Seattle Seahawks

Bats heat up late: Hops hold off AquaSox in 5-4 win

Bats heat up late: Hops hold off AquaSox in 5-4 win

It was a pitcher’s duel turned shootout in the Hops 5-4 win over the Everett AquaSox on super hero night at Ron Tonkin Field Friday night.

In their second televised game of the season on CSN, a pitchers duel broke through the first five innings. On the hill for the Hops was Connor Grey, who came into Friday night’s game 1-2 with an 8.05 ERA. Retiring 15 of his first 17 batters, Grey registered 7 scoreless innings, allowing just three hits, striking out 5. His ERA dropped nearly three whole runs. 

With both Grey and Inman pitching lights out for their respective teams, the Hops turned to small ball in the bottom of the 6th inning. After Tra Holmes singled with one out, then subsequently stole second base, LF Billy Endris laid a bunt down the third base line. Corralled by pitcher Inman, his throw to first was off the mark, sailing into right field, bringing home Holmes. Heading to second base, Endris scored after a Bryan Araiza single to left. Araiza got caught rounding first, though Endris had already touched home, making the score 2-0. 

The AquaSox went to their bullpen and Ted Hammond in the bottom of the 7th, but the Hops bats were all warmed up. After a walk and a single from Eudy Ramos and Pavin Smith, Dalton Varsho stepped to the plate with one out and lined a double down the left field line, bringing in both runners, making it 4-0. Hillsboro tacked on another run in the 7th after a hard ground ball to short that forced Johnny Adams to force the out at first. 

Everett did not go away quietly, however. In the top of the 8th, after Grey’s lights out performance, righty Rafael Pujols, who had not given up a run this season, was shelled for 3 earned runs off 0.0 innings pitched. Anfernee Benitez didn’t fare much better.  He surrenders one run in 0.2 innings, including two runs that were credited to Pujols. In a game that saw little offense through the first 5 innings, 9 runs were scored in two-and-a-half innings on 13 hits.  

The Hops improved to 8-8 on the season, which is good enough for third place in the southern division of the Northwest Conference. 

Connor Grey receives the win. He improves to 2-2 on the season. Inman, who allowed one run on four hits in six innings, is credited with the loss.

Diamondbacks first round pick (7th overall) Pavin Smith, who entered Friday night’s game 6 for 21 (.286), went 2 for 4 and a run scored. 

Hillsboro and Everett’s series continues Saturday at 5pm at Ron Tonkin Field with Michael Suarez projected to start for the AquaSox opposite Riley Smith for the Hops. 

 

Seahawks agree to trade Marshawn Lynch to Oakland

Seahawks agree to trade Marshawn Lynch to Oakland

The most anticipated homecoming in the NFL is finally a reality.  According to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, the Seattle Seahawks have agreed to trade Marshawn Lynch to the Oakland Raiders.

Lynch, an Oakland native, retired from the NFL following the 2015 season, but had recently shown interest in rejoining the league.  It was reported back on April 14 that the Raiders and Lynch had agreed to terms of a deal, and that the ball was in the Seahawks' court to complete a trade; a trade that was figured to be nothing more than a formality at the time.

According to reports, the Seahawks and Raiders will swap late round picks in 2018 in exchange for the rights to Lynch. Seattle will send its sixth round pick to Oakland in exchange for the Raiders fifth round pick.  Lynch’s deal with the Raiders is reportedly a two-year deal worth $3 million base, with added incentives should he eclipse the 1,000 yard mark.

In his final season in the league Lynch battled injuries and rushed for just 417 yards in seven games played. However, the year prior he played in all 16 games and rushed for 1,306 yards, averaging 4.66 yards per carry.

If his body is healthy and he has any gas left in the tank, then the Raiders just got a steal.

Earlier today Lynch took to twitter to thank the Seahawks fans and more or less make the deal official.

“Yes Lawd 12th man I'm thankful but [expletive] just got REAL I had hella fun in Seattle…But I'm really from Oakland doe like really really really from Oakland doe... town bizzness breath on me."

Fans in Oakland are ecstatic, but so are his new teammates.

The Raiders open the 2017-18 season on September 10 in Tennessee against the Titans, and play their first home game the following weekend when they host the New York Jets.

OSN NFL Mock Draft

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OSN NFL Mock Draft

Welcome to NFL Draft Week! This is the week where dreams are made, hope is at an all-time high in the league, and there is always a surprise or two along the way.

This week the OSN staff got together to do a cumulative mock draft. Eight writers each took a specific division and drafted for the 4 teams in their respective divisions. Each writer brought a different angle and level of expertise to the table.

While there is no telling how the rollercoaster 3-day event will unfold in Philadelphia this weekend, check out how we see the 1st Round going on Thursday!

1 – Cleveland Browns – DE Myles Garrett, Texas A&M

Doug Mackar – “The best player in the draft. Garrett is a potential All-Pro talent that will have an immediate impact. A move in the draft order may allow the Browns to snatch up a QB early in the first round, but #1 this year is all about the defense. A QB isn’t going to help the second worst defense in the league; an elite pass rusher with the ability to play DE, or LB if needed, will. Garrett has the quickness, skill and power to beat the best O-linemen off the snap. Any team would be happy to have this talent on board. The Browns should be absolutely ecstatic.”

2 – San Francisco 49ers – DE Solomon Thomas, Stanford

Jason Hartzog – “The 49ers need to add talent all across the board. I wouldn’t be surprised if they trade the number 2 pick – trading down a few spots while adding some picks. Their biggest need is at the QB position, but they will remain patient and wait for the right guy. The 49ers will highly consider corner Marshon Lattimore (injury history brings up a red flag) and Mitch Trubisky (not sold on as the future QB), but ultimately take the best talent that they can put on the field in Thomas. Thomas has a high motor. He’s very versatile, he can play inside or outside. He will help improve their front line wherever the 49ers decide to play him.”

3 – Chicago Bears – CB Marshon Lattimore, Ohio State

Casey Mabbott – “Chicago needs a lot of help on both sides of the ball and could use the pick to add a playmaker to their #28 ranked scoring offense, but in order to keep pace with opponents in a pass heavy league, they need to keep adding on defense. This team gave up more points than 23 other teams in the league, that’s not going to get the job done as their offense goes through a massive transition. Lattimore is a pro-ready defender with great instincts who will add an immediate impact to a position of need, the Bears can’t ask for much more from a top-5 pick.”

4 – Jacksonville Jaguars – RB Leonard Fournette, LSU

Simon Teska – “The Jaguars have done a good job in recent years wasting top-10 picks on defensive lineman (that haven’t really panned out to be much) in an attempt to fix their perennial problems at DT and DE. Well enough of that crap. They haven’t had a legitimate RB since MJD took over for Fred Taylor. Fournette is the best back on the board and he geographically played close to the Jaguars fan base – although at SEC rival -Florida. Still though, Jaguars, don’t do anything stupid.”

5 – Tennessee Titans – S Malik Hooker, Ohio State

Simon Teska – “Ohio state players seem to be popular throughout all seven rounds of the draft every year and the Titans are throwing it back to 1996 when they took Eddie George out of OSU. This year, they look to add excitement on the defensive side of the ball.”

6 – New York Jets – QB DeShaun Watson, Clemson

Miriam Ludlow – “Established leadership and wins under his belt. Excellent pocket passer. He has championship experience. Meaning he can handle the pressures of the game. This is THE match as the NYJ are lacking QB talent.”

7 – Los Angeles Chargers – S Jamal Adams, LSU

Julian Rogers – “The Chargers have seen the past few seasons go up in smoke due to offensive line woes. Pro Football Focus ranked the Chargers’ line ahead of only the Seattle Seahawks’. They would love to go offensive line here, but the value just isn’t there. Instead, they’ll take the best player still available in Adams and add another piece to an impressive, young & ascending defense.”

