The Seahawks Are Leading The NFC West For Now

The Seahawks can’t seem to win a normal, run-of-the-mill blowout game. I guess that’s okay as long as we keep winning, but …

Before the game, I called a score of 34-13, and for a brief moment there early in the fourth quarter, it was 34-17 and I thought I was a genius. Then, the Vikings almost immediately scored a touchdown to bring it to 34-24 and the comeback was officially on.

Things got tight in that fourth quarter and it started to look like one of those stupid games we used to lose in 2015 or 2016, where we’d get a seemingly-insurmountable lead and cough it up in some mindboggling way. After that breakdown in coverage gave the Vikings a 58-yard touchdown, our fumbling problem returned. When you’re talking about Seahawks and fumbles, you’re usually talking about Chris Carson, but he was great in this one. The second person you think of when you think about fumbles with this team, it’s not even that long of a pause: D.K. Metcalf. This game is actually a decent microcosm of his season: he’s had a lot of positives this year (6 catches for 75 yards, to lead the game), but just enough negatives (the lost fumble on a crucial 3rd down conversion that would’ve extended the drive and killed some more clock) to remind you that he’s a rookie. He’s a work in progress, it’s fine.

The Vikings proceeded to drive it 72 yards – aided considerably by a 3rd down pass interference penalty on Tre Flowers that was exclusively due to Kirk Cousins throwing a terrible, underthrown ball – but missed the extra point to make it 34-30. The Seahawks were once again limited in what time they could take off the clock, and the game hinged on the Vikings’ next drive.

They quickly got it out of the shadow of their own red zone, but the drive stalled at that point, ultimately turning it over on downs.

In spite of the score, the Seahawks’ defense was pretty solid. Sack numbers never tell the whole story, as it appeared the Seahawks were able to get consistent pressure on Cousins from a variety of players. Rasheem Green stood out in a big way, really proving his worth these last few games. He ended up forcing a fumble and generally being a presence in the backfield. Ziggy Ansah – before suffering a stinger that took him out – ended the game with 3 QB hits and a batted pass. Clowney returned from his injury to hit Cousins and get a tackle for loss. Jarran Reed also returned from injury and hit Cousins a couple times. All in all, 7 QB hits were recorded for the Seahawks.

The secondary – aside from a couple lapses – has started to come together. McDougald and Diggs continue to prove they’re the best safeties on this roster. Tre Flowers had a BEAUTIFUL interception on a pass intended for Stefon Diggs. And we saw a lot of tight coverage from the linebackers outside of that first Vikings TD drive.

The first half was a little frustrating, but the Seahawks did what they always do: they kept it close. Then, for a change of pace, we came out on fire after halftime, scoring 17 in the third quarter and going on a 24-0 run overall in the second half.

The Vikings’ defense was absolutely baffling to me. I kept looking at what they were doing pre-snap and it didn’t make any sense. They came into the game – I want to say – top 5 in rush defense, but they consistently loaded the box with anywhere from 5-7 guys, like they were daring us to ram it down their throats. Or, at least believing that just their front four would frustrate us enough into throwing more. Hell, on that huge 25-yard run by Carson early in the third quarter, they had a 7-man box against Seattle’s 7-man front; do the math! That’s a hat on a hat with a free Carson chugging towards the endzone!

It was like this all night! I usually finding myself calling out for more passing when I see our offense, but this was one of those rare games where I was begging Wilson to check to more run plays! Carson led the way with 102 yards on 23 carries, but Penny wasn’t far behind with 74 yards on 15 carries. The team totalled 218 yards on the ground on a 5.1 yard average with 2 TDs.

A good chunk of that came on the fake punt in the fourth quarter by Travis Homer (on that same drive that ended in a Metcalf fumble). With the way we were running all night, I kept expecting one of those patented Seahawks clock-churning drives to gobble up all the wind from their sails. That fake punt was a thing of beauty to keep the dream alive for a wee bit longer. From one conservative head coach to another, there was no way Mike Zimmer was expecting that from Pete Carroll in that situation, not with our 10-point lead and Carroll’s devotion to his defense! Yet, there it was, and it came at the best time possible. It’s just too bad we couldn’t finish the job right there.

Unfortunately, this wasn’t the game that would vault Wilson back into the MVP conversation. He’s still a very large distance behind Lamar Jackson, and 240 yards and 2 TDs (against 1 fluke INT following two batted passes) isn’t going to cut the mustard. If anything, he’s continuing to let other contenders reach his level, which can’t be good. He’s sitting at a 26:4 TD:INT ratio and a 111.1 passer rating; Jackson is at 25:5 with a 109.6 (plus another 7 TDs on the ground and almost 1,000 rushing yards, which is insane). Luckily, Wilson just cares about winning (not that Jackson doesn’t), and that’s all the Seahawks have been doing of late.

It feels great to finally get over that 49ers hump. With four weeks left in the season, let’s see how long that lasts!

The Monday Night Seahawks Are Playing For First Place Tonight

So, apparently the Seahawks hosted the Vikings on Monday night in December of 2018 as well, and I have somehow TOTALLY blocked it out of my memory. We won 21-7 and I absolutely couldn’t tell you a thing about it.

You know what’s burned into my memory, though? 2017, home against the Kirk Cousins-led Washington Redskins. The Seahawks were 5-2 heading into what was supposed to be an easy walk-over. After some early-season struggles, we were on the right track and looking to maybe go on a nice little run for the division. Instead, we lost to a 3-4 team that was banged up beyond belief, made all the more traumatizing by the fact that we led by 4 points with 94 seconds to go in the game and we gave up a 35-second touchdown drive to Cousins & Co.

We all learned a lot from that game. We learned that the Seahawks’ championship window was closed for the previous (L.O.B.) era, and that the 2017 squad was pretty mediocre (we would go on to finish 9-7 and outside the playoffs for the first time since Russell Wilson entered the league). We learned that Kirk Cousins wasn’t as terrible as we had originally thought, and that he could lead a team into any stadium and come away victorious if everything broke right. We learned that the Seattle crowd wasn’t as impactful as it used to be, and that we were probably still living off of our 2012/2013 reputaton. Most importantly, we learned this team isn’t infallible at home, and the trauma of this defeat has stuck with me to this very day.

This is the third year in a row we’ll see Kirk Cousins. No, I won’t take him lightly.

The more I look into it, the more things are starting to come back to me. While I don’t necessarily remember playing or beating the Vikings last year, I do remember they fired their offensive coordinator – John DeFilippo – right around this time, and indeed it was immediately following their loss in Seattle (where they scored 7 points, late in the fourth quarter). The Vikings immediately implemented a run-heavy approach to their offense and went 2-1 the rest of the way.

That’s carried over into this year, where the Vikings – to the surprise of no one – are 8-3 and in the thick of things for the NFC North. Regardless, they should find themselves in the postseason this year, and it makes sense. They’ve got a rock-solid defense (better up front as opposed to their secondary) so all you need to do is be careful with the ball on offense and you should win more than you lose.

That’s been the Seahawks Way for years, and if there’s a head coach who’s emulated Pete Carroll’s style from day one, it’s Mike Zimmer.

The teams that give the Seahawks fits are the teams who play the most like the Seahawks. The wildcard in all of this is actually Kirk Cousins, who – while I won’t take him lightly – is the one most likely to give the game away with crazy turnovers. I haven’t seen him do that a whole lot against the Seahawks, per se, but I’ve seen him look bad in primetime games enough to know he’s got a reputation as someone who doesn’t always show up in front of a national audience.

