Archive | November, 2013

CenturyLink Field to Make 2nd Guinness World Record Attempt

27 Nov
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Photo Credit: seattlepi.com

On September 15th the Seahawks and CenturyLink Field broke the Guinness World Record for “loudest crowd road at a sports stadium” when the 12th Man was registered at 136.6 decibels during our win over the San Francisco 49ers.

The record stood for 28 days.

On Monday night the 12th Man will attempt to reclaim what is rightfully theirs. “Volume 12,” the group responsible for organizing the Guinness World Record attempt announced Tuesday night via their Facebook that Guinness will be in attendance once again for the Seahawks Monday Night Football game against the New Orleans Saints. The Seahawks will attempt to break the record set by the Kansas City Chiefs on October 13th when Chiefs fans at Arrowhead Stadium registered at 137.5 decibels.

Since Guinness’s last visit the rules of the record attempt have eased up. Officials from Guinness will record the duration of the game and will register the highest decibel reading throughout the game. The 12th Man will also be at a disadvantage once again because the Seahawks have declined to get officially involved with this attempt, thus there will be no formal announcement to cheer and scream during the game. This is a big key to why I believe the Chiefs were able to break our record. I believe with help from the Seahawks we would shatter Kansas City’s record but without knowing what our goal is it is possible that we will come up short.

All it takes is one big play for a sudden burst of noise to break the record. Kansas City surpassed our mark when an interception was returned for a touchdown mere moments before the end of the game. If you are attending Monday night’s game please be as loud as you can throughout the entire game so we can reclaim our reputation as the loudest stadium and the loudest fans in the world!

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Commentary: Thurmond, Browner Suspended

26 Nov
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Photo Credit: oregonlive.com

It was announced on Sunday morning that Seahawks cornerback Walter Thurmond had been suspended 4 games for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy. A little over 24 hours later the NFL announced that Brandon Browner had been suspended for one year for violating the same policy. Both are reportedly for the use of marijuana. Barring a late appeal, Thurmond will be eligible to return to play in the Seahawks regular season finale against the St. Louis Rams. Browner is an unrestricted free agent after this season and it is highly likely that he has played his last game with the Seahawks.

These suspensions could not come at a worse time. The Seahawks are preparing for arguably their most important game of the season; next Monday night against the New Orleans Saints in what could be for home field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs and the news of these suspensions is creating bad publicity and distractions both locally and across the country. The fact that the Seahawks held a team-only meeting over the offseason to address this problem only adds to the frustration that these two individuals are dumb or naïve enough to make another mistake. I am hoping that the off-the-field publicity and the re-painted image of the Seahawks being a team of cheaters do not affect this locker room. However, when players like Golden Tate come out and call the actions of Thurmond and Browner “selfish” it only feeds the press and could potentially cause a rift within members of the team. I believe we are a stronger unit than that.

On the field the Legion of Boom is up for their biggest challenge of the year, even more so now given these suspensions. Jeremy Lane and Byron Maxwell will be called upon to hold the fort down until Thurmond comes back, as well as practice squad signee DeShawn Shead and the newly-signed Perrish Cox. Drew Brees and the Saints are definitely not the ideal matchup for this semi-raw unit. The Saints game is now an even bigger challenge and it will be extremely important for the rest of the team to play their best in order for the Seahawks to walk away with a win this week.

Review: Seahawks 41, Vikings 20

17 Nov
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Photo Credit: seahawks.com

It took the Seattle Seahawks 16 weeks to get to 10 wins a season ago. The Seahawks clinched their second straight 10-win season on Sunday with a 41-20 victory over the Minnesota Vikings; 5 weeks ahead of last season. The Seahawks record-best start extends to 10-1 and the Vikings fall to 2-8 on the season. There is a lot to get excited about from around the league to what the Seahawks and the 12th Man have to look forward to upcoming, but let’s take a look back at some of the high points of Sunday’s win over Minnesota.

Stopping Peterson: Who would have thought that it would be Toby Gerhart, NOT Adrian Peterson, who led the Vikings in rushing yards this week. The Seahawks held the reigning NFL MVP to 65 yards rushing, while in the process proving that last week’s run defense in Atlanta was not a fluke performance. Peterson’s longest run on the day was a 13 yard run midway through the 3rd quarter. There is no question the Seahawks defense emphasized stopping the run during practice this week but even with a week of preparation to hold the most powerful running back in the league to 65 yards is something to be proud of. Like I talked about in my Vikings preview, the only way realistic way the Vikings could win is if Peterson rushed for a couple hundred yards and multiple touchdowns. Holding him out of the endzone made it very easy for the Seahawks to take control of the game as early as they did. On the whole, the Seahawks defense were successful in making Minnesota’s offense one-dimensional and when Christian Ponder was forced to throw, he made the kind of mistakes that he is known for making (see “winning the turnover battle”).

Harvin’s Debut Goes as Expected: In his postgame interviews, Percy Harvin said he recruited his teammates to go up to Head Coach Pete Carroll to convince him to put him in to return kickoffs. Harvin made the most of his single special teams opportunity. With under a minute remaining in the first half, Harvin returned a kickoff 58 yards to set up a 19-yard touchdown pass to Doug Baldwin. Harvin was very explosive and he is incredible at squeezing through blocks. His return got the 12th Man completely fired up and for me personally, it left me pondering what our return game and offense is going to look like in our final 5 regular season games. Harvin’s spark on special teams gives us a huge weapon moving forward but I would not be surprised to see opposing teams either attempt to kick it through the endzone or pooch kick to avoid putting the ball in Harvin’s hands.

