Seahawks Death Week: The “2016 The Year” Of Football Seasons

There’s just nothing to like about that season by the Seattle Seahawks.  Not a damn bit of good came from it.  That’s two years in a row of spinning our tires in the mud, with not a lot to show for it.  All we got was another year older.  Instead of being the next great dynasty, we’re just another good team.  One Super Bowl win, with the hope that we’re able to squeeze another one out of Russell Wilson before he moves on.  More and more, it’s looking like instead of a Brady/Manning/Roethlisberger situation, we’ve got a Drew Brees situation.  Maybe one title is all this group gets.  Maybe we spend the rest of our time with this core just slowly getting worse, until it’s just Wilson and Carroll, and a bunch of stiffs, regularly finishing in 3rd and 4th place in the NFC West.

The worst part is, I don’t even know how to define this season.  Yeah, the O-Line stunk, but they didn’t stink in every single game.  Yeah, we lost Earl Thomas, but there were plenty of times where this defense looked inept with Thomas in there.  If you go game by game, it’s a pretty frustrating exercise.

***

The Seahawks barely beat the Dolphins at home in week 1; the offensive line was definitely our primary fault in that one.  Wilson’s ankle got rolled up on, and that was the genesis of Hobbled Russell Wilson.

The Seahawks lost on the road to the Rams in week 2; again, the O-Line was crushed.  We lost three field goals to one, in the second game where the offense was totally out of sorts.

The 49ers were some home cooking in week 3; but, then Wilson got rolled up on again, this time injuring his knee, sending him to work with a brace for the rest of the regular season.  No fun there.

The Jets on the road were supposed to be a big test in week 4; they ended up being 5-11 on the year and one of the worst teams in the NFL.  The Seahawks, with Hobbled Russell Wilson, won by 10 points and settled into a much-needed BYE week.

The Seahawks were able to squeak by the Falcons in week 6; I think we all know enough of that game.  One bright spot was that, even in spite of a disastrous third quarter, we were able to fend off a last-minute drive, like we weren’t able to do in 2015.  The defense, when most everyone was healthy, was certainly better in 2016 than 2015; but the defense was rarely healthy.

Just when we were hoping to build on some momentum of a 3-game winning streak, we went and tied the Cardinals in week 7.  The third game out of six for the Seahawks where the offense was absolutely manhandled.  Of course, had Hauschka not been a ninny, this would’ve been a win.

The Seahawks followed that up with a road trip to New Orleans, and a baffling defeat in week 8; but, a defeat very similar to ones we have every year.  Not a good look for our defense, but the fact that our offense was held to 13 points (the other 7 attributed to an Earl Thomas fumble return for TD) against that defense is unconscionable.  Four games out of seven where the offense was a fucking trainwreck.

The Seahawks played the Bills on Monday Night Football in week 9; turns out Rex & Rob Ryan are the cures for what ails this offense.  It was less encouraging for our defense to give up 25, but they were able to foil a 2-minute drive at the end of the game to lock it up (again, shades of this not being the 2015 season).

In a game everyone expected the Seahawks to lose, they went into New England on Sunday night and upset the Pats 31-24.  Even with Michael Bennett on the shelf, this was a watershed game for our defense, as Kam returned and locked down Gronk in New England’s final series.  This was also a coming out party for C.J. Prosise, showing what this offense can do when it has a healthy, dynamic running back.

The Seahawks followed this up with a dominating performance over a then-contending Eagles team at home in week 11.  Prosise had another big impact in this game, with a 72-yard touchdown run, before leaving injured and not returning for the rest of the season.  Not a ton of people talking about the loss of Prosise as the 2016 Seahawks’ downfall, but let’s just say if we’d had him healthy for the full season, things might’ve gone a lot differently for this offense.

On the heels of another 3-game winning streak – and probably the best 3-game stretch for this team in the 2016 season – the Seahawks went to Tampa in week 12 and had their fifth terrible offensive game of the season.  This one is all on the O-Line, but one could argue things might have gone differently had Britt been healthy.  Either way, after going down 14-0 in the first quarter, and giving up no points the rest of the way, that was a real missed opportunity for the Seahawks, allowing the Bucs to hang around in contention for a while longer.

Injured guys started trickling back for the next game, at home, against the Panthers in week 13.  Britt was back, Bennett was back, Rawls had worked his way back to being a workhorse, Wilson was on the mend.  For the first time in a long time, things were FINALLY looking up for the Seahawks.  We crushed the Panthers, 40-7, and this was around the same time where we always go on our late-season runs of dominance.  But, because 2016 is the fucking worst, this was the same game where Earl Thomas broke his leg and was lost for the season.  Hashtag WeCantHaveNiceThings.

It was hard not to be deflated over the Thomas injury, but I refused to believe things would fall apart just because he was out.  We still had Kam after all!  Well, week 14’s game in Green Bay should’ve been our first clue that the rest of this year would just be a formality.  Aaron Rodgers did Aaron Rodgers things and the Seahawks were blown out for the first time since 2011.  Also, this was the sixth terrible offensive game, but mostly due to Russell Wilson’s interceptions.

In week 15, we handled the Rams on Thursday Night Football, in the game where Richard Sherman put Darrell Bevell on blast.  He would go on to put most everyone else on blast the rest of the year, in what should’ve been our second clue that the rest of this year would just be a formality.  The Seahawks don’t lose their cool.  Even when they lose their cool, it’s for a reason.  There wasn’t much of a reason for this.

In spite of the Seahawks being an up-and-down team, they held their fate in their hands.  All they needed to do was beat an underwhelming Cardinals team at home, then finish off the 49ers on the road.  Simple, right?  Win those two games, lock down the 2-seed.  Lock down the 2-seed, get the first round BYE.  Get the first round BYE, then host the Falcons in the Divisional Round instead of the other way around, and maybe our crowd does enough damage to their offense to allow the Seahawks to win and host the NFC Championship Game for the third time in four seasons.  But, the defense gave up 34 points to the Cardinals in week 16, and all of that was washed away.  The third and final clue that the rest of this year would just be a formality:  now we’d be a 3-seed, be forced to play in the Wild Card round, and have to go on the road to the Falcons, where we would go on to lose.

The Seahawks were able to take down the 49ers in week 17, but it was a lot closer than it should’ve been.  Was it us taking it easy, knowing the Falcons would lock up the 2-seed in a matter of hours?  Was it the defense continuing to struggle without Earl Thomas?

Then, the big Wild Card win at home.  The last hurrah, over a pretty inept and banged up Lions team.  Not a lot to learn from that, and ultimately the next game would look nothing like this one.

***

I mean, how do you wrap your head around a season like that?

To start, you can’t say a damn thing about it without getting into the offensive line issues.  This was the second year in a row that the Seahawks went with a bullshit, makeshift O-Line, instead of ponying up the money for proper blockers.  Justin Britt had his position moved for the third time in three seasons, and that was the ONLY move that worked.  He’ll go into the final year of his rookie deal in 2017 as our starting center; that makes me happy.  You can take the other four guys and throw them in a fucking volcano for all I care.

The Seahawks, in their prime, 2012-2014, always got by with Just Okay offensive lines.  Adequate, middle-of-the-road, doing just enough to let Marshawn Lynch run by them, and to let Russell Wilson run around them.  Then, slowly but surely, all the good parts were stripped away:  Unger traded away; Giacomini, Carpenter, and Sweezy allowed to hit free agency; Russell Okung – probably the most talented of the bunch – also allowed to hit free agency and sign a terrible deal in Denver.  Ending up with two rookies, a second-year player getting his first starting action, a third-year player switching positions for the third time, and Garry Gilliam, the only guy starting in the same spot from the year before.  Oh, and don’t forget the two free agents – Sowell and Webb – who were terrible, lost their starting jobs, and won’t be around beyond this season.

And, I get it.  I understand what the Seahawks were doing.  There’s only so much money to go around, and they preferred to give that money to their star players at the skill positions.  Wilson, Baldwin, Graham, Bennett, Avril, Wagner, Wright, Thomas, Sherman, Chancellor.  Those guys take up a lot of money.  Where can we save?  The O-Line!  Hell, we’ve got Tom Cable, surely he can build them up to be respectable by season’s end!

They damn near did it in 2015.  It looked like, once Patrick Lewis took over at center, things settled down for that unit.  Then, we got into the Divisional Round, against the Panthers and their ferocious interior linemen, and that unit was reduced to rubble.

But, without much of a choice, they did the same thing again in 2016.  As I mentioned, Britt was moved to center and that worked.  Glowinski was drafted in 2015 to be a guard of the future for this team, so why not let him work on his craft in actual games?  Germain Ifedi came at the price of a first round draft pick in 2016, so there was no way he wasn’t starting.  They made it through the season mostly unscathed, and you can ALMOST see a future with those guys in those spots, but they’ve got a lot of work to do.