Whereas, the Seahawks almost ALWAYS show up in primetime. It’s kind of our thing. You remember, we’re the team who has the best winning percentage on Monday Night Football. Giving us two MNF games in 2019 is like gifting us two free wins at the start of the season!

And, in case anyone thought the fanbase was getting jaded (I’ve been more critical of the home crowd in recent years than anyone), we’re coming off of a weekend where the 49ers just got their second loss, which means that a Seahawks victory puts us in the driver’s seat for the division AND in the second seed in the NFC with four more games to go.

Winning tonight would be so huge. We’ve got to stay within a game of the 49ers, as it looks like whatever happens, our showdown in Week 17 is going to decide the division. Even if the 49ers lose to the Saints next week, they host the Falcons and Rams the next two weeks, and should easily win both of those games. Meaning, we could be perfect the rest of the way – coming into the final week with a 1-game advantage – and STILL not have the division locked up!

Even beyond that, though, it’s going to take everything we have to keep up with not just the 49ers, but the Saints and Packers as well. My obsession is a first round BYE at this point (also, not for nothing, but actually being the 2-seed is probably better than the 1-seed, as the 1-seed will most likely have to face the 49ers in the Divisional Round if the Seahawks were to do everything right).

Anyway, getting back to tonight, while I’m taking nothing lightly, I think this game could actually be sort of a cakewalk for the Seahawks. I know we haven’t really seen any of those this year, but again we’re talking about December. We’re talking about the time of year where the Seahawks start to kick it into high gear. We’re coming off of two games in a row where the defense has looked good, and if that trend continues, I see no reason why we shouldn’t put up some serious points against a weak Vikings secondary. I’d also hope for a nice bounce-back game from Chris Carson.

Something in the realm of 34-13 for the good guys.

Nobody Wants To Hear About My Fantasy Team 2019: All Hell Breaks Loose

I feel these sorts of weekends in my bones. It usually starts with the Huskies losing on Saturday. I wake up as hungover as can be on Sunday, there’s no Seahawks game, and I’m up against a buzzsaw in fantasy. In this case, I’d go on to lose in all four fantasy games I’m involved with, so I avoided watching football entirely (for Family Guy and Brooklyn Nine-Nine reruns in bed).

I kept track of the score on my phone for a while, but at some point it became too sadomasochistic to continue. Beasts, my opponent, started off his week with Russell Wilson going off for 40+ and Chris Carson beating expectations to get nearly 20. Then, he had Christian McCaffrey score almost 50, Matt Ryan in a shootout, Chris Godwin picking up all the slack for the Tampa offense, and for good measure Edelman and Boyd having huge days.

I, on the other hand, benched Josh Jacobs (almost 30) for David Montgomery (10) and Minshew (almost 30) for Dimes (12). Not that it would’ve mattered; Wentz, Hilton, and Waller were all mediocre, and I had absolutely no one in the realm of Beasts’ best guys.

I was crushed 253.66-150.05. I’d be complaining about my bad luck, but someone else in the league dropped 260 on the poor sap who’s still winless on the year. My defeat drops me to 2-3 and 7th in the league. I’m down to just the 6th-most points, but the 2nd-most points against (the last place team has the most points against at 950.65 and I’m at 940.77; the 3rd-most points against is only 793.14, to give you an idea how unlucky we’ve been).

***

What’s worse is that I’m setting myself up for another loss in week 6. I have a tight end and defense on BYE, with no backups to put in their place. Furthermore, Jacobs, Hilton, and Montgomery are all on BYE as well, which is a huge setback.

I’ve got Wentz at MIN and Minshew hosting the Saints; I fully expect two mediocre games from them (Dimes is at New England and is unstartable in this Thursday Night matchup). My Big 4 of Kupp, Tyreek Hill (looking on pace to return for the first time since Week 1), Zeke and Bell are all set to start for me, which is nice to finally have back. But, my FLEX is a little iffy with Scary Terry being my choice over Chris Thompson. They’re playing the Dolphins, so if there’s any time to load up on Redskins players, this might be the week, but with their coaching & quarterback shuffling, who the fuck knows? Can Justin Tucker score 30 points somehow?

My opponent – Crazy N8’s Prostates – will be fielding a full team. They’re, of course, better than me even when I’m at full strength, so I really expect to get killed for the second time in a row. He’s got Dak in a juicy matchup against the Jets, with Cousins in a potential shootout against the Eagles. He has Keenan Allen, ODB, and James Conner; with David Johnson, Ingram, and Kelce rounding out the offense. He could also toss Sammy Watkins into his FLEX if he so desires. And, since he actually has roster flexibility, he was able to grab Dallas’ defense off of the scrap heap, who figure to murder the Jets this weekend; it’s certainly risky to bench Sacksonville’s defense, but when you have a chance to field a defense going up against one of the worst teams in the league, you have to do it.

I’ve just gotta weather this storm and hope for better days in the second half of the regular season. There’s still a lot of time to get right, but I’m in desperate need of Carson Wentz to pick his game up. I also need to figure it out when it comes to Minshew vs. Jones; I somehow make the wrong decision every single week, even though I feel like my judgment is sound. Dimes didn’t have a great matchup last week, but Carolina’s defense to date had been murder on opposing quarterbacks. Maybe it just boils down to Minshew being the real deal and Dimes being a flash in the pan? I can’t help but feel I’m about to have the rug pulled out from under me; that I’m going to finally start Minshew and that’s the week he turns back into a pumpkin.

Regardless, if it wasn’t clear before, it’s all but assured I won’t get to enjoy a Top 2 finish to the regular season (and a first round playoff BYE). It’s hard enough to win ANY week in fantasy, but having to win three in a row during the playoffs is damn near impossible. This week, I’m going up against the last person in our league to do it (I think). Maybe I can get some of that magic to rub off on me.

The other hard truth I might have to face as the season progresses is that my team just isn’t very good this year. Maybe I’ve been spending too much time focusing on the future and not enough time on getting better in the short term. It certainly doesn’t help that I made Roethlisberger my first draft pick, that I got unlucky with Hill getting injured in week 1, and that I drafted T.Y. Hilton over Tyler Lockett, among many other disasterous decisions. This year is a learning experience. Of course, I could say that damn near every year, where I continue to remain off of the championship trophy entirely.

Can The Seahawks Win With Russell Wilson Making A Million-Billion Dollars?

There are two schools of thought dominating the NFL landscape nowadays:

  1. You can’t win without a Franchise Quarterback
  2. You can’t win with a Franchise Quarterback taking up too high of a percentage of your salary cap

Which essentially boils down to:

  1. You can only win with a Franchise Quarterback on his rookie deal, or
  2. You can only win if you have Tom Brady and you cheat the salary cap in some way that has yet to be exposed

So, that’s great if you’re the cheatin’-ass Patriots, but otherwise it’s a pretty minuscule window of opportunity for the rest of the league. For starters, how many Franchise Quarterbacks are there in the league right now? Let’s count ’em out, in no particular order:

  1. Tom Brady
  2. Ben Roethlisberger
  3. Andrew Luck
  4. Patrick Mahomes
  5. Philip Rivers
  6. Aaron Rodgers
  7. Matt Ryan
  8. Cam Newton
  9. Drew Brees
  10. Russell Wilson

I think that’s pretty much it. You could make an argument for Deshaun Watson, Carson Wentz, and Kirk Cousins, but I think you could also make plenty of arguments against those guys as well. Anyone I haven’t listed here is on that next tier down; doesn’t mean you can’t win a Super Bowl with those guys (see: Eli Manning, Nick Foles, Joe Flacco), but obviously you need to hit on a roster full of studs around them.

