI on pick plays, and not setting themselves back with third & long nonsense.

For the red zone, it’s simple:  find a way to get Jimmy Graham the ball.  Full stop.  He was the man in New Orleans and he had 9 or more TDs in all but one season there.  That needs to happen again, here, this season (and I’m not just saying that because he’s on one of my fantasy teams, but I’m also not NOT just saying that either, I think).

And, look for the Seahawks to get back to their rushing roots.  Beastmode may be gone, but the running backs we have now are more than capable of picking up that slack.  I’d also like to see a moderate return to the zone read, with Wilson pulling the ball back on occasion to keep defenses honest.  Also, not for nothing, but I’d like to see Wilson do this EARLY in games, to put that in other teams’ minds from the get-go.

On defense, watch for:

  • Turnovers
  • Late-game heroics
  • Quarterback pressure, hurries, hits, sacks

To get back to where we were in 2013, we’re going to have to force turnovers.  That goes hand-in-hand with pressuring the quarterback into bad decisions, as well as knocking the ball from his hand for fumbles.  That also goes hand-in-hand with the late game heroics, as we need to prevent those breakdowns we’ve seen in 2015 & 2016, and instead force turnovers to slam the door on those close games.  It’s a team game, and nowhere is that more apparent than the symbiotic relationship that is an NFL defense.

As for this year’s record, I’ll go through the schedule again, briefly.

  • Week 1 – I like the Seahawks to go into Green Bay and shock the world.  It’ll be our official announcement to the rest of the league that the Seahawks are here, they’re for real, and they’re going to stomp all over the lot of you!
  • Week 2 – A comfortable home victory against the young, rebuilding 49ers team.  Maybe not as dominant as we’d like, as they do have some young and talented pieces (particularly on defense), but a win is a win.
  • Week 3 – The Seahawks under Pete Carroll always seem to lose one road game to an AFC opponent that we’re all pretty unfamiliar with (except for last year, randomly, although we almost blew one at home against the Dolphins in week 1).  I think the Titans are really good and I could see the combination of their dominant rushing attack, and efficient passing game (particularly in the red zone) to just nip us for our first loss of the season
  • Week 4 – I like the Seahawks to get back on track at home, in primetime, against a weak Indy team.  With or without Luck, I like the Seahawks to roll.
  • Week 5 – No more losing to the Rams!  Jeff Fisher is dead, and with him so is the Rams’ proclivity of beating us for no good God damned reason.
  • Week 6 – BYE
  • Week 7 – I’m not particularly afraid of the Giants’ running game.  While they’ve got some good receivers, I think we can hold them in check and put enough pressure on Eli into forcing some mistakes.  Their defense is legit, but I like the Seahawks to do just enough in this one and win a close game by 3 in overtime.
  • Week 8 – The Texans come to town and will be sent packing.  I could see this one as a battle of defenses, with the Seahawks pulling away late.  Something in the realm of 16-3 or 16-6.
  • Week 9 – The Redskins come to town and they feel like just the sort of team who should be held in check by us.  Force Kirk Cousins into the worst game of his season, eliminate all threat of a rushing attack, and really take it to their porous defense.
  • Week 10 – Thursday Night in Arizona.  By this time, I wonder if Carson Palmer will even be playing.  Either way, he showed his age in 2016, and I can’t imagine he’ll be in for a fountain of youth situation this year.  No Calais Campbell, no monster in the middle to defend.  I think this is another game where the 12’s will make themselves heard on the road, and the Seahawks take the game comfortably in the fourth quarter.
  • Week 11 – Monday Night in Seattle against the Falcons.  I know the Seahawks took them out in the regular season last year, and I know we’ll be coming off of a Thursday game (and thus have all this extra time to prepare), but I can’t help but be concerned about this one.  I think it’ll be exciting and I think it’ll be close, but I could also see the Falcons just having our number and being able to score in bunches.  Rare home Monday Night loss for the Seahawks here.
  • Week 12 – At San Francisco, again, I think they should be relative push-overs.
  • Week 13 – Home night game against Philly.  I don’t see enough out of their offense to hold a candle to our defense.  Another comfortable, boring win at home at night.
  • Week 14 – I could see the Seahawks getting off to a sloppy start on the road, in a 10am start, in Jacksonville.  But, by the second quarter, the tide should turn and the Seahawks should take this one running away.
  • Week 15 – I SAID NO MORE LOSING TO THE RAMS!!!
  • Week 16 – Here we go!  Christmas Eve in Dallas!  In what could very well be a matchup that decides the NFC’s #1 seed!  I can’t imagine the odds of the Seahawks sweeping the NFC East are very good, but I dunno.  I just got a feeling that the Seahawks are going to sweep this road slate of impossible NFC teams (Packers, Giants, Cowboys).  This one could be another barnburner, with a late turnover keying the Seahawks to victory.
  • Week 17 – At 13-2 headed into the final week, I think the Seahawks rest a lot of guys after a quarter or two and drop the season finale, with the #1 seed all wrapped up.

13-3 is my official prediction.  The Seahawks cruise through the playoffs into the Super Bowl where they await the darlings of the NFL:  the Oakland Raiders.  Everything about that game gets my loins all a-tizzy.  Also, the idea of sticking it to the Raiders brings me tremendous joy.

The Seattle Seahawks, Super Bowl LII Champions!

Okay, that’s all for now.  Let’s get this season in gear!

Predicting The 2017 NFL Season

It’s that time again!  Check out some predictions from past seasons:

Since I don’t do a good-enough job of noting this ahead of time, let’s take a brief look back at my 2016 predictions and see where I went wrong.

In the NFC, I had the NFC seeded in the following order (top 4 teams are division winners):

  1. Seattle
  2. Green Bay
  3. Washington
  4. Carolina
  5. Arizona
  6. New York

In reality, they were seeded as follows:

  1. Dallas
  2. Atlanta
  3. Seattle
  4. Green Bay
  5. New York
  6. Detroit

So, I had two division winners correct, and three playoff teams out of six.  Not bad.  My best call was nailing the Giants for a Wild Card berth; my worst call was predicting the Falcons would finish fourth in the NFC South (not far behind:  predicting the Cowboys would finish third in the East).

In the AFC, I was considerably better, nailing the division winners (although, not quite in the correct order) and 5/6 playoff teams:

  1. New England
  2. Kansas City
  3. Houston
  4. Pittsburgh
  5. Oakland
  6. Buffalo

I wanted so desperately for the Bills to make it back to the playoffs, I was blinded by how terrible they are as a franchise!  In reality, the playoffs looked like this:

  1. New England
  2. Kansas City
  3. Pittsburgh
  4. Houston
  5. Oakland
  6. Miami

Best call here was nailing the top two seeds in order, and the top 5 (just flip-flopping the Texans and Steelers).  Worst call:  Dolphins finishing fourth in the East (behind the Jets???  Come on, man!), followed by the Jags finishing second in the South (I was drinking the Bort Kool Aid, for sure).

I ended up with a Seattle over Kansas City Super Bowl, because I’m a homer.  I also had a Seattle over Indianapolis Super Bowl the year before, and a Seattle over Denver rematch in 2014.  I will give myself some credit for correctly predicting the Seattle over Denver Super Bowl in 2013, as well as (I shit you not) a Baltimore over San Francisco Super Bowl in 2012.

