NFL

2017 NFL Mock Draft – who’s going number one?

usatsi_9273161.jpg
USA Today

2017 NFL Mock Draft – who’s going number one?

By 

I love the NFL Draft. How many other sports can dominate the news cycle for weeks leading up to an off-season event? The intrigue in the draft has only increased in the social media age, with the increase in draft related content. And that is so great.

This is the time of year that every team is undefeated. Every team is selling hope for a brighter future. So many of these college kids are fulfilling a lifelong dream.

The thing that differentiates the NFL Draft and other major league sports drafts is just how many difference makers can be found in the draft. The NBA Draft feature 60 picks. Each year, only about 6-8 of those will turn into game changers for their teams, 2-4 will likely become All-Stars.

There are 253 picks in this year’s NFL Draft, nearly half of them will be called upon to start at some point during their rookie year. These are true franchise changing draft picks.

While it is impossible to correctly project all 253 draft picks in this weekends draft, I give my take on the top 32 selections in the first round.

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

Cleveland has the first pick of the draft for a reason, they are a dreadful football team. One of their lone bright spots last year was the development of wide receiver Terrelle Pryor; well he left in free agency. This team needs an infusion of talent. Garrett is the best player in the draft. The Browns could go QB here, but would likely regret that by mid season.

2 – San Francisco 49ers – QB Mitchell Trubisky, North Carolina

Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. New General Manager John Lynch needs to put his stamp on this team in the draft, no better way than by swinging for the fences and finding your franchise quarterback. Trubisky is raw but has all the tools. The 49ers need talent in a lot of places, but you can’t win in this league without an elite quarterback. I am not sold Brian Hoyer is the answer in the bay.

3 – Chicago Bears – CB Marshon Lattimore, Ohio State

This is another spot that Trubisky had been rumored but the Bears just gave Mike Glennon a 3-year, $45 million contract. That would be a terrible use of resources for a team that is so deplete in talent in such a tough division. The Bears have to play Aaron Rodgers, Matthew Stafford, and Sam Bradford two times each season. Getting a cornerback that can help hold those guys under control is huge.

4 – Jacksonville Jaguars – RB Leonard Fournette, LSU

The Jaguars love power backs. They already have Chris Ivory on the roster, but that won’t stop them from drafting a guy that a lot of scouts think is a generational talent. Ezekiel Elliott really changed the way running backs are looked at in the first round. Fournette could, and should be great, unfortunately no one has much faith in the Jaguars organization when it comes to developing offensive talent.

5 – Tennessee Titans – S Malik Hooker, Ohio State

Hooker is a guy that not only will play right away, he will change the entire defense. Hooker has incredible ball skills and instincts, he can cover a ton of ground, and he will anchor this defense for years to come. To draft a safety in the top 5, a team has to know that the player will be a game changer, Hooker is that guy. Honestly in the discussion for best prospect in the whole draft.

6 – New York Jets – QB DeShaun Watson, Clemson

Trubisky is all about the upside and the tools that he has. Watson is all about the intangibles, experience, and leadership that he brings to a team. The way that Watson has played on the biggest stage the past couple years against Alabama has thrust him into the spotlight. I love a guy that has an edge, and leading up to the draft Watson has been quoted by saying that teams that draft Trubisky ahead of him will regret it. That’s confidence.

7 – Los Angeles Chargers – DE Solomon Thomas, Stanford

Joey Bosa was a great pick at #3 last year. This year the Chargers will look to continue to add defensive talent. The defensive bookends of Bosa and Thomas could be nasty for years to come. What Thomas brings to the table is a great football mind, a non-stop motor, and position flexibility. The Chargers would be lucky to have him fall to 7.

8 – Carolina Panthers – RB Christian McCaffrey, Stanford

If Fournette was here, I think that the Panthers would jump all over it. But the consolation prize is not a bad one at all. McCaffery is such a weapon. He can be a Pro Bowl running back, a very dynamic slot receiver, and an explosive return man. McCaffery matched up with Cam Newton in the Panthers scheme is nasty.

9 – Cincinnati Bengals – DL Jonathan Allen, Alabama

A lot of draft experts have connected the Bengals with some of the more high risk prospects of the draft. I just don’t know that a top 10 pick is going for some of the bigger question marks. Jonathan Allen is a mean defensive lineman. While his shoulders have taken him off of some teams’ draft boards, rumor has it that the Bengals don’t have the same concerns. This would be a great match.