As a receiver, Harvin only made one catch for 17 yards but he definitely earned style points. Harvin’s catch was tipped one-handed and hauled in as he was falling to the ground to give the Seahawks a first down, continuing a touchdown drive in the second quarter. I expected to see Harvin play 12-15 plays total but he was on the field for 10 offensive plays in the first half alone. Harvin met my expectations I had of him in today’s game and it will be fun to see him on the field full-time for the rest of the season.

Lynch Scores 3 Times, Screws My Fantasy Team: Even though I am having a terrible fantasy season, the fact that Marshawn Lynch scored over 24 fantasy points this week did not help me at all. Reality always trumps fantasy however and without Lynch’s performance the Seahawks would have struggled mightily. I would have been out of Skittles by the time Marshawn Lynch was done scoring Sunday. Lynch found the endzone three times and also ran for 54 yards this week. Lynch is currently 2nd among all running backs in rushing yards this season and with a two week break before the end of the regular season Lynch could be primed to make a push for the NFL rushing title. Lynch is currently projected to run for 1,267 yards this season but will most likely need more to claim the rushing title. His motivation towards that feat will directly parallel how we function on offense in the coming weeks.

Winning the Turnover Battle: You know how I said that if you can make Christian Ponder throw the ball mistakes are bound to be made? You saw exactly what I was talking about this week. Ponder threw two interceptions and probably should have thrown a third. After dropping a pass thrown right to him, Bobby Wagner made up for that mistake by picking off Ponder later on in the game. Ponder also threw a pick-six right to cornerback Walter Thurmond; his first interception return touchdown of his career. The Seahawks won the turnover battle 4-0 on Sunday and they scored 20 points as a result of those turnovers. The Seahawks now have a plus-11 turnover margin this season which is tied for 2nd best in the league.

Thoughts on Minnesota: The Minnesota Vikings have talent but they have a serious need to upgrade the quarterback position. I do not believe Christian Ponder has a successful future in Minnesota and with this lame-duck season coming to an end in 6 weeks, I think Josh Freeman should get an opportunity to start to give the Vikings front office and coaching staff a glimpse to see if Freeman has a future in Minnesota next season and beyond. The Vikings defense has potential to be a really good unit but it doesn’t help when the offense turns the ball over and gives us excellent field position. I do not expect a serious bounce-back from the Vikings next season but they will most likely be primed with a top-5 draft pick in 2014 and I think if one of the elite college quarterbacks is available the Vikings may want to consider drafting the potential future quarterback of their franchise.

Random Thoughts: We got to the Hawks Nest Bar at 8:30 in the morning. Almost all of the tables were open when we got there but the place was standing room only by the time 9:45 rolled around… Thanks to the Tacoma guys we met and shared buckets with at the bar this week. One of the guys thinks he is on my flight down to San Francisco in 3 weeks so I’ll have to keep my eye out at the airport. Too bad I don’t really remember what he looks like… No giveaway again this week? C’mon Seahawks… The starting offense was introduced this week and I was hoping to see Percy Harvin get introduced individually. That did not happen though… One of the guys that sit in front of me sold his ticket on NFL Ticket Exchange and some random guy sat in his seat. He did not talk, he did not cheer, and he did not really engage in any celebratory behavior with the rest of us throughout the game. That was pretty odd. I wouldn’t be surprised if he was a tourist who wanted to catch a Seahawks game. I find it pretty odd that someone would buy an individual ticket to a Seahawks game and actually attend rather than sell it to a scalper to try to make some pocket cash. Why would you want to go to a Seahawks game by yourself?… Although it’s expensive, Papa John’s makes really good in-stadium pizza… A guy at the top of our section got kicked out by alcohol enforcement. When I went down to the concourse to refill my water bottle I heard him drunkenly slur to a cop “why exactly am I being kicked out of here, sirs?” Couldn’t help but giggle walking back up to my seats… To the guy in the Charlie Whitehurst jersey, you need a hug bro?… I got to see the end of the San Francisco/New Orleans game in the windows of the Seahawks pro shop and the fans huddling around the windows erupted in cheers when Garrett Hartley kicked the game-winning field goal… The picture of Jim Harbaugh screaming a certain colorful four letter word after that game makes me so happy… We went to the Pyramid Alehouse after the game to grab some food and watch the first part of Sunday Night Football. The fish and chips are stellar but two pieces of fish is not enough for a big guy like me. That was slightly disappointing… I get to watch RedZone for the next two weeks without a Seahawks game on Sunday afternoons. Next Sunday with the ESPN playoff machine on my computer, an ice-cold beer in my hand and RedZone on in front of me, you know where to find me… After the bye: the New Orleans Saints in what is sure to be a raucous playoff-type environment at CenturyLink Field on Monday Night Football.

Seahawks Playoff Outlook: With the win over Minnesota the Seahawks improve to 10-1. The New Orleans Saints defeated the San Francisco 49ers 23-20 on Sunday, meaning the Seahawks currently have a 3 ½ game lead on San Francisco for first place in the NFC West. Here is what the NFC playoffs would like if the playoffs started at this very moment:

#1 Seed (First Round Bye): Seattle Seahawks (10-1)

#2 Seed (First Round Bye): New Orleans Saints (8-2)

#3 Seed: Detroit Lions (6-4)

#4 Seed: Philadelphia Eagles (6-5)

#5 Seed: Carolina Panthers (6-3, they play on Monday Night Football in week 11)

#6 Seed: San Francisco 49ers (6-4)

 

I will be taking a short break from the blog during the bye week but if anything important happens I will hop back on. If not, check back on Sunday, December 1st as I preview the Seahawks game against the New Orleans Saints. Go Seahawks!

