Tag Archives: Los Angeles Rams

Primetime Predictions

14 Apr
nfl schedule release

The 2016 NFL schedule will be released at 5pm Thursday night

The master schedule for the 2016 NFL season has been finalized. The league will reveal the 256-game slate on Thursday night. For most fans the schedule release is a mundane affirmation that we are one more step closer to football season. For others such as myself, the NFL schedule release is arguably the most exciting day of the offseason because we pin down which weeks the Seahawks will play at home as well as starting to think about booking trips to see the Seattle play on the road. The Seahawks continue to be a Super Bowl contender and they are coming off their fourth straight season in which they made the playoffs. With this resume, we will certainly see our fair share of the primetime spotlight in 2016. I believe the Seahawks will receive four games scheduled in primetime this season. Here are the games I think are primed to be aired under the lights.

Home vs. Carolina Panthers

In 2015 the Panthers came to Seattle and stole a victory in the final minutes. That game was a 1:05pm start on FOX. Carolina enters 2016 as the defending NFC champions and with the Seahawks lackluster slate of home games, this is by far the most appealing game to a national audience. This matchup features the last two teams to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl and there is a nice little rivalry brewing between the Panthers and Seahawks. I believe this game is a perfect fit for Sunday Night Football.

Home vs. Los Angeles Rams

Get ready for a “lemon and lime” color rush game if this prediction becomes reality. Over the last few seasons the NFL has reserved the grand majority of Thursday Night Football games for division rivalries. Seattle has only hosted TNF twice since it came into existence in 2006, and most recently in 2011. This season with the Rams having relocated to the west coast, this is the perfect opportunity to feature a fierce up-and-coming rivalry. This game is good for the Thursday Night spotlight for two main reasons. First, the Rams swept the season series with the Seahawks last season, the first time since 2004. The Rams always play Seattle tough and that will only continue to be the case moving forward. Secondly, this matchup gives the NFL another opportunity to feature the Los Angeles market in primetime, something that I believe will be a common occurrence in 2016.

Away at New England Patriots

This seems like a no-brainer doesn’t it? The rematch of Super Bowl XLIX will be one of the most anticipated games of 2016. I imagine NBC and ESPN had a fierce bidding war to obtain the broadcast rights to this game. NBC likely prevailed. I would be stunned if this game is not on Sunday Night Football.

Away at Arizona Cardinals

Much like how the Seattle/San Francisco rivalry was the marquee rivalry in the NFC West from 2012-2014, the Seattle/Arizona rivalry has now topped it. It is certain one of our dates with the Arizona Cardinals will be in primetime. The question is which one? In 2014, our matchup with the Cardinals in Arizona was scheduled for Sunday Night Football. In 2015, the Seahawks/Cardinals game in Seattle earned the Sunday Night spotlight. To continue this alternating pattern, I expect the 2016 matchup in Arizona to earn primetime honors. Sunday Night Football is the likely landing spot but I would not be surprised to see this game go to ESPN and Monday Night Football.

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Review: Panthers 31, Seahawks 24

17 Jan
Jonathan Stewart

Photo Credit: NFL.com

There is no doubt the Seattle Seahawks showed a tremendous amount of heart on Sunday. Unfortunately at the end of the day the deficit was too big and time was too little. The 2015 campaign comes to a close as the Carolina Panthers defeat the Seahawks 31-24, eliminating Seattle and advancing to next week’s NFC Championship Game against the Arizona Cardinals. The NFC will be represented in the Super Bowl by a team other than the Seahawks for the first time since 2012. For this preview I will break the game down into two huge chunks, the frustrating disaster that was the first half, and the incredible comeback which fueled the second half. Here are my final thoughts of the 2015 season.

