Archive | November, 2014

Review: Seahawks 19, 49ers 3

27 Nov
Photo Credit: The Seattle Times

Photo Credit: The Seattle Times

Perhaps I need to have a little more faith in this team. After a morning and afternoon full of worry and anxiety the Seahawks made sure they turned Thanksgiving into Hawksgiving, thumping the San Francisco 49ers 19-3. In my mind this is the most complete game the Seahawks have played all season long and it is extremely encouraging to see this team start to click at the most important point in the season. The Seahawks improve to 8-4, strengthening their chances at a playoff berth while also keeping their chances at the NFC West title intact. The 49ers fall to 7-5 and are in serious jeopardy of missing out on the playoffs altogether. There is so much good to talk about so let me get right into it.

Seahawks Find a Way to Move the Ball: Tonight the Seahawks found several different ways to move the ball thanks in large part to the pass protection of quarterback Russell Wilson by our offensive line. Screen passes and runs off-tackle made up a lot of our offensive yards and it seemed like the 49ers defense did not have an answer for making tackles in the open field. The running game got off to a slow start but the Seahawks were able to adjust throughout the game and Marshawn Lynch had more success later on in the game. The only knock I have on our offense was that it seemed as though we were allergic to the redzone, whether it was due to penalties or because of plays accruing negative yards. It seemed like whenever the Seahawks got into field goal range they stayed in field goal range. It would have been nice to see the Seahawks turn a couple of their 4 field goals into touchdowns.

Unsung Hero: Marshawn Lynch found a way to run for 104 yards on 20 carries but the play of Robert Turbin really impressed me in this game. While Lynch took care of business on the ground the presence of Turbin in the passing game made a significant difference. Turbin scored the only touchdown of the game, a 13-yard pass from Russell Wilson which gave the Seahawks a 7-0 lead in the first quarter. He also added a 34-yard catch later on in the first half. When the dust settled Turbin was the Seahawks second leading receiver on the night. I would like to see Turbin in an expanded role as we move forward. The threat of him catching passes out of the backfield could be a good decoy to use in the coming weeks.

General Thoughts on Seahawks Defense: The Seahawks defense simply played their best game of the season. All aspects of the unit played quality football this week. The front seven contained San Francisco running back Frank Gore to only 28 yards on 10 carries. The linebackers helped hold the 49ers to only a 36 percent third down conversion rate. Kam Chancellor made several punishing hits on 49ers receivers and Richard Sherman and Byron Maxwell combined only allowed one pass to be completed on them. All this is fantastic but above all else I am mostly satisfied with the pass rush that FINALLY put continuous pressure on the opposing quarterback. The Seahawks defense totaled 4 sacks this week and defensive end Cliff Avril added a pair of quarterback hits. Seattle’s defense accomplished everything it wanted to in this game and I am convinced that the complete unit which was missing for the majority of the season is finally back.

How Fitting: It had been 10 months since the Seahawks beat the 49ers in the NFC Championship. It had been 10 months since Richard Sherman called out San Francisco receiver Michael Crabtree during the postgame celebration. In the months that followed Sherman solidified his place as arguably the most hated player in the National Football League. How fitting is it that in the first game between these two teams since January that Sherman has his best game of the season. Sherman made his presence known on the field on Thursday and he made the most of his opportunities, as he played a near-perfect game. Sherman did not allow a catch and he also intercepted 2 Colin Kaepernick passes. Given the history between Sherman and the 49ers, I could not help but love his post-play antics which included blowing kisses to the crowd and partaking in eating turkey postgame on the 49ers logo alongside fellow co-player of the game Russell Wilson. Sherman finishes the month of November with 3 picks. Let’s see if he can keep that momentum going into December.

Penalties Still Problematic: After Sunday’s win over Arizona head coach Pete Carroll called out the team by saying he “has had it up to here” with the number of penalties we commit and the amount of penalty yardage we continue to give up on a week to week basis. This week our penalty problems continued. On Thursday night the Seahawks committed 14 penalties totaling 105 yards while the 49ers only committed 3 penalties for 20 yards. Many of Seattle’s penalties were procedure penalties that should be easily corrected yet continue to give us trouble. Fortunately those kinds of penalties did not result in a fresh set of downs for the 49ers offense but we could have been worse off if they had resulted in San Francisco first downs. The Seahawks have 10 days to make the necessary changes to make sure we are not as penalized when we play Philadelphia.

Thoughts on San Francisco: This San Francisco 49ers team has completely lost its identity. The defense looked average at best while the offense looked terrible. Following their win last week head coach Jim Harbaugh called Colin Kaepernick a “great quarterback with a capital G.” Tonight however he looked more like “garbage with a capital G.” The 49ers essentially need to win the rest of their games to even have a chance at making the playoffs and the way they played this week leads me to believe that will not happen. To make things worse, people are already talking about Harbaugh not even lasting through the end of this season. This team has talent but they are a mess on both sides of the ball. We have 18 days until we play them again in Seattle but from where I am sitting right now I believe that this team is in definite need of a culture change.

