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, September 29, 2006

From the.... Cruel Yet Cool Files

It took an injury to Shaun Alexander for the Seahawks to do what they should have done about five years ago: cut Isaiah Kacyvenski. Face it. This guy was the single worst linebacker I have ever seen, with a heartwarming story and a great work ethic.

Too bad work ethic fails to mean awesomeness in this case.

Bye, Kaz. I hope you're picked up by the Rams. I really do.

posted by colin_hesse @ 4:52 PM  1 comments

Week Four: HAWKS at Chicago

Here we go... what could easily be called the biggest game of the season. It is just plain nutty that is the case, but when so many teams have been disappointing out of the gate in the NFC, it is the truth. Colin will (poorly, more than likely) go into this next week in his much-anticipated Land O' Conclusions (again, poorly, remember this), but there have been basically two teams in the NFC right now that look like they could win a playoff game. Chicago and Seattle. Everyone else has giant question marks (although Dallas gets a little bit of a break since they've only played two games).

Who has the easiest schedules as well? Chicago and Seattle. After this game, the Hawks have exactly three games on the schedule where I wouldn't be surprised if they lost, and I'm stretching this a bit. At St. Louis, At Kansas City, and At Denver (I think both San Diego and Seattle will have wrapped up playoff berths by Dec. 24, and it's at home). In other words, these are two teams who more than likely will both end up 13-3 and with first round byes. Whoever holds the tie breaker will hold the advantage in the NFC Championship Game. If Chicago goes to Qwest Field, they will be destroyed, as recent Seahawks convert Bill Simmons said (finally): "For one thing, they have the only discernable home-field advantage in the NFL right now. It's impossible to win there. The crowd won't allow it, and they're the only team that can definitively say this." Look, I try to compare crowd noise when I watch other NFL games, and it's not even close. Qwest Field is an absolute nut house right now and we want the Bears to come to us in late January. I also don't want to have to consider buying a plane ticket to Chicago, because I'll probably go.

With the importance fully established, let's move on to a really difficult preview. Straight up, I'll mention that I have absolutely no idea what to look forward to in this game. In the playoffs last year Colin and I could look at the statistics and our experience from watching the season and pretty much knew what the strategies would be. This time? No clue.

Five "Gut" Reasons for Optimism

1. The "Patrick Ewing" corollary. Seattle and Maurice Morris have gotten an entire week of "what will you be without Shaun" questions, and I'm sure the offensive line especially would like to reintroduce the league to Seahawk football. Often teams can ride this wave for one game, and I think we may see something like this (and yes, I think Mo Morris is WAY better than Nick Goings).

2. Morris plays into a probable game plan better than Shaun anyways. What are Morris' strengths? Catching the ball out of the backfield and blocking. While we will miss Shaun's running abilities (man, will we ever), Morris will give the Bears yet another possibility to account for in that four wide receiver set, because he won't drop balls like Shaun, who could use some lessons from Michael Boulware on how to catch the damn football.

3. Four wide receivers who can easily beat you. Yes, I know the Bears have a decent secondary, but they're really going to have to commit to getting to Hasselbeck in order to force us out of the formation. Any week we will have a mismatch. I don't remember Ricky Manning Jr having this amazing game against worse talent last year when we blasted Carolina. This is what's so nuts about this lineup. You can have two top tier corners, alright, you've covered Darrell Jackson and Deion Branch. Now the #3 covers Nate Burleson (mismatch) and the #4 covers Bobby friggin' Engram (big mismatch). I don't see how Engram doesn't have several big games in this scheme.

4. Teams do not beat the Hawks only rushing four. I know in the nice exchange Field Gulls had with his Chicago counterpart that's what the strategy was stated as being. I'd like to see how that works. The Giants tried it, and we sliced them up. There's only one x-factor, and I'll get into that in the pessimism section. It is true, though, our offensive line will protect against a front four, and if Hasselbeck has time he rarely misses a receiver. With the type of quick drops he utilized against the Giants as well, it can get frustrating for a pass rushed like Michael Strahan (just reread his quotes after the game) to take three steps, and the pass is already out and complete for a seven yard gain.

5. Hasselbeck is good on the road. Although many of our key performers enjoy making crucial mistakes the road, Hasselbeck (outside of the Jacksonville game to start last season) keeps himself under control and only a few quarterbacks have a better road rating the past few years. If the game is going to be on his shoulders (and I would be shocked if it wasn't) he has the track record to step up.

