Tag Archives: AFC West

Broncos/Seahawks Preview

13 Aug
Photo Credit: Seahawks.com

Photo Credit: Seahawks.com

Matchup: Denver Broncos at Seattle Seahawks

Site: CenturyLink Field (Seattle, Washington)

Kickoff: 7:00pm

Football is finally back. Seahawks fans never really had the opportunity to wash the bad taste of last season out of their mouth. Malcolm Butler intercepted Russell Wilson at the end of Super Bowl XLIX and football faded to the back of our minds, leaving us bitter for 6 long months. On Friday the Seahawks take the field for the first time since that disastrous February evening, opening up preseason play against the defending AFC West champion Denver Broncos. This will be the fifth consecutive year the Seahawks and Broncos face off in the preseason with Seattle winning the last three matchups. Since this is the first preseason game we will not see the starters play very much, perhaps a series or two in the first quarter. This first preseason game will distinguish which position battles we should be keeping an eye on. This is also an opportunity for bubble players to make a good first impression. I will not really be focusing on the opposition during the preseason; I will keep my focus on our team, from roster spot 1 all the way to roster spot 90. Here are a few things I will be keeping my eye on this week.

The top offensive position to watch this season is the wide receivers. It is widely believed that the Seahawks will only keep 6 wide receivers on the final roster. Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse may be the only two “locks” at the position. I believe Ricardo Lockette, Paul Richardson, and rookie Tyler Lockett are in good position to earn roster spots. Realistically the final one or two wide receiver roster spots will belong to Chris Matthews, Kevin Norwood, and even possibly local kid Kasen Williams. Of “bubble” players I believe the one with the most catches and/or receiving yards against Denver will earn a leg up on the rest of the competition for a roster spot. Look for Norwood and Williams to get a considerable amount of playing time this week.

Right off the bat I am interested to see who will start along the offensive line. With the departures of Max Unger and James Carpenter, the Seahawks did not make it a priority during free agency or the first part of the NFL Draft to add depth along the line. Alvin Bailey is projected to start at left guard while Lemuel Jeanpierre is listed as the starting center on the Seahawks first official depth chart of training camp. Keep an eye on the center battle. Jeanpierre might get the first crack at playing time but it was Patrick Lewis who started in Unger’s place down the stretch last season.

On defense there is a lot of buzz around one of our linebackers. This week I am putting my X-Factor Player to Watch spotlight on outside linebacker Eric Pinkins. Pinkins was drafted as a cornerback who has converted to linebacker and the coaching staff is very excited about him. Coach Carroll has said during camp that Pinkins “Plays very fast, a 4.4 guy playing on the edge who seems to be the most improved guy.” This leads me to believe that Pinkins may join the likes of Bruce Irvin, Cassius Marsh, and rookie Frank Clark in our pass rushing rotation. I expect Pinkins to see a lot of playing time this week.

On the first Broncos offensive possession, likely with backup quarterback Brock Osweiler at the helm, I would fully expect him to go after the “Legion of Whom.” With Kam Chancellor holding out and Earl Thomas likely sitting out while rehabbing, our secondary will look completely different at the start of the game. DeShawn Shead will likely start at strong safety this week and I fully expect Osweiler to attempt to stretch the field to attempt to challenge our raw players and put early points on the board.

Random Thoughts: White on white for the Broncos and blue on blue for the Seahawks uniform wise this week… Curt Menefee and Brock Huard have the call for Q13 FOX this week. Got to love those local broadcasts (good thing I’ll be at the game)… Walt Anderson is the referee for this week’s game… This week I’m taking a friend and co-worker of mine. He’s a San Diego native who says he’s going to be “that guy” by wearing his Philip Rivers Chargers jersey. I don’t think I’ve ever been to a Seahawks game with someone who is neutral to the matchup… Will most likely be at Elysian before the game… I’m excited to see what the new Toyota Fan Deck looks like. During the renewal process the Seahawks sent out the seating and pricing map for 2015 and it turns out it would have cost me $20 more total to move to the Toyota Fan Deck. Pay more for a worse view? No thanks, Seahawks… Always nice to be back at CenturyLink after a 7 month break. Here is a pro and con of the preseason: Pro, all the beautiful women wearing skin-tight jerseys. Con, many season ticket holders give their tickets away to friends and family aka “fair weather fans.” During the preseason it would be wise for the Seahawks to pass out “Cheering for Dummies” books because the fans ALWAYS scream when we are on offense. To all those non STH’s going to this week’s game, offense = quiet; defense = loud. Thank you.

