Archive | December, 2012

Review: Seahawks 20, Rams 13

31 Dec

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Well it wasn’t the prettiest game but the Seahawks got the job done. Seattle defeated the St. Louis Rams 20-13 in the regular season and home finale on Sunday. The Seahawks finish the regular season 11-5 and finish 8-0 at home for the first time since 2005. The Rams fall to 7-8-1 and finish in third place in the NFC West this season. The game was very close throughout and to be honest I left the stadium more frustrated and worried than happy that we won. I am looking at the pros and cons of this game and trying to shed some light on what needs to change against Washington next week. Here is what I took out of Sunday’s victory.

Sweezy’s Struggles: The Rams out-sacked the Seahawks 6-0 on Sunday and a lot of the Rams success getting to quarterback Russell Wilson came up the middle. At least four of their sacks came after dominating Seahawks right guard J.R. Sweezy. One of the guys who sits in front of me got my attention that St. Louis was using Chris Long in designed interior pass rushes, predominantly against Sweezy. Sweezy struggled throughout the majority of the game and Russell Wilson was under constant pressure. If Sweezy is slated to start next week against the Redskins, I am very scared that London Fletcher will be able to exploit the sub-par play of J.R. Sweezy. The Seahawks offensive line has not looked this perplexed all season and for the majority of this game they looked like the Seahawks offensive lines of 2008 and 2009 where they could not get the running game going and supply enough time for the quarterback to throw. I hope that John Moffitt will be available next week to start at the right guard spot. If Sweezy gets the start again next week, the Seahawks may have a difficult time moving the ball and scoring points.

Wilson Ties Manning: With Russell Wilson’s touchdown pass to Michael Robinson in the third quarter, he tied Peyton Manning for the most touchdown passes by a rookie with 25. As incredible of an accomplishment as this is, it is too bad because Wilson had a chance to break Manning’s record. On the Seahawks final scoring drive of the game with less than three minutes left, the Seahawks had the ball on the St. Louis 1-yard line. Wilson ran a play-action fake and scrambled to the left into the endzone for the touchdown. Before crossing into the endzone he pumped because he saw Golden Tate and Doug Baldwin both covered so he decided to run it in. You could tell Russell wanted the record but settled for the rush touchdown when no passing options were available. I for one would have liked to see a touchdown pass. I can guarantee Wilson thought the same way but at the end of the day Wilson ran it in, gave the Seahawks a 7 point lead and held on to win the game, which is much better than any individual accolade.

Defense Needs To Improve Drastically: The Seahawks put virtually no pressure on Sam Bradford until the final drive of the game. The Rams also did a good job converting third downs and Steven Jackson was able to bust out for some significantly good sized runs. The silver lining of the day is that we only gave up 13 points and we were able to stop two St. Louis drives inside the 5-yard line and the Rams had to settle for Greg Zuerlein field goals. Next week the Seahawks cannot afford to have a defensive performance like they did today because the Redskins will rip us apart in the running game. I was hoping to see Bruce Irvin get more involved but he was a non-factor. The stars of the game on defense belong to Bobby Wagner for recording 10 tackles and Richard Sherman who picked off his 8th pass of the season. Sherman becomes the first player in NFL history to have 8 interceptions, three forced fumbles, one sack, and 20 passes defensed in a single season. If the Seahawks do not make it to Super Bowl XLVII, I fully expect Sherman to make the NFC pro bowl roster because those numbers are definitely worthy of a trip to Hawaii.

Rams Show Potential For The Future: Although the Rams finish with a losing record once again, they have quietly shown flashes of what NFL fans should expect out of them in the coming years. In 2013 Jeff Fisher will be in his second year in St. Louis and will have had more time to put together the roster he wants to build. The Rams have two first round picks in the upcoming NFL Draft and the young nucleus they have on both sides of the ball will continue to get better. In particular I look at the way their offensive line played in a hostile environment today and I think they will make Sam Bradford a pro bowl caliber quarterback very soon. Steven Jackson’s contract status is up in the air and it would not be surprising to see Jackson and the Rams part ways after the season. With Daryl Richardson and Isaiah Pead in the backfield the Rams may be looking at a couple of rising stars. On defense, Chris Long, James Laurinaitis, Cortland Finnegan, and the emerging Janoris Jenkins look like a solid core of defensive players. If they can add another big-time player on the defensive side of the ball over the offseason, St. Louis could challenge for a playoff spot. The Rams proved this year that they can compete against all the teams in the NFC West and were only a couple of losses away from being contenders for the playoffs this year. I still think Seattle and San Francisco are the royalty of the division but the St. Louis Rams could be serious contenders for at least a wild-card berth as soon as next season.

Random Thoughts: I believe the Seahawks were screwed out of 14 points this week. I did not see holding on Anthony McCoy on Zach Miller’s touchdown pass in the second quarter and I thought the 44-yard pass to Doug Baldwin in the fourth quarter should have stood because I did not see holding on the play by Breno Giacomini. The officiating as a whole was not very good this week. Shame on you Jeff Triplette… The Seahawks wore blue jerseys and blue pants this week… Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid rose the 12th Man flag this week… Russell Wilson was presented with the 2012 Steve Largent Award. My guess is that he will be a repeat winner no question about it… I was extremely disappointed about the level of excitement in the stands this week. I noted at halftime on Facebook that it felt like the intensity level was less than half of what it was last week against San Francisco. There were possible scenarios out of our control that could have given us a higher seed and a division championship if we had won. That alone should have been enough motivation for the fans to go all out but overall the noise was abnormally now. Very disappointing… I underdressed for the first time this season. I should have worn another coat under my jersey, worn gloves, and brought hand warmers. Either those things or maybe I should have drank more to get a warm beer belly going… The pregame giveaway was ponchos. What a ridiculous giveaway especially on a day where the skies were clear. I bought Mark, one of the guys who sits in front of me, a beer before the game as a token of appreciation for dealing with the behavior of my guest last week. He was extremely grateful… Good news. Mark and his friend Mike renewed their seats for the 2013 season so I will be sitting behind them for a fourth straight year which will be fun… All the season ticket holders around me made a promise that we would be back in three weeks for the NFC Championship game against the Minnesota Vikings. Let’s all pray we will play for a trip to the Super Bowl at home against Minnesota!

