Crushed Optimists

We are twin brothers who grew up in Central Washington. This blog is devoted to the life of Seattle sports fans, as well as various other topics that we will espouse for your enjoyment. We could be called another OFFICIAL SEATTLE SEAHAWKS site, but we'll take our uneducated crack at the Mariners, Sonics, and Huskies as well. A Seattle Sports Blog? Must be the land... of crushed optimism!

Friday, December 30, 2005

Ultimate Explosion!!

Since Colin is currently unavailable (with the ol' in-laws), I suppose it is up to me to carry the proverbial torch for the next couple of days. While the pressure is intense, I hope to be up to the challenge of writing weird prose that five people read.

On to the prose!

- Carl Peterson of the Kansas City Chiefs is starting to push for a seven team playoff system, as opposed to the NFL's current six team format. The pro for this would be that only the first seed would get the needed playoff bye. Also, teams like Kansas City wouldn't miss out on the playoffs. The con to this (and where I agree with John Clayton) is easy. If the Chiefs didn't want to miss out on the playoffs, they should've tried tackling Tiki Barber. The NFL is better than the NBA in that it doesn't reward mediocrity with playoff berths and playoff money. Only three 10-6 teams before this year have missed the playoffs. To me, that's a system working. Let's look back to just last year, when 8-8 St. Louis and 8-8 Minnesota made the playoffs. Should we have allowed a 7-9 team in to satisfy Peterson's urgings? That would be nuts. NFL games are best when the teams play with desperation. Let's not get rid of that.

- The Seahawks continue to have people write about them, and today it's even generally positive. Greg Garber writes about how cool it would be for the Seahawks to win the Super Bowl for players like Jim Zorn and Mack Strong. Umm... yes. Thanks for writing that. Bet those were some hard-hitting interviews. Len Pasquarelli sucks up to Tim Ruskell some, and even gives credit to Mike Reinfeldt, a man without whom none of this success would be possible. Basically, I will post here any article that sucks up to Tim Ruskell. I just can't believe we actually have a GM I can be proud of. When's the last time we could say that? Anyone? Anyone? Pat Gillick? Couldn't draft worth anything. Rick Sund? You have to be kidding me. Woody? HAHAHAHA. Ruskell could be a rock star out here simply be being decent. We don't ask for much, just a lack of idiocy. That means you, Bavasi.

- John Clayton writes a pretty good roundup of the question of the offseason. What to do with Shaun Alexander? After the first few weeks of the season, I was firmly in Shaun's camp. He was playing with power and passion, and really he hasn't let up since, as evidenced by the NFL record 27 rushing touchdowns. Here's my problem... there is no way that Shaun will last for another six years at the type of money he is asking for. We all thought Marshall Faulk didn't take too many hits, he was so elusive. That was only a few years ago. We all thought Priest Holmes was worth the huge deal two years ago after setting the NFL touchdown record. He was a backup for so long, we reasoned, that he hadn't had the type of abuse other starters had. Now he's seeking third opinions to see if he can play another down. Curtis Martin, long held as the gold standard of aging backs, finally shut down this year at age 32. The truth is that Shaun has two-four good years left. I'm fine giving him an enormous signing bonus. We have Paul Allen as an owner for a reason. However, I'm starting to be against a long term deal for our MVP back (not to mention that Matt Hasselbeck is our MVP).

- Art Theil (it only seems like I post every one of his articles) and Danny O'Neil have two good stories on the Seahawk defense, which is the biggest surprise of the year. There are two reasons I believe that defense will have success in the playoffs which are illustrated in these articles. 1. We are ranked #4 in scoring defense. Basically, as we showed Indianapolis, you can exploit our inexperience only to where it matters. Then they become very disciplined in their zones when those zones shrink. This showed against the playoff teams we played this year. Dallas couldn't put it in when we turned the ball over deep. The Giants needed two iffy touchdowns to break it. Peyton Manning couldn't do it. That bodes well for us playing teams like Chicago. 2. Our rushing defense has gone from spotty to solid, the largest jump in the league. In fact, this statistic may surprise you. Which team out of these three is giving up the fewest rushing yards? Seattle, Chicago, Tampa Bay? Would you believe your Seahawks? That's impressive.

- While we're on the subject of football, Don Ruiz of the Tacoma News Tribune has one of the better ideas for fixing the BCS I've ever read. To quickly recap... 6 conference champions and 2 at-large bids out of independent and mid-majors. I completely agree. To be considered as national champion, you need to win your division. I also love the ability to have a mid-major in the mix. Utah deserved better last year. When's the next time they will be that good? Perhaps never. Yes, there are instances (like USC a few years ago), when teams turn it on at the end although they do not win their division. What's better? The pollsters picking that team over the champion or for the teams to decide it on the field. These aren't difficult solutions. To complain about student-athlete stuff is hypocritical for schools only focused on profits. At some point perhaps they fix the BCS. Until then, I can watch the Sun Bowl and care less about some stupid exhibition game.

- On to the Sonics (man, this Explosion is turning out longer than most). I watched much of the second half last night (112-105 win over Denver) and saw something I hadn't at all this year. Bob Weiss playing Damien Wilkins significant minutes and assigning him to the other team's best player. The result was exactly what happened last year. Wilkins shut Carmelo Anthony down after shutting Andre Miller down in the first half. If Weiss gives Wilkins a chance, he can be our Bruce Bowen, easily. He has the ability. At least he's quitting giving important minutes to Vladimir Radmonovic, who won't even post up Earl Boykins when he has the chance. I'm sick of "Broadway Joe". I'm also sick of Flip Murray, who is an awful point guard. If he's a backup two, I'm fine with him, but this point guard experiment is a total failure. That's why I am a huge fan of trading him for Earl Watson (and like that Ray and Rashard have also chimed in positively). While Watson is earning way too much money, he would be a younger Antonio Daniels. I couldn't wait to see what the Sonics would look like with a younger Antonio Daniels. I know it would be a difficult move... maybe we would have to also give up (gasp) Vitaly Potapenko. Memo to Rick Sund... DO IT.

- Finally, the Pac-10 season opener for the Washington Huskies only served to get me more excited about this year. Arizona State tried the "thug" approach that worked several times last year, as physical fouls got into the heads of our finesse team. This year it only took them a while to adjust to it. Then Brandon Roy took over. To be a great team, you need a great player. While the 10 wins have been great, we had yet to see Roy be the Pac-10 player of the year potential we know he can be. 35 points last night was a giant step forward in the right direction. Memo to all comers. This team is for real.
Note: I linked above to Steve Kelley's last article. This article does contain one inane argument.

Washington will go as far as Roy can take them. It isn't as deep or as experienced as last season's conference-tournament champion. It can't win big games unless Roy has big games like Thursday's career-high, 35-point night, which made him the 31st Husky to surpass 1,000 points for his career.
Umm... didn't we beat Gonzaga a couple of weeks back? Remember that, Steve Kelley? Remember how we won? That seemed to me a little like a big game. Are you literally saying that the Huskies need 30 points from Roy to win big games? That seems pretty weak. I also take umbrage that this year's team isn't as deep as last year's. Last year's squad needed Tre Simmons and Nate Robinson to win. This year we have shown we can win using 12 different players. That seems pretty darn deep to me. Not a smart paragraph. Then again, it's Steve Kelley.

posted by Gavin @ 3:08 PM  0 comments

Thursday, December 29, 2005

What is it with people and the Seahawks?

I know that I am only a few short hours from praising the media for finally jumping on the Seahawks' bandwagon but at that point I hadn't read Jason Whitlock's latest NFL Truths column for ESPN. Now, since I just got done berating Scoop Jackson, I should probably let it slip that I normally find Jason pretty entertaining. He doesn't take himself or his articles too seriously. With that said, let's take a peek at what he thinks regarding the NFC.

8. Of all the teams in the NFC, the Washington Redskins are the only team capable of winning the Super Bowl.

After being down on Joe Gibbs early in the season, I have to credit him for getting things together. If the Skins knock off the Eagles, they will enter the playoffs as the hottest team in the league -- hotter than the streaking Patriots, also winners of four straight. Of course, we know the Redskins can play defense. What's been impressive is their offensive explosion the last two weeks -- 35 points in each victory, over the Cowboys and Giants. The Skins have a good offensive line, three good running backs, a big-play receiver (Santana Moss), an effective tight end (Chris Cooley) and a QB who has thrown 22 touchdowns and just nine interceptions.
Okay, this is flat out lunacy. The Washington Redskins at this point are 9-6 and are the #6 seed in the NFC playoffs. Calling them the "only team capable of winning the Super Bowl" as the #6 seed is ignorant and lazy. Speaking of which, calling the Redskins the "hottest team in the league" when there happens to be a team currently riding an ELEVEN GAME WIN STREAK boggles the mind. What do the Seahawks have to do to prove to Jason that they could win the Super Bowl? Do they have to move to the East Coast, set up shop in Virginia and hype themselves incessently?

Of course, Whitlock continues by praising Washington's offense. While I agree that Washington has all the weapons he lists, they have not been able to do anything with it consistently and especially on the road. Let's think about this. Washington's a #6 seed. They are 3-4 on the road, with one of those wins being the miracle comeback against Dallas. This is not a recipe for playoff success, as they will be playing EVERY GAME ON THE ROAD. Now, I admit that if the NY Giants lose and Washington wins they will take the NFC East and my argument is moot. However, the NY Giants play Oakland on Sunday. This isn't an upset waiting to happen.

So, as a Hawks fan, what exactly does Jason think disqualifies the #1 seed Seahawks from being a legitimate contender?


7. OK, while I'm on the subject, let me rank the NFC Super Bowl hopefuls.

1. Redskins: Outstanding defense and just enough offense to beat any team in the league.
2. Bears: Absolutely love the move to Rex Grossman. If Muhsin Muhammad holds on to the football, the Bears might score enough points to sneak into the Bowl.
3. Seahawks: Just feel like Matt Hasselbeck is going to do a couple of stupid things in Seattle's playoff opener and it's going to be curtains.
First Bill Simmons and now this. The problem with Seattle isn't anything they've shown. It's what "they feel will happen". Hasselbeck will throw a crippling interception. Alexander will fumble. The defense won't stop anyone when it counts. The problem with this logic is that it isn't logic. It's conjecture, and even worse it's baseless conjecture. While there is no problem with Jason Whitlock believing that another team could beat Seattle in the playoffs (heck, I believe that), it is idiotic to classify other teams as better because Matt Hasselbeck, the best rated quarterback in the league the past few weeks, is going to do something dumb. Here's an NFL Truth for you, Jason. The Redskins will not make the Super Bowl. Then perhaps you can write a column about how idiotic your column was (I won't hold my breath).

posted by Gavin @ 8:20 PM  2 comments

FSJ?