8 – Carolina Panthers – RB Christian McCaffrey, Stanford

Darby Marioth – “With Leonard Fournette off the board, the Carolina Panthers settle, which I say with a grain of salt, for Stanford offensive Swiss army knife, Christian McCaffrey. While he may not be the speedy bulldozer that Fournette is, McCaffrey has a lot to show in terms of athletic ability, including a 4.48 40-yard dash and a 37.5 inch vertical leap. Where McCaffrey has Fournette unarguably beat is with his overall instincts. His ability to consistently find the correct lane is a prime example of this. A big reason why McCaffrey will fit in great with Carolina’s system is that he’s a sneaky-footed RB with a pass-catching ability that surpasses a great deal of wide receivers in the NFL. With the Panthers’ receiving corps in shambles and starting RB Jonathan Stewart only getting older at age 30, they’ll take out two birds with one stone by selecting McCaffrey.”

9 – Cincinnati Bengals – DL Jonathan Allen, Alabama

Doug Mackar – “Strengthening the D-line could take this team from average to fighting for a playoff spot. At 6’3”, he’ll need to take full advantage of his strength and quickness to compete with pro-level offensive lines. Solid against the run and an absolute nuisance to opposing quarterbacks, his speed will allow him to make plays outside the pocket that larger linemen may miss. Allen is a leader, a winner, and most importantly: a proven talent under pressure.”

10 – Buffalo Bills – S Jabrill Peppers, Michigan

Miriam Ludlow – “A multifaceted player, the man can play all positions, offense, defense and special teams. The man can do it all! For a team that needs help in all positions he is the perfect match!”

11 – New Orleans Saints – DE Derek Barnett, Tennessee

Darby Marioth – “Wait, Derek Barnett is still available? It’s a match made in heaven. The New Orleans Saints are in dire need of a dependable edge rusher, and have been for many years. Barnett is specifically known for his freakish ability to stop the run and put terror into the lives of quarterbacks despite his not-so-freakish physical marks at 6’3”, 259 pounds. Not only will Barnett provide an instant three-down talent in the league, I fully expect him to end the season with more recorded sacks than first-overall draft pick, Myles Garrett.”

12 – Cleveland Browns – TE O.J. Howard, Alabama

Doug Mackar – “Howard will fit in with a team that despite a 1-15 record (that actually hurts to write) actually showed some signs of life throughout the season. Another elite TE will help the QB-starved Browns find some yards with more consistency both in the air and on the ground.”

13 – Arizona Cardinals – WR Mike Williams, Clemson

Jason Hartzog – “Williams is a top tier talent. He makes big plays down the field and can make plays between the hash marks. He’s a potential number 1 receiver. He passes the eye test with his athleticism, size and speed. He can come in next to Larry Fitzgerald and maintain their high powered offense. Eventually Williams will replace an aging Fitzgerald as their number 1. Cardinals are thrilled to see him drop to 13 here.”

14 – Philadelphia Eagles – WR Corey Davis, Western Michigan

Garrett Thornton – “The Eagles would absolutely love Christian McCaffrey here. Instead they go with another offensive playmaker. A lot of folks think that with the acquisitions of Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith that the Eagles won’t take a receiver here. False. Jeffery and Smith are on one year deals and Davis is a game changer. This guy can, and will, be a true number one receiver in the NFL.”

15 – Indianapolis Colts – OT Ryan Ramczyk, Wisconsin

Simon Teska – “It isn’t a flashy pick by any means, but somewhere on draft day Andrew Luck is breathing a sigh of relief. Christian McCaffrey has been off the board for a while, so they can find Frank Gore’s replacement later (sorry Dalvin Cook). O-line isn’t deep this year, but the Colts think they’ve got the best available and Ramczyk will either start right away or will certainly add depth to a group that needs it.”

16 – Baltimore Ravens – OT Cam Robinson, Alabama

Doug Mackar – “Alabama is taking the AFC North by storm in my draft. Simple fact is that Baltimore gets significantly better by adding Robinson to their line. By playing to his strengths and steadily improving on his weaknesses, the Ravens will have one less thing to worry about on their journey to top the Steelers in the North.”

17 – Washington Redskins – LB Haason Reddick, Temple

Garrett Thornton – “Haason Reddick is one of the most versatile prospects in this draft, and the Redskins would be shocked and excited if he were available at #17. Reddick could be a rush end, a stand up linebacker, or a hybrid pass rusher that can disrupt every play. The Redskins need playmakers in the front seven and Reddick would make an impact Week One.”

18 – Tennessee Titans – TE David Njoku, Miami

Simon Teska – “Now, it’s time for Marcus Mariota to add a weapon in the Titan offense. A WR, like Washington’s speedster John Ross is also here, but the versatility of Njoku at the tight end position gives Mariota a reliable, safety valve to help on those third downs while providing a deep threat in the middle of the field as well. He’s athletic, he’s fast and he can make an immediate impact in the Tennessee offense.”

19 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers – RB Dalvin Cook, Florida State

Darby Marioth – “Dalvin Cook is one of the most interesting prospects in this draft. He’s bounced around various mock drafts, seen anywhere between the Philadelphia Eagles at 14 and the late second round. His major red flags haven’t been a result of his play, but rather his somewhat troubled past. In the words of Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher, “Mistakes make you grow.” Cook is a classic “made it” story. Tampa Bay will be ecstatic to have Cook drop to them at the 19 spot. Tampa Bay’s old school offensive system, which relies on a feature back, is in need of a makeover with the underperforming, often injured Doug Martin running the show. Former Florida State standout and starting quarterback Jameis Winston will be a fantastic positive influence for Cook.”

20 – Denver Broncos – OT Garett Bolles, Utah

Julian Rogers – “A true need pick. The 2016 Broncos’ offensive line performance had as much to do with the team’s fall from Super Bowl Champion to also-ran just as much as poor quarterback play. The Broncos shored up one offensive tackle spot by bringing in oft-injured Menelik Watson from the Oakland Raiders. But the right tackle spot still needs major help with Pro Football Focus’ worst-ranked offensive lineman of all last year, Donald Stephenson. With Watson’s side not yet determined, according to general manager John Elway, Bolles will compete for a starting spot at either right or left tackle.”

21 – Detroit Lions – LB Reuben Foster, Alabama

Casey Mabbott – “The Lions could use quite a bit of help on defense and pass rushers or cover corners are legitimate needs, but what they lack most is a leader in the middle. Reuben Foster was outstanding in his senior year at Alabama, earning All-American and Butkus Award honors as college football’s best linebacker. Foster has had some off the field concerns, most recently being dismissed from the combine and failing a drug test. If he stays out of trouble, he has the potential to be a Patrick Willis type of player and could be the leader on the field for Detroit from day one. Taking Foster this early could be risky, but getting a legitimate top-10 talent this late in the round is an opportunity the Lions need to take a chance on.

22 – Miami Dolphins – DE Taco Charlton, Michigan

Miriam Ludlow -Solid DE. Quick off the line.  6’6, 277 pounds of athletic ability and with the experience he has, having lead Michigan with 9.5 sacks among 13 tackles for loss, Taco could help the Miami Dolphins get to the next level.

23 – New York Giants – QB Mitchell Trubisky, North Carolina

Garrett Thornton – “This is a case of best player available. Eli Manning is 36 years old and isn’t going to be around forever. Trubisky can sit behind Manning for the next couple years in a Brett Favre-Aaron Rodgers type situation. This would be a phenomenal landing spot for Trubisky! The Giants really need an offensive tackle, but the top 3 are off the board so they go with a quarterback and future leader of the franchise.”

