The Seahawks Are Ready To Ramp Up For The Playoffs

That was just a terrific football game on Sunday, from start to finish!  The Seahawks got the ball first (of course) and went 3 & Out (of course).  The Panthers proceeded to drive all the way down to inside the Seattle 10 yard line, and this one looked like it was gonna go sideways in a hurry.  But, an unexpected wrinkle:  we held them to 4th & 2 and prevented them from converting!  It was as close as could be, and we certainly benefitted from what appeared to be a favorable spot, but all in all we held when we needed to, and this game took on a different feeling.

Not right away, of course.  We punted on our very next possession, then Wilson missed an open touchdown to Doug Baldwin, but early in the second quarter it was 3-3 and based on the way the game was played to that point, it felt like we should’ve been down by two scores.

I’ll say this about the Panthers:  their offense with Norv Turner at the helm was and is absolutely phenomenal.  Cam Newton is as good as he’s ever been, Christian McCaffrey is the ultimate offensive weapon, and they’ve got enough young talent at receiver to be even more potent when they get a little more experience and learn to gel.  This thing – barring any health issues – could be a juggernaut in 2019.

I mean, 125 yards on 17 rushes for McCaffrey, plus another 112 yards on a whopping 11 receptions!  The Seahawks’ pass rush isn’t any great shakes as it is, but when Newton is holding the ball for a millisecond and getting it into McCaffrey’s hands with a ton of open yards in front of him on seemingly every play, it was truly a genius-level game-plan by the Panthers.  The Seahawks’ defense, by its nature, is always going to allow the checkdown, so defaulting to the checkdown as your primary route – before whoever is supposed to come cover the running back out in the flat has time to get there – is absolutely the correct play call 9 times out of 10.  Quite honestly, I wondered if the Seahawks were ever going to shadow McCaffrey; the answer to that question was:  NOPE!

I don’t know how the Seahawks prevailed, except I do know, and his name is Russell Motherfucking Wilson.

Sorry to write almost 400 words before I get to my abandoned premise for these recap posts, but …

What I’m Geeked Out About After Eleven Games

It’s Russell Wilson!  The guy is phenomenal!  Sure, he missed that early TD to Baldwin, but he finished 22/31 for 339 and 2 TDs against 0 INTs!  The Panthers were taking away the run, loading up the box with practically the entire defense.  And, when they weren’t holding our running backs to a 2.7 yards per carry average on 28 attempts, they were blitzing the hell out of my boy!  The Panthers got to him for a couple sacks, but he made them pay for their disrespect so many more times.

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

Tyler Lockett, dare I say it, is the best receiver on this team!  5 for 107 and a TD.  I know Doug Baldwin has been hurt all year, and that’s hampering his numbers quite a bit, but Lockett has really stepped up this year, and John Schneider is a very smart man for signing him to that extension when he did.  Perfect timing, perfect value, and I’m glad Lockett is going to be a Seahawk for many years to come.

Also, Doug Baldwin, who has had a knee issue dating back to Training Camp, came down with a groin pull earlier last week in practice.  He was by no means a lock to play in this one, but he gutted it out and came up pretty big.

Can’t leave out David Moore, who caught the game-tying 35-yard touchdown on 4th & 3 late in the game.  Dude is a stud, no doubt about it.

Defensively, Bobby Wagner is the straw that stirs the drink.  11 more tackles for the best middle linebacker in the game.  You want to throw Luke Kuechly in my face?  Yeah, he’s pretty good too, but look at what he’s got around him and compare it to the string and duct tape job the Seahawks are pulling on defense.  Without Bobby, the Seahawks would EASILY be giving up 30+ points every game; it takes every ounce of his blood, sweat, and tears to keep this unit afloat until we sign some re-inforcements this upcoming offseason.

Tre Flowers didn’t have the best game, but he made a game-saving tackle on the Panthers’ final drive to hold them to a 52-yard field goal attempt that sailed wide-right.  More importantly, it saved the Seahawks almost two full minutes to drive down (with plenty of time to spare – so much time that we had to kneel twice to run down all the clock – thanks to our master quarterback) and kick the game-winner.  That tackle alone might’ve been the play of the game.

The Seahawks gave up 27 points in this one, but they held early and they held again late.  In a 3-point victory for the Seahawks, the Panthers left at least 6 points on the field because they couldn’t convert when it mattered most.

Also, it was cool to see Naz Jones make a play, when he’s been in the doghouse for most of the year.

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

I thought Frank Clark had a rare dud of a performance, in an otherwise amazing season.  He looked like he was chasing sacks (and his future millions) more than he was interested in containing Newton and limiting big chunk plays.  Now, to be fair – as I mentioned before – the Panthers schemed to get the ball out of Newton’s hands most of the day.  But, there were a few times Newton was able to scramble, and Frank just ran himself right out of the play.

The secondary, again, gave up a disturbing number of big plays that I’m going to hope is just growing pains for this unit as it eventually figures it out.  Again, an elite QB and all, but not something we’re used to seeing as Seahawks fans the last half-dozen years.

Also, shit man, you know McCaffrey is their best offensive player … maybe try to account for him on – I dunno – half of their plays at least?  How many GAPING holes did he run through unharmed?  Again, I’ll register my complaint that Poona Ford was a healthy scratch, as this is another one where run defense should’ve been our ultimate focus.

Maybe the run defense is just bad.  Where’s Tony McDaniel when you need him?

This team needs K.J. Wright in the worst way.  Let him get back to 100% – we have time, with some cupcakes coming up on the schedule – but if this team is going to get to the playoffs, and maybe even make some noise when they get there, we’re going to need Wright and Wagner leading the way together.

The Seahawks’ Season Might Be On The Line In Carolina

It’s interesting, because last weekend through arguably yesterday, everything the Seahawks needed to have happen has gone according to the script you’d want to see.  I mean, let’s go through the list:

  1. Seahawks beat Packers on Thursday
  2. Dallas beat Atlanta to knock them down a peg
  3. Detroit beat Carolina
  4. Houston beat Washington
  5. New Orleans beat Philly
  6. Chicago beat Minnesota
  7. Chicago beat Detroit
  8. New Orleans beat Atlanta to knock them down another peg

The only thing you could argue isn’t so great is Dallas beating Washington yesterday, but that could really go either way.  At this point, the Cowboys are leading the NFC East, which means our victory over them doesn’t do a whole lot for our wild card situation.  My thinking is the Redskins without Alex Smith are toast, so ideally we’d keep pace with Dallas, and someone like Philly would surpass them for the division.  But, who knows?  Maybe Dallas is just really good now, and with their schedule being relatively easy the rest of the way (3 of 5 at home, including the Saints, Eagles, and Bucs; with their road games being at Indy & the Giants), maybe they go 3-2 or 4-1 and finish with a better record than us anyway.

That’s not really the point here, which is that our season really hinges on this game against the Panthers on Sunday.  If we win, we improve to 6-5, pass them with a tie-breaker, and if the Packers beat the Vikings, we’d soar past both of those teams as well.  Then, it’s only a matter of the Redskins continuing to spiral before we worm our way into the wild card spot.

If we lose, then we drop to 5-6, Carolina improves to 7-4, and they hold the tie-breaker over us.  Depending on what Philly does, we could possibly fall to 10th in the NFC.  Not good.

Now, obviously, our schedule eases up quite a bit the rest of the way.  4 of our last 5 at home, with three games against the 49ers and Cardinals.  We’d also host the Vikings to try to get past them, and I dunno, maybe we win a miracle game over the Chiefs to get to 10 wins the hard way.  Or, failing that, we’re mired at 9-7 and need some help.

I don’t want to get too into the whole scenario with all the viable teams, but suffice it to say, the Seahawks could make it A LOT easier on themselves if they just win on Sunday and go forward with the confidence that only winning a game in Carolina can give you.

But … when have the Seahawks EVER made things easy on themselves?

I’ve been poo-pooing the Seahawks’ chances a lot lately, to the point where now it feels like I’m trying to reverse-jinx them with every blog post.  It’s just that this team is so hard to read!  One week, they look really strong, then I get my hopes up and they lay an egg.

If I just go by my gut on this one, Carolina FEELS like the better team.  They’re at home, which is always a plus, and I think if any team could sneak up on us and stop our rushing attack, it would be the team led by one of the best middle linebackers in football in Luke Kuechly.  I also think that their offense – with Norv Turner at the helm – is really dynamic and poses a lot of challenges.

The Seahawks don’t stop the run very well.  Carolina has one of the best rushing quarterbacks in the game.  They’ve also got a gadget running back in Christian McCaffrey who does it all.  He could make things miserable for the linebackers who try to cover him, just as he could dominate through the gaping holes our D-Line gives up on the reg.

Carolina also has a lot of dynamic pieces in the passing game.  Greg Olsen, again, is a guy who can expose even our athletic linebackers.  D.J. Moore is an up-and-comer.  Devin Funchess has a terrific catch radius.  They’re a team that loves play-action and we’re a team that falls for it more than it’s supposed to.  We’re susceptible to the big play and Carolina thrives on it!

I think a lot of Seahawks fans are expecting one of those traditional Seattle/Carolina slugfests with a score like 12-10 or something.  I fear this could venture into the shootout territory, and if we’re not careful with the football, possibly even a blowout.

For the Seahawks to win, they’re going to have to do all the things they usually do in Seahawks wins.  Limit turnovers, get after the quarterback, be good on 3rd down while limiting the other team’s.  Pretty standard fare.  I don’t think we’ll stop them from moving the ball, and if I had to guess, I’d say this will look a lot closer to a Seahawks/Rams game than, I dunno, a Seahawks/Cardinals game.  High scoring, back-and-forth, with the team holding the ball last winning the game (or, at least, having a chance to win it).

My guess its it’s Carolina 31, Seahawks 24.  I think there are better days ahead, but I’m finding it really hard to see the Seahawks finishing this one.

Seattle Sports Hell 2014 NFL Power Rankings – Week 6

Last week, we got into it with the defense a little bit.  Certainly, those issues are still around.  This is the second time the Seahawks have given up 30 points in a game this year; the Seahawks gave up 30 or more only once all of last year (including playoffs).  The Cowboys used the Chargers’ model of beating the Seahawks:  converting lots of third downs, running a lot of plays, churning lots of clock, and scoring touchdowns in the red zone instead of field goals.  The L.O.B. stinks right now, the defensive line is a shell of their 2013 selves, and injuries abound.  This is not a good unit and it’s looking like the prophecy was correct:  give these players big-money contracts and watch them dog it on the field.

Oh, I’m sorry, am I wrong?  Is that unfair?  Then, prove it, cuntbags!  Get out there and dominate like you’re supposed to!

Anyway, I’m through with the defense for now.  This week, we’re talking offense.