The title up above is my version of a clever take-off on one of the Crushed Optimists' favorite sites, Fire Joe Morgan. On it the commenter's skewer the more ignorant sports columns of the day. I've always been curious why they don't write more on the inane articles written by one Scoop Jackson. Finally, today, my prayers were answered. Read all of this. My favorite line?

Stephen A. Smith's show
No one really got the magnitude of this. Not even at ESPN. When the deal went down and "Quite Frankly" was born, the first thing I wanted to do was write a column about it. Not happening. "Too self-promoting" was what I was told. But "QF" was bigger than that. It was bigger than ESPN.

That's so ridiculous it's hard to make fun of. How about some facts, then? The number of people watching Quite Frankly ranges from 0.1% to 0.3% of the people watching TV. If you're wondering, those numbers are very bad. Cold Pizza bad. Previously-recorded British darts tournament bad. According to Scoop Jackson, the show is bigger than ESPN.
Fire Joe Morgan also links to another site, Deadspin, where a commenter has this to say about Jackson's writing in general...

Unfortunately, even "good Scoop" writes like a retarded third grader. The problem is not so much an "economy of language" as it is a "misunderstanding of language."
As you probably can tell, I am not a huge Scoop Jackson fan. I think his writing is almost illegible, and most of his rantings are almost worthy of Skip Bayless, they are so bad. His uplifting of an awful Quite Frankly show as a peon of black culture is an insult to ESPN stalwart Michael Wilbon, who's Pardon the Interruption show is three times as insightful and entertaining as anything Quite Frankly could hope to be. Most of Scoop's articles make no sense, and he throws around the term "racism" way too much. As I say often, it's sports, for crying out loud. We're not talking about the Middle East peace process here. Anyone who tries to take themselves too seriously isn't doing so. Quite Frankly, if Scoop wants to throw out a top story and use racism, he should write articles about the lack of African American D-1 football head coaches. That's wrong. Quite Frankly, however, is also wrong.

posted by Gavin @ 8:06 PM  0 comments

Ultimate Explosion Round-up!

What a crazy ride it's been for the past week... that or what a time Colin and I had sitting on our duffs doing nothing for a week. The world of sports didn't take a Christmas vacation and while I don't have a ton of thoughts on what transpired, here are some snippets.

- Texas is idiotic for giving Kevin Millwood a five year deal to pitch in their bandbox. Didn't they learn anything from Chan Ho Park? Millwood is a huge injury risk and doesn't strike people out as much as he did in his prime. So let's think about what Texas did this offseason... added Millwood and Adam Eaton. Good... at the expense of Chris Young and their dignity... Bad.

- The M's are going to suck next year. This is probably the least excited I've been for baseball since 1995.

- The national media is finally starting to pay attention to your Seattle Seahawks, with two different ESPN writers already annointing them the best team in the NFL. I don't know if I buy that one, but it at least is gratifying, with as much as Colin and I whine about everything.

- About the game on Saturday... there is not much either team can take away. Here are at least some positives. Our rushing defense looked pretty good against Edgerrin James. Our red zone defense without eventually our top three cornerbacks didn't crack until the fourth quarter. Our passing defense overall will be exponentially better if we face them again. Our offensive line was completely dominant. Basically, if we can run like that again, the Colts don't stand a chance (of course, not playing Corey Simon can do that to a defense). I liked a lot of what I saw.

- Lofa Tatupu is in a bit of a slump. He's missed a lot of tackles and taken some poor routes the last three games.

- Atlanta and Michael Vick were overrated. Colin and I believed it prior to the season and still do.

- I am impressed with the Washington Redskins, although I'm not sure they have the offensive weapons to win in the playoffs.

- The New England Patriots and the Pittsburgh Steelers are the teams to beat in the AFC playoffs... not the Colts. They are getting healthy. The Colts are hurt. They are running the ball. The Colts aren't. Don't be surprised if New England beats the Colts in the Divisional round.

- The Washington Huskies men's basketball team is overrated. Seventh after beating Lehigh? You have to be kidding me. I want to earn seventh after beating a few good teams on the road. Still, I'll be there on Saturday watching them take it to Lute Olson's Arizona Wildcats.

- Buy Switchfoot's new album.

- I don't care a whit about this bowl season except for USC-Texas. January 2nd is just an excuse for Colin and I to eat chips and meatballs for a day.

- If Gonzaga can't find a 2nd-3rd scorer, they will not make it out of the Sweet Sixteen this year.

- That's all for now! Hope everyone's Christmas was exciting and fun!

posted by Gavin @ 2:40 PM  0 comments

Scientific Method, Week 17

Ah yes. Week 17, the final week of the regular season, when over half the games have no meaning, especially when all but two of the postseason slots have already been filled. Fantastic. Also, I have no time to do this post, so this will be a pick (and nothing more) sort of post. I recommend going elsewhere, or waiting for Gavin to write something.

Last Week: 10-6
Overall Record: 142-98

Saturday:
Denver at San Diego
Denver has already clinched the #2 seed, while San Diego really wants that 10th win for some reason.
Scientific Pick: San Diego

NY Giants at Oakland
A win for the Giants gives them the NFC East, while the Raiders are fighting amongst themselves even more than usual.
Scientific Pick: NY Giants

Sunday:
Carolina at Atlanta
Carolina needs this win because of losing to Dallas last week, while Atlanta just looks lost.
Scientific Pick: Atlanta

Baltimore at Cleveland
Is Kyle Boller really this good? Maybe....
Scientific Pick: Baltimore

Seattle at Green Bay
Without Samkon Gado, can Green Bay move the ball against the second stringers of Seattle?
Scientific Pick: Seattle

Arizona at Indianapolis
Jim Sorgi looked like a more than capable NFL quarterback last week. I was impressed.
Scientific Pick: Indianapolis

Cincinnati at Kansas City
What a horrible game thrown up by Cincy last week. They get well against the Chiefs defense.
Scientific Pick: Cincinnati

Miami at New England
A win here might give New England the #3 seed, ensuring them of missing the Colts until the AFC Championship game. Uh oh.
Scientific Pick: New England

Buffalo at NY Jets
Two forgettable seasons for these teams end with a forgettable game.
Scientific Pick: Buffalo

Detroit at Pittsburgh
Does anyone really think that, in a must-win game, Pittsburgh will lose to the Lions?
Scientific Pick: Pittsburgh

New Orleans at Tampa Bay
New Orleans, I'm sorry about this season. I hope that all this is taken care of before next season rolls around.
Scientific Pick: Tampa Bay

Houston at San Francisco
The Bush Bowl! Houston wins! By losing!
Scientific Pick: San Francisco

Tennessee at Jacksonville
Jacksonville has already clinched the #5 seed, so they will be resting folks.
Scientific Pick: Tennessee

Chicago at Minnesota
Chicago already has the #2 seed, while Minnesota might be fighting for Tice's job.
Scientific Pick: Minnesota

Washington at Philadelphia
Can Washington take care of business? Why not?
Scientific Pick: Washington

St. Louis at Dallas
Jamie Martin will not move the ball on the Cowboy's defense, and they squeak into the playoffs over the Panthers.
Scientific Pick: Dallas

Playoff Picture if Predictions are P(right)
AFC
Indianapolis
Denver

Pittsburgh (#6) at Cincinnati (#3)
Jacksonville (#5) at New England (#4)

NFC
Seattle

Chicago

Dallas (#6) at NY Giants (#3)
Washington (#5) at Tampa Bay (#4)

posted by colin_hesse @ 9:39 AM  0 comments

Friday, December 23, 2005

Merry Christmas From Crushed Optimists!


Here is a recent picture of the Crushed Optimists staff (Colin on the left, Gavin on the right) after viewing the absolute destruction that was the Seahawks/49ers game in Seattle. Thanks to everyone who ever reads this tripe, and we hope that you have a wonderful holiday season with your friends and family.

posted by colin_hesse @ 3:11 PM  0 comments

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

The Scientific Method, Week 16

A great week of football last week, but sadly not one that followed the boundaries of science, which stumbled to a .500 mark for the week. Not that great. The good news is that Seattle is one Jim Sorgi-led win over the Colts to receive home-field advantage for the NFC playoffs. They already have a playoff bye, which is just strange to write, and they are actually gaining more respect after a hard road win over the Titans, who played extremely well. Steve McNair especially looked ten years younger. Give that man time in the pocket and he can still pick you apart.

Good news about the Hawks not facing all the Colts have to offer has to center on our decimated secondary. Thinking about Marvin Harrison matched up against Jordan Babineaux makes me ill. Thinking about Brandon Stokely matched up against Kevin Bentley makes me ill. Come back, Dyson! Come back, Herndon! Come back, Lewis!

Merry Christmas, everyone! This post is coming up early because of family coming down tomorrow, and posting will effectively cease for a good while.