So, it’s time to get back on the horse!  Without further ado, here are my divisional predictions:

NFC East

New York
Dallas
Washington
Philadelphia

There’s got to be some regression with the Cowboys.  Not a lot, but I think just enough.  Of course, I’m saying that knowing full well I’ve staked my fantasy football future on the arm of Dak Prescott, but I’ve got some real issues with that defense, and I just don’t think their offense can be as perfect as they were last year (particularly the running game, since I’m rolling with Ezekiel Elliott in two different leagues.  I like Washington, but I don’t care for their defense, and I question whether their passing game can be as potent as it’s been.  Obviously, I expect Kirk Cousins to play well, but he’s got a lot of new pieces around him.  The Eagles strike me as a few more years away.  The Giants just feel like the most complete team on both sides of the ball, so I’m rolling with them.

NFC North

Green Bay
Minnesota
Detroit
Chicago

Is there really any point in picking against the Packers?  They’re like the Patriots of the NFC; they’re always good, and they’re always surrounded by crappy division-mates.  I think the Vikings and Lions could go either way; I think they’re both about .500 teams.  I like the Vikings’ defense just a little bit more than I like Detroit’s offense.  I also think a second season with Sam Bradford should help them move the ball a little more.  I think the Bears will be a mess and, more importantly, I think that’s the best thing for them, as they’ll need to surround their new rookie QB with a lot of talent going forward.

NFC South

Carolina
Tampa Bay
Atlanta
New Orleans

I almost picked the Bucs, but I dunno.  I just don’t see it.  I think they’re a year away still; they strike me as fairly immature.  Honestly, I don’t feel strongly about ANY of these teams, but having Carolina bounce back is the least-ridiculous thing I can imagine right now.  I do still think the Bucs will make a Wild Card spot though, I’m just not so sure they’ll have enough to overtake the Panthers.  I think the Falcons will be about a .500 team as they remain hungover from that devastating Super Bowl loss.  And, I just don’t think the Saints are very good, and they probably need to think about blowing that situation up at some point.

NFC West

Seattle
Arizona
San Francisco
Los Angeles

The last couple years, I’ve been seduced by blind homerism when it comes to the Seahawks.  Nevertheless, they’ve still managed to win at least 10 games and make the playoffs both years.  So, I’m not TOTALLY crazy.  This year, however, I believe to be the year we get back our #1 seed and our home field advantage throughout the playoffs.  I still like Arizona to kick up a little fuss, but they’re about a .500 team too.  I think the 49ers will be better than people expect, though they’re probably still a 6-7 win team.  I think the Rams will be much WORSE than people expect, and I’m pretty sure people are already expecting them to be pretty bad.

Here’s a prediction for free:  I think the Seahawks will go 2-0 against the Rams; WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THAT???

AFC East

New England
Miami
Buffalo
New York

Tank-a-palooza is in full effect with the Jets, as I fully expect them to win no more than 1-2 games.  I like Buffalo only a little bit more, to be honest, as they’ve gotten rid of a lot of talent, and still don’t seem too keen on Tyrod Taylor being the guy going forward (I hope they let him loose at some point, so he can go to a team that deserves him).  I still like Miami to come up second in the division with Jay Cutler at the helm, but I still only see them as around a .500 team.  New England should run away with this thing with 13-14 wins.

AFC North

Pittsburgh
Cincinnati
Baltimore
Cleveland

This could be an interesting little division.  I think the Ravens are a year or two away from returning to the playoffs.  I like a lot of the moves Cleveland is making (though, surely, they’ll face growing pains with their rookie QB).  I like a lot of the moves the Bengals have made this past offseason as well, though I think they’ll fall JUST short of the playoffs (likely on a tiebreaker).  I think the Steelers take this one with 11 wins.

AFC South

Tennessee
Houston
Indianapolis
Jacksonville

I think now, FINALLY, the Titans will have their year.  I also think they have the highest variance of any of the teams in this conference.  They could go 13-3, or 9-7, or anywhere in between, and I wouldn’t be shocked.  I went ahead and pencilled them in at 10-6, tied with the Texans, and both teams cracking the playoffs.  I think both the Colts and Jags will be terrible, netting between 2-4 wins each.

AFC West

Kansas City
Oakland
Denver
San Diego

I really wanted to put Oakland here, and this might be my biggest regret, as I’ve kind of been hyping them all off-season.  But, the Chiefs are just more of a complete team.  I think their defense is certainly better than the Raiders’, which could be their ultimate downfall.  I still like the Raiders to make the playoffs, but they might be a year away from grabbing one of the top two seeds.

NFC Playoffs

  1. Seattle
  2. Green Bay
  3. New York
  4. Carolina
  5. Tampa Bay
  6. Dallas

AFC Playoffs

  1. New England
  2. Kansas City
  3. Pittsburgh
  4. Tennessee
  5. Oakland
  6. Houston

I’d absolutely love to see a playoffs with these teams involved.  Let’s look at the playoff predictions:

Wild Card Round

Dallas over New York
Carolina over Tampa Bay
Pittsburgh over Houston
Oakland over Tennessee

Divisional Round

Seattle over Dallas
Carolina over Green Bay
New England over Pittsburgh
Oakland over Kansas City

Championship Round

Seattle over Carolina
Oakland over New England

Super Bowl

Seattle over Oakland

OH SNAP!  Are you ready for this???  The Seahawks can only win Super Bowls against their old AFC West foes!  The storylines are pretty amazing, though, starting with Beastmode vs. his old team.  Michael Crabtree vs. Richard Sherman.  Ken Norton Jr. & Bruce Irvin vs. their old team.  Then, there was all that crap from Derek Carr about running it on the 1 yard line.  And, of course, there’s the 1983 season and how the Raiders prevented the Seahawks from making their first Super Bowl during that miracle playoff run.

You’re going to see a lot of people predicting the Seahawks vs. Patriots Part II, including Peter King in his MMQB column; but how many people will predict the Seahawks/Raiders?  Maybe just me.

Is it because I’m stupid?  Probably.  But, wouldn’t that be fun?

The 2017 Seahawks Have A Schedule

You know I love talking about the schedule months and months before the games are played and rosters are finalized!  Without further ado:

  • Week 1 – @ Green Bay
  • Week 2 – San Francisco
  • Week 3 – @ Tennessee
  • Week 4 – Indianapolis (Sunday Night)
  • Week 5 – @ L.A. Rams
  • Week 6 – BYE
  • Week 7 – @ N.Y. Giants
  • Week 8 – Houston
  • Week 9 – Washington
  • Week 10 – @ Arizona (Thursday Night)
  • Week 11 – Atlanta (Monday Night)
  • Week 12 – @ San Francisco
  • Week 13 – Philadelphia (Sunday Night)
  • Week 14 – @ Jacksonville (10am)
  • Week 15 – L.A. Rams
  • Week 16 – @ Dallas
  • Week 17 – Arizona

All times are in the afternoon time slot, unless otherwise posted.

Just to get it out of the way, I don’t care for the Week 6 BYE week.  I read that the NFL did away with BYEs in Week 4, which is nice, because GTFO with that shit.  I still think there should be one designated BYE week for everyone, smack dab in the middle of the season, so it’s fair for everyone, but obviously that’ll never happen, so you won’t hear from me on the topic again until this time next year, when I make the same exact argument.

Truth be told, I like A LOT about this schedule.  The things that stand out include only one 10am start, against Jacksonville, in December, which is a good time to get out of Seattle anyway.  I like that there are no back-to-back road games (or the dreaded 3-game road trip), as our only back-to-backers have the BYE week in between.  And, on top of all of that, three of our four primetime games are at home!  All in all, this might be the best Seahawks schedule I’ve ever seen (at least, this early in the year).