Five "Gut" Reasons for Pessimism

1. I noticed I went through all five reasons for optimism without mentioning our defense, so my first "Pessimism" will be a joint effort. Our defense has faced in consecutive weeks Anquan Boldin/Larry Fitzgerald and Plaxico Burress/Amani Toomer. Exactly why should we be concerned with Muhsin Muhammed and company? Because I think our secondary still can be a place of weakness, and just because it hasn't bit us yet doesn't mean it won't.

2. I'm concerned we might stack the line to stop the run and let Grossman wing it. That would be a mistake and unlike how we've been successful in the past. Let's not get cute. We play a base defense and win games. Our linebackers are fast enough to cover the gaps. Still, Chicago has a darn good offensive line and I'm concerned about our ability to shut down holes or rush the passer.

3. Chicago has a good defense. Perhaps you've heard of them?

4. The aforementioned pass rush x-factor. If there's one time a team's gotten consistent pressure on us using only the front four, it was Detroit in the form of mega-demon Shaun Rogers. Chicago has the next best thing in Tommie Harris, who blew past that Steve Hutchinson guy (I think you remember him) to force the game-clinching turnover last week. Tommie Harris vs Chris Spencer could make or break this game.

5. We've forced way too many turnovers the first few games... I think the law of probabilities is about ready to go against us (remember how many Cincinnati had last year at the beginning before remembering that their defense sucked?).

It's All About The Stats

1. When you hear all the pundits drone about how the Hawks have such a bad running game right now, remember this... the Bears have been worse. Now, this is early season stuff obviously, and teams have stacked the line, but the numbers don't lie. Chicago has a Power Success (short yardage situations) of an abysmal 33% compared to the sterling 100% from Seattle, and a Stuffed percentage of 31% (compared to a last week second half induced 29% from the Hawks). The Bears have been this bad going against Green Bay, Detroit and Minnesota, so it's not like Tampa Bay or Denver. I'm surprised this hasn't been a bigger storyline. In fact, you know who's been better running the football? Arizona. We did alright against that passing attack.

2. The bad news... Chicago's only given up two sacks all season. Again, if we can't get pressure on Rex Grossman, we're in trouble, because he will make bad throws and give Ken Hamlin the ability to make interceptions (or at least try vainly to catch a ball).

3. Check out the Team Defense DVOA (and yes, this does take into account the fourth quarter)... Chicago (-22.2%), Seattle (-22.0%). Against the run it's CHI (-27.8%) and SEA (-28.8%). Against the pass it's CHI (-18.0%) and SEA (-18.1%). In other words, statistically these defenses have been IDENTICAL. That is a ridiculous assessment, especially again, considering this does take into account our nice Prevent defense in the 4th quarter last week. Again, Detroit/Green Bay/Minnesota vs Detroit/Arizona/NY Giants. Who's played better? In fact, which defense is better right now?

4. If we want to focus on Chicago's passing attack, currently Muhsin Muhammed is ranked #2 in DPAR, while Bertrand Berrian is at #24. Let's compare that to Arizona, which has Larry Fitzgerald at #12 and Anquan Boldin at #22. So on one hand, we shouldn't underrate what Chicago's done through the air so far, but on the other hand, Fitzgerald and Boldin have had two consecutive bad games and are still ranked that high, so the Hawks did a good job keeping them in check (Amani Toomer's #6 right now as well).

5. I know, it's hard, but our special teams have been and continue to be abysmal. Chicago, on the other hand, has the #1 special teams unit in the league in DVOA by a large margin. In a slug-it-out defensive battle, that really matters. We cannot allow field position to be dictated in such a way, but I've seen nothing to indicate we will do anything but continue to be pushed around.

If our defense plays as well as they have this year so far, we win this game. If Chris Spencer wins the battle with Tommie Harris, we win this game. I'm leaning with Colin in the whole "we have to lose sometime, might as well be this one" camp, but there are several legitimate reasons why we win, and I can't wait for Sunday night.

posted by Gavin @ 1:31 PM  1 comments

The Scientific Method: Week Four

Finally. The part of the season where the proverbial wheat is separated from the chaff, so to speak. After this week, the majority of NFL teams will have played four games, a full quarter of the schedule. Actual conclusions will begin to be made, and not the "Mike Vick is back" conclusion, or the "Baltimore Ravens in the Super Bowl" conclusions, but the "Ken Hamlin is the September NFC Defensive Player of the Month" conclusion, the one that is just awesome to read since this is the same Ken Hamlin who could have very likely died from the street sign to the head he received last year. When Gavin and I proclaimed the secondary our weak spot, we were disregarding the influence of Ken Hamlin. Oops.