Random Thoughts: The Seahawks did in fact go with wolf grey for this game. That means we will white for our remaining road games in Philadelphia and Arizona. With the win the Seahawks are now 5-0 all-time in wolf grey… I thought the “Beat the Seahawks” banner that the 49ers fans held up at the opening kickoff was funny… The 49ers have failed to establish any kind of home field advantage at Levi’s Stadium. That is pretty sad. I have heard that Levi’s is nothing like Candlestick Park. What I mean by that is that their new stadium is very corporate and more fit for the affluent residents of the south bay. The 49ers lost their swagger as soon as they left Candlestick. Hopefully I get to give Santa Clara a visit for next year’s game… Here’s a fun drinking game idea. Every time Cris Collinsworth says something like “this is going to be a physical game” or “these teams like to brawl,” take a shot. Collinsworth’s commentary was annoying me pretty bad as the game wore on… Seeing Wilson and Sherman stuff their faces with turkey after the game is one of the greatest images I’ve seen in a long time. What made it better was that Sherman complained that NBC provided no spices for the turkey and Wilson complained that there was no macaroni and cheese on the table… If we win next week do you think we run the table? I am starting to think it is a definite possibility… These Sunday games are going to be so much sweeter knowing we have already won our game for the week.

Check back next week as I preview the Seahawks week 14 game against the Philadelphia Eagles. I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving. I want to thank you for the continuous support of this blog. It means a lot. Go Seahawks!

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Seahawks/49ers Preview

26 Nov
Photo Credit: Seahawks.com

Photo Credit: Seahawks.com

Matchup: Seattle Seahawks at San Francisco 49ers

Site: Levi’s Stadium (Santa Clara, California)

Kickoff: 5:30pm

For the fourth time in team history and the first time since 2008, the 12th Man is rewarded with the ultimate Thanksgiving trifecta; family, food, and Seahawks football. This week the Seahawks travel to the Silicon Valley to play the San Francisco 49ers in the third game of the NFL Thanksgiving tripleheader. This will be the first time the Seahawks play at the 49ers new home, Levi’s Stadium and they hope that a change of scenery in the Bay Area will bring us good luck. The Seahawks have lost 5 straight road games against the 49ers. The Seahawks lead the all-time series with the 49ers 16-15 and their last meeting has gone down as one of the greatest games in Seahawks history. To refresh your memory Seattle beat San Francisco 23-17 in the 2013 NFC Championship Game, culminating in “The Tip;” Richard Sherman’s tipped pass intended for Michael Crabtree which was intercepted by Malcolm Smith which sealed the win for Seattle and sent the Seahawks to Super Bowl XLVIII and an eventual world championship. Many people thought that the Seahawks and 49ers would be fighting for the NFC West title once again this season but right now this matchup will likely determine who has a leg up on securing just a wild-card playoff berth. The winner will also keep their chances of winning the division alive while the loser will be at a huge disadvantage for the rest of the season. Here is what I will be looking for on Thursday.

Just like last week I believe that the Seahawks may struggle to move the ball and score points. With Max Unger out another week and James Carpenter’s status at left guard up in the air the Seahawks offensive line may struggle once again to protect quarterback Russell Wilson, especially since we are playing on the road against a quality San Francisco pass defense. This week the Seahawks may need to get creative to move the ball. A heavy dose of Marshawn Lynch will be necessary and I would like to see offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell let Wilson run in a similar manner which parallels how they used him in the running game against Arizona last week. In the passing game I will have my eyes on Jermaine Kearse. I believe that Wilson may try to open things up on the outside and Kearse may be his primary read due to Kearse’s height advantage on San Francisco cornerbacks Perrish Cox and Chris Culliver.

I have full confidence that the Seahawks defense can stop 49ers running backs Frank Gore and Carlos Hyde. There are two main things our defense needs to do this week. The first is to spread out, putting pressure on 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick in the pocket but not allowing him to scramble to pick up big chunks of yards. The best way to do this may be to dial up more nickel and dime plays and send slot corner Jeremy Lane among over members of the secondary on blitzes. We haven’t see a lot of this so far in the season if at all, so to throw something at the San Francisco offense they have not seen on film may confuse them, giving us an advantage. The second thing the Seahawks defense needs to do is protect the middle of the field on possible intermediate and long third down conversion attempts. We were unable to get a sample of this last week with Drew Stanton at quarterback and after watching film we may see Kaepernick try to throw short passes near the first down marker unless we can put ample pressure on him to force bad throws. The Seahawks have struggled on stopping third down conversions on the road throughout the season.

One other thing I want to see this week is on special teams. I want to see solid coverage on kickoffs to not allow the 49ers to start their offensive drives with great field position. Last week the Seahawks started a lot of their drives with great field position and it may have made the difference between us kicking 4 field goals and having to punt. We cannot let the 49ers have a short field to work with because they will take advantage by moving the ball just enough to score some kind of points much like we were able to do on Sunday. Fundamental tackling will be more important and more of a focus this week than any other week.

Three seasons ago the San Francisco 49ers had the best defense in the league; a defense that did not allow a rushing touchdown through their first 15 games of the 2011 season. It was a defense that no team wanted to face. In the three years since, a lot of talent has come and gone but the 49ers still sport enough talent on defense to be one of the better units in the NFL. Aldon Smith continues to be one of the scariest pass rushers in football and defensive lineman Ray McDonald and linebacker Ahmad Brooks add veteran stability to the front seven. This week however I put a focus on the young, emerging talent of the 49ers defense. My X-Factor player to watch this week for San Francisco is rookie inside linebacker Chris Borland. Borland, from the University of Wisconsin, was a player that I wanted to see the Seahawks select in the middle rounds of the 2014 draft. With a season-ending injury to perennial all-pro Patrick Willis, Borland has gotten his opportunity to start and has made the most of it, compiling 71 tackles, a pair of interceptions, and an NFC defensive player of the week honor two weeks ago. In the 5 games since Willis’s injury, Borland has averaged almost 13 tackles per game. Borland is a ball hawk who will be in on almost every play especially in the running game. His awareness and ability to understand how a play is going to develop makes him a very scary weapon for the 49ers. Do not be surprised to hear Borland’s name on the television broadcast several times on Thursday night.

