Tag Archives: Jim Harbaugh

Rams/Seahawks Preview

26 Dec
rams preview 2015 #2

Photo Credit: Seahawks.com

Matchup: St. Louis Rams at Seattle Seahawks

Site: CenturyLink Field (Seattle, Washington)

Kickoff: 1:25pm

The Seahawks wrap up the home portion of their 2015 season on Sunday against a familiar December opponent. Seattle concludes their home slate against the division rival St. Louis Rams for the fifth time in the last six years. The Seahawks are 9-5 and have a playoff berth already wrapped up. The Rams are at the tail end of yet another mediocre season under head coach Jeff Fisher with a record of 6-8. Seattle leads the all-time series 21-14 but the Rams bested the Seahawks in week one, coming back to defeat the Kam Chancellor-less squad in overtime 34-31. 15 weeks later the Seahawks are a completely different team and the Rams have added a dynamic force on their offensive unit. Here is what I will be watching out for on Sunday.

Look for the Seahawks offense to try to mirror what it accomplished last week against Cleveland. Christine Michael will likely be the lead back and will see anywhere from 15 to 20 carries. The talk of the town has been the phenomenal play of quarterback Russell Wilson and wide receiver Doug Baldwin. If Wilson can continue to avoid turning the ball over I believe our offense will put the team in good position to win. On defense my number one focus will be to watch how well our starters match the speed of the Rams offense. On the ground the combo of Todd Gurley and Tavon Austin has combined for 1,413 yards and 13 touchdowns. St. Louis likes to use Austin in the backfield and on end arounds so the Seahawks must be quick on the outside. The presence of Kenny Britt at receiver also equips St. Louis with an explosive downfield threat. Richard Sherman will likely cover Britt on Sunday. If the Seahawks can hold the Rams to under 300 yards of total offense it will be a successful day.

As I previously mentioned, the Rams have a weapon on the offensive side of the ball that was not available when these two teams faced off back in September. He is the guy I will keep my focus on more than any other Rams offensive player. Since his debut in week 3, running back Todd Gurley is on pace for 1,200 yards, has been named to the Pro Bowl, and is the front runner to win offensive rookie of the year. He is the closest thing to Marshawn Lynch that has come into the league in recent years and he has the talent to make even the toughest run defenses look silly. I believe Gurley will see at least 20 carries and if the Rams find success in the running game they will continue to feed him the ball. Getting solid production out of Gurley in this game will take a ton of pressure off of quarterback Case Keenum.

The mystery of the St. Louis Rams comes from their defense. Over the past few seasons the Rams have been hyped to be potential contenders for the NFC West crown. I believe a lot of this hype comes from the talent they possess on the defensive side of the ball. Yet somehow the pool of talent cannot seem to band together to help the team win football games. They remind me of the pre-Jim Harbaugh San Francisco 49ers; they have the talent but it is not being utilized correctly. The Rams defense will be represented in the Pro Bowl by defensive tackle/interior pass rusher Aaron Donald who leads the team with 11 sacks and also has the fourth most tackles on the defense with 64. The middle of the defense is anchored by veteran James Laurinaitis but the secondary is what I will have my eye on. Safety Mark Barron leads the team in tackles and cornerback Janoris Jenkins has recorded 14 passes defensed. The Rams other starting cornerback also has 14 passes defensed but has also done more on the stat sheet. My X-Factor Player to Watch for the St. Louis Rams is cornerback Trumaine Johnson. In just his fourth season, Johnson has emerged as one of the Rams best players. This season he has already shattered his personal best for interceptions in a single season with 6. He has intercepted a pass in each of his last three games and one of his interceptions occurred against the Seahawks in week one. Johnson will likely shadow the red-hot Doug Baldwin and with the trust Russell Wilson has had going to Baldwin over the past 5 weeks, particularly on third down, Johnson will absolutely see opportunities to make an impact in this game.

