Seattle Sports Hell’s Quarterly Power Rankings

Because I got tired of doing this thing every week.

It’s pretty hard to know who will win in any given game, but the objective here is to review what teams have done in an attempt to predict what they’ll do in the future.  Oh what a difference a week makes!  This time last week, I had the Arizona Cardinals in my Top 3, looking pretty unstoppable.  Then, this past Sunday, they lost at home to the Rams (who somehow managed to lose to the Redskins and the Steelers in a game where Ben Roethlisberger got injured and Mike Vick had to play meaningful snaps late in the game), and suddenly the once-perfect Cardinals look far more vulnerable, and are ranked accordingly.

I’m going to try to do a better job of taking a look at who a team has beaten, as well as my own gut feelings, to give more of a well-rounded view of where things stand.  Let’s take a look at the Top 8.  Teams listed in single parentheses () are those who that team beat; teams listed in double parentheses (()) are those who that team lost to.

  • New England:  3-0, (Pit, Buf, Jax)
  • Green Bay:  4-0, (Chi, Sea, KC, SF)
  • Cincinnati:  4-0, (Oak, SD, Bal, KC)
  • Denver:  4-0, (Bal, KC, Det, Min)
  • Atlanta:  4-0, (Phi, NYG, Dal, Hou)
  • Seattle:  2-2, (Chi, Det), ((St.L, GB))
  • Arizona:  3-1, (NO, Chi, SF), ((St.L))
  • New York Jets:  3-1, (Cle, Ind, Mia), ((Phi))

I don’t know if there’s necessarily a good reason to have the Patriots listed ahead of the Packers, this would be more my gut feeling.  The Pats have looked like absolute world-beaters, so they get my top spot.  I like Cincy over Denver based on strength of schedule, though I’m sure they’ll end up losing to the Broncos when they go out on the road in late December.  Enjoy it while it lasts, Cincy!  It only seems fair to have Atlanta in the Top 5, though really, who have they beaten?  Listing Seattle at 6 just SCREAMS “me being a homer”, especially when you consider the teams we beat (at home) have a combined 1 victory.  I still have some respect for the Lions (they’ve had a brutal schedule so far), and to be quite honest, the Cards get knocked down a peg for losing at home to the Rams, so suck it.  The Jets cap off our top 8 almost exclusively because their defense is top notch, and their quarterbacking play isn’t so horrendous.  A lot to like out there.

  • New York Giants:  2-2, (WA, Buf), ((Dal, Atl))
  • Buffalo:  2-2, (Ind, Mia), ((NE, NYG))
  • Carolina:  4-0, (Jax, Hou, NO, TB)
  • St. Louis:  2-2, (Sea, AZ), ((WA, Pit))
  • Minnesota:  2-2, (Det, SD), ((SF, Den))
  • Kansas City:  1-3, (Hou), ((Den, GB, Cin))
  • San Diego:  2-2, (Det, Cle), ((Cin, Min))
  • Washington:  2-2, (St.L, Phi), ((Mia, NYG))

Back-to-back heartbreaking losses to the Cowboys and Falcons were followed by back-to-back really strong wins against the Redskins and Bills.  The Giants are a team who are a couple of unlucky breaks away from 4-0, and the division they’re in is kind of a mess right now.  The Bills might be this year’s enigma team of the AFC (like the Rams in the NFC), or they might have just pounded on a couple of bad teams in Indy and Miami.  Their defense isn’t quite as dominant as we anticipated, but on the flipside their schedule going forward is pretty weak, so if they can continue beating up on bad teams, they might have 7-8 more wins to throw onto the pile.  Carolina couldn’t be more properly rated, outside of the Top 10.  This is a paper tiger 4-0 record if I’ve ever seen one.  They played against three shitty QBs (Bortles, Mallett, Luke McCown) followed by a rookie in Winston.  Their schedule gets remarkably more difficult in the games ahead.  As for the Rams, what can you say?  They’re 2-0 in the division right now and at this pace should end the season 6-10.

I’m having a tough time getting a proper read on the Vikings.  The 49ers are pretty solid on D and the Broncos are probably the best defense in the league.  I still like the talent on this team, but they’re far from perfect.  The Chiefs have had a pretty rough go from the schedule gods early on, with losses to three of the best four teams in the league.  As things get easier, I’d expect the 1-3 record to turn around in a hurry.  The Chargers lost a couple games on the road, to far-away lands of Cincinnati and Minnesota.  I’m not ready to bury them yet, but they better prove they can win a few on the road before I declare them ready for the playoffs.  And don’t look now, but the Redskins are better than we thought!  I’ll throw out that stinker of a Thursday night game, because all of those games on Thursday nights are stinkers.  They’ve played okay defense and gotten just enough out of their quarterback.