Regardless, we’re talking approximately a third of the league having bona fide Franchise Quarterbacks. Everyone else has some variation on a question mark. Everyone else needs to be special in other ways (like the Rams, with their coaching staff) or they’re selling out to find that elusive game-changer at the game’s most important position.

So, let’s pull it back to just the cream of the crop; how many are Tom Brady or on a rookie deal? Well, Tom Brady is Tom Brady, so the Pats are set. Other than him, you’re talking about Mahomes, Watson, Wentz, the Rams (in spite of Goff more than because of him), and let’s throw in the Browns for shits n’ giggles. We’re talking about 6 teams who are in a prime position with their quarterback and salary cap situations; should we just lop off the rest of the teams in the league?

Or, do the Seahawks have a shot?

It’s funny, because in the days leading up to Russell Wilson’s contract extension, everything I read was some variation on: DON’T BE STUPID, YOU HAVE TO EXTEND WILSON BECAUSE HE’S AMAZING! Then, as soon as Wilson announced his signing, everything I’ve read since was: THE SEAHAWKS ARE PAYING TOO MUCH FOR THEIR QUARTERBACK, THEY’LL NEVER WIN!

Ostensibly, the argument is: if you’re going to run all the damn time, what’s the point in paying a quarterback $35 million a year? Pay someone adequate like Case Keenum to be a game manager, and use the rest of the money to bolster other areas.

The first knock against that line of thinking is that you’re never going to build the perfect team. The 2013 Seahawks were a fucking unicorn; being able to draft or otherwise acquire that much Hall of Fame talent in one roster is nearly impossible. There are always going to be holes and weaknesses, even on the best teams, and that’s before you get into the injury attrition that nearly every team faces every single year.

The second knock against that line of thinking is that, even on the best teams, you’re still going to need your quarterback to put the team on his back and win you a handful of games. Even the 2013 Seahawks needed some Russell Wilson magic against Carolina, St. Louis, Tampa Bay, and the 49ers in the NFC Championship Game (before The Tip, there was the 4th down bomb to Kearse). Could you envision that team with the likes of Case Keenum winning it all? Because I can’t.

In fact, I would argue that it’s even MORE important to have someone as clutch and efficient as Wilson on a team like the 2018 Seahawks, where running on 1st & 2nd downs were the norm. There’s so much more strain on Wilson to do more with fewer opportunities than there is on someone like Mahomes, who threw it 36 times a game compared to Wilson’s just under 27 attempts.

Ultimately, in the reality we’re living in, would you rather have Wilson on the deal he got, or whatever’s behind Door #2 (maybe trade him for draft picks while he’s got the most value, then either try to acquire whatever semi-competent veteran is still on the market, suck for a year with Paxton Lynch, and/or draft a new QB in this year’s questionable class)?

For me, I’ll take the certainty that Russell Wilson provides.

The obvious trade-off, though, is that there’s not as much money left to spread around the rest of the roster. Which gets us back to the topic of this post: can the Seahawks win with Russell Wilson making a million-billion dollars?

The answer, of course, is yes. How likely is it? I dunno, but let me flip it back on you: how likely is it for ANY team to win a Super Bowl? Because, that’s what we’re talking about, right? The worst nightmare of any NFL fan is ranging anywhere from 8-8 to 10-6 and at best winning a Wild Card berth while going nowhere in the playoffs and constantly drafting in the mid-20’s. If that’s what we’re doomed to be for the next 5 years with Russell Wilson under this contract, then I’ll admit to being pretty disappointed. It’ll further fuel the fire of those who list off all the Super Bowl champion teams with quarterbacks making under such-and-such percent of their team’s cap (conveniently ignoring the cap status of those teams who lost their respective Super Bowls, though they were just as capable of winning those games had certain things broken their way).

Ultimately, it’s all randomness! There’s no one blueprint to winning a Super Bowl (unless you cheat and get away with it like the Patriots). You need a good quarterback, we know that. Beyond that, you need the strengths of your team to overcome the weaknesses. You don’t NEED a dominant defense, you can easily overcome that the way the Chiefs did last year by scoring a ton of points. Even the Pats never really have super great defenses, but the coaches scheme the shit out of their opponents and ultimately those D’s do just enough to put Brady & Co. in position to win (the fact that the Pats constantly get to coast to a division championship every single year because the Bills, Dolphins, and Jets are all inept notwithstanding).

I would argue, the Seahawks have a Top 5 quarterback. The Seahawks have a Top 5 coaching staff. The Seahawks have enough skill position players on offense to move the ball and score on the regular, as well as an offensive line that can keep the whole thing moving. The question at this point would be: do the Seahawks have enough talent on defense to take it to the next level and compete for a divisional title? Or, conversely, do the Seahawks have enough on offense to mask their defensive deficiencies? That ultimately remains to be seen.

More than anything, if the Franchise Quarterback is 1-A most important, luck is 1-B. Good luck with injuries. Good luck with hitting on draft picks and free agent signings. And good luck with key roster guys making big leaps from year to year. And, quite frankly, good luck in those 50/50 games that keep a 10-6 team from being 12-4 or better. The Rams were 3 games better than the Seahawks, but beat us by a combined 7 points in two games. What happens if we find a way to win those two? What happens if we beat the Broncos in week 1, or the lowly 49ers in week 15? Just a couple bounces of the football here or there. What happens if we keep Dak from scoring on that insane 4th down run in the Wild Card game?

Sure, you need the Franchise Quarterback to put you in a position to win those 50/50 games, but it’s luck more than anything else that decides if you’re going to be 13-3 or 10-6.

My thought process, heading into the 2019 season, is we’ve got the most important piece locked in. Luck will hash out the way it hashes out. But, beyond that, I think the Seahawks have a winning formula they can follow. I believe in this team running the football, using its giant goons up front to punish opposing defenses. Running the football keeps the clock moving, keeps the defense off the field, and limits the punishment Wilson has to face (especially when you factor in how our O-Line still isn’t super great at pass protection).

The Seahawks were 6th in points per game with 26.8. That’s with a new offensive coordinator, a new offensive line coach, and a lot of new pieces on that side of the football. Sure, it ended crappy in Dallas, but I think with the continuity in place, this coaching staff learned a lot about what this team is made of. I think they’ll be able to tweak things enough to improve upon those points per game and be even more efficient going forward, without the need to drastically increase the number of times we throw the football. Having all of this set and ready to go TODAY – as opposed to learning on the fly and figuring things out heading into Week 3 last year – puts us at a greater advantage over the 2018 squad. From there, I’ll trust that this coaching staff and front office knows what it has to do to improve the defensive side of the ball.

Plus, let us not forget, we’ve got a Pro Bowl kicker now. You scoff, but let’s go back to that whole luck argument: how many games did a kicker cost us in 2017?

Russell Wilson Signed His Contract Extension, Part 2

We went through all of this back in 2015, so you’d think we would’ve learned our lesson, but apparently not. Remember when the big issue back then was whether or not Russell Wilson would play on the final year of his rookie deal, in order to leverage the team into giving him a fully-guaranteed deal? That was back before Kirk Cousins’ idiotic contract standoff with the Redskins was even a glimmer in anyone’s eye! And then an arbitrary deadline was set – I believe to coincide with the start of Training Camp – and lo and behold a deal got done at the last minute. Everyone was FREAKING OUT, and then it was over, and we all got to rest easy after that.

