Tag Archives: NFC East

Review: Seahawks 24, Eagles 14

7 Dec
Photo Credit: Seahawks.com

Photo Credit: Seahawks.com

For the second straight week I started the game as a nervous wreck and by the time it was over I had to question myself as to what I was so nervous about in the first place. The Seahawks added yet another defensive gem to their resume as Seattle went all the way across the country to Philadelphia and physically dominated the Eagles en route to a convincing 24-14 victory. The Seahawks and Eagles both now sit at 9-4. With the win Seattle has a firm grip on an NFC wild-card playoff berth while still sitting one game behind the Arizona Cardinals for the division lead. For Philadelphia, Sunday’s loss ties them atop the NFC East with the Dallas Cowboys but they remain the division leaders based on their tiebreaker over the Cowboys. This was the toughest game left on Seattle’s schedule and with this win I believe the path has been cleared for the Seahawks to make some noise in the playoff standings for the rest of the regular season. For now here is what I took out of this week’s game.

Wilson’s Indecisiveness Costs Seahawks Points: Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson played a very good game overall, throwing for 263 yards and 2 touchdowns as well as running for 48 yards and a touchdown. It seemed as if he got more comfortable with his timing and his throws as the game wore on. I did see Wilson make two mistakes in the first quarter, both possibly taking points off the board. The first came on the first drive of the game. With the Seahawks facing a 3rd and 5 at the Eagles 30-yard line Wilson scrambled to the right and instead of throwing the ball away he tried to find an open receiver and ran out of room, stepping out of bounds for a loss of 4 yards. With the wind swirling throughout the game, those 4 yards made the difference between the Seahawks attempting a field goal and punting. Instead of taking a 3-0 lead, the Seahawks punted. The second mistake occurred with just under 4 minutes left in the first half; virtually the same situation. With the Seahawks in field goal range on third down, Wilson was pressured and threw the ball away and did not get the pass back to the line of scrimmage. Intentional grounding was called on Wilson and the Seahawks were forced to punt once again after the 15-yard penalty. A field goal in that situation would have made it a 10-7 game and I believe those two opportunities could have given the Seahawks at least 16 points going into halftime.

Offensive Line Thoughts: The Seahawks surrendered only two sacks of Russell Wilson on Sunday. Just like how the entire offense played better as the game progressed, the same could be said for the Seahawks offensive line, specifically the right side of the line anchored by tackle Justin Britt. Britt had trouble blocking the wide array of weapons Philadelphia threw at him. It seemed like Britt had no answer for Connor Barwin, Fletcher Cox, and Bennie Logan for the entire first half. As the first half was coming to a close, I noticed that right guard J.R. Sweezy started to help Britt out and the Seahawks stuck to that strategy in the second half, resulting in significant improvement in the passing game. Lemuel Jeanpierre played a good game at center in place of Max Unger, proving that he can be a serviceable player until Unger returns from injury. If Unger can play next week this healing and improving offense will only continue to grow and put more points on the board.

Boom > Speed: The number one question coming into this game was how the Seahawks defense would handle the speed of the Philadelphia offense. Coming into this game the Eagles were averaging 412 yards of offense per game. On Sunday, the Seahawks and the Legion of Boom completely shut down Mark Sanchez and company, holding the Eagles to 139 yards. In my game preview I wrote about how to this point Sanchez has not been required to do a whole lot for the Eagles to win games. Today his weaknesses were exploited. The Seahawks were able to hold Eagles running back LeSean McCoy to 50 yards rushing on 17 carries, forcing Sanchez to throw for Philadelphia to move the ball. Sanchez finished the day 10/20 for 96 yards, 2 touchdowns, and one interception. Both touchdowns however came with the Eagles working with a short field (14 yard and 54 yard drives respectively). In our last three games the Seahawks have averaged less than 7 points per game. With the reeling 49ers coming to Seattle next week, this defense could be primed for another dominating performance.

Time of Possession: With all the talk about Philadelphia’s lightning-fast pace on offense it is amazing to me that the Seahawks possessed the ball for 41 minutes and 56 seconds of the game (69%). That number sets a Seahawks franchise record for time of possession. Everything related to time of possession fell into place and you could see it on the field. The Seahawks gained 28 first downs, were able to run the ball to keep the clock running, and perhaps most importantly our defense was able to stay rested throughout the game. As far as clock management goes this was as perfect of a game I have ever seen the Seahawks play and it could not have come against a better opponent.

Procedure Penalties Still a Problem: Although total penalties improved from last week to this week (8 penalties for 67 yards), the Seahawks still need to clean up easily avoidable pre-snap fouls. Half of Seattle’s penalties this week were procedure calls which included two false starts and two delay of game penalties. These fouls are continuing to give me a headache. These situations are fundamental in practice and there is no excuse for giving the opponent easy yards like we did again on Sunday.

Thoughts on Philadelphia: The Philadelphia Eagles are a good team but without Nick Foles this team could be headed towards another early round playoff exit. I believe they have the talent on defense to push this team to a division title. Even though they played the #1 defense this week this offense is not broken. I do question Mark Sanchez’s ability to lead this team deep into January. I believe the Eagles are good enough to win a wild-card playoff game at home but with Sanchez at the helm, if the Eagles have to travel in the playoffs, particularly to Seattle, they will have a very difficult time winning.

Random Thoughts: The Seahawks went white/blue this week. This was the first time since beating the Redskins in week 5 that the Seahawks won in white jerseys… I am going to talk way more about the Eagles uniforms than I probably should. In my game preview I said the Eagles would wear their midnight green jerseys with white pants. I was wrong. They decided to go with their black alternate jerseys and black pants. I found this surprising considering the Eagles were forced to wear black for the first half of the season after a snafu with Nike in regards to having their green jerseys ready for the first part of the season. Considering that black is the Eagles “alternate” jersey, I would have thought that they could not wear that jersey anymore this season. Oh well… Ricardo Lockette what was that flop all about??!! Terrible… On Saturday night punter Jon Ryan spent his evening playing Nintendo 64 Mario Kart with kicker Steven Hauschka and long snapper Clint Gresham. Perhaps Ryan should spend a little more time practicing catching the ball. Two straight weeks now Ryan has fumbled a punt but this week he could not get off the kick and the Eagles took advantage of the short field we gave them. The Seahawks defense saved Ryan from being the goat of the game in my opinion… Richard Sherman almost had his 4th interception of the season early on in the game. I continue to be amazed that Sherman is rarely penalized with the style of play he sports… I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again here. I believe we will win out and go 12-4. We need to take it one game and one week at a time but I believe we can run the table.

Thanks for reading everyone! Check back on Saturday as I preview our week 15 game against the San Francisco 49ers. Go Seahawks!

Seahawks/Eagles Preview

6 Dec
Photo Credit: Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Photo Credit: Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Matchup: Seattle Seahawks at Philadelphia Eagles

Site: Lincoln Financial Field (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)

Kickoff: 1:25pm

If you look at each of the Seahawks final four games, you may think this week’s matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles may be the toughest. It very well may be. The Seahawks start the final quarter of the regular season on Sunday when they face off against the Eagles in a rare east coast late-afternoon game. The Seahawks are 8-4 after a convincing win over the San Francisco 49ers last Thursday. Seattle is currently second in the NFC West and is one game behind the Arizona Cardinals for the division lead. The Eagles are currently leading the NFC East at 9-3 and are coming off a big win over the Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving. Philadelphia leads the all-time series with the Seahawks 7-6. Their last meeting came in 2011 when Seattle defeated the Vince Young-led Eagles 31-14. The Seahawks have played two games against the Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field and beat them both times by a combined score of 70-24. This week the Seahawks will face a style of offense that they have not even come close to seeing by any other team in the NFL. This is what I will be looking for this week.

The Seahawks have not scored more than 20 points in a victory in four weeks when they put up 38 on the New York Giants. Even though our defense has been playing dominant football the past couple of weeks the Seahawks offense needs to finish their drives this week. Settling for field goals may not be good enough to combat the point barrage the Eagles have put on other opponents. This week I will be focused on what the Seahawks offense does on third down opportunities particularly within field goal range. It is these plays that will determine if the Seahawks put 3 points on the board or 7 points on the board. Even though Seattle will be facing the 12th best run defense in the league, it is my opinion that on third down the Seahawks should stick with giving the ball to Marshawn Lynch or Robert Turbin. The Seahawks running game could ultimately dictate the outcome of this game. If we can take advantage of our opportunities, run the clock to allow our defense to rest, and exchange field goals for touchdowns, we will be very difficult to beat.

Never before have I put the word stamina and the Seahawks defense together in the same sentence. However this week the stamina and speed of our defense is crucial to being able to stop the Philadelphia offense. On average the Eagles run a play every 22.9 seconds, by far the fastest rate of any team in the league. If Philadelphia has success in moving the ball and putting points on the board it will be extremely difficult for our defense to stay rested later on in the game. It is crucial for the defense to set their tone early on. The formula to success is nothing new, stopping the run and putting pressure on the quarterback. The Seahawks defensive line will have my attention this week more than any other group. If Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett can get to Eagles quarterback Mark Sanchez and simply hurry him the chances of us having opportunities to force turnovers are huge. Tony McDaniel, Kevin Williams, and Jordan Hill will have their hands full with an Eagles offensive line that has helped plow the way for the 6th best running game in the league. The Seahawks have allowed 64 rushing yards in each of their last two games. I estimate that a successful day on Sunday will see the Seahawks allowing between 80-90 combined rushing yards.