I’m seeing the strength of schedule is pretty easy, but that means nothing.  Comparing a schedule to how the teams finished the year before is pretty asinine, so I don’t take a lot out of that.  Here are my two cents, game by game (my official Game By Game prediction post comes at the end of the pre-season, so come back in early September for that).

Leading off with Green Bay isn’t the worst thing in the world.  Considering we knew we were going to have to go there at some point in the year, it beats playing them on the Frozen Tundra, in the middle of December.  Considering the Packers are always really good, there’s never a “good” time to play them, but I’ll settle for Week 1.  The best part of this is not having to face a crazy-tough D-Line.  The last two years, we had to face the Dolphins’ front four and the Rams’ front four, which is a lot to ask of a young O-Line in the first week of the season.  I won’t say we get a soft landing here, but it’s definitely a step down from those two teams.  We’ll just have to hope our defense comes to play, as the biggest downside is catching Aaron Rodgers at a point where our secondary is likely to be a little unsettled (even more terrifying if the team trades Richard Sherman, and we’re left with Jeremy Lane and a couple rookies filling the void).  Hard to see that as a win for the Seahawks, but we’ll see how I officially feel later this year.

Week 2 home opener against the 49ers?  Yes please!  That has the feel of the annual Washington Huskies/Portland State Fuckwads football game.

I know I’m supposed to get all hard for some of these marquee matchups (SEA @ GB, SEA v IND, SEA v WA, SEA v ATL, SEA v PHI, SEA @ DAL), but honestly?  The game that catches my eye right now is this Week 3 game in Tennessee.  The Titans were 9-7 last year, just a game out of winning that division, and I think they’re a team very much on the rise, and very much on nobody’s radar.  You’ll hear it here first:  don’t be shocked if the Seahawks lose this game.  I like their running game, I love their O-Line, I think Mariota has the goods, and I think their defense is poised for a big improvement.  Depending on how their draft shakes out, I could see them finally overtaking the Texans and dominating that division for years to come.

Week 4, Sunday Night, home vs. Indy.  Wilson vs. Luck, two great offenses, two very different teams in how they’ve been constructed.  I’m looking forward to Collinsworth’s analysis more than anything in this game.

We don’t have to play the Rams until Week 5; that feels like a victory in and of itself!  If it takes longer than a month for our O-Line to gel into some semblance of a working unit, then I give up.

Coming out of the BYE week, we go on the road to face the Giants.  This is actually, lowkey, a pretty brutal stretch of games the Seahawks have to open up with.  Aside from the 49ers, and maybe Indy, I see nothing but difficult matchups.  The Giants were one of the teams we managed to dodge in last year’s playoffs, and I was going to go into how they posed a difficult matchup for the Seahawks.  Their D-Line is vastly improved after last year’s spending spree.  But, Eli is still Eli, so if our defense is able to hold it together, I don’t see why the Seahawks couldn’t take this one.

Back-to-back home games against Houston and Washington.  I don’t see Houston being much of a problem, unless they somehow fix their quarterback quandary, which I don’t see happening.  Washington is a little more interesting, but they’ve never struck me as all that interested in bolstering their defense.  With their two primary receivers (from 2016) playing elsewhere, I’m curious to see how their passing attack looks.  I’m pretty high on Cousins, so I could definitely see him keeping them in the game.

Thursday in Arizona in early November:  who knows?  Once again, we don’t see them until the second half of the season, so there’s REALLY no predicting where this one will go.  Will Carson Palmer still be playing at this point?  Will their defense be able to thoroughly shut us down like they did in that 6-6 game last year?  Will the short week throw us off like it usually does when we have to go on the road in our Thursday game?

Then, we come upon perhaps the biggest or second biggest game on our non-divisional schedule:  Monday Night, home against the defending NFC Champion Atlanta Falcons.  This game was one of the best ones we played in 2016, and at least on paper looks to be no different in 2017.  I’m REALLY interested in how Atlanta is going to rebound this year.  Super Bowl collapse, offensive coordinator takes a head coaching job, target nevertheless squarely on their backs each and every week, will they be like the Panthers of last year?  Or the Seahawks of the year before.  I’ll be thoroughly impressed if they’re able to make the playoffs again after a year like that.

On the Sunday after Thanksgiving, we’re on the road in San Francisco.  Again, they should be pushovers.

Then, it’s right back in primetime with a home game against the Eagles.  I don’t totally understand why this game is on the schedule, to be honest.  Rather, I don’t understand why it’s in primetime.  I have some serious doubts about Carson Wentz and that coaching staff in general, and I don’t think that team stands a chance in that division, with how good the Cowboys, Giants, and Redskins look.  Look, just don’t be shocked when the NFL flexes this game out of primetime in favor of, oh I dunno, Giants at Raiders, Panthers at Saints, Bucs at Packers, or even Pats at Bills if they just want an excuse to play the Patriots in primetime yet again.

In Week 14, we finally come upon our lone 10am game.  GOD I LOVE IT!  From the looks of things, the other teams in our division got jobbed on the 10am game thing, but you know what?  I think we deserve it.  With the way we have to travel from Seattle, the Seahawks are constantly doing the most travelling in the league, so it’s better to reward us with those late afternoon road games.

Home vs. the Rams in mid-December?  No thank you.  Again, it’s the Rams, so expect the unexpected (but usually pretty terrible, for Seahawks fans).

Christmas Eve afternoon in Dallas?  Woof.  If it’s anything like last year’s Christmas Eve game against the Cardinals, I shan’t be happy.  But, all eyes will be on us, almost like it’s a Thanksgiving Day game, in which case that should be an interesting build-up (also, this game would’ve been much more appropriate as a primetime game, but what are you gonna do?).

Then, we close out on New Year’s Eve at home against the Cardinals.  We’ll either be fighting for our playoff lives, fighting for a division title, or hopefully fighting for a top spot in the NFC, so I would bank on this game actually meaning something.  In which case, either smart planning by the NFL, or they got really lucky.  Either way, should be a good one.

If you had to pin me down to a prediction, I don’t know what to tell you.  The rest of the NFC West doesn’t look all that impressive.  The Seahawks SHOULD go undefeated against the likes of the Rams and 49ers, but you know that won’t happen.  Let’s say 4-2 in the division, 3-1 against the AFC, bringing us to 7-3 with six more games against the NFC.  I gotta tell you, this conference schedule LOOKS tough.  GB, NYG, and Dallas on the road; ATL, Philly, and WA at home.  I see 1-2 in the road games and 2-1 in the home games, which would put us at 10-6 on the year.  That looks like it could be enough to win the division, but certainly not enough to get anything more than a 3 or (more likely) 4 seed in the playoffs.

The road to getting the top seed – and getting back to the Super Bowl – is simple.  First, the Seahawks need to stay remarkably healthy.  ESPECIALLY on defense, where I still see depth as being our primary issue (regardless of what happens in the draft).  Second, the Seahawks absolutely need to take care of business in the division.  That means going a perfect 6-0, no excuses!  The 49ers are terrible, the Rams are still rebuilding, and the Cards are on the cusp of collapse and a rebuild of their own.  This should be a down year for all three of those teams, and the Seahawks need to stop fucking around with them, playing down to their levels, and take advantage of the weak division in front of them.