I go through ebbs and flows when it comes to listening to sports radio.  Sometimes, I have the radio on daily, sitting in my living room after work, catching up on the goings on.  Sometimes, I’ll go weeks without.  Let’s face it, sports radio can be a little irritating sometimes.

But, it’s always good to tap into the public discourse once in a while, to see what’s bothering the masses.  Sometimes, what’s bothering the masses this week is what they were falling all over themselves praising last week.  For instance, take Russell Wilson.

Last week, against the Redskins on Monday Night, Russell Wilson was the best player on the football field.  He practically single-handedly won us that game with his legs and his arms and his leg-arms (or, rather, his ability to throw while running away from immediate pressure).  He was great.  He proved once again that he’s a Top 5 quarterback in this league.

Then, six days later, against the Cowboys, Russell Wilson turned in one of the very-worst performances of his young career.  Now, all of a sudden, what makes him great – scrambling around, eluding pressure, keeping plays alive – are reasons to take him down a peg.  “He doesn’t step up into the pocket enough.”  That’s the biggest criticism I’m hearing this week on sports radio.  Instead of twirling all around, running backwards out of the pocket, he should step up into a throwing lane and make a play.

The thing is, what hardly gets acknowledged in this scenario is that quarterbacks who step up in the pocket to throw the football tend to take body-crushing hits.  Yeah, it’s macho to be that guy who “hangs in the pocket”, unleashing a perfect pass just as someone is burrowing his shoulder into your chest, but that shit adds up!  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again:  live to fight another day.  I’d rather have Wilson scrambling all around, this way and that, vs. stepping up and getting destroyed.  That’s how ribs are broken.  That’s how hands are mashed against opposing helmets.  That’s how concussions start to ruin your life.

I hope Wilson NEVER listens to these sports radio yahoos who’ve never played a day of quarterback in their lives.  He can just keep doing what he’s doing.  For the most part, I have a lot of problems with how the offense is performing, but none of those problems involve #3.

My main problem involves the offensive coordinator, Darrell Bevell.

After winning the Super Bowl last year, I tried making a pact with myself to leave the man alone.  I’ve been criticizing him pretty much from Day 1, when we were forced to go with Tarvaris Jackson at quarterback thanks to the NFL lockout.  Slowly but surely, I’ve grown to appreciate his style, as I think it meshes well with what we’re trying to do:  ground & pound.

Here’s the thing, though.  For the last couple years, Darrell Bevell has been among the top head coaching candidates in the NFL.  He’s seen Gus Bradley get his shot.  He’s heard about Dan Quinn’s impending promotion.  With winning comes great notoriety; losing teams will look towards the winning ones to find out what they’re doing that works.  More often than not, winning clubs lose their coordinators as the losers of the world hope to catch that lightning in a bottle twice.  Maybe a little Pete Carroll magic has rubbed off on so-and-so.  It’s IMPOSSIBLE to think that this thought process hasn’t wormed its way into Bevell’s brain.  What I’m arguing here is that it’s not only something that’s on his mind, but it’s something that’s affecting his job performance.

Obviously, there’s nothing that can be done and nothing that will be done at this point in the season.  Our BYE week has come and gone.  Besides that, it would be a batshit crazy overreaction to fire Darrell Bevell.  But, one has to wonder:  is he doing more harm than good?

You know what Darrell Bevell is?  He’s a U.S. Senator running for President.  He’s on his way out!  It’s only a matter of time.  In his mind, he’s checked out.  His duties as Senator no longer interest him; all he can think about now is what he’s going to do when he’s in the Oval Office.  And so, instead of doing his job, he’s spending the next year actively campaigning around the country for something better.

What do I mean by this?  It’s plainly simple.  Darrell Bevell’s job is to call the plays that work best in this team’s system.  This is a team that runs the ball.  When it’s not running the ball, it’s throwing off of play-action.  And, at least 4-5 times a game, it’s having Russell Wilson throw deep for the home run.  That is what works for this team.  That is what has worked for the last two years.  Everyone else in the league knows what we’re doing and we do it anyway.

The thing is, Darrell Bevell isn’t DOING his job.  He’s gone out and created this whole other offense based around Percy Harvin (who I’ll get to in a bit).  Fly sweeps and lateral passing and screen plays and handoffs up the middle.  Yes, Percy Harvin is a great weapon to have.  Yes, he’s among the most dangerous weapons in all of football with his speed and elusiveness.  But, you can’t forget that this team has OTHER weapons that are just as good and effective in their own ways.

Marshawn Lynch is one of the most dynamic running backs in the game.  What the FUCK is he doing only getting 10 carries in a game, EVER?  I don’t care if Dallas hogged the football through most of the first half of that game.  I don’t care if it leads to repeat 3 & Outs, you better kick off the game by handing the rock to Beastmode!  On first AND second down if you have to!

Now, I know that’s not sexy.  Handing the ball to Lynch isn’t going to get you noticed as a coordinator; but it WORKS.

And that’s just it.  To get noticed as a coordinator, you’ve got to be running a well-oiled machine of an offense.  You’ve got to have that scoreboard spinning!  You’ve got to average around 30 points per game with lots of big plays from your skill positions.  In this case:  Russell Wilson & Percy Harvin.  So, he’s forcing Wilson to force the ball to Harvin as much as possible.

When it’s working, Bevell looks like a genius.  Why did Gus Bradley get the Jacksonville job?  Because he turned around a defense that was among the very worst to one of the very best.  That’s what gets defensive coordinators jobs as head coaches.  How do offensive coordinators get jobs as head coaches?  Well, it starts at quarterback.

If Bevell can make Wilson a legit Top 5 quarterback in this league – and not the perceived Game Manager everyone thinks he is – then he will have done the impossible and he’ll have his choice of teams to head coach next year.  Russell Wilson isn’t going to shed that Game Manager label by handing the ball off to Lynch all day long; he’s got to throw the ball!  With Harvin as the team’s best weapon in the passing game, of course Bevell is going to organize the offense around his abilities!

So, that’s what we’re going to get.  The only problem is:  we’re going to get that type of offense to the detriment of the TEAM.  That’s a problem for Seahawks fans, but guess who it helps.  Guess who actually benefits if the Seahawks manage to lose a few too many games this year!  That’s right:  Darrell Bevell.  Because coordinators who make the Super Bowl don’t get hired as head coaches.  Because it takes too long, and other teams want to get a jump-start on their next seasons.  THAT’S why I think Darrell Bevell is doing more harm than good.  I’m not going to sit here and tell you that he’s actively trying to cost us ballgames.  But, I am saying that defeats aren’t going to linger with him the way they’re lingering with fans.  I’m also saying that he’s being pig-headed with this new offensive scheme and is going to stick with it – without making the necessary adjustments – for better and for worse.

Here’s what I’ll say about Harvin:  he works best as a complementary player.  A change-of-pace.  Because:

  1. You don’t want to give him the lion’s share of the touches because he might get injured.
  2. Teams know what to expect out of him after multiple viewings.

The injury thing is obvious.  He’s a small guy.  He takes vicious hits because he runs so fast and because defenders are so much bigger than he is.  But, it’s the second part that Bevell doesn’t seem to understand.

In the Super Bowl, Harvin was electric.  Why?  Because nobody had seen him play all that often in a Seahawks uniform.  They didn’t have a really good idea how we’d use him.  So, those fly sweeps went for big gains.  And, in the early going of this year, it was more of the same.  Those quick-hitters to Harvin went for big money because the Packers and Chargers didn’t know what was coming.

Now?  Teams know what we’re doing.  This isn’t college football.  You know why John Ross is so great as a Husky?  Because he’s a man among boys.  He’s an NFL player surrounded by glorified high schoolers.  All you have to do is give Ross the football and he’s going to make magic happen (evidenced by that 86-yard touchdown against Cal, which would’ve been stopped for a modest gain AT BEST in the NFL).

Harvin is a great weapon because of his usefulness as a decoy.  When we send him in motion towards the quarterback pre-snap, the defense has to be on alert:  will the Seahawks hand it off to him?  Will Wilson turn and throw it to him as he runs away from him, in sort of a swing pass?  They have to account for him, which opens up the handoff up the gut to Lynch.  That takes one guy from The Box and removes him from the play, making life easier for Beastmode and the blockers in front of him.

And yes, it’s good to get his hands on the football once in a while, in space, like a glorified handoff.  But, you’ve also got to run him out in patterns sometimes!  He’s a slot receiver; how about you fucking USE him like a slot receiver?  Run some slants with him.  Run some double-moves and get him going down field!  I know the deep passing thing isn’t his game, necessarily, but the threat has to be there!  They can’t always expect Harvin to be hovering around the line of scrimmage.

Go watch tape of Green Bay.  Go look at how they use Randall Cobb.  Make THAT part of Harvin’s game.  Let’s keep the defense on their toes.

The fact of the matter is, yeah, Bevell is getting stagnant with his scheme vis-a-vis Harvin.  And a little stubbornness going along with that stagnation.  But, that doesn’t absolve Harvin himself.  He’s making A LOT of money.  And I know his mere presence on the field as a decoy will help this offense in the long run.  But, he’s not getting all those millions of dollars to give us 22 receptions for a measly 133 yards and 0 receiving touchdowns across five football games.  He’s also not getting all those millions of dollars to give us 11 rushing attempts for 92 yards and a single rushing TD.  He needs to be doing more.  EVERYONE needs to be doing more, but Percy Harvin can never again have a fucking game where he gets the ball 6 times and has negative net yardage.  We didn’t pay him all this money to be a speedy kick return man.  Ted Ginn Jr. is out there if you want that.  Much cheaper, too.

Finally, I’ll just say this:  if you’re injured, stop playing.  Sit out.  Because you’re only making your injury worse, and you’re not functioning properly when you’re on the field.  You’re not helping!  You’re actively hurting us with your penalties and with you being constantly out of position.  I’m looking at you, Okung, and I’m looking at anyone else who’s playing injured in secret.  STOP IT!  Get well, then come back.  Don’t be Mr. Macho Man, because you’ll get no credit from me for playing through pain.  You’ll only get my scorn for making the team worse.  I know you think that You at 75% is better than someone else at 100%, but I promise you you’re wrong.  Take a seat.