Vikings/Seahawks Preview

16 Nov
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Photo Credit: seahawks.com

Matchup: Minnesota Vikings at Seattle Seahawks

Site: CenturyLink Field (Seattle, Washington)

Kickoff: 1:25pm

After the Seahawks 33-10 win last week over the Atlanta Falcons, they come home this week for one more game before their late bye week. This week also begins a stretch where the Seahawks play 4 out of their last 6 regular season games at home. They start this stretch against the Minnesota Vikings. The Seahawks continue their best start in franchise history as they enter this week’s game with a 9-1 record. Minnesota has not had similar fortune. After going 10-6 and making the playoffs last season, the Vikings enter this game at 2-7 and are in last place in the NFC North. Having said this, the Vikings are coming off of a win last Thursday night as they defeated the Washington Redskins 34-27. The Seahawks lead the all-time series with Minnesota 7-5. Their last meeting came last November. After allowing 80 rushing yards and a touchdown to running back Adrian Peterson on Minnesota’s first offensive drive of the game, the Seahawks buckled down and beat the Vikings 30-20. Two weeks ago many including myself thought the Seahawks would easily beat Tampa Bay at home but barely squeaked by with a win. The Seahawks cannot overlook the Vikings like they overlooked the Buccaneers. Here is what needs to happen for the Seahawks to get to 10-1 on the season.

As always I start with the Seahawks offense and the biggest key for Russell Wilson and the rest of the offense this week is to carry their offensive momentum from last week’s game into this week’s game. On paper that should not be a problem. The Seahawks will have Russell Okung, Max Unger, and Breno Giacomini back this week starting on the offensive line. This is great news for Marshawn Lynch. If you think he was productive the last few weeks with a makeshift offensive line, just imagine how productive he will be going forward with our starting line back. This is also great news for Wilson, as the pass protection should improve greatly, giving him more time in the pocket to make throws down the field. It also helps that the Vikings pass defense ranks 5th worst in the NFL, allowing an average of 286 passing yards per game. I think it may take a little bit of time for Wilson to get re-acclimated to his starting offensive line, thus you may see him panic and make quick throws to his receivers early on. If pass protection is strong early, Wilson will settle down fast and be able to confidently stand in the pocket to make throws as the game goes on.

At the other skill positions the primary storyline this week is the return and Seahawks debut of wide receiver Percy Harvin. According to the NFL Network, Harvin is expected to start this week. As exciting as it is to have Harvin back in the lineup, he has not played in a live game for a full calendar year and he must get back to game speed and it may take some time to do so. Harvin will play but I do not expect to see the kind of jaw dropping performance this week that Seahawks fans knew they were getting when we acquired him. I do not expect Harvin to return kicks and he may be on a limited snap count this week. In my opinion I expect to see Harvin on the field between 12 to 15 plays and I would be satisfied to see him catch between 40-55 yards worth of passes. Adding Harvin could also benefit the passing game by using him as a decoy. Golden Tate has put together a solid string of performances over the past couple of weeks and Jermaine Kearse has proven to be Russell Wilson’s go-to guy deep down the field. The different ways Pete Carroll and Darrell Bevell use our wide receivers create different options for how to play Harvin both on the outside and in the slot. In short, Percy Harvin will make an impact in our offense this week, the question is what kind and how big of an impact.

The number one key for the Seattle defense this week is to prove that last week’s 64 rushing yards allowed to the Atlanta Falcons was not a “fluke” performance. The run defense will face their biggest challenge this week and it will be essential to shut Adrian Peterson down and force Minnesota to throw. Mistakes could be made by the Vikings if the Seahawks can effectively take away the running game, and the Legion of Boom should be on high alert for passes dangerously thrown into coverage. Speaking of the Legion of Boom, I am curious to see Walter Thurmond start in place of the injured Brandon Browner. If there is one position group that can afford to lose a starter it is cornerback. Thurmond started for Browner in the Seahawks first two games of the season and had 5 tackles and 2 passes defensed in that span. With Thurmond starting and Jeremy Lane nursing an injured hip, Byron Maxwell might be forced to play nickel corner this week. If this is the case, expect the Vikings to have three or more receivers on the field more often to try to take advantage of our defensive formations.

There is no secret to how the Minnesota Vikings offense works; give the ball to Adrian Peterson and let him run wild. With the Vikings quarterback situation up in arms (Christian Ponder is expected to start Sunday with Josh Freeman and Matt Cassel as backups) the only way I think the Vikings can win this game is for Peterson to carry the team on his back, putting up a couple hundred rushing yards and scoring multiple touchdowns.  Peterson deserves the bulk of the offensive workload no question about it but there is another guy on Minnesota’s offense that deserves to be my X-Factor player to watch this week. After the Vikings traded Percy Harvin to the Seahawks over the offseason, they needed to plug that hole and try to replace Harvin’s production. Minnesota used one of their three first round picks to try to do so. My X-Factor player to watch for the Vikings this week is rookie wide receiver/kick returner Cordarrelle Patterson. Patterson is a height/weight/speed player who caught my eye leading up to this year’s draft. Although raw, I thought Patterson would be a good fit in Seattle and although he does not have the prettiest of stats so far this season, the potential is there to confirm my personal pre-draft thoughts. Patterson’s most productive game as a receiver came week 3 against Cleveland when he caught 2 passes for 49 yards. Patterson has not caught more than 3 passes in a game so far this season but the Vikings have done a better job getting him involved in the offense, which was evident last week against Washington when he caught his first career touchdown pass. It will be necessary for the Seahawks to play a solid game on special teams because Patterson is not afraid to return kickoffs deep out of the endzone. Patterson has returned 2 kickoffs for touchdowns this season. Peterson and Patterson will be responsible for the majority of Minnesota’s offensive production this week. Shutting both of them down will go a long way in preserving a Seahawks victory.