Well, here we are again, making the same mistakes fans always make. An arbitrary deadline was set – this time coinciding with the start of OTA’s – and instead of playing out the final year of his deal with the cliff of multiple Franchise Tags looming over the horizon, a deal got done at the last minute. He’ll play out his 2019 contract, then it’s 4 more years totalling $140 million (or $35 million average per year) with $65 million in his signing bonus.

He’s the highest-paid player in NFL history in per-year average, just edging Aaron Rodgers’ $33.5 million, and he blows past the highest-ever signing bonus, which was also A-Rod at $57.5 million. There’s also a No-Trade Clause attached, which could mean nothing (because why would you trade a QB like Russell Wilson?) or could get very interesting if things sour in Seattle.

There were so many rumors and opinions floating around in the weeks and days leading up to this thing, as there were in 2015. Of course, there was still talk of a Fully Guaranteed deal. But, that never really gained much traction, not with a year left on his last contract and Franchise Tags to bandy about. There was a lot of nonsense about Wilson wanting to play in New York for the Giants. There were 3-way trade rumors that would’ve given the Seahawks the #1 overall draft pick this year. There were trade rumors to Oakland for 2 first round picks. Then, the latest salvo fired over the weekend said that Wilson would refuse any and all future contract extension talks if the deal didn’t get done yesterday, which is another way to say that he’d likely try to force his way out of town by playing out his deal, playing through Franchise Tags, and waiting for the Seahawks to blink by either trading him or just letting him walk.

I mean, honestly, I don’t know how we didn’t all become alcoholics. It’s going to be tough to go through another one of these in 2023.

Probably the best rumor that came out over the weekend was that Wilson was looking to become the first player in NFL history to have his contract raise year by year – percentagewise – with the rise of the salary cap. The other sticking point was whether or not the first two years would be guaranteed upon signing (which means ownership would have to put all of that money in escrow until the time comes to pay the man), or whether the guarantees would click in at the start of every new year (in March or whatever of that respective season). Considering how high the signing bonus is, I think we have our answer (only the first year is guaranteed at signing), but I guess we’ll see when more information leaks out.

Regardless, Russell Wilson is here, and we can all move on with our lives again. Hurrah!

Truth be told, I’m fine with the deal. You only pay a player top dollar like this if he’s indeed one of the top players, and I believe Russell Wilson is one of the best quarterbacks in the league. He’s absolutely on par with Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees. He’s absolutely BETTER than Matt Ryan and Matthew Stafford and some of these other schlubs who were earning more money than him before today. So, we’ll just have to make it work and coach up the cheaper guys on this roster.

And Russell Wilson is going to have to continue to put this team on his back at key points. I believe he’s capable of doing that.

But, if he was going to go crazy and start asking for his contract to increase with the salary cap, then I’m sorry, but you never marry Crazy. You might date Crazy for a while, but don’t make Crazy your damn spouse!

Not Winners & Losers Of The Seahawks’ Game Against The Vikings

Looks like we DIDN’T need to take the Vikings seriously!

What an odd game.  It went sort of the way I thought it might, then again totally against expectations!  True:  the Seahawks did struggle to move the ball in general; but actually we ran the ball better than I ever could’ve imagined, 42 times for 214 yards and a 5.1 yard average.  The passing game for both teams was non-existent, which amounted to the Seahawks clinging to a 3-0 lead through three quarters before putting them away – following a late scoring spree – by a final of 21-7.

What I’m Geeked Out About After Thirteen Games

This was the most impressive defensive effort of the season by these Seahawks.  Sure, they were pretty overwhelming against the Raiders in London, and they were all over the place against the Cowboys early in the season, but this was complete and total domination, against a highly-rated offense.  I mean, it doesn’t sound like a lot, but the Seahawks held Diggs & Thielen to a combined 9 catches for 146 yards.  When you figure how much of the Vikings’ offense revolves around those two guys, that’s pretty amazing.  Thielen in particular was held in check, as I don’t think he even had a target his way until the second half!

The Seahawks only ended up with a couple sacks, but were in Cousins’ face all night.  He rarely had a clean pocket, and was frequently running for his life.  Of course, with the coverage being so tight down field, this harmonious convergence was something we’ve been waiting for all year with this team.  Nice to see everyone stepping up when it matters most!

Other Things That Caught My Eye (In A Good Way)

Hey, where do you think YOU’RE going?!  I’m not done talking about the defense!

How about that night by Frank Clark?  He was a BEAST!  4 Tackles (1 for loss), a sack, and a couple hits on the QB.  How about Jacob Martin with his second career sack!  How about his sack turning into a fumble that Justin Coleman picked up and took back to the house?!

Also, how about those cornerbacks?  Griffin and Flowers combined for 15 tackles and 3 passes defended; they tightened up their games in a big way!

HOW ABOUT BOBBY WAGNER JUMPING OVER THE LINE AND BLOCKING A FIELD GOAL?!?!?!

Was it legal?  FUCK YOU AND YOUR PRECIOUS RULES!  The guy just did something fucking amazing, so how about we appreciate a physical act that the vast majority of humanity would be too afraid to even TRY, let alone have the ability to achieve it!

Also, how about a quick shout-out to Akeem King for a nasty blitz and an even nastier hit on the quarterback to force an incompletion?!

All in all, the defense was the star of the show, so what’s the point in talking about anything else?

Let’s Talk About Chris Carson

He’s been dealing with nagging injuries all year – he dislocated a fucking FINGER in last week’s game – and yet there he was, dragging around those Vikings defenders for extra yards and extra first downs.  90 yards on 22 carries and a TD doesn’t sound like a whole lot, but that was a MAN’S performance last night!  I still contend that Vikings run defense is stout, and Carson – with a little help from the O-Line, of course – made them look ordinary.  In the days leading up to the game, they all talked a good game – particularly Sheldon Richardson and Tom Johnson, ex-Seahawks – but in the end those guys were non-factors.

Yes, there’s committment to the run and all that, but this thing is extra special when Carson is back there running over fools.  On the year, he’s carried it 179 times for 794 yards (4.4 per touch) and 5 TDs.  Again, that doesn’t sound like a whole lot, but considering what he’s had to deal with injurywise, combined with the fact that this offense really likes to spread the love around, I think it’s remarkable.

Other Things That Caught My Eye (In A Bad Way)

David Moore had a pretty bad game.  His best play was probably preventing an interception on an under-thrown deep ball by Wilson.  There was a picture-perfect touchdown opportunity, but he failed to drag his foot down in bounds.  That was the same drive that ended the half on an interception, so it ended up being a 7-point mistake in what was a 3-0 game for three quarters.

Speaking of which, Russell Wilson had probably his worst game in a winning effort.  37.9 passer rating.  10/20 for only 72 yards and an INT.  His day was somewhat salvaged by the 61 yards on the ground (40 of which came on a single play), but otherwise he was a non-factor.  I think he could’ve turned it around if we needed him to, but the run game was working so well, it was okay to write this one off.