If you give me 6-0 in division, with 3-1 against the AFC (which, if the Seahawks stayed as healthy as they need to, you’d think they’d go 4-0 against the AFC, but there’s always one of those weird outcomes seemingly out of our control every year against some random AFC team on the road), that’s 9-1 heading into the rest of the NFC slate.  Figure you can’t lose more than 2 of those games to be safe, which means probably running the table on those home games against the Falcons, Redskins, and Eagles, and then making sure you steal a tie-breaker game on the road.  Which is tough, because it looks like the Cowboys and Packers will be our primary competition for the top seed in the NFC.  Indeed, that game in Dallas in Week 16 very well could be a showdown for the top spot, should everything break right for the Seahawks.

Probably the best thing about the schedule is that there’s really not a huge cluster of tough games back-to-back-to-back.  Like I alluded to earlier, there’s 3 road games out of 4 (with a BYE mixed in) where we go @TEN, IND, @LAR, @ NYG.  The Seahawks SHOULD win all of those games, or at least 3 of 4, but I could also see all of those games going sideways for a variety of reasons.  Other than that, you have to say the toughest stretch would be WA, @ AZ, ATL right in the middle there, or LAR, @ DAL, AZ at the end, but both of those stretches have 2/3 games at home.

All in all, a lot to like.  And a lot to work one’s self into a lather about, if given half a chance.

For Strictly Fantasy Purposes, I Hate Matt Ryan

Simply put, I’ve been involved with a 2-QB league for the better part of my adult life.  In Matt Ryan’s first few years, he was always a great guy to have in the mix, because even though they were more run-focused in his early days, he still threw enough TDs to keep you in the black, while avoiding turnovers to ensure his floor was high.  Paired with a really dominating QB, Matt Ryan of the first three years of his career was a nice little complement.

Then, as Matt Ryan made the jump to perennial 4,000-yard passer, people in my league caught on, and would draft him before I had the chance.  Once we made the switch to being a 2-keeper league, I made it my mission to get Matt Ryan back in the fold once and for all.  As it just so happened, that coincided with his atrocious 2015 season, when he threw only 21 TDs to counter a whopping 16 INTs.  Yeah, throwing for a ton of yards is great and everything, but if you’re making the sorts of bone-headed mistakes he was making last year, it’s absolutely impossible to field any sort of consistent fantasy team (unless you’re looking for “consistently fucking terrible”).

Matt Ryan is not an elite quarterback, regardless of what his numbers look like this year, and regardless of how he was able to go into Denver last week and defeat the Broncos with their awesome defense.  Matt Ryan is an average quarterback with 1 elite wide receiver in Julio Jones.  How does a guy like Ryan throw for 500 yards in a game?  When he has a guy like Julio catching 300 of those yards (going up against a secondary in Carolina that might be the worst in football).  I guarantee if you put Kirk Cousins or Ryan Fitzpatrick or even Brian Fucking Hoyer on this team with a healthy Julio Jones, they’d all look just as competent.

And yet, for some reason, all anyone can talk about heading into this game is Matt Ryan, his improvement over last season, and how he’s giving the Falcons more than a decent chance of winning in Seattle.

You think YOU can get SOUP???  Please!  You’re wasting everyone’s time!

Matt Ryan isn’t an elite quarterback because elite quarterbacks make the players around them better.  No one said a God damn thing about the Seahawks’ receivers until Doug Baldwin caught 14 TDs last year, yet the Seahawks and Russell Wilson have been pretty great since 2012!  Why is that?  Because regardless of who you put on the field with Wilson, he’s going to make it work and grind it out for a win.

Take away Julio Jones and you know what you’ve got in Matt Ryan?  Yet another Joe Flacco.  Flacco needs elite talent around him to be successful.  Ever since the Ravens opted to skimp on receivers, tight ends, and running backs, Flacco has been mediocre at best and a disaster the rest of the time.

What has Matt Ryan been like the last few years?  Well, for starters, Julio hasn’t always been healthy, and when he’s slowed down by injury, forget it.  The Falcons are pathetic without Julio.  But, they were also trying to get by with a broken down Roddy White, no running game, and a poo-poo platter of crap as their #3 receivers and tight ends.  Tony Gonzalez has been out of the game for a while, and that might have been the biggest set-back to Matt Ryan’s career!

So, don’t tell me Matt Ryan has turned a corner.  Everyone wants to talk about how the Seahawks have faced the easiest schedule through 4 games when it comes to opposing offenses; well, aside from the Broncos, who have the Falcons played?  Tampa, Oakland, New Orleans, and Carolina.  Those are four bullshit defenses who couldn’t stop anyone!  And, of the five games, Ryan’s worst was easily last week’s against the Broncos, when he was held under 100 in passer rating.

I would also argue Denver’s defense MIGHT not be as great as we anticipated coming into the season.  I’ll give Atlanta credit for exposing some things (like how you can pass all day on their linebackers, if you have top-notch, pass-catching running backs).  But, I’m going to go ahead and say this right now:  Denver’s defense is no where NEAR as complete as ours, at all levels.  They might be as good as us in the secondary, but check the game last week:  Atlanta’s top two running backs caught a combined 167 of Matt Ryan’s 267 passing yards.  That means Julio Jones and the Gang were held to 100 yards receiving COMBINED.

I’ll go out on a limb and say their receivers will have a slightly better day on Sunday than they did last week, but their running backs won’t do shit!  Unless you’re in the mood for a lot of check-downs, then by all means, tout the Falcons’ passing attack.

But, you’re looking at the Seahawks coming off of a BYE, with everyone healthy, at home in the pouring rain, against a domed Falcons team.  I’ll take this matchup all day every day, please and thank you.

Also, tell me, how are the Falcons on defense going to stop us?  Desmond Trufant is only one man, the last time I checked.  Even if you put him on Doug Baldwin, I still expect Baldwin to get his.  But, how are they going to guard Jimmy Graham?  Who will account for Tyler Lockett?  And, for the love of all that is holy, can ANYONE stop Christine Michael?

We’ve got weapons, plural.  They’ve got Julio.  If there’s any justice in this world, Richard Sherman will shadow him all day, giving us another fascinating matchup like we had with the Jets and Brandon Marshall two weeks ago.

I’d expect this game to be exciting, but mostly if you’re a Seahawks fan.  I’d expect people will be having a lot of third and fourth thoughts about how good the Falcons really are when this one’s finished.

Predicting The 2016 NFL Season

Still my favorite post of the year!  Still don’t care how wrong I am!  Still got love for the streets, repping 253!  Still not loving police!  And so on and so forth …

Last year, I had the Seahawks over the Colts in the Super Bowl.  I got something like 2 division winners right, and maybe only half of the playoff participants.  And I had some MIND-BOGGLING picks, like the Rams & Lions & Dolphins in the Wild Card, and the Chiefs over the Broncos and Ravens over the Bengals as division winners.  In short, it was all bad; so let’s try to do better.  As usual, I’ll refrain from predicting actual records, and just list the teams in order of where they’ll finish in the standings in their respective divisions.

NFC East

Washington
NY Giants
Dallas
Philadelphia

I got the Redskins on a big ol’ come-up!  Mostly because I think Scot McCloughan is a roster genius and has turned around every franchise he’s put his hands on.  Their offense improved greatly over the course of the 2015 season and should play well going forward as long as Cousins stays healthy.  I think they’ll find just enough on defense to stay in games.  And, I think the Cowboys and ESPECIALLY the Eagles will be pretty bad this year.  Gods and clods in this division, as I have the Giants taking the next step and returning to the playoffs as a wild card.  I figure 9-7 should be good enough in this NFC to nab a 6th seed.