Prediction: A lot of rust will be knocked off this week. Neither starting offensive unit will score points in the first quarter. I expect Russell Wilson and Tarvaris Jackson to play in the first half and would not be surprised to see R.J. Archer play the second half. If Osweiler plays the majority of the game for Denver they may have the leg up this week. The Seahawks may lose, but there will be a lot to work on as we head back for another week of training camp.

Broncos 17, Seahawks 9

Check back early Saturday morning for my review of our first preseason game. Go Hawks!

#10for10 Game #10: Earl’s Coming Out Party (Chargers vs. Seahawks, 2010 Season)

11 Aug

*To commemorate my 10th season as a Seahawks season ticket holder, I am telling the stories of the top 10 home games I have attended in the past 10 years*

After getting back from a scorching hot weekend and disappointing loss in Denver the previous week, I returned home for the second home game of the year and the Seahawks looked to jump out to their first 2-1 start since 2007. I met my friend Jake before the game and we had lunch at Red Robin in downtown Seattle. Unfortunately we were both 20 years old at the time so we were not able to get into the bars around the stadium and pregame like we have in recent years. After finishing our burgers we walked up the waterfront and made our way into the stadium.

At the time the San Diego Chargers were the 4-time defending AFC West champions so this was one of the more attractive games on paper at the start of the season. There was however a thought that the Chargers window of opportunity was starting to close. This was a great chance for the Seahawks to show that they could compete in the NFC West in Pete Carroll’s first season as head coach. In the first half the Seahawks proved they could compete, jumping out to a 10-0 lead at halftime which included the first career interception for rookie safety Earl Thomas. The second half however, is what gives this game a spot on this list.

Photo Credit: Seahawks.com

Photo Credit: Seahawks.com

The second half started with a bang. Leon Washington returned the opening kickoff 101 yards for a touchdown, giving the Seahawks a 17-0 lead. San Diego never gave up, as they took their next drive 80 yards in just over two minutes to cut the Seattle lead to 10. After sacking Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck in the endzone for a safety, the Chargers drove into field goal range and connected on a field goal which cut our lead to 5 heading to the 4th quarter.

The Seahawks kicked a field goal giving them a 20-12 lead but the Chargers drove right back to make things interesting. Philip Rivers connected with Antonio Gates for a 12-yard touchdown, Rivers then completed the 2-point conversion to receiver Legedu Naanee to tie the game at 20-20. After dominating the first part of the game the Seahawks had given the game up and it looks as though San Diego had all the momentum. That momentum was taken right back on the next kickoff. Leon Washington returned the kickoff 99 yards for his second touchdown of the day, giving the Seahawks a 27-20 lead with 6:39 left in regulation. I remember my voice cracking as Leon broke away and when he started to high-step into the endzone Jake and I went absolutely nuts in the stands. With 1:38 left in the game the Chargers had one more chance to tie the game. San Diego drove the ball into the red zone but the game rested on a 4th and 15 with under a minute left to play. Rivers took the snap out of the shotgun, fired across the middle, and the pass was once again picked off by Earl Thomas at the goal line.

10for10 earl

As soon as Thomas jumped the receiver to intercept the pass I could see Pete Carroll throwing his headset off and jumping into the air to celebrate. We did the same at my seats. The Seahawks won what was arguably the most exciting home game of the season on this overcast yet muggy Sunday afternoon.

FINAL: Seahawks 27, Chargers 20

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!