10 – Buffalo Bills – WR Mike Williams, Clemson

Sammy Watkins has been great, and then hurt, and then pretty good, and then hurt, and then average. Now the team has questions whether they are going to take the 5th year option on his rookie contract. That puts his future with the team in future. Williams can be a #2 to Watkins if Watkins can stay healthy, or take over as the primary target.

11 – New Orleans Saints – DE Derek Barnett, Tennessee

The Saints have the luxury of having two 1st round draft picks. That gives them the ability to go best player available. They need to draft a cornerback early, but can do that with the 32nd pick. Here they go with a disruptive pass rusher that can dominate from both end positions. The Saints need to generate some quarterback pressure to cover other defensive inefficiencies.

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

Garrett at #1, and the best tight end to come into the draft in years. Not a bad first round for the Browns. Howard has the rare ability to play inline as a blocker, and get down field as a receiver. The comparison has been to Greg Olsen, who is only one of the most reliable and consistent tight end targets in the league.

13 – Arizona Cardinals – QB Patrick Mahomes, Texas Tech

Carson Palmer has maybe a couple good years left. Mahomes is a project that would be well suited to sit behind a veteran quarterback like Palmer. Mahomes has all the tools that you hope for in a quarterback; huge arm, leadership, ability to make any throw on the field. The Cardinals make a pick that will pay off in the next few years.

14 – Philadelphia Eagles – S Jamal Adams, LSU

The Eagles would love a running back or wide receiver here that could change their offense, and help the development of their second year quarterback. If Adams were to slip to 14, the Eagles would sprint to turn their card in. Adams is a big time playmaker and will help anchor the secondary for years to come.

15 – Indianapolis Colts – OT Ryan Ramczyk, Wisconsin

Andrew Luck is an elite quarterback. The biggest problem is that he can’t stay on the field for 16 games because he is constantly beat on. The offensive line has been terrible the past few years and the Colts will look to stop the bleeding a bit by going with a high upside tackle in the first round.

16 – Baltimore Ravens – WR Corey Davis, Western Michigan

Mike Wallace, Michael Campanaro, and Breshad Perriman are the Ravens top receivers. That just won’t get it done. Davis can be a number one receiver that can dominate possessions and demand attention from the defense which will open it up for the run game.

17 – Washington Redskins – LB Haason Reddick, Temple

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 – WR John Ross, Washington

Marcus Mariota is emerging as a quality NFL quarterback. The next step for this franchise is to surround him with weapons. Ross broke the 40-yard dash record at the combine and can stretch the field. If Ross can stay healthy after multiple knee injuries, he will be a steal mid way through the first round.

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

Unfortunately for the Bucs, Doug Martin has flashed brilliance, but then a few weeks later looked like a backup. He is currently serving a suspension and will miss the first three games of the season. Cook would step in Week one and be a feature back. This is a great situation for Cook and the Bucs.

20 – Denver Broncos – OT Garett Bolles, Utah

You can’t analyze the needs in this draft without realizing just how badly the Broncos need offensive line help. Bolles has some questions off the field, and is 25 years old, but he would be a day one starter for a line that desperately needs his athleticism and technique.

21 – Detroit Lions – CB Marlon Humphrey, Alabama

The Lions could go in a lot of different direction with this pick but I think they would be intrigued with adding a cornerback with the size and skill that Humphrey has. The Lions have Slay and Hayden, but they play in a division that is very pass heavy. Humphrey would carve out a very nice role for himself in Detroit.

22 – Miami Dolphins – OL Forrest Lamp, Western Kentucky

Lamp was a relative unknown before the Senior Bowl, where he was the standout offensive lineman of the group. Lamp played left tackle at Western Kentucky, but projects to be an interior offensive lineman in the NFL. Jay Ajayi broke out as a quality running back in 2016 and would be well serve to have a more solid offensive line.

23 – New York Giants – TE David Njoku, Miami

I really don’t think that Njoku falls this far, just so happens to be the way that my draft falls. Njoku would be a great fit in a pass-heavy offense in the Big Apple. Eli Manning would be incredibly happy with a receiving corps of Odell Beckham Jr., Sterling Shepard, Brandon Marshall, and Njoku.

24 – Oakland Raiders – LB Jarrad Davis, Florida

Davis is a guy that has started to shoot up draft boards. This is a linebacker that will make his impact felt early in his career. The Raiders look to be heading to an agreement to bring in Marshawn Lynch as their running back, so they will go defense in the first round on Thursday.