Up Next: With San Francisco’s win over Arizona, the Seahawks are locked in to the 5th seed in the NFC. They head to the nation’s capital next week to take on the NFC East champion Washington Redskins on Sunday afternoon.

I hope to have my preview of the Seahawks wild-card playoff game against Washington up by late Saturday morning. Also, don’t be surprised to see me hop on the blog later on in the week to share my thoughts about practice leading up to next week’s game. Go Hawks!

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Rams/Seahawks Preview

29 Dec

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Matchup: St. Louis Rams at Seattle Seahawks

Site: CenturyLink Field (Seattle, Washington)

Kickoff: 1:25pm

The Seahawks are on a roll. There is no denying that. After winning their last 4 games by a combined score of 173-47, the Seahawks look to continue their impressive streak before heading into the NFL playoffs. To wrap up the regular season the Seahawks host the St. Louis Rams. The Seahawks are 10-5 and are trying to get to 11 wins for the first time since they won 13 games in 2005. The Rams are 7-7-1 and a win this week would solidify their first winning season since 2003. This is the last regular season game of the season and there are a lot of different playoff scenarios in play on Sunday that will determine where the Seahawks will play in January. For now however, our focus is on St. Louis and this is what I’ll be looking forward to this Sunday.

After putting up at least 42 points in each of our last three games, I have no worry that our offense will be firing on all cylinders especially at home this week. Our main focus should be to keep our guys healthy for the postseason. Russell Wilson is two touchdown passes away from breaking the NFL record for most touchdown passes by a rookie, set by Peyton Manning in 1998. If Wilson breaks the record and the Seahawks are up by a substantial margin by the end of the third quarter, we will see Matt Flynn get some playing time in order to keep Wilson fresh for January. The same goes for Marshawn Lynch. I think we will see a good amount of Robert Turbin at running back this week. Keeping the offense healthy is the most important along the offensive line. Four of our five offensive linemen have started every game this season and having one or more of them get hurt one week before the playoffs would be a major blow. My player to watch this week is Doug Baldwin. He caught two touchdowns last week against San Francisco and he is seeing more playing time. With Sidney Rice nursing a knee injury and the playoffs right around the corner, we might see more of our depth at receiver which includes Baldwin.

At home the defense is always dominant. Against a solid but average St. Louis offensive line it is very real to think we can put a large amount of pressure on Rams quarterback Sam Bradford. Richard Sherman will be available this week after winning his appeal for performance enhancing drugs and his presence gives the Seahawks defense a confidence boost and his swagger and positive attitude seems to have a reverberating effect on the rest of the defense. My guy to watch on defense this week is Bruce Irvin. On an episode of Michael Robinson’s “Real Robinson Report” from rookie mini-camp in May, Irvin was asked how many sacks he would have in 2012. “I won’t give a specific number because I don’t want to jinx myself but I will say it will be at least double digits” was Irvin’s answer to the question. With one game left in the regular season Irvin sits at 8 sacks, two away from his preseason prediction and goal. Irvin will be especially hungry this week in order to reach double digit sacks. I would expect to see a lot of him this week and a lot more of him on first and second down. Irvin has three games this season with two sacks or more; his last coming in week 10 at home against the New York Jets so it is a definite possibility he will get to 10 sacks on the season this week.

It is hard to predict special teams plays but last week Red Bryant and Richard Sherman made a blocked field goal and touchdown return look easy. I would not be surprised at all to see something big happen in the special teams game this week. If this is to happen, look at pro bowler Leon Washington. Washington has only one kick returned for a touchdown this season but the Rams have had a history of special teams blunders in Seattle, most recently a blocked punt returned for a touchdown last season; blocked by Doug Baldwin, returned by Michael Robinson. Washington could be a dark horse factor this week and field position will be very important for both teams in this game.

Although the St. Louis Rams are 7-7-1 they have one big consistent strength this season. That is their play against NFC West opponents. The Rams have a 4-0-1 record against NFC West rivals this year and although they haven’t been dominant, the consistent factor in these games has been the play of their defense. The X-factor for St. Louis this week is cornerback Janoris Jenkins. The rookie from North Alabama has had a strong second half of the season. In his last 5 games Jenkins has recorded 25 tackles and three interceptions including one interception last week against Tampa Bay. One other St. Louis defender to keep an eye on is Chris Long. Long is always a consistent worry to opposing teams because of his ability to put pressure on the quarterback, however with Russell Okung playing his best football combined with Russell Wilson’s elusiveness, I do not see Long playing a big role in the St. Louis defense this week.

I am excited to see Greg Zuerlein kick for the Rams this week. The rookie kicker nicknamed “Legatron” is having a strong season and I for one am pumped to see him attempt a long field goal. I do not doubt he can nail a far field goal in Seattle and if he lines up for a 50+ yard field goal I think he will make it.

Congratulations to the Seahawks players participating in this week’s game who will be representing the NFC at the pro bowl next month. The representatives are Marshawn Lynch, Earl Thomas, Max Unger, Russell Okung and Leon Washington. Let’s all hope these guys will get the opportunity to skip the pro bowl because they will be preparing for the Super Bowl in New Orleans!

Random Thoughts: The gameday theme this week is fan appreciation. This game is always fun because the Seahawks give out a ton of random stuff. I have only won one thing on fan appreciation day since becoming a season ticket holder; a 12th Man car flag in 2008… The Seahawks are also dubbing this game a “blue-out.” They are asking all fans to wear blue to this week’s game (in case you don’t already). If you are going to the game this week, wear blue!… Sunday’s halftime show is the annual wiener dog races. I love this halftime show because at least one dog always seems to break loose and run all around the field which is incredibly amusing… Chris Myers and Tim Ryan have the call for FOX this week, their first Seahawks broadcast since the Arizona game 3 weeks ago… Not confirmed yet but it looks like Jeff Triplette will be the referee this week… I am taking by friend Dylan to this week’s game. He was supposed to go to the Patriots game with me but had to reschedule because of school obligations. Sorry D, but I don’t think this week’s game will be as exciting as the New England game… This is most likely the final home game of the season this week. Unless the pieces fall in our favor and Arizona beats San Francisco, this will be the last time I see everyone around me until August which is always sad… I will definitely be scoreboard watching on Sunday. My first priority is the Arizona/San Francisco game and I do not expect the Cardinals to hold the lead for any amount of time in that game. My second priority is the Green Bay/Minnesota game as a Vikings win and a Cardinals win would give us the division title and a first-round bye in the playoffs… Even though everyone around me at the San Francisco game did not take offense to the actions of my guest last week, I still feel I owe them a huge apology for what happened. Maybe I’ll even offer to buy a round of beers also. I’m still embarrassed but I can guarantee myself or my guest will not have a run in with security or alcohol enforcement this week.