Raiders/Seahawks Preview

1 Nov
Photo Credit: seahawks.com

Photo Credit: seahawks.com

Matchup: Oakland Raiders at Seattle Seahawks

Site: CenturyLink Field (Seattle, Washington)

Kickoff: 1:25pm

The Seahawks begin the month of November at home this week as they renew their old AFC West rivalry, hosting the Oakland Raiders. The Seahawks are 4-3 and are coming off a crucial win in Carolina last week. The Raiders have had a very lackluster season thus far and they are the only winless team left in the National Football League at 0-7. Last week the Raiders fell on the road to the Cleveland Browns 23-13. Oakland leads the all-time series with Seattle 29-24. In their last regular season meeting the Raiders demolished the Seahawks 33-3 in October 2010. That was head coach Pete Carroll’s first season in Seattle and since losing to the Raiders in 2010 the Seahawks hold a .606 winning percentage. Meanwhile in the exact same span, the Raiders winning percentage is a mere .317. Here are some things I will be looking for out of the Seahawks this week, as well as a special report on the Oakland Raiders.

I have pleaded for the Seahawks to get quarterback Russell Wilson more involved in the running game the past couple of weeks but this week I do not think it will be necessary for Wilson to run for the Seahawks offense to be effective. Instead, this may finally be the week that we see Wilson spread the ball around and get rookies Paul Richardson and Kevin Norwood their most action of the season. Richardson and Norwood combined for 5 targets last week. Both Wilson and Coach Carroll have stated that they hope to get both of these receivers more involved this week, but I am interested to see if they use them to accentuate their specific abilities. Could Richardson be used on fly sweeps and bubble screens much like how Percy Harvin was used? I think it is definitely possible. Could we see Wilson try to stretch the field and let Norwood use his size as an advantage to catch deep balls? I think Wilson may look Norwood’s direction deep at least once this week. If these two receivers combine for 75 or more receiving yards I think the Seahawks are in for a very successful day through the air.

At the end of last week’s game the Seahawks dialed up the pressure on Carolina quarterback Cam Newton and it worked like a charm in preserving the victory. This week the Seahawks defense needs to stick to that blueprint. At home in 2014 the Seahawks have averaged just over 1.5 sacks per game. This number must improve. After three home games last season the Seahawks averaged just above 2.5 sacks per game. Expect to see Bruce Irvin and K.J. Wright blitz on early downs this week and keep an eye on Wright who will be back starting at outside linebacker. If Raiders rookie quarterback Derek Carr has time inside the pocket it will be interesting to see how his reads progress in the middle of the field. The Seahawks will start rookie Brock Coyle at middle linebacker this week, who has seen little playing time on defense this season. Coyle is a solid tackler who tries to get in on every play but he has a long way to go to challenge for Bobby Wagner’s permanent starting job. It is not unreasonable to think Carr will try to throw short passes in the middle of the field to test Coyle and if Carr can catch the Seahawks off-guard, those passes could turn into large chunks of yards for the Raiders.

There is one major thing the Seahawks absolutely cannot do this week; overlook the Raiders. The Raiders may be 0-7, they may be the worst team in the NFL on paper, but there may be potential for this being a trap game. Remember what happened when the winless Tampa Bay Buccaneers came into CenturyLink Field last season? The 12th Man thought we would just roll right over them. Instead, the Buccaneers jumped out to a stunning 21-0 lead putting all Seahawks fans on edge. The Seahawks cannot play relaxed this week and the fans must be just as loud and intense this week as our other games this season. The Raiders have only lost two games so far this season by more than two scores, including two close games against AFC powers New England and San Diego. Oakland will absolutely get up for this week’s game, the question is will the Seahawks force them to sit right back down or will Oakland be able to put up a legitimate fight.

This week is a very special game for me. One of my best friends, Josh Gabel, is a die-hard Oakland Raiders fan. For the past several years I have taken him to every Raiders/Seahawks preseason game but we have never had the opportunity to see our teams play each other in the regular season. There may be no better person I know to give an in-depth analysis of the Oakland Raiders than Josh. Instead of me giving you a paragraph on the Raiders and giving you an “X-Factor player to watch” this week I have instead invited Josh to be a guest contributor in this week’s preview. Here is what Josh has to say about his Raiders, along with what he is looking for in this week’s game:

At 0-7, the Oakland Raiders head to Seattle in the midst of a 13 game losing streak and an all but assured 11th consecutive non-winning season. A trip to the Clink sure doesn’t seem to be the solution to the Raiders’ woes. After two years of salary cap hell, Oakland brought in proven winners and recognizable (albeit past-their prime) names – guys like defensive ends Justin Tuck and LaMarr Woodley, and running back Maurice Jones-Drew – but have yet to see a return on their investment. With 13 new starters on both sides of the ball, this group has failed to mesh, costing head coach Dennis Allen his job and leaving general manager Reggie McKenzie’s future beyond this season in doubt.