25 – Houston Texans – QB DeShone Kizer, Notre Dame

So many people are talking about how there may only be 1 or 2 quarterbacks taken in the first round. That is ludicrous. The quarterback position has never been more valuable and there are so many teams in the league that need a boost at that position. The Texans take a boom-or-bust prospect in Kizer for one simple reason, they need a quarterback.

26 – Seattle Seahawks – CB Kevin King, Washington

King played his college ball in Seattle, now he will play his professional ball in Seattle as well. King was the second best corner for the Huskies, but he is healthy and will be drafted a round or two sooner than Sydney Jones. King would be a huge addition to the Legion of Boom.

27 – Kansas City Chiefs – DL Malik McDowell, Michigan State

Kansas City has been rumored to have interest in a quarterback but with the top 4 off the board, they won’t go that direction. The Chiefs could trade out of the first round, but if they stay put they should take a swing for the fences. McDowell is big time talent, but has had some effort issues in his time at Michigan State. This would be one of the ideal landing spots for McDowell.

28 – Dallas Cowboys – DE Takkarist McKinley, UCLA

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 – DE T.J. Watt, Wisconsin

The brother of J.J. Watt, T.J., is about to be drafted and the Packers would be an outstanding spot for Watt to land. The question a lot of people have is, would T.J. Watt be a first round draft pick if his last name were Johnson, or Smith? I’m not sure. His combine workout was good, and he is a talented rush end, but we’ll see if he can live up to his last name.

 

30 – Pittsburgh Steelers – LB Rueben Foster, Alabama

There are two major questions surrounding Foster. The first is his injury history. His shoulders have chronic issues, and he plays at 100% all of the time which leaves him open to injuries. The second question is the dilute drug test that is being reported. It isn’t technically a “failed” drug test, but it puts him into the NFL Drug program, and it raises major questions. Pittsburgh has a veteran defense that can take Foster under their wing and help him succeed.

31 – Atlanta Falcons – DE Charles Harris, Missouri

In my opinion, Harris is one of the safest picks in this draft. While he does not have the elite speed or the physical traits that some of the top prospects have, but he is consistent and can be dominant. Harris will make a team in the first round very happy with his addition.

32 – New Orleans Saints – QB Davis Webb, California

A 5th quarterback in the first round?? Crazy, right? Not really. Webb doesn’t deserve to be a first round draft pick but he may be a first round selection. The 5th year on the rookie contract is worth something to teams and someone may try to trade up into this spot to ensure that they could draft a project quarterback that is under contract for 5 years.

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.

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

usatsi_9767475.jpg
USA Today

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

BY  

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.

Breaking Vegas with Garrett Thornton – Wild Card Round

usatsi_9783174.jpg
USA Today

Breaking Vegas with Garrett Thornton – Wild Card Round

BY 

Last year I was better than 53% in my Breaking Vegas picks and I aimed for 60% this year. As the regular season comes to a close I finish slightly over 50%.

While this might not be the best way to “Break Vegas”, I look to the Playoffs to keep up my late-season momentum.

I will pick all 11 games of the Playoffs and also have prop bet picks before the Super Bowl.

This Wild Card Round is completely bi-polar. The games are either must-watch television or they are matchups that fans of the teams don’t even have interest in.

Let’s see who I pick this week…

Oakland Raiders +4 @ Houston Texans

Let me start with one of the most lackluster Playoff matchups in NFL history. If you polled the 100+ players on these two teams, I doubt 50 of them would even watch this game if they weren’t in it.

The Texans are a bad team that won the worst division in the AFC. Even though they won the division, I would much rather watch Andrew Luck and the Colts or Marcus Mariota and the Titans. This Texans team has underwhelmed all year but is hosting a game in the Wild Card Round. The worst investment in the NFL was the contract given to Brock Osweiler. He can earn some of that contract with a home Playoff win.

On the other hand, the Raiders were one of the feel-good stories of the NFL season. A late-season injury to Derek Carr brought that to a screeching halt. Carr is one of the good guys of the NFL and was really developing into the franchise quarterback that the Raiders so desperately needed for so long. All of that is in the past and not the Raiders are starting fourth round pick Conner Cook under center. It will be the first time ever that a rookie quarterback made his first start in a Playoff game. Not a lot of precedence here, but let me give you a hint, it won’t go well.

