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

  • Pre-Season Week 1 HERE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Seahawks Death Week: The 2019 Seahawks Were Too Pure For This World

I’m still sort of catatonic and it’s going to be at least another day before I actually WANT to talk about the Seahawks, but here I am, ever the trooper. Honestly, I want to say about an hour or so after the game ended – after reading all the post-mortem tweets and finishing the last two episodes of Letterkenny just to unwind and try to laugh again – I was EXHAUSTED. I could barely keep my eyes open. The game, as usual (and as expected), was so intense and nerve-wracking, then it was over and I was so upset and ready to burn the whole fucking thing to ashes, I really expected to be wired and obsessing over it into the midnight hour. But, I was in bed not only at a reasonable hour, but probably 60-90 minutes before I really NEEDED to go to sleep. I wouldn’t say I’m wide-eyed and bushy-tailed this morning – I kept dreaming of being chased by giant rabbit monsters – but I guess I could always be less refreshed, so I’ll take it.

I was really trying, you guys. I was reverse-jinxing my ASS off these last couple weeks and I hope it was appreciated! I feel like my efforts alone got the Seahawks past the Eagles and if I’m not immortalized in this season’s Wikipedia page, then there’s a great injustice in the world. Unfortunately, it just wasn’t enough to get us through the Divisional Round.

Truth be told, I think the result would’ve been exactly the same had we played the 49ers on Saturday. Just a hunch, obviously there’s no way to know for sure, but I actually liked our chances a lot more had we somehow managed to beat the Packers and gotten to face them next week. Not for nothing, but the ideal scenario – winning the division, securing that 3-seed – still figures to have been the best path to success this playoff season. In that case, we would’ve beaten the Vikings at home (no doubt in my mind; Kirk Cousins is a fraud), gone on the road to play the Saints (who have proven they’re not unbeatable at home; plus it’s a climate-controlled dome over the freezing cold of Lambeau Field), and then either hosting the 49ers for the NFC Championship Game or going on the road to play the Packers after they’ve been tenderized by Frisco. The Super Bowl isn’t a mortal lock in that alternate universe, but I have to believe it beats our stupid reality.

The bottom line is: these Seahawks just weren’t good enough. We’ve overachieved all season, and this result is probably our absolute ceiling: going on the road in the Divisional Round, fighting back against an underwhelming 13-3 Packers team, and losing a 1-score game.

I mean, I hate to keep harping on it, but we were +7 in point differential in the regular season. Including our two playoff games, we’re +10 over 18 games; it’s almost a miracle we got THIS far. Play this season in a million different simulations, and I’m not sure there are too many examples of better outcomes than what we saw this year.

In my darkest hour, when I reflect back on this season, I’ll always wonder what could’ve been if we’d hired a babysitter for Josh Gordon …

We don’t really need to dwell too hard on the first half; it went about as expected. If gambling were legalized, you know what I would’ve done? I would’ve bet our poor, mistreated Taylor Family Farm on the Packers in the first half. What was it, -2 points? THAT was the easiest money of the weekend. With they way they always get off to hot starts – and the way we always trip over our own dicks – how do you not make that bet?

We went down 7 early, punted on our first two possessions, and then pulled it to 7-3 on a very unsatisfying drive that started at our own 42 yard line. Those would be our only points of the half, as we missed our other field goal attempt; meanwhile the Packers dominated the second quarter to go up 21-3. If it’s a Divisional Round matchup and the Seahawks are on the road, we’re DEFINITELY going to shit the bed for the first 30 minutes of the game, that’s just a given.

Then, the big climb out of the gutter. Touchdown to Lynch out of the break, 21-10. The Packers came right back down the field – embarrassingly easy, which was the name of the game – to make it 28-10, but to our credit we got right back to work with a long drive to make it 28-17. Then, we forced the first of two punts of the half, and things felt like they were turning. On our first drive of the fourth quarter, we drove all the way down again to score on another Lynch goalline plunge to make it 28-23; getting sacked on a corner blitz on the 2-point try felt like a pretty large tell that things were about to get shitty again.

BUT! We forced yet another punt, and now it REALLY looked like this game was going to be memorable. At that point, the Packers’ defense was spent. Our offense was humming, we were letting Russell cook – as the kids like to say – and right off the bat he hit Lockett for an easy 14-yard gain.

Then, arguably the play of the game. He had Malik Turner wide open on the Green Bay side of the 50-yard line. He hit him in the gut with the ball. And Turner dropped it. You know who wouldn’t have dropped it? Josh Gordon, but that’s neither here nor there. Okay, that was only first down, not a huge deal, right? We came back to hit Hollister for five yards to make 3rd & Manageable at our own 42 yard line. It sounds like MAYBE we considered making that 4-down territory, but we’ll never know for sure because for some reason, whatever play we called left Hollister trying to block one of the best pass rushers on Green Bay, who easily beat him for a 6-yard sack (with Ifedi standing there with nothing to do but fondle his own choad, I guess, instead of helping the overmatched receiving tight end against a linebacker who had at least 50 pounds of muscle on him).