Random Thoughts: Earlier this week I tweeted to the Seahawks if this would be a #WolfGreyThanksgiving. I did not hear back and as of now it is unclear whether the Seahawks will wear white or wolf grey jerseys this week. With 3 more road games and one more opportunity to wear wolf grey, that gives us a 33 percent chance of wearing our alternates this week. The 49ers will wear their traditional look of red jerseys and gold pants… Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth have the call for NBC with Michele Tafoya reporting from the sidelines… I have no confirmation but I am hearing there is a strong possibility the referee for this week’s game is Tony Corrente… It’s disappointing that the Seahawks don’t get the chance to host this game. It would have been an incredible experience to move our family’s Thanksgiving dinner up to the early afternoon (or me skip it altogether), head down to the stadium and go to a game on a day where the entire country practically shuts down. That is the nice thing about the third Thanksgiving game the NFL added back in 2006. It gives other teams and cities other than Detroit and Dallas the opportunity to host a game on Thanksgiving. Hopefully one year in the not-so-distant future CenturyLink Field and the Seahawks get to host a game on Thanksgiving… Here are a couple of random Thanksgiving thoughts for the week. When it comes to turkey, dark meat is superior to white meat. Dark meat is moist and more flavorful. It is a shame that the majority of any given turkey is white meat and dark meat comes at a premium. Anybody who disagrees and has a valid argument as to why can comment or find me on Twitter @EricHansman… Stove Top is also my stuffing of choice. I know that is a topic of argument that I know I will not win… The good news and the bad news: The good news is that after this game we will have 10 days off to get ready for Philadelphia. The bad news is that we play this game, our biggest rival with a lot at stake on 4 days rest. If we can somehow come away with this win I believe our chances of making the playoffs exponentially skyrocket.

Seahawks Playoff Outlook: We are now at the point in the season where fans need to be aware of the Seahawks playoff chances and the playoff chances of the teams around us. It is finally time for me to fire up my weekly playoff outlook!

The Seahawks currently sit 2 games behind the Arizona Cardinals for first place in the NFC West. The winner of this game will gain a half game on Arizona while the loser will fall to 2 ½ games behind the Cardinals and will likely be competing for a wild-card playoff spot for the duration of the regular season. In my eyes, 2 of the other 4 NFC divisions will come down to two teams each. One of those teams will win the division while the other will be in the fight for a wild-card berth. Including Seattle and San Francisco, that means I believe 4 teams will be fighting for 2 wild-card spots. Here are this week’s games that have NFC playoff implications. Teams to note are bolded.

THURSDAY

Chicago (5-6) at Detroit (7-4)

Philadelphia (8-3) at Dallas (8-3)

SUNDAY

Arizona (9-2) at Atlanta (4-7)

New England (9-2) at Green Bay (8-3)

Prediction: Prepare to have your hearts broken 12th Man. The Seahawks will field a punt deep in their own territory with 3:30 left in the game holding a 13-6 lead. On first down Russell Wilson will roll to the right and throw a pass that is tipped up into the air. The pass will fall incomplete. Marshawn Lynch will take the second down handoff for a gain of 4 yards and San Francisco will call their final timeout. Wilson’s third down pass attempt will be batted down at the line of scrimmage. Instead of possibly getting the clock down to the two-minute warning, the Seahawks will punt and the 49ers will have roughly 3:00 to go 75 yards. A long Colin Kaepernick scramble deep into Seahawks territory will get the ball into the redzone and Kaepernick will scramble one more time for a touchdown with 25 seconds left to play. The Seahawks will lose yet another game thanks to the terrible play calling of offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell and the team will head back to Seattle 7-5. I hope I am wrong.

49ers 14, Seahawks 13

Check back late Thursday night or early Friday morning for my game review. Happy Thanksgiving and enjoy the game everyone. Go Seahawks!

Review: Seahawks 19, Cardinals 3

23 Nov
Photo Credit: Seahawks.com

Photo Credit: Seahawks.com

After what happened on Sunday afternoon it is hard for me to wonder what I was so worried about going into this week’s game. The Seattle Seahawks were able to keep their hopes at the NFC West division title alive as they easily defeated the Arizona Cardinals 19-3. With the win the Seahawks improve their record to 7-4 and with the Cardinals falling to 9-2 Seattle now sits two games behind Arizona for first place in the division. As refreshing as this win was and as great of a game we played on defense, I saw a few things on offense that still have me worried. Let me share my brief thoughts on this game.

Special Teams Sets Offense Up For Success: Bryan Walters and DeShawn Shead played key roles in the success of the Seahawks special teams unit on Sunday. Walters had his longest punt return of the season, a 21-yard return at the end of the first quarter. Shead blocked an Arizona punt which gave the Seahawks the ball on the Cardinals 24-yard line which ultimately led to a Steven Hauschka field goal. The Cardinals gave Seattle the ball 9 times on punts, punt blocks, and missed field goals on Sunday. Four of those first 6 drives started from inside Arizona territory, giving the Russell Wilson and the rest of the Seahawks offense a short field to work with.

