The Seahawks Should Be 5-0 For The First Time Ever

In my pre-season predictions, I don’t think I could’ve been more off-base than I was about how good I thought the Vikings would be. I have no idea how I could’ve been so wrong! Well, other than the whole “doing zero research” thing, that might’ve played a part in it. But, it just seemed like they’d finally built the perfect Mike Zimmer-type team. They’ve arranged the offense around one of the best running backs in the game, Dalvin Cook. They have a quarterback who’s more than willing to buy into that scheme, while still being competent enough to hit on some play-action deep passes. They have a top receiver in Adam Thielen to be a security blanket, they have good tight ends for red zone production, and I really thought Stefon Diggs going to the Bills would be addition-by-subtraction (since he was clearly disgruntled in his tenure there). And, as a Mike Zimmer-coached team, they’ve ALWAYS had a good defense (on top of trading for that elite pass rusher from the Jags for practically nothing). With the foundation of a 10-6 wild card team from a season ago – combined with the fool’s gold that was the 2019 Packers season (with their unsustainable injury luck and easy schedule) – I thought this was a perfect opportunity for the Vikings to re-take the NFC North and coast to the Super Bowl.

Instead, it looks like they might be in the running for a Top 10 draft pick next year.

You have to start with the defense, which is truly dreadful. They’ve given up the fourth-most yards per game (fourth-most in passing, and ninth-most in rushing), as well as the seventh-most points per game. Now, you may be saying, “Okay, but the Seahawks are pretty bad in those categories too, and they’re still winning games!” True, but the Vikings don’t have Russell Wilson.

It’s easy to overrate Kirk Cousins, I think. He’s still the only guy who has totally bet on himself and successfully earned a 100% fully-guaranteed multi-year contract. That’s impressive! In hindsight, though, it seems like money poorly spent. I won’t get into all the numbers, but they’re bad. He’s 26th in passer rating, behind guys like Nick Mullens and Mitch Trubisky (a.k.a. guys who have been benched mid-game for their ineffectiveness). To my knowledge, Kirk Cousins has yet to be benched this year, which probably means the Vikings don’t have any better options. That’s a bad sign.

The one bright spot Vikings fans seem to be hanging their hats on is the running game. Dalvin Cook is as advertised. Of course, that’s going to run right into the part of the Seahawks defense that’s actually functioning at a high level this year (further bolstered by the signing of Damon “Snacks” Harrison), so … *Conceited Reaction Meme*

It’s hard not to make this a carbon copy of last week’s pre-Miami post. I mean, I guess the Vikings are slightly better than the Dolphins, but is that cause to worry? I don’t think Cousins is better than Fitzpatrick, so that’s something. The weapons around him might be better, but I think the Vikings’ defense is considerably worse.

It feels like the Seahawks have stumbled upon a defensive scheme that can work against most teams: hang back, don’t give up any deep plays, and wait for opposing quarterbacks to make mistakes. This is likelier to come up the more mediocre the quarterbacks are (obviously, the elite ones will just pick us apart, but we have to deal with those issues as they arise).

In a vacuum, I’d say the Seahawks’ offense should have an easier time scoring this week than they did in Miami. The Vikings are that bad, particularly in the secondary; they should be shredded accordingly. My biggest cause for worry, honestly, is the weather! It’s supposed to rain on Sunday – potentially leading to thunderstorms – and we’ve seen how this team has performed in that type of weather in the past. Not well! In that vacuum, with perfect weather, I could see the Seahawks putting up 50 points, with the over/under of 56.5 easily being eclipsed! But, in a torrential downpour, I wouldn’t be shocked to see the under hit and lead to big winnings for the Vegas sportsbooks.

This game really shouldn’t be close, but I fear it might be due to weather alone. Nevertheless, we’re witnessing two teams going in drastically different directions. The Vikings just aren’t in our league! On top of which, we’re looking at a primetime, nationally-televised game, and you know how the Seahawks love to perform in front of a huge audience! So, it’s really hard for me to see us losing this one.

My official prediction is 27-20 Seahawks. But, I’ll be curious to see if the offense can continue to beat expectations. While we’ve seen plenty of occasions where the Seahawks have struggled to move the football in crazy weather situations, we’ve never seen the Seahawks in those crazy weather situatons while employing a Russ who cooks!

This Guy Cooks …

We’ve got this game, then a BYE week, then we’re not in primetime again until mid-to-late November. Russell Wilson is in the driver’s seat as far as the MVP race is concerned, but you know he’s going to want to make a lasting impression as we head into this national exposure dry spell. So, while I won’t say I’m banking on a huge offensive explosion, it wouldn’t shock me if it still happened, and the Seahawks ended up putting this game to bed relatively early.

We really lucked out with how this has shaken out, all things considered. With the Dolphins and now the Vikings, it’s been a pretty soft landing to our BYE week. These extra weeks for our injured guys to rest will hopefully prove pivotal in allowing them to return well-rested and able to finish the bulk of the season on the field.

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.