Last Week: 8-8 (not 7-9, as Gavin stated earlier. Learn to do math, engineer)
Overall Record: 132-92

Saturday:
Buffalo at Cincinnati
Hypothesis: Go against teams in turmoil
Buffalo is still in turmoil, as evidenced by that horrific performance they put up against Denver. Gavin and I will do some extended end of season posts on this, but Buffalo has to rank, for me, as perhaps the biggest disappointment of the season. I admit, I was fooled by this team at the beginning of the season, but the run defense is bad, Willis McGahee has been underwhelming, and the offense has never been able to get going. Meanwhile, Cincinnati is one of the feel good stories of the year. How awesome would a Seattle/Cincy Super Bowl be? Two laughingstocks playing for all the marbles....
Scientific Pick: Cincinnati

Pittsburgh at Cleveland

Hypothesis: Veteran teams win these games at the end of the season
The team that was ALMOST the most disappointing team in the NFL seems to have found itself in these last few games. The Steelers are once again running around and through opposing defenses, and there is basically no worse team at stopping the run then the Browns. I commend Romeo Crennel for what has been a pretty good first year coaching job, and I am extremely interested in how Charlie Frye plays in these last few games, but let's be honest here. This game shouldn't be close, and won't be if Big Ben plays.
Scientific Pick: Pittsburgh

San Diego at Kansas City

Hypothesis: Go with the team who knows how to tackle
I am completely off the KC bandwagon after watching them try to tackle Tiki Barber last Saturday. That was one of the single worst tackling performances I have and probably will ever see in my lifetime. The Giants were giving them that ballgame. Eli was off and LJ was tearing through the Giants defense. All they had to go was stop Tiki, and they couldn't. Meanwhile the Chargers kind of beat the Colts last week, and looked pretty darn good going it since LT did basically nothing, emphasizing the note that Drew Brees has turned into a franchise quarterback. Say goodbye, Phillip Rivers....
Scientific Pick: San Diego

San Francisco at St. Louis

Hypothesis: Never pick Alex Smith
I have not liked Alex Smith as a #1 pick since I heard that the 49ers were closing in on picking him in the draft last year, and he has just looked awful whenever he has played. Supposedly he is a very smart person, but he looks overwhelmed with his puny small hands. Ken Dorsey, frankly, looks like a much better quarterback. Even Cody Pickett looked better in his limited appearances this season. Smith still has time, but I would at least THINK about Matt Leinart in the draft next year if I was running the 49ers. Leinart, RIGHT NOW, is better then Alex Smith. Right now. By the way, the Harvard QB has regressed after the stunning comeback over the Texans, to little or no surprise. Marc Bulger is still the only QB worth anything on the Rams roster, and it is hard to imagine him ever making it through an entire season.
Scientific Pick: St. Louis

Tennessee at Miami
Hypothesis: There is at least one upset per week
This is a pretty lame upset pick, but I really liked what I saw from Steve McNair last week, and I can see both teams putting up some points in what could actually be a pretty entertaining game. Ricky Williams has quietly become a quality running back once again, and the Dolphins are playing to get above the .500 mark, but Jeff Fisher is a great coach and has his young players improving throughout the season. He is one of the best coaches in the NFL, and should be recognized as such. I see McNair engineering a comeback drive in the 4th quarter as Gus throws a few key picks to let the Titans back into the game.
Scientific Pick: Tennessee

Detroit at New Orleans

Hypothesis: When two turmoil teams play, pick the home team
Yeesh. No teams have had to deal with as much turmoil this season as these two teams, though obviously New Orleans has had to deal with the most turmoil of perhaps any NFL team in history. Both teams seem to have quit on each other, and Dick Jauron has, for some reason, reinstated Joey Harrington as the starting quarterback going into this game. I have no idea who will win this game because of all this, so I will assume that the home team will pull this one out.
Scientific Pick: New Orleans

Atlanta at Tampa Bay
Hypothesis: Great defenses don't get rocked twice in a row
Tampa Bay just got absolutely owned by New England, while Atlanta just got absolutely owned by Chicago. This week we find out if either of these teams want to get to the postseason. Tampa Bay has the history of being able to handle Michael Vick with ease, and Derrick Brooks can negate the running game of Dunn and Duckett. Meanwhile, Atlanta has a porous run defense that Cadillac Williams should be able to take advantage of. Both teams will be fighting for their playoff lives, but Tampa Bay actually has more balance in their offense then Atlanta, and that should push them through this one. Atlanta will be knocked out of the playoff hunt, and Jim Mora will talk about how much he loves this team, his guys, Atlanta, and "Starsky and Hutch" reruns.
Scientific Pick: Tampa Bay

NY Giants at Washington
Hypothesis: Go with the team firing on all cylinders
I was more impressed with Washington than I was with any team last week, including the Patriots. It was absolutely unbelievable how they sliced and diced the Cowboys, who are not a bad team. They sure looked like a bad team, though, and Washington didn't look just good. They looked great. Cooley has turned into a tremendous player, and Mark Brunell looks as good as he did in the middle of the season. Meanwhile, Eli has not looked that great the last three weeks, but the Giants whupped this team earlier in the season, and Eli was a large part of that. Can they do it again? No.
Scientific Pick: Washington

Dallas at Carolina
Hypothesis: Never trust Drew Bledsoe in a must-win game on the road
A lot of pundits (Michael Irvin) elevated Dallas into the best team in the NFC even after we beat them in the middle of the season. Drew Bledsoe was the comeback player of the year, Dallas had a dominant defense, and Marion Barber was giving them the power running game. Well, not anymore. The running game has stagnated even with the return of Julius Jones, the wide receivers aren't getting open anymore (and Terry Glenn is dropping some balls when he does get open), and the offensive line can't protect Bledsoe. This is a team on the decline, while Carolina has been the single most Jekyll and Hyde team in the NFC. You almost never know what to expect from these guys, especially because they still don't have a prominent running game. Here's a shout out to the Carolina defense, who I feel will be the dominant unit on the field Saturday.
Scientific Pick: Carolina

Jacksonville at Houston
Hypothesis: Go....... Reggie Bush!
What on Earth were you doing winning last week, Houston? Don't you know that Reggie Bush is coming into the NFL? This is Reggie Bush, man! Reggie Bush! I know that Domanick Davis is a nice player, and your offensive line sucks, but Reggie Bush is a franchise-changing player. You must get him. Jacksonville, great teams that deserve respect don't win by 1 AT HOME to San Francisco and Alex Smith. That was pathetic. I think it is safe to say that you will reach the postseason, but I bid you adieu in the 1st round at New England. No way you break Brady's streak in the playoffs.
Scientific Pick: Jacksonville

Philadelphia at Arizona

Hypothesis: When you lose to Houston, you deserve never to win again
I didn't think Arizona was THAT BAD, but a loss to Houston plummets them to a worse team then the 49ers in my book. Good job, Denny Green. You have completely changed the culture in Arizona. Completely. And all those pundits who picked Arizona at the beginning of the season? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!
Scientific Pick: Philadelphia

Oakland at Denver
Hypothesis: Go against the team in turmoil
Only Norv Turner could screw up an offense with a good offensive line, Kerry Collins, Lamont Jordan, Randy Moss, and Jerry Porter. I mean, this offense has underperformed to catastrophic levels, and Turner has obviously already tuned out. This hire didn't make sense when it happened, and this will be the single most interesting job search of the offseason. Best person for the job? Obviously Rick Neuheisel, who would fit in to a "T". Here's a shout out to the Broncos, who I made fun of before the season and have turned into a dominant team this year. Jake Plummer has been great, the running attack has been special once again, and the Cleveland Browns defense has been much better in Denver.
Scientific Pick: Denver

Indianapolis at Seattle
Hypothesis: Pick against the Sorgi-nator
I'm going to be honest here, as a Seahawks fan. I was going to pick against us if the Chargers had not beaten the Colts last Sunday. Now we are playing Jim Sorgi for most of the game. Harrison, Wayne, Manning, James, Freeney, June, et al, will not be playing significant of any time this game, so we will basically be playing the JV squad of the Colts. If we can't beat that, we don't deserve to be in Super Bowl consideration.
Scientific Pick: Seattle

Sunday:
Chicago at Green Bay

Hypothesis: Pick the team with the better quarterback
Well, that's obviously Brett Favre, right? Wrong. At this point in time, it sure looks like Rex Grossman is a better QB then Favre. Harsh? Absolutely. But anyone who watched any of that Monday night game against Baltimore knows what I am talking about. Sorry, Brett.
Scientific Pick: Chicago

Minnesota at Baltimore
Hypothesis: One of these teams just got exposed
Besides Kansas City, no team hurt their playoff chances last week as much as the Vikings, who lost in abysmal fashion, at home. I watched that entire game while also watching the Hawks play last week, and I couldn't believe how bad they looked in every facet of the game. Meanwhile, Baltimore finally looks at least similar to how we expected this team to look at the beginning of the season. Boller is showing improvement, Derrick Mason is stretching the field, and the defense looks dominant. All signs point to a season ending loss for the Vikings.
Scientific Pick: Baltimore

Monday:
New England at NY Jets

Hypothesis: Never pick against the champs in December and January
All I need to say is that the Patriots looked like champions last Saturday. Wow.
Scientific Pick: New England

posted by colin_hesse @ 3:08 PM  0 comments

Ultimate Explosion!!

Big day for the Explosion, let's get on with it!

- Time to start with a huge "Attaboy" for Mack Strong, who because of the players and coaches was voted into his first Pro Bowl today. Mack has long been deserving of this acclaim and yet again is having a fantastic season. It isn't any coincidence that Shaun's biggest players are almost always in two back formations. Congratulations as well to Matt Hasselbeck (having his best season to date), Shaun Alexander, Walter Jones and Steve Hutchinson (our franchise player this offseason). Let's be honest. I can't think of one defensive player who deserves to go to the Pro Bowl. Michael Boulware and Lofa Tatupu may in a couple of years. Not this one.

- One player who probably deserved to go to the Pro Bowl but didn't was RT Sean Locklear. Every week he goes up against a Jevon Kearse or a Michael Strahan, and every week he doesn't allow a sack. The single biggest reason of the fast start of our offense. I'm truly excited to have this second year player around for years to come. Len Pasquarelli of ESPN.com selected him to the all-underrated squad. Other Seahawks on that squad were Mack Strong (underrated no longer apparently) and Rocky Bernard (who is starting to be a little overrated). I agree with most of Pasquarelli's selections, although a few are players that I think everyone should know, like TE Jermaine Wiggins of the Vikings. My favorite pick? Probably WR TJ Houshmandzadeh, who is having yet another brilliant year opposite Chad Johnson. He is the unseen weapon in that vicious Cincinnati attack.

- To finish with the Seahawks, David Locke has a pretty good write-up of the 53 yard run Shaun Alexander did last week with a recap of how the play even came to be. For the hardcore fan it is fascinating... even if Locke has a couple egregious typos contained within. Articles like this give me more appreciation for what Mike Holmgren does, and now that he actually trusts his offense we can see his genius in full swing.