Random Thoughts: College navy jerseys and pants for the Seahawks. The Rams will wear white jerseys and will likely wear navy pants… Chris Myers and Ronde Barber will lead the broadcast on FOX… The referee for this week’s game is John Hussey… The gameday theme is fan appreciation which means the Seahawks will be giving away a wide array of prizes to the fans in attendance. In all the years I’ve been a season ticket holder I’ve only won something on fan appreciation day once; a 12 car flag in 2008… The Steve Largent Award will also be presented during pregame festivities. Russell Wilson won it last year and it is possible he could win it again… It’s disappointing this final regular season home game will be a goodbye to everyone I sit around until August of next year. I’ve been so used to having home playoff games to look forward to the past couple of years that this year feels slightly abnormal… If the Seahawks win they will have reached the 10-win mark. If that’s the case the Seahawks will have won at least 10 games in four consecutive seasons. What an amazing feat that would be.

Seahawks Playoff Outlook: The Arizona Cardinals clinched the NFC West last week, meaning at best the Seahawks can be the #5 seed. With a win over the Rams the Seahawks will maintain their position as the #5 seed. The Seahawks can clinch the #5 seed with a win and a Minnesota Vikings loss. The Seahawks will fall to the #6 seed if they lose and the Vikings win. Here are this week’s other games with NFC playoff implications. Teams to note are bolded.

Washington (7-7) at Philadelphia (6-8) (Game to be played Saturday night)

Green Bay (10-4) at Arizona (12-2)

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

Prediction: The Rams have not won in Seattle since my 15th birthday. That draught will continue on Sunday. The game will be tied at halftime due to a strong first half by Todd Gurley but Russell Wilson will come out of the intermission on fire, throwing for touchdowns on our first two second half possessions. The Seahawks will get to 10-5 and will send the 12’s home happy one last time this season.

Seahawks 27, Rams 16

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Commentary: Who Will it Be?

1 Jan
From L-R: Panthers QB Cam Newton, Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald, Lions WR Calvin Johnson

From L-R: Panthers QB Cam Newton, Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald, Lions WR Calvin Johnson

The Seahawks and the 12th Man will not know until late Sunday afternoon who we will play in our NFC Divisional Playoff game on Saturday, January 10th. One of three teams will be traveling to Seattle for that playoff game. If the Dallas Cowboys beat the Detroit Lions this Sunday, the winner of Saturday’s game between the Arizona Cardinals and Carolina Panthers will play the Seahawks. If Detroit beats Dallas, the Lions will play the Seahawks on January 10th. Here is a brief breakdown of all three potential opponents including who I personally would like to play, and who I think the Seahawks will probably face in their first playoff game.

Carolina Panthers: The Panthers became the second team in modern NFL history to win their division and enter the playoffs with a losing record. Unlike the 2010 Seahawks who went into their Wild-Card playoff game double digit underdogs to the New Orleans Saints, the 7-8-1 Panthers are 5.5 point favorites over the Arizona Cardinals this week. The Panthers are the team I believe the Seahawks will face next Saturday night. Carolina has won 4 straight games and getting to play at home against a backup quarterback gives them an advantage. With a win, the Panthers will record their first playoff win since defeating the Chicago Bears in the 2005 NFC Divisional playoffs.

The Pros: Panthers quarterback Cam Newton is the only quarterback of the Seahawks potential opposing quarterbacks to have never played at CenturyLink Field. The fact that he would be playing in front of a playoff revved 12th Man makes the idea of the Seahawks advancing to the NFC Championship Game highly likely. The Seahawks are 3-0 against Carolina all-time at CenturyLink Field.

The Cons: I do not know how Bears fans felt when they hosted the 2010 Seahawks in the NFC Divisional playoffs but I would be a little worried that the 12’s would not treat this game like a true playoff game because of the Panthers record. The fact of the matter is that the Panthers were good enough to get into the playoffs. It shouldn’t matter what their regular season record says. At the end of the day, it’s still win or go home.