Random Thoughts: A preview of the Vikings defense does not warrant its own paragraph so I will place them here in random thoughts this week. The Vikings defense has struggled as a unit throughout the course of this season but keep an eye on veteran defensive end Jared Allen and linebacker Chad Greenway. Both have put up good numbers to lead this subpar group this season… Blue jerseys and blue pants once again for the Seahawks this week. The Vikings will most likely wear purple pants with their white jerseys… Chris Myers and Tim Ryan have the call for FOX this week… Jerome Boger is the referee this week. Don’t be surprised if Boger frustrates you at some point during the game. He does not do nearly as good of a job explaining his calls than other referees. In my opinion he is one of the worst referees in the NFL overall… For those attending this game remember that it is a 1:25 kickoff this week. I like having that extra 20 minutes to get to my seats… Gates will open 3 hours before the rest of our home games this season. Hopefully that chops down waiting time when I go in about an hour before kickoff… This week’s game theme is military appreciation. A full-sized American flag will be unraveled during the national anthem along with a Purple Heart ceremony during halftime. Vietnam veteran and Medal of Honor recipient Bruce Crandall will raise the 12th Man Flag this week. It is tradition that a notable local veteran raises the flag on military appreciation day… I will definitely be scoreboard watching throughout the game. Although I don’t want to see either team win, I would rather see New Orleans win than San Francisco. We’ve got to take care of the division first before we can start to think about home field advantage in the playoffs… I am taking a buddy of mine who is a Chicago Bears fan primarily and a Seahawks fan on the side. We’ll have to make sure the Ravens/Bears game is on at the bar during the morning slate of games for his enjoyment. As always let’s take care of the Vikings early and stay healthy!

Prediction: The Seahawks will take care of business this week and although we will not dominate like we did against the Falcons, they won’t have us biting our nails in nervously like they had us doing against Tampa Bay two weeks ago. Russell Wilson will throw for 300+ yards and Golden Tate and Doug Baldwin will each have a touchdown catch. Marshawn Lynch will run for at least 85 yards and a touchdown as well. Adrian Peterson will put up two touchdowns on the ground but it won’t nearly be enough as Seattle will win and head into the bye week 10-1.

Seahawks 33, Vikings 17

Seahawks Playoff Outlook: Going into this week the Seahawks have a 2 ½ game lead on the San Francisco 49ers for first place in the NFC West. They also lead the New Orleans Saints by 1 ½ games for the number one seed in the NFC Playoffs. Here are this week’s games that could impact the NFC Playoff race overall. Teams to note are bolded.

Minnesota (2-7) at Seattle (9-1)

San Francisco (6-3) at New Orleans (7-2)

Detroit (6-3) at Pittsburgh (3-6)

Baltimore (4-5) at Chicago (5-4)

Washington (3-6) at Philadelphia (5-5)

New England (7-2) at Carolina (6-3)

Be sure to check back late Sunday night/early Monday morning for my review of our game against the Minnesota Vikings. Enjoy the game everyone. Go Seahawks!

Review: Seahawks 33, Falcons 10

10 Nov
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Photo Credit: seahawks.com

I would like to be the first to welcome back the Seattle Seahawks that had been lost for the past couple of weeks. After I (stupidly) speculated and predicted that the Seahawks would fall into a trap and lose, the Seahawks played what I believe to be our most impressive win as we easily beat the Atlanta Falcons 33-10. The Seahawks improve to 9-1 on the season and with the results of other games around the league this week it may be time to start talking about playoff scenarios. The Falcons continue to sink further and further into a hole as they fall to 2-7. There are tons of positive things I have to touch on after a game like we played today. Here is what I saw.

Offensive Line Rotation Experiment Is a Success: When Michael Bowie was struggling through the Rams game two weeks ago I wondered why not substitute Alvin Bailey in at right tackle to try to shake things up. Today the Seahawks did that and then some. The Seahawks debuted a consistently interchanging offensive line lineup in today’s game and it worked very well, especially in the passing game. Russell Wilson’s confidence in the pocket grew as the game went on and the throws that he made were a reflection of that confidence as the Seahawks had 8 plays that went for 20 yards or more. Alvin Bailey saw playing time at left tackle, right guard, and right tackle while James Carpenter also saw time at both guard positions this week. The offensive line helped pave the way for Marshawn Lynch’s most productive game of the season on the ground (145 rushing yards and one touchdown) and only allowed one sack of quarterback Russell Wilson. The Seahawks are expected to have at least two of their injured starting offensive linemen back next week (more information in “Flash Forward”) but if we run into health problems on the offensive line in our upcoming games there is now a much better idea of what needs to happen in order to achieve maximum productivity from both our offensive line and our offense as a whole.