The First Half: The Seahawks spotted the Panthers 31 points going into the halftime break. Everything that could go wrong did go wrong and both the Seattle offense and defense were to blame. On the very first play of the game Panthers running back Jonathan Stewart broke through into the Legion of Boom and galloped all the way down to the Seattle 16-yard line, a gain of 59 yards. This set up a Stewart touchdown run 3 plays later giving the Panthers a 7-0 lead only two and a half minutes into the game. On the Seahawks first possession of the game Carolina stole away any momentum the Seahawks were trying to muster and held a tight grasp on it for the rest of the half. On second down Russell Wilson felt immediate pressure and forced a pass to the middle of the field in the direction of Marshawn Lynch. Lynch had yet to turn around and Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly intercepted the pass and ran it in for a touchdown. 14-0 Panthers less than three and a half minutes into the game. After a Seahawks punt the Panthers drove down the field and scored again on a Stewart 1-yard touchdown run. 21-0 Panthers. On the first play of Seattle’s next possession Wilson felt rushed again and threw a low pass which was intercepted by Cortland Finnegan. A Carolina field goal made it 24-0 Panthers with 12:37 left in the second quarter. The nightmare continued on Carolina’s next possession. After a Seahawks punt the Panthers drove 54 yards in 9 plays culminating with a 19-yard touchdown pass from Cam Newton to Greg Olsen. The Seahawks went into the halftime break down 31-0, their largest deficit in a game since 2010.

I noticed a few things in the first half that drove me crazy, some which we could control and others we really could not. For starters as the score went up I felt like our defense started to play panicked and tried to force their play. What I mean by this is instead of good fundamental tackling we would try to force takeaways by forcing the ball out which at times helped Carolina gain extra yards. Third down defense was also a problem, as Carolina converted 71 percent of their third down chances in the first half. On offense I found quarterback pressures and hurries to be particularly frustrating. One of the best facets of Russell Wilson’s game is his escapability and he did not do a good job of creating plays in the first half. He felt too comfortable in the pocket and trusted his offensive line almost to a fault. I also believe Wilson and the Seahawks offense discounted the speed of the Panthers defense. They absolutely swarmed him and ate him up in the first half, leading to two turnovers and a sack. The field also did not do the Seahawks any favors either. Players were slipping, sliding, and falling down throughout pregame warmups which led to harsh criticism which was discussed on the FOX broadcast in the early part of the game. Marshawn Lynch looked particularly uncomfortable playing on that sloppy surface, especially since the majority of his success running the ball depends on him being able to be shifty and cut sharply on the turf.

The Second Half: My hope was that if the Seahawks could somehow score 21 points in the third quarter to cut the Panthers lead to 10, we could put ourselves in position to potentially make the greatest comeback in NFL playoffs history a reality. For a time it looked like it might be doable. The Seahawks adjusted wonderfully coming out of the halftime break and came out firing. On the first offensive possession of the second half the Seahawks were set up thanks to a 50-yard kick return by Tyler Lockett. A personal foul by Carolina on the kickoff gave the Seahawks an additional 15 yards. On the fourth play of the drive Wilson connected with Jermaine Kearse for a touchdown. After forcing the Panthers to punt the Seahawks took their next drive all the way down the field resulting in a touchdown pass to Lockett. Halfway through the third quarter the Seahawks were only 7 points away from my goal. It was 31-14 Carolina. At the pace we were going I thought an epic comeback was a real possibility at this point but after our next drive resulted in a punt it started to feel like it was going to be extremely difficult. The Seahawks got the ball back with 9:34 left in the game and we drove down the field to score a touchdown in 3 minutes and 28 seconds. With just over 6 minutes left in the game, two timeouts, needing two scores, and the Panthers getting the ball again the blueprint was set in terms of what we needed to do; force a Carolina punt, score, recover an onside kick, and score again. Step one was completed after Carolina held the ball for another 3 minutes. The Seahawks got the ball back with 2:49 left and kicked a field goal cutting the deficit to 7 with the clock reading 1:12. Just like last year’s NFC Championship Game, the Seahawks season continuing depended on recovering an onside kick. Steven Hauschka’s onside attempt was a good one but the ball was caught and held on to by Thomas Davis, sealing the victory for the Carolina Panthers.