The O in Oakland has gone missing so far in 2014. The Raiders offense is putting up a meager 15.0 PPG, which is good for 31st in the league. Many of these struggles can be traced to an unwillingness to run the ball.  Oakland is averaging only 69.6 rushing yards per game, which should be attributed more play-calling than ineffectiveness. Despite Darren McFadden’s respectable 4.0 yards per carry, Oakland passes 67% of the time. On a team with no playmakers at the skill positions (save for the occasional Andre Holmes highlight), passing the ball at such a high rate is a recipe for losing. Rookies Derek Carr (leads all rookie QBs in passing yards, TDs, and QB Rating) & Gabe Jackson (7 starts on a top 5 pass blocking offensive line) along with the aforementioned Holmes are bright spots for the team’s future. The coaching staff may trust Carr with the keys to the offense, but Oakland will continue to stall without a commitment to the run. Things don’t get much better on the other side of the ball.

Oakland is near the bottom of the league in nearly every defensive category. They can’t stop the run (130.1 YPG) or get after the QB (7 sacks, tied for 29th). With all of the money McKenzie gave to Tuck, Woodley, and Antonio Smith, it is very disappointing to see such a lack of production. The lone bright spot on this defense is that number 5 overall pick Khalil Mack has lived up to his high draft so far, but not necessarily as expected. Coming out of the University of Buffalo, Mack was known being a disruptive force behind the line of scrimmage. Though Mack has yet to register a sack, he has been credited with 22 QB pressures and is Pro Football Focus’ highest rated linebacker against the run, with 8.5 tackles for a loss. It will be interesting to see if Mack can down Marshawn Lynch in the backfield. With the offense struggling, the Raiders defense has to get off the field more; Oakland is tied for last in the league on 3rd down, giving up a 48% conversion rate. The Raiders have to find a way to pressure Russell Wilson without losing containment, a task that is much easier said than done.

Whether it’s “Play like Carcass for Marcus [Mariota]” or (my preference) “Down the Pooper for [Amari] Cooper”, Raiders fans are looking forward to May’s draft earlier than ever before. A win in Seattle would do wonders for Reggie McKenzie’s future as head of football decisions. Is it likely? No. But, rest assured, Sunday is going to feel like a good old fashioned AFC West showdown.

Random Thoughts: The Seahawks will wear navy jerseys and navy pants this week. Oakland will sport their classic white jersey/silver pants combo… Kevin Harlan will provide the play-by-play and former Raiders quarterback Rich Gannon will provide the color commentary for CBS this week… Ed Hochuli and his gigantic biceps will do the officiating this week… This will be the first “cold” home game of the season. I recommend sweatshirts and jeans… Two reminders for the 12’s this week. First remember this weekend is daylight savings time. Turn your clocks back one hour and get an extra hour of sleep. Second, remember this week is a 1:25pm kickoff. Give yourself a little extra time to get to the stadium but shame on you if you are not in your seats by kickoff… Given the circumstances of this special Raiders/Seahawks regular season matchup, we have a full slate ahead of us on Sunday. Tentative schedule includes McDonald’s breakfast, being at the bar around the time they open between 8 and 8:30, the game, then dinner at Buffalo Wild Wings. It’s going to be a great day… Walter Jones will become the 11th Seahawk to be inducted into the Seahawks Ring of Honor. The ceremony will take place at halftime. What is interesting is that Jones will be the first player to have his number retired BEFORE having his name put in the Ring of Honor. This is the first Ring of Honor ceremony I will get to be a part of since I became a season ticket holder in 2006 (Cortez Kennedy Was inducted into the Ring of Honor in 2006 but I was unable to attend the game). This season the Seahawks have had a pattern of having a 12th Man Flag raiser that is somehow associated to the opposing team or opposing city. With the Raiders in town I expect a former Seahawk from the 1980’s to raise the flag this week. I have no specific guess though… With a win the Seahawks will close out the first half of the season with a 5-3 record.