At 4th & 11 at our own 36 yard line, punting was the right choice, in my mind. We had all three time outs (somehow, none were wasted), plus the 2-minute warning. If our defense could’ve forced just one more punt, the game could’ve been ours.

But, we let them convert a 3rd & 8 and a 3rd & 9 to salt away the game. And, here’s where I start calling out some guys, because it’s time.

Lano Hill was on the field, and I want to say he was involved in getting beaten on both of those third downs. He’s the fucking WORST. I saw Marquise Blair was inactive with an injury in practice this week, and that might legitimately be the reason why we lost this game. Words can’t describe how terrible Lano Hill is, and I can’t believe we’re stuck with him for one more season.

Let’s see, who else? AHH! Tre Flowers sure did suck! That guy couldn’t cover (my old, dead granny? the broad side of a barn? a cold?) Rock in a game of Rock/Paper/Scissors where his opponent had both hands genetically fused into the shapes of fists! (nailed it). He really doesn’t look like he’s made any progress between Year 1 and Year 2; frankly he looks the same as he did in his very first game. At no point whatsoever did I trust him against Davante Adams yesterday, nor any other receiver they opted to slot to his side. He was a total disaster in this game, and he’s eating a pretty significant slice of the “Reasons Why The Seahawks Lost To The Packers” Pie.

Also, I don’t know who I should blame for this, but not adjusting your scheme to put your best cornerback (Shaquill Griffin) on the other team’s best receiver (Adams) when it’s pretty apparent they’ve only got the one good one … I mean, it’s appalling! 8 catches for 160 yards and 2 touchdowns. You can’t allow that, while also allowing Jimmy Graham to do what he did, while also allowing them to get decent yardage on the ground, while also allowing them to go 9/14 on third downs.

(also, I know it’s annoying that Graham made all those big catches and ended our season, but he still sucks and they could’ve paid literally any tight end to do the exact same thing; instead they’re taking on a $12.67 million cap hit in 2019 for a stiff, slow, soft bum to do those things, so good for them I suppose)

I know Pete Carroll probably makes that call, but I agree with Field Gulls here, you’ve GOT to find someone who is halfway competent to run this defense. All Ken Norton has shown in his time here is that he’s decent at developing linebackers. As a former linebacker … WHAT A STRETCH!

For shits n’ giggs, here’s a rudimentary look at how Norton’s units have fared since he’s been a Defensive Cordinator. He was a DC for Oakland from 2015-2017, then in Seattle the last two seasons. So, we’ll look at those defenses the year before he arrived, as well as the years he was in charge (in bold and underlined):

  • Raiders 2014: 32nd in points, 21st in yards, 16th in passing yards, 22nd in rushing yards
  • 2015: 22nd in points, 22nd in yards, 26th in passing, 13th in rushing
  • 2016: 20th in points, 26th in yards, 24th in passing, 23rd in rushing
  • 2017: 20th in points, 23rd in yards, 26th in passing, 12th in rushing
  • Seahawks 2017: 13th in points, 11th in yards, 6th in passing yards, 19th in rushing yards
  • 2018: 11th in points, 16th in yards, 17th in passing, 13th in rushing
  • 2019: 22nd in points, 26th in yards, 27th in passing, 22nd in rushing

I’ll let smarter people than me dig into the analytics, but those are numbers everyone can understand, and they’re NOT GREAT BOB! I’m stepping on the toes of some later posts this week, but Ken Norton has done nothing to warrant keeping his job in Seattle.

Getting back to this game, I’ll gladly shit on Malik Turner a second time. He belongs in the XFL posthaste. He’s just a guy. Jaron Brown is just a guy. Every receiver not named Tyler Lockett or D.K. Metcalf are JAGs and this is a spot – with how frequently the Seahawks are in 3-wide receiver sets – the team could use an upgrade (again, lament the loss of poor Josh Gordon).

Everyone’s talking about the total absence of turnovers in recent weeks, so I guess I’ll mention that here. But, I always treat those as fluke occurrences; if you’re counting on your team to generate turnovers, then you’re bound to be disappointed in games like these. The Packers take good care of the ball. They’re well coached. And, they have one of the best quarterbacks of all time who has NEVER really turned the ball over much. Expecting Aaron Rodgers to throw picks is a better definition of insanity than the old cliche everone trots out on a daily basis nowadays.

I’m more disturbed by the lack of a pass rush, which is something far more in our control. I know it’s dumb to send the house against quarterbacks like A-Rod, but also leaving him in a pocket for 10 seconds to scan the field three or four times is also a bad recipe. Of course, that was our concern from the very beginning of the season, so I’ll say again: Thanks Ziggy Ansah, for NOTHING! That’s not totally fair, since he got hurt last week, but he also brought nothing to the table the entire season, so fuck him.

Anyway, 2 sacks for 8 yards (and, really, not too many pressures beyond that, ESPECIALLY on that final drive to run out the clock) won’t get it done against the Packers. You’ve got to get A-Rod on his ass early and often and have him running from ghosts by the 4th quarter.

***

It wasn’t a total disaster of a game though, so I’ll finish with some bright spots.