Arizona Cardinals: The Cardinals are making their first playoff appearance since 2009 but they are stumbling into the playoffs, having lost their last two regular season games with Ryan Lindley at quarterback. I think it is possible that if they can beat Carolina this week, Drew Stanton will be back as the starting quarterback by the time they would play Seattle. The Seahawks have beaten both Stanton and Lindley this season. Stanton played the game in Seattle and went 14/26 for 149 yards and one interception. The Cardinals defense is arguably the best of these three potential opponents and could give the Seahawks the closest game.

The Pros: Now that Jim Harbaugh has left the NFC West, the coach the Seahawks should now love to hate the most is Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians. Arians has stated that he believes the Cardinals can with the Super Bowl with Drew Stanton, but that was when the Cardinals controlled the division by 3 games over the Seahawks. Things have fallen on hard times in Arizona since and it would be awesome to beat this team and the likely NFL coach of the year for a third time this season. This is likely the beginning of an intense rivalry with the Arizona Cardinals.

The Cons: This may be the future of our division rivalries but it simply does not have as “hateful” of a feel that playing the San Francisco 49ers three times last year had. I think we would beat Arizona in this playoff game handedly, possibly making the later parts of the game kind of boring.

Detroit Lions: The Lions have not played in Seattle since 2009. They have a talented defense that is capable of stopping Marshawn Lynch. The Lions boast the most explosive offense of any of these three teams and would provide the best and most exciting challenge for the Seahawks defense and the Legion of Boom. I for one would love to see Richard Sherman go up against Calvin Johnson, and to see the return of former Seahawks wide receiver Golden Tate. This is the matchup that I would most like to see.

The Pros: Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford has played in Seattle before but that was when the Seahawks were not very good. He has only played in one playoff game and he lost. The playoff inexperience of the Lions could give the Seahawks a significant leg up in this matchup.

The Cons: None.

Review: Seahawks 17, 49ers 7

14 Dec
Photo Credit: Seahawks.com

Photo Credit: Seahawks.com

The Seahawks could not be clicking at a better time. In a game that to me was too close for comfort for the majority of the afternoon, the Seahawks found a way to pull away from the San Francisco 49ers late, escaping with a 17-7 victory. The Seahawks improve to 10-4 and will play for the NFC West lead next week in Arizona. The 49ers fall to 7-7 and with this loss they have been mathematically eliminated from playoff contention. The focus in Seattle is going to shift very quickly to next week’s game against the Cardinals but let me break down what I saw out of the Seahawks in this game.

Offensive Line Struggles: The Seahawks offensive line may be the most inconsistent group on the team. After keeping quarterback Russell Wilson clean the past two weeks, the Seahawks offensive line and a very difficult time stopping the pass rush of the 49ers. Wilson was sacked 5 times on Sunday and was hurried or flushed out of the pocket on the majority of plays that San Francisco blitzed 5 or more defenders. Justin Britt in particular had a hard time adjusting to calls at the line of scrimmage and picking up his blocks. In all honesty, the Seahawks played better in the second half after starting left tackle Russell Okung exited the game at halftime with a chest bruise. One silver lining is that the Seahawks offense rushed for 152 yards in this game, 91 of which coming from running back Marshawn Lynch. Looking ahead however, it will be extremely difficult for our offense to score points next week if the Arizona defense plays the way it did last Thursday in St. Louis. As dominating as our defense has played the past few weeks, 17 points on offense is not going to win us every game. With Max Unger hopefully back in the lineup next Sunday, I believe our offensive line can bounce back in a big way.