  • Oakland:  2-2, (Bal, Cle), ((Cin, Chi))
  • Baltimore:  1-3, (Pit), ((Den, Oak, Cin))
  • Pittsburgh:  2-2, (SF, St.L), ((NE, Bal))
  • Indianapolis:  2-2, (Ten, Jax), ((Buf, NYJ))
  • Detroit:  0-4, ((SD, Min, Den, Sea))
  • New Orleans:  1-3, (Dal), ((AZ, TB, Car))
  • Dallas:  2-2, (NYG, Phi), ((Atl, NO))
  • Miami:  1-3, (WA), ((Jax, Buf, NYJ))

There are going to be lots of ups & downs with a team like the Raiders, hence why they lost to the Bears over the weekend.  Just be glad there are any ups at all.  Baltimore’s yet another team that got hit over the head with the Difficult Early Schedule stick.  It’s promising they were able to pull out a tough one against the Steelers, but at the same time, it’s probably better to temper expectations with that team, given their difficulties on defense and atrocious wide receiver corps.  Pittsburgh is a team I like to do great things this year, but I’ll like them a lot more when Roethlisberger gets healthy.  Indy is a complete trainwreck right now, having managed two wins over two of the worst teams in the league.  I’d say it’s time to temper expectations there too, but have you SEEN their division?

The Lions had a rough early schedule, especially having to play three of their first four on the road.  But, they’re rewarded with 6 of their next 8 games at home.  If they’re going to do ANYTHING after this winless start, they better go on a huge run at home.  The Saints are closer to the Ain’ts than I’ve seen in quite some time, and I don’t think there’s much helping this team.  They might steal a few wins against some crappy teams, but this isn’t much more than a 4- or 5-win team.  The Cowboys will go up this list in a hurry if/when they get Romo and Dez back and start winning some games.  Miami has no one to blame but themselves, as their early schedule hasn’t been all that difficult.  I know I’d hate to lose a home game to London (where there were considerably more Jets fans than “home” team Dolphins fans), but that ugly loss on the road in Jacksonville really sealed Joe Philbin’s fate.

  • Philadelphia:  1-3, (NYJ), ((Atl, Dal, WA))
  • San Francisco:  1-3, (Min), ((Pit, AZ, GB))
  • Chicago:  1-3, (Oak), ((GB, AZ, Sea))
  • Cleveland:  1-3, (Ten), ((NYJ, Oak, SD))
  • Houston:  1-3, (TB), ((KC, Car, Atl))
  • Jacksonville:  1-3, (Mia), ((Car, NE, Ind))
  • Tennessee:  1-2, (TB), ((Cle, Ind))
  • Tampa Bay:  1-3, (NO), ((Ten, Hou, Car))

The Eagles are a disaster; HOW did they beat the Jets???  The 49ers’ offense is a joke and Kaepernick is well on his way to finishing his career as a mediocre backup.  The Bears need Cutler just to look somewhat respectable, and they’re killing any shot they had at the #1 overall draft pick by playing him (who thought I’d ever say that?).  The Browns look somewhat spry, but ultimately should go nowhere.  The Texans look the opposite of spry.  They probably have to play Mallett, just to see what they have in him (as we all know what Hoyer is capable of), but they’ll never win with him and would honestly be better off giving Hoyer a go and seeing if he’s enough to get them over the hump that is Indy’s floating carcass.  The Jags are the Jags, and that’s all they’ll ever be.  The Titans looked great in week 1, until we all realized they beat up on the NFL’s Junior Varsity squad.  The Bucs should be pretty awesome in a few years, if they can keep piling up on #1 overall draft picks.

For Whom Might The Seahawks Trade Russell Wilson?

‘Tis the season for rampant speculation on matters we know nothing about!  It’s a glorious time to be alive, what with the Internets and whatnot.

I read this over the weekend from Mike Florio with Pro Football Talk.  It references another option in the Russell Wilson Contract Saga that nobody’s really talking about:  in lieu of signing him, or franchising him, the Seahawks might feel like they need to trade him.

For the record, this is the last thing I want to see happen.  I’m of the school of thought that you do NOT trade your franchise quarterback for anything!  Unless he’s too old and broken down, and even then I’d be pretty sad to see him go.  Nevertheless, I was reading that story and it got me to thinking.  I’m not so much interested in the super-bounty of draft picks, but I am interested in the part where it talks about, “the Seahawks could send Wilson to another team for its starting quarterback.”