I won’t give the Marshawn Lynch Experience a letter grade in his return to the Seahawks; he gets special treatment of the pass/fail variety. And, in that sense, it’s an easy Pass for Beastmode. He had 2 TDs in this one on 26 yards rushing. It was tough sledding, as I feared it might. I’ve said this too many times to count: the Seahawks tend to get owned by really elite interior linemen, and Kenny Clark’s return was the difference in this one. He clogged up the middle and there was just nowhere for our guy to run. I like the idea of giving Lynch more carries and essentially making him the starter in this one over Homer – and he certainly made SOME chicken salad out of the chicken shit blocking we were giving him – but I don’t know if anyone on our roster or out in the free agent scrap heap could’ve done any better.

That’s 4 more touchdowns to throw on the Marshawn Lynch career pile, including 3 more in the playoffs, to help bolster his Hall of Fame chances. I really hope he makes it someday.

Ever since Shaquem Griffin started getting some run at defensive end in passing situations, I’ve been waiting for him to get his first sack in a huge situation, so it’s fitting it came in our last game of the season, in the fourth quarter, which ended up forcing the Packers to punt. What a fucking cool moment, with his brother getting there at nearly the same time, allowing them to celebrate together! Ruined, of course, by Malik Turner and our offense’s inability to capitalize. But, that’s something big to build on heading into the 2020 season.

Russell Wilson, of course, had a fine game. He wasn’t given a lot of help, but once again he accounted for an insanely high percentage of this offense’s output. 341 of our 387 yards came from Wilson’s arm or legs (not counting sack yardage).

One guy who showed up in a huge way was Tyler Lockett: 9 for 136 and a touchdown. As expected, with D.K. being the story last week, he had a relatively quiet game, as the Packers put a lot of resources his way. But, thankfully Lockett was up to the task, as he was getting open all over the field.

Before I forget, I can’t tell you how impressed I was with Duane Brown. He wasn’t perfect, but he was definitely needed, and rushing back from surgery to start in this game was super-human. Unfortunately, Mike Iupati couldn’t make the same miracle recovery, and he was seriously missed in the middle. Without him – and with Jamarco Jones leaving early with a head injury – there was absolutely nothing we could do with the aforementioned Kenny Clark.

Defensively, I dunno. Our front seven did pretty well, given the circumstances. We held down their rushing, and got better as the game went along in that regard. Clowney was a warrior. Bobby Wagner had some big stops. But, we didn’t get much from our safeties, and in the end we just couldn’t make the stops when it mattered most. The Packers were 3/3 in the red zone, all for touchdowns, and you just can’t do that against this team and expect to win. You have to make one of those a field goal! And, I don’t know what the fuck happened on that 40-yard TD to Adams, but 1-on-1 coverage with Flowers as the primary was inexcusable. He should’ve been double-teamed all day, and ultimately that call comes from the top.

Terrible defensive scheme by Pete Carroll. You were ultimately the reason why we lost this game. Of course, you’re also the reason why we ended up making the playoffs in the first place, and got this far with a team that probably should’ve been 9-7 or 8-8, so good job I guess?

They can’t all be Bill Belichick.

I’m No Good At Titles & The Seahawks Won Their Wildcard Matchup Against The Eagles

I had this weekend ALL wrong!

I’ll tell you this much: I legitimately thought the Saints were one of the top two teams in the NFC and that they were going to KILL the Vikings. For what it’s worth, if that was Vikings at Seahawks, I still think Seattle prevails, but the outcome has me thinking twice a little bit. Maybe the Saints are Playoff Cursed?

No matter, because the Seahawks went into Philly and came out on top, just like we all knew they would, right guys?! We’re all on the right side of history in this argument!

I will say this much: I’m VERY happy that the Vikings did win, because I would MUCH rather they be cannon-fodder for the 49ers next week over us. I think the 49ers win that game by three scores EASILY; they’re super healthy across the board, well-rested, and have a team flying halfway across the country on a short week with a quarterback who is 1 for a million in big games (happy for Cousins and all that, but one win doesn’t automatically wipe out his entire broken reputation).

Anyway, let’s tarry no further and talk about this Eagles game. In a lot of ways, it went according to expectations; but a few key spots were totally unpredictable.

Let’s start here; I feel like I need to get an “I Told You So” out of the way to boost my confidence: the Seahawks’ rushing attack was truly abysmal. If you take away Wilson’s scrambling (which he could have in most every game if he really wanted), the Seahawks’ running backs (Homer primarily, Lynch secondarily, and Turbin never) ran 17 times for 19 yards and a touchdown. Homer had one 12-yard rush; his other 10 carries went for a combined 0 yards. Lynch had that one MAMMOTH 5-yard TD rush, but even Beastmode could only muster 2 additional yards on his subsequent 5 carries.

Fletcher Cox easily made the biggest impact for the Eagles and it’s not even close; he was the second-most important player in this game behind Jadeveon Clowney (who we’ll get to later). It obviously hurt the Seahawks to be out Duane Brown (replaced by George Fant), Mike Iupati (replaced by Jamarco Jones), and Justin Britt (replaced by Joey Hunt), but even D.J. Fluker was getting pushed around (or, at best, stonewalled) by Cox and his wrecking crew on that front four. I’ve always known Cox was great, but MAN was he impressive in this one; he was a man possessed, and he didn’t seem to take a single play off. As a Seahawks blogger, I don’t tend to write a lot about opposing players, but I have to tip my cap to him; he almost single-handedly ruined the Seahawks’ season.