Unsung Heroes: Paul Richardson caught his first career touchdown pass on Sunday, a 10-yard slant route which extended the Seattle lead to 17-7. Richardson gets the spotlight because of the touchdown but don’t forget about the roles wide receivers Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse played on Sunday. Baldwin and Kearse caught two-thirds of Russell Wilson’s completions and combined for 131 receiving yards, including a 47-yard reception by Kearse and a 35-yard catch by Baldwin. Both plays came on first half drives which should have ended in points. Instead the Seahawks came away empty handed. With the quality production from our top 3 receivers on Sunday it is possible that Russell Wilson is comfortable enough with his weapons to take more chances down the field.

Kaepernick, Hyde Fluster Defense: I was not the least bit concerned with 49ers running back Frank Gore coming into this game. Gore finished the day prematurely, leaving with a concussion after gaining 29 yards. Instead the quickness of Carlos Hyde and the willingness of quarterback Colin Kaepernick to run seemed to catch the Seahawks off guard. The Seattle defense gave up 140 rushing yards to the 49ers on Sunday, the most allowed at home since week 6 against Dallas. Hyde was on a roll until he too left the game with an injury, leaving fullback Bruce Miller and third string running back Alfonso Smith to carry the load late in the game. The Seahawks defense found an answer to stop Miller and Smith but that also begs the question of would this have been a closer game if Gore and Hyde did not get hurt. Many of San Francisco’s runs went off-tackle and the Seahawks adjusted accordingly as the game progressed. Moving forward it may be beneficial if we spread out our personnel earlier in the game, especially next week against an Arizona rushing attack that averaged 4.3 yards per carry this week.

Sacks for Everyone: The Seahawks team up with Jack in the Box and award a free Jumbo Jack to all fans if the Seahawks defense can record three sacks. For the first time, we the fans had our free burgers by the end of the first quarter and that was only a small sample of the dominance the Seahawks front seven displayed this week. The Seahawks dialed up the pressure all game long and it resulted in 6 sacks of Colin Kaepernick. The interior pass rush had me very satisfied, as defensive tackle Jordan Hill recorded two sacks and defensive tackle Kevin Williams had a sack of his own. Bobby Wagner and Bruce Irvin also had sacks up the middle, which goes to show how bad of a game 49ers backup center Joe Looney played. In our last 4 games the Seahawks defense has allowed an average of just under 7 points per game, by far the best average in the league. To me however, the lack of offensive production overshadowed the performance of our defense. Upon reflection, when the Seahawks extended it to a two-score game it was definitely over. This defense needs to show up big next week. If the defense can stay on this path, it will be incredibly hard for Arizona’s third string quarterback to beat us next week.

Thoughts on San Francisco: This 49ers team seemed to have played this game inspired but their prideful effort was too much for the talent the Seahawks threw at them. This was most likely Jim Harbaugh’s last hurrah as the head coach of the 49ers and you have to wonder how this season would have played out if they could have stayed healthy throughout. The 49ers are capable of bouncing back in 2015 but just like how Harbaugh coached Mike Singletary’s talent to the best of their abilities when he arrived in 2011, the same must go for whoever the 49ers next head coach is. The way the NFC West has been built in recent years however, it may take more than one year for San Francisco to get back to playoff contention.

Random Thoughts: It was an earlier arriving crowd at the bar before the game. All tables were full by 9:15am. It was a very festive atmosphere that almost felt like a playoff game… That festive environment before the game seemed to dissipate real quick once the game started. It almost felt as though the 12th Man was taking it easy on the 49ers for the first part of the game. The intensity was not what I was hoping it would be but it got better later on once we took our first lead and the noise did not stop until the end of the game… In my opinion the Ebola ribbons handed out as the pregame giveaway was a huge failure. I saw no one wearing them. Literally no one… Great weather on Sunday. I love late season games with nothing but sunshine… John Olerud raised the 12th Man flag before the game; a legitimate candidate that I approve of… The blue endzones are back because the Sounders season is over. Thank goodness. I love the blue endzones. It gives the field a classic look… One of the highlights from the day was when they put 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh on the video board complaining after the questionable roughing the passer call which favored the Seahawks. The entire stadium booed. It was one of the loudest moments of the day. It was awesome… If we win next week, holy moly. That’s all I can say.