Neither team can score enough points to run away with it, but the Texans find a way to win.

Texans 16 – Raiders 14

Detroit Lions +8 @ Seattle Seahawks

Seattle is one of the toughest places to play in the NFL. That only gets intensified entering the Playoffs. Home field advantage is absolutely crucial for the Seahawks this year because this is not the team that people are accustomed to. Without Earl Thomas, this defense is missing their captain. The passing game has been hot and cold. The offensive line and running game have been abysmal at points. If the Seahawks want to make a run, they need major efforts from Russell Wilson and Jimmy Graham.

The Lions are a sleeper in my opinion. If Matthew Stafford can adjust to his finger injury on his throwing hand, this team has the offensive firepower to play with anybody. The last two weeks of the regular season the Lions lost to the Cowboys and the Packers. Those two teams just so happen to be two of the best teams in the league. There isn’t a lot of belief in this Detroit team right now and that has driven this line. Bet the Lions in this one.

Seahawks 24 – Lions 20

Miami Dolphins @ Pittsburgh Steelers -10

This is the line that I have the least faith in. This is also the first time that the Steelers will play a Playoff game with Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown, and LeVeon Bell on the field at the same time. That will be the difference.

Pittsburgh can score 50 any given night. In the Playoffs, with a little bit more motivation, I expect their best performance of the year.

Steelers 38 – Dolphins 27

New York Giants @ Green Bay Packers -4.5

I fully admit that I am a Cowboys fan and I am hoping they can go to and win the Super Bowl this year. If I take my biased lenses off, I don’t know that there is a hotter team in the NFL than the Green Bay Packers.

Despite several flaws, the Packers have won 7 games in a row and have a healthy Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers is, arguably, the most talented quarterback to play the game. He is playing at the top of his abilities and has the team around him believing in him. He is the rare quarterback and leader that has every other person on that team bought in. This is a dangerous Packers team heading into January.

Although the Giants have some very quality victories this season, and have a track record of success in the Playoffs, I just don’t see this team a legitimate contender. This team is not a great offensive team, despite having Eli Manning and Odell Beckham Jr. The Giants only scored 310 points this season, good for only 26th in the NFL. The other NFC Playoff teams…

Atlanta Falcons scored 540 (1st)

Green Bay Packers scored 432 (4th)

Dallas Cowboys scored 421 (5th)

Seattle Seahawks scored 354 (18th)

Detroit Lions scored 346 (20th)

While you can make the case that defense wins championships, you still have to score points to win games. This Giants team just hasn’t scored enough points for anyone to have much faith in them. The stakes get bigger and the opponents tighten down their defenses come January. Giants just won’t have enough to make a dent in the NFC Playoffs.

Packers 28 – Giants 21

  Wins Losses Push Percentage
Week One 1 3 1 30%
Week Two 1 4 0 20%
Week Three 2 3 0 40%
Week Four 2 3 0 40%
Week Five 3 2 0 60%
Week Six 2 2 1 50%
Week Seven 3 2 0 60%
Week Eight 2 3 0 40%
Week Nine 3 1 1 70%
Week Ten 3 2 0 60%
Week Eleven 3 2 0 60%
Week Twelve 2 2 1 50%
Week Thirteen 1 4 0 20%
Week Fourteen 3 2 0 60%
Week Fifteen 4 1 0 80%
Week Sixteen 3 2 0 60%
Week Seventeen 3 2 0 60%
OVERALL 41 40 4 50.6%

*All betting lines provided by Bovada.LV on the Thursday preceding particular NFL week.

Titans QB Marcus Mariota has a fractured fibula

Titans QB Marcus Mariota has a fractured fibula

The Titans’ playoff chances took a hit on Saturday with a loss to the Jaguars, but a Texans loss on Saturday night will keep their hopes of winning a division title alive.

They’d need to go on and beat the Texans in Week 17, but they’d have to do it without quarterback Marcus Mariota. Mariota was carted off the field during Saturday’s game with an air cast on his lower right leg. After the game, coach Mike Mularkey confirmed that the injury was just as serious as it looked.

“Marcus has a fractured fibula. Obviously he is out,” Mularkey said.

Read more at NBCSports.com 

 

 

A frozen showdown between Russell Wilson and Aaron Rodgers

usatsi_8816237.jpg
USA Today

A frozen showdown between Russell Wilson and Aaron Rodgers

BY 

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.