The Seahawks scored 17 points, so obviously the offense didn’t do a whole helluva lot, but there were three key aspects to the Seahawks’ success:

  1. The Seahawks didn’t turn the ball over
  2. The Seahawks were 8/15 on third down
  3. Russell Fucking Wilson

There were actually no turnovers in this game, period (which was odd, considering the start, where both offenses put the ball on the turf only to recover their own fumbles), so even one bad throw or mis-handled snap could’ve really swung the entire season. I hate to say it (especially considering Homer almost bonered it in the first possession), but NOT having Chris Carson might’ve made all the difference! Look, I love the guy as much as anyone, but he CLEARLY never fixed his fumbling problem (he had three in his first three games of the season, was clean for a while, then had a 3-game stretch where he lost the ball 4 times – but the opposing team only recovered 1 of them, which is pretty fortunate).

The success on third down was doubly-great because we were in 3rd & Long so many times! Some of that was luck/poor tackling on the Eagles’ part, but most of that was Russell Wilson flat out making plays. So, let’s get to him.

325 yards on 18/30 (for a 10.8 average) with a TD and a 108.3 passer rating. Add on 45 rushing yards on 9 scrambles, and we’re talking about the guy who was once the frontrunner for the MVP this season. He wasn’t perfect; there was an overthrow here and there, but he was as close to it as you can get.

It really sunk in as you watched some of these quarterbacks this weekend (and ESPECIALLY throughout the season): if it’s 3rd & 18 or whatever, and the Seahawks have Josh Allen or Ryan Tannehill or maybe 85% of the mediocre-to-crappy quarterbacks in this league, they’re either running a draw play or a screen pass to the running back, getting anywhere from 5-10 yards, and punting. Now, say what you will about the play calling (it was growing more and more alarming every time the Seahawks ran the ball after a penalty on 2nd & 20, I’ll admit it), but we’re not afraid to put the ball in Wilson’s hands when we’re behind the sticks, our backs are against the wall, and we need an incredible play. He’s the reason why you pay a quarterback $30+ million per season. He’ll get the job done when 90-95% of the rest of the league will fail in those same situations.

It was a low-key special performance by Wilson that will largely be forgotten to the sands of time, especially when you factor in this was D.K. Metcalf’s Coming Out Party.

I’ve been extremely high on Metcalf ever since we drafted him. Most talent evaluators (including the other 31 teams in the league) focused on the negatives in his repertoire, but I’ve known all along that his skillset fits this team and this quarterback perfectly. As has been discussed, his rookie season was largely a success, but there have been plenty of ups & downs. This was the first time he really put everything together and showed a glimpse of what he could become: a flat-out superstar in the NFL. 7 catches on 9 targets, 160 yards and a touchdown. The TD was incredible – a 53-yard catch, stumble, get-back-up, and barrel into the endzone – but his game-sealing 36-yard reception on 3rd & 10, with the Eagles holding only 1 time out on the wrong side of the 2-minute warning, was the reason you brought him in here in the first place. One-on-one coverage, no safeties deep, you absolutely need to convert that to win the game, otherwise you punt it away for the chance to tie, and he high-pointed the ball and came down with the W. Simply outstanding.

I was probably least-sure about the Seahawks’ defense in this one, but this was a classic performance by these guys.

Clowney was a total difference-maker; we haven’t seen him play this well since the 49ers game in Week 10. He filled up the stat sheet with 5 tackles, a sack, 2 tackles for loss, and one very memorable quarterback hit.

You can’t talk about this game without talking about Carson Wentz getting injured in the first quarter, leaving the game with a head injury, being replaced by a 40 year old Josh McCown who came out of retirement to be this team’s backup. We’ll never know if the Eagles would’ve won with Wentz in there for the full game, but I have to imagine at the very least that he would’ve found a way to at least get them in the endzone one time. As it stands, McCown was okay, but he was clearly over his skis; he threw for 174 yards on 18/24 passing and most importantly 0 turnovers. But, he also suffered 6 of the 7 sacks the Seahawks got in this one (after we had the second-fewest in the league in the regular season) and was clearly a little gimpy, having to run for his life most of the day.

The Seahawks’ pass rush really showed up on a day the team desperately needed it. It wasn’t any one man, either, as 6 different guys combined for the 7 total. Of course, that was a byproduct of the Eagles also suffering a number of injuries on their O-Line, but clearly the Seahawks were better able to cope (as Wilson only had the one).

Seattle has Wilson and that’s a definite leg up over the rest of the NFC, but we’ll only go as far as this defense can take us, and that means having all of our key guys healthy and playing at the top of their games. Clowney sure showed up. Bobby Wagner showed why he’s yet again an All Pro this season. And, Quandre Diggs – first game back since his high ankle sprain – showed why he’s so important to this defense. The longest reception by an Eagles player went for 32 yards to Ertz, but there was nothing over the top, and obviously they never saw the endzone. We’ll never know for sure how many of the sacks were due to tight coverage, but it’s definitely a non-zero number. Diggs allows McDougald to play more closely to the line of scrimmage, to help out in defending the run as well as covering those two great tight ends.