It was a bummer that Doug Baldwin couldn’t go, as he was sorely missed in the passing game.  But, at this point, the Seahawks are 8-5 and just need to beat either the 49ers or Cardinals to guarantee a playoff spot.  Better to get guys like Baldwin and Fluker and whoever else completely healthy for the playoffs.  We’re gonna need those dudes when it’s Loser Goes Home!

Seahawks Fans Don’t Appear To Be Taking The Vikings Seriously

Frankly, I don’t think ANYONE is taking the Vikings seriously.  I think people are looking at the Vikings’ record (6-5-1) and all they see is a mediocre, middle-of-the-road team.

Furthermore, they see this game is on Monday Night, they see the Seahawks are at home, they see the Seahawks have been on a tear recently (3 in a row) and over the last 10 games (7-3), and that’s the end of the analysis.  Seahawks in a laugher, and let’s move on to next week.

There’s a lot at stake in this one.  SO MUCH.  If the Seahawks win, it all but guarantees we secure a playoff spot.  Winning this one – even if we somehow drop one to the 49ers or Cardinals in the final three weeks – still puts us in tremendous position to make the playoffs with a 9-7 record.  

But, the Vikings have just as much on the line.  A win for them puts them in the driver’s seat for that top wild card spot.  From here, they host the Dolphins, go on the road to the Lions, and host the Bears; they should win 2/3 EASILY and it wouldn’t shock me to see them winning all three.  Don’t forget, if the Vikings win out, and the Bears drop one either to the Packers or 49ers, then the Vikings steal the division at 10-5-1.

To their credit, the Vikings sound as pumped up as I’ve ever heard a team coming into Seattle in a primetime game.  If you don’t think they’re coming ready to play, you’re crazy.  If you think the pisspoor crowd noise we’ve had at CenturyLink this year – and really for the last few years – will be enough to rattle them, you’ve got another thing coming.

I keep reflecting on 2017.  Kirk Cousins – on an injury-depleted Redskins team – coming into Seattle as heavy underdogs and narrowly escaping as victors.  The Seahawks were riding high and 5-2 coming into that game.  The season went into the tank from there, as including that game we finished 4-5.

These Vikings are SO MUCH BETTER than that Redskins team.  I would argue a big reason why the Vikings’ record appears so bad is because they started off the season with a lot of injuries, and they’re just now getting healthy again.

The Vikings have a ferocious defense, for starters.  Don’t expect the Seahawks to run the ball as well as they’ve been doing most weeks.  D.J. Fluker being out definitely plays into that and no one’s really talking about it, because Jordan Simmons started in one of those Rams games and did okay.  I think the Seahawks’ O-Line is going to struggle tonight.  Quite frankly, it wouldn’t shock me if they looked Tom Cable-esque.  I expect Chris Carson to be bottled up, and I expect Russell Wilson to be running for his life like we really haven’t seen since the Chicago game back in Week 2.

Our only hope is if we throw the ball a ton, but I don’t know how confident I am in that either.  I’m obviously more confident in that than I am in our running game, but not by a lot.  I think Wilson is destined for at least one turnover, maybe two.  I think we’ll be playing from behind pretty early on in this one, so he’ll have a ton of attempts when it’s all said and done.  And, since I need Wilson to absolutely crush it for one of my fantasy teams, let’s just go ahead and lock it in that he’s going to score below 20 points tonight.

Defensively for the Seahawks, I think we match up about as poorly as with anyone in the league.  The Vikings have two ELITE receivers with a capital ELITE in Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs; whereas the Seahawks have a secondary that can’t tackle and doesn’t really cover all that well.  I expect Cousins to have a monster game.  Furthermore, while the Vikings don’t run the ball particularly well, the Seahawks are among the worst defenses in the league at stopping the run, so figure the Vikes get at least 150 on the ground as they move the ball at will.

Honestly, I won’t call for a Vikings blowout, but I think they’ll be up big by halftime, and it’ll take a furious Seahawks comeback in the second half to bring this game back to single digits.  Ultimately, I see a Seahawks loss – their THIRD of the season at home – and I see this thing being a lot more interesting the rest of the way.

I still think the Seahawks make the playoffs.  I still think we’ll beat the 49ers and Cardinals.  Honestly, I think our chances of beating the Chiefs are better than the Vikings!  It wouldn’t shock me in the SLIGHTEST if we scored with the Chiefs and nipped them in the end, because their defense is so bad!

But, like I’ve said before, when do the Seahawks ever make it easy on themselves?  This should be a minor blip, but it will be a blip.  Thankfully, as I believe both us and the Vikings will be wild card teams, we won’t have to play them in January.

Nobody Wants To Hear About My Fantasy Team: Week 10

I’m so fucked.

I mean, last week was just a trainwreck.  Beasts beat up on King Flippy Nips 202.40 to 133.30.  There was nothing I could do!  If you thought Carr’s 9.05 on Thursday night was bad, wait til you get a load of Sam Darnold’s -4.55!  Every skill guy except for Greg Olsen underperformed.  My Chicago defense was always going to be my best thing going – and that proved true at a whopping 41.00 points – but even they were undercut by my opponent’s defense (Minnesota) and their 35.00.  Just unreal.

I’m officially demoralized.  I STILL have the 3rd most points scored, but I’m in 5th place with a 4-5 record (I’m up to the 2nd most points scored against).  Thankfully, this league allows 6 teams into the playoffs, because my only hope is to sneak in as one of the last ones in, but even that is looking grim.

I have 4 games left in the regular season.  3 of the 4 are against the top 3 teams in the league, record-wise (including the top 2 scoring teams, and the #4 scoring team).  The one “push-over” (if you want to call him that) is TheGangUnderperforms, who (with my luck) will probably see a return of Le’Veon Bell by the time I play him.  His team is actually really good, and having Bell around will only further cement my demise, as he shares my 4-5 record and is only behind me because of total points.

So, odds are, I’m going to need a TON of help.  The biggest help of them all would be just winning some fucking games, but I can’t see that happening any time soon.

One way to get that help is to make some drastic moves.  As chance would have it, TheGangUnderperforms – being in my same boat – is equally as desperate to shake things up.  So, just ahead of this week’s trade deadline, we did the following:

I traded away:

  • Kenny Golladay
  • Leonard Fournette
  • Sam Darnold

He traded away:

  • Tyler Boyd
  • Jameis Winston
  • Le’Veon Bell

So, the worst-case scenario in all this is we swapped two useless quarterbacks, two running backs who can’t/won’t stay on the field, and two equally-disappointing wide receivers.  But, I figure his rationale is he wants Darnold as a potential keeper (assuming Darnold makes The Leap in year 2), Fournette is a stud when he’s healthy, and Golladay might turn out to be a real boss (particularly with Golden Tate off the team).

My rationale is:  I figure Winston will get his job back eventually (and throwing a ton of picks per game or not, he still gets a lot of fantasy points), Tyler Boyd is a solid receiver who is a great fill-in this week and a good FLEX option going forward, and if Le’Veon Bell ever decides to come back, he could be a champion-maker (or, if nothing else, he’s a solid keeper option for 2019).

All the risk is on my end.  TheGangUnderperforms really doesn’t have a lot to lose at this point, because holding onto a Le’Veon Bell who doesn’t play this year isn’t going to help his playoff chances.  Sam Darnold is and always was potential keeper fodder for a guy desperately looking for a quality quarterback going foreward.  And, if Fournette returns to form and keeps from getting injured the rest of the way, could be a real game-changer in the fantasy playoffs.