24 – Oakland Raiders – CB Gareon Conley, Ohio State

Julian Rogers – “If the draft really falls this way, the Raiders would be thrilled to nab Conley in this spot. Considered by some to be the equal of Ohio State Buckeye teammate Marshon Lattimore, Conley is the type of cornerback the Raiders like most: fast, tall, experienced (three-year starter), versatile and adept at press-man coverage. Instant starter.”

25 – Houston Texans – QB Pat Mahomes III, Texas Tech

Simon Teska – “With Trubisky off the board to the Giants, the Texans have to “settle” for in-state option Pat Mahomes. It really isn’t settling, however, as Mahomes brings in play-making ability to the QB position. Whether he starts right away is yet to be determined, but the sooner the Texans move on from the Brock Osweiler debacle the better. Mahomes is smart and shows poise, but is a little undersized at 6’2″.”

26 – Seattle Seahawks – OL Forrest Lamp, Western Kentucky

Jason Hartzog – “The Seahawks need to bolster up an offensive line that gave up 42 sacks last season (6th most in NFL). Lamp should be a great addition. There has been trade talk of Richard Sherman this offseason. It’s hard to imagine the Seahawks with Sherman, but if that becomes more of a reality on draft day they may look a little hard into a corner. Washington’s Kevin King or Alabama’s Marlon Humphrey would be nice options at this point.”

27 – Kansas City Chiefs – DE Charles Harris, Missouri

Julian Rogers – “Harris is a bit of a conundrum in that he is lauded as an effective speed rusher, yet doesn’t sport a sexy 40 time (4.82). He will need to work on his run defense, but the in-state selection will be a nice addition to the Chiefs’ defense. They also could go cornerback or running back, but the draft is deep at those positions. The Chiefs will wait for later rounds to fill those needs.”

28 – Dallas Cowboys – DE Takkarist McKinley, UCLA

Garrett Thornton – “The Cowboys need secondary and pass rush help more than anything else in this draft. With cornerbacks Marlon Humphrey and Kevin King still on the board, I was tempted to go that way. In the end, I think cornerback is a deeper position and the Cowboys could get a quality starter in Round 2. Takk had an impressive combine, running a 4.59 40-yard dash. In comparison, that was faster than top wide receiver prospect Mike Williams, and faster than any top QB prospect in the draft. McKinley may not be ready Week One after a shoulder surgery post-combine, but will be a disruptive pass rusher as a rookie.”

29 – Green Bay Packers – CB Kevin King, Washington

Casey Mabbott – “Green Bay can score points as well as any team in the league, where they fall short is slowing down opposing offenses, and that’s putting it nicely. Last year’s starting corners did little to contain opposing receivers, routinely allowing career high numbers whether they faced all-pros or guys you’ve never heard of. A veteran corner would have been nice, but GM Ted Thompson did nothing to improve his #31 pass defense after releasing Sam Shields (who was not able to pass concussion protocol after suffering his 4th concussion in 7 seasons during a week one contest at Jacksonville), so the team will once again look to the draft for help. The Packers will have to hope that Kevin King will be something like UW alum Marcus Peters, and use his speed and length to provide an immediate impact to a secondary in desperate need of help.”

30 – Pittsburgh Steelers – S Josh Jones, North Carolina State

Doug Mackar – “The Steelers are a Super Bowl contender as long as they stay healthy. A dangerous team on both sides of the ball, taking their average pass defense up a notch is a priority this year. If Jones is coached well and quickly develops the discipline of a pro, he can step in and be a difference maker from game one.”

31 – Atlanta Falcons – DE Jordan Willis, Kansas State

Darby Marioth – “If the Atlanta Falcons can display their patience, you’ll see them select Jordan Willis at the 31 spot. Willis is an explosive, speedy defensive end who will make a living as a nightmare for opposing quarterbacks. His physical numbers are best compared to DeMarcus Ware. His potential skill set is best compared to, well, DeMarcus Ware. If the Dirty Birds can provide Willis with some coaching on his hand usage and technique, they very well could have the NFL’s next great edge rusher on their team.”

32 – New Orleans Saints – DE T.J. Watt, Wisconsin

Darby Marioth – “There are a lot of great defensive ends in this year’s draft, and it’s only right that the first round of the draft ends the way it started; with the selection of a DE. T.J. Watt, brother of J.J. Watt, is ready to make a name for himself behind some pretty promising numbers. The 6’4”, 252 pound defensive menace could be an instant impact player in NO, who ranked 27th in the league in sacks last season. After selecting Derek Barnett earlier in the first round, you’d expect NO to look elsewhere. While the Saints could take a cornerback here, maybe LSU’s Tre’Davious White, I think that finding a definite answer for their horrendous pass rushing is a top priority. if this project pans out, the Saints could instantly become one of the NFL’s top edge pressure defenses.”

Top Ten Players Still Available After Day One (According to CBS Sports’ Dane Brugler):

1 – DL Malik McDowell, Michigan State (#20 Overall on Brugler’s Top-100)

2 – WR John Ross, Washington (#21)

3 – LB Zach Cunningham, Vanderbilt (#24)

4 – RB Curtis Samuel, Ohio State (#25)

5 – LB Jarrad Davis, Florida (#26)

6 – CB Marlon Humphrey, Alabama (#27)

7 – TE/WR Evan Engram, Ole Miss (#28)

8 – QB DeShone Kizer, Notre Dame (#29)

9 – CB Tre’Davious White, LSU (#32)

10 – S Budda Baker, Washington (#33)

Report: Seahawks, Joeckel agree to one-year deal

Report: Seahawks, Joeckel agree to one-year deal

After a season besmirched by porous offensive line play, the Seattle Seahawks are making it clear that they plan on upgrading the team's most pressing position.

According to Adam Schefter and his sources, the Seahawks are set to sign Luke Joeckel, the #2 pick in the 2013 NFL Draft. The deal is reported to be for one year at $8 million. 

Joeckel, who played three seasons at Texas A&M, has battled inconsistency and injuries in his four years with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Drafted as a tackle, he has since slid inside to guard. It is unknown where Joeckel would play on the line, but after last season, when the Seahawks averaged just 99.4 yards per game on the ground, no spots should be set in stone. 

Free agency is in full swing as of yesterday, and the NFL Draft is April 27-29. 

He said / she said – Seattle Seahawks enter the offseason

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USA Today

He said / she said – Seattle Seahawks enter the offseason

BY 

Oregon Sports News writers Julian Rogers and Jessica Ridpath discuss the Seattle Seahawks’ now concluded 2016 season.

Rogers: No, the Seahawks’ season wasn’t over when Earl Thomas broke his leg by running into Kam “Cyborg”Chancellor on Dec. 4. It only seems like it.

In fact, the Seahawks’ season was over in the second quarter of the Divisional Playoff when reserve linebackerKevin Pierre-Louis was called for holding at the line of scrimmage. By itself, that was bad. But since it wiped out an 80-yard punt return by Devin Hester and instead pinned the Seahawks deep in their own territory, as opposed to being on Atlanta’s door step, the game — and season — collapsed.

The next play saw Thomas Rawls get stuffed for a loss. The following play saw Russell Wilson get tripped onto his backside in the end zone due to being stepped on by substitute offensive guard Rees Odhiambo.

The resulting safety was the nail in the Seahawks’ coffin, even though they still had the lead at that point (10–9). The Falcons added a field goal shortly after the safety and never looked back.

Jess, we both picked the Seahawks to lose in this game. But looking back over the entire season, is a Divisional Round playoff loss about where you would have expected the blue birds’ season to conclude, or did you expect a different ride? Can you remember early-season optimism?