Breaking Vegas with Garrett Thornton – Week 14

usatsi_9724458.jpg
USA Today

Breaking Vegas with Garrett Thornton – Week 14

BY  

You know what they say about the number thirteen, right?

Well let’s just say that last week sucked for me. 1-4. That’s the worst week since Week Two.

If I want to get back to .500 for the season I need to nail 15 picks in a row. Tall task, so straight to the picks!

Washington Redskins -2 @ Philadelphia Eagles

When these two teams met up in October the Redskins handed the Eagles only their second loss of the season. They dominated a game that ended with a final score of 27-20. But it wasn’t even that close.

Washington had 493 yards of total offense. Philadelphia had 239.

Washington sacked Carson Wentz 5 times. Philadelphia didn’t get to Kirk Cousins once.

Since that game the Redskins are 2-3-1, the Eagles are 2-5.

The difference in this game is the fact that the Redskins need this win to bolster their chances of making the Playoffs in an increasingly competitive NFC. Because of their tie earlier in the season, the Redskins are a half game behind the Buccaneers. A win against the struggling Eagles would go a long way to propelling them to play into January.

Redskins 28 – Eagles 17

Pittsburgh Steelers -2 @ Buffalo Bills

This is one of the more interesting games of the week. The Steelers pretty much dismantled the Giants last week in Pittsburgh. The score board at the end of the game showed 24-14 but it felt much, much worse.

Pittsburgh is a team that is getting better every week, while a lot of teams around the league are getting worse.

Both of these teams are on the outside looking in when it comes to the Playoffs, but they are both hoping to make a late push to make the postseason.

When it is a close matchup I like to pick the better quarterback, and in this matchup, it isn’t even close. Expect Ben Roethlisberger to pick apart the talented secondary, especially with new weapon Ladarius Green finally healthy.

Steelers 31 – Bills 21

Dallas Cowboys -3 @ New York Giants

This is the game that the Cowboys have been waiting for since September 11th.

In that week one matchup, the Cowboys controlled the time of possession and had more total yards than the Giants. In the end, Eli Manning was the most established quarterback in the game and found a way to beat a Cowboys team that had yet to form their identity.

Thirteen weeks into the season, the Cowboys have an identity, that identity is as the best team in the league.

Rookie quarterback Dak Prescott and rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott are legitimate MVP candidates. The defense has developed a bend-but-don’t-break mentality good enough for 5th best in the league in points allowed, allowing only 19 per game. This is a team that is hungry to prove they belong.

Look for the Cowboys to control the clock, score early, and win the game to be crowned as NFC East Champs.

Cowboys 26 – Giants 21

Seattle Seahawks @ Green Bay Packers +3

This is one that I have gone back and forth on but feel pretty comfortable about.

The high temperature on Sunday is supposed to be a balmy 29 degrees. That is not conducive to much, let alone football. But it sure seems like the Packers typically embrace the weather as an advantage.

Neither team loves taking the field in below freezing temperatures. The ball is hard. Your feet burn. Your muscles cool down much quicker. But it’s part of the game.

From the Seahawks perspective, they are going to miss have Earl Thomas roaming center field for them on the defensive side of the ball. He is their ironman and their captain; they don’t know what it will be like without him out there. This offense has had its ups and downs this season; can they follow up a huge performance last week against a tough run defense?

On the Packer’s side, this is a must-win. The Packers need to really run the table to get to the postseason. They need to find a way to exploit the back end of the Seahawks’ defense without Thomas playing the middle portion of the Cover 3. Jordy Nelson could have a big game on the seam route.

Packers 20 – Seahawks 18

Upset Special of the Week:

New Orleans Saints +3 @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Bucs have won 4 in a row, the Saints have lost 3 out of the last 4. Why in the world would I pick the Saints to win on the road?

Drew Brees.

The sub-6’ quarterback continues to amaze. The Saints’ offense is the second highest scoring team in the league, scoring 28.9 points per game. Brees leads the league in passing yards (3913) and passing TDs (30). Brees also has the 4th best passer rating in the league. The future hall of famer is better than what his teams’ record indicates.

On the other side of the field, the Bucs are a prideful and enthusiastic bunch that enjoys playing together, it is apparent. My one real concern is the longevity of the momentum that they have. Their upcoming schedule is not easy for a young team trying to make the Playoffs.

Vs. Saints, @ Cowboys, @ Saints, vs. Panthers.