Prediction: Honestly, I see the Seahawks rolling in this game. Oakland may be able to keep it close in the first half but Seattle will eventually run away with this game. Marshawn Lynch will run for over 100 yards and a touchdown. Russell Wilson will add two passing touchdowns and the Seahawks defense will force 3 Raiders turnovers. The Seahawks will get to 5-3 and we will get ready to face the New York Giants next week.

Seahawks 33, Raiders 14

Review: Seahawks 26, Broncos 20 (OT)

21 Sep
Photo Credit: seahawks.com

Photo Credit: seahawks.com

If we have any more games like Sunday’s game I am sure to have a full head of gray hair by the end of the season. In a game I felt the Seahawks needed to win, they displayed shades of many different games over the past couple of years en route to a wild 26-20 overtime win over the Denver Broncos. With the win the Seahawks improve to 2-1 on the season and currently hold sole possession of 2nd place in the NFC West. The Broncos now also sit at 2-1 and are tied with the San Diego Chargers for first place in the AFC West. As even as this game may have been on the stat sheet and even though the Seahawks won, they struggled in some areas which could definitely be improved before we play our next game in two weeks. Here are my takeaways from Sunday.

Thoughts on Russell Wilson: There were parts of Russell Wilson’s game I liked and other parts that I thought were not very normal. I said in my Broncos preview that Wilson was going to face two different Denver cornerbacks from what he saw in the Super Bowl and he took advantage of the new matchups. Specifically, Wilson hit wide receiver Ricardo Lockette for a 39-yard touchdown with 3:05 left in the second quarter over cornerback Aqib Talib. Wilson also showed a side of his game that had not been seen before as he caught a 17-yard pass from Jermaine Kearse after Wilson lateraled to Kearse. Opening the playbook up like that shows a versatile side of Wilson’s game that I think the Seahawks could use to their advantage in select situations throughout the rest of the season. There was one facet of Wilson’s game that I did not particularly like. Wilson has been labeled a “game manager” in the past by several members of the media and today was the first time I felt like he played to that title. Until overtime, Wilson seemed to stay inside the pocket to try to wait for his receivers to open up rather than scramble for positive yardage if a play is blown. In addition, on the final two Seahawks drives of regulation with the Seahawks holding a 17-12 lead it felt as though the tempo and the play calling set the Seahawks up to chew as much clock as possible rather than trying to score more points for insurance. It may have been by design but I hope that Wilson gets back to what I consider to be his “normal self” because Wilson’s game did not seem that normal to me on Sunday.

First Half Defense: The Seahawks defense held Peyton Manning and the Denver offense to only 3 points in the first half. A lot of the credit goes to the run defense. The Seahawks run defense which has struggled at times so far this season held Broncos running back Montee Ball to 19 yards on 10 carries in the first half, including a fumble recovered by K.J. Wright on the Broncos first offensive play from scrimmage. In the passing game the Seahawks and the Legion of Boom held Manning to 87 first half yards through the air as he completed 11 of his 17 first half throws. More importantly the defense was able to get off the field and rest as the Broncos were only able to convert 3 of their 7 third down chances. This is the kind of defense that the Seahawks should have been able to play consistently throughout the game and it is a shame that the end of the game overshadowed the dominant performance of the Seattle defense through the first 30 minutes of play.

Manning’s Game Management Questionable: If Peyton Manning had been able to move the Broncos offense in the first three quarters as well as he did on Denver’s two fourth quarter touchdown drives, we would be talking about a totally different outcome. In those two touchdown drives the Broncos sped down the field in a combined 2:23, running 11 plays for 99 total yards. In these situations Manning used no huddle which is something I speculated about before the game. I thought it may have been a good idea for Denver to use a no-huddle offense sporadically throughout the game to try to take the 12th Man out of the game. Instead Manning managed the game similar to how Russell Wilson managed the game and it may have ultimately cost Denver the game.