And, while the guards made PLENTY of mistakes, and were often the worst parts of this unit, in my book they’re taking a back seat to the tackles, who were God-fucking-awful.  George Fant was a tight end in college, and here he was as our starting left tackle.  He was almost constantly over-matched, when we weren’t chipping defensive ends with our tight ends and running backs to give him a little help.  Gilliam was a little better – particularly later in the season, when he essentially had his manhood questioned by the coaching staff – but he too was often overmatched.  Together, neither of them are starting talents in the NFL.  Gilliam is a guy who might be a swing tackle for a good team, a 6th guy on the line who can start for you in a pinch.  But, he has no business being in there everyday.  Fant should’ve had this year to just develop in the background, but since this organization did absolutely nothing to replace Okung – aside from signing Sowell, who is a known commodity as one of the worst tackles in football – Fant was put in a position he had no business being in.  And, in that sense, he did all right.  He could be another guy who is a quality swing tackle, but he probably shouldn’t be a starter either.

This team needs, at a minimum, two new offensive tackles.  Ideally, one high in the draft and one as a free agent.  Luckily, we’ve weathered the storm of our salary cap being up against it, and should have enough extra money to make some moves, as 2017’s cap looks to be up to $170 million or more.  Not so luckily, we draft 26th again, and no quality offensive tackles will be there waiting for us.  I don’t know what the free agent market is going to be like, but things are going to get REALLY salty in Seattle if this team sits back and does nothing.

***

Aside from that, it’s a lot to do with what I was talking about yesterday:  our shoddy depth.  Starting with the 2013 draft, let’s look at who panned out:

  • Luke Willson – backup tight end
  • Spencer Ware – quality running back who we waived; he’s playing well for the Chiefs
  • Paul Richardson – 4th receiver, started coming on in this year’s playoffs with Lockett injured
  • Justin Britt – starting center, with 2016 being his first good year
  • Cassius Marsh – backup pass rusher & special teamer, 3 career sacks
  • Frank Clark – quality defensive lineman
  • Tyler Lockett – quality receiver & returner
  • Mark Glowinski – guard, started in 2016
  • Germain Ifedi – guard, started in 2016
  • Jarran Reed – quality run-stuffing defensive tackle
  • C.J. Prosise – quality running back who can’t stay healthy

That’s it, and I’m really stretching the definition of “panned out” with some of these guys.  The quality guys who we still have on this team include:  Britt, Clark, Lockett, Reed, and Prosise.  Beyond that, when you talk about this team’s depth, it’s a lot of young guys who haven’t really gotten a chance to start – because they’ve been boxed out by all the studs we’ve got starting on this team – but these same guys also aren’t making the most of their opportunities when they do find themselves on the field.  That means the coaches are failing them, or that they’re just not working very hard, but I don’t think this coaching staff or this team would sit by and let a bunch of slackers fuck around in practice.

Also, not for nothing, but when I talk about depth, I’m mostly looking at the secondary.  The depth on the O-Line is, I’m sure, a real problem, but so are the starters, so why beat that dead horse?  There’s solid depth at receiver – as shown by how P-Rich stepped his game up in the playoffs this year like a fucking CHAMP!  PROUD of you, boy! – and at tight end.  There’s also good-enough depth at D-Line and in the linebackers’ room to get by.  Where this team – and particularly this defense – struggles is when we get into the depth in the secondary.  When Kam Chancellor goes down (as he seems to do every year now), and when Earl Thomas goes down.  When, inevitably, Richard Sherman goes down (because he’s such a monster tackler; I can’t imagine those shoulders will hold up forever).  Or, like in this last game, where Shead went down with what looks like an ACL.  We thought Jeremy Lane would be enough – and I think he did okay, I’m not in this big hurry to run him off the team – but this team needs more back there.  It’s a shame too, because that’s supposed to be Pete Carroll’s specialty.  He should be ashamed of the depth we had back there in the secondary – particularly at safety – and he should be looking to shore that up in a major way in the upcoming draft.

No team stays healthy for a full year, but you’ve got to have guys to come in there and pick up the slack.  We weren’t able to do that this year.  That, and our O-Line troubles, doomed us for two years in a row.

It sounds insane to be this disgruntled about a team that hasn’t been to a Super Bowl in the last two years, but that’s what comes with success.  We’re not very far from those teams, in terms of talent and in terms of years, but we’re also trending in the absolute opposite direction.

Predicting The 2016 NFL Season

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

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

NFC East

Washington
NY Giants
Dallas
Philadelphia

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

NFC North

Green Bay
Minnesota
Detroit
Chicago

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

NFC South

Carolina
Tampa Bay
New Orleans
Atlanta

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

NFC West

Seattle
Arizona
San Francisco
Los Angeles

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

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

AFC East

New England
Buffalo
NY Jets
Miami

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

AFC North

Pittsburgh
Cincinnati
Baltimore
Cleveland

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

AFC South

Houston
Jacksonville
Indianapolis
Tennessee

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

AFC West

Kansas City
Oakland
Denver
San Diego

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

NFC Playoffs

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

AFC Playoffs

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

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

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

Wild Card Round

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

Divisional Round

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

Championship Round

Seattle over Green Bay
Kansas City over New England

Super Bowl

Seattle over Kansas City

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

Players To Watch In Super Bowl XLIX

You know who the big dogs are on the Seattle Seahawks.  The top ten, in some order, looks like this:

  • Russell Wilson
  • Marshawn Lynch
  • Bobby Wagner
  • Earl Thomas
  • Richard Sherman
  • Kam Chancellor
  • Michael Bennett
  • Doug Baldwin
  • Cliff Avril
  • Max Unger

So, I’m not going to sit here and tell you why all these guys are important.  You KNOW why.

This one’s dedicated to the specific Patriots we should probably be concerned with heading into the game next week.  These are the guys everyone will be talking about until this low simmer we’re all on ratchets up to a huge boil.

Let’s start with Tom Brady, because why not?  He’s the only sure-thing Hall of Famer on that team (though, there are some other possibilities, that we’ll get to).  Tom Brady has been one of the best quarterbacks in football pretty much since he took over the starting job with New England in 2001.  His career passer rating is 95.9 – which is outstanding – and he hasn’t even really missed a beat.  In 2014, he had his usual gaudy numbers, adding up to a passer rating of 97.4.  And, with the exception of a few peak years with Randy Moss and Wes Welker, Brady has done all of this with a largely anonymous group of receivers (sound familiar?).

Tom Brady is a quarterback who clearly makes the people around him better.  He has an unquestioned dedication to the game of football and that’s why his teams have always gone to the playoffs and why they’ve had so much success once they’ve gotten there.  Also, it doesn’t hurt that the rest of the AFC East has largely been one big shitshow the entire time, but that’s neither here nor there.

Unlike Manning, Brady doesn’t run his own offense.  He’s not his own offensive coordinator.  If it’s going to help the team win, Brady is more than willing to defer to the running game, if that’s what it takes.  I guess that’s the difference between being a 6th rounder vs. a #1 overall draft pick.  I guess that’s the difference between being led by one of the most successful and talented head coaches in NFL history (even if he is a big, lousy cheater sometimes) vs. a random smattering of guys who are more than willing to let their star quarterback just do his own thing.

Brady is dangerous in the same way that Russell Wilson is dangerous, in the fact that all they care about is winning, at any cost.  It just so happens that Brady has never REALLY had a dominating running game to defer to.  He’s never had a Marshawn Lynch to lean on.  Early in his career, though, Brady DID have an outstanding defense backing him, which was the real driving force in their three Super Bowl titles.  As Brady emerged from that early period in his career, the talent on defense diminished, so he was required to do more.  And, to his credit, he succeeded in almost every way.  That 2007 squad will go down historically as one of the very best teams of all time.  But, when shit got real, they were nipped by the Giants, and that’s that.

Nowadays, Brady doesn’t have the cannon he once did.  You’re not going to see the jump balls he threw to Randy Moss.  Part of that is the talent around him (Brandon LaFell isn’t anywhere near Randy Moss’s UNIVERSE), but part of that is just Brady getting older.  37 years old.  Over 50,000 yards on that arm.  In that respect, he is like Manning, or a latter-day Marino.  He’s going to hang around in that pocket (when he’s not sneaking for that first down on 3rd- & 4th-&-inches), he’s going to rely on rhythm passing from 0-10 yards in front of him, and he’s going to try to dictate tempo by going hurry-up to keep the defense on its heels and tired.

We saw this last year!  None of this is new!  We were worried about the same damn thing with the Broncos and it ended up being a non-issue!  Tom Brady CAN be affected if you get in his face.  You don’t necessarily want to send wave after wave of blitzers after him, but then again, maybe you do.  I mean, the Jets seem to have the Patriots pretty well figured out, and they’ve been running out a Junior Varsity quarterback out there for the last couple decades!  All Rex Ryan DOES is blitz!  I’m not saying that’s what the Seahawks will do – we tend to be among the least-blitzing teams in the NFL, in spite of our mascot’s name – but in theory, if things start getting hairy, it’s not a bad idea.  Let our corners press, and start throwing five and six guys after him on the reg.

If you let Tom Brady stand there all day, he’s going to pick you apart.  Unlike Manning – who’s so afraid of taking a hit that his internal clock is running on fast-forward at all times – Brady will hang in the pocket as long as necessary.  It’s not what he wants, I’m sure, but if the defense is going to press and bump receivers off of their routes, then we’re going to have to punish Brady accordingly for having the gall to wait it out until they get open.