***

  1. San Diego Chargers (5-1) – Could’ve used a better defensive performance in Oakland for fantasy purposes, but I suppose I can’t really hold it against them.  It’s always tough going on the road in your own division.  I still really like their body of work right now and think they match up really well with the Broncos.
  2. Denver Broncos (4-1) – Not for nothing, but they get dinged a little bit (and therefore stuck in the #2 spot) because they lost to the Seahawks, who REALLY aren’t as good as I thought they were.
  3. Seattle Seahawks (3-2) – I’m not willing to dump the Seahawks much farther than this spot right now, though – because I think a lot of teams are iffy at this point – but a few more injuries and unexpected defeats will surely plummet them quick.
  4. San Francisco 49ers (4-2) – And they’re only going to get better as the season goes on, with their injured guys returning and their later BYE week.
  5. Philadelphia Eagles (5-1) – I can’t believe how fast people jumped off their bandwagon this week.  SO MANY pundits took the Giants.  Just when you start to believe the Eagles’ offense is in a slump, they bust out.  Let that be a lesson.
  6. Dallas Cowboys (5-1) – As advertised:  one of the best offensive lines in all of football.  Limit Romo’s opportunities and you’ll limit his mistakes.  Simple Fucking Equation.
  7. Cincinnati Bengals (3-1-1) – The defense is starting to mess me up in the head a little bit.
  8. Detroit Lions (4-2) – Frankly, the offense is starting to mess me up in the head a little bit.
  9. Indianapolis Colts (4-2) – Just Colts being Colts.
  10. Green Bay Packers (4-2) – Nice little underrated win, going down to Miami to steal one.
  11. Baltimore Ravens (4-2) – If only Flacco could play that well every week, he’d be a cinch for the Hall of Fame.
  12. New England Patriots (4-2) – Death, taxes, and the Patriots beating the Bills.
  13. Arizona Cardinals (4-1) – I’m beginning to think the NFC West – aside from the Rams – has the best collection of coaching staffs in all of football.  I don’t know what sort of voodoo Bruce Arians practices; I just know I don’t want to get on his bad side.
  14. Kansas City Chiefs (2-3) – I dunno, they had a BYE week.  Hard to look good on your BYE week, when better teams around you are kicking ass and taking names.
  15. New Orleans Saints (2-3) – They’re out of my Top 10.  Smell you later, Saints.  Smell you later forever!
  16. Chicago Bears (3-3) – Yeah, good luck going up against the Lions and Packers; you’ve got no shot at the division.
  17. Carolina Panthers (3-2-1) – What was once considered – by me – as possibly being the best division in football, the NFC South is now one of the worst?  Lump them in with their AFC counterparts and the South in general is just a fucked up pile of shit.  HEY, WAIT A MINUTE!
  18. Cleveland Browns (3-2) – Haha, Steelers.
  19. Pittsburgh Steelers (3-3) – Ha. Ha.
  20. New York Giants (3-3) – Poor Eli.
  21. Houston Texans (3-3) – Poor J.J.
  22. Atlanta Falcons (2-4) – I place them below the Texans because their offensive line is horrendous.  And if they ever went up against J.J. Watt, Matt Ryan would cease to be.
  23. Miami Dolphins (2-3) – Making me look bad, Dolphins!  You don’t want to see me when I’m angry.
  24. Buffalo Bills (3-3) – This is a frisky little team, but all the used-up, washed-out white quarterbacks in the world won’t help them make the playoffs.
  25. Washington Redskins (1-5) – I just learned this week that they have only one win and not two.  Because I pay attention to detail and have a solid awareness of what’s going on in the world.
  26. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-5) – What the hell is up with this defense?  This is borderline offensive(!).
  27. New York Jets (1-5) – They’re going to have a mighty housecleaning if they don’t get improved quarterback play pretty soon.
  28. Minnesota Vikings (2-4) – This offense is a mess.  I think Norv has used up all his magic beans.
  29. St. Louis Rams (1-4) – Pretty tall order for a rookie quarterback to go up against the 49ers on Monday Night.
  30. Tennessee Titans (2-4) – You move up no spots because all you did was beat the fucking Jags.
  31. Oakland Raiders (0-5) – You move up one spot in the rankings because you’re not the Jags.
  32. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-6) – Fuck you, Jags!  You’re supposed to be BETTER than this right now!  How many years in a row are you going to lead the league in being the 32nd-ranked team in the NFL?  Moreover, who ever told you that you could work with men?

Seattle Sports Hell 2014 NFL Power Rankings – Week 3

What’s this?  Another reminder to vote for me in the Western Washington Sports Blog competition?  This is absolutely too much!

Sometimes when I’m bored, I’ll plan out my posts for the next couple weeks.  I try to get one post per day, Monday thru Friday, and I like a little routine in my life.  Lately, with football season starting, it’s been:

  • Monday – Seahawks recap
  • Tuesday – Huskies recap
  • Wednesday – Mariners recap
  • Thursday – NFL Power Rankings
  • Friday – Seahawks preview

It’s a good system.  Covers all my bases and sets myself up to not have to think too hard about what’s going on.  But, when we get into BYE weeks, there are gaps to fill.  And, with these power rankings, I always like to have an intro topic to talk about.  Maybe something that’s not worthy of its own post, but still something I find interesting.

Anyway, for today, in my little “note to self” in the section where I have my idea for this post’s intro, I wrote:

Is Anything Wrong With The Seahawks’ Defense?

And then below it, I wrote:

Probably not.

This is what I have to work with for today.  If this doesn’t interest you, I encourage you to skip ahead to the rankings.  Spoiler Alert:  I still like the Seahawks a lot.

So, IS there anything wrong with the Seahawks’ defense?  Again, probably not.  It’s early in the season, so a lot of this is more “gut feeling” than anything tangible.  Also, if you’re in the Excuse-Making game, it’s easy to argue that the Seahawks have faced three of the better offenses – and in particular three of the better quarterbacks – in all of football.  Totally valid.

When I take a step back and look at this team objectively, I see a lot of the same faces we had last year, when the Seahawks were the best in football.  The L.O.B., the linebackers, and many of our stars on the D-Line are all back and all still in the primes of their careers.  Some may be dealing with injuries – either concealed or not – but either way you wouldn’t expect a huge drop-off.  And, I’m not saying there IS a huge drop-off.  But, something feels wonky.  That’s all I’ve got.

The run defense is off-the-charts good and way better than I thought it’d be, considering the loss of Red Bryant and Chris Clemons.  We’re giving up less than 3 yards per carry, and less than 73 yards per game.  That’s GREAT!  So, you won’t hear me speak ill of the rush defense one iota.

The pass defense is a little more unsettling, as we’re giving up 249 yards per game (up from 172 last year), but again, consider the opponents.  When we get to start factoring in the likes of Eli Manning, Cam Newton, and whoever the Rams, Cardinals, and Raiders end up throwing at us, that 249 figure is sure to go down.

AND, not for nothing, but it’s not like the 2013 defense was perfect!  Indy managed 34 points.  A winless Tampa Bay team ran up a huge first half lead before we started our comeback.  And, shit, even the Cardinals – after Palmer had thrown four interceptions – managed a late-game, game-winning touchdown in CenturyLink to delay our winning of the division by a week.

So, really, what am I getting at?  Nothing, I suppose.  Once we put a little more distance between us and that San Diego contest, my nerves should calm down.  And maybe the next time, when a good team is driving down for a game-tying (or game-winning) score, we can nip that in the bud instead of letting them send the game into overtime (or, heavens forbid, another loss).

One interesting trend I’d like to watch going forward is the number of defensive snaps played by each guy on that side of the ball.  The usual suspects are in the 90% range of percentage of plays played (the entire starting four in the L.O.B., Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright at 87.5%), and the next man on the list is Michael Bennett at 76.4% of the defensive snaps.  I want to say that’s up a good 20-or-so percent compared to last year, when most everyone was in the 50-60% range along the defensive line.  We all sort of expected that when Bennett signed the contract extension (and guys like Bryant and Clemons were let go, freeing up more snaps for our new starters), but it’ll be interesting to see how he holds up as the season goes on (especially considering the BYE week is happening now, followed by 13 straight weeks of football).

Avril’s snaps are up as well, to 67.6%.  Everyone else is down in that 40-50% range that we like to see.  So, for all this talk about teams using the hurry-up offense to keep us from rotating guys in and out, we can rest assured that it’s all mostly just talk.

In the end, it’s going to come down to injuries.  If the defense can stay healthy, it will still be great.  If we start losing guys left and right, then we’re probably in trouble (but, you can say that about anyone).  Having Kam Chancellor playing through ankle issues is a little distressing.  As I said before, I’d rather he get the surgery done now if it means he’d be able to return later this season.  I’d rather have him 100% for a playoff run than have him 75% now and deteriorating by the week.  This thing isn’t going to magically get BETTER on its own without rest or surgery.  Since he’s having neither the rest of the way, don’t be shocked if at some point down the line we end up losing our starting strong safety for the season.  Either due to this issue, or some other issue related to this one because he’s compensating.  Me no like.