When you see the weapons that head coach Chip Kelly and the Philadelphia Eagles have on offense it is no wonder why they are sitting on top of their division with a 9-3 record. They have an explosive backfield featuring running backs LeSean McCoy and Darren Sproles and the 5th best passing game in the league including wide receivers Jeremy Maclin, Riley Cooper, and rookie Jordan Matthews. However since the collarbone injury to starting quarterback Nick Foles, the Eagles have had to rely on backup quarterback Mark Sanchez to lead this team for the rest of the season. In Sanchez’s 4 starts since the injury to Foles, the Eagles have gone 3-1 with Sanchez throwing for 6 touchdowns and 4 interceptions. In those 3 wins the Philadelphia defense and special teams have done a tremendous job in forcing turnovers and even scoring points. In those victories the Eagles forced 11 turnovers, recorded one interception return for a touchdown, and added a 108-yard kickoff return touchdown. In a nutshell, the Eagles have put Sanchez in a position to not have to do a whole lot on his own to win games. The possibility of him having to do more work than normal to win this game makes Mark Sanchez my X-Factor player to watch for Philadelphia. This week more than any other week I believe that Sanchez will have to do considerably more through the air to win this game and thus far he has not proven enough for me to believe that he is a completely different Mark Sanchez than the one that butt-fumbled his way out of New York. It would not surprise me to see Sanchez manage the game similarly to how Alex Smith played the Seahawks last month to prevent turnovers. If Sanchez looks rattled early on, regardless of Seattle’s success rushing the passer, the Seahawks will be in a great position to take control of this game.

Random Thoughts: The Seahawks cannot wear wolf grey for the rest of the season since NFL rules only allow teams to wear their “alternate” jerseys twice per season. The Seahawks will wear white jerseys in Philadelphia this week. Pant color TBD however personally I hope we wear white pants… The Eagles will wear their midnight green jerseys with white pants… This game is FOX’s “America’s Game of the Week.” Joe Buck and Troy Aikman have the call with Erin Andrews reporting from the sidelines… Bill Vinovich is the referee this week. Vinovich also officiated the Seahawks week 3 win over the Denver Broncos… I think Philadelphia is the only city I would not go see the Seahawks play in. I have heard bad things about their fans in general, but then again the same could have been said about Raiders fans and I had a wonderful experience going to a game in Oakland wearing Seahawks stuff (even though it wasn’t a Seahawks game)… I love the 1:25pm start for a game being played on the east coast. The last time the Seahawks played a late afternoon road game in the eastern time zone after daylight savings time going into effect was two seasons ago when the Seahawks beat the Buffalo Bills in Toronto… I have remained more confident going into this week’s game than I was going into last week’s game in San Francisco… If the Seahawks win this game, I believe we will win out, putting us at 12-4.

Seahawks Playoff Outlook: With Seattle’s win and Arizona’s loss last week the Seahawks now sit one game back of the Cardinals for the NFC West lead. With one more game against the Cardinals left, the Seahawks now control their own destiny within the division; running the table gives us the division title. Should the Seahawks win this week, if the Cardinals also win the Seahawks will remain in the wild-card chase for at least one more week. A Seahawks win and a Cardinals loss will put Seattle in the #2 seed. A Seattle win, an Arizona loss, and a Green Bay loss on Monday night, and the Seahawks will have a hold on the #1 seed and home-field advantage with 3 weeks of the regular season left to play. Here are this week’s other games with NFC playoff implications. Teams to note are bolded.

Tampa Bay (2-10) at Detroit (8-4)

Kansas City (7-5) at Arizona (9-3)

San Francisco (7-5) at Oakland (1-11)

Atlanta (5-7) at Green Bay (9-3)

Prediction: This will be a classic back-and-forth football game. The Eagles will start the scoring with a short LeSean McCoy touchdown run. The Seahawks will come right back with a Marshawn Lynch touchdown run to tie the game at 7-7. Philadelphia will add a field goal at the end of the first half and the Eagles will take a 10-7 lead into halftime. The Seahawks will come out red hot in the second half, scoring 10 third quarter points and Seattle will take a 17-10 lead into the fourth quarter. After Philadelphia ties the game at 17-17 thanks to a Jeremy Maclin touchdown reception, the Seahawks will take control of the game for good on both sides of the ball. In the final 10 minutes, the Seahawks defense will force three Philadelphia drives to stall and with 5 minutes left to play, Russell Wilson will find Luke Willson in the endzone for the game-winning touchdown. The Seahawks will get a huge win and with Arizona’s loss to Kansas City, the Seahawks will be the leaders of the NFC West by the time Sunday Night Football kicks off.

Seahawks 24, Eagles 17

Win or lose, check back late Sunday night for my review of this week’s game. Go Seahawks!

Review: Seahawks 38, Giants 17

9 Nov
Photo Credit: seahawks.com

Photo Credit: seahawks.com

It was not perfect but it was a close to a complete game as the Seahawks have played in a long time. In front of 68,352 raucous fans the Seahawks came back from a 17-14 halftime deficit to beat the New York Giants 38-17. The Seahawks set a franchise record with 350 rushing yards including 5 touchdowns on the ground. With the win the Seahawks are now 6-3 and remain 2 games back of the Arizona Cardinals for first place in the NFC West. The Giants fall to 3-6 and continue to struggle to be relevant. Here is what I took out of today’s victory.

Have a Day, Beast Mode: Today the Seahawks established the running game with Marshawn Lynch and then some. Lynch ran the ball 21 times for 140 yards and 4 touchdowns; by far his best game of the season. As I previously mentioned the Seahawks broke a franchise record running for 350 yards on Sunday. Associated categories favored the Seahawks as well, especially time of possession as the Seahawks controlled the ball 7 minutes longer than the Giants. It is not a secret that if you are successful running the ball the chances of you winning are greater. That is not my main point. What is important is that this performance should silence any speculation of Lynch’s possible lack of motivation. Robert Turbin and Christine Michael saw their touches this week but this performance showed loud and clear that Lynch is still out go-to guy in the backfield. Leave any talk about his future on the sidelines for now. For now, let him go out there and be the player we all know he is, the player that showed up big time on Sunday.

First Half Defense: In the first half the Seahawks defense gave up 17 points, 7 of which coming off of turnovers. After the first 30 minutes it looked like Eli Manning was going to pick the Seahawks defense apart all game long. The worst part was that it looked like Seattle was going to let him, as once again we could not establish a solid pass rush. Giants quarterback Eli Manning was not sacked in the first half and the New York offensive line gave Manning a clean pocket for the majority of the half. In the first half Manning threw for 192 yards and a touchdown; a stat line that should be unacceptable especially at home. Fortunately the defense stepped up in the second half, preventing any chance of a New York sized upset.

Second Half Defense: On paper the Seahawks defense played a near-flawless game in the second half. The Seahawks sacked Eli Manning twice, picked him off once, and best of all allowed 0 points. The momentum tilted Seattle’s way for good after Manning’s interception, a pass which was tipped by Richard Sherman to Earl Thomas in the endzone and brought out to the Seahawks 42-yard line. Seattle then went on to score 21 points in the final 15:39 of the game. If the defense can play a complete game we will be a very dangerous team moving forward. The inconsistency of Seattle’s pass rush is what could prevent us from closing out any potentially close games in the coming weeks. I believe we are about to turn a corner, but Dan Quinn needs to take the risk and dial up more early down pressure. Two sacks of Eli Manning is simply not okay in my eyes.

Turnovers and Ball Security Issues: Today was a rare example of the Seahawks losing the turnover battle but finding a way to win the game. The Seahawks committed 3 turnovers this week while only forcing 2 of their own. Seattle also fumbled two more times but they were able to get back on top of the ball both times. The Seahawks have not had consistent turnover problems so I do not expect this to be the start of a negative trend. This is an area that we can patch up in practice this week. Having said this we do go on the road next week into a very hostile environment. If we struggle to maintain possession of the ball again next week, this topic may be brought to the forefront as we enter the NFC West gauntlet after our game in Kansas City.

Thoughts on the Giants: Let’s start with the obvious; the Giants run defense played an absolute terrible game. The Seahawks were able to get to the second and third levels of New York’s defense several times on Sunday and the Giants did not help themselves along the defensive line, as they were extremely unsuccessful in patching up holes for Marshawn Lynch to run through. On offense the Giants have good young talent in receivers Rueben Randle and Odell Beckham Jr. and perhaps having Victor Cruz could have helped the Giants passing attack. Eli Manning made a couple very pretty completions where he arched the ball right into the chest of his receiver. The Giants simply need to stock up more young talent. Their 2014 season is virtually over, but in the unpredictable NFC East it is not unreasonable to think the Giants could get right back into playoff contention in 2015.