So, consider that the premise for this post:  who would the Seahawks realistically get in return for a Russell Wilson?

Before we get started, I agree with Mike Florio in the article:  regardless of what happens, I 100% doubt that the Seahawks are trading Russell Wilson in 2015.  Even if we’re a billion dollars apart in our contract terms, I still think we ride this season out and hope for another ring.  So, what we’re looking at – in this hypothetical world where the endgame is Russell Wilson being traded – is the Seahawks putting one of the franchise tags on him, then sending him away.

So, I’m going to go through all the quarterbacks who are either starting for their teams, or are in some kind of a timeshare/training camp battle because none of them on that particular team are all that good.

Here we have a list of quarterbacks whose teams would never trade them to us:

  • Aaron Rodgers
  • Andrew Luck
  • Joe Flacco
  • Matt Ryan
  • Cam Newton
  • Ryan Tannehill

Rodgers, I feel, is pretty obvious:  he’s the best quarterback in the league and I don’t think Green Bay is in for an over-priced step down.  Luck’s not quite there yet, but he clearly WILL be the best quarterback in the league, and I would wager sooner rather than later.  Joe Flacco is already a Super Bowl-winning quarterback; I don’t see Baltimore giving him up.  You could argue he’s making too much money and looking to shed some salary, but remember in this scenario:  Russell Wilson is looking to be the highest-paid quarterback in the history of the game.  I think Ryan, Newton, and Tannehill are too young, and they’ve just gotten paid.  Plus, I don’t think those teams could afford to take the cap hit that Wilson’s going to bring (especially Miami, what with Ndamukong Suh making all the money he’s making).

Next up, quarterbacks whose teams ALMOST CERTAINLY won’t trade them:

  • Tom Brady
  • Ben Roethlisberger
  • Tony Romo
  • Eli Manning
  • Matthew Stafford

With Brady and Roethlisberger, I just think they’re too tied to their respective teams and cities.  But, those organizations have been known to be ruthless with their veterans, so if they felt like either one might be slipping, and they had a chance to get a young stud QB in return, they MIGHT pounce on him.  I’d put Romo and Manning in the same boat (too tied to their teams & cities), just on a lesser scale because they’re not as good.  Stafford’s interesting because I think he’s right on the edge of being good and being overrated.  Seemingly every year I have a different opinion about him.  Ultimately, I think Detroit feels he’s good enough to get the job done, and likely wouldn’t trade him away for a guy like Wilson.

The Division Rivals:

  • Carson Palmer
  • Nick Foles
  • Colin Kaepernick

The overarching theme of this section is:  under no circumstances do you EVER trade your franchise quarterback to a team in your division.  Putting that aside, I think all three of these teams would trade their starters for Russell Wilson in a heartbeat.  Carson Palmer is obviously too old and too injury prone to be counted upon.  Nick Foles is interesting, but ultimately not worth facing Wilson twice a year (especially with their offensive line and defense overall, I think the Rams would be a total dynasty with Wilson at the helm).  And honestly, Colin Kaepernick might be the best fit in the league for our offense – given his scrambling ability.  I think if you reined him in, forcing him to be a little more conservative with his throws, he wouldn’t be much of a step down at all compared to Wilson.  Hell, under Harbaugh he went to three straight NFC Championship Games; I think he’d do okay here as well.

The Young Ones:

  • E.J. Manuel
  • Geno Smith
  • Johnny Manziel
  • Teddy Bridgewater
  • Jameis Winston
  • Ryan Mallett/Tom Savage
  • Blake Bortles
  • Marcus Mariota
  • Derek Carr

Manuel, Smith, and Manziel are just too bad.  No way the Seahawks take them in return.  I think the Seahawks would think long and hard about Bridgewater and Winston, but if Bridgewater makes steady improvement in 2015, I don’t think the Vikings will want to get rid of him (and if he takes a step back, I don’t think the Seahawks would want him).  The Bucs are just too committed to Winston as part of their rebuild, so I don’t think he’d work out in this scenario.  Mallett and Savage are a couple of unknowns, but ultimately I don’t think they’ll be all that great as starters.  I feel like Bortles and Mariota are a couple of future backups being thrust into roles they’re not good enough for.  I think the Seahawks might take Carr in a heartbeat, but I don’t think the Raiders will give up on him (for the record, I’m pretty high on Carr and think he’s going to have a great second year).