I haven’t seen a lot of Boyd, but I think Golladay is the more-talented guy, in a more passer-friendly offense, and has a higher upside to be a true #1 (whereas Boyd will always be second fiddle as long as A.J. Green is around, and when he’s not around, then Boyd will be drawing the opposing team’s #1 cornerback).  Bell is a better fantasy back than Fournette, but he might not play at all this year (and even if he does, he’ll likely be in some fucked up timeshare).  And, the quarterbacks don’t matter because I have Wentz and Dalton; I’m just hanging onto Winston as a potential backup/injury replacement.

If you look at this trade from a perspective of just the 2018 season, it feels like a wash right now, with a lot of variables left to play out.  We won’t know the true effect on this season until it’s over.  If you look at it from a keeper perspective, then yeah, Le’Veon Bell is the prize pig in this thing; I was never in a million years going to keep Darnold, because I already have a QB I like in Wentz, and I highly doubt he’s going to look even remotely promising between now and the end of the year.  But, of course, our league could choose to vote keepers out next year, at which point I did all this for nothing.  So, yeah, good talk.

Here’s this week’s lineup:

  • QB1 – Carson Wentz vs. DAL
  • QB2 – Andy Dalton vs. NO
  • WR1 – Tyreek Hill vs. ARI
  • WR2 – Robert Woods vs. SEA
  • RB1 – Ezekiel Elliott @ PHI
  • RB2 – Adrian Peterson @ TB
  • TE – Greg Olsen @ PIT
  • FLEX – Tyler Boyd vs. NO
  • K – Matt Prater @ CHI
  • DEF – Chicago vs. DET

My bench is:  Thielen (BYE), Carr, Bell, Carson, Winston, Devonta Freeman (IR).

I keep telling people how frustrating this year is, and that “I like my team,” but that’s starting to not be so true anymore.  I DON’T like this team!  It’s underperforming like a mofo!  Hence my willingness to do this blockbuster deal.  I have bad matchups every week, I’m playing the league’s toughest schedule, everything is fucked and I fucking hate fantasy football.

This week’s huge embarrassing failure will be at the hands of my Week 1 opponent, Crazy N8’s Prostates.  You may recall he beat me by less than 3 points because Derek Carr is a fucking piece of shit (but, I’m the guy who’s kept him on my roster all year long, so who’s REALLY the fucking piece of shit in this scenario?).  He’s got some decent players on BYE, but what does that mean?  Nothing means anything!  Here you go:

  • QB1 – Alex Smith @ TB
  • QB2 – Josh Rosen @ KC
  • WR1 – Keenan Allen @ OAK
  • WR2 – Odell Beckham Jr. @ SF
  • RB1 – James Conner vs. CAR
  • RB2 – David Johnson @ KC
  • TE – Travis Kelce vs. ARI
  • FLEX – Chris Thompson @ TB Marquez Valdes-Scantling vs. MIA
  • K – Greg Zuerlein vs. SEA
  • DEF – Green Bay vs. MIA

His bench is:  Cousins (BYE), Courtland Sutton (BYE) Chris Thompson, Latavius Murray (BYE), Dez Bryant, Baltimore (BYE).

I see a lot of direct conflicts again between his guys and mine.  If the Redskins keep up or beat the Bucs, then Adrian Peterson will likely do well.  If they stink and have to throw to come back, then Alex Smith and Chris Thompson will likely dominate.  He has all the great matchups you could ever want:  Travis Kelce, who will surely poach all the TDs away from Tyreek Hill; the two Arizona guys going up against Kansas City’s nothing defense; Keenan Allen going up against the Raiders’ nothing defense; and ODB going up against the 49ers’ nothing defense.  Zuerlein is going to make a minimum of three 50-yard field goals to spite me (as I’m sure Robert Woods will go scoreless yet again).  I wish I was fucking dead.

I’m predicting a comfortable defeat this week.  One of my quarterbacks will shit the bed, my skill guys will continue to disappoint, and I’m sure the Lions’ offense will just shred the Bears’ defense (and me without my Golladay to boot!).

THURSDAY AFTERNOON UPDATE:  Crazy N8’s Prostates is trying to make a mockery of my weekly blogging about my fantasy team by making post-Thursday morning roster moves.  Courtland Sutton hits the waiver wire, and Green Bay’s new #2 receiver hits the FLEX thanks to a Chris Thompson injury (ruled out this week, which gives me more hope for Adrian Peterson).

Nobody Wants To Hear About My Fantasy Team: Week 1

See my Intro to understand what this is all about.

See my Draft Recap to see where we are heading into the first week of the season.

I’ll be the first to admit I obsess WAY TOO MUCH about fantasy football.  Thinking about my roster, listening to podcasts, reading articles, pouring over the rankings of other people, scouring the waiver wire for potential pick-ups, conjuring trades to try and swindle my friends out of their elite players.  My productivity in general takes a HUGE hit during the football season for those reasons and many others, but I’m no more insane than I am in the lead-up to Week 1.

It’s no more or less important than any other regular season week, but it FEELS like the most important game of the season.  At the same time, I’ve been trying my best in recent years not to tinker too much with my roster before I’ve actually had a chance to see these guys play.  I mean, if I liked these guys enough to draft them a week ago, why am I sitting here second-guessing myself before they’ve done anything to convince me they’re no good?

Last year, I think I managed to go all the way through the first week before making a roster change; this year I wasn’t as strong.  But, I feel I had a good reason:  the Bears made a huge trade for Khalil Mack over the weekend – the day AFTER I drafted Baltimore’s defense – so I used my relatively high waiver priority (3rd in the league) to swap defenses.

My draft strategy this year was simple:  wait until the very last minute to draft a defense.  There are a few you have to feel good about – the Rams, the Jags, the Vikings, maybe the Eagles – but a lot of the time, defense is about matchups.  Likewise, there are countless stories of defenses that came out of nowhere to lead the fantasy league in points, just as there are countless stories of supposedly-elite defenses succumbing to age or injury or simple over-rating.  Why get caught up in the fervor of taking one of the top pre-season defenses early in the draft when you can get one pretty close to just as good at the end of the draft or on waivers after the first week.  So, in this league, I picked up the Ravens’ defense, because they’re going up against Buffalo in Week 1, and that felt like a good one to stream against until some other team popped out as one to go with from Week 2 onward (or, if I got lucky, and the Ravens’ defense was really good in general – and not just against the Bills – then I just got them in the next-to-last round while the suckers in my league wasted precious earlier draft picks on the same quality).

The thing is, even heading into the draft, I liked Chicago’s defense as a possible sleeper.  I think Vic Fangio is an excellent defensive coordinator – on a tier just below Wade Phillips – and I seemed to remember them really going hard after young talent in the draft on this side of the ball.  They seemed poised like a breakout candidate BEFORE trading for Mack; now that they have him, and his sack potential, I like the Bears enough to make them my ONLY defense.

Also, not for nothing, but I like my bench players an awful lot (heading into Week 1, my bench includes:  Greg Olsen, Carson Wentz, Robert Woods, Adrian Peterson, and Kenny Stills).  I don’t want to drop ANY of those guys at the moment, as I feel like they could all play important roles on my team this year.  If I did have to drop someone, it would likely be one of those two receivers, so seeing how they both look in the first week is going to be critical in my line of thinking going forward (gun to my head:  I’d probably choose Woods over Stills, as I like the Rams’ offense more than Miami’s; but Stills could end up as the Dolphins’ best receiver this year, while the Rams have a lot of guys who will divide Goff’s attention).