This upcoming week is by far the biggest of the season. Check back Saturday when I preview our week 16 matchup against the Arizona Cardinals. Thanks for reading and go Seahawks!

49ers/Seahawks Preview

13 Dec
Photo Credit: Seahawks.com

Photo Credit: Seahawks.com

Matchup: San Francisco 49ers at Seattle Seahawks

Site: CenturyLink Field (Seattle, Washington)

Kickoff: 1:25pm

A little over two weeks ago we sat down with our families on Thanksgiving and enjoyed two things; a delicious turkey dinner and a Seahawks win over the San Francisco 49ers. On Sunday, with just under two weeks until Christmas, the Seahawks and 49ers square off for the second time in a three-game span, this time however at the friendly confines of CenturyLink Field. When the schedule came out many thought that this game could determine who wins the NFC West. Instead the Seahawks currently sit at 9-4 and are still alive for the division title. The 49ers are 7-6 and a loss to the Seahawks this week will all but mathematically eliminate them from playoff contention. Since we played San Francisco only a handful of days ago, nothing should be new from a game-planning perspective. Nevertheless, here are some brief points of emphasis I will be watching for in this game.

Two weeks ago in Santa Clara the Seahawks racked up 157 total rushing yards, 104 of them coming from Marshawn Lynch. This week I am confident that a 100 yard day from Lynch will all but assure a Seahawks win. This week I am looking to see how involved Robert Turbin and Russell Wilson will be on the ground. I do not expect to see Wilson scramble as often as he has the past couple of weeks. A steady mix of Lynch and Turbin will be the Seahawks go-to on early downs this week. In the passing game it would not be a surprise to see Russell Wilson throw deep early in the game to test the San Francisco secondary. That may be it for the deep ball however, as I think short passes and controlling the clock may be Seattle’s strategy after holding the ball for nearly 42 minutes last week. Most importantly I do not want to see the Seahawks try to get fancy on offense. We played a solid offensive game in San Francisco two weeks ago and it was effective. There is no reason to fix something that is not broken for this game.

On the defensive side of the ball I am curious to see how the first San Francisco offensive possession plays out. I believe how the Seahawks defense plays on that first series will determine how the rest of the game will play out. Simply put there are three different scenarios I could see playing out. If the Seahawks can stop San Francisco for a three-and-out, this game could get ugly very quickly in favor of Seattle. If the 49ers can drive down the field but fail to put points on the board, they may be able to keep it close for the first part of the game. If the 49ers can put together a successful first drive that results in points, this could be a close game throughout. It will be up to the enforcers at each level of our defense to make sure that the 49ers come away empty handed. I am looking at Cliff Avril, Bobby Wagner, and Kam Chancellor to have monster games making tackles. I would also not be surprised to see Richard Sherman and Byron Maxwell make an impact forcing turnovers as well.

In our last game against the 49ers I put a focus on the San Francisco defense. This week I am choosing to focus on the offensive side of the ball. In his last 5 games played in Seattle, 49ers running back Frank Gore has averaged only 36 rushing yards per game. He has not run for more than 30 yards at CenturyLink Field since 2011. It is because of these numbers that I am not worried about Gore. If our game two weeks ago is any indication, I am also not worried about the arm of San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick. The only way I can see the 49ers putting points on the board is on the legs of Kaepernick. For the second straight week I put my X-Factor focus on the opposing quarterback; Colin Kaepernick is my X-Factor player to watch for San Francisco. In the NFC Championship game last January, Kaepernick put the game in his own hands as he ran for 130 yards. This season we have not seen much of Kaepernick on the ground, as he has been more patient behind the line of scrimmage. His three most productive games running the ball all came way back in September. This week the 49ers will be in trouble if Kaepernick tries to stay in the pocket and read his progressions. If I were 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman, I would give Kaepernick the green light to take off if he does not like his first read. A solid day on the ground for #7 is the only way I see the 49ers staying competitive in this game.