Bag of Tricks: The Seahawks opened up the playbook a little bit on Sunday with a gadget play that resulted in a second quarter touchdown. With 5:33 left in the second quarter Russell Wilson tossed the ball to Marshawn Lynch who appeared to run. Lynch then turned around and threw backwards to Wilson who then fired downfield and hit wide receiver Jermaine Kearse for a 43-yard touchdown catch to give the Seahawks 13-3 lead. This play really seemed to change the course of the entire game. The Seahawks had dominated the game on both sides of the ball up to this point in the game but the scoreboard did not reflect it. This play gave the Seahawks a double digit lead for good and the Falcons did not seem to play with any intensity after this touchdown. Although it may not be entirely necessary in the weeks ahead, if the Seahawks offense seems to get stuck, this flea flicker showed what one play can do for an entire team.

Defense Dials up the Pressure, Stays off the Field: With a 6-3 lead the Seahawks forced a Falcons punt with 6:30 left in the first half. My feeling was that if we could take five minutes off of the clock, score a touchdown, and go to halftime with a 10 point lead we would be in great shape for the second half. We scored a touchdown but it only took us 57 seconds to do so. The Lynch-Wilson-Kearse flea flicker gave the Seahawks a 13-3 lead. Then after forcing an Atlanta punt the Seahawks drove another 2:01 and kicked a 44-yard field goal. 16-3 Seahawks. The Seahawks once again forced a Falcons punt and got the ball with 1:03 left in the first half and with one second left Russell Wilson threw a 6-yard touchdown pass to Golden Tate to give the Seahawks a 23-3 halftime lead. The hope of a five minute drive resulting in a touchdown going to halftime turned into 17 points on 3 separate scoring drives in under 6 minutes going into halftime. By the time halftime finally arrived, the Seahawks had a 20 point lead, complete control of the game, and all of the momentum heading into the second half.

You can thank the defense for giving the offense these opportunities. The Seahawks defense played one of their best games of the season in all phases against the Falcons. They held Atlanta to 4/12 on 3rd down conversions, they sacked quarterback Matt Ryan twice, Walter Thurmond recovered a fumble late in the game, and what is most impressive to me; after allowing 200+ rushing yards in each of their last two games the Seahawks defense held Atlanta to 64 total rushing yards on Sunday. Bobby Wagner led all defenders with 9 tackles and Thurmond stepped in for an injured Brandon Browner and recorded 7 tackles of his own as well as two tackles for loss. Falcons receiver Roddy White had only one catch for 20 yards and on that play he was not covered by Richard Sherman. Although Sherman did not do anything super flashy, he was very successful in covering and limiting separation of the Atlanta receivers. Sherman may have had his best game of the season from a pass coverage perspective. A defense performance like the one we had on Sunday could carry serious confidence into our next two games which happen to be at home.

Fast Forward: The Seahawks were able to dominate the Falcons without 5 starters. Max Unger and Red Bryant were inactive dealing with concussions and I expect them to be ready for next week. Breno Giacomini and Russell Okung are both eligible to play next week and both practiced with the team last week and will continue to do so this week. It is very possible that we will have our opening day offensive line back healthy for next week’s game. As if our team’s health could be any better, Adam Schefter of ESPN is also reporting that wide receiver Percy Harvin is expected to make his Seahawks debut next week as well. If all of these players are back I believe that the Seahawks are going to be too dangerous to stop in the coming weeks. Just imagine what today’s game would have looked like if we were completely healthy. I am starting to get very excited about what is on the horizon for this team. A dominant performance next week and I would not be surprised to see the Seahawks penciled in for the NFC West title and home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs.

Thoughts on Atlanta: How can a team go from being 10 yards away from the Super Bowl one season to being on the verge of a top-5 NFL Draft pick the next? The Atlanta Falcons have talent but they did not seem to play with any fire on Sunday. I think it is safe to say that the Falcons have mailed their season in. In Atlanta, fans, media, and Falcons personnel believe that Mike Smith is the best coach in Falcons history and to me it would be unfair to pull the plug on his tenure after this season, as he has taken the Falcons to the playoffs in 4 of his first 5 seasons. The Falcons could be right back to being one of the NFL’s elite teams next season and it would be wise to use their top draft pick next year on the best defensive player available as Atlanta is already quite loaded on the offensive side of the ball.

Random Thoughts: The Seahawks went with the white jersey/ blue pants combination for the first time this season. It looked pretty good if I do say so myself… The Seahawks have now tied the 1983 Seahawks and the 2005 Seahawks for most regular season wins on the road. One more win on the road would give us the franchise single season record and I think would lead to us having the best regular season record in team history… The Falcons drum line was pretty annoying to listen to throughout the game. The microphone seemed to be right next to them. I don’t know if that’s just me or not but the drumming got to be more annoying as the game wore on… What was up with that unnecessary roughness penalty on Michael Bennett? Bennett sacked Matt Ryan but because he tackled him at the knees they awarded Atlanta with a 15-yard personal foul penalty instead of it going as a Seattle sack. So I guess you can’t tackle the quarterback anymore? Just another example of how questionable the officiating is and how the NFL is becoming continually sissified for player safety… Mac and Jack’s is one of the best beers out there. Glad we got a growler of it for this game… I have to give massive props to the Seahawks fans that traveled to Atlanta for this game. It seems like more and more fans are starting to travel with the team. San Francisco is our next road game and is the closest distance to Seattle of any other team. I can only imagine how many Seahawks fans are going to make the trip to Candlestick next month just like I am… I have to give even bigger props to the little kid who showed off his dance moves in the fourth quarter. I was very impressed and I got a really good laugh out of it. Even though I consider myself to be a pretty good dancer, I must say that kid could probably beat me in a dance-off… Thank god the 49ers lost to Carolina… With two straight home games coming up now is the time to create some serious space between us and San Francisco.