- I may not be a fan of much of the Mariner offseason, but they did cut ties today with Ryan Franklin. Praise be. The worst statistical pitcher in the major leagues no longer gets to lose 15 games a year for us. We did, however, offer arbitration to Willie Bloomquist. Why? Why? Why? Let's think how this plays out... three million plus to a mediocre defensive and offensive player who thinks he should be a starter and the manager loves for the "intangibles" while fans tear their hair out over giving so many at-bats to a sinkhole. That run-on sentence accurately depicts the next year.

- Staying with baseball, I think the Yankees and Red Sox lost out on the Johnny Damon signing. The Yankees got another terrible defensive player with declining offensive skills who will resemble one Bernie Williams in two years. The Red Sox lost one of their key players and are now without a center fielder and leadoff hitter going into the year. That is nuts. Why go 4 years and 40 million but not 4 years 50 million? You're the freaking Red Sox! Sell some more DVDs, for crying out loud. Anyways, I still don't truly care about baseball, but since Bill Simmons is going to start whining about this in the next few months in every post I thought I'd preempt him a bit.

- On to college basketball and one of the more interesting returns for the UW men's basketball team, that of Mike Jensen. I don't think that much of Mr. Jensen. He can't defend, can't rebound, and his shooting percentage declined last year. Still, just the threat of an additional outside shooter could pull a big man from the lane opening it up for Brandon Roy or Justin Dentmon to attack. I would prefer he not take minutes from Jon Brockman. I would split it from Hans Gasser (nice heart, little talent) and Artem Wallace (still raw). I suppose more talent is never a bad thing, unless you're the Sonics.

- Finally, a must-read fun article by Andy Katz of ESPN.com about the friendship of Adam Morrison and JJ Redick. My favorite part has to be that JJ makes fun of Adam's moustache as much as I do. Seriously, he looks like a girl I knew in high school. Wax it.

posted by Gavin @ 2:40 PM  3 comments

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

NFL Week 15 in Review: Playoff Edition

Indy lost! Indy lost!

AFC Current Playoff Picture:

Division Leaders:
New England: 9-5 (at NY Jets, vs Miami)
Cincinnati: 11-3 (vs Buffalo, at Kansas City)
Indianapolis: 13-1 (home field advantage... at Seattle, vs Arizona)
Denver: 11-3 (first round bye... vs Oakland, at San Diego)
Note: Denver has a 8-2 conference record compared to Cincy's 7-3, so Denver still has the bye.

Wild Card:
Jacksonville: 10-4 (at Houston, vs Tennessee)
Pittsburgh: 9-5 (at Cleveland, vs Detroit)

First Round Games:
Pittsburgh at Cincinnati, winner at Denver
Jacksonville at New England, winner at Indianapolis

Still Alive:
San Diego: 9-5 (at Kansas City, vs Denver)
Kansas City: 8-6 (vs San Diego, vs Cincinnati)

As I noticed last week, the AFC playoff picture is basically set. At this stage it would take a lot for something to change. San Diego has two tough games left. Pittsburgh and Jacksonville have two easy games left. Kansas City is pretty much eliminated, although I'm keeping them in the column for sheer giggles this week. The only other struggle is between Denver and Cincinatti for the second first round bye. Both teams have one hard game and one easy game. My pick right now would be Denver taking that spot. Because the spots are pretty much done the matchups aren't too great, although Kansas City-San Diego should be a desperate and fun game.

NFC Current Playoff Picture:

Division Leaders:
NY Giants: 10-4 (at Washington, at Oakland)
Chicago: 10-4 (first round bye... at Green Bay, at Minnesota)
Carolina: 10-4 (vs Dallas, at Atlanta)
Seattle: 12-2 (home field advantage... vs Indy, at Green Bay)
Note: NY Giants are seeded over Carolina because of a .5 game conference lead.

Wild Card:
Tampa Bay: 9-5 (vs Atlanta, vs New Orleans)
Washington: 8-6 (vs NY Giants, at Philadelphia)

First Round Games:
Washington at NY Giants, winner at Chicago
Tampa Bay at Carolina, winner at Seattle

Still Alive:
Dallas: 8-6 (at Carolina, vs St Louis)
Atlanta: 8-6 (at Tampa Bay, vs Carolina)
Minnesota: 8-6 (at Baltimore, vs Chicago)

This week's action really stirred up the NFC playoff picture. If it ended up like this, I would love it. At this stage we would face either Tampa Bay or Carolina. That's like a dream come true. Congrats to Washington for jumping back into this picture and holding all the tiebreakers, basically because of their utter suckitude against the AFC. That 8-2 NFC conference record sure looks good. Atlanta is pretty much toast. Two tough conference games with no tiebreakers. Minnesota is pretty much toast. Baltimore is 5-2 at home and then they play the Bears. Dallas has a shot, but that's another tough game at Carolina. Luckily the Panthers have been beatable at home. A few good games this week to look forward to, like the Dallas-Carolina game. Atlanta-Tampa Bay is an elimination game for the Falcons. The best one on the slot is the Washington-NY Giants matchup. Huge grudge match with serious playoff implications for both sides. As for the Hawks, they do need to win on Saturday. I don't want to have to beat Brett Favre on what could be his final game to clinch home field. While the matchup isn't as sexy as it could have been, it means a lot and we need to show up.

posted by Gavin @ 4:03 PM  0 comments

NFL Week 15 in Review

Again, as I stated last week, I will only be recapping games that actually matter. Basically, if one of the teams is named "Houston" or "Baltimore" there is a good chance you don't care about it and a really good chance that I don't care about it. It also gives me an excuse to be lazy.

On to the recaps!

Tampa Bay 0, New England 28
Scientific Pick: Tampa Bay
Peter King: New England
I know why Colin made his pick, as a protest against New England all of a sudden becoming a favorite over Seattle for such luminaries as Peter King. This performance, though, made me a believer. Not that the defense was able to stuff Chris Simms. I hate Chris Simms. The offense being able to move the ball that effortlessly against Tampa's defense was tremendous. The first drive especially was like a flashback to the championship years. Basically, if I was any AFC team there is no way I want to play New England in the postseason because chances are high you lose that game.

Kansas City 17, New York Giants 27
Scientific Method: Kansas City
Peter King: Kansas City
My opinion about this game was stated yesterday. Kansas City blew this one. There is no pretty way of saying how pathetic the defensive performance was. Defenders quit on plays, didn't wrap up, didn't attack the ball, and let Amani Toomer and Tiki Barber have at least two undeserved touchdowns on a day where Eli Manning looked bad yet again. Here's one reason why the Giants will not be the Super Bowl representative... dropped passes. They dropped important ones against us, dropped a few more on Saturday, and have a general feel similar to the recent Hawks corps. A lot of the drops appear to be on third down as well. Now the Chiefs are done, will lose Dick Vermeil, and have no one to blame but themselves.

San Diego 26, Indianapolis 17
Scientific Method: Indianapolis
Peter King: Indianapolis
San Diego won by what seemed to be a repeatable defensive strategy. Blitz from both sides with a short tight zone and don't let the Colts throw down the field. They took advantage of a beat up offensive line to fluster Manning into the Sad Face. Frankly, I don't understand how corners keep on giving up 60 yard touchdowns to the Colts. Also, this was the first team Indy played that was actually at full strength (and the Chargers were even without LT for most of the second half). The Colts have been really lucky. Really lucky. They are not worldbeaters. They could win the Super Bowl, but many teams could and can beat them. It was nice to finally see that.

New York Jets 20, Miami 24
Scientific Method: Miami
Peter King: Miami
Congrats to Nick Saban. You have won new coach of the year. I am floored by this team reaching .500. Watch out for them next year.

Pittsburgh 18, Minnesota 3
Scientific Method: Minnesota
Peter King: Pittsburgh
Colin should have swapped choices here. Pitt is finally healthy and playing like it. Minnesota finally played a good team and played like it. It is nuts that either San Diego or Pittsburgh is going to miss the playoffs. That is lame. Games like this convince me that Mike Tice's job is not safe. The Vikings are still a ways away from the level of contention they are shooting for.

San Francisco 9, Jacksonville 10
Scientific Method: Jacksonville
Peter King: Jacksonville
Can Jacksonville ever actually clean up against a bad team? When you only beat the 49ers by one, you have serious issues. If they end up playing New England in the playoffs they will be beaten by two touchdowns.

Dallas 7, Washington 35
Scientific Method: Dallas
Peter King: Washington
Man, Colin got beat down by Peter King this week. I'm surprised that anyone picked the Redskins to win this game. However, the Cowboys didn't show up. How does a Bill Parcells team not show up to a huge rivalry game with enormous playoff implications? That doesn't make sense. Still, congrats are majorly due to Joe Gibbs, who is starting to find his groove again in the NFL. Although I don't think they'll keep this playoff spot, I am impressed with the effort a team riddled with playmaker injuries is making.

Atlanta 3, Chicago 16
Scientific Method: Atlanta
Peter King: Chicago
Chicago's defense is really good. Michael Vick is a mediocre quarterback. This was not a good combination on Sunday night. Still, the game turned on two decisions. One, Lovie Smith's courageous decision to bench Kyle Orton for Rex Grossman. That swap automatically makes Chicago the second best team in the NFC, at least if the offense looks that confident for the rest of the year. The second was that terrible call on the fumble/interception. The receiver had possession of the ball even if he hadn't made a "football move" and the ground cannot cause a fumble. That was a key problem.

It was an interesting week for Science, who had one of its worst weeks, at 7-9. His head to head matchup with Peter King didn't fare well, as King registered a 10-6. Ouch.

posted by Gavin @ 3:35 PM  0 comments

Ultimate Explosion!!

Here's a quick Explosion since it's Tuesday and that means oodles of posts during work.

- One of my trade hopes fell through today as San Diego traded Adam Eaton to Texas. Eaton, before suffering an injury to the middle finger of his pitching hand, was the second best pitcher on the Padres behind Cy Young candidate Jake Peavy. He also was probably the best pitcher on my fantasy team at the time (Chris Carpenter hadn't turned it on yet). His peripherals were solid and one would have hoped we could have had some discussions with Kevin Towers since we've made so many other deals with him. So now he has gone to a division rival. I was a little upset by that until I saw that Texas traded Chris Young for Eaton. Are you kidding me? Chris Young was looking like one of the top pitchers in the league before he got tired, just like all young pitchers do. He is tall with a fluid delivery and comes cheap. No way you trade him for Adam Eaton. Now I don't feel as bad. Stupid Rangers.