I don’t necessarily see this as a game where the Patriots are going to try to slug it out with us on the ground.  We’re not the Colts, who are a wet paper bag when it comes to stopping the run.  Of course, we’re not necessarily the Ravens either – who make it a point to go all out in stopping the run.  We are who we are.  We’re going to stop your run the same way we stop everyone else’s run.  So, in that sense, I wouldn’t expect the Pats to completely abandon it the way they did in the second half of that Ravens game, but at the same time, we’re probably going to get a heavy dose of passing regardless.  On the year, Brady threw the ball 36 times per game.  That’s about what I’d expect out of this one as long as it remains close.  If it gets out of hand one way or another, figure to add or subtract about 15 to that total.

Pressure Brady, and everything else should fall into place.  A great way to do that?  Put the lockdown on Gronk.

The Pats have four primary receiving threats.  Here’s what they looked like in the regular season:

  • Rob Gronkowski:  82 catches, 1,124 yards, 12 TDs
  • Julian Edelman:  92 catches, 972 yards, 4 TDs
  • Brandon LaFell:  74 catches, 953 yards, 7 TDs
  • Shane Vereen:  52 catches, 447 yards, 3 TDs

Gronk’s just a beast.  He broke out in his rookie year of 2010 with 10 TDs, then turned into a total monster in 2011 with over 1,300 yards and 17 TDs.  The two subsequent years were marred by injuries and he lost large swaths of playing time.  You had to wonder if he would even be able to return to the game.  At the beginning of this year, it seemed like the team was a little too overly-tentative with him.  He’d be off the field for huge chunks of games and the offense struggled accordingly.  In the first four weeks, he had 13 catches for 147 yards and 3 TDs, while mostly playing around the red zone.

After the Pats got crushed by the Chiefs and fell to 2-2, they had no choice but to let Gronk do his thing.  The Patriots won 7 in a row and 10 of 11 overall to close out the regular season, with Gronk putting up the following numbers in that span:  69 catches, 977 yards, and 9 TDs (with an average of approximately 6 catches, 89 yards, and just under a TD per game).  Absolutely unreal.

As you can tell, Gronk IS the red zone offense for this team.  If I were a gambling man, I’d put a very large chunk of money on Gronk scoring a TD in this game, with a good portion of that on him scoring the FIRST touchdown in the game.  I’m sure you’d hardly win a damn thing on that wager, but what are you gonna do?

Seahawks fans are going to sit here and say, “Well, we’ve dismantled guys like Jimmy Graham and Julius Thomas; I’m not worried about Gronk!”  That would be a mistake.  Guys like Graham and Thomas are glorified, slow-footed wide receivers.  They’re soft.  Breathe on ’em wrong and they’ll go home crying to mama.  Gronk is built more in the Tony Gonzalez & Antonio Gates mold.  Remember those guys?  Remember how they were able to pick apart our defense for huge catches and scores?  Those guys thrive on contact, as does Gronk.

People are going to talk about the Gronk & Chancellor matchup, and believe you me, I’ll be looking forward to it as much as anyone else.  There’s nothing I’d like to see more than for Bam Bam to knock Gronk on his ass.  But, the underlying theme will be people talking about Kam shadowing Gronk all day, and that’s just not the case.  That’s not how the Seahawks operate.  We’re going to stick a linebacker on him just like most teams.  Since our linebackers – especially K.J. Wright – are better in coverage than most teams, we should be able to prevent Gronk from racking up a ton of yards.

But, it’s in that red zone where I’m worried.  When they opt to run Gronk out wide, with someone like Simon or Maxwell on him.  Good cover guys, sure, but I could see our corners draped all over him like a Snuggie and see him STILL come down with the ball at the goalline.

Don’t dismiss this guy just because he’s annoyingly awesome and you’d LOVE him if he was on the Seahawks.  To keep the Pats in check, we’ve got to keep Gronk in check, and that’s all there is to it.

Edelman is their possession guy.  Their Doug Baldwin, if you will.  On third down, Brady has two targets:  if Gronk is double teamed, or otherwise covered, he’s looking for Edelman in a crossing route or out in the flat.  We HAVE to control this guy.  If the Pats start converting a ton of third downs, it’s likely going to be because Edelman is getting open and squirming his way to the first down marker.

What I expect the Seahawks to do is put Jeremy Lane on him all day.  This more or less worked out okay last week, with Lane doing the heavy lifting on Randall Cobb.  Aside from the touchdown, Cobb was held to 6 catches for 49 yards.  Throw that TD into the mix, and Cobb still only had 7 catches for 62 yards, so it’s not like he was this unstoppable force (I think, too, Lane either fell down or ran into someone on that TD; but, that’s going off of memory and I’m too lazy to go back and watch it again).

Here’s the deal:  Edelman is no Cobb.  Cobb is probably the best slot receiver in the game.  Edelman is good, but he’s really just a poor man’s Welker.  I don’t think the Seahawks are sunk if we leave Lane on him.

What I’d LIKE the Seahawks to do is put Maxwell on him all day.  Maxwell is taller, with longer arms, but he’s still a strong presence as our nickel corner.  If the Seahawks are able to shut down Edelman, and roll coverage to Gronk to minimize his impact, I just don’t see any way the Patriots are able to move the ball consistently.

Brandon LaFell is a real wild card.  His overall numbers this year are MUCH better than I was expecting.  He’s their deep threat, if the Patriots even have a deep threat.  LaFell – while playing for the Panthers the last few years – was never really much of a problem for us.  The types of catches he makes – on fade routes and other types of throws into the corner – are the types of balls we defend the best.  I can’t imagine LaFell gets even a LOOK if he’s lined up on Sherman’s side.  I could, however, see him getting a good chunk of targets if he’s opposite Sherman, and he’s being guarded by the likes of Tharold Simon.

See, there’s a risky game to play if the Seahawks shadow Edelman with Maxwell, and that’s Simon on LaFell.  I like Simon, I think he would win most matchups against someone like LaFell, but I think if he’s out there, he’s GOING to get picked on, and it’s only a matter of time before there’s a huge penalty or otherwise a big catch going New England’s way.

So, maybe stick with Maxwell on the outside.  Either way, if we’re assignment-sound, I wouldn’t expect to have too much trouble with their passing game.  It’s just:  can we get off the field?  That’s going to require winning on first & second down, and that’s going to require tight coverage on third down.

As for Shane Vereen, I’m not too concerned.  He’s a poor man’s Darren Sproles, and we’ve been able to handle Sproles pretty well in our matchups with him.  I’d expect someone like Bruce Irvin to be big in this one, especially on early downs.

***

On defense, it starts with Darrelle Revis.  He’s not at his peak like he was with the Jets, but he’s still probably a Top 5 cornerback in this league.  It sounds like last week, they stuck Reggie Wayne on Revis Island and Wayne didn’t have an impact whatsoever.  Sounds pretty scary, until you remember the week before where the Ravens threw for nearly 300 yards and 4 touchdowns.

Don’t forget that Ravens game, because I think it’s really important.  The Ravens were VERY balanced, with 129 yards out of Forsett on the ground, topped off by a pretty good day out of Flacco.  Flacco didn’t shy away from Revis, just like Russell Wilson won’t.  The Ravens got beat because their defense – especially their secondary – can’t hold a flame to ours.  If we can get after the quarterback the way they did (the Ravens didn’t have a ton of sacks, but they hit Brady pretty good), I wouldn’t expect anywhere near the type of offensive success the Pats had in that game.

I expect Revis will follow Doug Baldwin all around the field.  So, look for Baldwin to have a pretty ineffective day.  That’s going to put more pressure on Kearse and the rest of our pass-catchers to pick their games up.  New England isn’t impossible to move the ball on, even with some of their relatively big names on defense.

Brandon Browner obviously comes to mind, but we know what to expect out of him.  He’s likely going to stick to a side – maybe even shadow Kearse all day – and put a hurtin’ on whoever comes near him.  Also, I wouldn’t be entirely shocked to see Browner slide inside and take on one of our tight ends.  A matchup I like even less than the Revis/Baldwin one is a Browner/Willson matchup.  I think Browner would eat our #1 tight end for lunch.  Hopefully, we get the Willson/Random Linebacker matchup I’ve been looking forward to all week.

Kyle Arrington is another guy to keep an eye on.  He’s another cornerback, and apparently is their speed guy (as he took on T.Y. Hilton last week).  I’d look for Arrington to spend his time looking after Lockette, which has the potential to be a nice little mismatch in our favor, as Lockette is 6’2 and Arrington is only 5’10.

Another big one to watch out for is Chandler Jones.  #95 in your programs, he’s a 6’5 monster of a defensive end.  While he only netted six sacks this year, he did miss some time with injury and has been a terrifying beast in the games I’ve seen.  I don’t recall offhand where he generally lines up, but I seem to have him squaring off against Britt in my mind’s eye.  I wish I knew more about his tendencies.  If he’s as aggressive as I think he is, I think we can take advantage of him in the read-option game.  I’d watch for him to crash hard on the fake to Lynch, with Wilson running right around him for big gains.