Ridpath: September seems like a lifetime ago. Thomas had two working legs. Wilson hadn’t yet been injured. Brock Osweiler had a sweet new deal as a franchise quarterback. The Panthers were the team to beat. And Donald Trump was a longshot. So much has happened since then that I had to actually go back and read our old columns to remember whether or not I was optimistic in the early season.

What a year of ups and downs for the Seahawks. From low points like their 6-6 tie with the Cardinals to high points like beating the Patriots in Foxborough, this season has had a little bit of everything. But way back in week five, you and I both picked Seattle to win the NFC West—despite their rocky start and the obvious impact of Wilson’s injuries. (In fact, Julian, you picked seven of eight division winners correctly in our week-five column. Grab a feather and stick it in your cap.)

It was in week six that my doubt started to creep in. And by week nine, I was downright skeptical—saying things like: “If there’s anything Seattle has shown the league in the last two weeks it’s that they’re almost as likely to get a penalty as a first down,” and “we’re at the season’s halfway mark, and it’s clear that the Seahawks are only contenders because of their stout defense — which spent more time on the field than they should have again last week.” I was worried about overwork and potential injuries at the time. Sometimes I hate being right.

As you mentioned, penalties (or rather one penalty, in particular) played a huge part in Seattle’s loss to the Falcons. No surprise there. What is surprising is that the defense—compromised without Thomas, but still formidable—allowed a 99-yard drive consisting of all pass plays, which gave Atlanta a two-score lead before the half. This un-Seattle-like performance has some saying that the Legion of Boom is no more.

I know you still envision a bright future for the blue birds. And it’s clear that they need to beef up their offensive line—the one group that played consistently “meh” (or worse) all season. But what do you make of the assertion that Seattle’s once-feared secondary is all washed up?

Rogers: They’re not Super Bowl season-caliber anymore, but they’re far from washed up. They finished eighth in pass defense in 2016, despite playing without Earl Thomas for last month of the season. But there is reason for concern because change is on the horizon — maybe not in 2017, but soon thereafter. Thomas threatened retirement when he broke his leg. Chancellor will be 29 in April and has had more injuries lately. Richard Shermangutted out a hidden MCL sprain for the last half of the season, but he worries many with his emotional outburstsand occasional cheap shots, which hit a peak this season.

The largest, most immediate concern for the LOB is the other corner position. We learned after the Divisional Playoff loss that DeShawn Shead’s knee injury is a torn ACL that will require a full eight months or more rehabilitation. That spot is now wide open and could take precedence in the draft over the much, much, desperately needed offensive tackle position.

I expect the LOB to be a top-third secondary again next season. Beyond that is anyone’s guess. Overall, the team has an enviable stable of top talent to take into the 2017 regular season. Looking ahead, the Seahawks can expect to reap equal or improved rewards from Wilson, Rawls, C.J. Prosise, leading receiver Doug BaldwinTyler Lockett, Paul RichardsonJimmy GrahamMichael Bennett, Thomas, Chancellor, Sherman, Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright, Cliff Avril, Frank Clark and more. That’s quite a collection of superior talent.

Now I’m going to sound like a real Pollyanna. There’s the matter of the NFC West. It quickly went from one of the most competitive divisions to the league’s worst in 2016. San Francisco and Los Angeles are in turmoil with new coaches and major quarterback questions for each. Plus, each has additional myriad problems. The guess here is that the Rams get better sooner than the 49ers, but that is still probably only an 8–8 upside in 2017.

The Arizona Cardinals fell off the shelf in 2016 and have major questions at quarterback (will/should Carson Palmerreturn?), wide receiver (Michael Floyd got axed, Larry Fitzgerald may move on) and their offensive line is in need of major upgrades.

There is no better division in which the Seahawks should toil. At worst, they’ll only be looking up at the Atlanta Falcons, Green Bay Packers and Dallas Cowboys in terms of their NFC prospects when the next season kicks off.

There are whispers that the Seahawks might jettison Graham before next season with Graham owed $10 million including a $2 million roster bonus due on March 11. But Pete Carroll indicated Jimmy Graham will remain with the Seahawks next season.

I can’t think of a worse decision they could make with their returning high-priced veterans. It is more likely the Seahawks try to extend the 30-year-old tight end, who has only one year remaining on the deal he previously signed in New Orleans.

Graham actually had the team’s second-highest average yards per catch (14.2; Tyler Lockett 14.6) among the regular full-time receivers. That’s better than Richardson (13.7), Jermaine Kearse (12.4) and Baldwin (12.0). Baldwin coming up last in that group in YPR is a surprise to me. Keep an eye on that in 2017.

Jess, any final thoughts or predictions you want to toss out there? Maybe an offseason Seahawks wish?

Ridpath: Wishes usually come in threes, right? Here are mine:

  • Earl Thomas gets healthy and decides not to retire.
  • Richard Sherman gets psychological counseling.
  • The Seahawks get the Cowboys’ offensive line.

Two of the three are obvious pipe dreams. But the need for change in both areas is a stark reality if 2017 is going to turn out any better for the blue birds.

Composure does not take away from toughness. In fact, it’s a quality that fuels championships. Sherman might not agree with that, but it seems his buddy Kam Chancellor does. At least he does right now.

Here’s hoping that Kam’s sentiments find traction among his teammates and spark some introspection in the offseason. There’s no doubt that Seattle’s defense is tough enough and talented enough to regain their dominance in 2017. We’ll have to wait and see if they can also find their poise.

Turning to the offensive line, Julian, I have to say that I like the “admittedly terrible” advice you recently offered the Seahawks: Spend every draft pick on offensive lineman. Probably not gonna happen. But your point above bears repeating:  The rest of the team is “quite a collection of superior talent.” On this squad, the least expensive o-line in the league is obviously the kid that’s not like the others.

To Pete Carroll, I say this: What a gift to have Russell Wilson as your quarterback. To have a receiving corps that is the best it’s been in decades. To have a running back like Thomas Rawls after you lost Marshawn Lynch. Don’t squander these gifts, Pete. Build an offensive line that’s worthy of these talented young men. They deserve it.

The other thing I want to say to Pete Carroll is … WTF? Not reporting an injury is a questionable decision for so many reasons. But now it’s gone and put your second-round draft pick in jeopardy—at a time when a strategic and successful draft is tantamount to your team’s success next year. I’m disappointed in you, Pete.

So, that’s it for me and the Seahawks’ 2016 season, Julian. I’m sending almost half the squad to their rooms to think about what they’ve done. Myself, I’m going to enjoy the last few football games of the season before the long drought sets in. Here’s my bold prediction: The Green Bay Packers will be Super Bowl champs. I just have a feeling.

Rogers: That’s quite a wrap-up. I think you hit on the way a lot of 12s are feeling right now. When the team gets back together again in the spring in the new league year, hopefully the news will be better about injuries and mental states. We should know by then what, if any, penalty the Seahawks may incur for their flagrant disregard of the injury reporting rules. It’s quite the odd self-inflicted wound to start the offseason with.

Regarding the Super Bowl champs … I think the Packers’ magic run ends this Sunday in Atlanta. My bet it is this is another championship season for the New England Patriots.

Until then.

 

Owning up Here’s what we were right and wrong about last week.

What he got right: The game winner. I’m 11–7 on my picks for the Seahawks’ regular and post-season.

What he got wrong: I thought the playoff matchup with the Falcons would be closer. The Seahawks hit their limit in the Divisional Round. No disgrace there.

What she got right: The game winner, bringing me to 9–9 through the end of the Seahawks ride in 2016. At least I finished the season at .500. (It feels about as good as a 6–6 tie.)

What she got wrong: I thought this would be a “nail-biter” of a game that would come down to the final minutes. Nope. Atlanta stole the momentum just before the half and never looked back. (All my nail-biting happened the next day, watching the Packers take down the top-seeded Cowboys. What. A. Game.)