NFC North

Green Bay
Minnesota
Detroit
Chicago

You hate to put all your hopes on the likes of Teddy Bridgewater, but that’s essentially what I’m doing with the Vikings this year.  Granted, I don’t think he’s great, but I think he is good at limiting mistakes and playing within the flow of the offense.  With the team around him, I think he’s worth an extra 1-2 wins over his counterparts (in this case, Shaun Hill and Sam Bradford).  I just think Hill is doomed to get hurt at some point, and Bradford has the misfortune of not having practiced with the team all offseason.  Both guys are clear steps down compared to Bridgewater, which I think relegates this team to 7 or 8 wins at most.  That puts Green Bay in the driver’s seat by default, and a real contender for the top two spots in the NFC.  I like Detroit to play good offense and poor defense, and I like Chicago to play good defense and poor offense.

NFC South

Carolina
Tampa Bay
New Orleans
Atlanta

This feels remarkably easy, but Carolina is simply the most complete team in the division, period.  I think the Bucs take a big step forward this year – especially on offense – and I think they contend for that 6th seed, but I think they ultimately fall short on tie-breakers.  I don’t expect much out of Atlanta’s offense again this year, and I think their defense is considerably worse.  I think the Saints do enough on offense to win some games they should lose, but ultimately they need to do too much on defense to be competitive this year.  Maybe 2017.

NFC West

Seattle
Arizona
San Francisco
Los Angeles

This is the homer coming out in me.  By all rights, the Cardinals should repeat as division champs – they’re just as good as they were last year, if not better in certain areas, AND they have the easier schedule, by dodging Tom Brady and playing the Vikings instead of the Packers – but I just think the Seahawks are hungrier.  I also think the Seahawks are going to get off to a really hot start this year.  Combine that with the fact that Palmer is due for another devastating injury (with the outside chance that his psyche never recovers from that playoff dismantling by the Panthers last year), and let’s just say I’m hedging my bets by having the Cards make the wild card at something like 10-6.

Not for nothing, but I also think the Rams take a HUGE step back this year.  I think the 49ers shock some people – as they have the most negative hype I’ve seen in recent memory – and I think the Rams do so poorly that they have no choice but to fire Jeff Fisher and company (in spite of his recent contract extension).  I just think they can’t afford to waste Goff’s prime on a nothing coaching staff and will look to shake things up by bringing in the hottest offensive coordinator on the market this upcoming offseason (whoever that may be).

AFC East

New England
Buffalo
NY Jets
Miami

Keep picking the Pats until the end of time!  You want a shocker (and the clubhouse leader for the pick I’m likeliest to get wrong)?  I got Buffalo FINALLY breaking their streak as the team with the longest playoff drought!  I like Tyrod Taylor a lot, I like a desperate Rex Ryan, and I like how nobody’s giving this team a shot.  I think 9-7 (with tiebreakers) does it.  I don’t think Fitzpatrick has another year like 2015 in him, and he proves why paying guys like him $12 million per year is a fool’s errand.  I think Tannehill improves with Adam Gase as his head coach, but I don’t think it’s enough, as this team is pretty weak and unimpressive in most areas outside of the D-Line.

AFC North

Pittsburgh
Cincinnati
Baltimore
Cleveland

I like Roethlisberger to stay mostly healthy and put up huge numbers again.  I like the defense to do just enough, but the offense to ultimately carry them.  I think Andy Dalton takes a step back without Hue Jackson holding his hand.  I think Baltimore improves, but only to the 7 or 8-win range.  And, I think Cleveland gets another Top 5 draft pick to throw onto the pile.  Ultimately, I think the Bengals fall short of making the playoffs, with potential coaching casualties following.

AFC South

Houston
Jacksonville
Indianapolis
Tennessee

I think Brock Osweiler is a VAST improvement over all the QBs Houston had on their roster last year, and with the talent around him (particularly Lamar Miller’s breakout year), and that defense behind him, is enough to get them to 10 or 11 wins.  The key for Osweiler is to limit turnovers.  If he can do that (the way Hoyer & Co. could not), the sky is the limit for this team.  I like Jacksonville to take a big step forward and really contend for a wild card spot, but I think they’re probably another year away.  I’m also concerned about Bortles regressing, but I’ll avoid that conversation for now, as I’m counting on him in Fantasy to lead me to glory this year and beyond.  I think Indy is a trainwreck, and no amount of Andrew Luck will be able to carry this team to the playoffs, in what is a vastly improved division.  I think the Titans give the Colts a run for their money, but ultimately fall just short (because the Titans have garbage coaching, and no weapons on offense outside of TE).

AFC West

Kansas City
Oakland
Denver
San Diego

I like the Chiefs for 12 wins and one of the top 2 seeds.  I like Oakland to be the team to make the jump into the other Wild Card spot.  I like Denver for about 8 wins (never thought their defense alone would be enough to carry them back into the post-season).  And, I like the Chargers to be playing in a city outside of San Diego in 2017.

NFC Playoffs

  1. Seattle
  2. Green Bay
  3. Washington
  4. Carolina
  5. Arizona
  6. NY Giants

AFC Playoffs

  1. New England
  2. Kansas City
  3. Houston
  4. Pittsburgh
  5. Oakland
  6. Buffalo

I like the Seahawks because I’m a homer, and I like the Packers over the other three teams because I think they have the most favorable schedule (AFC South & NFC East are the divisions they have to play, while catching Seattle, Houston, Indy, and the Giants at home, and playing garbage Atlanta thanks to their 2nd place divisional schedule).

I like New England because they’re New England.  I like the Chiefs because I think they’re balanced and poised to take that next step.

Wild Card Round

Washington over NY Giants
Carolina over Arizona
Houston over Buffalo
Oakland over Pittsburgh

Divisional Round

Seattle over Carolina
Green Bay over Washington
New England over Oakland
Kansas City over Houston

Championship Round

Seattle over Green Bay
Kansas City over New England

Super Bowl

Seattle over Kansas City

What can I say?  I like me some Seahawks, and I like me some Super Bowls against AFC West opponents!

What The Seahawks Should Do At Backup Quarterback

Recent news indicates that Tarvaris Jackson is likely to test the free agent waters this year, in hopes of getting into a situation that either pays him more money and/or gives him a chance to compete for a starting job/puts him behind a quarterback who might be a little more injury-prone than Russell Wilson.  Your guess is as good as mine as to what Tarvar has been doing in recent offseasons.  This story makes it sound like he’s been settling for being Seattle’s backup because it’s comfortable and familiar.  My guess is that Seattle has indeed been giving him the best possible deal, as I can’t imagine the market is too hard-up for a guy who’s proven he’s a backup in this league and nothing more.

Granted, he’s one of the better backups across the league, but a backup he remains.

Still, if you’re Tarvar, you’re looking around at some of these teams in 2015 – struggles in Dallas, Philly, St. Louis, Frisco, Cleveland, Baltimore, and Houston – and you’ve got to be thinking that you’re better than the backups for those teams who were forced into action (Dallas and Baltimore, particularly) and in other cases, better than who they’re running out as starters (Cleveland, Houston, St. Louis and the rest).  So, yeah, it makes sense – if you want to give it a go as a real live NFL quarterback (and not just a seat-warmer on the bench) – to put yourself out there as a veteran alternative for some of these teams who don’t land their Quarterback of the Future in the NFL Draft or free agency.  At the very least, he’d be likelier to see the field playing behind someone a little less durable than Russell Wilson (boy, am I putting the whammy on our boy with this sentiment).

So, what we’re talking about is, for the first time in years, looking for a non-Tarvar backup.