If only Percy Harvin wasn’t such a massive jack-hole, I could see the jet-sweep being a HUGE play for us, like it was in last year’s Super Bowl.  Why couldn’t we have just kept him inactive each and every week – and away from the team facility entirely – then busted him out for one game a year?

Next up, watch out for a pair of outside linebackers in Dont’a Hightower and Jamie Collins.  Collins especially, #91.  That guy is a FREAK.  He’ll line up on Okung’s side, and could rush the passer or go out into coverage.  He led the team in tackles and really filled up the stat sheet.  I wouldn’t mind seeing us run right at him, to have him swallowed up in our zone blocking scheme, but I gotta wonder if that’s wise.  If he’s able to shed blocks, we might be looking at a long day running the ball.

That’s because the key to the whole defense is Vince Wilfork.  The mammoth nose tackle whose listed weight is 325, but is probably pushing 360.  The Ravens were successful rushing because they managed to run outside the tackles.  But, that’s not really the Seahawks’ game, as we like taking it right at you.  Max Unger and either James Carpenter or J.R. Sweezy will have their work cut out for them.  Considering Carpenter is the only guy on our line who could POSSIBLY move Wilfork’s wide body out of the way, I would expect Wilfork to shade toward Sweezy’s side of Unger.  If Wilfork’s taking up two blockers, that’s going to hurt our running game, because we depend so much upon Sweezy and other guys getting to the second level.

That’s why, again, I like our chances with the zone read.  If we can break off a 100-yard rushing day out of Russell Wilson, that’s going to start opening up things down the field.

If the Seahawks win this game, Russell Wilson will need to have a game for the ages.  Let’s hope he’s got one more left in him.

Seattle Sports Hell 2014 NFL Power Rankings – Week 15

So, the question on everyone’s minds right now is:  Is the Seahawks/49ers rivalry dead?

It’s an interesting question to ponder.  For starters, you have to find an appropriate definition of a “rivalry”.  At this point, with all the bad blood that’s been figuratively spilled, in comments sections and message boards, in the blocking of friends and family on various social media sites, in the verbal altercations and maybe even physical altercations between drunken fans, I don’t think we’re ever fixing this relationship:  Seahawks fans and 49ers fans are going to forever hate one another.  Or, at least for the foreseeable (and considerable) future.

Some people seem to think a rivalry requires that both teams are good at the same time.  Both teams, fighting for the same goal that only one team can ultimately have.  Granted, that makes for a GOOD rivalry, but you don’t stop being rivals when one team is awesome and the other is on a downward spiral.  Indeed, it’s in these spots where a rivalry truly gains a foothold.

Think about the rivalry between the Huskies and Cougars.  No one is sitting there calling these two schools, or these two football programs, equals.  They haven’t both been good at the same time in quite a while.  And, I don’t think they’ve ever really both been simultaneously good for an extended period of time (say, five years or more).  At least, I don’t remember that being the case in the last 30 years or so.

But, you know what games stand out almost as much as the de facto playoff appearances between two successful rival teams?  Those games where the underdog knocks the great team out of contention for something great.

I mean, look at it this way:  the Huskies lead the all time series against the Cougars by a record of 69-32-6.  CLEARLY, the Huskies are the superior team in this rivalry, but just because the Cougs are so inept, it doesn’t make it any less of a rivalry.  Take the 1982 season, for example.  The Cougs finished 2-4-1 in conference play.  But, they beat the previously 1-loss Huskies in the Apple Cup, knocking us out of the Rose Bowl and a possible Top 5 finish.  THOSE are the games I’m talking about.

Yeah, 49ers fans hate the Seahawks for keeping them out of the Super Bowl last year.  That loss in the NFC Championship Game was a devastating blow.  But, imagine if the 49ers had beaten the Seahawks this past Sunday.  The 49ers, a team going nowhere, coming into Seattle and scurrying away with a hard-fought victory, costing us a chance at the division title and a first round BYE in the playoffs (while also making our path to simply securing a playoff spot that much more difficult).  Isn’t that just as bad?  Knowing you SHOULD have beaten a bitter rival, but they still find a way to win anyway?

Unless you’ve got a natural geographic rival (like Seattle and Portland, for instance), it’s a little difficult to manufacture a rivalry.  The Seahawks moved back to the NFC West in 2002.  From that point through the 2011 season, the Seahawks didn’t really have a rival.  Yeah, San Francisco is the closest city to us in NFL terms.  They’re in our division and everything.  But, when we started playing them regularly in 2002, they were total shit, and we were a team on the rise.  The NFC West in general was pretty hit-or-miss, but if I had to say someone was our main rival, I would’ve put that on the Rams, who were just playing out their run as the Greatest Show On Turf when we came into the picture.  By the time we went on our run of NFC West championships (from 2004 thru 2007), we really didn’t have a rival.  There was some bad blood for the Steelers, maybe a little for the Packers and Bears, but nothing like we’ve had since 2012 with the 49ers.

It takes a few good years of sustained success that we enjoyed to manufacture a rivalry with the likes of a team like the 49ers.  In their heyday of the 80s and 90s, you’d say the 49ers’ main rivals were the nationally great teams:  the Giants, the Redskins, the Cowboys, the Bears.  Now, with the divisions realigned, the Seahawks are it.  And, even if the 49ers lose Harbaugh, and even if Kaepernick never finds his groove again, and even if their defense ages into obscurity, and even if the 49ers are terrible for the next ten consecutive years, we’ll still always have this run from 2012-2014 as our rivalry’s heyday.  And, going forward, should the Seahawks continue to be successful, there will still be a rivalry.  Maybe the 49ers go 1-9 against us in the next ten meetings.  But, that lone defeat will still sting like a thousand defeats, because that bad blood will always be there.

What I’m more looking forward to is being like those 49ers of the 80s and 90s.  Being like what the Patriots have been for the last decade plus.  Yeah, the Pats have the Jets and Dolphins and Bills, who they’ve been playing twice a year for decades.  But, since Tom Brady took over, aside from a couple great Rex Ryan teams, the Pats have more or less demolished their division en route to a long string of division titles and first round BYEs in the AFC.  If you had to name New England’s top rival in that span, it wouldn’t be anyone in their division, it would be the Indianapolis Colts, followed by the Denver Broncos.  Essentially, wherever Peyton Manning called home.

THAT’S what I want.  Yeah, it’s nice having that blood feud with the 49ers.  And it’s fun to hate on the Cardinals and Rams to a lesser extent.  But, I want us going after the big guns of the NFC.  I want our big rivalry to be with the Packers, or the Saints when they’re good, or any of the NFC East teams if they can get their shit together for an extended run of brilliance.

In my mind, the Seahawks should find simply winning their division to be a little blasé.  It should just be a given.  The Patriots don’t go into their seasons thinking, “I hope we win our division this year!”  They go in EXPECTING to win their division, while thinking, “I hope we represent the AFC in the Super Bowl this year!”

That’s what I want.  That’s the kind of rivalry I hope to see.  The kind of rivalry that transcends geography.  The kind of rivalry where you only face your opponent once per regular season, and that’s because you’re both winning your respective divisions every year.  I want the kind of rivalry where Grantland documents each of the games between their respective teams based on how well each quarterback plays.

We thought we might have had that between the Seahawks and 49ers, but that’s looking less and less likely.  Jim Harbaugh is douchebagging his way out of a job, and Colin Kaepernick is mediocre-ing his way into being a professional backup.  The 49ers’ flame burned bright and quick, and the status of this particular rivalry is in question going forward.  The Seahawks have three straight wins, and have won 5 of the last 6.  There are more Seahawks blowouts than there are simple, close 49ers victories in the Wilson/Kaepernick Era.  We’ll see what happens from here, but it strikes me that the 49ers are about a year away from a total rebuild, while the Seahawks are moving on to bigger and better things.

The Seahawks Dynasty is still in play.  And, at that point, the NFL world will be so sick of us, we’ll be EVERYONE’S rivals.