***

  1. Seattle Seahawks (2-1) – That’s what we call a “sigh of relief”.  Now we get a week off to rest our injured player (singular) before another road game against another tough offense.  Watch out for the Redskins, that’s all I’m saying!  I’m just kidding, I’m not saying anything; and their defense is beyond a joke.
  2. Denver Broncos (2-1) – I can’t say that I’m QUITE as convinced as ever that it’ll be a Broncos/Seahawks repeat in the next Super Bowl, but I’m fairly certain the AFC will feature either the Broncos or the Bengals.  Big matchup between those two teams in Cincinnati in week 16.
  3. Cincinnati Bengals (3-0) – So, that’s kinda weird:  the best three teams in football all have BYEs in week 4.
  4. Philadelphia Eagles (3-0) – They’re not much on defense, but with the talent and scheme they’ve got on the other side of the ball, I’m not even sure they NEED to field a defense to win the NFC East.
  5. Arizona Cardinals (3-0) – They’re not much on offense, but with the talent and scheme they’ve got on the other side of the ball, I’m not even sure they NEED to field an offense to win the NFC East (wait …).
  6. New Orleans Saints (1-2) – To inspire the least bit of confidence in my opinion of this team, they COULD have put up a better effort against a hapless Vikings team.  That’s all I’m saying.
  7. Detroit Lions (2-1) – I’m not gonna lie to you, but I’m gaining more and more confidence in their ability to win the NFC North with every passing week.  Or, at the very least, have a better record than the fucking Packers.
  8. San Diego Chargers (2-1) – The only loss is by 1 point on the road to a very good Cardinals team.  For the record, on Thursday, October 23rd, they play the Broncos for the first time.  I will be watching that game.
  9. Atlanta Falcons (2-1) – I got perverse joy out of that Thursday night dismantling of the Bucs.  Mostly because Matt Ryan is my quarterback in fantasy and before the season started I was THIS close to trading him straight up for Jamaal Charles (it’s a keeper league).
  10. Indianapolis Colts (1-2) – They lost two games by one score apiece to two very good teams (Eagles & Broncos).  Their schedule the rest of the way looks about as reasonable as a schedule can be.  If Luck stays healthy, even with their suspect defense, I could see them finishing 13-3.  Mark it down now.
  11. New England Patriots (2-1) – Anyone else less than impressed by the Patriots right now?  A pretty bad loss down in Miami in week 1, and now a pretty ugly win at home against the Raiders.  THIS is supposed to be the team that contends with the Broncos for the Super Bowl?
  12. San Francisco 49ers (1-2) – AH-HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH.  *Takes a deep breath* … HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.
  13. Chicago Bears (2-1) – Big test this week against the Packers.
  14. Green Bay Packers (1-2) – Stunk up the joint in Seattle.  Let the Jets get out to a big lead before mounting a comeback.  Stunk up the joint again in Detroit.  We always wonder about the Packers’ defense, but what’s going on with the offense?
  15. Carolina Panthers (2-1) – I couldn’t possibly fathom what happened in that game against the Steelers, but I’m grateful (my fantasy team was going up against a guy with the Panthers’ defense).  This is going to be a tough team to peg all year, I can already tell.
  16. Baltimore Ravens (2-1) – The Ravens play 5 of their 6 divisional games by week 9.  Their schedule the rest of the way looks less-than-ideal; they might not win more than 1 more road game going forward.
  17. Pittsburgh Steelers (2-1) – Their defense looks pretty good when the opposing offense has no skill position players!
  18. Dallas Cowboys (2-1) – A lot of people (myself included) jumped off the Cowboys bandwagon pretty hard after week 1.  Not that the bandwagon was filled with a bunch of people thinking this was a playoff team; but this also isn’t a team that’s going to be held to 4 wins or less.  As long as that offense has its stars, they’ll be able to out-score some of the crummier teams out there.
  19. Washington Redskins (1-2) – KILL ME, I like this team about a million times more with Cousins at quarterback.  RGIII might go down as a Top 5 most disappointing NFL player of all time (not counting the wife beaters, child abusers, dog killers, human killers, and so on).
  20. Kansas City Chiefs (1-2) – Don’t get too excited, it’s only the Miami Dolphins that they beat.
  21. New York Jets (1-2) – Even in defeat, this team is showing me more fight and vigor than these teams below them in the rankings.
  22. Buffalo Bills (2-1) – Stop trying to talk yourself into the Bills.  It’s not going to happen.
  23. Miami Dolphins (1-2) – Well, after a strong opener against the Patriots, they’ve followed that up with two clunkers.  Suffice it to say, the new offense isn’t clicking like they’d envisioned.
  24. Cleveland Browns (1-2) – They’re bad, but they’re not the worst.  I hope they keep themselves close in all their games so Johnny Football rots on the fucking bench for the rest of his life.
  25. Tennessee Titans (1-2) – Jake Locker has the best job security in the NFL, and it’s not even as a result of him being all that talented!  When your only alternative is Charlie Whitehurst, you’d stick with Matt Cassel himself to avoid having to watch Clipboard Jesus boner his way through a football game.
  26. St. Louis Rams (1-2) – A little birdie told me that the Rams, as a team, only have one sack on the season.  That’s … less than ideal.
  27. New York Giants (1-2) – The Giants are like the Cowboys except without the talented stars on offense.  Which might be the biggest insult I’ve ever written about anyone.
  28. Houston Texans (2-1) – I’ll never understand how Ryan Fitzpatrick Who Went To Harvard ever gets a starting job in the NFL.  It would seem to me that Ryan Fitzpatrick Who Went To Harvard would be better suited as a career backup, and playing absolutely anyone other than Ryan Fitzpatrick Who Went To Harvard would be the better option.  But, you know, that’s just me.
  29. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-3) – Hey who knew giving a career backup a starting job following a crazy-insane stretch of just a few good games would blow up in a team’s face?  I certainly didn’t, because I think I picked the Bucs to be a playoff team.  But, I’m an idiot, so that’s to be expected.  One of these years, the Bucs WILL make it back to the playoffs; just not this year.
  30. Minnesota Vikings (1-2) – This offense is the WORST!  Norv Turner needs to be given the Old Yeller treatment.  How hard is it to simply have Cordarrelle Patterson run a crossing pattern each and every pass play?  It’s pretty obvious that the quarterbacks they have aren’t ready for the down-field passing scheme Norv is famous for, so it’s time to change the scheme to fit the personnel.  NORV!
  31. Oakland Raiders (0-3) – I got nothing.  At least the Raiders have three straight home games (with a BYE week thrown in) to really rest up and enjoy the end of the Bay Area summer.
  32. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-3) – Blake Bortles is your starting quarterback for the rest of the season!  Hope he doesn’t get killed by your offensive line!

Seattle Sports Hell 2013 NFL Power Rankings – Week 2

I hate to go all pervy Andy Rooney on you, but can someone explain to me why NFL cheerleaders get, like, 10 seconds of screen time per game?  Why, in MY day, television producers knew that any lull in the action was just another excuse to give the fans what they want:  tight and firm T&A.

OK, this has already gone off the rails.  I apologize.  Without any further ado, the week 2 rankings:

***

  1. Seattle Seahawks (2-0) – Please say hello to your NFC Champions.
  2. Denver Broncos (2-0) – Please say hello to your AFC Champions.
  3. San Francisco 49ers (1-1) – This is still a great team against virtually any other team aside from the Seahawks.
  4. Green Bay Packers (1-1) – This offense is a fantasy player’s wet dream.  I have Jordy Nelson and James Jones on my team (in a PPR league) and will be starting them both each and every week until one of them gets injured.
  5. Atlanta Falcons (1-1) – They probably should have beaten the Rams by more, but you can’t discount the impact of not having Roddy White in that offense.  Tony Gonzalez owners will attest to this as well.  Also, don’t forget the Rams are pretty good.  Not great, mind you, but pretty good.
  6. Houston Texans (2-0) – The Texans are the flimsiest “elite” team in all of football.  For all the studs on this defense, it’s kind of a joke the way they’re leaving sub-standard teams in these ballgames.  Matt Schaub won’t be able to pull their asses out of the fire each and every week.
  7. New England Patriots (2-0) – Meet the second-flimsiest “elite” team in all of football.  I’m honestly beginning to wonder if they’re going to have enough fire-power to hold off the Dolphins for the division title THIS year.  It’s going to be a swift and brutal fall off the cliff in the coming seasons for this franchise.
  8. New Orleans Saints (2-0) – Absolutely solid win on the road against a very talented Bucs team.  I’ll get to them in a minute, but this is how a professional, well-coached team gets the job done in a close game.
  9. Cincinnati Bengals (1-1) – Nice win at home last night.  That would’ve been a game the Bungles would have lost.  But these new-look Bengals, why, they’re something else entirely!
  10. Kansas City Chiefs (2-0) – I had my nagging doubts going into the game against the Cowboys, but the Chiefs proved me wrong as they continue to learn how to win again.  They’re not the most exciting team in the NFL, but we can’t all be the Seattle Seahawks.
  11. Carolina Panthers (0-2) – As soon as they fire Ron Rivera, this team is going to be GANGBUSTERS.  But, seriously, he has the best short-yardage running team in football.  Why isn’t he taking more chances, going for the win instead of trying to avoid the loss?  Whoever snipped Rivera’s balls off of him needs to return them immediately.
  12. Baltimore Ravens (1-1) – Whoop-dee-doo, they beat up on the Cleveland Browns, BFD.
  13. Chicago Bears (2-0) – They’ve won a couple of squeakers at home to start the season.  Have you looked at their schedule, by the way?  All of their toughest non-divisional games are at home.  I might have seriously misjudged this team!  Health, of course, will be the ultimate factor, because for a team as talented as they are, they’ve got zero depth if the shit hits the fan.  And I still contend that this defense won’t be as lucky as it is going forward with regards to turnovers and such.  Still.
  14. Washington Redskins (0-2) – OK, let’s not go nuts here.  This team’s best – and only – chance to win is with RGIII in the lineup.  They’ve played two very good offenses and have been thrashed accordingly.  The ‘Skins are going to run into some teams that WON’T generate 600 yards of offense, and when they do, I’d look for their fortunes to change.
  15. Detroit Lions (1-1) – That’s a game you gotta steal if you want to make the playoffs, Lions.  I know Arizona is pretty much on your level, but you gotta be BETTER than that.  Of course, you royally fucked me in Fantasy, as my opponent had Stafford and Johnson, so thanks for that.
  16. Dallas Cowboys (1-1) – This team isn’t going to find itself winning consistently until they get rid of the guy calling the plays, because they’re too one-dimensional.  And Tony Romo isn’t Aaron Rodgers, and their team isn’t the Green Bay Packers, so being one-dimensional isn’t going to work.  RUN THE BALL, YOU LIMEY FUCKS!
  17. New York Giants (0-2) – It’s pretty funny how everyone is freaking out about the Giants.  Eli Manning is a disease and this team deserves every misfortune it earns.
  18. Miami Dolphins (2-0) – Bigtime road win against the Colts.  And, not for nothing, but they’ve won two games on the road to start the season.  That can’t help but bode well for this team!  I’m still not convinced that Tannehill and Co. have what it takes to hang with the best, but this upcoming 3-game test before their BYE week will go a long way (vs. Atlanta, @ New Orleans, vs. Baltimore).
  19. San Diego Chargers (1-1) – It’s funny.  Get rid of Norv and all of a sudden Philip Rivers is a fantasy god.  Who knew?  Besides every single fan of the San Diego Chargers, that is.
  20. St. Louis Rams (1-1) – This is the one bad team that you never want to play, because you’re always in for a dogfight.
  21. Arizona Cardinals (1-1) – Was that the faintest whiff of friskiness I smelled out of their running game on Sunday?  If they figure out how to average somewhere around 4 yards per carry, WATCH OUT!
  22. Indianapolis Colts (1-1) – And here begins the regression train.  You can’t win every single close game you assholes!
  23. Philadelphia Eagles (1-1) – Running up the score only works if you have the horses on defense to keep the other team under 30 points.  This is going to be a fun and frantic year for Eagles fans.
  24. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-2) – This is the most-talented and least-disciplined team in the NFL.  Their coaching staff should be assassinated.  Forget firing.  Go right to assassination.  Bring in someone good who can get the BEST out of their players.  Being thuggish for the sake of being thuggish doesn’t make you a “tough” football team.  It makes you sloppy and stupid, a la the Oakland Raiders of forever.  The worst part is, by BEING so stupid, the Bucs have to do three times the work just to win these football games.  It’s no wonder they’re 0-2 and sliding fast.
  25. Minnesota Vikings (0-2) – Christian Ponder is THIS close to getting his job taken away.  By Kyle Orton.  Let that sink in for a minute.
  26. Tennessee Titans (1-1) – Someone seriously gave me some bad intel on the nature of the Titans’ defense.  I was told they’d be one of the worst in the league.  As it stands, their defense is the only thing keeping this team in games!  They’re still a tough team to gauge, because their offensive line is so horrendous (and therefore it’s impossible to tell if Jake Locker has what it takes to hack it in the League), but I could see this team rising to Middle Of The Pack status by season’s end with the effort they’re giving week-in and week-out.
  27. Buffalo Bills (1-1) – EJ Manuel is looking more and more, every day, as the real deal.  Color me marginally excited.
  28. New York Jets (1-1) – Rex Ryan can still coach up a defense.  And without the Sanchize blundering his way through another boring game, you never know.
  29. Cleveland Browns (0-2) – I don’t think anyone expected the Browns to beat the Ravens.  But, I surely didn’t expect them to look THAT bad.  Someone firebomb the idiots who touted Weeden as “most improved” after his pre-season.  I’m tired of letting your lunacy seep into my subconscious.
  30. Oakland Raiders (1-1) – Honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if that win against the Jags was the only time the Raiders win all season.  Hope you enjoyed your Sunday, Oakland!
  31. Pittsburgh Steelers (0-2) – I didn’t watch a ton of last night’s game, but when I did, the Steelers looked pretty pathetic.  On back-to-back drives, when facing 3rd and 10 (or something like that; long, yet manageable) they chose to run a draw instead of actually, you know TRY FOR THE FIRST DOWN.  They need to figure out what it is they do best and just focus on that.  Unfortunately, running the ball probably isn’t in their wheelhouse.
  32. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-2) – They’re bad with Gabbert.  They’re bad without Gabbert.  Can someone tell me who’s running this offense?  Because I’m not gonna lie to you, Gus Bradley’s job depends on this unit improving quickly.