Offense Did Just Enough to Win: Going into this game I predicted that the entire Seahawks offense could be in for a rough day at the office from a statistical production standpoint. Thanks in large part to the special teams as previously noted, the offense was given fantastic field position on the majority of their drives. The frustrating part was seeing the Seahawks settle for 4 field goals on drives which started from the Arizona 49, the Seattle 44, the Arizona 48 and the Arizona 24 respectively. People get offended when they hear quarterback Russell Wilson referred to as a “game manager” but honestly that is what he had to be this week. Wilson played a fairly conservative game and the strategy worked well as he completed three-quarters of his passes, finishing the day 17/22 for 211 yards and a touchdown pass to tight end Cooper Helfet. On the ground Wilson was Seattle’s leading rusher after the dominant front seven of the Cardinals was able to bottle up Marshawn Lynch for the majority of the game, as I thought was definitely possible. If the Seahawks had started more of their drives from deeper inside their own territory we would be talking about a much sloppier, defense-oriented game.

Wilson Got Dirty: Take away the fact that the Seahawks were at home and take away the fact that we were playing a very sub-par opposing offense. The Seahawks will not survive another game like the one we played on Sunday if our pass protection of Russell Wilson does not improve. Wilson was sacked 7 times on Sunday, 5 of which came in the first half alone. This is the second time in Wilson’s career that he has been sacked 7 or more times in a game. The Seahawks offensive line struggled to pick up on Arizona’s blitz schemes all day long and there were several instances where Russell Wilson had no time to throw because the defender was coming at him unblocked. Having Alvin Bailey and Patrick Lewis starting on the interior offensive line is a big problem and I never thought I would say this, but I am really missing James Carpenter at left guard. If the Seahawks are forced to start the duo of Bailey and Lewis again on Thursday night, the Seahawks offense is going to have to get creative to outwit the outstanding pass rush San Francisco will throw at them.

Good to Have You Back, Bobby: Today the Seahawks defense played one of their best games of the season. The run defense in particular played lights out football. One of the main factors on defense was the return of middle linebacker Bobby Wagner. Wagner led all Seattle defenders in tackles with 8 and he was also able to hit Cardinals quarterback Drew Stanton once. The Seahawks held Cardinals running back Andre Ellington to 26 rushing yards on Sunday, the lowest number of yards allowed to an opposing running back all season. One other stat to note is Arizona’s third down conversion rate which was a mere 25 percent on Sunday. With the exception of Brandon Mebane the Seahawks defense is now at full strength when we need it the most. Having Wagner back will stabilize the middle of the field and I believe we will see significant improvement in the short passing game in the coming weeks. Drew Stanton did not perform well enough through the air to give us a sample of our short to intermediate pass defense. Next week against Colin Kaepernick that may be a completely different story.

Thoughts on Arizona: I think this is going to be an interesting stretch of the season for the Arizona Cardinals. The goal? Survive long enough to outlast the emerging Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers. I believe this team is a playoff-caliber team but I am not convinced that they can even hold on to win the NFC West. I understand not having Larry Fitzgerald really hurt their offense on Sunday but they had the talent in Michael Floyd and John Brown to be successful without him. This team will not get very far in the postseason the way they played today. Our week 16 matchup in Arizona will definitely give all of us a better gage as to where the Cardinals are headed come January.

Random Thoughts: All navy and all white for the Seahawks and Cardinals respectively this week just as I predicted… Gene Steratore is one of my favorite referees in the NFL but today I believe there were a few questionable calls that did not go in our favor and it seemed like those penalties all happened in a short window of time. In particular, I do not believe the pass interference called on cornerback Byron Maxwell was PI… 88 Keys is a great place to hang out before the game. Very spacious but there could have been more important games on the bigger televisions and projection screens… A lot of people were late for kickoff. There has to be a bigger effort for future 1:05pm starts to tell fans to get in their seats in time for the start of the game… Former UW and Seahawks safety Lawyer Milloy raised the 12th Man flag this week. I’ve always been a fan of Milloy, the man who helped groom half of the Legion of Boom (Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor)… The wiener dog races did not disappoint this year as the final heat ended in a photo finish… I need to get more sleep the night before home games. 5 hours of sleep had me feeling like a zombie on Sunday while at the game… We only have 4 days to get ready for once again the biggest game of our season which comes on Thanksgiving night.

In just 3 days I will have my preview of Thursday night’s game against the San Francisco 49ers fresh on the blog. Check back Wednesday. Go Hawks!

Cardinals/Seahawks Preview

22 Nov
Photo Credit: Seahawks.com

Photo Credit: Seahawks.com

Matchup: Arizona Cardinals at Seattle Seahawks

Site: CenturyLink Field (Seattle, Washington)

Kickoff: 1:05pm

The Seahawks are facing a situation that I did not expect us to be in with 6 weeks left in the regular season. With 6 games left, 3 of which coming at CenturyLink Field, we are now in a spot where the rest of our home games need to feel like playoff atmospheres. With the best team in the National Football League coming to town this week, what better motivation  to fire up the 12th Man? Five of our final 6 games are against NFC West opponents and this week the Seahawks host the Arizona Cardinals. The Seahawks are 6-4 and are in danger of falling out of the division title race for good with a loss. The Cardinals on the other hand are sitting in the same position the Seahawks were in last season. Arizona has a 9-1 record, a 3-game lead over Seattle and San Francisco for the NFC West lead, and clinching a playoff berth is within striking distance. Arizona leads the all-time series with the Seahawks 16-14. Their last meeting came in December of 2013 when the Cardinals came into Seattle and stunned the Seahawks 17-10, snapping the Seahawks 16-game home winning streak. I believe this game will be the toughest game we play at home all season. This is what must happen for the Seahawks to come away victorious.