***

  1. Dallas Cowboys (10-4) – The jinx of the #1 spot is real!  Let the Cowboys be next to feel its sting!  Uhh, I mean, YEAH, the Cowboys are the best team in the NFL!  This is a thing I truly believe!  7-0 record on the road and whatnot!
  2. Seattle Seahawks (10-4) – Mid-season swoons be damned, the Seahawks are back and better than ever!  But, they’re never EVER setting foot in my top spot.  Not as long as that jinx is hanging around.
  3. Denver Broncos (11-3) – I don’t really know what to say.  Their offense doesn’t look great right now, but they’re finding ways to win.  Defense is rock solid, so I guess that helps.
  4. New England Patriots (11-3) – I don’t know who I fear more between the Broncos and Patriots, I’m just glad the Seahawks only have to face one or the other in the Super Bowl.
  5. Green Bay Packers (10-4) – I never thought it was possible, but the BILLS of all teams gave us the opportunity to grab hold of the #1 seed.  God bless them, every one.
  6. Indianapolis Colts (10-4) – Why they struggled so much against the Texans is the exact reason why they’re not a Super Bowl team.
  7. Detroit Lions (10-4) – Same goes for the Lions, with their struggles against the Vikings.
  8. Arizona Cardinals (11-3) – Another win in the books, another quarterback down for the count.  Meet the team EVERYONE wants to face in the playoffs (non NFC South edition).
  9. San Diego Chargers (8-6) – A pretty good team who’s just getting eaten alive by their schedule.
  10. Philadelphia Eagles (9-5) – What is this, the 8th week in a row where the team that’s played the Seahawks has lost the next week?  That’s kinda ridiculous, isn’t it?
  11. Baltimore Ravens (9-5) – Ravens gonna cakewalk backwards into the playoffs this year.  Face Houston’s third string QB next week, then Johnny JamBoogie and the hapless Browns in the final week.
  12. Pittsburgh Steelers (9-5) – Steelers got a nice path to the playoffs.  Could knock out the Chiefs next week and the Bengals the week after.  Both games in Pittsburgh, so you gotta like that if you’re a Steelers fan.  Especially considering how you just trounced the Bengals two weeks ago.
  13. Cincinnati Bengals (9-4-1) – They’re technically the division leader now by a half game, but stick a fork in ’em.  Home against the Broncos, then at the Steelers.  That’s got 0-2 written all over it.  Thanks for playing 2014 NFL football!
  14. Kansas City Chiefs (8-6) – The Chiefs missed out on the playoffs when they lost at Oakland last month.  They finish at Pittsburgh and vs. San Diego.  No way they’re able to put up points with the Steelers.
  15. Buffalo Bills (8-6) – You know what, Bills?  I don’t really believe in you, but you beat the Packers for us, so you get to hang out in the Winner’s Bracket for a week.

The Loser’s Bracket:

  1. Miami Dolphins (7-7) – Sorry, Dolphins.  Teams who play their head coaches out of jobs don’t get to be ranked among the winners (plus, you know, it helps if you have a winning record and everything).
  2. San Francisco 49ers (7-7) – Knocked ’em out of the playoffs.  Got their douchebag head coach fired.  Finally convinced them Colin Kaepernick isn’t a starting quarterback in this league.  What a great weekend!
  3. St. Louis Rams (6-8) – Another year of being moderately scary, another year with a record not over .500.
  4. Houston Texans (7-7) – Well, it was a fun ride while it lasted.  Now, go find yourselves a quarterback.
  5. Cleveland Browns (7-7) – Seriously, Johnny JamBoogie, your money sign with the hands is idiotic when you haven’t done a fucking thing in this league.
  6. Minnesota Vikings (6-8) – Honestly, this team is better than I could have expected, given their best player was lost for the year and they’re breaking in a rookie quarterback.
  7. New Orleans Saints (6-8) – I can’t wait for the Saints to host the Cardinals in the first round, followed by the Saints beating the Cardinals’ third string quarterback, followed by the Saints coming BACK to Seattle in the Divisional Round so we can crush them once again!
  8. Atlanta Falcons (5-9) – I just honestly don’t know what to say about this NFC South.  Was the NFC West in 2010 THIS bad?  I’m asking for real; I can’t tell because I’m too close to the situation.
  9. Carolina Panthers (5-8-1) – They host Cleveland and go to Atlanta.  If Cam Newton comes back, you never know.
  10. Chicago Bears (5-9) – Hello darkness, my old friend.
  11. New York Giants (5-9) – Yeah, whatever.
  12. Washington Redskins (3-11) – Total shitshow.
  13. New York Jets (3-11) – Way to screw yourselves out of the #1 pick.
  14. Oakland Raiders (2-12) – Okay.
  15. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-12) – Uh huh.
  16. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-12) – Fucking irritating team.  WHY ARE YOU STILL PLAYING MCCOWN???
  17. Tennessee Titans (2-12) – You are one pathetic loser!

Seattle Sports Hell 2014 NFL Power Rankings – Week 11

On a scale from 1 to 10, this season is legit 12 aggravating.  I can’t sit here and tell you that it’s the worst season, because it’s not.  The worst seasons are always the ones where you win the fewest games.  The 1992 Seahawks are the reason why I stopped giving a shit about the Seattle Seahawks until about 1996 or so and they were threatening to move to L.A.  Pieces were being put into place, we’d just come off a .500 record, things were looking up!  Of course, little did I know just how many .500 seasons I’d have to endure under Dennis Erickson, but that’s another post for another time.

The only salvation you get out of a miserable season like 1992 or 2008 is that you get to reap the rewards of a high draft pick.  But, since we’re talking about the Seahawks, we even manage to fuck THAT up, with the likes of Rick Mirer and Aaron Curry.

The underrated travesties are those 8-8 seasons, because not only are you mediocre, and not only are you missing out on the post-season, but you also draft pretty low in the first round.  Like the high teens, where there’s just scraps and wishful thinking of would-be stars.  No thank you.

But, this year?  It doesn’t come around all that often.  Indeed, when you’re talking Seahawks, the only seasons that could possibly rival 2014 are the two seasons following our first Super Bowl apperance.  These are years where expectations are sky high.  Where you’re still in that Championship Window, but you can see that it’s already closing, and no matter how many times you’re reminded that these windows are fleeting, you’re not prepared for the comedown.  It’s what I imagine a cocaine binge hangover to feel like.

Everything sucks and you wish you were dead.

2013 was supposed to be the beginning of a dynasty!  The second coming of the 90s Dallas Cowboys.  The third coming of the 80s 49ers.  The fourth coming of the 70s Steelers.  The fifth coming of the 60s Packers.  The sixth coming of the 50s Browns.  And so on and so forth.  We were young, we were fierce on defense, we were in a position of strength regarding our cap, where we could afford to extend our stars & still fill in admirably around them with the role players to succeed.

Now, we’re just this injured, dysfunctional mass of mistake-prone, unclutch nonsense.  Losing games late in the fourth quarter we should win.  Holding teams to touchdowns instead of field goals whenever they reach the red zone.  Killing countless drives with idiotic penalties.  Dropping passes, missing blockers, missing tackles, letting absolute gift interceptions clank off of our chests.  6-4, clinging for dear life to Wild Card dreams while the Arizona fucking Cardinals somehow suffer even worse injuries and manage to sit atop the entire NFL with a 9-1 record.  I mean, ARE YOU SHITTING ME?

We should be better, we COULD be better, but we’re not.  And, God damn it, I still haven’t seen the Rams pull any of their special teams bullshit against anyone else in the league; WHY IS IT ALWAYS US???

Fuckin’ hubris, man.  We got a taste of the good life in 2013, and man did we live like kings!  We were the toast of the NFL!  Defenses wanted to be us, league officials created rules to stop us, Richard Sherman’s out there getting Kardashian-level ink spilled about him on a daily basis.  We extended all the stars we were able to extend.  ESPN devoted a whole block of programming just to show how we PRACTICE!  (not a game, not a game …).  And there we are, The 12th Man in all our blue & green glory, not just soaking it all in, but actively rubbing it in the faces of anyone who will listen.

WE’RE the best!  Not y’all!  WE’RE the team that can’t be stopped.

Like we did anything at all.  The Seahawks won a Super Bowl and all of a sudden our 12th Man dicks are dragging on the floor behind us.  Oh, this ol’ thing?  That’s just my 12-foot long dick; didn’t you hear?  We won the Super Bowl and we’re going to win every Super Bowl until Russell Wilson decides to hang ’em up.  No big deal.  And believe me, I’m as guilty of this as anyone.

See, as Seahawks fans – as Seattle fans in general – we didn’t know how to act, so we acted like we imagine every other fan who’s rooted on a champion acts.  The Seahawks winning the Super Bowl was akin to giving Honey Boo Boo and her family their own TV show for the 12th Man.  Everyone else is trying to tell us to “act like we’ve been there before,” but we’re too busy painting our bodies in Seahawks colors and eating spaghetti with butter.

Losing all these players to free agency?  Who cares!  We’ve got Pete Carroll and John Schneider; it’s only a matter of time before the next crop of 5th round draft picks turn into All Pros!  Never considering for a moment that maybe they just caught lightning in a bottle that one season, and that it’s fucking HARD to do it a second time.

A lot of shit has to go right.  But, the Seahawks in 2014 are too talented!  There are too many stars on this team!  WE’RE TOO BIG TO FAIL!

And here we are, 6-4, third place in the division, on the outside looking in at a playoff spot, with the world’s most difficult schedule over these last seven games, and we’re about to get 2010 Seahawks’d right out of a playoff spot because the NFC South is about to get a 7-9 home playoff game.

I want each and every one of you to remember what you said at the end of 2010 when the world was telling us we didn’t belong in the playoffs, let alone hosting the world champion Saints.  Because, I guaran-fucking-tee all those people defending the 7-9 division champion Seahawks will be calling for a revamping of the NFL playoff seeding system come January.

That’s why this season is so aggravating.  Because we should’ve seen it coming and we ignored it.  I mean, this is Seattle!  Why would we expect to have long term greatness?  Just consider us fucking lucky that we got the one Super Bowl and we still have our health.  Winter’s coming.  And Arizona Hell is coming with it.

In other news, this is the week where I’ve opted to split the power rankings into the Haves and Have Nots.  The top 16 teams all have as good a chance as any of making the playoffs this year.  The bottom 16 is comprised of all the fucking losers, which obviously includes the NFC South.  Enjoy!