One other thing that cannot happen this week is for the Seahawks to overlook this 49ers team. I know the Seahawks can and should win this game but the worst thing that could happen is to get overconfident and play as if a win is a guarantee. We are smarter than that. I will be a bit worried and angry if we play cocky, at least to start off when the game is close. Wrap this win up, then move on to next week’s game against the Cardinals.

Random Thoughts: I guarantee that I will not mess up the uniform combinations for either team this week. The Seahawks will go with their navy/navy home look. The 49ers will wear their classic look pairing white jerseys with gold pants… For the second straight week the Seahawks are featured as “America’s Game of the Week” on FOX. Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, and Erin Andrews have the call once again… Ed Hochuli will officiate his second Seahawks game of 2014 this week. Ed previously called the Seahawks week 9 win over the Oakland Raiders… I love going to late season home games when it is supposed to be sunny. They’re calling for partly cloudy with temperatures in the high 40’s. Should be plenty comfortable… A reminder to everyone going to the game that kickoff is scheduled for 1:25pm. Allow yourselves enough time to get inside the stadium by kickoff… The giveaway this week is ribbons raising Ebola awareness. I understand that this Ebola is a serious matter but couldn’t the Seahawks have figured out a different (better) giveaway? There have been almost no good giveaways at the gates this season. That is pretty disappointing… The halftime show this week is high school marching bands featuring my old high school, Newport High School. Here’s a funny story. 9 years ago I participated in a Seahawks halftime show with the Newport marching band. We were all given blue Seahawks wristbands which my friends and I later learned gave us access to all parts of the stadium. After we performed at halftime we snuck into the game and watched about 5 minutes of the 3rd quarter from the club level. We were then tattled on when we caught up with the band (after we found out they were leaving without us). We failed the “assignment” and I would up with an A- in band that quarter. Would I do it again? Absolutely. It was totally worth it in my opinion. It is kind of sad to think this is likely the final Seahawks game against the 49ers with Jim Harbaugh as their head coach. As much as the 12th Man hates Harbaugh, I will kind of miss him for the sole reason that this potentially marks the beginning of the end of our rivalry with the San Francisco 49ers, which has been quality entertainment for the past 4 seasons.

Seahawks Playoff Outlook: The Seahawks are 9-4 and with the Arizona Cardinals win over the St. Louis Rams on Thursday we are currently 1 ½ games behind Arizona for the division lead. A Seahawks win will get us back to within one game of the division lead however we will be locked into the #5 seed for at least another week. Although a win would give us 10 on the season, we cannot clinch a playoff berth after this week. A Green Bay Packers loss to the Buffalo Bills can clear the final road block for the Seahawks to claim home field advantage (if Seattle wins out). Here are this week’s other games with NFC playoff implications. Teams to note are bolded.

Green Bay (10-3) at Buffalo (7-6)

Minnesota (6-7) at Detroit (9-4)

Dallas (9-4) at Philadelphia (9-4)

Prediction: Let me be frank. The Seahawks will dominate this game in all phases from start to finish. The Seahawks will take a comfortable 17-3 lead into halftime and the pick barrage will begin in the second half. Colin Kaepernick will throw 4 interceptions, 3 coming in the second half. Byron Maxwell will have two of those interceptions. Richard Sherman and Tharold Simon will add the other two. The Seahawks will improve to 10-4 and will get ready for easily their biggest game of the season in Arizona next week.

Seahawks 27, 49ers 6

Check back late Sunday night/early Monday morning for my 49ers game review. Go Seahawks!

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!