- On the other hand, we signed Jarrod Washburn. I'm a bit torn on this. I've always liked Washburn, but I wanted Kevin Millwood. Washburn, as Art Thiel deftly points out, is not worth the money we're going to now be paying him. Not even close. Still, on the bright side, he is a lefty in Safeco Field. Just look at Jamie Moyer's home/away splits to tell how successful a good lefty can be here. He is better than a left handed Ryan Franklin, which I saw on another site. He is an overpaid #3 starter. As long as he is our #3 starter, he will be one of the better ones in the league. It is disappointing that we do not have Millwood, who should have been our #2, and we will be a worse team because of it. Basically, while this isn't an awful signing, it is still not enough to get me excited in the least for next season. Maybe now we hit .500.

- Finally, yet another dumb column from Scoop Jackson, this time about Pat Riley. I'm not even sure if I understand his point. Is Riley good or bad? I'm not sure. All I ask is for the premise of the article to come out. Is that too much to ask for?

posted by Gavin @ 1:43 PM  0 comments

Monday, December 19, 2005

Ultimate Explosion!!

At the beginning of this Explosion, I would like to reiterate a few items from Colin's below post.

1. Praise all who helped in unseating the Colts. Now I've only had to listen to everyone discuss what the Colts do now, but hopefully that'll peter out in the next couple of days to where a few sportscasters actually do some specials on the Seattle Seahawks.

2. The tackling by Kansas City (or lack thereof) was as bad as anything I can remember. The Giants did not play well. Kansas City gave them that game.

On to the Explosion!

- A must-read Media review article courtesy of Sports Illustrated. I especially agree with his condemnations of Quite Frankly and Around the Horn. My favorite line "Quite Frankly has, quite frankly, not drawn an audience." If Stephen A. Smith has been defeated, life gets a lot better.

- This article about the Sonics proves how ignorant Bob Weiss can be and is another notch in my lack of respect for the man. Take this gem. "I really haven't talked to Vlade," Weiss said. "Going into that game, I didn't anticipate him not getting any minutes. The thing that's affecting that is that Reggie is turning into a pretty good post scorer." Let's review... Reggie Evans turning into a post scorer? What? Don't make me slap you around.

- Congratulations to the UW women's volleyball team for the utter domination of Nebraska to win the national title, which I did flip between while the Giants-Chiefs game on Saturday. I may not know much about volleyball, but those women were pretty darn good and deserve all the attention and acclaim. Bad news in the article? Sophomore hitter Christal Morrison is pretty freakin' hot, but apparently has been claimed by Jon Brockman.

- Didn't Darrell Jackson swear off talking to the press before his injury? Am I forgetting something? He sure is congenial now. Of course, our offense looks completely different with him. Watch out, all those who think you can just jam us at the line and focus on Shaun.

- Speaking of Shaun, Mike Silver writes yet another "sign him now" article referring both he and Edgerrin James. While I admit that we would like Shaun back, the cold reality is that as long as we have Walter Jones and Steve Hutchinson we will run the football. I want Shaun to be that back but it is not the end of the world as Silver indicates.

posted by Gavin @ 3:38 PM  0 comments

Seahawks Win!! Plus Notes Around the NFL....

You might notice that my game recaps have gone the way of Gavin's self respect. Well, that's because, quite honestly, most games around the NFL are way more interesting then the in-game matchups of our beloved Hawks.

Take, for example, the fact that the Colts LOST!!!

Now I don't have to listen/watch/hear Mike Ditka, Michael Irvin, Jim Rome, Colin Cowherd, Dan Patrick, Jesus Christ (praise His name), Sean Salisbury, Charles Barkley, Woody Paige, and Bobo the Talking Sock Puppet all talk about how the Colts should sit/start their players the final two games of the season, or how the Colts are the best team of all time, or how Peyton Manning turned water into wine (two Jesus jokes in one paragraph, just getting in the Christmas spirit).

And so, once again, sitting in a smoke-filled bar was worth it, since the local CBS station was showing absolute jack squat, which furthers my point that local television affiliates purposely put the worst possible games on in cities where the worst possible teams play as an NFL conspiracy to put even more pressure on those teams to get good fast. Go parity!

Take, for example, the fact the the Patriots just rolled over the Buccaneers in a "Wow" game. That was the first game all season where I actually thought the Pats have a chance to get back to the Big One. Not because of their offense. They have been about the same all season, scoring a predictable 17-28 points most games. But their defense must have turned a corner, because they were all over an improving Chris Simms, who had no chance of making a play, and Jon Gruden was forced to chew on his cud all game while making variously awesome faces. By the way, how great was it to see the Peyton Manning face unveiled once again? I almost cried for joy the first time I saw it. Just one of the funniest faces I have and will ever see in my lifetime.

Take, for example, Koren Robinson dropping some key passes once again, one of them getting intercepted, in the throttling the Steelers put on the Vikings. Most people in the bar I was in were either Steelers or Vikings fans (much cussing for everyone! YES!!), and the Vikings fans spent most of the time either complaining about Mike Tice or bashing Culpepper while Brad Johnson was playing an atrocious football game. That should hopefully stop the Brad Johnson for MVP train, which was one of the stupidest campaigns of all time, ranking up there with Oregon's downtown New York signs. Funny story to any Seahawks fan. I was actually talking with a Vikings fan about how glad I was that we had gotten rid of Koren Robinson because of his drive-killing drops at the exact same time Koren had a pass go off his hands to be intercepted by Joey Porter at the Steelers goal line. I laughed inwardly. Outwardly would have gotten me punched.

Take, for example, the worst job of tackling by a defense that I have seen in a good long while. I am talking, of course, about the Kansas City Chiefs, who allowed Tiki Barber to have a day for the ages, putting up Madden-ish numbers against what had been seen as an improved defense. That was a game for the Chiefs to win. Eli was struggling, Plax wasn't getting open, and LJ was carving up the Giants defense. All they needed to do was shut down the run. They couldn't do it, and because of it they have lost a chance at the postseason and their head coach. Good job, Chiefs. You earn my Choker of the Week, which is hard to do the same week that the Colts lose a chance at perfection at home and the Cowboys get owned by the Redskins.

Take, for example, the game stated above, where the Cowboys were manhandled by the Redskins defense and Drew Bledsoe had a typical Bledsoe-ish game behind a sub-par offensive line. Julius Jones has to rank as one of the top-5 disappointing players of the season. He was supposed to carry the Boys into the postseason with Bledsoe providing playaction aerial support. Instead the Cowboys have become almost a one-dimensional team with a defense that is hot or cold on any given week. I'm still scared about the prospects of playing that team, but I'm a little more scared about the prospects of playing the Washington Redskins, who, as of this point, are in the playoffs with two weeks to go. They beat us before, and they could beat us again, though at least we wouldn't have to play them in D.C., where they play with an extra gear before some fantastic fans.

Take, for example, Houston for some reason playing hard and beating the Cardinals at the same time where the 49ers were playing hard in almost beating the Jaguars, which was a terrible game for a team clamoring for respect like the Jags. Does no one want Reggie Bush now? I would almost be madder at Dom Capers NOW as a Texans fan then I was before Sunday, because he might have cost us a chance at a once-in-a-decade talent like Bush. As for Jacksonville, are you telling me that this team could go into Foxboro the first week of the postseason and beat the Patriots? Are you crazy? The Colts/Pats matchup is looking like more and more of an inevitability. I would still pick the Colts at this point because it would be in Indy, but the game would be closer then it was a couple of months ago.

Take, for example, Miami winning again to get to 7-7 with two games to go. Nick Saban, given the right personnel, will have this team as a perennial playoff team, and soon. I can't say enough about how impressed I am with the job he has done. By the way, if Ricky Williams didn't have to share time with Ronnie Brown, he would be getting 100 yards a game with a touchdown at this point. He's back....

Take, for example, Cincy getting back to the postseason for the first time in a decade. Good job, Marvin Lewis. I have no idea why so many teams passed on that guy, but he has proved all of them wrong. He will be a landmark in that city for many years to come.

Two weeks left! Gavin, I am sure, will have plenty more to say come tomorrow, but both of us agree that the game against the Colts matters a lot less then it used to. Tony Dungy has already stated that we will see Jim Sorgi in this game. I would imagine that Peyton, et al, play the first half and then the second half will become the battle of the second stringers. We still need a win here, because I don't want us to go to Green Bay needing a win to ensure we don't have to go to Chicago at some point. Our chances of winning, basically, just improved.

posted by colin_hesse @ 11:13 AM  0 comments

Friday, December 16, 2005

Ultimate Explosion!!

Two Explosions in one week! Wow!

Why have these been a little more few-and-far-between? Colin summed it up pretty well earlier this week. The Mariners are having a crappy offseason. The Huskies aren't playing anyone of consequence, so I'm not sure what to think. The Seahawks are on hold until the postseason. I don't usually care much about the NBA anyways, much less so about this Sonics club. Put all that together and you get a dearth of interesting subjects to give you my insightful opinions about.

Anyways, on to the insightful opinions...

- Len Pasquarelli decided to write my post about how few Mediocre Teams there are in the NFL this year. This is just another reason why people should pay Colin and I to write about sports, because we would come way cheaper than these people. I stand by my thoughts on it. Too few general managers are drafting well, and so even superstars are surrounded by marginal talent. The units led by elite scouts are winning.

- John Clayton pumps up Crushed Optimists' new favorite Seahawk, Lofa Tatupu, who sure as hell better win that Defensive Rookie of the Year award. How on earth did we managed to land both him and Leroy Hill (who may be better than other possible selection Odell Thurman)? All hail Ruskell.

- I like how Ty Willingham is recruiting junior college players. It worked for Mike Price when he resurrected Washington St. It's not suitable for long-term success, but anything that makes us halfway watchable will be an improvement. Still, it sure would be nice to see that Steve Schilling guy pick us. That would be a major coup.

- I'm not a huge volleyball fan, and so it has taken me a while to care about the Washington Huskies and their postseason aspirations. However, I'm not ashamed to admit that I watched their semifinal matchup against Tennessee yesterday and hope to watch much of their championship game against Nebraska. If the football team sucks that bad, we're forced to care about volleyball.