Random Thoughts: There was a lot of camouflage around CenturyLink Field on Sunday. Everywhere you looked you saw it, similar to how in past seasons you couldn’t walk around without seeing a barrage of pink during breast cancer awareness month… As delicious as that egg nog latte I got from Starbucks was, I might have to cool it on the coffee before future prefunctions. Definitely battling a headache and the jitters right now which could only come from a coffee/beer mix… Thank God I have undercover seats. This has been one of the more indefinite weather home slates in recent memory… We had a Giants fan walking up our aisle who acted like he owned the place. Made me believe he was truly from New York. Good thing he sat several rows behind me because he may have gotten into a shouting match with the characters that sit around me… One pet peeve that I have never talked about is that there is never a good time to take a bathroom break. Either we are on defense and I want to stay in my seats to make noise, or we are on offense and I want to see if we can move the ball. Honestly, it is best to take a bathroom break when we are on offense in my opinion… With Carson Palmer out now is the time for the Seahawks to take advantage and regain ground in the division race. A win in Kansas City would be HUGE for our chances to retake the division.

Check back next Saturday morning as I preview our week 11 game against the Kansas City Chiefs. Go Hawks!

Review: Cowboys 30, Seahawks 23

12 Oct
Photo Credit: dallascowboys.com

Photo Credit: dallascowboys.com

Over the past few years the Seattle Seahawks have played games on the road where the defense could not get off the field on third down. Never had I seen those kinds of defensive failures in a game played at CenturyLink Field.

Until today.

The Seahawks lost only their second home game since 2011 on Sunday, falling to the Dallas Cowboys 30-23. While the Cowboys maintain a share of the NFC East lead with a 5-1 record, the Seahawks are now 3-2 and by the end of Monday night’s game they could be sitting in 3rd place in the NFC West. The Seahawks struggled mightily in multiple aspects of this game while still being able to score 23 points. Here is what I took out of Sunday’s game.

Offensive Talking Points: There are few positive notes this week on offense. Russell Wilson played a very safe game, throwing for only 126 yards and one interception. Wilson also added the Seahawks only offensive touchdown of the game, scrambling for 9 yards to tie the game at 17-17 at the start of the third quarter. Jermaine Kearse led all receivers with 3 catches for 62 yards but Wilson had a difficult time connecting with his receivers, leaving the pocket to try to create space for the majority of the game. One major disappointment was the ineffectiveness of the running game and Marshawn Lynch. Feeding the beast is more often than not the reason why the Seattle offense is so successful, so to see Lynch with a stat line consisting of only 10 carries for 61 yards, it is frustrating. If you take away Lynch’s 32-yard scamper, he ran the ball for an average of only 3.2 yards per carry. Looking ahead to next week is scary, as the Seahawks and Lynch will face a front-7 even better next week when they take on St. Louis.

What Did I Say About the Dallas Special Teams?: In my preview post I noted how the Dallas Cowboys always make a crucial mistake on special teams that costs them points when playing in Seattle. Sunday was no different as Doug Baldwin blocked a Chris Jones punt and Mike Morgan returned it 25 yards for a touchdown to give the Seahawks a 10-0 lead. At that point it looked like the Seahawks were going to run away with this game and it is shocking that we could have that much momentum and lose it the way we did. The Seahawks also recovered a Dwayne Harris muffed punt which led to a touchdown in the third quarter. My hope is that the Seahawks can expose future opponents on punt formations as well as they did on Sunday, as it could pay dividends later on in the season and could also lead to scoring opportunities.

Cowboys Offensive Line Better Than Advertised: DeMarco Murray and the Cowboys running game was very hard to stop throughout the game, thanks in large part to the play of the Dallas offensive line. The line paved the way for 162 total rushing yards and a Murray touchdown in the fourth quarter. The line also did a magnificent job of protecting Tony Romo as he was only sacked once. In the trenches it was Dallas that bullied the Seahawks defensive line throughout the game and at the end of the day the leading tackler along the Seattle defensive line was Tony McDaniel with 4. What scares me about the Cowboys success in the running game today is that it gives future Seahawks opponents a game’s worth of film as a blueprint to designing a game plan to run the ball just as effectively.

Third Down Woes: The Seahawks simply could not get off the field on third down this week. The Cowboys converted 9 of their 15 third down attempts (60%) with 5 of them coming with 8 yards to go or more. The Seahawks could not get to Tony Romo as he had a comfortable pocket to throw out of for the entire game. Putting pressure on Romo would have been a sure-fire way to create turnovers and although the Seahawks won the turnover battle this week, the plays Dallas were able to convert ultimately cost us the game.

The Play That Could Have Changed the Game: Among the many opportunities that slipped through the Seahawks fingers this week, one play literally slipped through the fingers of Byron Maxwell and it could have changed the entire outlook on the game. With the Cowboys facing a 2nd and goal in the first quarter Tony Romo fired a pass to the left side which was nearly intercepted by Maxwell. From my view Maxwell had 100 yards clearly in front of him and if he could have held onto the ball he would have returned it the length of the field for a touchdown, giving Seattle a 17-0 lead and the chances of us keeping our foot on the throat of the Dallas Cowboys would have been much greater. Instead Maxwell dropped the potential interception and Romo connected with Gavin Escobar for a touchdown on the very next play; a 14-point swing just like that.

The Play that Did Change the Game: The Cowboys faced an improbable 3rd and 20 late in the fourth quarter. The Seahawks held a 23-20 lead at the time and a stop on this play would have forced Dallas to punt and the Seahawks would have had time to try for insurance points on their next drive. Instead, after escaping the wrap of Bruce Irvin, Romo found Terrance Williams for a toe-tapping 23-yard reception. The spectacular catch by Williams extended the Cowboys drive and DeMarco Murray was able to score later on in the drive to give the Cowboys a lead that they would hold onto for good. As great of a catch as it was by Williams, how in the world could the Seahawks secondary play so soft to even allow Williams to have a chance at making the catch?! Simply frustrating.

Thoughts on Dallas: If they can keep up this dominant offensive pace, the Cowboys could be a very dangerous team going forward. The NFC East will come down to either Dallas or Philadelphia and barring injury I think the Cowboys are fully capable of winning the division. They know they can come into Seattle and win, so that makes Dallas a dangerous team if they make the playoffs as a wild-card team also. I do not think this team is capable of making a Super Bowl caliber run in the playoffs but they could certainly make January football interesting and intriguing.

Random Thoughts: Seahawks in navy, Cowboys in white just as expected… 5 Bud Light’s in a bucket for $20 is the best pregame deal at the bars. Can’t beat that value… Don’t blame this game on the officiating. I still hold a grudge against Bill Leavy as most other Seahawks fans do as well but the Seahawks beat themselves on this day… The starting offense was introduced this week. Good to see Jermaine Kearse get the opportunity to run out of the tunnel individually for the first time in his career… There were no intriguing morning games this week with the Cardinals playing in the afternoon and the 49ers and Rams playing on Monday night… A lot of Seahawks fans bailed after we failed to score at the end of the game, even with one timeout and the two-minute warning left. Did the Broncos game not teach you anything about leaving the stadium early???… There were a good number of Cowboys fans at the game this week so that was a little discouraging. I wonder how long it took the bandwagon to get here… I thought we would win this game, and when we did I thought we would be in good shape to split our next two games, both on the road. Now with this loss I think it is necessary for us to win both of our next two games. It will be tough but I think we can do it.

Check back on Saturday for a preview of the Seahawks week 7 matchup with the St. Louis Rams. Thanks for reading and Go Hawks!

Cowboys/Seahawks Preview

11 Oct
Photo Credit: seahawks.com

Photo Credit: seahawks.com

Matchup: Dallas Cowboys at Seattle Seahawks

Site: CenturyLink Field (Seattle, Washington)

Kickoff: 1:25pm

Who would have thought that going into week 6 the Dallas Cowboys would be 4-1? All of a sudden this week’s game has way more meaning than I originally thought it would. On Sunday afternoon the Dallas Cowboys come to Seattle to face the Seattle Seahawks. At 4-1 the Cowboys are tied for first place in the NFC East while the Seahawks sit at 3-1 and are tied for first place in the NFC West. Dallas leads the all-time series with the Seahawks 9-6 but in their last meeting in September 2012 Seattle handled the Cowboys easily, winning 27-7 with Russell Wilson earning his first NFL victory. Two seasons, 30 victories, and one Vince Lombardi trophy later, Wilson will attempt to tame Dallas once again. Here is what I am looking for in this week’s game.

The Dallas Cowboys sport the NFL’s leading rusher, running back DeMarco Murray. Murray’s 134 yards per game average is the best in the league and the first priority of the Seahawks defense will be to stop him. Look for Kevin Williams and Jordan Hill to have an expanded role along the Seahawks defensive line this week along with starting defensive tackle Brandon Mebane. It will be on these three guys to plug holes to limit Murray’s production. It will be crucial to stop Murray on first and second downs to force quarterback Tony Romo to throw. Romo has had a history of making bad throws and turning the ball over in Seattle so it will be crucial for the Seahawks pass rushers to put extra pressure on to force Romo into mistakes. If the defense can do both of these things the Seahawks will be in excellent shape.