Review: Seahawks 41, Vikings 20

17 Nov
Image

Photo Credit: seahawks.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

#3 Seed: Detroit Lions (6-4)

#4 Seed: Philadelphia Eagles (6-5)

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

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

 

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

49ers/Seahawks Preview

14 Sep

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Matchup: San Francisco 49ers at Seattle Seahawks

Site: CenturyLink Field (Seattle, Washington)

Kickoff: 5:30pm

Back on April 18th, the National Football League released its full slate of games for the 2013 season. What I like to do when the schedule comes out is go week by week and reveal game by game. As the games were revealed in week 2, both the 49ers and the Seahawks had not been scheduled. Then I got to Sunday Night Football. The Seahawks pull the first of two games against San Francisco here in week 2 in a crucial early season divisional battle. With the Falcons favored over the Rams in one of Sunday’s early games, the Seahawks could be playing for a sole possession of first place in the division, and a one game lead over the 49ers. The Seahawks are coming off a 12-7 win over the Carolina Panthers and San Francisco is also coming off a victory; a 34-28 win over the Green Bay Packers. There is a lot to be mentioned so let’s get down to it.

Even with the 12th Man behind the defense, it is crucial that the Seahawks be as healthy as possible to add to our powerful home field advantage. Cliff Avril has been practicing with the first-team unit this week and his presence should bolster a Seahawks pass rush that only sacked Cam Newton once last week. Avril will take O’Brien Schofield’s place as our starting “Leo” defensive end. On third down, Avril, Schofield, and Benson Mayowa will be featured in our blitz package. I am both nervous and excited about our pass rush. Being at home with the crowd noise will help but we need to jump off the ball better than last week. I don’t expect to see many sacks this week but I do expect us to have more than one. In the secondary, Brandon Browner has been nursing a pulled hamstring and is questionable again this week. My prediction is that Browner will miss his second straight game and Walter Thurmond will start once again this week. Like last week I am fully confident in Thurmond to do his job well. Our run defense will also be a focus of mine. The Seahawks defense held San Francisco running back Frank Gore to a mere 28 yards rushing last season and Gore has not ran for more than 100 yards against the Seahawks at CenturyLink Field since 2006. In the 6 games against the 49ers at home dating back to 2007, where Gore has ran for less than 100 yards, the Seahawks have a record of 4-2. If our run defense shows improvement from last week and can stuff Gore at the line of scrimmage and eliminate yards after contact, we will force third downs and will have a better chance to force San Francisco to punt.

The million dollar question on offense this week is this: which receiver will be the leading receiver and/or the star of the game? Last week Jermaine Kearse caught the game winning touchdown pass and Doug Baldwin led the Seahawks in receiving yards. This week at home I think we are going to try to profoundly display our most explosive receiver. Not Percy Harvin obviously, but Golden Tate. Last week Tate lined up for two plays in the backfield; the spot that Harvin will most likely line up in when healthy. I think the Seahawks will open up the playbook this week to highlight Tate among our other offensive weapons. Russell Wilson will considerably more read-option plays then last week and there will be some sort of trickery at some point on Sunday Night. A lot of experts think that the 49ers will win this game because of their explosive offense and stout defense able to stuff a “weak” and “rusty” Seahawks offense. Sunday Night is our night to show the country that we just had a bad game offensively last week. I am not expecting the productivity of last season’s game, but don’t be surprised if our offense bounces back similarly to how we played Dallas in our home opener last season after struggling week one in Arizona.

The San Francisco 49ers come into town with an offense that played exceptionally well last week and a defense that is still incredibly talented but gave up 28 points at home. The big question coming into the 2013 season for San Francisco was who would step up to be the playmakers at wide receiver after Michael Crabtree was lost to an Achilles injury. Last Sunday the answer may have been found in Anquan Boldin. Boldin was traded to the 49ers from Baltimore during the offseason and made an immediate impact last week, catching 13 passes for 208 yards and a touchdown. If the Legion of Boom can shut Boldin and tight end Vernon Davis down, the 49ers may be low on options at wide receiver. Kyle Williams could be the X-Factor and is my offensive man to watch of the 49ers this week. Williams caught 3 passes for 36 yards last week and was the leading receiver when you take out Boldin’s numbers and Davis’s numbers. If the Seahawks are effective in containing these two guys, Colin Kaepernick could have more of an impact than head coach Jim Harbaugh and offensive coordinator Greg Roman originally intended him to. Kaepernick will run more than he did last week and he may be forced to in order to keep drives alive.