I want to shout out Cody Barton, as he was a guy I highlighted as a major concern before the game. For as much as this team plays base defense – and indeed, he was in there for 75% of the Seahawks’ snaps – he showed why this team loved him throughout the pre-season. He had a sack, 1.5 tackles for loss, and two passes defended in this one as well as an additional QB hit. I saw him do nothing but make play after play, as he finally had a full week to practice at one spot, and this team coached him up to their fullest abilities. If he continues to show out like he did in this one, there’s no doubt he’ll be starting for this defense in 2020.

As I said before, this was a classic defensive performance: bend, don’t break, lots of aggressive penalties, but ultimately keeping the inferior offense out of the endzone and keeping them at 0 for 2 on fourth down (both deep in Seattle territory, on back-to-back possessions in the fourth quarter). This is a similar (but obviously not the exact same, due to injuries) defense that let Brett Hundley march down the field on them in that fakakta Cardinals game, so it was nice to see them stand up when it mattered most.

It all sets us up for the best-possible scenario for the Seahawks, given the circumstances. We avoid the 49ers in the Divisional Round, which I’ve argued all along is of utmost importance. Now, Green Bay is obviously no slouch – and certainly the talking points around Seahawksland will be their terribly-easy schedule this season – but with Aarons Rodgers & Jones, Davante Adams, and a better-than-you’d-think defense, that team is balanced and experienced and, most importantly, at home.

I’m still pretty convinced that the Seahawks will lose in this one, but I’m more willing to give us a chance to score the upset than I would be if we’re going to Santa Clara. Make no mistake, I obviously believe the Seahawks COULD beat the 49ers (we obviously did it once on their home field, and should’ve beaten them twice this season), but it would be too difficult in this particular round of the playoffs: the 49ers are at full strength, with a week off, while we just played a brutal game against a very physical team all the way across the country. If we were to shock the world and upend the Packers, I’d give us a 50/50 shot at beating the 49ers in the Championship Game.

But, to get there, we have to beat a different very good, healthy, well-rested team at home. It’s never easy to win in Green Bay, and it’s especially not easy to beat them there in January. Knocking Aaron Rodgers out of the game almost certainly won’t be on the table, so here’s to hoping there’s a little Russell Wilson Magic left in the tank (we hopefully didn’t need to use it all up in that Eagles game).

We’ve Come To The End Of The Road For The 2019 Seahawks

I just don’t know how you trust this team, you know? The Seahawks have been flying by the seat of their pants on a crazy-unsustainable amount of luck, and yet they still managed to disappoint somehow. The Seahawks should be the 3-seed; they should’ve beaten the 49ers last week. They failed to do so, and that’s ultimately going to be their downfall.

As predicted, everyone is trying to spin this off as a good thing: going to Philadelphia vs. playing at home against the Vikings. Sure, the Eagles are the inferior of the two opponents, but the Vikings are trash, Kirk Cousins is this generation’s Tony Romo (the guy who never won the big one, but whose stats are always going to have him in the conversation among Top 10 QBs in any given season), and I’ll take a home game over a road game any day of the week. Don’t give me this crap about the Seahawks being 7-1 on the road! They’re also 10-2 in one-score games, and as in all things, it’ll even out in the end.

I said this before and I’ll say it again, the most important thing about winning the NFC West wasn’t necessarily hosting a game in Wild Card weekend, but it was pushing the 49ers down to the 5-seed, as they would’ve been highly likely to prevail in the Divisional Round, thereby giving us a chance to possibly host the NFC Championship Game. Or, failing that, then the 49ers could’ve lost in the Divisional Round, and that’s probably the best team in the NFC out of your hair entirely!

Instead, not only do we have to go on the road for the entirety of the playoffs, but our very next game is almost certainly going to be against those very same 49ers, who will be healthy and rested and everything I’ve already talked about ad nauseam.

That’s actually the best-case scenario for this season. The worst-case scenario is losing this weekend to those Eagles, and I’m here to tell you it’s not only on the table, but it’s piping hot and ready to be served.

I mean, sure, we can point to their 9-7 record and laugh and laugh, but as this Ringer article succinctly points out, these terrible division winners tend to win more playoff games than they lose (including our very own Seahawks, on two separate occasions this century!). Yes, the Eagles are banged up, but their guys are starting to come back, and since this is the playoffs, anyone who’s able to walk will be playing this week. Carson Wentz isn’t on the same plain as Mahomes or Wilson or Lamar Jackson, but he’s gutty. He’s a winner. He’ll come through in the clutch more often than not.

These Eagles, under Doug Pederson, also have a terrific playoff record, particularly as underdogs with their backs against the wall. They’re the epitome of the Nobody Believed In Us team.

So, let’s break it down.

Defensively, the Seahawks gave up the 7th most yards; the Eagles gave up the 10th fewest. The Eagles are particularly great against the run, giving up the third fewest rushing yards per game at 90.1. It’s translated to the Eagles giving up 22.1 points per game vs. Seattle’s 24.9.