It was a gritty, heartwarming effort. The Seahawks were dead to rights and the resolve this team showed shows exactly why we are able to be competitive in any game we play. No deficit is too big for this team and we came one score shy of tying or perhaps even winning the game. Hindsight is 20/20, but if the Seahawks would have been able to kick a field goal in the first half (either Hausckha’s miss at the end of the first half or deciding to kick a field goal instead of going for it on 4th and 5 late in the first half) and if Wilson would not have thrown one of his two interceptions there is a real possibility we are talking about a Seahawks victory instead. At the end of the day, turnovers may have been the primary culprit, which is what I was wary of in my game preview.

Thoughts on Carolina: This is a defense-driven football team and they are extremely good. With today’s performance I now am questioning whether or not the Seahawks have the best defense in the league. If not, that title definitely belongs to the Panthers. They will host the Cardinals next week and if they play exactly like how they did today, it will be the Carolina Panthers representing the NFC in Super Bowl 50. I look forward to playing the Panthers next season, arguably the best opponent we will play at CenturyLink Field in 2016.

Random Thoughts: The Seahawks will pick 25th, 26th, or 27th in the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft. The pick better be used on the best offensive lineman available… The 2016 schedule will be released in April but here are our opponents next season. Home games at CenturyLink Field: Arizona Cardinals, Los Angeles Rams, San Francisco 49ers, Carolina Panthers, Atlanta Falcons, Philadelphia Eagles, Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins. On the road: Arizona Cardinals, Los Angeles Rams, San Francisco 49ers, New Orleans Saints, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Green Bay Packers, New England Patriots, New York Jets… 37 days until the start of the NFL Scouting Combine and 102 days until the NFL Draft.

Thank you guys once again for logging on and reading this season. It always means a lot to me that you read and care about what I write. On to 2016. Go Seahawks!

Seahawks/Panthers Preview (NFC Divisional Playoff)

16 Jan
panthers divisional preview 2015

Photo Credit: Seahawks.com

Matchup: (6) Seattle Seahawks at (1) Carolina Panthers

Site: Bank of America Stadium (Charlotte, North Carolina)

Kickoff: 10:05am

We meet again. For the second consecutive season the Seahawks will take on the Carolina Panthers in the NFC Divisional playoffs. This time around however the tables have been turned. The Panthers enter this game after a 15-1 regular season, an NFC South division title, and earning home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs. With their win last week the Seahawks advanced to the NFC Divisional round for the fourth straight season but instead of hosting like they did last season they have to travel across the country to take on the Panthers this January. The Seahawks won games against the Panthers in Charlotte in three consecutive seasons from 2012-2014. In their 2015 meeting in Seattle earlier this season however the Panthers bested the Seahawks 27-23. This will be an extremely difficult matchup for the Seahawks but I believe we match up well with what the Panthers will put onto the field. Here is what I will be watching for.

The Marshawn Lynch mystery drags on for at least one more week. The star running back has practiced all week and proclaimed to ESPN that he is “ready to go” but it will come down to a game-time decision if Lynch actually suits up and plays. If Lynch cannot go it will be Christine Michael who starts at running back once again. For the rest of the Seattle offense, much improvement needs to be shown in order to compete with the Panthers on the scoreboard. Quarterback Russell Wilson must improve on his accuracy because there is little doubt the fantastic play of the Minnesota defense last week rattled him. Limiting turnovers will also be a big key in the way this game plays out. Carolina leads the league in turnovers with 39, which are 10 more than any other team. They also lead the league in turnover differential with a mark of +20. The Seahawks offense will need to take the majority of their drives deep into Carolina territory in order to stay in this game.