To make the Playoffs, they need to at least split those games. They likely won’t beat the Saints twice in three weeks, and the Cowboys are the best team in the league. This is an important game for the Bucs but they are going to fall short in the big spot.

Saints 38 – Bucs 35

  Wins Losses Push Percentage
Week One 1 3 1 30%
Week Two 1 4 0 20%
Week Three 2 3 0 40%
Week Four 2 3 0 40%
Week Five 3 2 0 60%
Week Six 2 2 1 50%
Week Seven 3 2 0 60%
Week Eight 2 3 0 40%
Week Nine 3 1 1 70%
Week Ten 3 2 0 60%
Week Eleven 3 2 0 60%
Week Twelve 2 2 1 50%
Week Fourteen 1 4 0 20%
OVERALL 28 33 4 46%

 

Seattle vs. Carolina: The Battle of former superpowers

usatsi_9081206.jpg
USA Today

Seattle vs. Carolina: The Battle of former superpowers

BY 

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.

Seattle vs. San Francisco: Week 3 Preview

Seattle vs. San Francisco: Week 3 Preview

The Seattle Seahawks were in need of some good news - any good news, really - to help extinguish the stench from last week’s dreadful offensive performance, and the subsequent loss to the Los Angeles Rams.

On Wednesday, they got it.

In his weekly press conference with the media, head coach Pete Carroll – who, quite frankly, needed something to smile about as well – doled out good news left and right.

Russell Wilson? He’s looking better and ahead of schedule. Tyler Lockett, Thomas Rawls and C.J. Prosise? All could potentially be good to go on Sunday.

But perhaps the biggest development could be the impending debut of Germain Ifedi, the mammoth offensive guard who’s expected to make his NFL debut. Ifedi, out of Texas A&M, was Seattle’s first-round selection in the draft this year. He was brought in to help shore up an offensive line that struggled last year, lost some pieces, and was expected to be in dire straights entering this season.

He hasn’t been anointed the savior, and he shouldn’t be. But infusing talent, no matter how young, is vital at this stage.

Two weeks in, those painful predictions of the offensive line have played out for the world to see. Seattle can’t run the ball (they're 18th in the league at 89.5 yards per game) and they’re not throwing the ball well (21st in the NFL at 239.5 passing yards per game).

Not all of the offensive woes can be placed on the line; not all can be placed on Wilson’s ankle, either. But the two combined factors have limited Seattle to just 7.5 points per game, a 1-1 record, and raised serious questions about the offense’s ability to help the defense at all this season.

The good news? As anemic as the Seahawks have been on offense, San Francisco, Seattle’s next opponent, has been slightly worse. Under first-year coach Chip Kelly – who knows a thing or two about offense, if you recall – the 49ers are 28th in the league in passing yards (203.5).

After a wild offseason, followed by a tumultuous preseason, sidetracked by the ongoing Colin Kaepernick saga, the 49ers have settled on Blaine Gabbert at quarterback, hamstringing a unit that, seemingly, could benefit from the playmaking ability Kaepernick would provide.

CSN Bay Area is reporting that Kaepernick is still regaining strength after an offseason in which he couldn’t lift weights. According to the report, Kelly said that at some point this season Kaepernick could be an option.

It won’t be against Seattle, although it may not matter with the way the Seahawks’ defense is playing. Aided by two games against the Dolphins and Rams, Seattle’s defense is first the NFL – by 25 yards – allowing just 248 yards per game and just 9.5 points per game.

And yet, according to multiple players, they haven’t played close to their best ball.

If last week’s showdown with Los Angeles was about defense, this week is looking to follow suit. Seattle (27th) and San Francisco (28th overall) both appear woeful offensively. But Seattle’s defense is masking any and all problems at this point.

With the health problems seemingly on the mend, the Seahawks’ offense has to be nearing a turning point. There’s no better time to start that now.

Prediction

Seattle 17, San Francisco 9

 

Fantasy

Last week, I told you to take the safe road, pick the Seahawks defense for your fantasy team, and get out of dodge. That’s the safe bet this week – and for the whole season, probably – but I can’t take the easy road again.

So, I’m going to go out on a huge ledge: Jimmy Graham.