Seattle Sports Hell NFL Power Rankings, Final

I did a prediction column back in September after the first week of the season.  Let’s see how I did.

Well, for starters, I totally bungled the NFC East.  Not only did I have the Eagles and Cowboys winning 10 games each, but I had both going to the playoffs.  You’d think for a hard-line West Coaster, I’d know better than to let any East Coast Bias seep into my thinking.

On the flipside, I got Green Bay’s and Chicago’s records exactly right.  Of course, I didn’t see Minnesota’s hot streak coming, as I had the Bears in the other Wild Card.  So far, 1 for 4 on NFC playoff teams.  Not a great start.

I had the Falcons and the 49ers as my Top 2 seeds, but I had them reversed.  I LOVED the 49ers, guaranteeing 14 wins.  I liked the Seahawks for 8-9 wins, and I liked the Cards to be above the Rams.  Boy did my confidence in the Cardinals backfire!

I pegged the Patriots for 11-12 wins (right on the mark).  I was a little too in love with the Ravens, but either way, they still won that division.  I had the Bengals right there at 10 wins for the Wild Card spot.  And, of course, see below for my money quote on the Steelers.

I was also a little too in love with the Texans.  While they DID coast to my predicted 12-4 record, they lost out on the #2 seed.  Never saw the Colts coming, obviously, as I had them at 4-wins this season.  I liked the Broncos, but not to the extent that I saw this late-season run.  I was way off on the Chargers too, as they did not snag the final Wild Card spot.

Now, if I get to cherry pick things, I was right on 7 of 8 division winners, with Philly my only blemish (and what a blemish it was!).  I had 8 of 12 playoff teams (including 5 of 6 in the AFC).

In the playoffs, I had Green Bay and San Francisco advancing to the NFC Championship game.  As things stand right now, it’s impossible for that to happen because if Green Bay wins their Wild Card Round game, they will automatically play the 49ers in the Divisional Round.  I had Baltimore and New England in the AFC Championship game.  Technically, that’s still on the table if Houston wins against Cincinnati.  Baltimore would have to beat the Colts (possible) and then go into Denver and come away victorious (unlikely).

I had an All-Harbaugh Super Bowl, which is also theoretically on the table, but suffice it to say I will be rooting for anything BUT that to happen.

All in all, one of my best years at predicting NFL seasons ever.  Then again, I whiffed on all three of the playoff rookie quarterbacks.  Can’t say I’m all that embarrassed about that.  I did have the Seahawks as the best of the three teams, but ultimately I thought the Seahawks were a year away at best.  Couldn’t be more glad about being so wrong …

On to the rankings, for the final time this season:

  1. Denver Broncos (13-3):  Hottest team going into the playoffs somehow stole the #1 overall seed.  I know AP carried the Vikings, but I just don’t see how Peyton Manning ISN’T the MVP of the league (especially when you consider how bad the Colts were without him last season).  At the very least, co-MVP?  (Last Week:  1)
  2. Seattle Seahawks (11-5):  The Rams are tough, no way around it.  I take nothing away from a close Seahawks victory.  That was a solid way to finish the season 8-0 at home.  (Last Week:  2)
  3. San Francisco 49ers (11-4-1):  Well, shit.  First round bye.  Giving them time to get healthy at some key areas.  BYE teams win something like 75% of the time in Divisional Round.  For Seattle’s sake, I have to root for the Pack so we get a crack at going indoors to play the Falcons in round 2.  (Last Week:  5)
  4. New England Patriots (12-4):  Ho-hum, just another win over a shitty team to get themselves to a #2 seed.  You’re VERY luck your division is one of the worst in football.  (Last Week:  6)
  5. Green Bay Packers (11-5):  God damn you suck, Green Bay!  You were supposed to force the 49ers to play next week!  Way to let ‘em off the hook.  Do we have to do EVERYTHING for you?  (Last Week:  3)
  6. Atlanta Falcons (13-3):  On the one hand, you rest your starters after a quarter or so; just enough to get them some work, but just little enough so (hopefully) they don’t get injured (which you chose to not do).  On the other hand, You Play To Win The Game (which is what you actually did).  You keep your starters in there, you throw 44 times, and you still lose at home to a 9-loss Buccaneers team.  It was ballsy, I’ll give you that.  Takes a lot of guts to play all-out in a meaningless game right before the playoffs.  However, remember how nobody feared you going into the playoffs BEFORE you lost this week?  Yeah, double down on some of THAT!  Enjoy shitting your pants during the BYE week, because you’re GOING to lose in the Divisional Round.  (Last Week:  4)
  7. Washington Redskins (10-6):  One of three rookie quarterbacks to make the playoffs this year.  Either we’re entering a new age where rookie quarterbacks can never be taken lightly, or this 2012 draft is historically good.  The answer probably lies somewhere in the middle, but I would wager it’s closer to the “historically good draft” side of the spectrum.  (Last Week:  8)
  8. Houston Texans (12-4):  Lost your last two games, lost three of your last four games, lost your #1 seed, lost your first round BYE.  Ain’t life a bitch?  (Last Week:  7)
  9. Indianapolis Colts (11-5):  Helluva finish to a season.  All of a sudden, I’ve got ChuckStrong fever!  Or, you know, the Colts just beat up on a bad Texans team that’ll lose in the first round.  (Last Week:  13)
  10. Minnesota Vikings (10-6):  Color me VERY impressed.  I gave the Vikings zero chance to make the playoffs after they left Seattle as losers.  Since then, they won 5 of 7 and earned themselves a rematch with the Packers in Green Bay.  (Last Week:  11)
  11. Cincinnati Bengals (10-6):  Yeah, you beat the Ravens, BFD.  (Last Week:  10)
  12. Chicago Bears (10-6):  Tough way to go out.  10 wins gets you in the playoffs MOST seasons.  Also tough way to fire a head coach.  Really?  10 wins and you give him the boot?  Seems a little extreme for a guy who once brought you to the Super Bowl.  (Last Week:  12)
  13. Baltimore Ravens (10-6):  That’s right, best to rest your starters this final week.  After all, you totally gagged away your chance at a legitimate BYE week; might as well take this Week 17 to reflect on all the shit you’ve done.  (Last Week:  9)
  14. New York Giants (9-7):  Where was this all season, Eli???  You fuck!  (Last Week:  17)
  15. St. Louis Rams (7-8-1):  Yeah, they’ve got a nice core, but Sam Bradford will NEVER scare me.  He’s a Game Manager at best.  And in this division – going forward – a Game Manager just won’t be good enough to top Seattle or San Francisco.  (Last Week:  14)
  16. New Orleans (7-9):  Nice turd you laid there.  After all that turmoil, wouldn’t want to finish at .500 or anything.  (Last Week:  15)
  17. Dallas Cowboys (8-8):  Damn you Cowboys; why couldn’t you stop the Redskins???  We would have CRUSHED you in the playoffs!  (Last Week:  16)
  18. Miami Dolphins (7-9):  I don’t know what to tell you.  It all falls on Tannehill’s shoulders.  Personally, I don’t see it.  I think they remain mediocre for at least the next decade.  (Last Week:  18)
  19. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-8):  Back on September 11, 2012, I wrote a prediction column for the NFL (referenced in the first half of this post).  Here’s what I said about the Steelers:  “I think the Steelers underachieve, end up 8-8, and start questioning whether or not they need a new head coach. “  They may or may not be questioning things on an organizational level, but the Steeler Nation is certainly giving second thoughts to what’s going on.  (Last Week:  19)
  20. Carolina Panthers (7-9):  Not a bad little 4-game winning streak to close out.  Did they REALLY just save their coach’s job?  (Last Week:  20)
  21. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-9):  I know they won their last game, but that’s coming on the heels of a 5-game losing streak.  Doesn’t speak well of a coaching staff that will surely be shit-canned within 2 years.  (Last Week:  21)
  22. San Diego Chargers (7-9):  I got nothing.  If they retain Norv again, I give up.  I would have the biggest boner today if I were a Chargers fan.  (Last Week:  22)
  23. Cleveland Browns (511):  Well, looks like they’re cleaning house again this offseason.  Still, with the players they have, it’s hard to believe they’ll be much better going forward.  (Last Week:  23)
  24. Buffalo Bills (6-10):  This organization deserves better.  If they don’t replace Chan Gailey, I might be forced to suicide bomb their headquarters.  It’s about fucking time they got rid of the dead weight!  (Last Week:  24)
  25. New York Jets (6-10):  This organization deserves exactly what they get.  QUIT BEING SO BORING!  Nobody likes you Jets!  Stop showing up on my local broadcasts most weeks!  (Last Week:  25)
  26. Tennessee Titans (6-10):  I really, REALLY would’ve liked to have seen more out of Locker this season.  I worry for the kid, I really do.  (Last Week:  26)
  27. Arizona Cardinals (5-11):  What’d you expect, dude, he’s the son of the devil!  (Last Week:  27)
  28. Detroit Lions (4-12):  Yeah, I’m starting to see what their big problems are.  All of their defense, for one.  Wide receiver for another (Kris Durham, getting significant minutes, really?  That’s one Pete Carroll/John Schneider dog that won’t hunt).  (Last Week:  28)
  29. Philadelphia Eagles (4-12):  Way to play hard for your local legend head coach right before he’s fired.  Good effort, you pricks.  (Last Week:  29)
  30. Oakland Raiders (4-12):  Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha … (Last Week:  30)
  31. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-14):  What a time for the quarterbacks coming out of college to be so shitty.  (Last Week:  31)
  32. Kansas City Chiefs (2-14):  And welcome to the #1 pick!  (Last Week:  32)

Seattle Sports Hell NFL Power Rankings, Vol. 13

Running up the score.  It almost always evokes a visceral reaction, one way or the other.  Either you’re rabidly against it and wish nothing but the illest of harm upon the perpetrators, or you’re proudly FOR it, decrying those on the other side of the fence as having the pantiest of waists.