Many people may not realize this but the Seahawks defense will play this game with a couple of big-name players who did not play against Carolina back in week 6. Back in October K.J Wright moved from outside to inside linebacker in place of Bobby Wagner who missed the game with an injury. This week Wagner will be back starting at middle linebacker and will be a tackling machine in the middle of the field. In 3 career games against the Panthers, Wagner has averaged 7.3 tackles per game and has also sacked Panthers quarterback Cam Newton once. In addition to Wagner, Jeremy Lane will start at cornerback. Cary Williams, who is no longer on the team, started at cornerback against the Panthers earlier this season. Lane’s primary job will be to cover Panthers wide receivers Philly Brown and Devin Funchess. Last week the Seahawks only forced one turnover. If the Seahawks defense can force at least two turnovers in the game we will be in decent shape.

The Carolina Panthers offense is one of the very best in the National Football League. Quarterback Cam Newton is considered to be a most valuable player candidate this season. All year long Newton has had fantastic on-field chemistry with tight end Greg Olsen. Olsen is Newton’s number one target and his numbers correlate to this notion. 26 percent of Newton’s passes were completed to Olsen this season. That percentage translates to 77 catches for 1,104 yards (both team highs) and 7 touchdowns. Olsen’s second best game of the season came against the Seahawks back in October. There is much more to the Carolina offense however and there are two other players whose presences cannot go unnoticed. My X-Factor Players to Watch for the Panthers are Pro Bowl running backs Jonathan Stewart and Mike Tolbert. I put my X-Factor spotlight on these two guys not because of their production on the ground, but the role they can play in the Carolina passing game. Stewart and Tolbert have combined for 253 receiving yards and 4 touchdowns this season. After watching film I see the possibility of Newton targeting these backs on screen passes and wheel routes/rollout passes inside the redzone.

Each level of the Carolina defense features incredible talent. Four Panthers defenders have been named to the Pro Bowl. The middle of the field will be a risky place for Russell Wilson to throw into as the Panthers are led by veteran linebackers and tackling machines Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis. Cornerback Josh Norman has had a meteoric rise to being one of the best cornerbacks in the league. His 4 interceptions and team-leading 18 passes defensed defend this reputation. The matchup that may have the most say in the Panthers season continuing on to the NFC Championship Game will be defensive tackle Kawann Short against the Seahawks offensive line. Short recorded 11 sacks this season and is considered one of the best pass rushers in football. Short is averaging one sack in each of his last 5 games and he was also able to bring Russell Wilson down in the backfield twice earlier this year. In short (no pun intended), this Panthers defense is scary good and it will take a monster effort to take them down.

Random Thoughts: At the start of the playoffs I assumed since the Seahawks would have to play three straight road games to get to the Super Bowl, that we would be wearing white throughout January. Instead the Panthers have elected to wear white jerseys and white pants this week. This means the Seahawks will wear college navy jerseys. The Seahawks will pair these jerseys with wolf grey pants. The Seahawks won in this combination in Carolina in both 2012 and 2013… Joe Buck and Troy Aikman have the call for FOX’s only broadcast of Divisional weekend… The referee this week is Tony Corrente… Nothing and I mean NOTHING would make me happier than to see all the Seahawks players “dab” on the sideline and take a group photo if we win. For those not familiar these are the hijinks the Panthers have participated in all season long at the end of their games and it would be a tremendous troll job if the Seahawks came away victorious and stuck up the proverbial middle finger in this way. If this happens look for Michael Bennett and perhaps Richard Sherman to lead the way… Brunch n’ ball for the final time this season. I’m glad this is the final 10am game of the season… Speaking of 10am starts, a random thought unrelated to this game. I am thrilled the Rams have relocated to Los Angeles. We know better than any other city what greed and corruption happens behind the scenes when it comes to franchise relocation (SuperSonics, duh) and from this perspective it is sad to see the Rams leave St. Louis. The reason I am thrilled however is because it benefits the Seahawks. Instead of traveling to the middle of the country each season we will now fly to Southern California. This eliminates one 10am kickoff each season and the Seahawks never have to play at the Edward Jones Dome again. The Seahawks went 7-7 in St. Louis dating back to 2002. Instead these road games against the Rams will be played at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum for the next three seasons which is a stadium not known for having an intimidating home field advantage. It is still a little weird to see “Los Angeles Rams” in print. It will take a little while to get used to.