Going into this season many believed that the 2014 Dallas Cowboys defense could statistically be one of the worst defenses in NFL history. Although they have not played terribly (yet), the Cowboys still rank in the bottom half in both pass defense and run defense. Dallas has given up an average of 122 rushing yards per game and if the Seahawks are successful running the ball much like they were last week this could be an easy win. On offense this week I believe the Seahawks will be victorious if Marshawn Lynch tops the 100 yard rushing plateau. Also keep an eye on Seattle’s use of the read option this week. Russell Wilson ran 14 read option plays against Washington last week and I think we will see more of it against a Cowboys team that has not faced a duel-threat quarterback since week 1 (Colin Kaepernick). I could see the Seahawks running between 5-10 read option plays. On these plays if Russell Wilson can run for 40-50 yards I believe we will be unbeatable. Expect to see Percy Harvin used just like he was last week, with expanded playing time lined up in the backfield.

When it comes to the Dallas Cowboys on the offensive side of the ball everyone looks at DeMarco Murray and wide receiver Dez Bryant as the motor that makes the offense work. With the Seahawks primarily focusing on stopping Murray and with Richard Sherman likely covering Bryant, it would not surprise me to see Tony Romo throw to his other targets. Enter my “boom or bust” X-Factor player to watch, wide receiver Terrance Williams. I say Williams is “boom or bust” because he has been rather inconsistent on the stat line this season. On good days Williams can be dynamic, much like he has been the past two weeks when he caught a combined 8 passes for 148 yards and 3 touchdowns. In the first three weeks of the season however, Williams struggled, catching only 8 passes for a combined 102 yards, a 34 yards per game average. With Williams likely matched up against Byron Maxwell for the majority of this game, it would not be surprising to see Romo throw in Williams’s direction to try to pick on Maxwell.

There is one pattern that I must address with the Dallas Cowboys coming to town this week. The Cowboys have played two meaningful games in Seattle since I became a season ticket holder in 2006. In both of these games the Cowboys have made at least one blunder on special teams. Everyone remembers the Tony Romo botched snap in the 2006 playoffs but many fans may not remember what happened the last time Dallas came to town. In our 2012 matchup Dallas kick returner Felix Jones fumbled the opening kickoff right into the arms of Earl Thomas. The Seahawks cashed in 7 plays later with a Steven Hauschka field goal. On the next Dallas possession, Bruce Irvin blocked a Chris Jones punt and Jeron Johnson returned it for a Seahawks touchdown. The Cowboys special teams have a rich history of struggling at CenturyLink Field so it will be interesting to see if the Seahawks can score any points on special teams this week.

Random Thoughts: The Seahawks will wear navy blue this week with the Cowboys wearing their traditional white jerseys and metallic silver/blue pants… Thom Brennaman and Troy Aikman have the call for FOX this week. Brennaman will be paired with Aikman for the next three weeks while Joe Buck calls the National League Championship Series and World Series for FOX. Even though Brennaman will do the play-by-play, this will still be FOX’s “America’s Game of the Week” broadcasted to the majority of the country… Bill Leavy is this week’s referee. Now that the Seahawks have won a Super Bowl it wouldn’t surprise me if Leavy’s Seattle limitations have been lifted. For those of you who don’t know this will be only the third time Leavy has officiated a Seahawks game in Seattle since Super Bowl XL… This week we will have an extra 20 minutes before kickoff as the game starts at 1:25pm. Everyone be in their seats ready to go by kickoff!… October is breast cancer awareness month in the NFL and this week the giveaway is pink ribbon pins. I am also excited to show off my pink Strideline socks for the second time this season… I think I’m only going to bring the leftover streamers I didn’t use at the Broncos game. Don’t feel like going to buy more. I’ll have to stock back up fully for the Raiders game… If the Seahawks win this week we will be 4-1, the same record we had through our first 5 games last season.

Prediction: A lot of people think the Cowboys can come into Seattle and make this a close game but I think otherwise. I think the Seahawks are primed for a decisive win. Marshawn Lynch will score two touchdowns and Michael Bennett will recover a Tony Romo fumble and take it to the house. The Seahawks will win this game to get to 4-1 and we will get ready for a huge test next week, our first division rivalry game of the season against St. Louis.

Seahawks 27, Cowboys 13

Check back late Sunday night for my review of this game. Go Hawks!

Review: Seahawks 27, Redskins 17

8 Oct
Photo Credit: seahawks.com

Photo Credit: seahawks.com

In a game that should have been a lot uglier on paper, the Seahawks extended their Monday Night Football winning streak to 9 games defeating the Washington Redskins 27-17. The Seahawks advance to 3-1 on the season and are tied with Arizona for first place in the NFC West. Washington falls to 1-4 on the season and they have a comfortable seat in last place in the NFC East. Here are some brief thoughts I took away from this week’s game.

The Read Option Returns: On Monday night the Seahawks ran 14 read option plays, their most since 2012. These plays allowed quarterback Russell Wilson to control the game virtually on his own. Wilson threw for 201 yards but his 122 rushing yards allowed the Seahawks to take control of field position and the game clock. Even though the Seahawks were a disappointing 36 percent effective on third down conversions, Seattle possessed the ball for 34:56 on Monday night. The Seahawks 225 total rushing yards this week are a season high and it will be interesting to see how we plan our running game for Dallas next week. Is the spike in read option play calling something that will stick around, or was the expanded running via Russell Wilson something specific that the Seahawks were trying to expose from watching film specific to the Washington Redskins. Time will certainly tell.

Defense Played a Solid Game: If you take away two deep completions from Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins to wide receiver DeSean Jackson for a combined 117 yards, the Seahawks defense played a dominant football game. The Legion of Boom did a good job of shutting down the Redskins short and intermediate passing game and the running defense led by middle linebacker Bobby Wagner and defensive tackle Kevin Williams did an outstanding job of holding Washington running back Alfred Morris to only 29 yards rushing on 13 carries. This is the kind of defensive performance I was hoping to see in a road environment. After we lost to San Diego I openly wondered if this team will slip back into their historical struggles on the road. After this win over the Redskins however, I am now starting to think this team can get back on track and go on a big winning streak, especially with a home game upcoming.

A 30 Burger?: It would have probably happened if it wasn’t for a whopping 13 penalties for 90 yards on Monday night. Holds and personal fouls negated not one, not two, but three Percy Harvin touchdowns, two of which coming on back-to-back plays. Without the penalties it would have resulted in 14 extra points and the Seahawks would have had the game won perhaps by the time halftime rolled around. Penalties must be fixed in practice this week and it is my belief that a solid expectation should be to trim this penalty in number in half next week.

Seahawks Struggle to Take Advantage of Field Position: If a drive starts on your own 40-yard line, it should take only 25 yards to get into comfortable field goal range. This week the Seahawks struggled mightily with a short field. The Seahawks started 6 drives from within 60 yards of the endzone. These 6 drives resulted in only 10 points (including 4 punts). With an offense as explosive as ours, there is no excuse for us not to turn all of these drives into points and our inability to take advantage of a short field was very frustrating this week.

Random Thoughts: Most of my random thoughts will be featured in a piece detailing my trip to Washington D.C. for the game. Look for that piece to be published later this week.

In addition to a review of my vacation to the Nation’s Capital, look for my preview of Sunday’s game against the Dallas Cowboys to be published on Saturday morning. Thanks for reading and Go Hawks!

Seahawks 2014 Primetime Outlook

22 Apr
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Photo Credit: cbssports.com

*Before I start this post, let me first apologize to everyone for the two and a half month hiatus. Life has been pretty hectic but I’m back!*

The NFL will release the 2014 regular season schedule on Wednesday night, meaning we will know the “when’s” and “what times” attached to the Seahawks 16 regular season games. To many football fans, the release of the regular season schedule is no big deal but to avid fans and season ticket holders such as myself, the release of the NFL regular season schedule is the most highly anticipated date of the offseason as we finally get to make our plans for the fall. As the defending Super Bowl champions, the Seahawks will certainly see their fair share of the primetime spotlight this season. At the time of the NFL schedule release, teams can be scheduled in primetime no more than five times, and can qualify to play a sixth primetime game via flexible scheduling during the season. It is almost guaranteed that the Seahawks will have five games in primetime when the schedule is released Wednesday night but the speculation as to which games will be in primetime adds to the mystery. Like last season, I have tiered all of our matchups to separate which games I believe are more attractive to a primetime audience. There are four tiers:

Tier One: Games I think will (and should) be scheduled in primetime

Tier Two: Games I think could be scheduled in primetime

Tier Three: Longshot games I could see scheduled in primetime, but are not likely to be

Tier Four: Games I do not think will be scheduled in primetime

TIER ONE

49ers at Seahawks, Seahawks at 49ers, Broncos at Seahawks, Packers at Seahawks, Seahawks at Panthers, Seahawks at Redskins

After playing them three times in 2013 including the NFC Championship (or the unofficial Super Bowl as some called it), there is no doubt that one of our games against the San Francisco 49ers will be scheduled in primetime with the other game going to FOX on a Sunday afternoon, and once again I believe it will be the game at CenturyLink Field that is destined to be played under the lights. I believe that the NFL will want to start the 2014 season off with a bang, which is why I predict 49ers at Seahawks will be the game scheduled for NFL Kickoff 2014 on Thursday night, September 4th. At first I thought it would make more sense to schedule the Seahawks/49ers game at Levi’s Stadium as the primetime game between these two teams as the NFL would want to highlight the 49ers new stadium. However after learning that the 49ers will likely not play any Monday or Thursday night home games in 2014 due to traffic concerns it became more logical in my mind that the Seahawks would host the 49ers in primetime for the 3rd consecutive season.