I don’t know that I have a strong reaction either way.  I know what it feels like when the team I root for is losing by dozens of points – especially when I’m confined to the same stadium as that team, forced to watch because I already spent all that money on the ticket and tailgating.  I feel bad.  Who wouldn’t?  I feel angry.  Again, who wouldn’t?  But, mostly I feel angry with my own team.  If we didn’t suck so hard, we wouldn’t be in this position!  Likewise, if we didn’t make all these mistakes (because you don’t lose by 40+ points without making some pretty egregious errors), this game wouldn’t be so ugly.

Usually, though, you’re dealing with coaching staffs who are sensible.  Every once in a while, you’ll be confronted with some prick who leaves his starters in through the fourth quarter, throwing deep bombs long after it’s been decided.  Those guys are assholes and should be tarred and feathered.  But, if you’re like most head coaches, when you’ve got a 30- or 40-point lead, you take your starters out and you try to milk the clock.

At that point, at the point where you have a new quarterback on the field and most of the supporting players are primarily reserves, the game is over.  You have essentially conceded that game, pushed the re-set button, and have started a new game.  And whatever you choose to do with your backups is fair game.

You want to throw Matt Flynn in there and start chucking it into the endzone for Jermaine Kearse?  Be my guest!  Because, at this point, the regular season game is over, and the 5th pre-season game has just begun.  You’re never going to have a better opportunity to get your backups some serious reps (aside from, you know, actually playing them in a game that’s NOT already a laugher) than by having them go hard in a game like last Sunday’s.  At that point, if I’m Arizona, I WANT the other team to do that.  Because, likewise, I want MY reserves to experience some real game-type situations (even if the game has already been decided).

So, if you’re upset with Seattle for “running up the score”, don’t be.  I’m not even trotting out the manly-man argument of, “It’s your job to stop us.”  Fuck that.  Once the game is that out-of-hand, the score is irrelevant.  Does it really matter if you lose 38-0 or 58-0?  Those are both embarrassing scores!

Also, not for nothing, but if you’re mad at us, why don’t you look at your own team?  I’m not just talking about how much the Cardinals suck at offense.  I’m not talking about how their front office has neglected the most important position on the team ever since Kurt Warner passed away, trying to fill his void with rejects from the draft or other teams.  I’m not even talking about their offensive coordinator’s inability to get their best football player (Fitzgerald) the ball when that should be priority number 1 (seriously, run some bubble screens, end-arounds, SOMETHING, ANYTHING).

I’m talking about when the game is 38-0, or 45-0, or 48-0, or 51-0, or 58-0 … WHY ARE YOU STILL THROWING THE BALL?  OK, obviously, you’re doing what I was just talking about above:  getting your reserves some live-action reps in a setting that’s more than just practice.  But, if you’re a Cards fan and you’re upset with the Seahawks for running up the score, then you have to ask, “Why is my team still trying to throw the ball?”  Arizona could have just as easily ran the ball three times and punted on every drive in the second half if they so chose.  It would’ve kept the clock running and ended the game sooner.  But, they didn’t do that; yet they expected us to do that?  They expected us to keep giving the ball back to them … for what?  So we could let them eventually score?  So their feelings wouldn’t be hurt so bad?

I’m sorry, but that’s bullshit and you know it.  Quite frankly, if I’m an Arizona Cardinals fan, I would much rather have this game end 58-0 than 45-14 or something along those lines.  Because, if I’m an Arizona Cardinals fan, I want nothing more than a total and complete housecleaning.  I want that GM shitcanned YESTERDAY.  I want this coaching staff to get their walking papers.  I want all the quarterbacks on that team eliminated and I want some young, up-and-coming stud from a winning organization to take over and do for us what John Schneider is doing for Seattle.

You know, if I was a Cardinals fan.  Thank Christ for small miracles …

On to the rankings:

  1. Denver Broncos (10-3):  An 8-game winning streak is an 8-game winning streak, but when was the last time the Broncos beat someone really good?  The best win of the 8-game bunch?  Cincinnati at 7-6.  Best win all season?  Pittsburgh in week 1.  They still have an outside shot at a top-2 seed, but they absolutely MUST beat Baltimore this week.  (Last Week:  3)
  2. San Francisco 49ers (9-3-1):  It’s still pretty hard to peg this team, but one thing’s for certain:  this defense is no joke.  It shouldn’t take much for Kaepernick to simply get a small lead in a game and have that defense wear the other team down.  By the way, I know I’m rooting for the exact opposite, but I’ve got a huge gut feeling the 49ers go into New England and find a way to win.  (Last Week:  5)
  3. Green Bay Packers (9-4):  Keep in mind:  they are 2-4 against teams that would currently be in the playoffs right now.  I wouldn’t say this team has been seriously tested, exactly, but either way they’re getting like a D- on this test so far.  (Last Week:  6)
  4. Atlanta Falcons (11-2):  The Falcons have lost two games all season, both on the road, both against divisional opponents.  And their bandwagon is a fucking GHOST TOWN.  I can’t remember the last time a 14-2 team had such a lack of respect (I think it was that year Jacksonville did it and lost both of their games – and once again in the playoffs – to the Titans in 1999).  Granted, their running game is kaput, but there’s still too much talent for this team to NOT go far in the playoffs.  (Last Week:  1)
  5. New England Patriots (10-3):  Do you realize how close this team is to being undefeated?  A meltdown against Arizona, an unlucky break against Baltimore, and a late-game defensive lapse against the Seahawks.  And, here we are, overlooking them all over the place.  Nowadays everybody wanna talk like they got something to say; But nothin’ comes out when they move their lips; Just a buncha gibberish; And muthafuckas act like they forgot about Dre New England.  (Last Week:  7)
  6. Houston Texans (11-2):  Remember when the Texans had a good defense?  What the fuck happened Wade Phillips???  You God damn toolbag!  (Last Week:  2)
  7. Baltimore Ravens (9-4):  Back-to-back losses and suddenly look who’s going to be playing on Wild Card Weekend.  Now you fucked up!  (Last Week:  4)
  8. Seattle Seahawks (8-5):  There’s no reason why our defense shouldn’t be that good the rest of the regular season.  Maybe not 8 turnovers good, but some nice happy medium that gets us to 11-5.  (Last Week:  8)
  9. New York Giants (8-5):  This NFC is so up in the air, it’s out of control.  A win in Atlanta next week will REALLY make things interesting.  Of course, a loss in Atlanta will still make things pretty interesting (if you find the NFC East interesting, which I do, but only a very small amount).  (Last Week:  10)
  10. Indianapolis Colts (9-4):  I can’t even understand a fucking world where the Colts control their own destiny for the division.  They are 2-2 against teams with winning records (and one of those wins was against Minnesota), meaning they’ve played a whopping NINE games against teams with losing records!  They have to have the easiest strength of schedule by 10,000 moons!  (Last Week:  11)
  11. Chicago Bears (8-5):  Well, thanks to their ineptitude against the Vikings, this game against the Packers is now Must Win.  I don’t just mean for the division title, but I mean for a playoff spot!  (Last Week:  9)
  12. Washington Redskins (7-6):  Because the Redskins are hot on their heels, and RGIII is apparently inde-fucking-structible.  Hell, their offense might be good enough without RGIII to win out!  They play at Cleveland, at Philly, and at home against Dallas.  That’s a 10-6 team you’ve got in D.C.  (Last Week:  13)
  13. Cincinnati Bengals (7-6):  No, Cincinnati, I’m sorry.  8-8 won’t get you in the playoffs this year.  Thanks for playing.  (Last Week:  12)
  14. Dallas Cowboys (7-6):  If this team isn’t Michael Myers, then I give up.  Will you just DIE already???  (Last Week:  16)
  15. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-7):  The Bucs were more than happy to die!  See how easy it is, Dallas?  (Last Week:  14)
  16. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-6):  I would consider that first-game-back malaise for Roethlisberger.  They still have a cakewalk of a schedule the rest of the way; look for the Steelers to make up the ground they lost and make a serious run at a Wild Card spot.  (Last Week:  15)
  17. St. Louis Rams (6-6-1):  I kind of want to make fun of them, but they have a better road record than we do.  It’s inane!  Stop being so unpredictable!  (Last Week:  18)
  18. Minnesota Vikings (7-6):  There we go, a team with a worse showing on the road than Seattle.  Hope you like 8-8.  (Last Week:  20)
  19. New Orleans (5-8):  On the one hand, this team is VERY streaky.  On the other hand, aside from Atlanta, they have beaten no one of note.  And their defense is the God damn devil.  (Last Week:  17)
  20. Miami Dolphins (5-8):  Pity you couldn’t have done better against the 49ers this week.  (Last Week:  19)
  21. Buffalo Bills (5-8):  Way to lose at home against the Rams you idiots!  Someone check their ownership group for rigor mortis.  (Last Week:  21)
  22. Cleveland Browns (58):  Yeah, you beat the Chiefs, BFD.  (Last Week:  23)
  23. San Diego Chargers (5-8):  So, is this the win that saves Norv’s job?  Boy do I hope so; hating this organization is starting to be fun.  (Last Week:  24)
  24. Detroit Lions (4-9):  Still.  Falling.  Apart.  (Last Week:  22)
  25. Carolina Panthers (4-9):  I kinda wish the NFL would give up and schedule the Lions against the Panthers every week.  The Over couldn’t be high enough for me!  (Last Week:  27)
  26. Tennessee Titans (4-9):  Wow, the Titans vs. the Jets next Monday Night.  That’s a dog more worthy of a Thursday Night scheduling!  (Last Week:  25)
  27. New York Jets (6-7):  Worst 6-7 team ever.  (Last Week:  26)
  28. Philadelphia Eagles (4-9):  You know this past week was fucked when San Diego, Carolina, and Philly all won.  It’s like that little encouraging heartbeat before flatline.  (Last Week:  31)
  29. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-11):  Oh, you mean Chad Henne?  My mistake, yes, he IS terrible.  Carry on.  (Last Week:  28)
  30. Arizona Cardinals (4-9):  Wow.  Just … wow.  (Last Week:  29)
  31. Oakland Raiders (3-10):  The AFC West has officially earned “Worst Division In Football”.  Why does it ALWAYS have to be a western division?  (Last Week:  30)
  32. Kansas City Chiefs (2-11):  I mean, it’s not like you can even blame East Coast Bias.  I live in Seattle and I can CLEARLY see this is the worst division in football.  Holy fucking frijoles.  (Last Week:  32)

Seattle Sports Hell NFL Power Rankings, Vol. 12

Upon further reflection of this weekend’s events, a question comes to mind:  what does Russell Wilson have to do to win Rookie of the Year?