Prediction: The Seahawks will end the season with their 3rd best regular season record in team history. The scoring will not be as dominant as past weeks but it will still be very impressive and will leave the 12th Man extremely confident heading to the playoffs. The Seahawks will win but the 49ers will win so we will settle for the 5th seed in the NFC playoffs. By 9pm Sunday night, the Seahawks will be prepping for a trip to Washington D.C. to play the Redskins in an NFC wild-card playoff.

Seahawks 38, Rams 14

Check back for my review of the regular season finale with the Rams on Monday afternoon. I will also share a brief mini-preview of the Seahawks NFC wild-card playoff game. Enjoy the game folks. Go Hawks!

Review: Seahawks 42, 49ers 13

27 Dec

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If there was any doubt that the Seahawks could perform like they did against Arizona and Buffalo against a good team, they shut all of those people up. In front of a nationally televised audience on NBC the Seahawks proved to the nation they could be a seriously dangerous super bowl contender as they beat the San Francisco 49ers 42-13. With the victory, the Seahawks improve to 10-5 on the season and clinched a playoff berth. The 49ers fall to 10-4-1. The Seahawks are still alive for the NFC West title but they will need a bit of help in week 17. For now however, the Seahawks are officially heading to January football. This is what I saw on Sunday night.

Shut Them Up Early: The start of Sunday night’s game could not have gone any better. The Seahawks defense forced the San Francisco offense to a 3-and-out and then Marshawn Lynch scored on the Seahawks second offensive play of the game, giving them a 7-0 lead in the first two minutes of play. The Seahawks got the ball back after forcing San Francisco to punt and on their next possession, scored on a Lynch touchdown pass; 14-0 Seahawks. When this can happen on a national stage against a really good team, this fuels the 12th Man and makes it almost impossible for the opposing team to do anything, much like what happened to the 49ers on Sunday Night. Although it was only a two-score game, what happened next pretty much put the dagger in San Francisco’s chances of winning the game.

Bryant, Sherman Possibly Make Play Of The Season: There is no arguing that the Golden Tate touchdown catch against Green Bay was probably the most exciting play of the 2012 season, but what happened with just over 12:00 left in the second quarter could easily challenge it. San Francisco’s David Akers lined up for a chip-shot 21-yard field goal. The trajectory was low and the kick was blocked by defensive end Red Bryant. The ball bounced to the side of the field and bounced right into the arms of Richard Sherman who returned the kick 90 yards for a touchdown and a 21-0 Seahawks lead. The play pretty much stuck the dagger right into the heart of the San Francisco 49ers. With a 21-0 lead and all the momentum on our side, it was certain this night belonged to the Seahawks. From my point of view, in the stands this play was wild. I have not celebrated to the point of running up and down the aisle since the Marshawn Lynch’s touchdown run in the playoffs against New Orleans two seasons ago. What made it even sweeter for me was that it was Sherman, my favorite player, who returned it for a touchdown. The smile could not have been wider on my face.

San Francisco Will Struggle Without Smith: In week 15 when Justin Smith left the 49ers game against New England, the Patriots came back to score 28 points in a 19 minute span. The 49ers held on to the game but it was closer than they had hoped. On Sunday night without Smith in the lineup, you could tell the 49ers were without a huge piece of their defense. Justin Smith may not be the flashiest player on their team but he may be the most important. Ricky Jean-Francois took Smith’s place at nose tackle on Sunday but did not have as big of an impact. Because of this, the pressure on Russell Wilson was minimal at best, allowing the Seahawks offense to pick San Francisco’s defense apart. The 49ers may be in trouble in the postseason if Justin Smith is not available.

Random Thoughts: Only one thought this week because it is strong enough to wipe away anything else I could say about my gameday experience. I have been attending sporting events for almost 23 years and I have been a Seahawks season ticket holder for the last 7 seasons. I have NEVER been more embarrassed and humiliated at a sporting event in my entire life. Whenever security has to get involved because your guest is being belligerent and using excessive amounts of foul language, you are not going to have a fun time. Only a warning was issued to my guest but that was enough to subdue my extremely happy mood because of what was going on down on the field. I guess some people just don’t have filters to know what is appropriate behavior at a Seahawks game and what is not, which is really too bad. It gives me something to think about in terms of who to take to games next season.

Seahawks Playoff Outlook: With the win the Seahawks are 10-5 and have locked up no worse than the 5th seed in the NFC. The Minnesota Vikings are currently positioned to take the 6th seed but the Chicago Bears are also in the hunt to take the 6th seed. Minnesota goes to the playoffs with a win over Green Bay and Chicago makes the playoffs with a win over Detroit and a Vikings loss to Green Bay. The Winner of the Dallas/Washington game on Sunday Night will take the NFC East and the 4th seed in the conference. The New York Giants are also mathematically alive in the playoff hunt but will need to win this week and a get a lot of help to make the playoffs.

The Seahawks can still win the NFC West. If the Seahawks beat St. Louis and Arizona Beats San Francisco, the Seahawks win the division. If the Seahawks, Cardinals, and Packers win, the Seahawks will be the 3rd seed in the NFC. If the Seahawks, Cardinals, and Vikings all win, the Seahawks will be the 2nd seed and earn a first-round bye in the playoffs. Here are the games with potential playoff implications this week:

St. Louis (7-7-1) at Seattle (10-5)

Arizona (5-10) at San Francisco (10-4-1)

Green Bay (11-4) at Minnesota (9-6)

Dallas (8-7) at Washington (9-6)

Chicago (9-6) at Detroit (4-11)

Philadelphia (4-11) at New York Giants (8-7)

I apologize this review is late. The holiday season really tied me up this week. Nevertheless, I hope you enjoyed reading and be sure to look for my preview of Sunday’s game against the St. Louis Rams on Saturday afternoon. Go Seahawks!