- Alright, one Sonics thought. I do like that Bob Weiss got ejected on Danny Fortson's behalf against Golden State. The calls in question were absurd. Yet we're at the quarter pole of what is at this point an insanely disappointing season. Here, in no particular order, are the major culprits...

1. Ronald "Flip" Murray. Every once in a while, like against Golden State, he goes off in a quarter where he attacks the basket and runs the offense. Every other game, like against Houston, he can't make crap and couldn't guard me. His defense is just woefully inadequate.

2. Sticking Nick Collison at center. Let's see if we can understand this. You have a gifted offensive player who has flourished at the starting power forward position. He can rebound and play good defense. However, because another player is "energy" you put him against much larger players who negate all of his strengths and just put him in foul trouble all the time. This makes sense because?

3. Luke Ridnour. He looks like he's lost all confidence in himself. His defense isn't improved, his jump shot (especially from three) is pathetic, and he absolutely refuses to attack the basket. Even when he does drive, because he does it so infrequently he rarely gets foul calls.

4. Not posting Rashard enough. He is our best low post threat and yet we do nothing but run him off high screens for jump shots.

5. Ray Allen's shooting percentage. If your best shooter never hits over 50 percent in a game you are in trouble.

6. Missing Jerome James. This is a bit of a joke (even if national press say it seriously... did they watch any games last year at all?) but every center we've stuck in the middle has made us long for Calvin Booth. The single greatest reason why our defense sucks right now. Anyone can drive the paint on us. Anyone.

7. Reggie Evans thinking he has game. Anytime I see him backing someone down I know the opposing coach is screaming "Go Reggie!".

8. Vlad Radmanovic becoming a pansy. He passes up a possible game winning shot against Golden State and pretty much looks like he's mailing in this season. Not a good way to get a huge contract.

9. Damien Wilkins. He had some offensive skills last year. Where on earth did those go? At this time Bob Weiss just can't keep him on the floor because he's earned no respect from the opposition. Another reason our defense hasn't been all it can be.

Basically, there are lots of problems here and not having Nate McMillan doesn't cover them all. With the struggles of Antonio Daniels and Jerome James, we should be even more thankful that all those disparate pieces came together for something so enjoyable last year. It is likely we won't see it again for a while.

posted by Gavin @ 3:19 PM  2 comments

The Scientific Method, Week 15

And the scientist is back! Now on Christmas Break, which doesn't mean a whole lot when you need to write numerous applications, finish a big paper, and write the prospectus for your thesis (oh yeah, and take your comprehensive exams) over break, but, still, I don't need to teach anyone, and that.... is awesome.

By the way, Randal quite definitely was correct in not wanting Rebecca to also be hired by the Trump. As he said, the show is called "The Apprentice". Singular. Not plural. Rebecca's great and all, but she wasn't better then Randal, and shouldn't be treated as such. So let the guy celebrate. He earned it. And Gavin, shut up. I care, even if you don't.

I also care that Danni won on Survivor. An actual sports babe with some brains to her! An unstoppable force. No one (especially the guys) wanted to be known as the person who stupidly allowed her to exit stage right. Of course, that discounts Rafe (stupid move releasing her from your alliance) and the ladies (thank the good Lord in heaven Stephanie didn't win). I also would have been satisfied with a Rafe win, but Danni was my shining star for most of the season. That's the thing with Survivor. For the most part, my wife can't check out the guys on that show, because after about five days they all have scruff, scratch themselves everywhere, and look pretty disgusting. Meanwhile, somehow, the women on that show maintain a state of perpetual beauty. You know, I should probably stop writing about this.....

And the Seahawks are actually getting some respect! Wow! Probably about time for them to lose a game so everyone can jump off the bandwagon as fast as they got on (can you say Chicago?). Still, watching Michael Irvin with a Seahawks hat on his head was nothing if not amusing. Of course, Peter King still ranks the Patriots ahead of the Seahawks, but he can simply burn with all his espresso jokes and stale wit (like mine). Plus, Peter King has picked five more correct games then the Scientist! Aargh! So here, this week, will be my pick's and a new Petey, Petey the King.

One other point: It is at the point of the season where several teams are in a state of turmoil. Never pick those teams.

Last Week: 10-6
Overall Record: 124-84

Saturday
Tampa Bay at New England
Hypothesis: Sometimes you have to pick against the hype
Let me get this straight. The Patriots beat the Bills and they are suddenly back? Super Bowl contender? Their secondary is still nonexistent, and Corey Dillon has yet to face a challenging defensive line with his newfound health. Meanwhile, Brady is now banged up and are facing a great defense who will be extra psyched about playing the champs PLUS are actually struggling to reach the playoffs, unlike the Patriots, who could lose the rest of their games and STILL make it because the AFC East sucks. I can't believe I'm picking Chris Simms to beat the Pats, but....
Scientific Pick: Tampa Bay
Petey the King Pick: New England

Kansas City at NY Giants

Hypothesis: Go with the dominating running game
I just can't count Kansas City out of it yet. Larry Johnson has been running the ball extremely well, which was opened up the offense for Trent Green and Tony Gonzalez. That defense can still make a few stops of their own. Meanwhile, the Giants are now a little banged up and just lost their best linebacker, Antonio Pierce, for the season, while 2 of their offensive lineman had to leave the game last Sunday. Eli has been throwing some picks..... basically, this team looks like it played its best game against us, and lost.
Scientific Pick: Kansas City
Petey the King Pick: Kansas City

Denver at Buffalo
Hypothesis: Pick against the team in turmoil
Our first team in turmoil, the Buffalo Bills, who have another quarterback move this week as Losman is "injured". McGahee still hasn't had a great rushing game in about two months, Eric Moulds was suspended for a game, and the defense can't stop an opposing rusher for the life of them. I thought Mike Mularkey has a good hire last year, and this team seemed to be headed in the right direction, but there is no way that Denver doesn't run for over 200 yards against this porous defense, eat up the clock, and easily win by 20.
Scientific Pick: Denver
Petey the King Pick: Denver

Sunday
Arizona at Houston

Hypothesis: Never pick a team who is tanking games on purpose
That 38 yard miss last week was just about the worst kick I had ever seen in my years of watching the NFL. Now, personally, I don't care. I want the Texans to lose because I don't want the 49ers to end up with Reggie Bush. Do you want that kind of player in the NFC West? Absolutely not. Better that they end up with Matt Leinart to battle with Alex Smith. Houston can't stop the pass, and if there is one thing Arizona does well, it is pass the football. Boldin and Fitzgerald should get their complimentary 1oo yard games each as the Cardinals roll to an actual easy win.
Scientific Pick: Arizona
Petey the King Pick: Arizona

Seattle at Tennessee

Hypothesis: Good teams don't lose these games
12-2, baby. 12-2. Let the blue wave roll on.
Scientific Pick: Seattle
Petey the King Pick: Seattle

San Diego at Indianapolis
Hypothesis: Great teams don't lose these games
Indianapolis has reached that state where I hesitate to pick against them until they lose, like the Patriots the last couple of years. That offense is a finely-tuned machine right now, which is why I don't believe they will sit this one out unless they get up by 30, which is unlikely. The Chargers, however, will be fighting for their playoff lives. This team is very good, with LT, Brees, and Gates, and has the offensive firepower to stay with the Colts. The key is that defense, who just allowed the Dolphins to go up and down the field on them. The Colts might score over 40 points again this week.
Scientific Pick: Indianapolis
Petey the King Pick: Indianapolis

Philadelphia at St. Louis

Hypothesis: Go with the better defense when both teams have backup QB's
Only one of these teams has a semblence of a defense. That is Philly, who will be gunning for Ryan Fitzpatrick all game long. Stephen Jackson has disappeared the last month, which is very strange since count me as one who thought that, given the chance, he could emerge as a top-5 runner in the NFL. Andy Reid is a better coach, and will have his offense prepared for what they need to do, hand the ball off and trust McMahon with short, no pressure throws.
Scientific Pick: Philadelphia
Petey the King Pick: St. Louis

NY Jets at Miami
Hypothesis: Teams with horrible offenses rarely score big points two weeks in a row
Who woke the Jets up last week? And why did anyone wake up the Jets last week? They cost themselves big in the Reggie Bush/Matt Leinart sweepstakes, and now they will lose to Nick Saban, who quietly has put together one of the best first year coaching jobs that I have ever seen. Anyone who can win with a patchwork offensive line, no receiving weapons outside of Chris Chambers, and keep two running backs happy deserves some serious credit. The Dolphins might be real good, real soon.
Scientific Pick: Miami
Petey the King Pick: Miami

Pittsburgh at Minnesota
Hypothesis: Pick 'em
This is an extremely tough game to call. On one hand, Pittsburgh has a great defense that should easily handle whatever Brad Johnson and Michael Bennett throw at them. On the other hand, the Steelers running game had really struggled until last week, and I'm not ready to call them all the way back. Big Ben is still injured, and if Tommy Maddox enters the field of play, all bets are off. Turnovers will play a huge role in deciding this game (as they do in most games. Shut up). Have to go with my gut on this one.
Scientific Pick: Minnesota
Petey the King Pick: Pittsburgh

Carolina at New Orleans
Hypothesis: Never trust a radical quarterback move
The second team in turmoil, the New Orleans Saints. These guys just receiver $40K as hazard pay from the NFL. $40K? Each? Should have donated the money to a relief fund. You guys don't even know the meaning of the word hazard, making millions of dollars to play a game. Balderdash. Humbug. Carolina will easily win and people will, once again, start talking about how they are the team to beat, blah, blah, blah. And a little part of me will die inside.
Scientific Pick: Carolina
Petey the King Pick: Carolina

San Francisco at Jacksonville
Hypothesis: Never pick San Francisco
Do I need to write about this game? That's the thing about this time of the season. Most games aren't even worth writing a sentence about, and now I have written two (one pretty long) so I will stop writing.
Scientific Pick: Jacksonville
Petey the King Pick: Jacksonville

Cincinnati at Detroit
Hypothesis: Never trust a team in turmoil
Team in turmoil numero three. You know your team kind of sucks when your own fans start a petition to show up wearing the opposing team's colors and root for the opposing team. That's just terrible. Matt Millen should fire himself for this travesty.
Scientific Pick: Cincinnati
Petey the King Pick: Cincinnati