He said / she said – Seattle Seahawks vs. Detroit Lions

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USA Today

He said / she said – Seattle Seahawks vs. Detroit Lions

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Oregon Sports News writers Julian Rogers and Jessica Ridpath discuss and predict the Wild Card matchup between the Seattle Seahawks (10–5–1) and the Detroit Lions (9–7).

When: 5:15 p.m., Saturday, January 7, 2017 Where: CenturyLink Field, Seattle

Rogers: Unless the Seahawks get to play themselves, they could not have gotten a better draw in the Detroit Lions for their first game of the NFL Playoffs. Jess, I kid because I know you’re down on their chances this year.

But look at it this way: The Lions faced only four teams that made the playoffs this season and lost to them five times. (They played Green Bay twice). In early December, the Lions were riding high having squeaked by the woeful Chicago Bears, building a 9–4 record. They haven’t won since.

The Lions dropped three straight to close out the regular season to the New York Giants, the Dallas Cowboys and the Green Bay Packers. If you are concerned about the Seahawks’ momentum, you have to absolutely laugh at the “momentum” of the Lions.

Does that mean they are no threat against the Seahawks on Saturday? I won’t say that. But look at how they are obviously compromised: Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick are on injured reserve (their top two running backs). Quarterback Matthew Stafford’s productivity (and the Lions’ win/loss record) has plummeted since he experienced his finger injury on Dec. 11. The Lions’ top cornerback, Darius Slay, only just returned to the lineup (hamstring), but could not offer much impact against the Packers’ passing attack. The Lions’ #2 receiver, Marvin Jones, hasn’t scored a touchdown since Oct. 16 and may be out with a concussion. Old friend Golden Tate only collected four touchdowns all season. Two starting offensive linemen (Riley Reiff and Travis Swanson) missed last week and are questionable this week.

About the only thing the Lions have going well for them at this stage of the season are a not-terrible-but-still-bottom-half defense (18th overall; 18th against the rush, 19th against the pass) and a better-than-the-Seahawks offensive line (still iffy) and an overall offense that is almost parallel to the Seahawks: Lions average 21.6 points per game; Seahawks average 22.1.

Jess, the Lions should have “Playoff Fodder” stamped on their helmets. Does that cheer you up?

Ridpath: Half of my childhood icons are dead, a fascist tyrant is about to become our president, and the two football teams I despise the most are the top contenders for the Super Bowl. I’m afraid a little truth telling about the ho-hum Detroit Lions isn’t quite enough to lift my spirits. But thanks for trying.

I didn’t see much in Seattle’s performance last week to raise my spirits, either. But there were a few visible bright spots (even when viewed through my grumpy glasses):

  • After a slow start, the defense looked like it might be ready for playoff-caliber football—especially league-leading tackler Bobby Wagner, who added 10 tackles and 2 sacks to his collection.
  • Rookie Alex Collins ran the ball for 7.9 yards per carry, the highest average posted by any Seahawk running back in the regular season.
  • Russell Wilson was only sacked once.

Those last two bright spots dim a bit when you consider they were achieved against the league’s worst defense (San Francisco). But I’m still intrigued by Collins’ performance. He’s had a total of 21 carries in three of the Seahawks’ last four games, averaging more than 5 yards per carry. Thomas Rawls, on the other hand, has averaged a mere 1.5 yards per carry in his last three games.

Julian, is Collins’ performance of late enough to earn him a bigger share of the rushing gig in the playoffs?

Rogers: I’ll be surprised if it doesn’t. Rawls just isn’t having success running behind the same line. With this much production and praise from Pete Carroll, I see Collins getting in on the action even sooner than we’ve seen before. He could come in on the second series if Rawls starts off with another couple of nowhere runs.

As I noted above, the Lions have a middling rush defense. They just might get Rawls bounced early, which might not be to their benefit.

One match up I intend to keep my eye on is the way that Lions defensive coordinator Teryl Austin deploys his defensive ends. The Lions have a tendency to go “wide 9” with their defensive ends, meaning they put their outside linemen quite wide — primarily for the purposes of containment against mobile quarterbacks. It didn’t work last week against Green Bay. Aaron Rodgers broke the backs of the Lions with 42 yards on scrambles and designed rushes on 10 attempts (3 of which were kneel-downs for minus-4 yards). That will be a key determinant in this game. If Wilson can use his escapability to similar effect, Seattle should be able to move the ball at will.

Speaking of dreary outlooks for the new year, what are your picks for the NFL’s Wild Card round? Four teams and their fans are going to have their hearts broken this weekend. Here are mine:

Saturday January 7, 2017

Oakland @ Houston — Texans 23, Raiders 20 (Houston has a ridiculously lucky quarterback advantage.)

Sunday January 8, 2017

Miami @ Pittsburgh — Steelers, 30, Dolphins 13 (Pittsburgh’s killer Bs are rested and too good to lose at home.)

Giants @ Green Bay — Packers 30, Giants 27 (Pack scores just enough and exorcises Giants playoffs demons of recent past.)

Usually one home team loses in the Wild Card round. Will it be Seattle?

Ridpath: If any team is going to lose at home in the Wild Card round, it will either be Houston or Seattle. Your predictions for Pittsburgh and Green Bay are right on, IMHO—although I expect the Packers’ victory over the Giants will be a bit more comfortable. Eli Manning’s performance this season has been unimpressive (some might even say “atrocious”), and I don’t see him leading the Giants to 27 points at Lambeau field.

Even though the Raiders have lost two starting quarterbacks to injury in the last two weeks and will likely have to start rookie Connor Cook under center, I don’t think Brock Osweiler and his 72.2 passer rating are really that big of an advantage for the Texans. I’ll give the edge to Houston because of their league-leading defense, but I think this game could go either way.

Which brings me to Seattle. The Seahawks have not lost a playoff game at home in the Carroll-Wilson era … while the Lions have not won a playoff game since 1991. And the last time they won a post-season game on the road? 1957. For real.

Considering these trends, a Seattle victory seems almost certain. But I’m not buying it. I know I’m in the minority here, but I think the Seahawks chances at victory are 50/50 at best. For a variety of reasons, some rational … others perhaps not so much:

  • Earl Thomas: His absence leaves the Hawks’ secondary vulnerable to Stafford’s big arm. The last two times Seattle faced teams with elite passing quarterbacks (Aaron Rodgers and Carson Palmer), they lost.
  • The o-line: Playoff football requires playoff-caliber pass protection. And that’s something we haven’t seen from Seattle’s offensive line all season. Watching them play has been like eating a box of chocolates … (you fill in the rest).
  • Karma: The Lions fell to the blue birds in Seattle last season after a blown call late in the 4th quarter of their week four matchup on Monday Night Football. The universe has a way of evening out these types of injustices over time.
  • 1957: That’s a loooong time ago. Things have gotta change at some point.

Julian, this is where you tease me for being a New Age Hippie from Olympia. Go for it. Then tell me who will win this matchup and why.

Rogers: Take a bath and get a job, hippie! Honestly, I have no idea why I’m supposed to castigate you for being a hippie, but when you offer me a free shot, I’ll take it. Maybe you can explain it to me sometime over some kombucha? You Olympians confuse me. I grew up there, but I got out. I remain outside the realm of understanding what Olympians are talking about.

Speaking of out, the Lions are about to have their playoff lives snuffed out. The Seahawks won’t be dropping a home playoff game this time to the weakest playoff squad in the NFC track. I don’t foresee a cakewalk for the blue birds, but a win nonetheless as the Lions continue their slide. Prediction: Seattle 27, Detroit 20.

Please allow us your patchouli-soaked prediction, if you please.