The Eagles also give up the fourth-fewest third down conversions at 34.2%; the Seahawks are in the middle of the pack at 38.4%. The Seahawks’ defense generated the second-fewest sacks in the NFL at 28 (tied with the Falcons and Lions, only 5 more than the bottom-feeding Dolphins); the Eagles are in the middle of the pack with 43.

With the game being in their home stadium, with their crazy fans going wild, give the defensive edge to the Eagles by a wide margin.

Offensively, the Seahawks were 8th in yards, the Eagles 14th. The Eagles were marginally better in passing yards, but they also threw it almost 100 more times than the Seahawks. The Seahawks really shined rushing the ball, 4th in the NFL; but the Eagles weren’t too bad either, at 11th. Considering their defensive strength is stopping the run, while our defensive strength is absolutely nothing, I don’t know if you can even give the Seahawks the edge in the running game.

You could MAYBE give the Seahawks the edge in the passing game, but the Eagles’ secondary is starting to get healthy. And, while both teams have significant injuries at their skill positions, the Eagles still have two great tight ends, which just so happens to be one of the Seahawks’ weakest spots to defend in the passing game. If anything, I’d give a SLIGHT edge to the Seahawks (because Russell Wilson), but if anything I’m leaning towards even.

I’d say the kicking game is remarkably closer than I expected, with a slight edge to the Seahawks in the punting game.

So, with all of these matchups going away from the Seahawks, why should I expect us to win this game? Because we have 2 more wins? You mean those two games where somewhat reliable kickers missed game-winning field goals at the end? We’re banking all of this confidence on two flukey kicks?

You know what happens if the Seahawks lose those two games (to the Rams and 49ers) like we probably should have? We’re currently sitting at home watching the Rams play in our spot! So, don’t tell me the Seahawks are definitely way better than the Eagles, because we’re not.

That doesn’t mean I think it’s going to be a blowout. Like most Seahawks games, this will be within one score by the end. And, in that case, there’s a CHANCE the Seahawks could prevail, if things break right, and if we can squeeze a little more luck out of this season.

Realistically, though, we need Jadeveon Clowney to play (he has yet to practice this week) and play well. We need Quandre Diggs to return from an ankle sprain and play well. We need Shaquill Griffin to play considerably better than he did last week. We need someone to step up for Mychal Kendricks. Ideally, Ziggy Ansah will finally step up and reveal himself.

And that’s all just to keep us in it! If one or more things break down in that previous paragraph, it wouldn’t shock me in the slightest to see the Seahawks lose by a couple scores.

Offensively, we have to try to find a running game against a stout rushing defense. We need to get this offense to do literally ANYTHING in the first half, so we’re not in a huge hole by halftime. That means playcalling needs to improve, our scheme coming into this game needs to be top notch, and our offensive line needs to figure out a way to give Russell Wilson a few seconds to throw the fucking ball!

I don’t have high hopes at all for this game. I’ll watch. I’ll gut it out to the bitter end. But, I’m not excited. If anything, even if the Seahawks win, it’s just delaying the inevitable. If we don’t lose this week, we’ll DEFINITELY lose next week, so what’s the point? I’d almost rather pick a few spots higher in the 2020 draft, all things considered.

The 49ers are better, the Saints are better, the Packers are probably better, and this weekend I believe the Eagles will show they’re better. On their own field, anyway. Reverse it and I think the Seahawks get the job done, but that’s not our lot in life, because we blew the division once again.

Not a gread headspace to go into the NFL playoffs.

The Seahawks Are Back In The Driver’s Seat With Two Weeks To Go

It figures, the weekend I go to Vegas to gamble on football is one of the weirdest fucking weekends of the season. The Seahawks game was no exception. We started off uncharacteristically strong – albeit somewhat expectedly, considering how terrible the Panthers have been lately – and it looked like it was gonna be one of the few easy, walkover type victories.

Instead, our defenders started dropping like flies, and the game ended up being A LOT closer than it had any right to be. It actually started before the game, with word that Shaquill Griffin was inactive with a hamstring. That followed up news that Clowney wouldn’t make the trip thanks to the flu bug that was going around. Ziggy Ansah was also dealing with his shoulder issue and had to sit out. Then, we lost both Bobby Wagner and Quandre Diggs during the game to separate ankle injuries.

So, if you were wondering, that’s how a game goes from 30-10 with less than 8 minutes to go in the game, to 30-24 and needing to convert a couple of first downs to salt the game away in the closing minutes. Fail there, and we’re talking about the difference between a region of suicidal Seahawks fans vs. this warm and cozy feeling we’re having right now, in a 4-way tie for first in the NFC at 11-3.

We have the Atlanta Falcons of all teams to thank for that! They somehow came across the country and beat a banged up 49ers team going through a rash of defensive injuries of their own.

I’ll be honest, this weekend was a blur, so I don’t really have much insight into the games. I just know it’s setting up to be a fantastic finish these final two weeks!