49ers/Seahawks Preview

22 Dec

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Matchup: San Francisco 49ers at Seattle Seahawks

Site: CenturyLink Field (Seattle, Washington)

Kickoff: 5:20pm

When the 2012 schedule was released back in April a lot of people circled September 24th’s game against Green Bay and October 14th’s game against New England on their calendars as “must-see” games. I definitely saw those games as big games but this week’s game against the San Francisco 49ers was the game I looked at and got the most excited about. I had thoughts of two incredibly talented teams playing in week 16 with playoff implications and possibly the NFC West division title on the line. Although the division lead is not on the line at this time, the Seahawks have a chance to clinch a playoff berth with a win. The matchup is so intriguing, the National Football League flexed this game into Sunday Night Football two weeks ago making it the game of the week. The 49ers are 10-3-1 and beat the AFC East champion New England Patriots on Sunday Night Football last week by a score of 41-34. The Seahawks are 9-5 and are coming off an impressive 50-17 win over the Buffalo Bills in Toronto last week. San Francisco leads the all-time series with the Seahawks 14-13. In their last meeting back in week 7, the 49ers beat the Seahawks 13-6 in a defensive duel on Thursday Night Football. 9 weeks have passed since that October night at Candlestick Park and the Seahawks are a completely different team, especially on offense. Here is what I will be looking for on Sunday night.

Since installing a heavy zone-read look, this will be the toughest defense Russell Wilson and the zone-read will have faced all season. The biggest reason why is because San Francisco runs a similar offense. San Francisco’s defense will be practicing against as close to an accurate simulation of the Seahawks as humanly possible. Russell Wilson needs to make sure that the momentum carries over from the past two weeks. If he gets rattled in the pocket, he needs to take a deep breath and improvise. My concern is that if Wilson is flushed out of the pocket, the speed of the 49ers defense will catch Wilson behind the line of scrimmage, resulting in decent sized chunks of yardage lost. Russell Wilson will be the single reason that determines how effective our offense is this week. Marshawn Lynch could have a big impact but the run defense is the bread and butter of the San Francisco defense. I think using a plethora of receivers this week will benefit the offense. If Sidney Rice, Golden Tate, Jermaine Kearse, Doug Baldwin, Anthony McCoy, and Zach Miller can each catch a couple of passes, the offense will be highly effective. Spread the wealth this week Russell, and don’t be afraid to take shots down the field.

On defense this week, the Seahawks will be playing the cornerback shuffle once again. Walter Thurmond and Marcus Trufant have been held out of practice all week with injuries but Richard Sherman will be available after having his Adderall suspension ruling delayed until at least next week after his appeal on Friday. If Thurmond and Trufant are both inactive, our starting cornerbacks Sunday night will be Sherman and Jeremy Lane. Lane started last week and was tested early. He passed the tests Buffalo threw at him and he solidified the confidence Coach Carroll and defensive coordinator Gus Bradley has in him. The defensive line is also banged up this week. Defensive tackle Jason Jones was placed on injured reserve this week, taking away a significant interior pass-rush threat. Greg Scruggs will see an expanded role at defensive tackle this week. The 49ers have a good offensive line but at home, the pressure put on a quarterback is significantly amplified. Add-in the primetime factor and I wouldn’t be surprised to see at least 5 or 6 sacks of Colin Kaepernick this week. Look for Chris Clemons to have an impact as usual but also have an eye on K.J. Wright this week. Wright is most effective in coverage but I predict he will have a sack early in Sunday night’s game.

The San Francisco 49ers have also seen significant changes in their offense since our matchup in October. For starters, Colin Kaepernick is the new starting quarterback after replacing a concussed Alex Smith in week 10. Kaepernick is 4-1-1 since week 10 and the 49ers have used a similar offensive scheme as the Seahawks. What is most impressive about Kaepernick in my mind is his arm strength. He is not afraid to sling the ball down the field. This was evident last week as he threw three touchdown passes of 24 yards or more; a 24-yard pass to Randy Moss, a 27-yard pass to Delanie Walker, and a 34-yard pass to Michael Crabtree. Add in the fact that he can take off and run provides an extra threat to the Seattle defense. The Seahawks must focus on play-action looks this week. The 49ers do a good job at disguising runs and throws and anything is fair game at any time. Like the Seahawks, San Francisco also has a wide variety of weapons at the running back and receiver positions. Expect Frank Gore, LaMichael James, Randy Moss, Michael Crabtree, and Vernon Davis to all get involved in this game evenly. We held San Francisco to 13 points on the road in week 7. Although the 49ers average close to 27 points per game on the road, coming into CenturyLink Field, it is very possible to think they may struggle.

I have to be a realist. As much as it hurts me to admit, the San Francisco 49ers have the best defense in the league. The San Francisco defensive line is my main focus this week. It may seem obvious, but the man the Seahawks MUST contain this week is Aldon Smith. Smith is tied for first in the league with 19.5 sacks on the season; 3 shy of Michael Strahan’s single-season sacks record. Smith will mostly line up against Seahawks left tackle Russell Okung. Okung has done a decent job shutting down edge pass-rushers this season but Smith will be Okung’s toughest challenge to date. Aldon Smith had one sack against the Seahawks in their first meeting. One thing to note is the health of nose tackle Justin Smith. With San Francisco leading New England 31-3 last week, Justin Smith left the game with an arm injury. Without Smith on defense in the second half, the Patriots scored 28 unanswered points and nearly came back to win. Early indications from Comcast Sportsnet Bay Area point to Justin Smith being unavailable this week for San Francisco. This is where the Seahawks must take advantage. If Marshawn Lynch can do some damage up the middle, the 49ers will have a difficult time on defense.