All else being equal, I’d like to have Tarvar back again.  That’s going to mean many multiple teams pass him over for other alternatives, leaving him with a pretty bruised ego, but so be it.  If, however, for the sake of argument we’re talking about a Tarvar-less future, then there are two obvious routes you can take:  bring in a veteran, or draft/sign a rookie.

Seattle’s in a wonderful position in this regard, because we have Russell Wilson.  He’s a solid, franchise quarterback, still in the early-prime of his career.  We don’t necessarily NEED to bring in another starting candidate to push him.  Which means, obviously, backup quarterback is a position that you can save some money on (which is important, considering how much money Wilson is taking in).  Therefore, you won’t see the Seahawks using a high draft pick, and you won’t see them blowing out the bank on free agents like Cousins, Fitzpatrick, Osweiler, or Bradford (who will all be looking for opportunities to start somewhere anyway).

That puts us in the range of a low-round draft pick (maybe 5th or lower), an undrafted rookie, or one of the other veteran options out there on the market.

In looking at those veteran options … woof!  What a bunch of dogs!  When you think of a backup quarterback in our kind of situation (i.e. someone who is a clear backup and has no chance to be this team’s starter when all players are healthy), your BEST CASE scenario is a guy who will fill in for a few weeks and somehow manage to keep the team in/around .500.  A guy like Seneca Wallace back in the day is a perfect example of this.  We were lucky to have drafted him to play behind Hasselbeck, so he was cheap for many years.  If we can somehow do that again, that’s probably the most realistic ideal situation.  Looking at veteran options, someone like … Matt Hasselbeck last year with Indy.  He was able to fill in for a few games and led them to some quality wins!  Then, as the season dragged on, as Luck was unable to return and the games piled up, Hasselbeck was less and less effective.  Old guys getting hit a lot tend to break down, shocking I know.

This post by Field Gulls has a nice little list of free agent quarterbacks.  If you remove Tarvar (for the sake of argument), and you remove the four starting candidates (Bradford, Cousins, Fitzpatrick, and Osweiler), you’re left with the crap of the crap (obviously, it’s still really early in the offseason, and a lot of cuts/trades are out there to be made; this post won’t include guys likely to be released/already under contract).  Among guys with significant starting experience, you’re talking about:

  • Cassel
  • Clausen
  • Gradkowski
  • RGIII
  • Hasselbeck
  • Henne
  • Lindley
  • McCown
  • McCoy
  • Moore
  • Schaub
  • Stanton
  • Vick
  • Weeden
  • Whitehurst
  • Yates

Cassel is old and grossly over-valued.  I have zero confidence in his abilities to guide a team to a .500 record in the absence of this team’s starter (see:  his stint in Dallas last year).  Clausen is horrible; Gradkowski hasn’t had significant starting experience in half a decade; Lindley & Stanton are who we think they are; Vick is as done as done can be; the best thing Whitehurst has ever done is somehow trick Jewel into going out with him (aside from tricking multiple teams into giving him multiple millions of dollars, including the Seahawks, and now this is making me even more upset); and Yates apparently only has value to the Houston Texans, so that’s a stay-away in my book.

Of the guys I didn’t list in that paragraph, Hasselbeck is obviously the most interesting.  Who knows if he’s even in the market to continue his career after the thrashing he took in Luck’s absence last year?  Odds are, since Wilson does a better job of avoiding contact, he probably doesn’t suffer the same lacerated spleen or whatever the hell it was that Luck had.  Then again, if you’re Hasselbeck, would you ever expect a tough hoss like Luck to get injured in the first place?

RGIII might be another someone looking to compete for a starting job.  In fact, I’m almost sure of it, so I don’t know why I kept him here.  Obviously, I worry about injuries with him.  I also worry about his mindset.  By all accounts, he was a quality teammate last year and didn’t cause any trouble in the lockerroom.  But, for a guy drafted as high as he was, who still has a lot of the skills that made him so highly sought after (minus the legs, obviously), he’d make an ideal backup candidate.  BUT, maybe not for the Seahawks.  I just have my doubts as to his willingness to come in and be the clear #2.

If I’m being honest, I don’t totally hate the idea of Chad Henne as this team’s backup.  When he first got a crack to be a team’s starter, it was in Miami in 2009 & 2010.  Those weren’t great teams, but they were sort of middle-of-the-road, .500-ish teams, and he led them to .500-ish records accordingly.  His career started to go down the shitter when he went to Jacksonville, playing on some truly horrendous teams.  On the right team (i.e. on THIS team, the Seahawks), I think Henne could be a .500-ish quarterback again.  He’s going to complete upwards of 57-60% of his passes, and if you instruct him to refrain from taking too many chances, you might be able to coax his interception percentage down to reasonable levels.  He is getting on in age, though, so he’s probably not all that mobile, which obviously is going to be an issue for most of these veterans we’re looking at.

Luke McCown had 1 start in 2015, and played brilliantly in a losing effort.  Against Carolina, he completed 31 of 38 passes for 310 yards and a pick.  Before that, he hasn’t started a game since 2011, so I don’t know what you’d expect here.  That one start for New Orleans really skews his career numbers, but he could be an interesting buy-low candidate with some semblance of upside as a backup.

Colt McCoy might honestly be the best of the bunch.  Drafted by Cleveland, I tend to discount whatever anyone does in Cleveland, as they’ve been a trainwreck ever since the NFL let them back into the league (and for many years before they went to Baltimore to boot).  In 2014, McCoy had a string of games with the Redskins that showed everyone why he was thought of so highly coming out of college, as well as why he’s now exclusively a backup.  He had two and a half really good games (including an impressive Monday night victory over the eventual division champion Cowboys), and a couple of real stinkers (albeit, I believe that last game he was injured and had to leave the game early).  He’s definitely not going to blow anyone away or win any shootouts, but I think he could manage a game effectively well.  What more can you ask for?

Matt Moore has been backing up Tannehill these last few years, and honestly I don’t know how he can stand it.  Moore, in his starting efforts early in his career, was the epitome of a .500 quarterback.  Hovering around 59% completions, with slightly more touchdowns than interceptions.  He strikes me as another semi-ideal candidate.  Like Henne, he’s getting on in years, so I don’t know how mobile he is, and he hasn’t started a game since 2011, so that’s tough.  Maybe he’s like another Whitehurst, who loves being a backup and living in a tropical climate!  If that’s the case, I wonder if Seattle is the right spot for him.

Matt Schaub scares me.  A lot like Vick, I think he’s done.  A lot like Cassel, I think he’s over-valued.  He strikes me as a guy who, personality-wise, wouldn’t fit in on a team with this many alpha dogs.

Brandon Weeden is probably the last interesting name on the list.  He’s young enough to where you don’t totally worry about his durability (even though, let’s be honest, he’s like a tree back there in the pocket).  And, in spite of his Cleveland roots, I think it’s probably set in by this point that he’s going to be a career backup.  Last year was interesting for him, as he was the next man up after Romo went down for Dallas.  He proved to be underwhelming at best, leading to the Cowboys to over-pay for Matt Cassel (who managed to play even worse).  Weeden landed in Houston, where he ran circles around Cassel in his two appearances (though, he ended up relinquishing the job to Brian Hoyer for the playoffs, so make of that what you will).