I would be absolutely stunned if the Broncos/Seahawks game, a rematch of Super Bowl XLVIII, is not slated for primetime. It makes too much sense. The fact that these two teams are once again the early favorites to make it back to Super Bowl XLIX makes this game a potential ratings wonderland. I expect this game to be a serious candidate for Sunday Night Football, or possibly Monday Night Football.

Two years ago the Seahawks beat the Packers in Seattle in what has been remembered then and now as the infamous “Fail Mary” game. The Packers return to Seattle this season to try to avenge that sour loss and I believe this matchup will be the Seahawks 3rd game scheduled in primetime. I think it would make all the sense in the world to have this game scheduled on Monday Night Football just like it was two seasons ago.

NOTE: On paper the Seahawks have a more attractive road schedule than home schedule, so I think the Seahawks will have two scheduled primetime games on the road and if Seattle qualifies for a sixth primetime game sometime during the season, that too will be a road game.

This is the third consecutive season that the Seahawks travel to Charlotte to take on the Carolina Panthers. This season however, both teams are defending division champions and took the top two seeds in the NFC Playoffs last season. The Seahawks game against the Panthers is one of the more attractive road games we play this season and I could see this game being played on either Monday Night Football or Thursday Night Football.

This year the Seahawks also play the NFC East, the one division that the NFL loves to over-schedule into primetime every year. If the Seahawks are going to play one game in primetime against an NFC East opponent, count my vote towards our game in Washington against the Redskins. Even though the Redskins finished in last place last season, couldn’t you see the “Russell Wilson wins a Super Bowl before #2 overall pick Robert Griffin III does” storyline be dissected for days leading up to the game? I definitely could. Monday Night Football would be the best fit for this game.

TIER TWO

Cowboys at Seahawks, Cardinals at Seahawks, Seahawks at Eagles, Seahawks at Chiefs

The Dallas Cowboys are one of the most attractive teams for the NFL to have playing in primetime. Any Cowboys game is a candidate to be in primetime and their game against the Seahawks in Seattle is no different. I believe there are more attractive teams for the Seahawks to play in primetime at home but a Cowboys/Seahawks game is definitely a possibility.

Last season the Arizona Cardinals snapped the Seahawks 14-game home winning streak dating back to December 2011. With the competition within the NFC West getting stronger there will certainly be some NFC West rivalry games slated for primetime in 2014. I could see Cardinals/Seahawks in Seattle on Thursday Night Football.

I could also see the Seahawks play two other 2013 playoff teams in primetime in 2014. The Philadelphia Eagles are the defending NFC East champions and will see an expanded slate of primetime games this season. Sunday Night Football or Monday Night Football would be the ideal landing spot for this game. If the Seahawks are going to play a road game in primetime against an old AFC West foe, I think it should be the Kansas City Chiefs. Monday Night Football or an early season Thursday Night game would be the best fit for Seahawks/Chiefs.

TIER THREE

Rams at Seahawks, Giants at Seahawks, Seahawks at Cardinals, Seahawks at Chargers

The Seahawks were challenged by the St. Louis Rams last season and the Rams may be ready to make a splash in the playoff conversation this year. Rams/Seahawks in Seattle is sure to be a longshot given the Seahawks other home opponents but it is the better matchup of the two. The New York Giants are another NFC East team which could draw big ratings in primetime but I do not believe this game is likely to be played in primetime. The one thing potentially working in favor of this matchup however is the legacy of the series; specifically the Seahawks win over the Giants in 2005 when New York surrendered 11 false start penalties.

Seahawks/Cardinals in Arizona was a primetime matchup last season which is why it is unlikely to be repeated in primetime this season. Of the matchups in this tier, the Seahawks game in San Diego against the Chargers may have the best chance to be scheduled in primetime, especially since the Chargers also made the playoffs last season.

TIER FOUR

Raiders at Seahawks, Seahawks at Rams

The only way Raiders/Seahawks sneaks its way into the primetime schedule is the argument that the NFL wants to display former bitter AFC rivals on a national stage much like they did the last time Oakland came to town in 2006. I think this matchup is a gigantic mismatch on paper at this point and could be just as ugly as the Super Bowl was. An early double-digit Seahawks lead could turn viewers away later on in the broadcast.

Last season the Seahawks played the Rams in St. Louis on Monday Night Football and that game went head to head with the World Series which was being played just down the street. The environment inside the Edward Jones Dome that night was less than ideal and introduced the prospect of St. Louis missing out on attractive matchups in primetime down the road. Pencil this year’s matchup against the Rams in St. Louis into a Sunday morning/afternoon slot.

Rams/Seahawks Preview

28 Dec
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Photo Credit: seahawks.com

Matchup: St. Louis Rams at Seattle Seahawks

Site: CenturyLink Field (Seattle, Washington)

Kickoff: 1:25pm

After losing to the Arizona Cardinals last week, the Seattle Seahawks have a third and final chance to clinch the NFC West division title and home field advantage throughout the playoffs this week against the St. Louis Rams. The Seahawks come into this week’s game at 12-3 after last week’s loss and the Rams enter Seattle having won 4 of their last 6 games. The Seahawks lead the all-time series with the Rams 19-12 and have won the last two games including a 14-9 win in week 8 in St. Louis on Monday Night Football. It is also noteworthy to point out that the Rams currently have an 8-game losing streak in Seattle. Their last win at CenturyLink Field came on January 8th, 2005 in an NFC Wild-Card playoff game. This week’s game has become the biggest game of the season and I expect and anticipate a playoff-type atmosphere on Sunday. This is what will be in the way and what the Seahawks must do to be the 2013 NFC West champions.

Forget about how well the defense played. Forget about the bad calls that went against us. The primary reason why we were unable to win and clinch last week was the inept play by the Seahawks offense. Protecting quarterback Russell Wilson is by far the most important thing the Seahawks must do in order to be successful this week. J.R. Sweezy has been practicing this week and it is logical to believe he will be back starting at right guard, adding stability to a position that was a brutal weakness last week with Michael Bowie filling in. As important as the running game will be with Marshawn Lynch this week, it is the Seahawks passing game that will need to step up to move the ball in chunks, extend drives, and get into scoring range on a more consistent basis. Last week Arizona forced 7 Seahawks three-and-outs, which was a significant factor in Arizona being able to control the clock and tire our defense out. If the Seahawks offensive line does a sub-par job protecting Wilson, look for the Seahawks to utilize a screen pass package that could feature Golden Tate on bubble screens and Marshawn Lynch on conventional screens out of the backfield.

The Seahawks defense has not allowed more than 20 points in a game since before the bye week. This week, in an effort to improve exposed aspects of our defensive game plan last week, it is imperative that the Seahawks must be able to stop Rams running back Zac Stacy. Stacy has been on a tear as of late, running for 133 yards and 104 yards in the last two weeks respectively. Stacy also ran for his season high 134 rushing yards against the Seahawks back in October. Although St. Louis quarterback Kellen Clemens has been playing decent football since starting quarterback Sam Bradford got hurt that does not diminish the fact that Clemens will have to play in front of a revved up 12th Man that will be at full roar on Sunday hoping to boost the Seahawks into the division title. The Seahawks have intercepted 9 passes in their last two games and putting pressure on Clemens could significantly up that number this week. This is why Stacy becomes such a viable weapon for St. Louis and by eliminating Stacy’s production and forcing Kellen Clemens to throw will give the Seahawks a tremendous advantage this week. Look for the Seahawks pass rush to also make an impact on the left side of the Rams offensive line, as starting left tackle Jake Long is out for the season. Rodger Saffold will start in place of Long this week.

The last time these two teams played, the St. Louis Rams defense did a surprisingly incredible job of shutting down a Seahawks offense that had been rolling in their previous few games. It was this game that the Seahawks were unfortunately introduced to defensive end Robert Quinn. Quinn is currently the NFL leader in sacks with 18, racking up 5 sacks in his last two games, thus he comes into Seattle very hot. The way the Rams control this game is to make life miserable for Russell Wilson. And the way Seattle blocked against Arizona will not cut it this week as the Rams pass rush may be one of the league’s best right now. The Rams like to use pressure early and they will use packages that include Quinn, defensive end Chris Long, defensive end William Hayes, and defensive tackle Michael Brockers. Quinn will be the primary focus of the Seahawks offensive line and it would not surprise me to see Quinn line up at defensive tackle to try to penetrate the soft spots in the Seahawks offensive line. Double teaming Robert Quinn will be necessary at times but being able to harness the rest of the Rams pass rushers will make it easier for the Seahawks to take care of Quinn.