***

  1. Arizona Cardinals (9-1) – More annoying Super Bowl storyline:  the Harbaugh Brothers facing one another, or the Cardinals hosting their own Super Bowl?  It’s a toss-up for me right now; all I know is I’m rooting for whoever comes out of the AFC.
  2. New England Patriots (8-2) – It’s been a LONG time since their offensive line was a trainwreck and Tom Brady owners in fantasy were pulling their hair out.
  3. Denver Broncos (7-3) – I don’t know what to say about that loss to the Rams, but it has to be at least mildly concerning, right?
  4. Green Bay Packers (7-3) – I know the Packers aren’t as good as they’ve looked in recent weeks, but I’ll be damned if I can tell you how this team is going to blow it going forward.
  5. Detroit Lions (7-3) – Defense is amazing, and you still don’t want to face them in the playoffs, but they ran up against the Arizona juggernaut on Sunday.
  6. Kansas City Chiefs (7-3) – I can’t see this team contending with the Broncos, but it’s nice for them to think they can.  Blame St. Louis when all your hopes are dashed later this year.
  7. Indianapolis Colts (6-4) – I seem to say this all the time, but it must be nice to play in such a shitty division.
  8. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-4) – Playing down to the level of their competition?  Now, where have I seen that before (*cough cough* SEAHAWKS).
  9. Philadelphia Eagles (7-3) – So, will the real Mark Sanchez please stand up?
  10. San Francisco 49ers (6-4) – Yeah, they’re hanging in there, but they’re still struggling mightily on offense.  If the Seahawks are doomed to miss the playoffs; I’ll gladly play spoiler if it means we can also keep the 49ers out.
  11. Dallas Cowboys (7-3) – It’s almost that time!  December in Dallas must be the best time of year for antacid sales.
  12. Miami Dolphins (6-4) – Well, they proved they’re better than the Bills.  Not saying a whole lot, but it’s something.
  13. San Diego Chargers (6-4) – Well, they proved they’re better than the Raiders.  Not saying a whole lot, but it’s something.
  14. Seattle Seahawks (6-4) – What are the Seahawks going to do when we start facing great run defenses?  I’d wager to guess that the Seahawks are going to continue losing.
  15. Cincinnati Bengals (6-3-1) – Andy Dalton plays Cleveland, has one of the worst games possible for a starting quarterback making millions upon millions of dollars.  Then, he turns around – when every fantasy owner in America has benched him – and throws three TDs and dominates on the road against the Saints.  Troll +1.
  16. Baltimore Ravens (6-4) – With no one really running away with this division, I guess they still have as good a chance as any to sneak in there.  Odds are, though, they lose via tiebreaker somewhere.

The Loser’s Bracket:

  1. St. Louis Rams (4-6) – Seriously Rams, fuck you!  Who the hell are you to be good enough to beat the Broncos and Seahawks, yet bad enough to still have a losing record?
  2. Houston Texans (5-5) – J.J. Watt has four touchdowns this year?  Including two on offense?  Maybe Darrell Bevell isn’t a complete idiot; maybe he’s just running goalline plays that only work if you have J.J. Watt in there on offense.
  3. Cleveland Browns (6-4) – Hey, so Cleveland?  Playoff teams don’t lose home games to the Texans when they’re starting a first-time starting quarterback.
  4. Atlanta Falcons (4-6) – I can’t believe this is the team that’s currently leading the NFC South.  I also can’t believe I sort of think they might hang on and end up winning it at season’s end.
  5. New Orleans Saints (4-6) – Can’t say I’m TOTALLY shocked the Saints choked to the Bengals at home.  If I thought the Saints were going to run away with that one, I would’ve considered benching Cincy’s running back.  Suffice it to say, I came away from Sunday pretty happy with my decisions.
  6. Chicago Bears (4-6) – The Bears are better than the Vikings; stop the presses!
  7. Carolina Panthers (3-7-1) – Hello darkness, my old friend.
  8. Buffalo Bills (5-5) – It doesn’t get any better than a couple weeks ago, when you were 5-3 and enjoying a nice BYE week.  Fortunately, it doesn’t get much worse with home games against the Jets and Cleveland coming up.  Hi there 8-8!  It’s been a while.
  9. Minnesota Vikings (4-6) – So much for Adrian Peterson salvaging your season.
  10. New York Giants (3-7) – You are one pathetic loser!
  11. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-8) – Mike Evans is my fantasy football wet dream right now; single greatest waiver wire pickup I’ve made in AGES.
  12. Washington Redskins (3-7) – I just need Alfred Morris to continue to be decent through the last few weeks of the season.
  13. New York Jets (2-8) – I’m telling you, I still think the Jets have a chance to save Rex Ryan’s bacon.  Here’s their schedule to close out the season:  @Buf, Mia, @Min, @Ten, NE, @Mia.  Got some real turds in that punchbowl.
  14. Tennessee Titans (2-8) – Seems like you should be building for the future by giving Bishop Sankey the lion’s share of the offensive load.  You know, to see what you’ve got, and to see if what you’ve got is a bellcow running back?
  15. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-9) – Could the Jags lose out and still gain that number one pick?  I think they can, I think they can, I think they can.
  16. Oakland Raiders (0-10) – Because I highly doubt the Raiders are going 0-16.  At some point, they’re going to Raiders this whole thing up and miss out on the number 1 draft pick.

Is This A Joke?

I wasn’t going to write about this when I first heard about it last night, because it’s pointless and stupid.  It’s a list, of the 32 NFL head coaches, ranked in order of best to worst.  I guess.  Anyway, it’s dumb.  Everyone makes lists all the time and they’re all retarded, except this guy KINDA takes the cake.

Remember the name Elliot Harrison, because this guy’s going places.  I mean, if he can generate this type of chatter in the middle of July, he must be pushing just the right buttons.

I’ll get to what’s really grinding my gears in a bit, but first, I’ll just say that for the most part, I don’t have a problem with this guy’s rankings.  The guys at the bottom are there for a reason – they lack NFL head coaching experience.  I might have ranked Gus Bradley a little higher, partly because I’m biased and partly because I like to look at someone’s potential when I do these types of things.  I think Gus Bradley has a chance to be great.  And, I think the Jags will be one of the most improved teams this year.  So, to get in on the ground floor, I probably would have put Gus around 20 or 19 or something.

I would have put Jason Garrett dead last.  He is, BY FAR, the worst head coach of them all.  I know he doesn’t get many favors from his GM (except further employment for some ungodly reason), but he has bungled more than his fair share of games and probably should’ve been fired a season or two ago.

I also think Joe Philbin is a ninny and should be placed closer to the bottom than he already is.

I’m a little higher on Ron Rivera and probably would’ve put him in the mid-teens.  I think Rex Ryan’s coasting on his AFC Championship games he had way back when and isn’t nearly as good as his ranking.  Mike Smith is probably a little too high, as is John Fox, but really, these are all minor quibbles.

Pete Carroll is ranked 7th.  In a vacuum, that doesn’t sound so bad.  If I looked at him, then shut my eyes, and tried to think of a good ranking for him, I feel like the number 7 would pop right into my mind.  But, that’s without any consideration for the other coaches listed above him.

Mike McCarthy is ranked 6th.  Say what?

Tom Coughlin is ranked 5th.  Ehh, that feels right.  Guy has been around a long time, has a couple championships to his name.  Yeah, he’s missed the playoffs a few times, but the guy has made a champion of Eli Manning twice over!

John Harbaugh is ranked 4th.  Again, I’d probably rank him ahead of Pete Carroll as well.  He’s had a lot of sustained success since he got the head coaching job with the Ravens.  They share the same number of championships; I’m okay with that.

Here’s where it gets me – and I’m sure it was intentional.  Jim Harbaugh is ranked 3rd.  You see, this is the genius of Elliot Harrison.  Ideally, if he wants to piss off any fanbase, it’s probably that of the Patriots.  They’re the loudest and most easily-peeved by any slight against them.  But, to do so would have meant ranking Harbaugh over Bill Belichick, and that’s just insanity.  Belichick might go down as one of the greatest head coaches of all time.  To rank anyone ahead of him would immediately render his list as invalid.

So, instead, Elliot Harrison decided to troll TWO fanbases – Seattle & Baltimore – by not only ranking our most hated rival FOUR SPOTS ahead of Pete Carroll, but also ranking the wrong Harbaugh brother ahead of the other.

Let me see if I get this straight:  the two Harbaugh boys coached against one another in the Super Bowl before last, and the LOSER of said Super Bowl ends up getting ranked ahead of the victor?  Just because he’s 3 for 3 in NFC Championship appearances, that gets him the nod?  Even though John Harbaugh had made the playoffs in five consecutive seasons, making three AFC Championship Games and the aforementioned Super Bowl victory over his brother … he gets docked a point for missing the playoffs one time?  Are you KIDDING ME?

I think I’m more upset about this whole John/Jim fiasco than I am with Harbaugh being ranked so far ahead of Pete Carroll.