Seahawks Divisional and Playoff Outlook: For the rest of the regular season I will feature a Seahawks playoff outlook in my game previews and game reviews which will feature current projected seedings, matchups to watch, and potential clinching scenarios.

With the Seahawks win over the Falcons and the 49ers loss to the Carolina Panthers the Seahawks currently hold a 2 ½ game lead on San Francisco in the NFC West. Next week San Francisco travels to New Orleans to play the red-hot Saints while the Seahawks host the Minnesota Vikings. As it stands now, if the Seahawks win their next two games and the 49ers win their next three games heading into our week 14 matchup in San Francisco, the Seahawks could clinch the NFC West championship with a win over the 49ers. Things can and will change between now and the next three weeks however so do not get too excited just yet 12th Man.

Make sure to check back on Saturday as I preview our week 11 matchup with the Minnesota Vikings. Thanks for reading. Go Hawks!

Seahawks/Falcons Preview

9 Nov
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Photo Credit: seahawks.com

Matchup: Seattle Seahawks at Atlanta Falcons

Site: Georgia Dome (Atlanta, Georgia)

Kickoff: 10:00am

On January 13th in the NFC Divisional playoffs, the Seahawks erased a 27-7 deficit and with 31 seconds remaining in regulation, the Seahawks held a 28-27 lead over the Atlanta Falcons. If they had held Atlanta it would have been the biggest comeback in franchise history and would have carried the Seahawks to the NFC Championship Game. Key words: would have. The Seahawks could not protect 35 yards in less than 30 seconds and the Falcons kicked a game winning field goal to win the game and end Seattle’s season.

Revenge is a dish best served cold.

On Sunday, the Seahawks return to the Georgia Dome to face a 2-6 Falcons team that has arguably been the NFL’s most disappointing team of the 2013 season. The Seahawks are 8-1 and are looking to maintain their NFC West lead and while the Falcons have not mailed their season in just yet, they are looking to play spoiler and try to build some sort or momentum into the weeks ahead. Seattle leads the all-time series with Atlanta 8-6. Here is what you need to watch for this week against the Falcons.

Last week at home the Seahawks patchwork offensive line did not allow a sack of quarterback Russell Wilson but the pressure provided by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense did flush him out of the pocket on many plays. Two weeks ago against the Rams, Wilson was sacked 7 times. That game was on the road and parallels what Wilson and the offensive line faces again this week. Until Russell Okung and Breno Giacomini come back from their injuries I feel obligated to continually make the Seahawks offensive line and passing game my number one thing to watch on offense, especially in road games. After the pressure patterns that have forced Wilson out of the pocket the past couple of weeks, I believe screen passes must be a focal point of our offensive gameplan against the Falcons. Last week against Tampa Bay Doug Baldwin led all Seahawks receivers with 75 receiving yards and a touchdown. Baldwin must make a big impact again this week. Of passes caught by wide receivers last week, all but one went to three different receivers (Baldwin, Golden Tate, and Jermaine Kearse). Ricardo Lockette and Bryan Walters made no impact in last week’s game and I believe it will be the same story this week in Atlanta. The wild-card this week will be Golden Tate. Tate can catch screen passes while also creating room to run in the open field and he can go up and grab deep passes. If Baldwin is used short and if Kearse is targeted for moderate-length passes, it will be Tate that Atlanta should worry the most about, as he can catch any type of pass that Darrell Bevell calls.

“Roddy White? Top 100? No. I just don’t think he’s a top 100 player.” This came from cornerback Richard Sherman during NFL Network’s “Top 100 Players of 2013” countdown during this past offseason. After Sherman’s trash talk going into last year’s Divisional playoff game and after White beat Sherman on a deep 47-yard touchdown early in that game there has been subtle tension between these two players over the past 10 months. Call it a rivalry or call it a competition, this matchup will be the one to keep an eye out for when the Seahawks are on defense. White has not played since October 7th when he injured his hamstring and he believes he will be ready to go this week. With Julio Jones out for the season, White, regardless of his health status, instantly becomes the Falcons number one wide receiver moving forward with Harry Douglas on the opposite side.

Although I suggest keeping an eye on Sherman and White, that does not mean I think that is the most important matchup for the Seahawks on defense. The secondary has done a good job shutting down receivers wide and deep the past few weeks and this week should be no different. What hurt us down the stretch of last year’s playoff game could be the same thing that gives the Seahawks defense problems this week; stopping the middle of the field and shutting down Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez. If Seattle can stop the Atlanta running game to force third downs, Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan likes to throw in Gonzalez’s direction in the middle of the field. A strong performance by Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright could limit Gonzalez’s effectiveness and will force punts. Man-to-Man coverage and limiting separation for the Falcons wide receivers could be a big ally for the Seahawks this week. Expect a conservative passing game from Ryan this week to prevent throwing into the Legion of Boom.

One of the weaknesses of the Seattle defense over the past two weeks has been stopping the run. They’ve given up an average of 202.5 rushing yards per game over this span. That does not bode well against the Falcons as they feature two very talented, yet very different running backs; power back Steven Jackson and the speedy, agile Jacquizz Rodgers. Having said this, the Falcons rank last in the league in rushing yards per game. If the Falcons are competitive and make this a close game, I believe it will be because of Jackson and Rodgers. The difference in running styles could be a disadvantage for a Seahawks defense that tends to gravitate towards making bone-rattling hits instead of fundamental tackling. The potential absence of defense end Red Bryant could also play a factor in the effectiveness of the Falcons running game. On the other hand, the Seahawks have seen Jackson twice a year dating back to 2004 so they understand what it takes to stop him. I believe if the Falcons offense shows they can be productive in the running game early on, they will try to ride Jackson and Rodgers for most of the game. One other thing to note in the Atlanta running game is the way carries are split. In their last two games, Steven Jackson has gotten 77.4 percent of the carries while Jacquizz Rodgers has gotten the remaining 22.6 percent. I think it is safe to expect a more even split-up of carries this week and the hotter hand could wind up seeing more playing time. To start the game however, expect Steven Jackson to get the first chance in the backfield and if he gets off to a cold start, they may hold off on giving Rodgers carries to try to see if they can get Jackson going later on in the first half.