Shades of Atlanta: After Steven Hauschka kicked a field goal to give the Seahawks a 20-12 lead the Broncos had only 0:59 to go the length of the field to score a touchdown and convert a two-point conversion to tie the game. They did just that and from my seat in section 340 it screamed a reminder of the Seahawks collapse in the 2012 playoffs to the Atlanta Falcons. After being held to only one touchdown the Broncos offense seemed to simply flip a switch and suddenly they could go through even the toughest defense like a hot knife through butter. That Denver drive to tie the game this week combined with the ineffectiveness to stop San Diego on third down last week scares me into believing that perhaps this 2014 Seahawks team may play more like the 11-5 Seahawks of 2012 rather than the Super Bowl champion Seahawks of 2013.

Shades of Chicago and Houston: As disappointing as it was to see the Seahawks defense let Denver tie the game at the end of regulation, the resiliency of the Seattle offense in overtime had me breathing a heavy sigh of relief. The ability of Russell Wilson to lead an 80-yard drive in overtime to win the game had me thinking back to past overtime wins over the Chicago Bears in 2012 and the Houston Texans in 2013. In both of those games Wilson was forced to use his arm and his legs to move the ball into scoring position and that is exactly what he did again on Sunday. After playing rather conservative for the first four quarters Wilson was more willing to take the game into his own hands in overtime. He proved this by rushing 4 times for 22 yards. The final drive of the game showed a perfect combination of run and pass as Wilson added 4 completions for 35 passing yards. Under Russell Wilson the Seahawks now have a 4-0 record in overtime games.

Thoughts on Denver: It is tough to come into a hostile environment and play good consistent football. Although the Broncos struggled at times they are still a strong contender to challenge for another AFC Championship. Although the Broncos are not scoring points at the record-setting pace that they did last season, they need to be more effective finishing drives. All three of their games have been decided by one score, something that is uncommon especially when compared to their average win margin of 16 points a season ago. The Broncos defense has shown dramatic improvement and I believe they are very close to being categorized in the same level as some of the dominant defenses in the NFC.

Random Thoughts: It was a hot one today. Off the top of my head I cannot remember a past game where it has been that warm throughout the entire game. Good thing is by the time our next home game rolls around in 3 weeks it should be in the high 50’s or low 60’s or as I like to call it, comfortable… All blue uniforms for the Seahawks and all white uniforms for Broncos this week just as I predicted… Nate Robinson raised the 12th Man flag this week. I always like it when the Seahawks bring in a celebrity with ties to the opposing team to raise the flag. I am sure Denver Nuggets fans were thrilled to see their point guard representing his hometown team… At halftime the Seahawks introduced an updated look of our mascot, Blitz, as well as Blitz’s new sidekick/friend named Boom. Personally I don’t understand the concept of changing the look of a mascot but the new Blitz looks more like our logo which I guess is cool… Here is a funny story that had me thinking “true Broncos fan from Denver.” I was enjoying a Bud Light at the Brougham Beer Hall before heading up to my seat and a Broncos fan wearing an orange Peyton Manning jersey went up to the bartender and asked if they had Coors Light (for the small handful of people who somehow do not know, Coors is a Colorado brew). When the bartender said no and all they had as far as light beer goes was Bud Light, he politely declined and walked away. I thought that was pretty funny…. To my surprise there was not nearly as much “we won the Super Bowl” banter hurled toward the Broncos fans in attendance… That was really cool to see that DeShawn Shead proposed to his girlfriend following the game. Congrats 35!… Happy Birthday to Doug Baldwin as well! As early as our bye week comes this year, I think it comes at a really good time. Let’s rest up, reload, and get ready for a big primetime road game in two weeks.

With the bye week coming up my next game preview will come in about a week and a half before we take on the Washington Redskins in week 5. I am traveling to Washington D.C. for the game and I have not decided whether or not to take my computer with me. If I do, look for my preview the day before the game. If not, my preview will be published a few days early. Be on the lookout.

If any big news breaks from now until then I will hop back on to give my take. Thanks for reading and go Seahawks!