We have played the San Francisco 49ers once already this season in primetime. This week it is our turn to remind the country that we have the best home-field advantage in the National Football League. As a fan, late season games are also more fun in primetime because the sun sets well before the game even starts. Ever since this game was flexed into Sunday Night Football a couple of weeks ago, I have been picturing what the scene will look like during pre-game and I can see it now: the Sea Gals performing to their annual Christmas routine, the San Francisco 49ers being introduced to a chorus of extremely loud boos, the bone-chilling bass that gets blasted over the public address system, the long pause between team introductions while SNF is on a television commercial break, the warning that the 12th Man is now live to the nation on NBC, the blasting of “Bittersweet Symphony” over the PA as we are welcomed to CenturyLink Field by PA announcer Randy Rowland, the epic pre-game video played right before the Seahawks are about to run on to the field, and the majestic green and blue fireworks that shoot off as the starters are introduced onto the field. The 12th Man will be going absolutely nuts during this sequence and I absolutely cannot wait.

Random Thoughts: The Seahawks will wear blue jerseys this week. Pant color is TBD (most likely blue)… Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth have the call for NBC this week. I’ll be sure to set my DVR… The referee this week is Bill Vinovich. Vinovich has been absent from the sidelines since 2006 due to personal health reasons. He will be working with Bill Leavy’s crew… No pre-game giveaway this week. I’m disappointed that rally towels will not be given out. I thought this would be a big enough game to do towels… The starting defense will most likely be introduced this week since the offense was introduced against Arizona two weeks ago. I could see the offense being introduced though, since NBC would want to get a good shot of Russell Wilson running out of the tunnel… The people around me better be ready for a heavy Skittles shower, I plan to break my personal record for most Skittles brought (and thrown) when MoneyLynch scores. Please don’t let me down beast!… Sunday night’s halftime show: Mattress racing. #KillMe… There are rumors floating around Twitter about who will be raising the 12th Man flag before the game. I have heard it may be Macklemore & Ryan Lewis or Shaun Alexander. I would be content with either of those choices but I think Alexander would be more epic… Sunday will be a 5-hour energy kind of day. My wake-up call will be set for 6am, a mere 11 hours before kickoff… For the second consecutive year I will be playing for my fantasy football consolation bracket championship. AKA, the “I don’t give a crap bowl”… This will be the 3rd primetime game between the 49ers and Seahawks in Seattle since I’ve been a season ticket holder. The first was in 2006 on Thursday Night Football when San Francisco dominated the Seahawks 24-14 in the midst of a monsoon (later known as the Hanukkah Eve Storm). The second was a 24-0 shutout win by the Seahawks on Monday Night Football in 2007… When the 49ers beat the Patriots last week, I was upset because that meant this week’s game would not be for the NFC West lead. However local sports radio has lifted my spirits because of the Seahawks playoff scenario generator. If we had been in position to win the division and did in fact win it, we would most likely host a wild-card game and then play the Packers in Green Bay in the divisional playoffs. That may be the hardest scenario for the Seahawks. If the Seahawks get the 5th seed which they are positioned to do, they would play on the road against the NFC East champion in the wild-card round, and then most likely play Atlanta at the Georgia Dome in the divisional playoffs. Although the former gets us a home playoff game, the latter is the easier path to the NFC Championship game in my opinion. With the momentum the Seahawks currently have, it may be for the best that we have to travel throughout the playoffs which actually gets me pretty excited.

Prediction: This will be a drama-filled game. No team will completely dominate the other and the scoring and stats will be pretty even. It will all come down to the last play of the game. With the Seahawks holding a 21-20 lead with 5 seconds left, San Francisco’s David Akers will line up for a 45-yard field goal. The kick will have the distance but will sail wide left, sending the Seahawks to the playoffs and the CenturyLink Field crowd erupting into complete pandemonium.

Seahawks 21, 49ers 20

I apologize if I do not publish my 49ers review on Monday since it is Christmas Eve. If I do not have the time Sunday night or Monday, expect my review to be posted on Wednesday afternoon after Christmas. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays everybody. Thanks so much for reading. Go Seahawks!

Review: Seahawks 50, Bills 17

17 Dec

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The phrase of the day used during the Seahawks/Bills broadcast by commentator John Lynch was “shellac.” This is the perfect word to describe Sunday’s game. The Seattle Seahawks shellacked the Buffalo Bills in Toronto 50-17. With the win, the Seahawks improve to 9-5 on the season and Buffalo falls to 5-9. In their last two games against Arizona and Buffalo, the Seahawks have outscored these two teams by a combined score of 108-17. They also are the first team since the 1950 Los Angeles Rams to score 50 or more points in two consecutive games. The Seahawks are suddenly red-hot with two home games remaining to wrap up the regular season. Here are my talking points from Sunday’s game.

Wilson Makes History: Russell Wilson made Seahawks history in only the first half of Sunday’s game. Wilson became the first quarterback in Seahawks history to run for three touchdowns in a game. He accomplished this feat with touchdown runs of 14, 25, and 13 yards respectively, all of which came in the first 24:29 of play. The zone-read option had a tremendously positive effect in this game overall as Wilson ended the day with 92 rushing yards in addition to his 205 passing yards and one passing touchdown. There is no question Wilson has the hot hand and a lot of the success has been because the offensive line has given Wilson plenty of time to make plays. With a dominant pass rush in the San Francisco 49ers coming to town next weekend, the Seahawks and Russell Wilson needs to make sure the hot hand sticks around as Wilson needs to make sure he is quickly decisive next week.

Seahawks Defense Dominant, For The Most Part: The Seahawks jumped out to a quick early lead but temporarily let Buffalo back into the game with a touchdown rushed in by C.J. Spiller and a Ryan Fitzpatrick touchdown pass to Stevie Johnson. With a 14 point halftime lead, I was critical of the Seahawks defense needing to show that they would not slack in the second half no matter what the scoreboard read. They did not disappoint. In the second half, the Defense picked off two Fitzpatrick passes; one by linebacker K.J. Wright and one by safety Earl Thomas which was returned for a touchdown. They also shut out the Bills in the last 30 minutes of football as the offense continued to pile on points, making the lead more comfortable. The pass rush still was not as dominant as I would have liked to have seen although Chris Clemons had 2.5 sacks and Jason Jones also added half a sack. The Seahawks defense got the job done overall on the scoreboard and with the defense on a roll, with a huge primetime game on deck, the 12th Man will be able to boost the defense into another good performance next week, hopefully.