Without question, the three rookies in contention for 2012 are, in no particular order:  RGIII, Andrew Luck, and Russell Wilson.  Actually, there is SORT OF a particular order involved there; I would say Luck & RGIII are in the top 2, with Wilson a distant third.  Some stats:

  • Luck:  279/503 (55.5%), 3,596 yards, 17 TDs (+5 rushing TDs, 216 rushing yards), 16 INTs, 76.1 rating, 8-4 record
  • RGIII:  218/325 (67.1%), 2,660 yards, 17 TDs (+6 rushing TDs, 714 rushing yards), 4 INTs, 104.4 rating, 6-6 record
  • Wilson:  201/317 (63.4%), 2,344 yards, 19 TDs (0 rushing TDs, 298 rushing yards), 8 INTs, 95.2 rating, 7-5 record

If the award were to be decided today, I think you’re looking at a landslide RGIII victory.  He’s got comparable overall yardage numbers to Luck, comparable touchdown numbers, and he’s got a whopping 12 fewer interceptions.  I would say they both mean just as much to their respective teams’ overall success this season.  Luck does have the advantage of currently leading his team to a 5th seed in the AFC (while RGIII is on the outside-looking-in on a playoff spot), but RGIII has ALL of the late-season momentum.  Back-to-back nationally televised games (Thanksgiving win over Dallas, Monday night victory over Giants last night) has RGIII firmly entrenched in the minds of football viewers across the nation.

So, how do we get Russell Wilson in on some of that action?

The problem with Wilson is, all of his nationally-televised games happened early in the season.  Washington might be finished with the night games, but this week’s matchup with Baltimore will be heavily scrutinized.  And their week 17 matchup with Dallas could very well be flexed to the night game if it turns out both teams are in contention for a Wild Card spot.  Likewise, Indy has no more scheduled night games, but they have two games against Houston in the final three weeks of the season that’ll get some real publicity, especially if Luck finds a way to lead the Colts to victories.  Seattle, on the other hand, only has the game against the 49ers in Week 16.  There’s a CHANCE that game gets flexed, but it’s not likely.  Not with San Francisco already scheduled to play the Sunday Night game the week before in New England.

With that kind of a disadvantage, it’s going to take quite the effort for Wilson to wedge his way into the discussion.  First and foremost, the Seahawks will have to go 4-0 to close out the season, and he will have to look good doing it.  If he can throw for another 10 touchdowns in the next four games, that would be a big plus.  I would say at least another 1,000 yards would be required too.  If he can finish the season with numbers like this:

  • 3,300 yards, 30 TDs, 500 rushing yards, 10 INTs, and somewhere around a 100 passer rating

That would be a good start.  He’s also going to need some help.  For starters, we don’t want Washington anywhere near the playoffs.  A loss to Baltimore, a loss to Dallas, and some poor performances in between would do the trick.  I don’t know if there’s any way to keep Indy out of the playoffs, with their pisspoor remaining schedule, but if we can keep Luck around a 1:1 TD:INT ratio, we’re on the right track.

In short, it’s going to take Wilson being perfect the rest of the way and it’s going to require the other two guys to fall back down to Earth.  A long task, to be sure.  Even then, it’ll take some arguing.

For starters, that schedule for Indy needs to come into question.  I know they’ve played the same divisions as Seattle (NFC North, AFC East), but when you factor in their other conference games (Cleveland, Kansas City) vs. Seattle’s (Carolina, Dallas) and the calibre of the NFC West vs. the AFC South (Arizona and St. Louis have problems, but are leaps & bounds better than Tennessee & Jacksonville), I think there’s an argument to be made.  Also, factor in performances against common opponents (outlined in Sando’s piece HERE) and I would say that Wilson should get more credit for what he’s accomplished.

When you look at the schedule for Washington, I think they get a little more benefit of the doubt.  Nevertheless, there’s something to be said for how shitty & overrated the NFC East is in general.  Prior to the season, you could’ve made an argument for any of the big three (Giants, Eagles, Cowboys) to make the playoffs and possibly do some damage.  Now, look at where they are & how for they’ve fallen.  Inconsistent doesn’t even BEGIN to describe this division.

The fact of the matter is, regardless of any argument, I think the odds are super long for Wilson.  I think he’ll end up third no matter what happens.  By this point in the season, so many people have already made up their minds on who they’re going to vote for, any kind of late-season push is only good for Sports-Talk Radio & Television, but in the real world, it’s already a done deal.

Still, it’ll be interesting.  Especially if Seattle takes the NFC West and earns a #2 seed.

And on to the rankings:

  1. Atlanta Falcons (11-1):  Division Clinched.  You get a gold star!  You also get a nice little gold star for getting the New Orleans monkey off your back.  They’re about two weeks away from clinching the #1 overall seed in the NFC.  Next two games:  @Carolina and vs. the Giants.  I’d say we’re already there.  (Last Week:  2)
  2. Houston Texans (11-1):  A whatever win over the Titans locked up at least a playoff spot.  Now the showdown:  @New England.  Monday night.  You gotta like the Texans’ chances against a banged up Patriots squad.  (Last Week:  3)
  3. Denver Broncos (9-3):  Division Clinched!  This is some kind of run they’re on.  As long as they don’t sleep on Oakland this Thursday, they’ll have a nice 10 days to prepare for Baltimore.  Well on their way to a #2 seed if they can get past the Ravens.  (Last Week:  5)
  4. Baltimore Ravens (9-3):  Boy, does my prediction of the Ravens going to the Super Bowl look Super Shaky.  They can help out their own cause – and that of the Seahawks – by beating the Redskins this Sunday.  (Last Week:  4)
  5. San Francisco 49ers (8-3-1):  Boy, does my prediction of the 49ers going to the Super Bowl look Super Shaky.  Are you kidding me?  Winless against the Rams?  I was ready to write them in as a Top 2 seed, now I’m trying to figure out if the Seahawks can steal the division from them.  What the FUCK?  (Last Week:  1)
  6. Green Bay Packers (8-4):  Uh, you’re welcome Packers.  Ooo, the Seahawks stole a game from you on Monday night with a completed touchdwon pass!  Well, we just took out the Bears and handed you the division.  YOU’RE WELCOME, BITCHES!  Jeez, how about a little fucking gratitude … (Last Week:  9)
  7. New England Patriots (9-3):  Division Clinched!  Everyone is REAL down on the Patriots.  Probably with good reason.  I still can’t believe they let the Dolphins hang around for so long last week.  Doesn’t get much easier for them the next two weeks (Houston & San Fran), but 3 of their final 4 are at home.  (Last Week:  7)
  8. Seattle Seahawks (7-5):  Well, the hard part’s over.  Now, all you gotta do is win out and the playoffs are yours!  (Last Week:  14)
  9. Chicago Bears (8-4):  I can’t remember why I was so high on the Bears earlier this season.  Thus far, every loss they’ve had has come to a team currently in the playoffs (if the season ended today).  Their most impressive win was a Week 1 blowout at home over the Colts when Andrew Luck was playing in his first-ever NFL game.  I gotta say, them falling completely out of the playoffs isn’t out of the question.  3 of their last 4 are on the road, their only home game is against the Packers … not looking good.  (Last Week:  6)
  10. New York Giants (7-5):  Remember when the Giants were 6-2 and had seemingly beaten the curse of the Super Bowl Champ?  Me neither.  (Last Week:  8)
  11. Indianapolis Colts (8-4):  I’ll give them credit:  they managed to have the ball last in Detroit.  Pretty much every game involved with the Lions ends up with the last team with the ball winning the game.  I still don’t think they’re a Top 10 team and I still guarantee they lose their first and only playoff game.  (Last Week:  11)
  12. Cincinnati Bengals (7-5):  Remember when the Bengals were 3-5 and left for dead?  Me neither.  (Last Week:  12)
  13. Washington Redskins (6-6):  A 3-game winning streak against the shitty SHITTY NFC East and all of a sudden they’re world-beaters.  Haaaaaaaaaaave you met their defense?  (Last Week:  15)
  14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-6):  There, that’s more like it.  Two consecutive losses and we can all calm down about the Bucs.  Of course, they could still win out and make our lives a living hell, so don’t get too comfortable.  (Last Week:  10)
  15. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-5):  Just an amazing win in Baltimore.  The Steelers had no business even being in that game, but there you go.  The Ravens will constantly disappoint.  (Last Week:  16)
  16. Dallas Cowboys (6-6):  They’ve won 3 of 4 against Cleveland and Philly.  In other words, this is still a shitty team who won’t have a winning record at season’s end.  (Last Week:  18)
  17. New Orleans (5-7):  Going winless until week 17:  still on the table.  (Last Week:  13)
  18. St. Louis Rams (5-6-1):  I mean, I just don’t know what to tell you.  The Vikings were able to beat the 49ers this season too; that’s not saying a whole lot.  The Rams won’t make the playoffs, but they could still figure out a way to have a winning record.   I’m seeing 8-7-1 in their future.  If they figure out a way to play their cards right, they can go into Bufflo and Tampa and win.  Minnesota at home could be a pushover too.  (Last Week:  20)
  19. Miami Dolphins (5-7):  This team’s scrappy, you gotta give them that.  If they can manage to go into San Francisco this week and come away victorious, I might even sing their fight song.  (Last Week:  21)
  20. Minnesota Vikings (6-6):  Oh how the mighty have fallen!  Losers of 4 of their last 5, they’re sinking faster than … a yak in heat!  (Last Week:  17)
  21. Buffalo Bills (5-7):   I know they’re pretty bad, but they’ve got 3 of 4 at home the rest of the way.  It’s not IMPOSSIBLE they win out!  Here’s the schedule:  StL, Sea, @Mia, Jets.  That’s about as soft as soft gets.  (Last Week:  24)
  22. Detroit Lions (4-8):  Falling.  Apart.  (Last Week:  19)
  23. Cleveland Browns (48):  Yeah, you beat the Raiders, BFD.  (Last Week:  26)
  24. San Diego Chargers (4-8):  Norv Norv Rivers Norv Fired Norv Buttplug Dan Fouts.  (Last Week:  22)
  25. Tennessee Titans (4-8):  Can somebody get Locker some fucking talent to play with?!  He went to the University of Washington for five years, he DESERVES some talent at this point!  (Last Week:  23)
  26. New York Jets (5-7):  It does seem odd that Rex Ryan waited until Tebow was injured and unavailable before he benched Sanchez.  You’re telling me Sanchez NEVER deserved to be benched before this past weekend?  Really!  Not one time all season!  Ryan must REALLY hate having Tebow on his team, is all I’m saying.  (Last Week:  25)
  27. Carolina Panthers (3-9):  You ran into the buzzsaw that was a team in turmoil following a tragedy.  Those teams tend to come together and rally for a win, even if they’re quarterbacked by Brady Quinn.  What are you gonna do?  (Last Week:  27)
  28. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-10):  Even a rejuvenated Chad Henne can’t get you a win in Buffalo.  Pity.  (Last Week:  28)
  29. Arizona Cardinals (4-8):  Yes, your defense is still solid.  But, this weekend, you vill lose.  (Last Week:  29)
  30. Oakland Raiders (3-9):  Just the fucking worst.  (Last Week:  30)
  31. Philadelphia Eagles (3-9):  Except for these guys.  (Last Week:  31)
  32. Kansas City Chiefs (2-10):  And, I guess these guys (no kicking-them-when-they’re-down guy).  (Last Week:  32)

Seattle Sports Hell NFL Power Rankings, Vol. 11

How fucked are the Seahawks without Sherman & Browner?