Ridpath: Seeing as how my mood obviously needs lifting, I’m going to try a little reverse psychology on myself and pick the Lions. That way, if the Hawks disappoint me by losing, at least I’ll have the satisfaction of being right. And if they win … well, then I’ll have another week of Seahawks football to look forward to. Prediction: Seattle 23, Detroit 24. (Bonus prediction: Somewhere along the way, Steven Hauschka is going to miss a field goal or an extra point. And it’s going to matter. Big time.)

Owning up Here’s what we were right and wrong about last week.

What he got right: The game winner. I’m 9–7 on my picks for the Seahawks regular season.

What he got wrong: I pointed to Richard Sherman going off the rails. Seems he’s beaten me to the punch by nowfreezing out the media. So I guess we won’t be treated to a meltdown any time soon. The San Francisco 49ers made it closer than I predicted, but the Seahawks rested starters in the fourth quarter.

What she got right: The game winner, bringing me back to even at 8–8. Congrats, Julian! That means you win our regular-season prediction showdown. Your prize awaits you in Olympia. (But since us Olympians are so “confusing,” you probably have no idea what I’m talking about.)

What she got wrong: I thought this would be a comfortable victory for Seattle. They were playing against the worst defense in the league, after all. But the Hawks fell behind early after a dismal first quarter and had to rely on their defense to get them back in the game.

A frozen showdown between Russell Wilson and Aaron Rodgers

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USA Today

A frozen showdown between Russell Wilson and Aaron Rodgers

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This Sunday, Russell Wilson will return to the home of his college football glory days, and the game will mark just the second time Wilson has appeared in a football uniform in the state of Wisconsin since November of 2011. Between seven home games in his senior year in college and one game played at Lambeau Field in his fourth NFL season, Wilson holds a 7-1 lifetime record in football games played in the state of Wisconsin, with an .875 winning percentage. Wilson’s rival this Sunday, Packers QB Aaron Rodgers, has notched 70 professional football games in the state of Wisconsin, and holds a 54-16 record in games he has started, with a .771 winning percentage. 

Today, it would be difficult to find two better NFL QB’s, but just as recently as five years ago, a Wilson-Rodgers duel wouldn’t have sounded like much. Back then, Wilson was the green third round rookie QB who was still learning the speed of the pro game, but he was clearly better than most first year players, and limited his mistakes by leaning on a strong running game and only releasing the ball in high percentage passing situations. It wasn’t always exciting, but it was key in getting him to where he is today. 

By 2012 Rodgers was already a veteran by NFL standards, with a Super Bowl ring, Super Bowl MVP, and regular season MVP in his trophy case. Like Wilson, Rodgers puts a premium on limiting his mistakes, and holds the active record for career passer rating and lowest interception percentage. Number two on both of those lists – Mr. Russell Wilson. Rodgers and Wilson are the only active players with career passer ratings over 100, and if they stay where they are or better, both will retire as the only players in NFL history with a career rating at 100 or higher.

Wilson and Rodgers have faced off four times since 2012, and WIlson won their initial meeting by way of a controversial game-ending touchdown, and the rivalry officially began. Since the opening chapter in their rivalry, Wilson and Rodgers have faced each other three times, with Wilson winning twice, and Rodgers winning the most recent meeting.

In four career games against Wilson, Rodgers has completed 66% of his passes for 839 yards, four touchdowns, and 3 interceptions. Over the same span, Wilson has completed 65% of his passes for 736 yards, seven touchdowns and five interceptions. Rodgers has attempted at least 33 passes in all four contests, while Wilson has thrown 29 or fewer passes in three of the four matchups. Both passers are hovering around 200 yards per game in the rivalry, and while Wilson has thrown at least one touchdown in all four games including two without a turnover, while Rodgers has avoided turning the ball over in two of the games, but failed to throw a touchdown pass in their first meeting, and has at least one touchdown pass in the three meetings since. 

The home team has won all four matchups in this heated rivalry, with Seattle hosting and winning the first three contests, and Green Bay hosting and winning last season’s matchup. Over the series, Seattle has averaged 24 points per game, and Green Bay has averaged 19.  Two games have been decided by one score, and two games have been decided by at least two scores, making it difficult to gauge reasonable expectations.

The most intense meeting between the two teams came in the 2014 NFC Championship game, where Green Bay led 16-0 at halftime, held a 19-7 lead in the fourth quarter,  failed to close the game out on an onside kick return with the game winding down, and after kicking a field goal to force overtime, gave up a long touchdown pass on Seattle’s opening possession of overtime to end the game. Green Bay won the turnover battle including forcing Russell Wilson into four interceptions, but despite serious injuries that limited Earl Thomas and Richard Sherman late in the game, Mike McCarthy opted for conservative play calls down the stretch, and Seattle’s bold playmakers took advantage and took the victory. 

Green Bay won the meeting last year to make the series a little less lopsided, but Seattle still owns the Packers since drafting Wilson. This year, both sides are missing key players that won’t be back in time for Sunday but that won’t excuse the losing side this weekend.

Despite their gap in records, both teams still really need this win, but for different reasons. Green Bay sits at 6-6, and in third place in the NFC North. In order to keep pace in a very crowded wild card race, the Packers need to win out, or deal with watching the postseason from the couch. Seattle stands at 8-3-1 and currently holds the lead in the NFC West and the #2 seed in the NFC. As long as they stay ahead of the Falcons, Lions, and Giants, they should earn a much needed first round bye as well as host any game not against Dallas.

This matchup will feature a mixed bag of offense and defense, as the Seahawks come in with the league’s 20th best scoring offense at 22 points per game, the 14th ranked passing attack with 256.4 yards per game, and the 20th ranked offense with 101.5 yards per game. They will be facing the Packers 23rd ranked scoring defense allowing 25.2 points, the 16th ranked passing defense allowing 254.2 yards, and the 9th ranked rushing defense allowing 92.9 yards per game.

On the flip side, Green Bay has the 11th ranked scoring offense at 24.6 points per game, the 10th ranked passing attack at 261.2 yards, and the 24th ranked ground attack with 99.1 yards per game. Seattle’s scoring defense is ranked 1st at 16.2 points allowed per game, the 23rd ranked passing defense at 231 yards allowed, and the 14th ranked rush defense at 99.2 yards per game.

For Seattle, with a win they could knock Green Bay out of playoff contention, and put a bigger gap between them and the teams fighting for the top seeds in the NFC playoffs. WIth just three games to go after this week, a losing record will be too much for the Packers to overcome in the NFC playoff hunt, and it should give Seattle the distance it needs to keep the Falcons, Giants, and Lions fighting for the third seed and keep the second seed for themselves.

The gametime temperature this Sunday is expected to be below freezing, leaving Seattle the perfect opportunity to do something cold to the host Packers – end their season. Green Bay could save their season with a win over the Seahawks, but the odds are stacked against them even on their home field.

Seattle reignited their much needed second half surge with a blowout win over Carolina last week, and could make a bigger statement with a win in Green Bay followed by a favorable schedule over the final three weeks against teams with losing records. Can the Seahawks string a pair of wins together and put a stop to their see-saw season? We’ll find out this Sunday.

Seattle vs. Carolina: The Battle of former superpowers

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USA Today

Seattle vs. Carolina: The Battle of former superpowers

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When Carolina and Seattle played in the divisional round of the playoffs in 2014 and 2015, it had the feeling of an old fashioned heavyweight title bout. Cam “SuperCam” Newton vs Russ “DangeRuss” Wilson honestly belonged on an old boxing billing. We had the undercards in Luke Kuechly vs Marshawn Lynch, Josh Norman vs Doug Baldwin, and Richard Sherman vs Greg Olsen. It was a battle for the ages, and we scheduled our weekend around it.