On offense for the Rams there will be a gigantic emphasis on the running game because St. Louis averages less than 200 passing yards per game this season. If the running game cannot pick up steam, quarterback Kellen Clemens will be forced to throw. Much like how I think Russell Wilson and the Seahawks offense can effectively run screen passes this week, I think the same goes for the Rams. Kellen Clemens does not want to throw into the Legion of Boom and being able to play conservatively in the passing game could benefit the Rams offense overall. Using screen passes could be the best way to move the ball through the air this week and my X-Factor player to watch this week is a man who has suddenly become Clemens’s most popular target; wide receiver Stedman Bailey. Bailey is a rookie wide receiver from West Virginia and was taken two rounds after his college teammate Tavon Austin was also taken by St. Louis. With a season-ending injury to Austin, Bailey has seen significant playing time and has seen an increasing number of targets over the past 4 weeks. Last week Bailey led all Rams receivers in targets with 5, catching 3 of them for 44 yards. Bailey is short yet quick and I consider him a possible Doug Baldwin/Golden Tate hybrid. Using Bailey in the quick passing game is what I will look for this week while the Rams are on offense. If the Rams decide to throw bubble screens, expect Bailey to be the top target on the outside.

Like I previously stated earlier in this post, after last week’s loss the sense of urgency this week has blossomed from easy comfort to overblown panic. To all of the fans, especially those attending this week’s game, I remind you that we still control our own destiny but the Seahawks need us to do our part now more than ever. The 12th Man needs to enter CenturyLink Field on Sunday with the belief that this is a playoff game. I expect an extremely loud atmosphere (even for a Sunday afternoon game) that will make St. Louis struggle as badly as San Francisco and New Orleans did in primetime atmospheres. Plain and simple, this is a playoff game. Get to your seats with plenty of time to spare during pregame and cheer and yell like it is a playoff game.

Random Thoughts: This week’s game theme is fan appreciation and the Seahawks will be giving away tons of prizes throughout the game. I haven’t won anything on fan appreciation day since 2008… Last season the Seahawks chose 60 season ticket holders randomly to be on the field for player introductions. If they are doing it again this year I didn’t get picked. Oh well… The Seahawks will wear all blue this week and the Rams will likely wear white jerseys and white pants… Chris Myers and Tim Ryan will broadcast their final Seahawks game of the season this week on FOX… Jeff Triplette is this week’s referee. Triplette’s crew has been rather controversial this year. In a Sunday night game between the Giants and the Redskins a few weeks ago, Triplette’s crew incorrectly told Redskins coach Mike Shanahan that they moved the chains for a first down but they really had not gained enough yards for a first down. The Redskins could not convert and the Giants won the game… This week I am taking my sister to a Seahawks game for the first time since her birthday in 2008. This is also the first time I’ve taken a family member other than my Dad to a game since then. She recently turned 21 so I will be able to show her what a normal gameday is like when I take my friends. Pregame at the Hawks Nest Bar starts at 9am… Shortly after the afternoon slate of games the NFL usually releases the schedule for both Wild-Card weekend and Divisional weekend. The Seahawks will likely know what day and what time they play their first playoff game by 5pm Sunday night. Congratulations to Russell Wilson, Marshawn Lynch, Max Unger, Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor, and Earl Thomas for being named to this year’s Pro Bowl and congratulations to Russell Okung, Golden Tate, and Steven Hauschka for being named Pro Bowl alternates. However, hopefully they trade their trip to Hawaii for a trip to New York to play in the Super Bowl instead.

Seahawks Playoff Outlook: As we enter the final week of the regular season there are 3 scenarios that could determine the Seahawks road to Super Bowl XLVIII.

Scenario #1: A Seahawks win clinches the NFC West and home field advantage throughout the NFC Playoffs.

Scenario #2: A Seahawks loss and a 49ers loss to Arizona clinches the NFC West and home field advantage throughout the NFC Playoffs.

Scenario #3: A Seahawks loss and a 49ers win over Arizona clinches the NFC West for San Francisco; the Seahawks would be the #5 seed in the NFC Playoffs.

The NFC North and NFC East division titles will be decided by win-or-go-home games that will determine who will be the #3 and #4 seeds.

The Carolina Panthers can clinch the NFC South and the #2 seed with a win over Atlanta. The New Orleans Saints can clinch a playoff spot with a win over Tampa Bay. New Orleans wins the NFC South with a win and a Carolina loss.

Here are this week’s games with NFC playoff implications. Teams to note are bolded.

St. Louis (7-8) at Seattle (12-3)

Carolina (11-4) at Atlanta (4-11)

San Francisco (11-4) at Arizona (10-5)

Green Bay (7-7-1) at Chicago (8-7)

Tampa Bay (4-11) at New Orleans (10-5)

Philadelphia (9-6) at Dallas (8-7)

Prediction: This game will feature shades of our first game against St. Louis and last week’s game against Arizona. The Seahawks offense will struggle to get going and the Rams will have the lead at halftime. A couple of big gains in the passing game and a touchdown run by Marshawn Lynch from just outside the goal line will give the Seahawks a late lead. The defense will play a consistent game throughout the day and they will step up when we need them to the most. The Rams will need to put together a touchdown drive in the final minutes to win the game but Richard Sherman will pick off Kellen Clemens, giving the Seahawks the win, the NFC West title, and home field advantage.

Seahawks 21, Rams 16

Check back for my Rams/Seahawks review as well as a brief outlook on the start of the NFL Playoffs on Sunday night. Thanks for reading and enjoy the game. Go Hawks!

2012 Season Review: My Top Ten

17 Jan

The 37th season of Seattle Seahawks football was a very special one for me and the rest of the 12th Man. From day one of training camp on July 27th to day 177 last Sunday, we were a part of a journey that had its ups and downs and showed us how far a group of men can come and improve in such a time span. Most importantly, this Seahawks team showed what is to come next year and for many seasons following. I attended 10 of our 16 regular season games this season; 8 home games from my 2nd home in section 340 at CenturyLink Field, and spent hundreds of dollars to make sure my voice was heard and body was present in Arizona and San Francisco. Instead of chronicling our season from start to finish in a traditional season review piece that many other people will do, I have compiled my top ten moments of the 2012 season. These moments are not only the moments I witnessed first-hand but also the moments that were the most exciting and the moments that contributed in how our season was shaped. Some will agree with my list, others will disagree. Maybe you agree on the moments but not the order I have placed them in. Nevertheless these are the moments I have chosen as worthy of our top ten of the 2012 season. Let the debate begin!

#10: Washington Ties Cribbs (Seahawks at Dolphins, Week 12)

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Leon Washington made history in the fourth quarter of the Seahawks loss to the Miami Dolphins in late November. After scoring a touchdown to tie the game at 14-14, Miami kicked off to Washington with 8 minutes left in the game. Washington took Dan Carpenter’s kickoff 98 yards and into the endzone for a touchdown that gave the Seahawks a 21-14 lead. The kickoff return touchdown was Washington’s 8th in his career and that number ties Cleveland Browns kick returner Josh Cribbs for first all-time in that category in NFL history. After coming back from a devastating leg injury three years ago, Washington has re-emerged as one of the most dangerous return men in the league. Although he is getting older I fully expect Washington to play a big role on special teams next year. He has a unique burst and you could tell he was close to breaking off a couple big runs in the playoffs. Hopefully next season Washington can claim sole possession of first place in kickoff return touchdowns.

#9: Defense Makes A Statement, Pummels Rodgers (Packers at Seahawks, Week 3)

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When you combine a national television primetime setting, a ferocious fan base, an extremely talented defense, and a sub-par offensive line, you get my number nine moment of the season. With the entire nation watching the Seahawks defense combined to sack Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers 8 times in the first half alone. Chris Clemons led the attack with 4 sacks, rookie Bruce Irvin added 2 of his own, and defensive tackle Brandon Mebane also added 2 sacks. It was the most dominant span on defense this season and as I noted in my Packers review, it actually left me laughing in the stands because our play was so amazing and dominant. If only our pass rush could have been more consistently dominant over the course of the entire season. If that happened, we may still be playing football. I tipped my hat to the Seahawks defense on this night. I probably won’t see that many sacks recorded during a 30 minute span again in a very long time.

#8: Wilson Runs Into The Record Books (Seahawks vs. Bills, Week 15)

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The Seahawks debuted their wolf grey uniforms in Toronto against the Bills on December 16th and Russell Wilson looked especially good in them. The Seahawks were coming off a 58-0 win over the Arizona Cardinals the previous week and the offensive surge did not stall against the Bills. The Seahawks won the game 50-17 but Russell Wilson was the biggest factor in the final score. Wilson became the first quarterback in Seahawks history to run for three touchdowns in a game and he ran for all three in the first half. The zone-read option worked the best against the Bills in my opinion as Wilson and the running backs combined for 270 rushing yards.