The Seahawks always try to test new players. When the 49ers lost safety Dashon Goldson to Tampa Bay during free agency, they used their first round draft pick this past year on Eric Reid from LSU. With Reid still learning the ways of playing in an NFL defense, this could be the 49ers main weakness this week. Russell Wilson may try to go deep down the middle to test Reid and if the Seahawks are successful, they will keep trying to stretch the field to pick on Reid. In regards to the 49ers front 7, there is one huge difference between who played last year and who will play this year. Nose tackle Justin Smith is healthy after missing last year’s week 16 matchup with a triceps tear and his absence was absolutely noticeable in the running game. The Seahawks ran for 176 yards. With Smith back it will be harder for the Seahawks to run the ball this week. The Linebacker corps is still the strongest unit of the San Francisco defense. Russell Wilson must be aware of the personnel on the other side of the ball because Patrick Willis, NaVorro Bowman, and Aldon Smith will make the Seahawks pay if they can get into a groove.

One underlying note this week is to keep an eye out on chippy play and personal foul penalties. These two teams hate each other so I wouldn’t be surprised to see some players getting in each other’s faces to try to draw a late flag.

One final note, as I broke back in July the Seahawks and CenturyLink Field will attempt to break the Guinness World Record for “loudest crowd road at a sports stadium” this week. The first official attempt will be on the 49ers first offensive play of the game. If you are reading this and will be in attendance on Sunday Night, do NOT forget to yell, clap, whistle, etc. As loud as it is at a Seahawks game, not everybody screams when the Seahawks are on defense. If we can get close to 100 percent vocal participation from the 12th Man, I think we have an excellent chance to break this record.

Random Thoughts: Is it really supposed to rain on Sunday Night??? I have never been to a home opener with rain in the forecast. If it does rain though consider us to have an advantage. We played the 49ers in the rain last year and they struggled holding onto the ball… The Seahawks will wear blue jerseys and blue pants this week… John Parry is the referee this week… Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth have the call for NBC… I’m taking my buddy Alan this week. This is the second time he has been to a 49ers/Seahawks game with me. The first time was Monday Night Football in 2007… Praying to God alcohol enforcement doesn’t come up and ruin my Seahawks/49ers gameday again this season… On a similar note, undercover Seattle police officers are going to be in 49ers apparel this week. I guess I’ll just stick to booing. I don’t want to risk getting myself in serious trouble… With a 5:30 kickoff, it is still up in the air how we are going to spend our time before the game. Probably bouncing around the bars and checking out a tailgate or two… I’ve noticed ticket prices for this game are dropping on the secondary markets. Sellers are starting to realize their initial asking prices were too unreasonable for people. If you don’t have tickets but want to go to the game, I would suggest checking StubHub or NFL ticket exchange right now (49ers fans, ignore that)… I hope the Seahawks give away towels this week. It’s primetime. Towels would look awesome during pregame.

Prediction: Russell Wilson will throw for another 300+ yards this week along with two touchdowns. Marshawn Lynch will not break 100 yards rushing but will score his first touchdown of the season. Colin Kaepernick will get off to a fast start but the Seahawks defense will figure out how to slow him down later on in the game. The Seahawks will win their 9th straight home game, take sole possession of first place in the NFC West, and get ready for the Jacksonville Jaguars with a 2-0 record.

Seahawks 30, 49ers 20

It will be a long night after the game, but check back on Monday for my 49ers/Seahawks game review. Whether watching on TV or you are lucky enough to be in attendance, enjoy the game everybody! Go Hawks!