Cleveland at Oakland
Hypothesis: Never trust a team in turmoil
Finally, team in turmoil #4. The move to Tui didn't quite pan out last week, which surprised absolutely no one. I remain convinced that Norv Turner is daydreaming about seals and the North Pole during most NFL games, because he sure isn't looking at the football field. Best dazed expression ever.
Scientific Pick: Cleveland
Petey the King Pick: Oakland

Dallas at Washington
Hypothesis: In the NFL, what goes around comes around
In Week 2 the Cowboys somehow lost when Santana Moss snuck beneath coverage for two huge touchdown passes. The Cowboys, understandably, are not too happy about that. I expect a ton of physical play from both sides, but that Cowboys defense is pretty doggone good. Portis will be stuffed and Glenn will have the big plays.
Scientific Pick: Dallas
Petey the King Pick: Washington

Atlanta at Chicago
Hypothesis: There will be one upset per week
A hard upset pick, I know. Soldier Field. It'll be cold, and the defense will be keyed up to beat Michael Vick. It just seems to me that this is the type of game that brings out the best in Vick. Think back to his victory over Green Bay in the postseason a few years ago, his coming out party. The cold weather didn't stop him then. I don't think it will stop him now, while Kyle Orton will be lying flat on his face several times from the decent Atlanta pass rush. Point of concern: Atlanta can't stop the run, and that' s all Chicago does. If Thomas Jones goes off, my pick is flat out wrong.
Scientific Pick: Atlanta
Petey the King Pick: Chicago

Monday
Green Bay at Baltimore
Hypothesis: Go with whoever John Madden rambles about more
I really have no hypothesis for this game because I don't care about this game. At all. One more reason why they should schedule Monday games throughout the season because it is obvious that the schedule makers rarely know which teams will actually be good and what games will actually matter in a given week.
Scientific Pick: Green Bay
Petey the King Pick: Green Back

posted by colin_hesse @ 10:51 AM  0 comments

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

The Road to Detroit

This is a banner time in the Seattle sports scene. The Mariners are having a forgettable offseason where the biggest acquisition might turn out to be (gag) Carl Everett, the Sonics are rediscovering the joy of never playing defense, and the UW football team, well, just sucked. The UW basketball team isn’t important until they play a real team (should be in February), Gonzaga isn’t important until they win at least two games in the NCAA tournament instead of futzing around every year.

Even the Seahawks screwed with us by basically wrapping everything up with three weeks to go. That leaves me with only one recourse.

Drink. Heavily.

Wait. That didn’t sound right.

Stand up about “The War on Christmas,” which I assume will soon be made into a movie starring, I pray, Ben Affleck as a struggling pastor in a small Midwestern town and Tim Robbins as the Scroogish ACLU executive who also is a ninja.

I mean, blog about who I want the Hawks to play in the NFC playoffs.

So here they are, ranked on a scale of 1-10 (1 means don’t go within two thousand miles of the team, 10 means sign them up right now for a trip to Seattle)

Carolina: What an inconsistent team. Gavin’s Super Bowl preseason pick has lost to New Orleans and Miami, has been throttled by Chicago, and handled by the indomitable Chris Simms and Tampa Bay last week. Their running game is stagnant, hurt even more by DeShaun Foster’s shoulder stinger last week (though he should be ready to play this Sunday). Jake Delhomme has regressed this year, seemingly only looking to Steve Smith instead of Keary Colbert or even Ricky Proehl. Basically, I’m not scared of this offense whatsoever. However, that defense has some serious talent, especially now that Mike Rucker is back from injury. Chris Gamble is a prime-time cornerback, and Julius Peppers is a monster pass rusher. Still, that defense allowed the indomitable Chris Simms to throw at will on them….
Playoff Rank: 8

Tampa Bay: We like to make fun of the indomitable Chris Simms here at Crushed Optimists, but he has actually been playing some good football of late, winning against Carolina, Washington, and Atlanta. Of course, in the last two wins (against New Orleans and Carolina), Simms threw for 123 and 138 respective yards, not exactly world-beating marks. The real question mark for Tampa Bay is Cadillac Williams, who had a terrific game in beating Carolina. If he can be the centerpiece of the offense, it takes a ton of pressure off of Simms, who is good enough to complete a few passes into single coverage. Of course, once again, this team boasts a fantastic defense, with Ronde Barber playing fantastic football once again, Derrick Brooks playing fantastic football once again, and a guy named Booger playing fantastic…. Oh wait, he’s injured. Bottom line: this team did lose to San Francisco.
Playoff Rank: 9

NY Giants:
How good is Eli Manning? He looks phenomenal against us, then turns that around with crud games against Dallas and Philadelphia, heaving interceptions like they were made out of candy (no idea what that means). Still, that offense is the scariest one outside of our own in the NFC, with Tiki Barber, Shockey, and the Plax, there are numerous weapons to cause havoc against opposing defenses (like us). Plus, that defense has been steadily improving all year, led by Strahan and the Osi-nator, who took Walter Jones behind the woodshed. However, they just had a few key injuries to the offensive line, Antonio Pierce is banged up, and I still don’t trust their secondary. In fact, that’s part of what scares me about this team. I really don’t know just how good they can be, and I don’t like that.
Playoff Rank: 3

Dallas:
Like every other team in the NFC, another team with an inconsistent offense and great defense. The offense is inconsistent because they are led by a man named Drew Bledsoe who, as Seahawks fans can attest, loves to blow games at inopportune times. Julius Jones has been a big disappointment after a terrific rookie campaign, leaving more pressure on the passing attack. Fortunately, Terry Glenn and Keyshawn have been up to the task for most weeks, but a serious pass rush can get to Bledsoe. I know we did. Their defense, though, is the most physical in the NFC, even above Chicago. Their cornerbacks did a tremendous job of beating up our wide receivers, their linebackers attacked the line of scrimmage with abandon, and we basically could do nothing against them. That scares me. Do I believe we should beat this team? Absolutely. But there are several other teams I would like to play first.
Playoff Rank: 4

Chicago:
Kyle Orton is no indomitable Chris Simms. Thomas Jones is good, but he can’t score 21 points all by himself. The defense FINALLY got exposed by a physical running attack (of which we have one), and, once the team got behind, they couldn’t come back. Now, this team has beaten Carolina and Tampa Bay, so they are no patsy, but I just can’t get too scared of that offense. Now, if we played at Soldier Field, I would be a little frightened, but seeing Kyle Orton on the road last week, I believe we could easily move on into the next round, if we just didn’t beat ourselves. No more 1 yard touchdown drives for Chicago!
Playoff Rank: 10

Minnesota:
So, is anyone else out there petrified at the thought of facing Brad Johnson, Mewelde Moore, and, oh yes, Koren Robinson in the postseason? Anyone? I didn’t think so. Sure, the defense has been stepping up as of late, but they still don’t have the bangers necessary to stop Shaun Alexander. I could see Shaun getting his 130 yards easily against these guys, which would limit Brad’s effectiveness. What would also limit Brad’s effectiveness is 90.000 fans yelling at Koren Robinson to not drop the ball all game, which you know he will. He’s Koren Robinson. It happens.
Playoff Rank: 10

Atlanta:
I don’t really even think these guys will make it, but we showed early this season that we could move the ball on that defense and that we could, at the very least, slow down Michael Vick. Not going to write much about this one because they are the least likely team to make it.
Playoff Rank: 7

posted by colin_hesse @ 11:47 AM  0 comments

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

NFL Week 14 in Review: Playoff Edition

This past week did end up shaking things up a bit, as many teams who needed to win didn't. The top seeds are just about clinched (Indy and Seattle) and the last spots are down to who loses first.

AFC Current Playoff Picture:

Division Leaders:
New England: 8-5 (vs Tampa Bay, at NY Jets, vs Miami)
Cincinnati: 10-3 (at Detroit, vs Buffalo, at Kansas City)
Indianapolis: 13-0 (home field advantage... vs San Diego, at Seattle, vs Arizona)
Denver: 10-3 (first round bye... at Buffalo, vs Oakland, at San Diego)
Note: Denver has a 7-2 conference record compared to Cincy's 7-3, so Denver still has the bye.

Wild Card:
Jacksonville: 9-4 (vs San Francisco, at Houston, vs Tennessee)
Pittsburgh: 8-5 (at Minnesota, at Cleveland, vs Detroit)

First Round Games:
Pittsburgh at Cincinnati, winner at Denver
Jacksonville at New England, winner at Indianapolis

Still Alive:
San Diego: 8-5 (at Indianapolis, at Kansas City, vs Denver)
Kansas City: 8-5 (at NY Giants, vs San Diego, vs Cincinnati)

Pittsburgh jumped over San Diego for the last playoff spot after beating Chicago impressively at home and the Chargers choke job against Miami. This means that the Steelers have essentially clinched the final spot. In fact, the chance of those top six seeds changing is now remote, especially when you look at the closing schedules for San Diego and Kansas City. Week 15 is elimination week. San Diego at Indianapolis. Kansas City at NY Giants. Pitt at Minnesota. Three huge games. If Pitt loses, San Diego and KC live to fight another day if they in turn lose, but at that point will have to pray that the Steelers choke one away against either Cleveland or Detroit, which I don't see as likely. Worst case then for Pittsburgh is 10-6 with the tiebreaker of San Diego. That means the Chargers need to beat the Colts this week, eliminate the Chiefs next week, and beat Denver the last week to make the postseason. Riiiiiiight. Same goes for Kansas City. It would be a miracle for either team to make it. The division leaders all have at least two game leads with three games left. So we're pretty much left down to two possible changes. Either Denver and Cincy flip seeds or Pittsburgh chokes. Not much suspense either way. It does set up a nice second round matchup of the Patriots at Indianapolis. I'd sure like to see that one.

NFC Current Playoff Picture:

Division Leaders:
NY Giants: 9-4 (vs Kansas City, at Washington, at Oakland)
Chicago: 9-4 (first round bye... vs Atlanta, at Green Bay, at Minnesota)
Tampa Bay: 9-4 (at New England, vs Atlanta, vs New Orleans)
Seattle: 11-2 (home field advantage... at Tennessee, vs Indy, at Green Bay)

Wild Card:
Carolina: 9-4 (at New Orleans, vs Dallas, at Atlanta)
Dallas: 8-5 (at Washington, at Carolina, vs St Louis)

First Round Games:
Carolina at Tampa Bay, winner at Chicago
Dallas at NY Giants, winner at Seattle

Still Alive:
Atlanta: 8-5 (at Chicago, at Tampa Bay, vs Carolina)
Minnesota: 8-5 (vs Pittsburgh, at Baltimore, vs Chicago)

This is a much more fun playoff picture, and not only because it is headlined by a certain local team. There are question marks everywhere, as seeds 2-8 are within one game of each other. The best news is easy. Seattle has a two game lead for home field advantage through the playoffs.