#7 Cowboys Special Teams Screw-Up Number One (Cowboys at Seahawks, Week 2)

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The Seahawks hosted the Dallas Cowboys in their home opener on September 16th and the game could not have gotten off to a worse start for the Cowboys. With the entire sellout crowd already in their seats for kickoff, the Seahawks kicked off to Felix Jones of the Cowboys to start the game. After making it out to around the Dallas 25-yard line, Jones was hit on his side which knocked the ball free from his arms. Earl Thomas recovered the fumble and the crowd erupted into chaos. Ten seconds into the game and the Cowboys had already turned the ball over, given the Seahawks excellent field position, and they gave the 12th Man something to go crazy about. In the stands the play was awesome and everyone around me was beyond excited. The drive culminated into just a field goal but luckily for the Seahawks and the fans, the Cowboys were not done with their special teams blunders yet.

#6: Cowboys Special Teams Screw-Up Number Two (Cowboys at Seahawks, Week 2)

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After this play my friend Alan and I believed that the Dallas Cowboys special teams unit was cursed in Seattle. With the Seahawks forcing the Cowboys to punt on their first offensive drive of the game, defensive end Bruce Irvin penetrated the punter protection and got one of his hands on the kick. The ball took one bounce backward and right into the hands of Jeron Johnson inside the Dallas 5-yard line. Johnson walked the blocked punt into the endzone for a touchdown and the Seahawks took a 10-0 lead early in the first quarter. This play was very fast since the block and score occurred within seconds of each other. Once again, the crowd went crazy and we now had full confidence that we could beat Dallas handedly on this day.

#5: U Mad Bro? Seahawks Stun Brady, Patriots (Patriots at Seahawks, Week 6)

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Coming off a win in Carolina the week before, the Seahawks came home with a 3-2 record and a home date with the defending AFC champion New England Patriots. The Seahawks trailed the Patriots 23-10 with 9:21 left in the game. Russell Wilson connected with Braylon Edwards for a touchdown on 4th down to cut the Patriots lead to 6 points. The Seahawks got the ball back with 2:38 left in the game with a chance to take the lead. With 1:10 left in the game, Russell Wilson connected with Sidney Rice for a 46 yard touchdown pass which gave the Seahawks a 24-23 lead. It was the prettiest pass I saw Wilson throw all season long. The Seahawks defense came back onto the field for one last New England drive and successfully stopped the Patriots on four plays, giving the Seahawks the win. One other storyline of this game was the communicating (or trash talking) between Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman. During the game Sherman challenged Brady to throw in his direction while Brady told Sherman to see him after the game when the Patriots win. Brady did in fact challenge Sherman by throwing in his direction and Sherman picked off a pass in the 3rd quarter. After the game Sherman went up to Brady to tell him “you’re just a man. We’re a team.” The exchange was photographed and was given the caption “U Mad Bro?” with Sherman mouthing off to Brady while Brady tried to walk off the field. This moment tossed Sherman into the national spotlight. After this incident Seahawks fans started to love Sherman even more and fans of other teams started to loathe Sherman.

#4: RW3 > RGIII. Seahawks Win First Road Playoff Game Since 1983 (Seahawks at Redskins, NFC Wild-Card Playoff)

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The Seahawks finished ½ game behind San Francisco for the NFC West title but they still earned the #5 seed in the NFC playoffs. The Seahawks faced the NFC East champion Washington Redskins in the Wild-Card round of the playoffs and things did not get off to a good start. Washington jumped out to a 14-0 lead after the first quarter. At the time it was the largest deficit the Seahawks had faced all season long. The Seahawks came back thanks in large part to Russell Wilson, Marshawn Lynch, and Earl Thomas. The Seahawks scored 24 unanswered points in the final 45 minutes to beat the Redskins 24-14 to advance to the NFC Divisional playoffs. This game was the only playoff game to feature two rookie quarterbacks. Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III was playing with a sprained LCL in his right knee and he was unable to finish the game after further damaging his knee. The Seahawks did a great job of containing Griffin III and their rookie running back Alfred Morris. It was one of the most exciting road games of the season and the Seahawks came back home not before winning on the road for the first time in the playoffs since Chuck Knox’s Seahawks beat the Miami Dolphins in an AFC Divisional playoff in 1983.

#3: The Two Drives That Changed Our Season (Seahawks at Bears, Week 13)

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After losing to Miami in week 12 the Seahawks hit the road again for a crucial game against the Chicago Bears. At the time the Bears held the NFC North lead while the Seahawks controlled their own destiny as an NFC Wild-Card. With the Seahawks trailing 14-10 with 3:40 left in the game the Seahawks had to drive 97 yards to take the lead. On the drive Marshawn Lynch racked up 21 yards and Russell Wilson also ran for 19 yards. Wilson hit Zach Miller to convert a 4th down which would have ended the game if the pass was incomplete, and then he found Sidney Rice for a gain 27 yards. With 24 seconds remaining Wilson hit Golden Tate on a slant. Tate juked two defenders before diving into the endzone for the go-ahead touchdown. The Seahawks took a 17-14 lead. Game over right? Unfortunately not. Because of a breakdown in communication on defense, Jay Cutler found Brandon Marshall for a gain of 56 yards to put Chicago in field goal range. Robbie Gould knocked the kick through the uprights and the game was headed to overtime. In overtime the Seahawks won the toss and started their next drive on their own 20-yard line. Did Wilson have another game-winning drive in him? He proved that he could go down and win the game again. Thanks in large part to Wilson’s legs, he led the Seahawks into the red zone and connected with Sidney Rice from 13 yards out for the game winning touchdown. This was just the Seahawks second road win of the season but with the win we improved to 7-5. These two drives are considered to be the turning point in our season. In our next three games after the Chicago game the Seahawks scored a combined 150 points. Most importantly though, the Chicago game was the start of an impressive winning streak that did not end until the Divisional playoff loss to Atlanta.

#2: Sherman Steals The Show On Sunday Night (49ers at Seahawks, Week 16)

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I stepped into CenturyLink Field on Sunday Night December 23rd expecting to see a close, hard-fought game against the San Francisco 49ers. If we won we would clinch a playoff berth. I had no idea how bad of a mismatch and how big of a blowout this game would turn out to be. My number two moment of the season occurred with just over 12 minutes left in the second quarter. With the 49ers trailing 14-0, kicker David Akers lined up for a 21-yard field goal. The kick was blocked by Red Bryant and the ball bounced right into the arms of Richard Sherman. Sherman returned the ball 90 yards to the house for a touchdown and a 21-0 Seahawks lead. The game was over at this point. Everyone in the stands felt confident we would handle San Francisco for the rest of the night. In the stands the play was wild, which justifies my reasoning for ranking this play as the second best of the season. Once I saw the ball blocked and picked up by Sherman, I knew he had the speed and separation to outrun both Akers and the holder Andy Lee. I started jumping up and down wildly and screaming at the top of my lungs while pulling and shaking the guys who sit below me. Once Sherman crossed the goal line I ran down the stairs of my aisle collecting high fives and hugging everybody in my vicinity. I could not have been happier and the last time I celebrated that wildly on any play was the Marshawn Lynch beast quake run in the 2010 playoffs. I guess there’s something about primetime football that brings out the wild child in me. The Seahawks won the game 42-13 and clinched a playoff berth. Not only that, we also beat the hated 49ers which always puts a smile on my face.

#1: The Monday Night Miracle (Packers at Seahawks, Week 3)

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As the season wore on a lot of Seahawks fans got the feeling we were developing as the most hated team nationally during the 2012 season. The reason why is because of what transpired on Monday night September 24th. With the Seahawks trailing 12-7 with 8 seconds left, Russell Wilson threw up a Hail Mary into the north endzone. From my view it looked like Golden Tate out jumped three Green Bay defenders to make the catch. When one of the officials ruled touchdown, the stadium went absolutely crazy. Everyone around me started to jump up and down and we all embraced each other with looks of sheer amazement and non-belief in our faces. I had never seen a more epic finish then what had just happened. The play was reviewed by replacement official Wayne Elliott and the call on the field was upheld. The Seahawks won in what ESPN’s Mike Tirico called “the most bizarre finish you’ll ever see.” In the stands we couldn’t believe what had just happened and we headed out of the stadium under the impression that Golden Tate had cleanly made one of the greatest plays we had ever seen. I had never attended a football game that was decided by a Hail Mary on the final play so the adrenaline was coursing through my veins. I collected a program after the game that was sitting on a picnic table because I wanted a piece of memorabilia from the most exciting game of the year. Nobody I was with had the slightest clue what had actually happened on the field. When my friends and I got home from the game we turned on SportsCenter and watched for two hours as they broke down the final play. As you well know, the play was not as clean as it looked like from my view inside the stadium. We won the game but the controversy over the replacement officials had just begun. The SportsCenter following this game was the most watched episode in ESPN history and within 48 hours of the game, the referee lockout was over and the real NFL referees were back on the field. Sports Illustrated named this play the most iconic sports moment of 2012 and it is definitely deserving of that title. I have a mini-shrine to this game in my room including my ticket stub, the program I picked up, the rally towel that was given away at the game, and the front page of the Seattle Times sports section from the day after with the headline “Last Call?” Although I will be attending many many more football games in my lifetime, I am confident in saying I will never see a more incredible finish then what happened on this crisp September night.