Prediction: The Seahawks have lost 6 straight Divisional playoff games played on the road. Although I hope I am wrong I believe that streak continues on Sunday. The first half will be an entertaining defensive battle with Carolina taking a 13-10 lead into halftime. In the second half however the Panthers defense will shut the Seahawks offense down. Carolina will score a touchdown (with a missed extra point), and two field goals on their first three possessions of the second half. The Seahawks will have opportunities to claw back into the game but Russell Wilson will throw two interceptions and the Carolina defense will also force a fumble near the end of the third quarter. The Seahawks season will end and the Panthers will move on and host the Arizona Cardinals in next week’s NFC Championship Game.

Panthers 25, Seahawks 13

Seahawks/Rams Preview

27 Oct

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Matchup: Seattle Seahawks at St. Louis Rams

Site: Edward Jones Dome (St. Louis, Missouri)

Kickoff: 5:40pm

For the second consecutive the week the Seahawks hit the road for a nationally televised primetime game. The Seahawks share the Monday Night spotlight with the St. Louis Rams this week in the first matchup between these two teams this season. The Seahawks are 6-1 and are coming off a 34-22 win over the Arizona Cardinals in week 7. The Rams are 3-4 and not only did they lose to the Carolina Panthers last week, they also lost starting quarterback Sam Bradford to a torn ACL, which has ended his 2013 season. The Seahawks lead the all-time series with the Rams 18-12. Their last meeting came in the final regular season game of 2012. The Seahawks struggled but persevered, beating St. Louis 20-13 to finish the 2012 season at 11-5. There are several things to think about and look for this week both on and off the field. Let’s take a look at what I am looking at in week 8.

As the weeks and wins have gone by the confidence in the locker room is as high as ever. My number one key to a victory this week is for the Seahawks to simply take this game one play at a time and not be overconfident. Before the season started I was ready to pencil in this game as a loss given the fact that it was a primetime game most likely in front of a sold out crowd in a place where we have struggled to win over the past few years against a team that could challenge for an NFC Wild-Card berth. Over the past 7 weeks these circumstances have changed dramatically and the Seahawks are now large favorites to win this game. I do not want to say this is a trap game but to show that we are a disciplined football team, we need to play just like how we played last week in Arizona; field-stretching offense, a dominating pass rush, and no turnovers.

On offense this week the buzz has been around the possibility of Percy Harvin being active and playing for the first time this season. We have invested $67 million dollars in Harvin and although he has been cleared to come back, it has been announced he will not be active against St. Louis. Realistically, I expect Harvin to make his Seahawks debut in two weeks against the Atlanta Falcons. Not only will Harvin not play but I am curious to see the role Golden Tate is able to play this week after injuring his shoulder last week. He has been practicing this week but if the injury is still nagging it could affect how Tate plays. Sidney Rice is primed to have a breakout performance this week. Rice made an impact last week catching a long touchdown from Russell Wilson. With the offense building momentum and Wilson trusting his receivers more, Rice could be Wilson’s primary deep threat should he decide to stretch the field against a St. Louis defense that gives up an average of 247 passing yards per game. An effective offensive performance may not be easy as the Rams have great talent throughout their defense and they play well at home given their 2-1 record inside the Edward Jones Dome. However they do boast the third-worst running defense in the league. Marshawn Lynch will be a focal point in our offensive gameplan and great production from Lynch will take the pressure off of Wilson and the passing game.

The St. Louis Rams offensive line has given up an average of just over 2 sacks per game. The Seahawks sacked Carson Palmer 7 times last week. It will be necessary to put large amounts of pressure on the quarterback this week because I believe after watching tape of Rams quarterback Kellen Clemens that pressure will force him into making bad throws more than your typical backup quarterback. That will be a focus of the defense this week; how to force Clemens to make bad decisions. Much like with the offense, in a game where we are heavily favored it will be crucial to play mistake-free football. There is no reason why we shouldn’t be able to stop the battered Rams offense this week so if we can avoid bad penalties and end drives without giving up large amounts of yardage and points we will be victorious.