Quick Note: To all those pessimists who are starting to look at win-loss percentages of #1 seeds, please shut up. I was listening to the radio today and the host was upset that more #1 seeds didn't make the Super Bowl. Perhaps that has something to do with the fact that you have to win games to make the Super Bowl. At the very least it is nice to play that game at home. That is no guarantee for success. So again... shut up.

Moving back to the picture, interesting scenarios abound. No one has come close to wrapping up their division. Chicago seemed like the easiest lock until their loss last week. Now they have a huge game against Atlanta this week (which could eliminate the Falcons, whose conference record is bad enough anyways). They could easily fall from the second seed to the wayside, given Minnesota's rise. Regardless, there are several fantastic games on the slate this week. NY Giants-Kansas City is an elimination game for the Chiefs, so the Giants better be prepared. I mentioned Chicago-Atlanta, which is going to pit two desperate teams against one another. I'm excited to see Chicago's terrific defense try to stop even a hobbled Michael Vick. Tampa Bay at New England is a statement game for both teams. Tampa wants to prove to all naysayers who they are, and New England wants to prove they can beat real teams not in the AFC East. Carolina and Seattle have the easy games, although Carolina's definitely proven that no game is an easy game for them. Dallas-Washington is a grudge match that actually means something this year. Finally, Minnesota-Pittsburgh is the Vikings' first test in a while. By my count, that's five great games in one week. Of couse, none of them are on Monday night. Green Bay and Baltimore play of Monday night. Stupid ABC. Let the jumble continue!

Oh, and if Chicago loses and we win we clinch. Also worth considering is the fact that we only have one conference game left. That means if we lose our next two games we still will have a tiebreaker over the Bears. All signs point to the Hawks. It's good to be king.

posted by Gavin @ 2:07 PM  0 comments

NFL Week 14 in Review

It's time to quit going over each game in this space, because let's be honest... there are far too many games now we could care less about. Why is that? Well, to steal a page from Bill Simmons, there are a bunch of really bad teams this year. In fact, you are either a great team or an awful team in the 2005 NFL season.

Let's think this through... I have five different classifications for NFL teams. Great Teams are those who could beat anyone on any given day. Good Teams are division winners and solid wild card teams. Mediocre Teams battle for the last wildcard spot, lose a few chokers, and have hope for next year. Awful Teams lose to anyone on any given Sunday. Abominations should be forced to play USC just to see if they are as bad as we think.

Great Teams: Indy, Seattle
Good Teams: San Diego, Kansas City, Jacksonville, Pittsburgh, Atlanta, Carolina, Tampa Bay, Minnesota, Chicago, Dallas, NY Giants, New England, Cincinnati, Denver
Mediocre Teams: Washington, Miami
Awful: Oakland, Tennessee, Baltimore, Cleveland, Buffalo, St. Louis, Arizona, Green Bay, Philadelphia, Detroit
Abomination: New Orleans, San Francisco, Houston, NY Jets

What is nuts about that list is how few Mediocre Teams there are. Even last year I remember about five teams potentially vying for the last couple NFC playoff spots. Is it that hard to be 8-8 or 7-9? This means that everyone's strength of schedule is seriously screwed up this year. If you're in the AFC West, NFC East, or NFC South you play hard games. Everyone else skates. Not only should one beat the teams in the "Awful" bracket, but you should do so by 2 touchdowns. That's why there have been so few real upsets this year. As you'll see in my playoff post, it could easily take 11 wins to make the postseason, which is nuts. The dearth of Mediocre Teams makes the last few weeks especially boring, because those are the teams which pull off the weird upsets, like last week's Miami-San Diego shocker. Seattle should be well versed in my definition, since we have lived in that zone for 20 years.

The upsetting part of all this to me is that there are very few of those Awful teams who have a legitimate shot at getting better in 2006 (I would off the top of my head put Tennessee, Cleveland, St Louis, and Philly on my short list). Many of them have serious issues that will take a while to resolve. That means this may not get any better any soon. That would not be good.

All this to say... when 14 teams have dropped off the face of the earth, there is no reason caring about any result including them. I don't care, and I'll bet you don't either. Here, then, is the reduced Week in Review.

Cleveland 20 at Cincinnati 23
Scientific Pick: Cincinnati
Every time Cincy looks like a worldbeater they throw up a poor home effort against an Awful Team. Frankly I believe that the Bengals are still too immature to win the AFC. They let themselves relax after beating Pittsburgh and almost paid the price. Some congratulations still should go to Charlie Frye and the Browns for putting up a disciplined battle. Put some more weapons on that team and I could see them moving up to Mediocre soon.

Chicago 9 at Pittsburgh 21
Scientific Pick: Pittsburgh
Finally someone holds onto the ball, doesn't allow Chicago an 8 yard or 8 inch touchdown drive, and easily wins. That's all one has to do against the Bears, who should start seriously questioning their offensive personnel. Kyle Orton has won, but at some point they will have to put up points. Indy would beat that team by 30. As for Pitt, they finally unleashed Jerome Bettis and he looked fresh. Perhaps that's been their plan all along, to keep him ready for the postseason, but they may have waited a couple of weeks too long. I could watch him run over Brian Urlacher all day. That was an unbelievable display of power.

Tampa Bay 20 at Carolina 10
Scientific Pick: Carolina
Can anyone explain the Carolina Panthers to me? I'm confused. Either they are my preseason Super Bowl pick or they will lose in the first round. I can't believe in their inability to run the football or inability to throw to anyone not named Steve Smith. Did they learn anything from all that adversity last year? It doesn't look that way. The defense did their part, even if they did let Cadillac Williams run around. If you only need 21 points at home to win a game, you have done your job. At this point you have to look at the Panthers as a poor offensive team. This is three of their past four games (Chicago, Buffalo and Tampa Bay) where they haven't scored 20. Let's give some credit to Jon Gruden and the Bucs, who continue to prove me seriously wrong about them in the preseason. Even Chris Simms is playing mistake-free football. Now, would I love to play Chris Simms in the playoffs? Absolutely. He's due.

Indianapolis 26 at Jacksonville 18
Scientific Pick: Indianapolis
Here's the thing about the Colts. They have gotten seriously lucky every time they've played a contender. New England? Without Corey Dillon, Richard Seymour and half the defense. Pittsburgh? Ailing Ben Roethlisberger and half the defense. Jacksonville? No Byron Leftwich. Now that's luck. People had pointed at this game as the biggest challenge. The moment David Garrard became quarterback that point was moot. Garrard couldn't do anything for a half the week before against the Browns. It didn't hurt that Jack Del Rio played not to lose, instead of to win. Safe game plans won't work against that offense. Cincinnati is the only team that aired it out and they put up serious points. If they'd played some actual defense they might have won. At this point San Diego is the only serious test for the Colts the rest of the way (yes, I'm including Seattle, who will probably sit many people).

NY Giants 26 at Philadelphia 23
Scientific Pick: NY Giants
So Giants fans... still think you're that much better than Seattle now?

Kansas City 28 at Dallas 31
Scientific Pick: Kansas City
Good news for Kansas City, Larry Johnson is primed to be next year's MVP. Bad news for Kansas City, their defense still collapses in big games. When you put up 28 points on the road against that defense, you have done your job. I was impressed again with the rapid improvement KC is seeing in that unit. However, you do not let Drew Bledsoe and Terry Glenn beat you. That's all Dallas has ever been able to do all year! Force them to actually try running the ball sometimes. Did Kansas City even watch the game tape from New York the previous week? This was a bad loss for the Chiefs, who now have to run the table to even consider themselves playoff eligible.

Miami 23 at San Diego 21
Scientific Pick: San Diego
Speaking of bad losses, this was the worst and puts into question one of the most touted quotes of the year... if San Diego was in the NFC they would be the Super Bowl representative. Would Seattle lose at home to the Dolphins? I don't think so. The Chargers and Marty Schottenheimer again blew a winnable game. At some point this has to reflect on the team. Nick Saban has now cemented himself as one heck of a coach in my mind. I'm excited to see what he does with that Miami team in the future.

The Scientific Method may have done his picks in the span of five minutes, but he did a pretty darn good job again, going 10-6.

posted by Gavin @ 1:23 PM  0 comments

Ultimate Explosion!!

This is a quick explosion since I still have two other posts to write, but I couldn't pass up a couple of Seattle tidbits.

First, I suppose I should start off by apologizing for taking a week long break from posting. So, to the five readers who care, sorry.

Anyways, let's start with the Washington Huskies. Colin had his first opportunity to see this year's squad against New Mexico and wasn't all that impressed. Still, we managed to put up 80 points while sucking offensively all game. That's something, and the media has noticed. Jay Bilas has us as one of the top early season surprises already and Joe Lunardi has us as a #2 seed in his first Bracketology. A #2 seed? Are you kidding me? I was expecting a #4. Remember how hard UW had to work last year for respect. This is almost like getting too much too soon. I'll be more excited about this team once Pac-10 play starts.

Finally, this quote from Sports Illustrated's Don Banks...

If there's a team the media owes something this season it's Seattle. We're understandably fixated on the Colts' quest for perfection, but the Seahawks -- a team that hasn't won a playoff game in 21 years -- is 11-2 and on the verge of locking up the NFC's top seed and they've received maybe one-tenth of the acclaim and coverage that we've bestowed on Indianapolis (although I do understand they're on the cover of a certain national sports magazine this week.)
The topic keeps surfacing in every press box I've been in for the past three weeks or so, but nobody's really doing anything about evening up the score a bit. It's as if we're all waiting for the playoffs to start really paying attention to Seattle.


Just soak that up, Hawks fans. It's true. We'll just have to force them to pay attention to us come playoff time. Then idiots like Peter King won't have the Patriots ranked higher than us.

posted by Gavin @ 1:15 PM  0 comments

 


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