Anyway, how I plan to do this is I’m going to write up my thought process heading into the week ahead of time, that way my rationale won’t be tainted by events that already happened.  You’re going to know exactly what I’m thinking heading into this week, because I’m writing it before the games start.  Then, I’m going to write a section after the fact, letting you know how my week went.  So, without further ado:

My Rationale Beforehand

Here’s my roster for Week 1:

  • QB1 – Derek Carr vs. LAR
  • QB2 – Andy Dalton @ IND
  • WR1 – Tyreek Hill @ LAC
  • WR2 – Adam Thielen vs. SF
  • RB1 – Ezekiel Elliott @ CAR
  • RB2 – Leonard Fournette @ NYG
  • TE – Jordan Reed @ AZ
  • FLEX – Demaryius Thomas vs. SEA
  • K – Robbie Gould @ MIN
  • DEF – Chicago @ GB

Obviously, if Wentz was healthy, he’d be my QB1 and I’d probably end up sitting Carr this week.  On waivers, the available QBs (at the time of this writing) are Tyrod Taylor, Joe Flacco, Sam Bradford, Ryan Fitzpatrick, and both Bills quarterbacks.  Of those guys, I might marginally prefer Taylor to Carr based on matchups (I could see Carr getting in trouble against that Rams defense, while Taylor is always careful with the football and the Steelers don’t really pose much of a threat to make his life miserable), but not enough to make a roster change.  I have a lot riding on Carr this year, based on the fact that I drafted him so high and because I believe the Raiders will be throwing a lot, so I kinda need him to work out for me early in the season.

I don’t have a lot to say about my starting WRs and RBs; they seem pretty self-explanatory.  I will say that I’m pretty confident about my FLEX guy as well, as I think Thomas could have a field day against this Seahawks defense.  For what it’s worth, I like Emmanuel Sanders a lot this year, but not particularly in this game.  The Broncos tend to move Thomas around quite a bit, and honestly I don’t see him going to Griffin’s side as much as Sanders.  I don’t think they play Thomas in the slot very much, so that negates Justin Coleman’s impact.  If I’m right, and Thomas is lining up opposite of Griffin’s side on the other end, I think 150 yards and a TD or two is well within his capabilities.  If I wasn’t playing Thomas, I would’ve gone with AP, but I’d like to take a wait-and-see approach with the veteran running back before I commit to giving him regular time in my fantasy lineup.

My biggest sticking point is in my TE spot, where I’ve already waffled once and it wouldn’t shock me if I waffled again.

Here’s the deal:  I drafted Olsen in the 8th round.  As I noted previously, I didn’t intend to use that high of a pick on a tight end this year, seemingly content with taking the leftover scraps.  But, Olsen was sitting there, and I would’ve felt like a fool if I’d let him drop any further.  He’s obviously a tremendous talent, both in fantasy and in real life, and in a usual circumstance, I’d be happy to start him against the Cowboys.  But, then in the 12th round, Jordan Reed was sitting there.  He’s got Alex Smith throwing to him.  He’s in an offense that utilizes the tight end to a great extent even before Alex Smith got there.  And, it’s week 1.  He’s healthy!  He’s probably as healthy as he’s ever going to be.  Indeed, I wouldn’t be shocked if this was the last chance I got to start him, that’s how fragile he is!  He’s going up against the Cardinals, which feels like a juicy matchup, and they’re on the road, so I expect the Redskins will need to throw the ball more than they would if they were at home and more likely to be sitting on a lead in the 4th quarter.  Ultimately, I feel like there’s better touchdown potential for someone like Reed over someone like Olsen, factoring in everything around both players.  The Panthers just have more weapons on offense, and I don’t believe Cam will be as inclined to look for his TE in the red zone as Smith will be.  We’ll see; I have a feeling I’m going to regret whatever I do here.

Also, thinking long term, I fucked up when I took Reed, because both players have Week 4 byes, which means if they both stay healthy between now and then, I either have to drop a really productive guy, or I’ll have to roster a third tight end for a week (or I guess I could take a 0 at that spot for one game, but that seems idiotic that early in the season).

Anyway, that’s that.  Below, read about how my fantasy week went.

***

Week 1 Results

Well, I didn’t want to believe it, but Derek Carr fucked me ALREADY!

I had a 20-point lead heading into Monday Night.  I had Carr left to go; usually, when you’re winning and you have a quarterback still to play, you’re in pretty excellent shape.  I want to say I was an 80% favorite heading into the night.  My opponent, Crazy N8’s Prostates, had Marvin Jones and the Rams’ kicker.  It was a lock, right?

Not so fucking fast.

If Carr had just thrown a single TD, I would’ve won.  If he’d just thrown TWO interceptions – instead of three – I would’ve won.  If Legatron had just missed one of those field goals (he ended up with 17 points in total), I would’ve won.  Instead, I’m a 3-point loser and everything is meaningless.

For a while there, I was looking like a genius with the Bears defense.  I also looked like a fucking boner, because remember how I had to drop Baltimore’s defense to pick up the Bears?  Well, not only did they go off (to the tune of 31 points in our league, way over their expected 17.12), but they went off FOR MY OPPONENT (who picked them up and played them against me!).  At one time, with Aaron Rodgers out of the game, the Bears had 35 points, but then the Packers started scoring, so that total fell to 20 (still well above the expected 9.06 Yahoo projected).

My big decision of Jordan Reed over Greg Olsen ended up panning out somewhat, with Olsen being the one to leave his game with an injury.  Reed beat Olsen by 9.5 points, so bully for me.

That Fournette injury is obviously a concern.  He was on his way to a monster day, but I guess his injury woes aren’t behind him.  Now, every time I have him in my lineup, I have to wonder if he’s going to get me 30 points or 3 points.  As long as Adrian Peterson is healthy – and in a plus matchup – I really have to consider putting him in there more often.

Demaryius Thomas acquitted himself well as my FLEX guy.  Predictably, the Seahawks’ defense posed little threat.  The bigger threat is Keenum’s rapport with Emmanuel Sanders, who went OFF in that game.  Still, my value pick is looking solid so far.

My biggest shining star was Tyreek Hill, who blew up to the tune of 46.10 points this week (he led all non-Fitzmagic players in my league).  He almost pulled my ass out of the fire, but you just can’t overcome a 3-point week out of your top available QB.

Crazy N8’s Prostates’ lineup looked like this:

  • QB1 – Kirk Cousins vs. SF
  • QB2 – Alex Smith @ AZ
  • WR1 – ODB vs. JAX
  • WR2 – Keenan Allen vs. KC
  • RB1 – Shady McCoy @ BAL
  • RB2 – David Johnson vs. WAS
  • TE – Travis Kelce @ LAC
  • FLEX – Marvin Jones vs. NYJ
  • K – Greg Zuerlein @ OAK
  • DEF – Baltimore vs. BUF

I ended up being the highest scorer of all the losers and had the third-highest points in the league this week.  Pretty sad state of affairs, all things considered.  Carson Wentz can’t come back soon enough.  Starting to think about picking up Fitzpatrick.  Things are looking bleak already!

Predicting The 2018 NFL Season

So, I did that dumb thing where you print out the whole season schedule and predict every single game.  It’s incomprehensibly stupid and a total waste of time – because obviously I’m not going to predict anywhere CLOSE to all the games correct – but it actually kind of worked out I think!  We’ll see.  The records I came up with look like they could hypothetically be accurate – I don’t have anyone going 16-0 or 0-16, for instance – and I’m going to assume all the totals add up to whatever the number of regular season NFL games is supposed to be.