You want my opinion?  Here’s my top ten (I’m not going all the way to 32, because what’s the point?):

  1. Bill Belichick
  2. Sean Payton
  3. John Harbaugh
  4. Tom Coughlin
  5. Pete Carroll
  6. Jim Harbaugh
  7. Andy Reid
  8. Jeff Fisher
  9. Lovie Smith
  10. Mike Tomlin

Now there’s a ranking that’s somewhat respectable.  But, it’s not a ranking that’s necessarily going to draw a bunch of fire from pissed off fanbases.  It’s just a ranking that makes SENSE.  Jim Harbaugh inherited a team that already had a ton of talent on it.  Pete Carroll, and some of these other coaches ahead of Harbaugh, took over teams that were pretty bad.  They’ve BUILT something.  They’re not living off of the success of previous regimes.  You know what’s going to happen when the talent on the 49ers gets too old?  You’re going to see Jim Harbaugh start missing the playoffs more and more.

However, the Seahawks – a team not afraid to play younger guys at key positions – should be able to regenerate on a yearly basis, thanks to Pete Carroll’s coaching style and philosophy.

I’ll say this:  this Elliot Harrison guy’s rankings will look a lot different next year, after the Seahawks are coming off their second of two championship seasons.

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, 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)

The Huskies & Seahawks Play Home Games This Weekend; Both Should Win

I’m combining these previews mostly because I’m lazy.  Partly because I know dick about the Utah Utes.  Also, work is having a bake sale going on for charity and I’m in a diabetic coma right now.

Here’s what I know about the Husky game.  The Huskies are 4-1 at home, including wins over ranked opponents Oregon State and Stanford.  The Huskies are well underway in the easiest portion of their schedule.  They finally got a road win last week, getting that monkey off their backs.  This is the final home game of the Husky season.  This game puts the Huskies over the threshold for a bowl game.  It’s senior night.

Utah is currently 0-4 on the road this year.  They’re coming off back-to-back impressive-looking wins over Cal and WSU, but take that for what it’s worth, because it’s fucking Cal and WSU.  Their offense is somehow worse than ours, but they’ve also somehow scored more points than us.  Their defense looks to be solid, particularly along the line, but then again our defense has been a strong point for us, holding Stanford, Oregon State, and Cal to under 20 points.  They’re starting a freshman quarterback who has only played significantly in 4 games to date.  In each of those four games, he has thrown at least one pick, en route to 3 TDs and 5 INTs in that span.  Also, he doesn’t appear to be much of a threat running the ball even though he’s had at least 5 rushing attempts in each of those four games.

And yet somehow the Utes and NOT the Huskies are favored in this game?  I don’t understand it.

I can’t imagine a world in which the Utes win this game.  That’s not to say I’m seeing the Huskies running away with it (though I’m not saying they won’t run away with it either).  Either the Huskies dominate and win by three scores, or they win by the usual one score with some clenched buttcheeks at the end.  Either way, Utah is not coming up here tomorrow night and taking this away from us.  We’ve got 8 wins firmly on our minds and God dammit, we’re gonna get there!

***

Here’s what I know about the Seahawks game.  The Seahawks are 4-0 at home.  They’ve beaten the likes of New England, Green Bay, Dallas, and Minnesota.  All were, at one point, pegged to be playoff teams this season.  Three of those teams have elite quarterbacks.  Two of those teams are perennial Super Bowl contenders.  The Seahawks won them all.

The Jets are 1-2 on the road.  They are 3-5 overall; their most-impressive win being at Miami in overtime.  The Jets do NOT have an elite quarterback.  They have two of the worst starting quarterbacks in the modern era.  The Jets also do not have an elite defense.  Darrelle Revis won’t be around, which knocks them back quite a bit.  The rest of their defense is entirely overrated because Rex Ryan is a loudmouth who’s doing all the rating for everyone.  Rex Ryan’s father was a defensive genius.  Rex Ryan’s brother is probably a better coach than he is, but he looks like a tool, so there’s that.  Rex Ryan is a foot fetishist, and while there’s nothing wrong with that, the next time you see a woman’s bare foot, just know that he PROBABLY would like to sniff it.  It might be your girlfriend’s foot, it might be your wife’s foot, it might be your mother’s foot.  Rex Ryan … is a foot-sniffer.

The Jets are terrible.  Their defense is near dead last against the run, so expect Marshawn Lynch to either have a day, or expect them to completely sell out, in which case expect Russell Wilson to have a day.

Their top wide receiver is someone named Jeremy Kerley.  He’s averaging under 4 receptions per game (30 on the season) with only 2 TDs.  Their second-best receiver is still Santonio Holmes and he only played in 4 games before he was lost for the season.  Their third-best receiver is me.  Pudgy, diabetic-coma me.  I will step on the field for the Jets this weekend and be their third-best receiver after Jeremy Kerley and a guy on IR.

Did I mention their quarterback is Mark Sanchez?  Their quarterback is Mark Sanchez.  I probably should have led off with that statement, but then the analysis of this game would’ve been five words long.  He has 10 TDs vs. 8 INTs on the season.  Except for overall yardage, he’s currently being out-played by Russell Wilson in every other facet of the game.  Seahawks fans even LIKE Russell Wilson; you can’t necessarily say the same for Jets fans and their starting QB.

This weekend should be a no-brainer.  Our corners are going to shut down their receivers.  Our defensive line is going to be able to get through their offensive line.  Our defense is going to force multiple turnovers.  Their only hope is to concoct the most conservative of all game plans and hope for a low-scoring slugfest.  Like, kneel down every time and hope we screw up somehow (or hope for a special teams miracle).

Our offense is improving week to week.  It should be no trouble moving the ball on this team.  I expect another game in the mid-to-high 20s for us and I expect 3 points for them.  I think late in the game they’ll drive and kick a field goal to keep a shutout off of Ryan’s coaching record.  It’ll be a foot-sniffer kind of a thing to do, and the 12th Man will reign down a chorus of boos, but what else would you expect?

The Jets will fly home embarrassed.  Another season lost.  And Rex Ryan’s job will be on life support with another 7 games left to play.

The Seahawks, on the other hand, will be 6-4 headed into a BYE week with an inside track on a playoff spot.

All will be glorious after this weekend.  Huskies and Seahawks fans will rejoice in the streets.  Anything less would be absolutely unfathomable.

Seattle Sports Hell NFL Power Rankings, Vol. 5

I would just like to start out by saying the following:  Thursday Games Are Bullshit.

The NFL was not meant to be played on Thursdays!  Let us follow the logic for a minute, shall we?  You take 11 big, strong athletes at the peak of their physical livelihood, you put them in pads and helmets, and you have them running around and crashing into one another for three hours every Sunday.  I don’t know about you, but I played flag football (with full-contact blocking) for the first time in ages just last month.  I was walking with a limp for a WEEK afterward!  And I wasn’t even playing against the best football players in the world!

Then, you’ve got to turn around, four days later, and do it all again?

I mean, I’m no NFL player, but I imagine if you play a game on Sunday, you’re doing absolutely nothing on Monday but recuperating.  Then, you return to the grind on Tuesday with a full practice.  Given the CBA, you’re only allowed so much time with your players during practice, so you’ve got to cram EVERYTHING into that one practice.  Because you’re not going all out on a Wednesday, considering there’s a game on Thursday; you don’t want to kill your players the day before they’re going to be killed again.

In essence, you get one day to prepare for a football game in the National Football League.  Are you KIDDING me?

I don’t think the NFL realizes how important each and every football game is.  Because if they did, they surely would outlaw Thursday games (unless the Thursday game came directly after those teams’ bye weeks).  Every week in the NFL is do-or-die.  Not providing teams with enough preparation or practice time before a game puts player health at risk.  It also seriously screws with the playoff race.  And, in cases like this Thursday’s game between the Seahawks and the 49ers, it screws with a divisional race.

It’s impossible to take these Thursday games seriously because most of the time they are the single shittiest games of the week.  I’m not talking necessarily from a matchup standpoint (though, yes, many of these matchups are fucking SNORES).  Mostly, I’m talking about how ugly these games are.  With unprepared players, you find a lot of mistakes.  Penalties, turnovers, players running the wrong routes, players whiffing on tackles, players getting injured.  I don’t have any hard data on any of this, it’s more of an impression I get from watching and reading about this dreck.  Doesn’t it SEEM like we see an inordinate amount of blowouts and boring games on Thursdays than we do on Mondays?

Obviously, you’re not getting the best out of both teams on Thursdays, because they don’t have the regular allotment of practice to prepare.  Which is why you see all the blowouts.  Which is why you’ll often find inferior teams defeating superior teams.  The sun even shines on a dog’s ass some days, and more often than not it’s shining bright on Thursday nights.

All of that I can ALMOST tolerate – shitty matchups, ugly games, unnecessary upsets, injuries, etc. – but there’s no excuse to put an all-important divisional game on a Thursday.  Thursday games are gimmicks!  They’re something the NFL invented to make more money and to give its network some original content that isn’t rehashing all the other games on all the other networks.  You know they’re gimmicks because not everyone can watch!  Only a fraction of people who have cable can get the NFL network (or are willing to pay extra for the privilege of watching a shitty Thursday game).  But, if your home team is involved, you’re allowed to watch it on broadcast television.  So, really, the Thursday Game is primarily for the fans of the teams involved, with a cursory audience throughout the rest of the country that could take it or leave it depending on whether they have any fantasy football implications or not.