Since Graham arrived at the beginning of last season, he’s been a square-peg-in-a-round-hole. Nothing about Graham’s style of play has fit in with what the Seahawks expect. They want him to block; he can’t do it. He wants to hug the seams; they want him to be complex. But last week, in Seattle’s 9-3 loss, we may have begun to see a glimpse of the Graham everyone expected. He only had 3 catches for 42 yards, but there seemed to be a conscious effort to get him the ball. And it makes perfect sense: you have an offensive line that doesn’t give you any time, and a quarterback who’s inured and can’t move.

The natural outlet? Graham. It’s a risk, but it may pay off.

Carrolling Away in the Emerald City

Carrolling Away in the Emerald City

I’m worried about Pete Carroll.

OK, I’m not really worried about him as much as I’m concerned for him. On Sunday, as his Seahawks were trudging through one of the most anemic offensive performances we’ve seen, a rare scene kept playing out on the sidelines:

Carroll, normally exultant and gratified at just being the head coach, and getting to be a part of things, was so distressed through parts of the game, that it looks as if he’s reached a level of frustration normally reserved for a tight, 4th-quarter NFC Championship game.

He was screaming. He was throwing headsets. He was mowing his own players over on the sidelines.

Part of Carroll’s success – and a big part of his charm – is his ability to compartmentalize aspects of the game that other coaches struggle with. He’s the antithesis of the Belicheckian cloud that hovers over the NFL, threatening to kill off any semblance of joy that may seep out. Carroll knows it’s a game; he allows his players to have fun; he dances, and sings, and looks as if (gasp) he actually enjoys what he is doing.

It made him a star at USC; players flocked to the campus to be involved with the party he was throwing.

It allowed him to integrate himself in Seattle, taking youngsters and veterans alike and showing them the part of the game they enjoyed when they were kids. The part of the game that came organically to them. When the game was just that…a game. He still coached, sure. He got after guys when he saw fit. But he never let the pressures override his ability to crack a smile. He could laugh off any defeat, be it a preseason game or the Super Bowl.

But just two games in, it seems as if the Carroll we’ve come to know and love - just like the rest of Seattle offense - is absent.

Seattle has scored 15 points. Their once fluid attack – give it to Marshawn Lynch a bunch of times, with a sprinkling of passes for good measure – has gone by the wayside. And there are a lot of things to blame for it.

The offensive line (and stop me if you’ve read this before) is giving Russell Wilson no time.

Wilson, because of the ankle injury in the season opener, has been stripped of his ability to improvise (a weapon that would be handy with his line). The running game has been virtually non-existent.

The most frustrating part for Carroll has to be that he finally has a group of skill players to boast about. With Doug Baldwin, Tyler Lockett, Paul Richardson and Jimmy Graham, he’s flush with talent that he hasn’t had since Reggie Bush, Matt Leinart and Co. were running all over the Pac-10.

But right now, Seattle can’t do a thing about it; they’re handcuffed by a lack of ability to run anything resembling an NFL-caliber offense.

Now, it must be noted the Seahawks’ first opponents – Miami and Los Angeles – fielded two of the better defensive lines in the NFL, so struggles were inevitable, but, despite some improvements from my vantage point, things still are not grading out.

From Pro Football Focus:

“The Seahawks’ offensive line couldn’t block the Rams’ defensive line; Mark Glowinski (45.5 grade) and J’Marcus Webb (32.6 grade) had trouble giving injured quarterback Russell Wilson a clean pocket. Glowinski allowed 5 pressures, 3 from the outside, and Webb surrendered 3. Bradley Sowell, who replaced Webb, allowed 5 pressures, 4 from the outside.”

For Carroll and his staff, there’s no end in sight. Offensive lines in the NFL don’t mature overnight; there are not incremental jumps in performance from week-to-week. For the most part, aside from some cohesion that is built, guys are who they are.

Seattle has neglected to address their line the past few offseasons, and it’s coming back to haunt them.

Oh, and on Monday, Carroll’s week took another hit, as Seattle was dinged again (as they were in 2014) for excessive contact in offseason OTAs. It’s small, but it adds to the growing uncertainty surrounding this team.

Two games do not a season make, and Seattle has the talent at every other position to make a Super Bowl run. But until the O-line figures it out, and until Wilson’s ankle heals, I’m afraid the Pete Carroll we’ve become accustomed to – the jovial man living each day to the fullest – is going to be gone.

And if he’s not careful, the goodwill he’s built, and the charm he’s instilled in people, will be lost. What’s left will be a sullen, ashen man, slogging his way through his 18-hour work day.

You know… a normal NFL coach.