The Falcons have added many new faces on defense this season and they feature an interesting mix of veteran leadership and youth in each level of the defense. According to the official Falcons depth chart on their website, their three starting linebackers have 4 years of NFL experience combined, including two rookies. It will be necessary to spotlight how the Falcons use these young linebackers when rushing the passer. Although Atlanta averages only 2 sacks per game they are facing their easiest challenge of the season as they will go up against both Paul McQuistan and Michael Bowie on the left and right sides respectively. My X-Factor player to watch this week for the Falcons is rookie outside linebacker Joplo Bartu. Bartu is tied for 3rd on the team with 2.5 sacks on the season and has also recorded 42 tackles which ranks 2nd on the team. Although veteran pass rushers Osi Umenyiora and Corey Peters have been productive and cannot go unnoticed, Bartu adds a dynamic in the second level of the Atlanta defense that could give both our passing game and running game trouble. Don’t be surprised to see the Falcons use Bartu in blitz formations against Seahawks right tackle Michael Bowie. Whether he blitzes on any given play or not, the confusion that Bartu could potentially create could allow Umenyiora, Peters, or a different Falcons defensive end to beat Bowie off of the line, creating problems for Russell Wilson and the Seattle offense.

Random Thoughts: After this game 4 of our remaining 6 games are at home. I may be stating the obvious but that is a huge advantage for us moving forward… Along the same lines (sort of) I am going to one of our remaining two road games so after we play Atlanta I will only watch one more regular season Seahawks game on television… Kevin Burkhardt and John Lynch have the call for FOX this week. The last Seahawks game they broadcasted was our loss to the Indianapolis Colts in week 5. Bad omen? Maybe… Bill Vinovich is the referee this week… My prediction: white jerseys and white pants this week, the same combination we wore in Atlanta in the playoffs last season… It’s sad that Tony Gonzalez came back for one final season to a “contender” but the Falcons season has not gone as they planned. If I were him I would have asked for a trade to a contending team at the trade deadline… This is our first 10am start since losing to the Colts… Only one more 10am kickoff after this game… A win in fantasy football this week would put me at 4-6 and a playoff push could be in my future… The Falcons do something that really annoys me. Try to hear the Georgia Dome PA announcer when the Seahawks offense faces a 3rd down. The announcer says ttttttthhhhhhhhiiiiiiirrrrrrrddddddd down with increasing pitch tone, kind of like a game show announcer if you know what I mean. Hopefully we won’t face many third downs on offense… Go Panthers. Go Cowboys… Once again, here’s the bold prediction I have told my friends and I have posted on the blog before. If we beat Atlanta this week, we will win the NFC West and will be well on our way to home field advantage in the NFC playoffs.

Prediction: I hope you guys are back to full health after the heart attacks the Seahawks gave us last week because this week is going to be the exact same story. Over the past couple of seasons there seems to be one game per year that leaves me beyond angry; closer to pissed off. It was our 6-3 loss to the Cleveland Browns in 2011 and our 24-21 loss to the Miami Dolphins in 2012. I get a bad feeling that it could be this game this season. The Falcons will be effective in the running game and I believe we will have significant trouble stopping the Falcons offense on third down. This game will go to overtime and the Falcons will drive down the field on their first possession and score a touchdown. If the Seahawks can win the turnover battle I think we can win but I think the Falcons will find a way to pull this one out.

We have played terrible football overall the past two weeks and unfortunately this week on the road is when I think it will finally nip us in the bud. We are the better team. Unfortunately we are not completely healthy and we would definitely win this game if we were completely healthy. Of course I hope I am wrong but with the way Seattle has played the past couple of weeks you need to take a good look in the mirror if you seriously expect the Seahawks beat the Falcons easily this week, especially on the road in a hostile environment.

Falcons 26, Seahawks 20 (OT)

Check back Sunday night for my Seahawks/Falcons review and a quick look at week 11 against the Minnesota Vikings. Enjoy the game and go Seahawks!

Review: Seahawks 27, Buccaneers 24 (OT)

3 Nov
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Photo Credit: seahawks.com

Like I said on Facebook after this game, I might be dead by the end of the season because of all these close calls, panics, and heart attacks. After a sluggish first half the resilient Seahawks completed the largest comeback in franchise history, defeating the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 27-24 in overtime. The Seahawks are now 8-1 and have a 1 ½ game lead on San Francisco for the NFC West lead. The Buccaneers free-fall continues as they go to 0-8 on the season. There are a lot of similarities between this game and week 8 against the St. Louis Rams. Here is what I saw.