There are two things the Seahawks offense must focus on this week. The first is to continue to effectively run the ball. This will be a challenge as the Cardinals boast the league’s third best run defense, allowing an average of 81 rushing yards per game. This week Seattle needs to get creative in the running game, using some sort of running back rotation as well as allowing Russell Wilson to use his legs to pick up yards. Last season the Cardinals did an incredible job of shutting down our offense and holding us to only 10 points. Arizona has a secondary with incredible talent and I believe that cornerbacks Patrick Peterson and Antonio Cromartie will do a good job of stopping our receivers, especially on the deep ball. I would not be surprised to see Russell Wilson have one of his worst days throwing the ball in recent memory. Our offense will only excel as much as our running game allows it to. A successful game in my eyes would be to run for between 100-125 yards. If we can get to three figures, I believe we can put ourselves in position to win the game.

The second thing the Seahawks offense must do is protect the ball. Points may come at a premium this week and the worst thing the Seahawks can have happen is to give the ball away, which would subtract the number of possible scoring opportunities we get. The Seahawks average just over one turnover per game at home this season, and they have played only one home game where they turned the ball over multiple times. If we can run the ball effectively our chances of turning the ball over on the ground are small. I believe any turnovers this week will be interceptions on forced throws made from Russell Wilson. There is a direct link between pass protection and turnovers. If we can keep Wilson clean, we will not turn the ball over.

Just like how I am putting an emphasis on preventing turnovers on offense, the number one priority on defense this week is to force Arizona turnovers. The Seahawks will be facing a quarterback in Drew Stanton who has never played a game in Seattle. The Cardinals have struggled all season long in the running game, averaging only 3.1 yards per carry. It is this number which leads me to believe our run defense can hold Arizona running back Andre Ellington to limited yards. The difference in this game will come in the Arizona passing game, which in turn puts the spotlight on the Seahawks pass defense. Stanton has only thrown 2 interceptions in 5 games this season, both coming against Detroit last week. It is crucial for the Seahawks to put pressure on Stanton to force him into bad throws. Cliff Avril, Michael Bennett, and Bruce Irvin must work cohesively this week to penetrate the Arizona offensive line. If we can force Stanton into hurried decisions or sacks consistently, it will be extremely difficult for the Cardinals to get anything going on offense.

The Arizona Cardinals sit at 9-1 without several notable defensive players including defensive end Darnell Dockett and linebacker Daryl Washington. It is the Cardinals defense that has me more worried about this home game than any other home game in recent memory. This week however I am focusing on the Cardinals offense. Arizona has several playmakers at the receiver position which will make for great matchups to watch on the outside. Richard Sherman and Byron Maxwell will have their hands full with Cardinals receivers Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd but I am most interested in seeing what happens out of the slot. My X-Factor player to watch for the Cardinals this week is their #3 receiver, rookie John Brown. If the Seahawks play a good game on defense it could come down on which team can make a big play on offense. The Cardinals definitely have a big-play guy in Brown. So far this season Brown has made 9 catches that have gone for 20 yards or more including three deep touchdown catches. If Brown lines up in the slot he will likely go up against Jeremy Lane. Brown’s speed however could set up an interesting matchup down the field between him and Earl Thomas. I would not be surprised to see Drew Stanton try to bomb it downfield for Brown at least once on Sunday.

Random Thoughts: The Seahawks will go with all-navy uniforms this week while the Cardinals will likely dress in all-white… Kevin Burkhardt and John Lynch have the call for FOX with Pam Oliver reporting from the sidelines. This is the first Seahawks game Burkhardt and Lynch have done all season. Since they are FOX’s #2 broadcasting crew I believe this means there will be a skycam at this week’s game, even though this is not the Sunday afternoon national game of the week… Gene Steratore is the referee this week… A reminder to everyone attending this week’s game. The game starts at 1:05 NOT 1:25. Make sure you are in your seats before kickoff. We need everyone to be ready to be loud… My guess as to who will raise the 12th Man flag is Randy Johnson. I know nothing that leads me to believe I am right. It is a completely random guess… The halftime show this week is the annual wiener dog races. This is the only halftime show that is consistently entertaining. There is always at least one dog that gets away and is hard to chase down… If we lose this game we will be 4 games out of first place in the NFC West with 5 games to play. In other words, we will have no chance to win the division if we lose this week. A win is crucial to our entire playoff push. We have little room for error. If we lose, this entire city will go into panic mode.

Prediction: In case you haven’t figured it out by now, I think this is going to be a low scoring game with neither team able to score 20 points. I think the Seahawks will have yet another goal-to-go opportunity this week and unlike last week, this time we will take advantage, giving the ball to Marshawn Lynch and having him punch it in for a touchdown. Larry Fitzgerald and John Carlson will catch touchdowns for the Cardinals but the difference will come in the kicking game. Three Steven Hauschka field goals, two of which coming off of Arizona turnovers will give Seattle a narrow victory, improving our record to 7-4.

Seahawks 16, Cardinals 14

The next week few days on the blog will be very busy. Check back late Sunday night for my review of this game. Go Seahawks!

Review: Chiefs 24, Seahawks 20

16 Nov
Photo Credit: kcchiefs.com

Photo Credit: kcchiefs.com

I don’t even know where to begin with this one. This is one of those classic Seahawks losses where we could have won, and the inability to convert on offense or make a stop on defense when we absolutely needed to the most cost us at the most inopportune times. The Seahawks started the most important stretch of the season on the wrong foot, losing to the Kansas City Chiefs 24-20 on Sunday afternoon. The Seahawks fall to 6-4 on the season and currently sit in 3rd place in the NFC West. The Chiefs improve to 7-3 and are now tied for first place in the AFC West. This week I am breaking my review down into three main parts: an offensive review, a defensive review, and a mild rant on a subject that I feel must be addressed.