Review: Chargers 30, Seahawks 21

14 Sep
Photo Credit: chargers.com

Photo Credit: chargers.com

For the first time since last December, I am writing a game review following a meaningful Seahawks loss. The Seahawks fell to the San Diego Chargers 30-21 on Sunday, dropping to 1-1 on the season. The Seahawks are now tied with the San Francisco 49ers and the St. Louis Rams for 2nd place in the NFC West. The Chargers improve to 1-1 and currently have sole possession of 2nd place in the AFC West. This loss marks the first game since November 6th, 2011 that the Seahawks have lost by more than one score. As resilient as the Seattle offense appeared to be at moments, it was the defense that failed to step up to stop the powerful Chargers offense. This is what I took out of this week’s game.

Offense Played Well Enough to Win: The Seahawks offense scored 21 points and in any other game that would probably be enough to hold on for the win. Throughout the entire game I held the confidence that if the defense struggled, the offense could go down the field and get us right back into the game. Quarterback Russell Wilson had a very solid game going 17/25 for 202 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Despite a lack of pocket awareness which Wilson showed at untimely moments, he did not turn the ball over which was great to see. The only Seahawks turnover came on special teams when Percy Harvin fumbled a kickoff in the second quarter. I was impressed with the way Robert Turbin stepped in for Marshawn Lynch, gaining 45 yards and scoring his first career touchdown at the end of the first half. As a team Seattle was able to pound out 108 rushing yards against a stout Chargers defense which is definitely an optimistic sign. Ultimately and unfortunately, our offense simply could not hang with a Chargers offense that proved that their performance last week in Arizona could be considered a fluke.

Offensive Line Showed its Weaknesses: Although San Diego only sacked Russell Wilson twice on Sunday the Seahawks quarterback was constantly under pressure. The right side of the offensive line was not able to withstand a barrage of San Diego pressure especially on passing downs later on in the game. J.R. Sweezy was called for a crucial holding penalty on a first-down conversion. The penalty nullified the gain and the Seahawks eventually punted back to the Chargers. The left side of the San Diego defense, like I highlighted in my game preview, clearly found holes in the game of rookie right tackle Justin Britt and later in the game the majority of the Seahawks offensive plays went to the left side of the line to try to take some of the pressure off of Sweezy and Britt.

Penalties a Problem: On Sunday the Seahawks were called for 8 penalties totaling 53 yards. I consider the number of penalties to be above average with the penalty yardage decent. The reason why I bring up this point is that in this game like some of our close losses in the recent past, our penalties seemed to come at the most inopportune of times. The majority of our offensive penalties occurred on first down conversions while defensive penalties came on 3rd down stops which would of halted San Diego drives. Instead, defensive penalties directly led to 14 of the Chargers 30 points.

Gates Unstoppable and Rivers Picks Defense, Legion of Boom Apart: Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman was thrown to 4 times on Sunday and in each instance Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers threw completions. Sherman however was never burned over the top for a big gain. All of the passes thrown in Sherman’s direction were zone coverage plays. On only one play do I distinctly remember Sherman turning the wrong way, leading to a completion from Rivers to Keenan Allen on a quick slant which resulted in a San Diego first down. The kryptonite for the Legion of Boom this week was tight end Antonio Gates who caught 7 catches for 96 yards and a career-tying 3 touchdown receptions. Other than Jimmy Graham of the New Orleans Saints, Gates may be the biggest matchup nightmare among tight ends in the NFL. His size advantage creates a problem even against the big, long, and physical style of the members of the Legion of Boom. Gates beat Kam Chancellor, Malcolm Smith, and K.J. Wright on his three touchdown catches. Upon watching the film of Gates’ performance, I do not understand why the Seahawks were using our outside linebackers to cover Gates, especially after his second touchdown when it was proven Gates could easily beat our linebackers down the middle of the field. All in all the Seahawks defense allowed 276 passing yards, a number that we must work to decrease in practice this upcoming week, especially with Peyton Manning up next for the L.O.B.