Here are the schedules for the relevant teams:

  • Seattle: vs. Cards, vs. 49ers
  • San Francisco: vs. Rams, @ Seahawks
  • New Orleans: @ Titans, @ Panthers
  • Green Bay: @ Vikings, @ Lions

The Saints and Packers have nice, soft landings in Week 17, and their toughest remaining tests this weekend. While they’re no pushovers, I’d say the Saints should dispatch the Titans easily enough. The Packers have it the hardest this week, as they go on the road and they’re playing a hungry Vikings team on Monday night with their own divisional battle on the line. That’s a toss-up if I’ve ever seen one. I think the Vikings have the superior roster from top to bottom, but if this ends up being a game of Rodgers vs. Cousins, you know who wins that battle 99 times out of 100.

The 49ers have a sneaky-tough game against the Rams on Saturday, as even though the Rams gagged one away in Dallas last week, they still have a marginal chance to make the playoffs (they need to win out, while the Vikings lose out). My gut says the 49ers take care of business, which sets us up for the showdown of all showdowns in the final week.

If the Seahawks don’t beat the Cardinals, I don’t know if there’s a path to a first round BYE (maybe if the Packers and Saints both lose once as well, but that seems like a longshot), but regardless I’d settle for a division title; I just don’t want to have to go on the road in the first round like last year. Compared to Week 17, there isn’t a ton of meaning for this Cards game, but I’d still like to win it to keep our chances of getting a first round BYE intact.

At that point, we should be looking at a Sunday Night game at home, with Seahawks fans whipped up into the biggest lather we’ve seen since probably the NFC Championship Game against the Packers. That’s an environment with just enough juice to push our chances over the top. We’ll still have to win a hard-fought battle, but it beats playing it in the afternoon. Let’s just hope rain stays out of the forecast.

Here’s the bottom line: if you want the Seahawks to get the #1 seed, then root for the Seahawks, Saints, and Packers to all win out. That puts all three teams in a tie and based on tie-breakers, that makes the Saints of all teams the 3-seed. That would see them go to Green Bay in the Divisional Round, while we’d almost certainly see the 49ers for a third time this season.

If you want the Seahawks to get the #2 seed – and likely avoid the 49ers entirely – then root for the Seahawks and Saints to win out and the Packers to lose once. That has the 49ers going to New Orleans, with Green Bay likely coming to Seattle. The downside of this scenario is the fact that in the 3 vs. 6 game, the Vikings could hypothetically go into Green Bay and beat them, which would send the Vikings to New Orleans and the 49ers to Seattle. That’s some worst-case scenario bullshit, because there’s no way the Vikings are going into New Orleans and winning, meaning we’d have to go on the road in the NFC Championship Game.

So, scratch that. No one wants the 2-seed. Seahawks win out, Saints win out, Packers win out, bingo, bango, bongo.

Seattle Sports Hell’s Gambling Corner: Vegas This Weekend

In chronicling my progress at fake sports gambling, I feel like I’m at the very least starting to think a little smarter about the games I pick and my rationale behind all of it. Last week, I actually did better than expected! There’s a lot of quality wins in this group, so let’s dig into it before I start looking at what REAL bets I want to make this weekend.

My primary strategy was a cluster of 2-team teases featuring Baltimore as my rock. All I needed was for the Ravens to beat the Bills, and they came through (though it was a little scary at the end).

I paired the Ravens with seven other teams, going 5-2 in the process. I needed the Packers to win by a touchdown and they allowed the Redskins to backdoor cover it at the end. My other defeat saw the Jags get absolutely ROUTED at home by a struggling Chargers team. There were some nice wins though: Cincy kept it close, the Falcons blew out the Panthers, the Jets won on a last-second field goal, Indy kept it close, and the Vikings did their jobs.

I also hit on the Tampa OVER, but my parlay with the Indy victory fell through. That also blew up my underdog parlay of Indy and Kansas City, though the Chiefs did their job in my solo fake wager on them.

I did pretty well on overs, all things considered. Cincy & Cleveland went over, as did Carolina & Atlanta. But, the Steelers/Cards game was just short, as was the Rams/Seahawks (my lock of the group).

And, finally, it’s back-to-back weeks where I’ve devised a well-crafted 3-team tease only to have one of the three teams stab me in the back! It was, as expected, the Raiders completely falling apart. In fairness, the game was within range through three quarters. But, the Titans tacked on a couple more TDs to put it out of reach in the final frame.

I did nail the 49ers beating the Saints. But, I lost the UNDER 50 points before we even got to halfitme, so my separate tease was a bust.

All in all, a pretty solid week. This makes me DOUBLY nervous as we head to Vegas tomorrow, as I wait for the other shoe to drop.

***

I’ve waited until the last possible minute in the week to figure out what I’m doing on my Vegas trip. Now, obviously, there will be some ad libs, probably some live betting, but I’ve at least got my plan outlined and ready to go.

For starters, I wanted to do a big parlay (with point spreads) just as a stab in the dark. So, I’m going to put $50 to win $9,000 on the following 8-team parlay:

  • Tennessee -3 vs. HOU
  • Green Bay -4.5 vs. CHI
  • Philly -4.5 @ WAS
  • Detroit +3.5 vs. TB
  • Miami +3.5 @ NYG
  • Oakland -6.5 vs. JAX
  • San Francisco -10.5 vs. ATL
  • Cleveland -2.5 @ AZ

I’ve already swapped about four teams in and out of that lineup, and may continue to tinker with it up until tomorrow when I arrive in Vegas. But, for now, that’s what I’m looking at.