Offense: The Seahawks offense played well enough to win this game. We moved the ball efficiently but we were unable to score points when we absolutely needed to. The Seahawks finished the day with 372 total yards, outgaining the Chiefs by 74 yards. This included 204 rushing yards primarily from Marshawn Lynch and Russell Wilson who combined for 195 of those rushing yards. What number sticks out to me the most is the yardage we gained on non-scoring drives. The Seahawks had 5 drives which resulted in either punts or turnovers on downs. On those 5 drives we moved the ball for 119 yards which to me seemed like an exceptionally high number for coming away with no points. The offensive line did a good job creating room for Lynch to run and Beast Mode did a very good job of picking up yards after contact once again. The offensive line however failed to protect Russell Wilson on passing downs late in the game resulting in two second half sacks, which made it very difficult to convert late in the game.

Defense: Whenever the Seahawks offense was able to put points on the board and take any momentum away from the Chiefs, our defense allowed Kansas City to take that momentum right back by allowing scoring drives. It seemed like it was only a matter of time before we could not keep going blow for blow with the Chiefs. I do not know if the loss of Brandon Mebane was the only reason why Kansas City running back Jamaal Charles had such a productive day on the ground, but it certainly did not help not having Mebane out there. I give a lot of credit to the Kansas City offensive line creating ample room for Charles and Knile Davis to run. I also applaud Charles’ running style, who I believe is the closest player to challenge Marshawn Lynch’s physicality when it comes to footwork and willingness to lower the boom to earn extra yards.

Alex Smith is the kind of conservative quarterback that will not throw interceptions unless he is facing intense pressure. Absent was the pass rush throughout the majority of Sunday’s game and as a result, we did not force Smith to throw any interceptions (even though we recovered two fumbles, winning the turnover battle 2-0).

I believe that the Seahawks defense is a broken unit plain and simple; a hollow shell of the 2013 record-setting defense. Injuries do not help and even though we had Kam Chancellor and Malcolm Smith back this week they did not have as big of an impact that I would consider to be normal contributions. Next week we will likely get Bobby Wagner back at middle linebacker but if we cannot stop the run moving forward we will be in big trouble.

Darrell Bevell: If it is not one thing that frustrates me about Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, it is another. In my game preview I called Bevell out. I did not want to see him try to outsmart the Kansas City defense and I wanted to see him keep his first down play-calling conservative by establishing the run. For the most part that is exactly what Seattle did, running the ball 61 percent of the time on first down (19/31). In this game it was not the first down play calling that has me hot, but two play calls on two separate fourth down plays that I believe cost us easy points and ultimately the game.

The first play came with 7:08 left in the game. On 4th and goal from the 2-yard line, Doug Baldwin and Paul Richardson ran crossing routes and Russell Wilson tried to hit Baldwin on a fade to the corner of the endzone. Wilson overthrew Baldwin, who was slightly pushed off of his route, and the Seahawks turned the ball over on downs. Two plays earlier the Seahawks had the ball 2nd and goal from the 4-yard line and elected to throw to Baldwin, then run the ball with Marshawn Lynch on 3rd down, then threw that fade to Baldwin on 4th down. With the way we had run the ball all day long with the ball that close to the endzone, why on Earth would you not try to punch the ball in with Lynch three consecutive times?! Instead Bevell got cute and it cost us a touchdown.

The second play call came with 3:31 left in the game with the Seahawks facing a 4th and 1 from the Kansas City 36-yard line. This time around the call did go to Lynch but he was stopped short of the line to gain, and the Seahawks once again turned the ball over on downs. The Seahawks lined up with three receivers to the right. I think a screen to Jermaine Kearse should have been the call, as we had shown we could be successful on screen passes earlier in the game.

Two botched play calls, zero points, and a loss.

I understand that in crunch time if a play is successful the offensive coordinator is touted as a genius and if it fails he is widely criticized. This season however I feel like whatever play Bevell dials up in these situations, me along with the majority of Seahawks fans would have called the complete opposite play, regardless of whether we convert or not. Frankly I am absolutely sick and tired of Bevell’s play-calling in high pressure situations. I hope that Bevell is in a position to be interviewed and accept a head coaching job somewhere come seasons end. Whether he is offered a new job elsewhere or he is fired, I do not want him on this staff in 2015. Overreaction or not, I believe it is time for the Seahawks to move on from Darrell Bevell.

Thoughts on Kansas City: Make no mistake this is a very good Kansas City Chiefs team. I believe you can make the argument that this team is better than the Chiefs team that went 11-5 last season. The Chiefs pass defense is as good, if not better, as advertised however the run defense needs some work. The run defense could be the difference between the Chiefs earning a wild-card berth and them challenging the Denver Broncos for the AFC West title. On offense, as long as Jamaal Charles can stay healthy this team will continue to control the momentum of their games, will put points on the board, and win. Alex Smith has only thrown 4 interceptions this season and his interception number will remain low as long as their offensive line can continue to adequately protect him. I believe this Chiefs team will make the playoffs and if their core players can avoid the injury bug this team could make a push deep into January.