The St. Louis Rams are in a big pickle on offense. With Sam Bradford out for the season with a torn ACL, Kellen Clemens will be the starting quarterback going forward. With Clemens suddenly thrown into the starting rotation it would be logical to think the Rams will want to run the ball to take the pressure off of the quarterback. The problem is that the Seahawks boast the 5th ranked run defense in the National Football League. Regardless, my X-Factor player of the Rams offense is running back Zac Stacy. Stacy has seen expanded playing time the past three weeks and has now surpassed Daryl Richardson and Isaiah Pead as the Rams starting running back. After two weeks gaining at least 78 yards, Stacy only gained 53 yards on 17 carries last week. His average yards per carry have also steadily decreased over the past 3 games. One thing that Stacy does extremely well is breaking tackles. It will be important for the Seahawks defense to wrap Stacy up to prevent him from gaining yards after contact; something that the Seahawks improved at greatly last week.

I do not expect the St. Louis wide receivers to have a major impact, especially first-round rookie Tavon Austin who has been a major disappointment so far this season. If Kellen Clemens plays a conservative game which I believe he will, I expect tight end Jared Cook will see the majority of the targets short and in the middle of the field.

Given the talent of the Seahawks and the worries of the Rams offense, the Rams defense has been greatly overshadowed in the days leading up to this game. St. Louis has a quite talented defense and they boast a solid mix of pass-rushing talent and good secondary play. Given the newfound confidence in Russell Wilson to stretch the field he will challenge the Rams secondary throughout the game. My defensive X-Factor player for the Rams is cornerback Trumaine Johnson. Johnson has the height of Legion of Boom cornerbacks Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner as well as using his body to record 31 tackles; 4th most of any St. Louis defender. Johnson also has one interception on the season. Given the height factor, expect Johnson to line up across from Sidney Rice for most of the game. If the Seahawks can avoid turning the ball over to this feisty Rams secondary and if the offensive line can protect Russell Wilson effectively we will be in good shape this week.

There is one final note that cannot go unnoticed. The Seahawks/Rams game will be taking place at the exact same time of game 5 of the World Series. What makes this even more interesting is that the Edward Jones Dome and Busch Stadium are only one mile apart. St. Louis has been known for a long time as a true “baseball city” and even when the Rams have shown the slightest bit of success not many people seem to notice or care. I have heard rumors that the Rams will struggle to fill half of the stadium’s capacity on Monday night which could turn out to be a huge advantage for the Seahawks. There is surely a large part of the greater St. Louis area that would rather watch the Cardinals play in the World Series on television then actually attend the Rams game. Not only could this negatively affect the Rams on Monday, a poor showing of Rams fans could also propel the NFL to look into the possibility of a potential relocation of the Rams to a city like Los Angeles; something that has been talked about by the league as a possibility for the past few years.

Random Thoughts: All bets are off but I expect the Seahawks to wear white jerseys this week… Mike Tirico and Jon Gruden have the call for ESPN… The referee for this week’s game is Gene Steratore… A win will solidify the Seahawks first non-losing record on the road for the first time since 2005 and it’s only October! That is pretty crazy… A win would also improve the Seahawks record against NFC rivals to 3-0 on the season… As much as I am a fan of primetime games it will be nice to get back to Sunday games starting next week… Here’s a thought from the “It’s a small world but not really” department: Rams quarterback Kellen Clemens currently wears #10 but during his stint with the Washington Redskins in 2011 he wore #1 in honor of his longtime friend Andy Collins who passed away in August of 2011. Collins wore #1 playing quarterback for Occidental College from 2004-2006. Collins was married to current Indiana Pacers sideline reporter Brooke Olzendam, whose father Dave was my speech teacher at Newport High School in 2005. What a strange yet interesting link between myself and Kellen Clemens… Hopefully the Seahawks can leave St. Louis injury-free. With our entire team getting healthier as a whole each week the last thing you want to see is a giant setback that could jeopardize our progress.