So, in conclusion, I’ll rank my favorite options for the Seahawks’ backup quarterback:

  1. Talk Tarvaris Jackson into returning for another year
  2. Colt McCoy
  3. Matt Hasselbeck
  4. Rookie QB (either low round pick, undrafted free agent, or guy already on a futures contract)
  5. Brandon Weeden
  6. Henne/Moore (tie)
  7. Luke McCown
  8. Fuck it, give the job to Jon Ryan (also, make sure to re-sign Jon Ryan)
  9. No one/all Wildcat all the time
  10. Schaub
  11. Cassel
  12. Fan (open tryouts every week for a local Seahawks fan)

Predicting The 2015 NFL Season

I love doing this post, I don’t care how wrong I am.  Last year, I was pretty far off in a lot of ways.  Detroit winning their division, Green Bay out of the playoffs entirely, New Orleans as the clear-cut second-best team in the NFC (and maybe NFL), Tampa and Atlanta both sneaking in as wild cards (essentially, I was high on everyone in what would be the worst division of all time – the 2014 NFC South – except the actual division winner).  And, of course, I made the mistake of picking a repeat Super Bowl matchup, which is about the dumbest thing you can possibly do.

I did have this little nugget of wisdom heading into the 2014 season, and if you replace all the Denver parts with New England parts, it rings eerily true:

My thing is – and I’ll deny it to my grave if I’m wrong – I have a SERIOUS nagging worry that the Seahawks and Denver will both make it back to the Super Bowl, but it’ll be the Broncos hoisting the Lombardi trophy while we sit and watch, devastated.

Of course, my official pick was a repeat Super Bowl championship, and we all know how that turned out.

So, let’s turn the page to 2015.  Here are my picks, in all their glory:

NFC East

Dallas
NY Giants
Philadelphia
Washington

Seemingly every year, I find the NFC East to be a crapshoot, where the hottest team in December ultimately wins the division.  That USUALLY means the Cowboys are on the outside looking in, but in 2014, they finally put it all together.  For 2015, I don’t see a whole lotta drop-off.  They still have that offensive line, so their running game should be all right, which means their offense should continue to be the strength.  Do just enough on defense, and I think they’ll take it.

Coming into this month, I would’ve had the Giants as my pick.  I like the way they finished last year; and a full season of Eli to ODB should be gangbusters.  But, I hear too much bad stuff about their defense for comfort (then again, that same bad stuff was said about the Cowboys’ defense last year, and they turned out okay).  I have a hard time trying to peg Philly.  I think they could be as good as a top 2 seed in the NFC, or they could be last in their division with 4 wins.  I choose to believe that Sam Bradford will at some point be lost for the year.  I also believe their defense got lucky on a lot of return TDs last year, and DeMarco Murray is another injury waiting to happen.  Ultimately, all the tinkering will have made them worse.  As for Washington, the less said about them, the better (though, I do believe with their new GM – Scot McCloughan – they have a chance to turn it around in a hurry; so long as Dan Snyder doesn’t fuck things up first).

NFC North

Green Bay
Detroit
Minnesota
Chicago

Well, if I’m going to put the stink on anyone, it might as well be the Packers.  I’ve got them as the biggest challenge to the Seahawks making it to a third straight Super Bowl, and right now, in fact, I have them with the edge for that #1 seed (by way of them hosting us in week 2, and by way of their incredibly easy schedule for a first place team).  The loss of Jordy Nelson for the year isn’t great, but with James Jones back in the fold, they should have enough receivers to get through the year just fine.  One of the strongest Packers teams I’ve seen since they went 15-1.

I still like Detroit – indeed, I like them as a Wild Card pick – and think they’ll have no trouble winning 10 games, even with the losses they’ve suffered on defense.  I like Minnesota to take a step forward, as Teddy Bridgewater gets more comfortable as a passer.  And, I like Chicago to be one of the very worst teams in the entire NFC (and therefore, the world).

NFC South

Carolina
Atlanta
New Orleans
Tampa Bay

I still find this division to be pretty pathetic, and I still doubt the winner of this division will have more than 9 wins.  I don’t like Carolina much, but I like the teams I’ve ranked below them even less.  Atlanta is still far from solid on defense, and they’ve got exactly two good players on offense (Matt Ryan & Julio Jones).  That’s it.  In games it wins, I’m sure the Ryan to Jones connection will be on point.  But, good teams will be able to shut that option down, and thereby shutting down the entire offense.  They don’t have a running game at all, Roddy White is very near retirement, and they’re STILL trying to figure out a way to replace Tony Gonzalez (will the mummy Antonio Gates be a free agent anytime soon?).

I’ve got New Orleans in the 3-hole, but I could easily see them as dead last.  Who are Brees’ options?  Are they REALLY going to devote their offense more to the run?  Do they even HAVE a defense?  I could see this year going sour in a hurry.  Tampa actually has some upside, and if their #1 QB gets the hang of this game, they could approach 6-8 wins.

NFC West

Seattle
St. Louis
Arizona
San Francisco

I’ll get to the Seahawks throughout the week in a series of previews, but suffice it to say, with all the turnover, I still feel the Seahawks are one of the best two or three teams in the NFL.  In a little more shocking news, I finally like the Rams to get over the hump and into the playoffs.  I think this is the year their defense puts it all together.  I don’t like Nick Foles a ton, but he is a starting quarterback in this league, and I’d much rather have him than someone like Cutler, Dalton, Fitzpatrick, Bradford, Cousins, Hoyer, and QB Browns.  Furthermore, I don’t think they’ll have to do much at all on offense to win games this year; I foresee a lot of 16-13 wins, as teams struggle to move the ball.  The schedule doesn’t help them out much early (3 of first 5 on the road, with games vs. SEA, vs. PIT, @ AZ, and @ GB), but after their week 6 BYE, they have a stretch where they play 6 of 9 at home, featuring (vs. CLE, vs. SF, @ MIN, vs. CHI, @ BAL, @ CIN, vs. AZ, vs. DET, vs TB).  I see them winning 7 of those games alone, and with a couple of unmentioned road games against the 49ers and Redskins, it’s not impossible to see this as a 10-win team.

I don’t like Arizona at all.  I think they got incredibly lucky in 2014 (which is a ridiculous statement, considering how unlucky they were with injuries, specifically with the quarterback position) and were not as good of a team as their record.  Carson Palmer is back, but I can’t imagine he has much left in the tank.  They’ve lost a bunch of guys on both sides of the line, and they still don’t have a running game at all.  They might get off to a good start early (home games against the Saints, 49ers, and Rams in the first four weeks, with the only road game being at Chicago), but look for the wheels to come off as that stretch is followed by the following (@ DET, @ PIT, vs. BAL, @ CLE, BYE, @ SEA, vs. CIN, @ SF, @ StL).  I could easily see them losing 6 of those games, and that doesn’t factor in a tough stretch of mostly home games to close out the season (vs. MIN, @ PHI, vs. GB, vs. SEA).  With Palmer surely injured by this point, I could see them losing out and having at least 10-11 losses this year.

And with all of that said, I STILL think the 49ers will be worse!  My hope is that they’re terrible, but not so terrible that they get a Top 5 pick.  Is that possible?  Well, considering all their good people are either retired or playing/coaching elsewhere, we might actually be looking at the future #1 overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft.  Not quite my worst nightmare, but it’s close.  The only things they have going for them is a Week 10 BYE and they get to host us on a Thursday (#ShortWeek).