Random Thoughts: The Seahawks went with the white jersey/blue pants uniform combination this week, the first time they have worn said combo in a meaningful game since Super Bowl XLVIII… I had brief discussions with a friend of mine at the beginning of the season about maybe traveling to Kansas City for this game. Good thing we didn’t make the investment. Not because we lost, but because of the weather. Sitting outdoors for over 3 hours in 19 degree weather is not my idea of a good time. Hopefully I am able to make a trip to Arrowhead Stadium in the not-so-distant future… Chiefs fans are loud. That was evident on the broadcast but the Seahawks did a good job of handling the crowd noise… The Seahawks are now 5-21 all-time playing at Arrowhead. Ugh… Seahawks tight end Tony Moeaki has one catch so far this season; a 1-yard touchdown catch today. It’s funny yet cool that his one catch was a touchdown scored against his former team… There were two things that needed to happen for the Seahawks to be within one-game of the NFC West lead by the end of Sunday. Those two things were a Seahawks win over the Chiefs and an Arizona Cardinals loss to the Detroit Lions. Neither of those things happened. Instead of being one game out of first place the Seahawks now sit 3 games back of Arizona with the Cardinals coming to town next week. From where I am sitting with the remaining schedule the Seahawks have it is highly unlikely we will be able to challenge Arizona for the division title. A loss to the Cardinals next week puts us 4 games out of first place with 5 games left, making our shot at the division title borderline impossible. We NEED a win next week no doubt about it.

I will be back on next Saturday when I preview next Sunday’s game between the Seahawks and the Arizona Cardinals. Thanks for reading. Go Hawks!

Seahawks/Chiefs Preview

15 Nov
Photo Credit: Seahawks.com

Photo Credit: Seahawks.com

Matchup: Seattle Seahawks at Kansas City Chiefs

Site: Arrowhead Stadium (Kansas City, Missouri)

Kickoff: 10:00am

42-21. This is the combined record of the remaining 7 opponents on the Seahawks schedule. The next seven weeks will be an all-out bloodbath and if the Seahawks can survive they will likely be playoff bound, perhaps even as the NFC West champions. This week starts arguably the toughest stretch of the rest of the season; 3 out of our next 4 games will be played away from CenturyLink Field. It starts this week in front of one of the toughest crowds in all of sports. The Seahawks head to Arrowhead Stadium to take on their former division rivals, the Kansas City Chiefs. The Seahawks are 6-3 and are coming off an impressive 38-17 win over the New York Giants. The Chiefs are red hot coming into this week, sitting at 6-3 having won their last 4 games in a row. Kansas City leads the all-time series with the Seahawks 32-18. The Seahawks have not beaten the Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium since 1999. In their last meeting the eventual AFC West champion Chiefs came into Seattle and beat the Seahawks 42-24 in 2010. Here are my thoughts and what I will be looking for in this game.

This week on offense I ask one simple favor of offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell. Please do not overthink your play calls in order to outsmart the defense. Too many times this season the Seahawks have passed the ball on first down, tried to run the ball on second down, and set themselves up for third and moderate or third and long, oftentimes resulting in fourth down and a change in possession. Personally I get very frustrated when this happens. Call me conservative but when you have weapons on the ground like Marshawn Lynch and Russell Wilson there should be no reason not to establish the run on first down. I believe controlling the clock and the tempo of the game via the running game is crucial this week. Specifically I would like to see the Seahawks continue to call designed runs for Wilson. Opposing defenses have been burned on Wilson quarterback keepers and bootlegs the past few weeks. The Seahawks have averaged 10 first half points in their road games this season but in their last 2 games on the road they have failed to score a touchdown. Having Wilson as a threat on the ground could translate into early game points, something that could make the difference between the Seahawks winning and losing this game. Last week the Seahawks broke the franchise record for rushing yards in a single game. I believe that if we can rush for at least 175 yards this week, we can come away victorious.

The Seahawks are getting healthier on defense this week with the return of safety Kam Chancellor. Unfortunately we take two steps back along the defensive line as starting defensive tackle Brandon Mebane is lost for the rest of the season with a torn hamstring. This week on defense I believe the most important position group to watch is the linebackers, mainly because of the quarterback they will be facing. Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith has been known to be a very conservative pocket passer. Even dating back to his days in San Francisco, Smith will rarely take shots down the field for large chunks of yards. With Malcolm Smith returning from injury this week, our linebacker corps is bolstered but I will have my eye on how Alex Smith plays the middle of the field patrolled by K.J. Wright and rookie Kevin Pierre-Louis who will make his first career start this week at outside linebacker. Keep an eye on the potential matchup between Wright and Kansas City tight end Travis Kelce, who has played a big role in the Chiefs offense in recent weeks. We must make sure we tackle well and not give Smith room to make easy completions.

There is one last thing the Seahawks offense must take into account. Does the number 142.2 mean anything to you? That is the new Guinness world record for “loudest crowd roar at a sports stadium” which was once again broken last month by Chiefs fans at Arrowhead Stadium. This week for the first time in a very long time, crowd noise could play a significant factor in the effectiveness of the Seahawks offense. Seattle has played in loud environments in the Russell Wilson era and we have done an exceptional job of handling the noise. If the Seahawks have several pre-snap procedure penalties this week, this could be a very long and frustrating game.