Prediction: The Rams defense will show its presence early but the Seahawks will move the ball effectively shortly thereafter. The Seahawks defense will completely shut down the Rams offense and the crowd will make a minimal impact on the game. Marshawn Lynch will run for 125 yards and a touchdown and Bobby Wagner will intercept a pass and record a sack of his own in his return to the lineup. The Seahawks will head home 7-1 and will start preparations for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Seahawks 31, Rams 9

Late Monday night or early Tuesday morning is when I will have my Rams preview up for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy Monday Night Football everyone. Go Hawks!

Review: Seahawks 50, Bills 17

17 Dec

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Review: Rams 19, Seahawks 13

1 Oct

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On Sunday, the Seahawks showed that there may have been a hangover following Monday night’s win. The Seahawks fell to the St. Louis Rams 19-13 and in the process the Seahawks fall to 2-2 and are now technically in last place in the NFC West. The Rams improve to 2-2 and take over 3rd place in the division. What may ultimately hurt the most however is that the Seahawks are now 0-2 in divisional play. This game showed great promise early on but those feelings quickly faded, as the Seahawks failed to do many things that are crucial to staying competitive and winning the game. Let’s get to the thoughts I took from this game.

We Couldn’t Get Off The Field: The Rams converted 5 third downs today and they all seemed to be at the most crucial of times. The most frustrating conversions were a 14-yard gain on 3rd and 13 in the second quarter. This conversion set up a Greg Zeurlein field goal at the end of the half to give the Rams a 13-7 lead. The second conversion came in the fourth quarter. Sam Bradford completed a 17-yard pass to Austin Pettis on 3rd and 14 which set up Zeurlein’s fourth field goal of the day, which gave the Rams a 19-13 lead. These two stops could have been easily avoided because our secondary gave the Rams receivers too much space to create a play. Our run defense was steady throughout most of the game but did give up a couple big runs to Steven Jackson. Overall I am pleased with the defense but unfortunately we could not perform when it mattered the most, which turned out to be the difference in the game.

Wilson Needs To Be More Aware: Russell Wilson may be too comfortable in the pocket. Wilson was sacked twice on Sunday, but he was also flushed out of the pocket multiple times and his second interception of the day could have been avoided if he was quicker in deciding where to throw the ball. Wilson also is not taking chances down the field. Mike Martz on the FOX broadcast said that the Seahawks “are almost nonexistent in the 20+ yards per play zone. They thrive in the 10-15 yard range.” Russell threw three interceptions today, although two of them were not his fault. It is getting to the point where I am considering describing the Seahawks offensive as anemic. Marshawn Lynch is our offense. We may be in big trouble if Wilson cannot improve his numbers, which of course starts with him processing his decision making and being fully aware of everything going on around him.

No, Breno!: In my preview post, I explained the importance of Seahawks offensive lineman Breno Giacomini keeping a cool head because Rams cornerback Cortland Finnegan likes to trash talk and get under the skin of opposing players. Despite the importance and concern I had, Giacomini was flagged twice for personal foul penalties. The first of these penalties, as a matter of fact, came as Giacomini shoved Finnegan about five seconds after Marshawn Lynch was tackled and the whistle blew. Watching Breno get out of control has become a serious worry for me. Our opponent clearly knows what to do to tick Giacomini off and the effort to push him to the edge is never-ending. I don’t know what else to say about this except for that Breno needs to seriously take a step back and see how his “heat of the moment” actions are actually hurting his team in the long run. With a very young and talented Carolina Panthers defense up next, Giacomini needs to get a sense of perspective and fast.