Too Over-The-Hill:

  • Peyton Manning
  • Matt Cassel
  • Josh McCown

Pretty much says it all, if you ask me.  Manning is signed through 2016, but you have to wonder if he’s even going to be around.  He almost opted to retire THIS year.  After getting banged around in Gary Kubiak’s offense (where I FULLY expect to see Manning seriously injured at some point), I’m almost convinced he’ll be done.  Either way, I don’t think you can throw Russell Wilson away on a guy who’s going to be 40 next year, who MIGHT have 1-2 years at the most left in his career.  Cassel and McCown aren’t even worth the words.

Too Terrible:

  • Sam Bradford/Mark Sanchez/Matt Barkley/Tim Tebow
  • RGIII/Kirk Cousins
  • Jay Cutler
  • Brian Hoyer

Speaking of “aren’t even worth the words,” we have the poo-poo platter that the Eagles have in camp this year.  It should go without saying, but Bradford is TOO DAMN INJURY PRONE.  The rest of those guys are the total beans and the Eagles are going to be lucky to win five games this year.  RGIII is also too injury prone, plus he’s a terrible leader who doesn’t follow directions, plus he’s just a bad all around quarterback.  Cousins is Just Another Guy, same as Hoyer.  Jay Cutler seems enticing, but that’s just because of that cannon he’s got for an arm.  Squint a little more closely and you’ll see he’s easily the second coming of Jeff George (not a compliment).

The Definite Possibilities:

  • Drew Brees
  • Philip Rivers
  • Alex Smith
  • Andy Dalton

I know Brees and Rivers feel like those guys up top who are too tied in with their teams and cities (Brees especially).  But, I have my reasons for having these guys down here.  For starters, I think New Orleans is in full on rebuild mode.  Brees isn’t getting any younger, and the Saints are probably five years away from being a championship-type team again.  They MIGHT decide to give Brees a chance to win a title elsewhere.  And, considering we’ve already done that deal for Jimmy Graham, it honestly might be the most perfect fit we could hope for.  On the downside, Brees will be 37 years old next year, and it’ll be the last year of his current deal.  At best, you hope he’s got three more elite years left after 2015, but realistically it might be closer to one or two.  A trade for Brees gives us the best “Win Now” option.  When you consider Pete Carroll’s on the short contract (by design, as he might opt to retire or move to another team), Brees might be the next best thing to just keeping Russell Wilson forever.

Philip Rivers will only be 34 in 2016, so you gotta like your chances with him longer term.  Honestly though, this probably doesn’t work because 2015 is the final year of his deal, and I don’t know if they can franchise tag him or not.  The other variable is whether or not the Chargers are moving to Los Angeles.  Will Rivers want to stay?  If not, maybe they work out a sign & trade with the Seahawks.  The downside to that is, I’ve read reports that should Los Angeles get two teams – which seems to be the way this is going – there’s the possibility of the Chargers moving to the NFC West.  And, as I said above, you do NOT trade Wilson to a team in your own division – even a team that might one day move to your division.

Alex Smith might be the best type of guy we can hope for.  He’ll be 32 next year, and 2018 is the final year of his deal.  He’s not making all that much money – which would allow us to spread the wealth to other positions.  He’s the consummate Game Manager:  doesn’t make mistakes, is decently mobile, is comfortable playing in a run-first offense.  The downside is, obviously, his downfield throwing.  We wouldn’t get those chunk plays that we like to get.  But, with weapons like Jimmy Graham around him, and with the emergence of some of our younger receivers, I think he’d be good enough to get the job done.  He sort of reminds me of a Brad Johnson type.  Brad Johnson won a title with the Bucs, why couldn’t Alex Smith do that with the Seahawks?

Andy Dalton is the guy I most fear the Seahawks pursuing.  He’ll be 28 years old next year, and his deal runs through the 2020 season.  He too isn’t making any serious kind of money (his biggest cap hit is in the final year, and it’s only $17.7 million).  By 2020, that’s going to be peanuts!  He’s shown a propensity to hit on the deep ball, but that’s with the likes of A.J. Green.  More importantly is Dalton’s shoddy decision-making and his inflated sense of self-worth.  He’s one of those guys who thinks he’s better than he really is, which is going to make it difficult when he can’t make all the throws he needs to make.  As it is, he’s had more career meltdown games than you like to see; what’s he going to be like in three years when he’s that much older and beaten down?  Furthermore, playing behind our offensive line, how’s he going to handle the near-constant pressure?  I think Dalton is a guy the Bengals would gladly unload for the chance to sign Wilson (yes, even with how stingy their ownership is; I think they’d feel like Wilson would be worth it).  And, I think, if the Seahawks didn’t get blown away by any other deal they saw, they’d pull the trigger on a Dalton-centric trade.  I just hope like hell this never comes to fruition.