Believe it or not, the Kansas City Chiefs currently sport the best pass defense in the NFL, allowing an average of only 205 passing yards per game. The Seahawks offensive line will have their hands full with defensive end Justin Houston but I am afraid that the intense pressure from the Kansas City front seven will force Russell Wilson into bad throws. This could give the Chiefs secondary great opportunities to make plays and force turnovers. My X-Factor player to watch for Kansas City this week is cornerback Sean Smith. Smith is in the middle of his second season with the Chiefs and this season he leads all Kansas City cornerbacks in passes defensed with 10. He also has one of only 4 Chiefs interceptions on the year. Smith will likely face a lot of Jermaine Kearse and Paul Richardson on the outside, as he matches up better with them being 6-foot-3. The stats may not be there, but after watching film the Chiefs have a very underrated ball-hawking secondary on the whole. If the pass rush steps up and flusters Wilson, they will likely be given every opportunity to make game altering plays.

Random Thoughts: The Seahawks have one more opportunity to wear wolf grey this season and there is a 25% chance it will happen this week. However since we wore wolf grey in our last road game my guess is that we will wear white this week. The Chiefs will likely wear white pants with their red jerseys… Kenny Albert, Daryl “Moose” Johnston, and Tony Siragusa have the call for FOX this week… Bill Leavy is the referee this week and that really makes me mad. Leavy has already officiated one Seahawks game this season, our 30-23 loss to the Dallas Cowboys 5 weeks ago. There were some pretty questionable calls in that game. That scares me for what could be in store this week… The game time temperature in Kansas City is supposed to be in the high 20’s or low 30’s. Good thing we had that cold front come through Seattle this week. I’m glad the Seahawks prepared for the cold by practicing outside… I need a win in fantasy football this week. I believe a win would lock me into the playoffs. Among the guys in my starting lineup is Doug Baldwin. I would not mind a Baldwin touchdown at all this week (obviously)… I am glad the city of Seattle gets Lions/Cardinals in the 1pm time slot this week. I may have to skip RedZone in the afternoon so I can watch that game in its entirety… We need this win. A big load will be taken off of this team and the 12th Man if we can come away victorious. Add a Seahawks win with a Cardinals loss and that sets up the biggest game of the season next week at CenturyLink Field. Hopefully we can make it happen.

Prediction: I get this feeling watching the Seahawks play on the road that we have a 50/50 shot at coming away with the win. This week the individual matchups are in our favor from a physical perspective but I am not sold that the Seahawks can play a complete game. Although I think we will score a touchdown in the first half I think our offense will struggle early. With the Seahawks battling the crowd noise and both teams battling the cold I could see this being a relatively low scoring game. At the end of the day, the Chiefs will hold a 3 point lead and will be able to hold the Seahawks without points on their final drive of the game. The Chiefs will win and the Seahawks will fall to 6-4 (fingers crossed I am wrong).

Chiefs 20, Seahawks 17

Check back on Sunday night as I review this week’s game. Go Hawks!

Flex Appeal: Week 12 Cardinals/Seahawks Deserves Sunday Night Spotlight

10 Nov
Photo Credit: The Associated Press, via seahawks.com

Photo Credit: The Associated Press, via seahawks.com

The NFL has until Tuesday to determine whether to use flexible scheduling to move the Seahawks matchup against the Arizona Cardinals on November 23rd into Sunday Night Football and I believe they should do so because, simply put, both teams deserve it.

Let’s look at the cases for both the Cardinals and the Seahawks to be on Sunday Night Football. Arizona currently sits at 8-1 and in the standings they are the best team in football. When the schedule came out back in the spring the Cardinals had only 3 games scheduled on national television. NFL rules allow any individual team to play a maximum of 6 games per season in primetime, so the Cardinals would qualify to play on Sunday night week 12. The Seahawks are also eligible as they were only scheduled 4 primetime games when the schedule came out.

Personally I feel that the NFL owes the 12th Man one more primetime home game. As the defending world champions, many Seahawks fans were upset that we were only scheduled one primetime home game in 2014. Many felt that we deserved the opportunity to play in primetime more than once and this opportunity would surely make up for that original scheduling snub.

This game could also have major division implications. If the Cardinals and Seahawks both win this week, the Seahawks could have the opportunity to cut the Cardinals division lead down to one game in week 12. If the Cardinals lose this week to Detroit and the Seahawks win in Kansas City, that game will be for the NFC West lead, something that I would think NBC would love to have in primetime.

One reason why flexing this game could be unlikely is because these two teams are already scheduled to play on Sunday Night Football in Arizona week 16. It may be considered unlikely that NBC would be allowed to broadcast both Cardinals/Seahawks games this season. It also seems unlikely that FOX would miss out on the opportunity to broadcast the game in Seattle even though FOX did not protect the week 12 matchup. It has happened before however. FOX missed out on both Seahawks/49ers games in 2012; one went to NFL Network for Thursday Night Football and the other matchup, which was played in Seattle, was flexed to NBC to be played on Sunday Night Football.

The point of flexible scheduling is to replace a lesser matchup with one of significant importance. The current SNF matchup week 12 has the 7-3 Dallas Cowboys heading to New York to take on the 3-6 New York Giants. Honestly you cannot tell me a matchup featuring a combined record of 10-9 deserves to be on Sunday Night Football over a matchup featuring the 9-1 Cardinals and the 6-3 Seahawks. The only argument the National Football League can make to keep Cowboys/Giants in primetime is the “media market argument.” Rarely does the NFL want to flex out a matchup featuring one of the most popular franchises in football and the number one media market in the country. The league may find this reason to be completely valid but if you ask football fans around the country I am sure the majority would disagree. I believe it would be completely hypocritical of the NFL to keep this game in primetime, as it goes against what they state flexible scheduling is all about, for “teams to play their way into primetime.” That is exactly what I believe the Cardinals and Seahawks have done. They absolutely deserve the right to play on Sunday Night Football in week 12 instead of the Cowboys and Giants.