I’m also looking at an 8-team moneyline parlay, where the teams just need to win. I’m thinking somewhere around $150 (I don’t know what it’ll pay out, but probably around that amount). You’ll see some overlap in the first parlay, but obviously more heavy favorites are included here:

  • Philly @ WAS
  • Green Bay vs. CHI
  • LA Rams @ DAL
  • Seattle @ CAR
  • Kansas City vs. DEN
  • Oakland vs. JAX
  • San Francisco vs. ATL
  • Cleveland @ AZ

Now, in conjunction with my attempt last week at picking one sure thing to pair with multiple different teasers, I’ve got my sights set on Green Bay. I loved the Packers back on Monday when I first saw the line was -5, and I love them even more now that a certain amount of the public has money on the Bears to cover, forcing the line down to -4.5. Moving that 6 points gives me the Packers +1.5; I’ll take that all day and twice on Sunday. So, here are my teaser partners, all with Packers +1.5 (each of these will be $100):

  • Philly to +1.5 @ WAS
  • Tennessee to +3 vs. HOU
  • Seattle to -0.5 @ CAR
  • Miami to +9.5 @ NYG
  • Oakland to -0.5 vs. JAX
  • Arizona to +8.5 vs. CLE
  • LA Rams to +4.5 @ DAL
  • Buffalo to +8 @ PIT

As for my beloved over/unders, there’s only one that I REALLY like: Oakland vs. Jacksonville over 45.5. Those are a couple of mediocre defenses that should give up considerable points (the risk is the Jags on the road, across 3 time zones, just doing absolutely nothing with the fraud that is Gardner Minshew). We’ll keep that to a simple $110. Also, if I’m feeling frisky, I might put the same amount on Detroit vs. Tampa over 46 (though, I’m hoping that line goes down).

I want to do one really BIG teaser bet, and in an effort to not put all my eggs COMPLETELY in the Packers’ basket, I’m thinking of making Buffalo +8 my lock in this one. The three teams I’m considering are … the Packers +1.5 (but, again, I’m trying to avoid this), the Raiders -0.5 (which just FEELS like a can’t-lose situation that might be too good to be true) or one that just intrigued me as I wrote it out above: Miami +9.5. I mean, all they have to do is NOT lose to the Giants by 10 or more? That Giants defense is terrible, and Eli is still Eli the last time I checked! How do I lose that one?

Also, should I switch it, and go Dolphins +9.5 at NYG and Oakland -0.5 vs. JAX?

I’m putting about $1,100 on this one, so I better figure it out, because this could be my weekend.

Also, if I’m desperate, I have a Sunday Night Game Teaser that I’ve been working on. Take Buffalo, move them to +8, then take the over/under of 36 and move it to 42 and pound the UNDER, and just hope for a game filled with punts and field goals. My initial instinct was to move the line to 30 and take the OVER, but my initial instinct is usually wrong in these same-game teasers. This is really only if I’m chasing a day full of losers, trying to win some money back (in other words, PRAY it doesn’t come to this).

In my Irrational Homer Pick, the Rams game is an interesting one. Dallas, at home, was originally favored by 2 points. That line has since moved to the Rams being favored by 1.5 points. I still like the Rams (and apparently literally everyone else does too), and I like them even more in a tease that moves the line to +4.5. I’m hoping some money comes in on Dallas in the next couple days, because I could actually see myself pairing the Rams with the Bills, Dolphins, or Giants in that giant teaser bet I’m cooking up.

As for Steven’s Stay Aways, I want no part of Patriots -10 @ Cincy. Tom Brady is washed up, but the Pats’ defense is still elite, and Cincy is a total wild card, even at home. I could see Cincy keeping it close, I could even see them winning! Or, I could see the Pats pounding it down their throats, giving up nothing on defense, and winning an ugly game 27-3. I also want no part of KC -9.5 vs. Denver. I like Denver, they keep most of their games close and fight hard. But, this game’s in Kansas City, and I feel like most of the public is onto Denver as well. It wouldn’t shock me in the least to see KC win by 10 points, so no thank you. I’m also not super fond of Minnesota -2.5 at LA Chargers. Gun to my head, I think the Vikings win and probably easily. But, the last time I said that with a game in LA against the Chargers, it was when Green Bay went there and got their doors blown off. Kirk Cousins is still Kirk Cousins, and that Chargers defense is getting healthy at the right time (maybe not in time to make the playoffs, but to still wreak some havoc in the last few weeks).

Okay, so that’s it. My dilemma that I’m leaving up in the air is as follows: I need two of these five teams in a 6-point teaser:

  • Buffalo +8
  • Oakland -0.5
  • Miami +9.5
  • LA Rams +4.5
  • Green Bay +1.5

Who will I go with? Tune in next week for my Vegas recap. And, if you’ve got any recommendations, let me know.

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?