Taken as a whole, I’ve determined that Thursday games are bullshit.  And yet, the Seahawks and the 49ers are forced to play 1/6 of their divisional schedule on a gimmick night of the week when neither team is fully prepared to give it their best efforts.

Obviously, if you’re looking to me to provide a solution, I’ve got nothing for you.  My solution would be:  don’t have fucking Thursday games, unless they follow a BYE week for both teams.  Since that’s unlikely to happen (considering we’d have to have BYE weeks every week of the season except the last, and I don’t think even that would work because you’d run out of teams to fill all the game slots they want to fill), we can all eat shit.  Still, at the very least, you’d think they could make each Thursday game an AFC/NFC matchup, so it wouldn’t have quite the impact of a conference or a divisional game.

Anyway, I’m done ranting about something that will never change.  On to the rankings:

  1. Atlanta Falcons (6-0):  They don’t all have to be pretty, but as long as Atlanta’s undefeated, they remain in the top spot.  (Last Week:  1)
  2. Baltimore Ravens (5-1):  Lotta guts, grit, and fire in that game against Dallas that they almost blew at the end.  Possibly their biggest test of the season comes up this week in their game at Houston.  Could very well decide the top seed in the AFC.  (Last Week:  4)
  3. Chicago Bears (4-1):  I’m not necessarily saying Detroit is a pushover, but that’s a game they SHOULD win on Monday night.  After that, they host Carolina and go to Tennessee.  I wouldn’t look for this team to fall in the rankings anytime soon.  (Last Week:  6)
  4. Houston Texans (5-1):  Boy did they fall apart against Green Bay!  Where’s that amazing defense I’ve heard so much about?  Seriously, 42 points, that’s a reason for concern.  This team has to go to Detroit and New England later in the season.  If they continue to give up monster games to elite offenses, that might spell their doom in the playoffs.  (Last Week:  2)
  5. New York Giants (4-2):  Yeah, I know they just beat an elite team, but I don’t trust the Giants as far as I can throw them.  Alex Smith has been beyond due for an Alex Smith Game and he had one last week.  Until the Giants can show this type of consistency within their division (where they are currently 0-2), I wouldn’t consider them the cream of the NFC crop just yet.  (Last Week:  7)
  6. San Francisco 49ers (4-2):  Just when I think this team is fucking unbeatable, they let an East Coast team fly all the way out and walk all over them.  Tracking mud in the house, wiping dog shit on your white couch a la Rick James.  Jim Harbaugh may be Supercoach, but it’s looking more and more like Alex Smith is his kryptonite.  (Last Week:  3)
  7. Seattle Seahawks (4-2):  So … Seattle is going 8-0 at home.  That’s just a fact of life.  If I’m Minnesota, the Jets, or the other three NFC West teams, I’m not even game planning for my Day of Hell at CenturyLink and just looking ahead to the next week.  (Last Week:  11)
  8. New England Patriots (3-3):  If I were still involved in a suicide pool, this would be the week I’d be taking the Patriots.  They’re going to drop 8 touchdowns on the Jets this week or I’ll eat my fucking hat.  (Last Week:  5)
  9. Green Bay Packers (3-3):  Boy, did we leave the Packers for dead after that Colts loss!  I’m not going to say they’re back, but you gotta figure a lot of exhaling just went on in Wisconsin this past Sunday.  (Last Week:  13)
  10. Minnesota Vikings (4-2):  These next two games will go a long way in determining if the Vikings are For Real or if they’re just another 8-8 disappointment.  Home against Arizona and Tampa.  If you have eyes on a wild card spot, you HAVE to win these two games.  Or, at the very least you have to win one.  But, if you lose both, say hello to Next Year.  (Last Week:  8)
  11. Arizona Cardinals (4-2):  Yeah, I dunno.  I will say that ever since I traded for their defense in fantasy, the Cardinals have looked a LOT more mediocre.  You can thank me later when the Seahawks make the playoffs and the Cardinals make diddly squat.  (Last Week:  9)
  12. Denver Broncos (3-3):  On the plus side, they’re 2-0 in their division, they’re tied for the division lead, and their division looks like utter crap.  On the downside, I wouldn’t be buying any plane tickets to New Orleans for the Super Bowl this year.  (Last Week:  18)
  13. Pittsburgh Steelers (2-3):  What are you gonna do?  They got bit by the Thursday Night bug.  Matt Hasselbeck isn’t entirely worthless.  And they still can’t really run the ball.  You do the math.  I don’t see how Roethlisberger can do EVERYTHING for this fucking team.  They look like they’re in desperate need for some youth infused into that defense, I’ll tell you that much.  Stop hanging on to those aging veterans; the Steelers used to be GREAT at unloading old farts before they became liabilities.  (Last Week:  10)
  14. St. Louis Rams (3-3):  This team is in trouble.  They play Green Bay and New England the next two weeks.  I think both of those teams are just a little bit sick and tired of losing to the NFC West.  I say they take it out on the poor, poor Rams.  (Last Week:  12)
  15. Philadelphia Eagles (3-3):  This team is kind of a joke, isn’t it?  The Michael Vick Experiment has to be ending soon, right?  Or is it going to take a whole cleaning of the house from the top down to generate the change this organization needs?  (Last Week:  14)
  16. Dallas Cowboys (2-3):  Jerry Jones is an asshole.  He treats objects like women, man!  (Last Week:  17)
  17. Washington Redskins (3-3):  It’s hard to bet on this team either way, but God damn are they fun to watch!  Slap a halfway competent defense on this thing and you’ve got yourself a dominant force for years to come!  That trade for RGIII is looking better and better for this team.  Who would’ve thought that the Rams – by receiving a million draft picks – would be the ones to get swindled in that deal?  They should’ve cut Sam Bradford and tried their hands at a winner.  (Last Week:  19)
  18. Miami Dolphins (3-3):  Can you believe how close this team is to being 5-1?  It boggles the mind!  They’re not great at any one thing, but they seem to do just enough to hang around most games.  P.S.  I would sell my soul for a blowjob from Tannehill’s lady friend.  (Last Week:  20)
  19. Cincinnati Bengals (3-3):  What a fucking disappointing team.  Marvin Lewis HAS to be the first coach fired this offseason, right?  I mean, he just has to be.  They can’t continue underachieving with this loser!  (Last Week:  16)
  20. San Diego Chargers (3-3):  I would say Norv Turner has to be the first coach fired this offseason, except I think he’s the first coach fired DURING the season.  I could easily see this team losing 6 of its next 7 games and Norv getting the ax.  Fingers crossed, Chargers fans!  (Last Week:  15)
  21. Detroit Lions (2-3):  I don’t know if anyone needed a win last week like the Lions needed a win.  It wasn’t pretty, and they still waited around until the 4th quarter before they did anything, but a win is a win.  It’s going to be a long road if they want to make it back to the playoffs.  I just don’t see it this year.  (Last Week:  21)
  22. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-3):  That was a nice blowout win they had against the Chiefs.  Anything less than a victory by 4 TDs over Brady Quinn and Romeo Crennel would have been an embarrassment.  (Last Week:  22)
  23. New York Jets (3-3):  Ugh, this team is just the worst.  How Rex Ryan can honestly come out and declare they’re going to beat the Patriots this week is beyond laughable.  I hate how they pad their schedule with these bullshit wins over shitty teams, sucking everyone into believing the Jets are good when they’re SHIT.  DIE ALREADY!  (Last Week:  23)
  24. Buffalo Bills (3-3):   Thank you, Buffalo!  If you win no other game the rest of the year, you will still have done us a great service by beating the Cardinals.  Now, go take care of business against the Titans and enjoy your BYE week.  (Last Week:  24)
  25. Tennessee Titans (2-4):  What can I say?  That was a nice win against a quality opponent, Thursday game or no Thursday game.  If they can steal one from Buffalo this week … they still won’t make the playoffs, so who really cares?  (Last Week:  30)
  26. Indianapolis Colts (2-3):  Man, you guys REALLY let me down this week!  I thought for sure you’d take advantage of a shitty Jets squad!  Especially after that uplifting win over the Packers.  (Last Week:  25)
  27. Carolina Panthers (1-4):  Stick a fork in this team.  They’ve got six wins in them, tops.  (Last Week:  26)
  28. New Orleans (1-4):  If this team is ever going to get back in the hunt, they’re going to have to rip off a serious winning streak.  What better time than now?  They go to Tampa and Denver before home games against the Eagles and Falcons.  Pretty much, they have to win ALL of those games, or else stick a fork in them too.  (Last Week:  27)
  29. Cleveland Browns (15):  What can you say about Brandon Weeden that hasn’t already been said, except, “He’s not THAT bad”?  (Last Week:  32)
  30. Oakland Raiders (1-4):  This team is so fucked, it’s unreal.  Are we positive Al Davis isn’t running this team from beyond the grave?  (Last Week:  28)
  31. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-4): No, wait, THIS team is so fucked it’s unreal!  Gabbert is only getting WORSE with age!  (Last Week:  31)
  32. Kansas City Chiefs (1-5):  Scratch that.  This is the team most fucked.  It puts the lotion on its skin … (Last Week:  29)