It’s A Fake!: Pete Carroll claimed in his postgame press conference that he tried to call timeout to prevent the Rams fake field goal touchdown pass to Danny Amendola in the second quarter. Nevertheless, he was unsuccessful in getting the timeout granted and the Seahawks unfortunately gave up 7 points that should never be allowed to happen. What is the most frustrating about this is that Amendola lined up in the huddle and spread out wide to the sideline. None of the Seahawks special teams players noticed Amendola break from the huddle, allowing him to float unguarded for the easy touchdown. These mental mistakes are very uncharacteristic for a special teams unit that has shown to be dominant so far this season. Kudos to the Rams for perfectly executing this play. As a fan it is extremely embarrassing to give up a touchdown as easy as that. I don’t expect any other team to be able to successfully try a trick play like that again this season. If we do give up another trick play I can assure you I will be ripping out chunks of my beautiful red hair.

Two Can Play That Game… We Think: What a ballsy call by Coach Carroll by calling an onside kick to start the second half. Hindsight is 20/20 and of course it did not pan out the way we would have hoped but I actually like the play call. The Seahawks entered halftime trailing 13-7 and were faced with the possibility of giving the Rams the ball to start the second half with all of the momentum on their side. Why not take a shot to get the ball back and swing momentum back in our favor? The Seahawks only gave up a field goal on that drive, which is okay considering the excellent field position we gave the Rams. Although I like the call in this situation it doesn’t mean I would like to see it again. Let’s save the onside kicks for when we are trailing at the end of the game.

Props To Zuerlein: Rams rookie kicker Greg Zuerlein made four field goals on Sunday, which also tallies to 18 fantasy football points (distances of 58, 48, 60, and 24 respectively). All of his kicks were right down the middle and each had plenty of extra distance. Zuerlein pretty much singlehandedly beat the Seahawks on Sunday. I understand the kicker is not the sexiest position and does not attract the most attention from the media and fans, but St. Louis definitely has a keeper at the position for a long time to come. This guy is definitely proving the Rams made the right choice in releasing Josh Brown during the offseason.

Random Thoughts: I had a bowl of cheerios for breakfast. Quite a ways off from the breakfast I was thinking about cooking for me and my roommates… Warren Sapp’s “Bold Prediction” on NFL Gameday Morning today was that the Seahawks would set an all-time NFL record by sacking Sam Bradford 13 times today. We only sacked him twice. I wonder how many more games it will take to get the other 11 sacks to fulfill Sapp’s prediction… Like I was hoping was NOT going to happen, Mike Martz spent most of his commentary time hyping up the Rams… Martz was also quoted during the broadcast saying that “the score doesn’t matter until the fourth quarter. It is 0-0 until the fourth quarter.” Let me test this theory. Hey Mike, if the Rams scored 30 points in quarters 1-3 and the only score in the fourth quarter was a Seahawks touchdown does that mean the Seahawks win the game 7-0?… It was amazing to see how many empty seats there were inside the Edward Jones Dome on television. Granted, the St. Louis Cardinals were playing a very important game at the exact same time right across the street, but still you should be able to drum up more support than what I saw on TV on Sunday. I guess a baseball game with playoff implications is more important to a St. Louis sports fan than a football team that has won 16 games in 6 seasons… The patterns of small attendance for Rams games in St. Louis makes me wonder if the team is going to be at the top of the list of candidates that could move to Los Angeles. The city of Los Angeles just approved a new stadium in the downtown “L.A. Live” area… The game went fast which was nice. I honestly like a fast game especially when it is a 10am kickoff… Mike Carey and his officiating crew did a very good job calling Sunday’s game. I am really happy to see the actual referees back on the field… The Seahawks wore the white jersey/gray pants combination again on Sunday. I would like to see the Seahawks try out the white jersey/blue pants combo again like they did in Denver during the preseason… Although the Seahawks are technically in last place in the NFC West, we are only one game behind San Francisco and two games behind Arizona for the division lead. I am optimistic we can catch up… I lost my fantasy game by 3 points this week. Thanks a lot, Ramses Barden… Hey Rams fans see you in Week 17. We’ll be ready for the rematch no doubt.

If I get some free time outside of school this week look for an update or two about what is going on at Seahawks headquarters. If not, look for my preview of next Sunday’s game against the Carolina Panthers most likely on Saturday afternoon. Thanks for reading. Go Seahawks!