That’s a question on everyone’s minds this week as the Seahawks face a do-or-die matchup with the Bears in Chicago.  Make no mistake, this game this week IS do-or-die, thanks to the utter choke-job down in Miami.  Maybe they were caught looking ahead to a more-impressive opponent?  We’ll see.  If they start out as stagnant on offense, and if they finish as lamely as they did last week, it’ll be hard to use that as an excuse.

For the time being, Sherman & Browner are playing.  But, for how long?  Because there isn’t a sliver of a doubt in my mind that both will be found guilty and both will face their 4-game suspensions at some point.  Whether they’re guilty or not, whether it was a simple misunderstanding or not, whether they intentionally tried to cheat the system with performance-enhancing drugs or not, they will be found guilty.  Because that’s how it works with these things.  The League has all the power and leverage; all Sherman & Browner have are their stories and their alibis.  Excuses for possible momentary lapses in judgment; if you choose to believe them.

Everyone has a story for why their piss came back tainted.  Of course, there are reasons to believe them and reasons to not.  It wouldn’t surprise me in the least that a professional athlete was careless with what he put into his body.  We’re not exactly dealing with a bunch of Einsteins here.  Then again, on the flipside, you’d have to think a guy who is in peak physical condition, whose job is to be one of the best in the world at what he does – professional athlete – if he is going to know ANYTHING, it would be what he puts into his body.

But, maybe I’m off base, on both accounts.  I don’t want to get in the habit of generalizing these guys as “Dumb Jocks”.  I likewise don’t want to assume they’re out there counting calories and controlling their portions and all that.  Maybe they thought they’d be shrewd and would get away with their cheating … or maybe they’re just lucky and can consume anything they get their hands on while remaining in peak physical condition.

Regardless, it’s best to keep your hopes low on this one.  There are many other reasons to be disappointed in life, but holding your breath and crossing your fingers over a couple of sure-thing suspensions shouldn’t be one of them.  You’re looking at anywhere from 95-98% of these appeals being denied and suspensions being upheld, so it’s time to start focusing on “when”, not “if”.

WHEN they get suspended, how fucked are we?

Well, first of all, you should probably hope beyond hope that these suspensions happen sooner rather than later.  Even before the loss to Miami, I wasn’t holding out much hope for this season being a Championship one.  Ergo, it’s probably better we get these 4-game suspensions out of the way now.  So we can go into next year with a legitimate hope for a title run (or, at the very least, a deep playoff run).

I know there’s the argument out there that we should hope that this appeal drags out for as long as possible, but frankly I just don’t see it.  Yeah, the team could plan ahead if they were suspended for the first four games of 2013, but do you think that whatever contingency plan they come up with is going to be as good as simply having Browner and Sherman back there doing their things?  Because I don’t!  Honestly, I don’t think any contingency plan is going to be all that much better than what we’d do THIS year with them gone.

Likely, that will involve Walter Thurmond in a starting role.  Likely, Marcus Trufant will be moved back to whichever side of the field suits him as a starter.  And likely, whoever’s left over will be moved into that nickel corner role.  With Earl Thomas also likely playing a bigger part as a cover corner.

I’m asking you, is that REALLY that bad?  Yeah, in an ideal world, Trufant will be retired before next year; but what if we need him next year because Sherman and Browner are out?  Do you really want to see what Trufant looks like 9 months from now?  Is it even REMOTELY possible he will have gained back whatever step he has lost?  Because, I highly doubt it.

This year, however, I think you can lean on him for one final push.  He is a veteran, after all.  He knows how to play his old position, utilize the sideline and all that.  I’ll take him starting the last four games of a mostly-lost season over him starting the first four next year.

In short, yeah, the Seahawks are probably fucked.  But, I think we’ll be a lot LESS fucked if we can burn off these suspensions this year as opposed to next.  Either way, I’ll be interested to see how the defense adjusts.  Won’t be as much press-coverage, I’ll tell you that much.

On to the rankings:

  1. San Francisco 49ers (8-2-1):  The 49ers are an elite team with Alex Smith.  With Colin Kaepernick, they might be a fucking dynasty!  I shit you not.  They also might be nothing special, but something in my gut tells me Kaepernick is the real deal and we as Seahawks fans should be scared shitless.  We’ll see.  (Last Week:  1)
  2. Atlanta Falcons (10-1):  Nice road win against a surging Tampa team.  It doesn’t get much easier the rest of the way; they can thank the Rams for giving them a good 2-game cushion over the 49ers for that #1 seed.  (Last Week:  2)
  3. Houston Texans (10-1):  They should’ve lost that game on Thanksgiving.  Lucky bastards.  Lucky that Jim Schwartz is such a tool!  (Last Week:  3)
  4. Baltimore Ravens (9-2):  They ALSO should have lost and are ALSO lucky bastards.  Lucky that Norv Turner is a God damn dickhole!  (Last Week:  5)
  5. Denver Broncos (8-3):  They just keep winning.  (Last Week:  6)
  6. Chicago Bears (8-3):  What a difference a healthy Cutler makes.  Still, I know the Seahawks suck dick on the road, but they shouldn’t take this week’s game for granted.  Their offensive line will REALLY need to step up.  And someone better be around to pick up the slack when Brandon Marshall goes on lockdown.  Given the matchup fits and their latest round of injuries last week, the Seahawks will be no cakewalk.  (Last Week:  7)
  7. New England Patriots (8-3):  Run up the score all you want, it’s not going to mask how shitty your defense is.  (Last Week:  8)
  8. New York Giants (7-4):  HUGE win over a Packers team that came in with a 5-game winning streak.  Who knows, this game might determine who gets the 3-seed and who gets the 4-seed.  Also known as:  who gets to play Chicago in the first round of the playoffs.  (Last Week:  9)
  9. Green Bay Packers (7-4):  I like their schedule going forward.  Minnesota is on the fast decline.  All they have to do is win in Soldier Field to take the head-to-head tiebreaker and thus the division.  (Last Week:  4)
  10. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-5):  This team is going to be a chore for every team they play the rest of the way.  Very deserving of their Top 10 ranking.  (Last Week:  11)
  11. Indianapolis Colts (7-4):  Fucking smoke and mirrors does it again.  I can’t believe they’re going to make the playoffs with this team … (Last Week:  12)
  12. Cincinnati Bengals (6-5):  SURGING!  With no end in sight!  (Last Week:  13)
  13. New Orleans (5-6):  Their nice little run ended with a thud at home against the 49ers.  Now they hit the road to face Atlanta and the Giants.  Are you familiar with the phrase “tits up”?  (Last Week:  14)
  14. Seattle Seahawks (6-5):  This team is NOT a Top 10 team.  Top 10 teams win on the road against shitty Dolphin teams.  (Last Week:  10)
  15. Washington Redskins (5-6):  Impressive road win against an unimpressive Cowboys team on Thanksgiving.  If they can do it at home against the Giants on Monday night, I’ll buy them as For Real.  (Last Week:  19)
  16. Pittsburgh Steelers (6-5):  Man, Charlie Batch?  Seriously?  The Seahawks just waived Josh Portis, I SERIOUSLY suggest you consider starting him this weekend.  It will be a VAST improvement.  (Last Week:  15)
  17. Minnesota Vikings (6-5):  Lamest 6-5 team in the NFL.  (Last Week:  16)
  18. Dallas Cowboys (5-6):  Their last three victories were against Cleveland, Philly, and Carolina.  And the Browns took them to overtime!  (Last Week:  17)
  19. Detroit Lions (4-7):  They had opportunities to win each of their last three games.  They lost them all.  And so ends the Lions’ season.  (Last Week:  18)
  20. St. Louis Rams (4-6-1):  Yeah, you beat the Cardinals, BFD.  (Last Week:  21)
  21. Miami Dolphins (5-6):  Yeah, you beat the Seahawks, BFD.  (Last Week:  26)
  22. San Diego Chargers (4-7):  Yeah, you … wait, you LOST?  They converted 4th and WHAT???  (Last Week:  20)
  23. Tennessee Titans (4-7):  They went into Miami, absolutely destroyed them, had a BYE week, then went into Jacksonville and lost.  THIS is why the NFL is retarded.  (Last Week:  22)
  24. Buffalo Bills (4-7):  Someone needs to take their coaching staff and front office behind the stadium and put bullets in their heads.  (Last Week:  24)
  25. New York Jets (4-7):  Yeah, if I was their unofficial mascot, I’d quit too.  (Last Week:  25)
  26. Cleveland Browns (38):  In case you haven’t noticed, and judging by the attendance you haven’t, the Indians Browns have managed to win a few here and there, and are threatening to climb out of the cellar.  (Last Week:  28)
  27. Carolina Panthers (3-8):  Oh, there was a professional football game on last night?  (Last Week:  29)
  28. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-9):  Chad Henne:  savior.  What are “words no one has ever thought to utter, ever”?  (Last Week:  31)
  29. Arizona Cardinals (4-7):  It’s like the Whis is TRYING to get himself shit-canned!  (Last Week:  23)
  30. Oakland Raiders (3-8):  Sometimes it’s just better to implode the whole fucking thing and start over from scratch.  (Last Week:  27)
  31. Philadelphia Eagles (3-8):  Ditto.  (Last Week:  30)
  32. Kansas City Chiefs (1-10):  Brady Fucking Quinn.  I mean, “ditto”.  (Last Week:  32)

Seattle Sports Hell NFL Power Rankings, Vol. 7

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

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

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

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

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

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

On to the rankings:

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