Third Down Defense a Major Weakness: The Seahawks defense simply could not get off the field on third down this week. San Diego’s offense went 10/17 on third down on Sunday. The 59% third down efficiency of the Chargers is the worst percentage the Seahawks have surrendered in a loss since the Detroit Lions were 75% effective on third down in a 28-24 Seahawks loss in October 2012. 70% of San Diego’s third down conversions came through the air, with the majority coming in short to moderate yards to gain. At home next week I believe the Seahawks will recover and play a more sound game with the 12th Man behind their backs, but our inability to stop drives this week raises questions about our defense in a road environment, as the Seahawks have historically had trouble in this area on the road in seasons past.

Irvin Potentially Cost Us the Game: You look at the score and see that the Seahawks lost by two possessions but I believe that one bonehead play by defensive end Brice Irvin potentially altered the outcome of this game. The play in question came with the Chargers driving deep into Seahawks territory towards the end of the third quarter. With San Diego leading 20-14 and facing a 3rd down and 7, Seattle was successful in forcing Philip Rivers out of the pocket. Rivers scrambled to the right sideline short of the line to gain. As it was clear that Rivers was giving himself up on the play and stepping out of bounds, Irvin came in to give Rivers an extra small shove, drawing a personal foul late hit penalty. The Chargers would have likely lined up on 4th down to kick a field goal giving them a 23-14 lead with plenty of time for the game to be salvaged. Instead, the flag on Irvin gave San Diego a first down in the redzone and two plays later Rivers connected with Gates to make it a 27-14 ballgame. The touchdown also resulted in a  momentum swing to the home team for the remainder of the game, as the Chargers were successful in holding onto the lead for good. The penalty was completely unnecessary and in my opinion it is one of the dumbest plays Irvin has made in his career. Ultimately I believe that penalty is in essence handing the victory to San Diego on a silver platter.

Thoughts on San Diego: I underestimated the San Diego Chargers, plain and simple. I understand that it was their home opener, there was record setting heat down on the field, and that the home crowd was amped up but it all comes down to this point: If the Chargers can pick apart the best defense and best secondary in the league, they can pick apart any defense. Before the season started I did not think the Chargers were capable of making another playoff run but after Sunday, it is very possible to think that barring injuries San Diego can challenge for a wild-card spot for a second consecutive season.

Random Thoughts: The Seahawks matched their navy jerseys with grey pants this week. The last time they wore that combo was last season in Carolina. The Seahawks are now 2-2 in that uniform combo all-time… The all-white look of the Chargers is pretty cool. Although I love the fact that the Seahawks are the only NFL team to have never worn white at home, the idea of a white-out early on in the season is a cool possibility the Seahawks might want to consider for future seasons… I remember 4 years ago I went to see the Seahawks play the Broncos in Denver and the game time temperature inside the stadium flirted with the 100 degree mark. It was miserable. I am sorry for all the dehydrated, sunburnt, upset Seahawks fans who went on the road, sat in the heat for over three hours, and saw us lose. It is a miserable feeling… I want to give a lot of credit to the Chargers home crowd. They were clearly the louder voice this week after it was presumed that the 12th Man was going to have another very strong following to San Diego this week. To Chargers fans: Bring the kind of intensity you showed this week to Qualcomm for every home game. Match that intensity with the great play of the Chargers offense and you will be hard to beat at home throughout the season… Here are a couple of points to the “glass half full” Hawks fans out there. The last time the Seahawks gave up 30 or more points in a game, we went on to win our next 7 games. Also, of the last 10 seasons we have started 1-1, we have made the playoffs 7 times, won 4 division championships, went to 2 conference championship games, and made it to one Super Bowl (XL)… It helps that the 49ers also lost this week but immediately following our loss I was surprisingly not too upset. I think it has something to do with the fact that even though we lost, the Seahawks still have a Lombardi Trophy. That’s a feeling that perhaps comes given that the city of Seattle had been starving for a sports championship for so long and now that we finally have a Super Bowl win, it makes the sting of these regular season losses more bearable. Am I the only one out there that feels that way? It is an interesting yet prideful feeling in my opinion.

The Seahawks now get back to work as they prepare for the AFC West leading Denver Broncos in a rematch of Super Bowl XLVIII. Check back Saturday for my Broncos preview. Have a good week 12th Man. Go Hawks!