These teams were so similar on both sides of the ball that it was honestly a shame that one of them had to lose, and you’d love to see them face off in the Super Bowl if it were possible.

Fast forward to this season, and really all that anyone can think of to describe the matchup is “maybe I’ll watch”. Part of the issue is that you would probably have trouble finding supporters outside of the two fan bases who would think of these two teams as NFC superpowers. Sure, Seattle has a winning record, but they are not consistently beating elite teams. They are having an equal amount of trouble with average teams, and Carolina is having trouble just getting out of their own way against just about anyone they face.

We saw Seattle get KO’d by Tampa Bay last week, and the Seahawks were so inconsistent on both sides of the ball that they made Tampa look an awful lot like the 2010 Seahawks, who used supersized receivers and a fired up defense along with a home crowd hungry for a big time win to upset the overconfident visitors.

Carolina lost a heart breaker to Oakland by a mere 3 points after being down 24-7 at halftime, and has looked like they lost their identity along with CB Josh Norman in the offseason. Whatever magic they summoned to take the league by storm last year dissipated when they lost to Denver in the season opener on a last second missed field goal.

The Panthers are 4-7 and look nothing like they did the last two years when they were a legitimate contender. Their defense was top five last season, and is struggling to stay in the top thirty this season, while their offense is still ranked tenth, nine spots lower than their number one spot last season. Seattle is 7-3-1 and could wind up snagging the #2 seed in the NFC if they can keep pace with 7-4 Atlanta, who lost to Seattle in week six.  The Seahawks continue to hold water on defense despite enduring a revolving door of injured stars, but their offense is a work in progress, and the young offensive line has forced a ripple effect that has caused struggles across the rest of the team.

To emphasize this point, Wilson is on pace for 4167 yards, 16 TDs, and 6 INTs. The passing game struggles have been evident on the stat sheet, as Wilson already has five games this season where he has not thrown a single touchdown, as compared to last season where he averaged 2 TDs per game and threw at least one touchdown in all 16 games.

By comparison, Newton is on pace for 3,537 yards, 18 TDs, and 11 INTs, a far cry from the 3,837 yards, 35 TDs, and 10 INTs he put up last year. Newton had two games in 2015 where he failed to throw a TD pass, and through 12 weeks this season he is has two games with zero TD passes.

So what can we expect this Sunday? Probably something resembling their week 6 matchup in 2015 that featured a lot of offense, not much defense, and came down to a touchdown with less than a minute to play that gave Newton his first win against Russell Wilson. Newton would follow it up with a 31-0 halftime lead in the divisional round of the playoffs, with Wilson getting within 31-24 before running out of game clock.

In six matchups since the 2012 season including two showdowns in the playoffs, these teams have ended the game separated by a single score in five contests, levelling each other in defensive affairs in the first four games, and then exploding for 105 combined points during their two games in 2015.

This Sunday’s matchup should feature a lot of scoring, and two teams desperate to get their season back on track. After close wins over Buffalo, New England, and Philadelphia before coming to a halt in Tampa, Seattle has come back down to earth and needs a signature win to get some consistency going. With four of their wins coming against teams with winning records, Seattle needs to avoid overlooking Carolina and put the Panthers away early. Carolina has gone 3-2 since their bye week, but all four of their wins this season have come against teams with losing records, and a win against Seattle could get them feeling confident enough to beat elite teams again.

Seattle struggled against Tampa Bay’s Mike Evans, and Greg Olsen and Kelvin Benjamin have the size and ability to catch the ball in traffic that could give the Seahawks the same problems they couldn’t solve last week. The home crowd should aid matters, as Seattle typically plays much better at home than they do as the visiting team.

It may not look like the same matchup we drooled over the last few years, but these teams still have plenty to play for and a lot of pride on the line. Seattle holds a 4-2 edge in the series since 2012, and while Cam would love to show up Wilson on his home field for the second year in a row, Seattle should beat Carolina and avenge the loss that ended their 2015 playoffs.

Seahawks He Said/She Said: Splitting picks against New Orleans

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Seahawks He Said/She Said: Splitting picks against New Orleans

Oregon Sports News writers Julian Rogers and Jessica Ridpath discuss and predict the week eight matchup between the Seattle Seahawks (4–1–1) and the New Orleans Saints (2–4).

When: 10 a.m. PT Sunday, Oct. 30, 2016
Where: Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans, LA.

Rogers: With all the discussion lately about the NFL being in a death spiral of declining TV ratings due to a bevy of bummers, the last thing the league needed was a dud of a primetime showcase game between two supposed playoff contenders, the Seahawks and the Arizona Cardinals. But boy, was that game ever a snooze fest.

Unless you stuck with it until the end. Where the inept, sizzle-less performances on both sides that ended in a regulation tie of 3–3 gave way to an even more improbable 6–6 tie that excitingly(ish) concluded with two almost impossibly shanked missed chip shot field goals by both Stephen Hauschka and Chandler Catanzaro.

And so, we were left with a tie. Which, in all honesty, I very nearly thought about making my prediction for the game, but I dismissed that notion as far too likely to be wrong. So I had a feeling and went against it. I feel like I lost twice, which is probably akin to the feeling the Seahawks and Cardinals have over Sunday night’s sister kisser.

If you have a punting fetish, this game was ecstasy for you.

For the rest of us, we’re left to ponder two things about the Seayawns: Is Sunday’s offensive output of 11 total first downs through five quarters of play and 3/14 on third-down conversions the new Seahawks’ offensive brand? NFL teams often get figured out at this point in the season — did the Seahawks get figured out?

Or is this game just an aberration? Jess, what do you think?

Ridpath: I think we’re seeing the consequences of Russell Wilson’s lack of mobility. The Seahawks’ offensive line is not performing quite as poorly as they did last year. But Seattle’s offensive numbers are vastly different this season compared to last.

In 2015, the blue birds were ranked fourth in total offense and converted 47% of their third downs. Right now, their offense is ranked 22nd and is only 36% on third-down conversions.

We can’t blame this steep decline on the passing game. In the air, Wilson is keeping pace with last year’s average yards per game (259.8 in 2016 versus 251.1 in 2015). And he’s throwing fewer interceptions to boot (0.5% versus 1.7%). But his rushing stats tell a completely different story: 5.5 yards per carry and 34.6 yards per game in 2015, compared to a scant 1.5 yards per carry and 5.5 yards per game so far this season.

With Wilson looking “about as nimble as an aging Joe Namath on two bum knees,” the Seahawks have lost much of the magic he brought to the table: that amazing ability to scramble away from the defense and keep drives alive. That’s giving opposing defenses a lot less to worry about.

To be fair, it’s not just Wilson’s mobility that’s dragging Seattle’s offense down: It’s their entire ground game. With only 3.1 yards per carry and 82.7 yards per game (ranked 27thin the league overall), it seems the Seahawks have kissed their elite rushing status goodbye.

And when that walked out the door, so it seems did their ability to score points. They’ve scored a mere 111 total points in six games and are tied for last in the league in points scored (alongside Chicago). With numbers like that, you’d expect to see far fewer tallies in Seattle’s win column. The difference-maker has, of course, been their formidable defense.

Julian, without a solid rushing attack, are the Seahawks relying too much on the defense to continually save their asses? And if so, how can they bring their ground game back to life?

Rogers: I don’t think Christine Michael is the problem. I believe he’s part of the solution. My eyeballs tell me Michael is still low-to-the-ground, slithery fast. The holes just aren’t there. Worse, defenses know Wilson is no threat to keep it on the read-option, so they can focus on crashing down on every play that appears to be a run down. Second-level defenders are free to get on Michael fast.

Wilson has to make defenses pay through the air. He’s become a reluctant pocket passer, which is foreign territory for the Seahawks offense. The good news: It will almost certainly pay off later in the season. The bad news: For now, the Seahawks aren’t one-dimensional, they’re no-dimensional, if the last game is any guide.