Speaking of oops, days such as these make me super glad to be a Seahawks fan at heart. Why? The Mariners decided to retain the services of one Michael Hargrove as their manager, in a move that was well-received by Mike Hargrove and people who survive off of Mike Hargrove. No one else. I, personally, have never seen a worse in-game manager in my many years of following major league baseball. His lineups are confusing (Willie Ballgame hitting leadoff? Betancourt batting third?), his insistence on playing veterans weird (Carl Everett over Chris Snelling, his dismissal of Choo and Jones earlier in the year), and his bullpen management, at times, lacked what some people might term intelligence (Julio Mateo being used four consecutive days, for example). An entirely craptastic decision from an organization that really could use a shot in the arm for excitement. This team has completely disappeared from the magic of the 2001 season. I'm done caring for awhile here. Sorry.

Note: Completely disregard above comment if the M's procure the services of Schmidt and Matsukawa (sp?) in the offseason. Nothing beats a bad manager like excellent starting pitching. Heck, it worked for Ozzie Guillen.....

I also wanted to rag on Gavin's completely heretical commentary on prayer and science. Gavin's style of humor is, well, not funny, and I'm sure Jesus forgives him, so maybe the Big Guy can even heal Shaun's foot NOW just to spite Gavin. And Holmgren. I will say that in the social sciences (or fake sciences, as Gavin likes to say), prayer is an essential element to make it past another lecture on the intercultural effects of nonverbal immediacy in romantic pair-bond relationships. So, yes, Gavin, there is room for Jesus at the table, and I believe that you have an apology to make to Jesus. Look Him in the face, Gavin. You know that if He wasn't Jesus, He'd be swearing at you right now. But He won't. He's frigging Jesus. You know?

Enough heresy for one day (I'm hearing lightning bolts outside, anyways). Before I get to the picks, though, I want to make one final note. Nate has begun "posting" on this blog. I use quotation marks because the quality and length of his postings do not even begin to rise to the piss-ant attempts at greatness by Gavin. Thus, it is the firm law here at Scientific Methods, Inc., that we must rag on all other posters (I use the term we to describe both myself and the five other personalities living inside of me, none of whom are John Cusack OR Amanda Peet but one of whom is a French pastry chef who hopes to make it big one day and land a show on Food Network). So, Nate, prepare to give and receive.

You also suck donkey balls.

Jesus agrees.

On to the picks!

Sunday:
Arizona at Atlanta
While some might believe that I would take this moment to laugh at all the people who thought that Michael Vick was on his way to win the MVP award.... you are right. Mike Vick will sooner win another Heisman than win the MVP. The Saints actually prepared and made him throw. Vick can't throw the football. Never has been able to to. The Cards offense has been shut down now for two straight games. I can't believe that can be possible to three, no matter HOW many times Kurt Warner will try to fumble the football. C'mon, Arizona, you're actually making me feel semi-sorry for you!
Scientific Pick: Arizona

Dallas at Tennessee
When hundreds of reporters flock to THIS game, you know that either it is a really slow week in the NFL or people really believe that all of us care about that one wide receiver (what's his name? Without ESPN Mobile to tell me, I forget). The Titans, for all of you who might have forgotten, pretty much suck this year, with Kerry Collins throwing up junk ball after junk ball. The Dallas defense should shine in this one, masking another poor performance by Drew Bledsoe and my fantasy team.
Scientific Pick: Dallas

Indianapolis at NY Jets
What is it with NFL writers? Two weeks ago Miami was the anointed team to take down the Pats in the AFC East. Last week it was Buffalo. This week the attention has shifted to the Jets. Understand this, national media. ALL THREE TEAMS SUCK! NONE OF THEM ARE GOOD, AND NONE OF THEM WILL OVERTAKE THE PATS!! Peyton Manning scores THEE rushing touchdowns in this one.
Scientific Pick: Indy