AFC East

New England
Miami
Buffalo
NY Jets

With Tom Brady embiggened emboldened by the overturning of his 4-game suspension, I fully expect him to lay to waste any defense that comes across his path.  The thing with that is, teams aren’t just going to roll over and die (well, MOST teams; I fully expect the Steelers on Thursday to roll over like the good doggies they are, as I’m playing against my friend in Fantasy Football who’s starting Brady this week).  The Dolphins, Bills, and Jets all have pretty tough defenses.  I don’t expect them to beat the Pats a whole lot, but I’d LIKE to see them knock Brady around, to wipe that smug fucking smirk off his face.  They also face the defenses of Houston, Denver, and Dallas who should all be pretty tough as well.  How they managed to dodge playing the Ravens in the regular season is a crime against NFL scheduling (though, I obviously understand how NFL scheduling works, wouldn’t the hype for that game – which would invariably be played on either a Sunday or Monday night – be deliciously over the top?).

Elsewhere, like the Rams, I think this is the year the Dolphins finally make it over the hump.  Mike Wallace is gone, so that’s addition by subtraction.  I think they have the weapons in both the passing game and the running game to be a consistent force on offense.  With the addition of Suh on defense, that gives their run defense instant credibility, forcing other teams to be one dimensional.  That formula (combined with playing the NFC East and AFC South) should be more than enough to get them to 10 wins and a wild card.  I like Buffalo for approximately 7-8 wins (mostly due to their very-strong defense and lack of a quarterback), and I like the Jets for even less than that (mostly due to their less-strong defense and even BIGGER lack of a quarterback).

AFC North

Baltimore
Pittsburgh
Cincinnati
Cleveland

The Ravens won the Super Bowl in the 2012 season, then suffered an immediate setback thanks to the Joe Flacco contract.  They shed older players, reloaded through the draft, and now they’re back once again, ready to contend for more championships.  You know I love me some Seahawks front office, but I have only the utmost respect for the Ravens’.  And, not to get off on a tangent here, but I like the Ravens’ front office even more than the Patriots’.  Yeah, the Pats may have been more successful over the last decade and a half, but they’ve also been cheating throughout, and most importantly, they’ve EASILY had the lowest level of divisional competition by a fucking thousand miles.  If you swapped the Ravens and Patriots (so the Ravens were in the AFC LEast and the Pats were in the AFC North), I can make a pretty easy argument for the Ravens being the last great dynasty in the NFL, and the Pats still being pretty good, but nowhere near 6 Super Bowl appearances in 15 years.

Like the Giants, if you’d asked me to rank the divisions a month ago, I probably would’ve put Pittsburgh on top.  Again, you gotta like the way their offense played down the stretch.  But, that defense is clearly rebuilding, and they’re unlikely to remain as lucky with injuries as they were in 2014 (their center is already out for at least half the year, being put on the IR-designated to return).  If I had to predict the 2016 division champions, I’d probably tell you the Steelers will finally be ready.  But, as it stands now, I think they win no more than 9-10 games, and I think that’s still not good enough to crack the Wild Card.  I like Cincy to fall below .500 for the first time since Andy Dalton came into the league.  I also think Andy Dalton’s stranglehold on the starting QB job is in jeopardy and he starts losing some snaps to A.J. McCarron (Wave of the Future!).  Finally, I think Cleveland is a mess and that’s the end of that analysis.

AFC South

Indianapolis
Houston
Jacksonville
Tennessee

Indy is quickly taking over the reign of Worst Divisional Opponents In The NFL from New England, which is pretty easy to do when you’re good and the rest of the teams in your division don’t have any quarterbacks.  I think Hoyer and that Texans defense will be good enough to get to around 8 wins.  I think Jacksonville will make some strides towards .500 this year, but I don’t believe in Bortles as far as I can throw him; he’ll be another bust.  And the Titans are too young to do much of anything.  Mariota being Jake Locker 2.0 is probably their worst nightmare.

AFC West

Kansas City
Denver
San Diego
Oakland

I think we’re reaching the end of the line for Peyton Manning.  I like them to sneak into a wild card spot, but I’m not even really high on that, to be honest.  This is sort of a hedge pick; if Manning stays healthy, and the defense keeps up their end of the bargain, the Broncos could be divisional winners.  If Manning gets hurt, I think they could fall as far as last place in the division.  So, I decided to meet in the middle – maybe Manning misses a bunch of games in the middle of the season and they get him back for a hot stretch run in December.  Either way, I feel pretty good about the Chiefs grabbing control of the division.  Most people blame Alex Smith for their offensive woes last year; I blame their sub-pedestrian receivers (led by the corpse of Dwayne Bowe).  With a REAL number one receiver in Jeremy Maclin, I think this offense hums along like those old Andy Reid Philly teams.  And, considering their defense is pretty fearsome, I wouldn’t be shocked if this team won 12 games and a BYE in the first round of the playoffs.

I could see the Chargers sneaking past the Broncos for that final wild card spot, but I dunno.  The Chargers seem to be a team that always has all the promise in the world, but ultimately falters to a .500 finish.  I’m going to say their defense isn’t up to the charge (!), their running game isn’t where it needs to be, and Rivers doesn’t quite have the receiving weapons to get the job done.  As for the Raiders, it all hinges on Derek Carr.  That’s a scary proposition.

NFC Playoffs

  1. Seattle
  2. Green Bay
  3. Dallas
  4. Carolina
  5. St. Louis
  6. Detroit

AFC Playoffs

  1. New England
  2. Indianapolis
  3. Kansas City
  4. Baltimore
  5. Denver
  6. Miami

Wild Card Round

Dallas over Detroit
St. Louis over Carolina
Kansas City over Miami
Baltimore over Denver

Divisional Round

Seattle over St. Louis
Dallas over Green Bay
New England over Baltimore
Indianapolis over Kansas City

Championship Round

Seattle over Dallas
Indianapolis over New England

Super Bowl

Seattle over Indianapolis

In 2012, the Colts – with rookie Andrew Luck – won 11 games, made the playoffs, and lost in the first round to the Ravens.  In 2013, the Colts won 11 games again, made the playoffs again, beat the Chiefs in the Wild Card round, and lost to the Patriots in the Divisional round.  In 2014, the Colts won 11 games one more time, made the playoffs, beat the Bengals in the Wild Card round, beat the Broncos in the Divisional round, and lost to the Patriots in the AFC Championship Game.  My point being:  the Colts have gotten better every single year under Andrew Luck.  Their first year was just seeing what they had – and what they had was the next Peyton Manning.  The next year was seeing if the first year wasn’t a fluke.  Last year was taking that next step towards being elite.  THIS year is where they put it all together.

They’ve got Andre Johnson to go with T.Y. Hilton, which is a vast improvement over Reggie Wayne towards the end of his career.  They’ve got the steady presence of Frank Gore who’s been nothing if not healthy and is dying for a chance to win a ring.  And, FINALLY, I think they’ve made real strides to toughen up that defense.  I think this is the year they finally get over the hump of the Patriots running the ball down their throats.  I think they’ve got the complete package – even an elite shutdown corner in Vontae Davis (if he can stay healthy) – and I think this is the year they make their reemergence into the Super Bowl.

And, with all that being said, I think they’re going to get beat by the Seahawks.  You could argue that the first 10 games of the 2014 season saw the Seahawks wrapped up in a long term Super Bowl Hangover.  I think there’s no such hangover this year.  Everyone has their eyes on that prize and they’re going to do anything and everything to make people forget about The Play Call That Shall Not Be Named.

I have no such doubts about this year like I did going into last year.  I’m not QUITE as confident as I was going into the 2013 season (where I knew as soon as the 2012 playoffs ended that we’d be the team to beat), but that team was as complete as can be on both sides of the ball.  This team is almost there, but I worry about a few growing pains early.  If we beat the Rams and Packers in the first two weeks, all doubt will be washed away going forward.

The course for a Seahawks Dynasty is still very much on track.