My Thoughts On The Fake Punt: After last week’s accusations that the Seahawks ran up the score on Arizona, I defended Pete Carroll and the Seahawks with the opinion that it is the defense’s job to stop our offense. If they can’t then we should be entitled to put up any number of points if the opportunity presents itself. This week however, there was another play that has the national media wondering if the Seahawks were deliberately trying to run up the score when other options could have been taken. The play under review is the Seahawks fake punt in the fourth quarter. With the Seahawks leading 47-17 with roughly 11 minutes left in the game the Seahawks faced 4th down and 4 yards to go. In punt formation, Clint Gresham direct-snapped the ball to Chris Maragos who then handed the ball off to Michael Robinson for a 29-yard gain. The Seahawks ended the drive with a Steven Hauschka field goal. Coach Carroll said after the game that he regrets calling for the fake punt. Bills head coach Chan Gailey had no comment about the play in his postgame press conference. I agree with Coach Carroll. There is no need to pull plays like that with a 30-point lead that is virtually guaranteed to hold up. The primary reason why I do not approve of the play call is because we used it in a situation where we did not need to use it. Knowing it would be that effective I think it would have been much more beneficial to save the play and use it when closer circumstances arise such as next week or sometime in the playoffs.

The Bills And The Toronto Effect: I’ll keep my thoughts on the play of the Buffalo Bills brief. The offense never really got off to a rhythm but C.J. Spiller did show flashes of gutsy running. Ryan Fitzpatrick started off making good throws but struggled as the game wore on. The defense started strong, sacking Russell Wilson twice in the first quarter. Buffalo’s defense just could not figure out how to stop the zone-read option and that killed them for 28 total points.

If I were a Buffalo Bills fan I would be furious at the NFL about the fact that a home game is taken away and moved to Toronto. Watching the game on television there was NO home-field advantage for the Bills and at times the cheering was louder for the Seahawks than for the Bills. At one point after a positive Buffalo play I remember seeing a section of fans where nobody was clapping or cheering. The people in attendance seemed to be casual spectators who looked like they would rather be watching Toronto Maple Leafs re-runs at home than be at the Rogers Centre watching NFL football. You can speculate all you want about how that game would have looked if it were played at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Buffalo. I think it definitely would have been tougher for the Seahawks and could have been a closer ballgame. The Bills Toronto series is an experiment that has failed on the whole. I understand the revenue streams it brings in for the Bills and for the NFL, but the league is doing a disservice playing a game in international waters each year. I think it is a fair assumption that Canadians just do not care about the National Football League.

Random Thoughts: The grey uniforms look very sharp. I wish we would have worn them for a game at home… I have to give a shout-out to rookie cornerback Jeremy Lane. Lane started at cornerback on Sunday in place of injured starter Walter Thurmond. The Bills tested Lane early, as in on the first play of the game. Lane stayed right over the top of Bills receiver T.J. Graham and made a play with a pass-defensed. Lane did an outstanding job in place of Thurmond this week. It’s good to know Lane can step in and do a good job if his number is called… I love 1pm road games. I’m not as tired throughout the course of the day if the Seahawks play in the afternoon. I always fight the temptation to take a nap during the 1pm games if the Seahawks play at 10am… My friend Brent came over for Sunday’s game. He just got back from Pittsburgh for winter break so it was nice to have him over to the house for the first time. My roommates and I haven’t seen him since the summer… Football is not meant to be played in baseball stadiums. Just saying… Tarvaris Jackson just looked silly wearing a Bills hat and sweatshirt on the sidelines. How do you go from starting quarterback one year to inactive week after week the next year?… It’s nice to see Zach Miller get involved in scoring plays. That’s why we paid him the big bucks. That is his second touchdown in as many games… I did not track my consolation bracket fantasy football matchup. When you barely miss the playoffs, what’s the point… The Seahawks only had 4 penalties for 32 yards. That is always a beautiful stat to see. Let’s keep that up next week against San Francisco… Speaking of San Francisco, I hate the fact that they beat New England on Sunday Night Football, meaning next week’s game will not determine the leader of the NFC West. It is still an important game no question about it because we can clinch a playoff berth, but at this point I have a hard time dealing with the notion that the environment at CenturyLink Field next weekend will not be nearly as intense as it would be if we were playing the 49ers for the division lead.

Seahawks Playoff Outlook: With the win over Buffalo, the Seahawks improve to 9-5. If the season ended right now the Seahawks would be the 5th seed in the NFC and would play the Washington Redskins in D.C. in the NFC wild-card playoffs. If the Seahawks win one of their last two games they will clinch a playoff spot. Things can still change however as the Chicago Bears, Dallas Cowboys, and New York Giants are all still in contention for playoff spots. Here are next week’s games with potential NFC playoff implications:

San Francisco (10-3-1) at Seattle (9-5)

Washington (8-6) at Philadelphia (4-10)

Minnesota (8-6) at Houston (12-2)

Chicago (8-6) at Arizona (5-9)

New Orleans (6-8) at Dallas (8-6)

New York Giants (8-6) at Baltimore (9-5)

This week is hate week as the Seahawks host the San Francisco 49ers next weekend on Sunday Night Football. Look for my preview of the 49ers/Seahawks game on Saturday afternoon. Go Seahawks!

Seahawks/Bills Preview

15 Dec

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Matchup: Seattle Seahawks vs. Buffalo Bills

Site: Rogers Centre (Toronto, Ontario, Canada)

Kickoff: 1:05pm

The Seahawks conclude their regular season road schedule north of the border in Toronto this week as they take on the Buffalo Bills. For the Bills, this is their annual “Bills Toronto Series” game which will take place at Rogers Centre; home of Major League Baseball’s Toronto Blue Jays. The Seahawks are riding in on a two-game winning streak and an 8-5 overall record. The Bills have not been as fortunate. Although they are still mathematically alive in the AFC playoff picture, they have a record of 5-8 and need a lot of help to make their microscopic playoff dreams a reality. The Seahawks lead the all-time series with the Bills 6-5. Their last meeting was kickoff weekend of the 2008 season when Buffalo trounced the Seahawks 34-10. This game is a must-win if the Seahawks want to keep their hopes of the NFC West title alive. Here are my focuses of this weekend’s game.