Offensive Line Epicenter of Offense’s Struggles: It may be old news but after another mediocre performance, it is clear that we must get Russell Okung and Breno Giacomini back on the field to fix our offensive line. Michael Bowie struggled again against a surprisingly good Buccaneers pass rush on Sunday. Although the offensive line did not allow a sack of Russell Wilson, Wilson had to rely heavily on screen passes and quick throws due to the consistent collapse of the pocket. Marshawn Lynch had a great game on the ground rushing 21 times for 125 yards but it was the passing game that really had trouble gaining momentum. If a team becomes one-dimensional it becomes much easier to gameplan how to stop them. Without Okung and Giacomini the Seahawks ideally would be trying to frontload the offense with rush attempts but we continually are trying to figure out how to move the ball through the air. The problem however is that we haven’t done a very good job figuring out how to fix that diagnosis. Pete Carroll hopes to have Okung and Giacomini back at practice this week and if Giacomini can play next week in Atlanta we may have a good chance of fixing this problem and being more efficient in the passing game.

Run Defense Baffles Me: The Seahawks defense has played healthy the past two weeks, meaning that no backups have had to start in place of injured starters. In their last two games the Seahawks have allowed 405 rushing yards; an average of 202.5 per game. These numbers are beyond unacceptable and they make me scratch my head. Mike James had his way on the ground this week running 28 times for 158 yards. The Tampa Bay offensive line helped a lot due in large part to their blocking scheme. I believe that our problem stopping the run is a combination of the offense blocking well and that our defense is on the field longer due to our own offensive struggles. It is a chain reaction. If our offense can drive the ball our defense will stay rested and not get as worn down and tired as they currently seem to be. It is becoming very frustrating to see opponent’s offenses moving the ball so easily on the ground. Next week will be a big challenge for the Seahawks run defense with Steven Jackson, who is very tough to stop and tackle.

Thomas Makes Play of the Game: Earl Thomas drew a lot of ire from me today for his attempts to jar the ball loose rather than wrap-up and fundamentally tackle the ball carrier but I believe one play he did make changed the outcome of the game. On their final drive of regulation, the Buccaneers faced a 3rd and 7 at their own 46-yard line. They were roughly 15 to 20 yards away from field goal range. Quarterback Mike Glennon scrambled to the left trying to find an open receiver and he decided to tuck the ball and run. As soon as he tucked the ball, I saw Earl Thomas fly from the middle of the field to the far sideline to help make the tackle, bringing up 4th down and a Tampa Bay punt. Believe me, when I say fly I mean FLY. I have not seen Thomas run that fast so far this season and he has come in fast to make a couple big tackles this season. Without that effort Glennon may have picked up the first down, extended the drive, and the way their offense was moving the ball they would have probably lined up for a game-winning field goal attempt. The tackle by Thomas ended the drive, gave the Seahawks the ball back, and we wound up winning the game in overtime. There is no doubt in my mind that this was the play of the game and was the difference between an 8-1 record and a 7-2 record.

Don’t Panic: The Seahawks trailed the Buccaneers 21-0 at one point and were down 21-7 at halftime; a 14 point deficit. We trailed the Washington Redskins by 14 at halftime last season, came back, and won. We trailed the Atlanta Falcons 20-0 at halftime the week after, came back, and nearly won. We trailed the Houston Texans 20-3 at halftime back in September, came back, and won. Although the game was not going our way in the first half, myself and everyone sitting around me were thinking the same things: we are at home, we were playing the winless Buccaneers, and we have done this many times before. Never once did I seriously worry about the possibility of losing this game. Russell Wilson said following today’s game that “if there’s any time on the clock, we have a chance” and he is exactly right. Our defense held Tampa Bay to 3 second half points and once our offense started to get going the belief was that we would make a comeback. The resiliency of this Seahawks team is cannot be overstated. No matter what the deficit is the Seahawks have proved time and time again that they can comeback. Never count us out of any game, regardless of how many points we are down by.

Thoughts on Tampa Bay: If it is true that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have a broken locker room and that the players have a broken relationship with head coach Greg Schiano they sure do not play like it. The Buccaneers have a lot of talent on both sides of the ball and the way Mike Glennon came into our hostile environment and dominated us in the first half, Tampa Bay just might have their quarterback of the future. I was really impressed with Glennon’s poise which is reflected in the fact that the Buccaneers did not commit any turnovers on Sunday. If it comes down to the two remaining winless teams, it will be the Jacksonville Jaguars who will pick first in next year’s draft. Things may be looking up for the Buccaneers in the coming weeks if they play like they did today. Greg Schiano may not be around for much longer but the next head coach of the Buccaneers is inheriting a very good group of players.

Random Thoughts: Steven Hauschka is becoming the new Josh Brown; Mr. Clutch… Blue Jerseys and blue pants once again this week… Mike Carey’s crew made a few very questionable calls this week. It really seems like he’s had it out for us in the games he’s officiated over the past few years… The 1983 Seahawks reunion and ceremony was really cool. I really enjoyed all of the highlights they showed from that season throughout the game. It was too bad that the 14-point halftime deficit kind of put a damper on the halftime ceremony though… Steve Largent raised the 12th Man flag representing his 1983 Seahawks teammates… Sunday’s sideline celebrity was Rainn Wilson of “The Office” fame… Security was beefed up in our section this week. It was pretty abnormal. I think it may have been because of the Skittles shower that was complained about at the last home game. Good thing I’m not bringing Skittles anymore… It took longer than usually for The Hawks Nest bar to fill up during the morning games. Good thing we were able to get a table… Fall days when it is sunny throughout the game are arguably the best kind of settings… Oh boy if we can get past Atlanta next week I say playoff fever starts early!

As always thanks for reading everybody. Check back for my preview of next week’s playoff rematch against the Atlanta Falcons next Saturday. Go Hawks!