Check out some predictions from past seasons:

I’ll take just a QUICK look back at how I did in 2017 to get that out of the way.  See my division winners on the left (my predicted playoff seeding in parentheses) and the actual division winners on the right (with the actual playoff seeding in parentheses):

  • Seattle (1) – Los Angeles (3)
  • Green Bay (2) – Minnesota (2)
  • New York (3) – Philadelphia (1)
  • Carolina (4) – New Orleans (4)
  • New England (1) – New England (1)
  • Kansas City (2) – Kansas City (4)
  • Pittsburgh (3) – Pittsburgh (2)
  • Tennessee (4) – Jacksonville (3)

Wildcards:

  • Tampa Bay (5) – Carolina (5)
  • Dallas (6) – Atlanta (6)
  • Oakland (5) – Tennessee (5)
  • Houston (6) – Buffalo (6)

So, as you can see, I fucked up the NFC entirely (only predicting Carolina to make the playoffs, but I had them as a division winner and they only were a wildcard), but I picked 3/4 AFC division winners and 4/6 of the AFC playoff teams.  I’ve had better years though (obviously, since last year I predicted a Super Bowl of Seattle over Oakland).

Let’s just wipe that from our memory banks, if we can, and move on to this year.

NFC East

  • Philadelphia:  9-7
  • Dallas:  8-8
  • Washington:  8-8
  • New York:  5-11

I still like Philly a lot, and may have under-shot their record here, but I can’t help but see some regression out of this team.  I do think their second half will be a lot better than their first half, and I think the rest of their division is pretty mediocre, so it shouldn’t be a stretch for them to repeat as NFC East champs.  I think the Cowboys have a relatively easy schedule, which accounts for their 8 wins.  I actually believe the Redskins will be better than the Cowboys, but for whatever reason I see an uneven season out of them (winning some games they should lose, but also losing some games they should win).  I don’t like the Giants whatsoever and I think Eli is finished.

NFC North

  • Green Bay:  13-3
  • Minnesota:  10-6
  • Detroit:  9-7
  • Chicago:  4-12

I’ll say it right now:  I’m guaranteeing a full healthy season out of Aaron Rodgers.  He just signed a huge extension, so obviously he can’t be too disgruntled with that team.  I think he’ll be on the warpath this year and really carry that team to new heights.  I still like the Vikings a lot, but I think there’s some regression there (as well as some growing pains with a new QB in Cousins) and I just think there will be an adjustment period for them (I could also see the Vikings getting hit hard by the injury bug).  I like Detroit okay – and their new coaching staff has to be an improvement over last year’s – but they’re probably a year or two away from really competing for the division again.  I have a lot of doubts about the Bears and don’t really think this quarterback is going to hit big.

NFC South

  • Atlanta:  11-5
  • Carolina:  10-6
  • New Orleans:  9-7
  • Tampa Bay:  2-14

The big thing here is I believe the Falcons’ defense will take a big step forward this season.  I don’t trust Sark as an offensive coordinator and I never will, but I don’t think this offense is going to have to be as elite to rack up a bunch of wins.  I think the Panthers are just solid all the way around, and they’ve got a relatively easy schedule as it is.  I think the Saints take a little bit of a step back as I wonder if the offense will be as good with all the changes in the skill players.  I could also see the Saints getting a lot of guys injured.  I think the Bucs are going to compete for the #1 overall draft pick next year.

NFC West

  • Los Angeles:  12-4
  • San Francisco:  9-7
  • Seattle:  9-7
  • Arizona:  3-13

I think this is the year for the Rams.  I think they put it all together and go to the Super Bowl.  I think the Seahawks and 49ers will be about the same, but the 49ers will have the edge based on conference wins.  I actually – upon further review – have the Seahawks going 5-1 before the BYE, before going on a 5-game losing streak, then finishing the season on a 4-1 streak (don’t know what that’s about).  I think Arizona will be terrible.

AFC East

  • New England:  12-4
  • Miami:  7-9
  • New York:  5-11
  • Buffalo:  2-14

What a surprise!  The Patriots roll to an easy divisional title because the AFC East is the worst fucking division in all of football!  Of the poo-poo platter that is the rest of this division, I think with Tannehill back, the Dolphins will win the most games of the bunch (but still not enough to make the playoffs or even go .500).  I think the Jets will struggle with a rookie QB at the helm.  And, I think the Bills will compete with the Bucs for that #1 overall draft pick.  TANKING AT ITS FINEST IN THE AFC EAST!

AFC North

  • Pittsburgh:  13-3
  • Cincinnati:  9-7
  • Baltimore:  7-9
  • Cleveland:  4-12

A lot of gods & clods in the AFC this year.  I think the Steelers dominate a pretty easy schedule.  I think Cincy is better than expected (but falls just short of the playoffs).  I think the Ravens will be okay.  And I think too many people are buying the Hard Knocks hype; stay away from the Browns this year and thank me later (they’ll be better when they fire Hue Jackson).

AFC South

  • Jacksonville:  13-3
  • Houston:  11-5
  • Tennessee:  7-9
  • Indianapolis:  4-12

This division is going to be FUN!  Here, I love me some Jags; I think they play the Rams in one of the most entertaining Super Bowls of all time.  I’m also on the Houston bandwagon, but I think they fall just short of a division title.  I don’t like the Titans to repeat as a playoff team; and I think Andrew Luck will win them a few games single-handedly, but the Colts overall will be pretty bad.

AFC West

  • Los Angeles:  12-4
  • Kansas City:  9-7
  • Denver:  6-10
  • Oakland:  4-12

It’s probably bad that I’m drinking the Kool Aid on L.A., Houston, Pittsburgh, AND Jacksonville, but here we are.  I think the Chargers finally put it all together and the city of Los Angeles enjoys the best professional football in the country.  I don’t see the Chiefs as the powerhouse that other teams do – they’ll also have some growing pains with a new QB in Mahomes – but I think they’ll get better as the season goes along and sneak into the playoffs.  I just don’t buy the Broncos, and I think Jon Gruden will be a terrible hire for the Raiders.

NFC Playoffs

  1. Green Bay
  2. Los Angeles
  3. Atlanta
  4. Philadelphia
  5. Minnesota
  6. Carolina

AFC Playoffs

  1. Jacksonville
  2. Pittsburgh
  3. New England
  4. Los Angeles
  5. Houston
  6. Kansas City

Wild Card Round

  • Atlanta over Carolina
  • Philadelphia over Minnesota
  • New England over Kansas City
  • Los Angeles over Houston

Divisional Round

  • Los Angeles over Atlanta
  • Green Bay over Philadelphia
  • Jacksonville over Los Angeles
  • New England over Pittsburgh

Championship Round

  • Los Angeles over Green Bay
  • Jacksonville over New England

Super Bowl

  • Jacksonville over Los Angeles

Now that I look at it, it looks silly to have the Steelers over the Pats in the regular season (betting against the Patriots getting that first round bye is always a bad move), but I can’t go back and change it!

I have 5/8 division winners repeating and 9/12 playoff teams returning, which also feels like a few too many.  We’ll see, I guess.  I haven’t felt this strongly about a Super Bowl matchup since Seahawks/Broncos; I would bet a lot of money it’s these two teams.