I think a lot of people look at last week’s 58-0 win over Arizona and expect our offense to keep its strong offensive momentum going against the Bills. I hate to break it to you 12th Man but there is no chance we will be nearly as dominant as last week you should still be satisfied if we are still able to move the ball and put up points at a normal rate. I look at the Chicago game two weeks ago to compare how to go about playing the Bills this week. There are two big things to look at this week on offense. First, the wide receivers. According to Coach Carroll, Sidney Rice is dealing with a bruised foot and has been held out of practice all week. Rice says he expects to play but his status is uncertain. He started the week with his foot in a boot. The boot has since come off but he is still questionable. If Rice can go, things will be normal on the outside and I could see Rice having a big game this week. If he cannot go, the wide receiver field will be somewhat switched up. Coach Carroll said in his Friday press conference that Charly Martin has been placed on injured reserve, ending his 2012 season. No receiver roster move was made after putting Martin on IR. Jermaine Kearse could see expanded playing time if Rice cannot play. I do not think Doug Baldwin will start because we will want to have some height starting on the outside. Let’s pray Rice will be able to play, since Kearse has not started a game in his NFL career.

Over the past three weeks, the Buffalo Bills have given up an average of 72 rushing yards per game. Before that stretch however, Buffalo had the worst run defense in the NFL. It is time for their run defense to get back to its original ways. Running back Marshawn Lynch is set to play in his first game against the Bills since he was traded from Buffalo to Seattle at the 2010 trade deadline. After a three touchdown performance last week I expect to see a lot of Lynch early this week. If Lynch gets off to a fast start, it is likely we will put up points, get out to an early lead, and be able to stick to the game plan and not make too many changes later on in the game. If the Bills are successful in stopping Lynch, the plan will change and I would not be surprised to see a lot of zone-read option plays where Russell Wilson tries to run.

With another appeal delay on tap, cornerback Richard Sherman is expected to play once again this week on defense. As with every road game, the biggest key this week is stopping the Bills offense especially on third down. This week the Seahawks appear to be healthy but two starters in the secondary have been hurt in practice this week. Cornerback Walter Thurmond is dealing with an ankle injury and safety Kam Chancellor is dealing with a groin injury. I am hoping both these guys can play but I believe Chancellor is the one guy who must play due to his ability to get to the play and stop the offense from gaining positive yards because he is such a hard hitter. Getting back to the defensive play on third down, I am hoping Bruce Irvin can have a big impact. Irvin leads all rookies in sacks with 8 and he himself predicted a double-digit sack season. If Irvin can record two sacks and get a couple more from a mix including Chris Clemons, Bobby Wagner, and Brandon Mebane, the defense will be in great shape.

The Buffalo Bills primary strength on offense is the running game. Buffalo holds the 6th best run offense in the league and this week due to the injury of Fred Jackson last week, the load will be entirely on C.J. Spiller. Spiller is a very talented running back who can be explosive especially if he gets loose. Spiller ranks first in the league in yards per carry with a 6.6 average. It will be very important for the Seahawks front four to penetrate Buffalo’s offensive line to make initial contact in the backfield to stop Spiller. Buffalo’s quarterback is Ryan Fitzpatrick who is averaging only 200 yards passing per game. Before last week against St. Louis, Fitzpatrick struggled as he did not throw for more than 168 yards in their prior 3 games and he has thrown only 4 touchdown passes in his last 4 games.

The Buffalo defense sports some great talent but their unit has been banged up as of late. The Bills biggest offseason acquisition was defensive end Mario Williams who signed a 6-year $100 million contract during the offseason. Williams is having a decent year but has arguably not lived up to the expectations of his contract. He has 37 total tackles and 10.5 sacks so far this season. Other than Williams, the Bills have other notable names staring on defense including Marcell Dareus, Nick Barnett, Jairus Byrd, Leodis McKelvin, and 2012 first-round pick Stephon Gilmore. Barnett and McKelvin are the two biggest names to keep an eye on because they have either not practiced or practiced on a limited basis this week. The Buffalo defense has the talent to make special plays happen. It will be up to Russell Wilson to exploit the flaws within this deep Buffalo defensive unit.

The biggest story in the Buffalo media this week is not the return of Marshawn Lynch surprisingly. Instead, it is the rumor that backup quarterback Tarvaris Jackson is not smart enough to handle the Bills offense. Jackson, who was acquired from the Seahawks at the end of training camp this year, has been Ryan Fitzpatrick’s backup all season and this week will be a unique tool for Chan Gailey and the Buffalo coaching staff to use to try to exploit the Seattle offense that he had learned prior to being traded. Gailey downplayed the notion that a player with ties to another team can help a whole lot in trying to predict what that team will throw at you. I think it will be really funny if Fitzpatrick has to leave the game and Jackson comes in to replace him.

Random Thoughts: The Seahawks have not won three road games in a given regular season since 2007… The Seahawks will debut the alternate grey uniforms this week. The jerseys will be paired with grey pants. According to seahawks.com this will be the only game the grey uniforms will be worn this season, which dashes my hopes of us doing a “grey out” for the San Francisco game… It will be nice to have this game be a 1:05 pacific kickoff for an east coast game. The last east coast game to start at 1:05 was the Carolina game in week 5. We won that game… The Bills have only won one game in their Toronto Series since it started. Their only win came last year against Washington. Let’s make sure that stat does not become a winning streak… How did Richard Sherman not win NFC player of the week last week? Two interceptions is not good enough for the NFL anymore?… Dick Stockton and John Lynch have the call for FOX this week. It’s nice to have a break from the inseparable duo of Chris Myers and Tim Ryan… The referee this week is Scott Green… This week’s game will be played in a dome and will most likely feature the smallest crowd at an NFL game this season. Rogers Centre only seats about 50,000 people anyway… Please New England, beat the 49ers on Sunday Night Football.