Seahawks/Redskins Preview (NFC Wild-Card Playoff)

5 Jan

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Matchup: (5) Seattle Seahawks at (4) Washington Redskins

Site: FedExField (Landover, Maryland)

Kickoff: 1:30pm

The “second season” kicks off on Sunday as the 11-5 Seattle Seahawks head to the Nation’s Capital to take on the 10-6 NFC East champion Washington Redskins in an NFC Wild-Card playoff game. Both teams head into the playoffs with tons of momentum. The Seahawks enter the postseason riding a 5-game winning streak. The Redskins made a tremendous run to the postseason after starting the season 3-6. They ended on a 7-game winning streak and won their division. The Redskins lead the all-time series with Seattle 11-6 but the Seahawks hold a 2-0 advantage against the Redskins in the playoffs. The last time these two teams met in the playoffs was after the 2007 regular season in Seattle. The Seahawks defeated Washington 35-14 after pick-six’s by Marcus Trufant and Jordan Babineaux sealed the game in the 4th quarter. These two teams met in the regular season last season in Seattle and the Redskins knocked off the Seahawks 23-17. There are many storylines that are being covered by the national media and storylines that have been swept under the rug that I will try to cover in this preview. Here are some things to be looking for this weekend.

14 months ago the quarterback matchup between these two teams was Rex Grossman vs. Tarvaris Jackson. Both teams used the draft to pick quarterbacks they thought could lead their teams for years to come. For Washington, they traded three future first-round picks to trade up to take 2011 Heisman trophy winner Robert Griffin III. The Seahawks kept their early round picks and maneuvered themselves in position to take Russell Wilson in the third round. Both teams have struck gold. Griffin led Washington to their first division championship since 1999 and Wilson led the Seahawks to their winningest season since 2005. Both are extremely quick and add an extra dimension to their teams running games, not to mention that they have combined for 46 touchdowns and only 15 interceptions passing.

For Washington, their main focus should be to put pressure on Wilson. I am sure the Redskins defense will be watching film of last week’s Seahawks game against the Rams to see how they can penetrate Seattle’s offensive line to hurry Wilson. J.R. Sweezy will start for the Seahawks at right guard this week but John Moffitt will also be rotated in and see playing time. I hope that Moffitt plays more than Sweezy. Keeping the continuity along the offensive line with Moffitt would be the best scenario because in our four wins before the Rams game the offensive line gave Russell Wilson plenty of time to make plays. With the amped crowd and a pumped up pass rush, the Seahawks could be in trouble this week if the offensive line plays like they did against St. Louis.

The main focus for the Seahawks this week is definitely to stop the Redskins powerful rushing attack. Washington has rushed for 2,709 yards this season; the most total rushing yards by any team in the National Football League. Robert Griffin III plays a big role in the running game because of their similarly-designed zone-read option but rookie running back Alfred Morris is just as dangerous if not more dangerous than Griffin III. The Seahawks have the second best run defense in the league and the fourth best defense overall. The Redskins have not faced a top 10 defense all season. If the Seahawks can successfully stuff Morris and keep RGIII at bay, the Redskins will have to throw. Washington has minimal talent at the wide receiver position and with our secondary at full strength this week, I expect the Seahawks to be able to shut down the Redskins offense and will allow our defense to get extended rest on the bench.

The Seahawks head to Washington with no injuries of note and a huge piece of our starting defense back in the mix. After serving his 4-game suspension for Adderall the Seahawks will start Brandon Browner at cornerback this week. With Browner back, the “legion of boom” is back in full. This week Richard Sherman will line up against Washington wide receiver Pierre Garcon and Browner will line up against either Santana Moss or Leonard Hankerson depending on the situation. Like I previously stated, the Redskins do not have the advantage in terms of the wide receiver group this week. If the Seattle defense is successful in stopping Washington’s running game, Griffin III will be forced to throw. As a fan I am licking my chops at the possibility of this. In their 16 games this season, Griffin III has been the leading passer only three times and he has not faced a secondary as big and fast as the Seahawks. I would not be surprised to see a couple on interceptions this week if Griffin III has to throw. I think Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas will have the biggest impact this week for the Seahawks. If those two guys can create turnovers by the Redskins, they will put us in good position to win the game.

Let’s talk about the Washington Redskins defense. They have good talent at each defensive level but I will put my spotlight and focus this week on the linebackers. The most notable player on defense for Washington is linebacker London Fletcher. Fletcher is the veteran leader of the Redskins defense. He played in the Redskins playoff game against Seattle in 2007 and was a part of the Rams squad that won Super Bowl XXXIV in 1999. Fletcher has not slumped off with age as he led the Redskins in combined tackles this season with 139. He also added 3 sacks and a forced fumble. Fletcher is mentoring and playing alongside two other noteworthy linebackers. Ryan Kerrigan is one of Washington’s starting outside linebackers. The second year man out of Purdue leads all Redskins defenders with 8.5 sacks this season and he does a good job of moving around and confusing the opponent’s offensive line. Kerrigan will be zoned in on by the Seahawks offense but my player to watch this week is linebacker Perry Riley. Riley may be the most consistent and balanced player on the defensive side of the ball for Washington. Riley finished the regular season second on the team in tackles with 129 and finished third on the team in sacks with 3.5. Playing in the middle next to Fletcher, Riley is a rising star on this team and in this league and he will be around many plays this week for the Redskins.

Random Thoughts: This is the first game the Seahawks have played at FedExField since week 4 of the 2005 season. In that game Seahawks kicker Josh Brown missed a field goal at the end of regulation and Nick Novak connected on a 39-yard field goal in overtime to win it for Washington 20-17. The Seahawks then went on an 11-game winning streak which helped take them to Super Bowl XL… The Seahawks will wear white jerseys this week with the Redskins wearing maroon tops. No word on pants yet. The Seahawks are 1-0 this season with the white jersey/white pants combination so I hope that’s what we go with this week… Expect things to be a bit chippy early between these two teams. Last year in Seattle, the captains of these two teams got into a verbal altercation at the coin toss and the first part of the game was very pushy. Redskins corner DeAngelo Hall has even come out this week and said these two teams hate each other. I would not be surprised to see some players get into it after some plays… This is the first Redskins home playoff game since 1999. Crowd noise will play a factor this week. I think Russell Wilson will control the offense with poise eerily similar to our win in Chicago earlier this season… Joe Buck and Troy Aikman have the call for FOX this week with Pam Oliver and Erin Andrews patrolling the sidelines. I really hope Andrews gets to cover the Seahawks sideline… Pete Morelli is the referee this week, I believe his first Seahawks game of the season… The Seahawks have not won a playoff game on the road since 1983 when they upset the Miami Dolphins in an AFC Divisional playoff. After the game the players carried head coach Chuck Knox off the field on their shoulders. As cool as that would be to see, the players know that as great of a win as it would be we still have work to do. Pete Carroll wouldn’t be carried off the field until we do further damage in the postseason… I am very surprised we are favorites in Las Vegas this week…. I think I would rather play in San Francisco in the Divisional playoffs if I had a choice in the matter. What is great though is no matter who we play in any round, the Seahawks should feel no pressure to perform well. We just need to go out and play football… I am glad they scheduled our game for Sunday. We are not screwed out of a day of preparation and our week of practice has not been changed… For the first time in recent memory weather will not play a huge factor in a Seahawks playoff game. Dating back to 2003, we have played 2 road playoff games in Green Bay and 2 games in Chicago. Snow and other bad weather always seem to work against us in these games. This Sunday in Washington they are calling for a daytime high of 40 degrees and sun. Perfect conditions for playoff football in my opinion.

Prediction: Our strength is our run defense. This week we will be able to hold Alfred Morris to under 80 yards and RGIII will have to throw especially because he is battling an LCL injury, which is causing him discomfort to move around a whole lot. The Seahawks will intercept two passes; one by Richard Sherman and one by Earl Thomas. Russell Wilson will struggle early but will settle down in the second half. After the Seahawks break a tie midway through the 4th quarter, the Redskins will drive for a game-tying touchdown but our defense will shut them down before they can even get into field goal range. The Seahawks will head home with their first playoff win on the road in 29 years and will start preparation for Atlanta (most likely).

Seahawks 27, Redskins 20

I hope everyone enjoys this game. There is nothing better than playoff football and I am extremely excited to see if the Seahawks can keep our momentum going. Check back Monday afternoon for a review of our game with Washington and hopefully a short preview of our potential NFC Divisional Playoff game. Go Seahawks!

“The separation’s in the preparation.”- Russell Wilson