It comes down to the offensive line, which is the weakest link by far on the 2016 team. A situation made worse now that George Fant is going to have to take over for Bradley Sowell at left tackle. Penalties have also been a factor. Expecting a miraculous leap toward offensive line play excellence is highly unlikely. The Seahawks are going to have to mix and match, throwing short to Jimmy Graham and the elusive Doug Baldwin and let them create yards after the catch.

The Seahawks are going to have to throw to loosen things up for the run game — the antithesis of Seahawks football.

Which is not great when you’re opposite the NFL’s No. 1 passing offense. Both teams offer bottom-third rushing offenses: Seattle is ranked 27th; New Orleans is ranked 28th. But the Saints sport no less than four receivers averaging better than 12 yards per reception: Brandin Cooks (15.2), Willie Snead (13.7), tight end Coby Fleener (13.4) and rookie sensation Michael Thomas (12.1). The surprise good news: So do the Seahawks. Graham (15.1), Paul Richardson (13.8), Tyler Lockett (12.7) and Baldwin (12.6). The bad news: The Saints’ top four receivers managed their average over 107 receptions, while the Seahawks’ top four impact receivers managed their average over a more pedestrian (yes, I said it) 80.

The difference is more about what defense each offense will go up against. The Seahawks’ offense gets to play against the 29th ranked unit. The Seahawks (6th) will be the best defense the Saints have faced so far in 2016. Jess, how do you think the Legion of Boom will handle the Saints’ explosive passing game?

Ridpath: If you had asked me that question before last Sunday’s game, I would have had few concerns. But after watching the Seahawks’ defenders work their butts off for more than 46 minutes in Phoenix (becoming just the third defense to spend that much time on the field since 2000), I’m worried about how well they’ll hold up for their second road game in a row.

Richard Sherman couldn’t even walk without assistance after giving his all to holdLarry Fitzgerald to just 70 yards last week. Even world-class athletes have limits, and Seattle’s lackluster offense seems to be pushing their invaluable defensive backs to the brink. I hate to say it, but if this trend continues, overwork-induced injuries won’t be far behind. With Kam Chancellor still nursing a groin injury, the Seahawks can’t afford to lose any more star defenders.

Seattle’s offense needs to step up and give their defense (and especially their secondary) a break. I have no doubt that the Seahawks’ defenders have the talent and the will to continue to carry this team. But they shouldn’t have to.

Julian, I absolutely agree that it all comes down to the offensive line — and that a giant leap forward is unlikely. However, facing the Saints’ soft defense may provide the perfect opportunity to take some modest steps in the right direction. If they succeed, they’ll give Wilson and Michael a chance to resurrect the Seahawks’ offense. I have no doubt that both players are poised to capitalize on any openings the o-line can give them. Prediction: Seattle 24, New Orleans 17.

Rogers: I’ve gone back and forth on who I think will win this one. The talk in ‘Nawlins is the return of Jimmy Graham. I think he’ll have a significant day, but I think the Saints’ passing offense will keep humming too. My wild guess prediction is that a significant penalty by the Seahawks is going to decide this one late. Prediction: New Orleans 23, Seattle 21.

 

Owning up
Here’s what we were right and wrong about last week.

What he got right: The wife and I bought a new car together without losing our sanity or threatening divorce. That’s got to count.

What he got wrong: The game winner, because there was none. Nobody’s a winner when that many players are going around kissing their sisters. I’m 3–3 on the season.

What she got right: With neither Wilson nor Carson Palmer at full strength, I expected a defensive battle. (Did either offense even play last week? I can’t remember…)

What she got wrong: The game winner, bringing me to 3–3 on the season. I was only off by 40 points in predicting the combined final score. That’s about as close as Hauschka was on his failed field goal attempt.

Week 7 Preview: Seahawks look to put clamp on division agains Cardinals

Week 7 Preview: Seahawks look to put clamp on division agains Cardinals

Cam Newton. Brock Osweiler. Aaron Rodgers. Viewers. The entire Cleveland Browns organization.

There have been many disappointments to start the NFL season, many of them (except Cleveland) stemming from failed expectations. It’s early, but six weeks in, we’re starting to realize that some things we thought were givens simply won’t be the case.

Perhaps no story was more baffling than the start the Arizona Cardinals got off to. An opening night loss to the Patriots would be excusable if it weren’t for the fact it was Jimmy Garoppolo, not Tom Brady, taking the snaps for New England.

The low point in their start was undoubtedly a 17-13 loss at home to the Rams, which dropped them to 1-3 and had pundits scratching their heads. For a team like Arizona, which many believed to the favorites in the NFC West, questions began to swirl about where their season was headed.

But, as Bruce Arians-led teams are known to do, the Cardinals suddenly find themselves back in the thick of things.

After back-to-back wins – the latest a 28-3 beat down of the New York Jets – Arizona is 3-3, healthy, and feeling like they're one big win away from reabsorbing the title of favorites in the West.

Enter, Seattle.

The Seahawks, fresh off their somewhat controversial win over Atlanta, will head to Arizona with two missions in mind: lock in their first road win of the year against a formidable for, and put a stranglehold on the division. At 4-1, Seattle is hitting their stride after a Week 2 loss to the Rams, and seem to have the inside track; assuming, of course, that they can stay healthy and not lose mental focus.

Because at this point, that may be their biggest challenge: complacency. After Sunday’s matchup against the Cardinals, only a November 10th trip to Foxboro stands in their way of being favorites in all of their remaining games.

After the Seahawks’ win over Atlanta, where the secondary was unpardonably mistake-laden, Seattle faces their second straight high octane offense. While the Cardinals have been inconsistent, they still have Larry Fitzgerald, David Johnson, and Carson Palmer. Now in his 13th season, Palmer – who is 23rd in the NFL in total QBR, far below his usual ranking – has had an incredulously up and down season. In a Week 3 loss to the Bills, he threw four picks with no touchdowns. His 60.4% completion percentage is his lowest since 2008 when he was with the Bengals.

Arizona’s offense, in general, has found some life in David Johnson; they possess the 10th best offense in the NFL, according to Pro Football Focus. Defensively, Chandler Jones – formerly of the Patriots – has been a revelation. In Sunday’s win over the Jets, Jones posted the highest defensive rating in the game; New York simply had no way of stopping him.

If Arizona has any dreams of winning the NFC West, Sunday is a must win. Falling three games behind the Seahawks will all but close the door on that, especially with Seattle looking at, ostensibly, a 10-1 or 11-0 finish. With two matchups against the ‘hawks left, Arizona must get both to have a chance.

Both teams enter Sunday riding a wave of confidence, but from different stratospheres. Seattle has figured their offense out; their defense is stout as ever.

Arizona survived their early season struggles, and are hoping their AARP-led offensive stars, Fitzgerald and Palmer, can stay healthy to put together a win.

 

Prediction

Seattle 21 Arizona 17

 

Fantasy

It’s official: Seattle finally knows how to use their tight end. It’s not a one or two game thing; Jimmy Graham is once again a bona fide weapon. In his last three game – all wins, coincidentally – he has amassed 302 yards. Or, put another way, 85% of his total yards this season. Another way to look at it? He’s already at 58% of his total yards from all of last season.

Arizona’s defense, 6th in the NFL in overall rating, possesses one of the best secondaries in the NFL with Tyrann Mathieu, Patrick Peterson, and Co. But they’ll have their hands full with the likes of Doug Baldwin, Tyler Lockett, and Jermaine Kearse. With attention being paid to them deep, look for Graham to again exploit the underneath and middle of the field.

And guess what? Russell Wilson now knows where to find him.