Prediction: The Seahawks should know what is potentially at stake this week. I do not see us losing focus, especially since we are coming off an impressive road win in Chicago and a complete annihilation of Arizona at home last week. This week, the offense will not be nearly as impressive but will put up a decent amount of points. The defense will struggle on third down like they usually do but they will be able to stop the Buffalo offense when it matters most.

Seahawks 31, Bills 17

Check back for my review of the Buffalo game and an updated playoff outlook on Monday afternoon. Enjoy the game everyone. Go Seahawks!

Review: Seahawks 58, Cardinals 0

10 Dec

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This was a good old-fashioned butt kicking. The Seahawks set a franchise record for points scored in a game and a tremendous performance by all three phases gave us a 58-0 victory over the Arizona Cardinals. The Seahawks improve to 8-5 and take over the 5th seed in the NFC playoff race while the Cardinals extend their losing streak to 9 games. Arizona is now 4-9 on the season. I really do not have anything to critique. This is what I liked about Sunday’s dominant performance.

Wilson, Flynn, Lynch, And The Incredible Offense: I’ll get to my only negative of the offensive performance right now. Russell Wilson threw his first interception at home this season. Now that we have gotten that out of the way lets preach the offense! Wilson threw for 148 yards, a touchdown, and an interception this week against Arizona. Those stats are after only 35 minutes of football. With 10:19 left in the third quarter, Matt Flynn replaced Wilson at quarterback and held down the fort just fine. It was nice to see Flynn get his first playing time of the year and he got a lot of it. The offensive player of the game is no doubt Marshawn Lynch. Lynch ran for 128 yards on 11 carries and scored 3 touchdowns. It was by far Lynch’s best game of the season. To add to the offensive dominance, Robert Turbin also added 108 rushing yards of his own and Leon Washington added a touchdown run as well. On the receiving end, Anthony McCoy led all receivers with 105 yards on three catches. With a performance like that, the Seahawks are on a roll that could spring them to the top of the NFC West. My only worry is our offense will be burnt out for next week’s game against Buffalo.

Sherman, Wagner, And The Incredible Defense: The common joke after the win was that the victory was brought to us by Adderall. Richard Sherman had two interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown, and a fumble recovery in the Seahawks win on Sunday. Bobby Wagner also had two interceptions and a forced fumble. The Seahawks defense recorded their first shutout since 2009 and they also broke a fantasy football record for most points scored by a defensive unit in a single week. After last week’s game in Chicago I had a feeling that the Seahawks would come out in front of the 12th Man and put on a show but they put on a clinic. This defense is very exciting and there should be pro bowl nods all around. Bobby Wagner deserves to be a strong candidate for defensive rookie of the year and Richard Sherman is playing at a defensive player of the year level. Next week on the road once again, this I do not see how it is possible that this unit can slip.

Smith, Maxwell, And The Incredible Special Teams: Not to be forgotten, the Seahawks special teams also had a game to remember. They forced two Patrick Peterson fumbled punts. Malcolm Smith recovered the first in the endzone for a touchdown, the other was forced by Byron Maxwell and recovered by Sherman. The Seahawks won the turnover battle 8-1 on Sunday and the special teams contributed to 25 percent of our takeaways. That is very impressive.

Skelton, Lindley, And The Terrible Cardinals Offense: I got to see firsthand the joke that is the Arizona Cardinals quarterback carousel. John Skelton threw for only 74 yards and 4 interceptions before being replaced by backup Ryan Lindley who did not fare any better. Lindley threw for only 59 yards but did not commit any turnovers. After the game in his press conference when asked about who the starting quarterback will be next week in their game against the Detroit Lions, Arizona head coach Ken Whisenhunt asked the beat writer for the Arizona Republic with a serious demeanor and tone “I do not know. Are you available?” Whisenhunt may be on the hot seat and it may be in Arizona’s best interest to clean house and rebuild with a new quarterback next season.

Random Thoughts: The offense was introduced this week… The Seahawks wore the blue/blue uniform combination this week. It still looks good. I’m looking forward to seeing the grey jerseys in Toronto next week against the Bills… I tailgated in pioneer square before the game and had a great time. I also ran into my two friends James and Grant, who were also going to the game (and sitting in the club level)… Also before we left for the tailgate, I tried two new drinks. The first was peppermint schnapps mixed with hot chocolate. The other drink was a shot containing half Fireball whiskey and half RumChata creamed rum. It tasted like cinnamon toast crunch cereal. Delicious… It was cold on Sunday but that didn’t matter to me. I felt fine but I am now fighting a sore throat, which in my history books could (and most likely will) turn into a small cold… The people sitting around me including myself were told to stop throwing Skittles. That was after Marshawn Lynch’s third touchdown. Lucky for that security guard, I ran out of Skittles to throw… There was a kid sitting behind me who I think may have been at his first ever NFL game with his dad. It was really cool to see his participate in all of our chants and celebrations. It made me think back to my first Seahawks game when I was 9… The Seahawks week 16 game against the San Francisco 49ers has been flexed into Sunday Night Football. I know I shouldn’t look past our next game but words cannot describe how epic that game will be. Looking forward to it!

Seahawks Playoff Outlook: The Seahawks are 8-5 and are currently the 5th seed in the NFC Playoffs. The Chicago Bears are currently the 6th seed with an 8-5 record and the Washington Redskins, Dallas Cowboys, and Minnesota Vikings are all still in the hunt with 7-6 records. The Seahawks are still 1 ½ games behind San Francisco for the NFC West lead. Here are the matchups with NFC playoff implications next week.

Seattle (8-5) at Buffalo (5-8) (in Toronto)

San Francisco (9-3-1) at New England (9-3)

Green Bay (9-4) at Chicago (8-5)

Washington (7-6) at Cleveland (5-8)

Pittsburgh (7-6) at Dallas (7-6)

Minnesota (7-6) at St. Louis (6-6-1)

I will possibly blog during the week leading up to the Buffalo game next week since I am now out of school for the quarter. Go Seahawks!