Miami at Houston
Wow. Can I pick a non-loser? I admit, I'm pretty disappointed in Houston so far this season. Not because they are 0-3, since they have had a pretty hard schedule out of the gate. But that defense has been atrocious. Just terrible. They made Mark Brunell look like the second coming of Joe Montana. That's not good. Daunte Culpepper might look like the second coming of Joe Namath or something during this game. Watch. The 2-2 Dolphins become the NEW flavor to beat the Pats.
Scientific Pick: Miami

Minnesota at Buffalo
At some point the Bills have to win one of these close games. Wait a second. They already did. OK. At some point the Vikings have to lose one of these close games. What? They already did as well? That basically takes all the fun out of prognosticating. Well, guess I'll just pick the game based on which team has far superior talent.
Scientific Pick: Minnesota

New Orleans at Carolina

All hail the Saints, who are on the road to the playoffs! After beating the Browns, the Packers, and the Falcons in the most emotional game since September of 2001! Look, their story is super sweet and super special, but that defense is still comprised of people like "The Asian Assassin Scott Fujita", a guy who failed to make any kind of impact with the Chiefs or Cowboys. Carolina, on the other hand, has found itself a much easier road to the postseason, as their main rival, the Bucs, have been destroyed by a combination of poor play, a poor sternum, and a tomahawk to the forehead.
Scientific Pick: Carolina

San Diego at Baltimore
Boy, that Steve McNair led offense sure looks awesome, right? The way they just destroyed the Browns! San Diego is on a mission to get to the postseason after barely missing the party last year. They will continue to get the job done.
Scientific Pick: San Diego

San Francisco at Kansas City
The Damon Huard show returns after a bye-induced hiatus last week. San Fran counters with Alex Smith and his small hands of awesomeness. Count me an idiot (Gavin usually does), but I can't imagine an offense led by Damon Huard is possible of beating any NFL team, even one as bad as San Francisco.
Scientific Pick: San Francisco

Detroit at St. Louis

I hate the fact that St. Louis is 2-1 and about to go 3-1 with a semi-crappy offense and a semi-crappy defense. I hate the fact even more that after St. Louis wins this game, Bill Simmons will renew this love and remind us all why he is so awesome and the rest of us so, so small. I hate the fact that Detroit has played like crap ever since we beat them.
Scientific Pick: St. Louis

Cleveland at Oakland
The one game of the week that I refuse to write anything about.
Scientific Pick: Cleveland

Jacksonville at Washington
Now here is an interesting game. Jacksonville has a weird tendency of playing to the level of its competition, especially offensively, where they have been abysmal the last few weeks. The Redskins have Clinton Portis back and healthy, and he immediately led them to a romp of the hapless Texans. Washington is an extremely tough place to play, and this loss takes nothing away from the Jags, who have shown me something these first few weeks. But, man, they really have to find more offense.
Scientific Pick: Washington

New England at Cincinnati
I would love to pick New England here in a game where they reassert their dominance to the rest of the league. Unfortunately, I don't know what that pick would be based on besides adhering to the Bill Belichick God-mode syndrome of the last few years. Tom Brady looks lost without any weapons, the defense is no longer dominant, and Maroney has a few years to go before he can truly become a featured back. Meanwhile, Cincy looks like the possible team to beat in the AFC as we begin the season.
Scientific Pick: Cincinnati

Seattle at Chicago
These are the types of games that Seattle fans have become accustomed to losing. We play well, we play hard, but we make a few critical mistakes and, even though we outplay the opponent, we lose. Maybe this team is different. Maybe they are special.
Scientific Pick: Chicago

Monday:
Green Bay at Philadelphia

The crap Monday night schedule begins to rear its ugly head. Philly will destroy the Pack in a game that I will only watch until Prison Break comes on.
Scientific Pick: Philly

posted by colin_hesse @ 12:12 AM  0 comments

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Special Teams and Defense

With all the talk about the 42 points last week, the Bear's defense and Shawn's foot, I wanted to talk about some of the OTHER things that may make or break Sunday's game. Neither offence is at 100% so what else could change the game?
First: The Seahawks defense has been good so far, but not great. There is cause for optimism, however. Look:
  • 5 forced fumbles (I love alliteration!) with 3 recovered by Tatupu, Hill and Fisher and 4 interceptions (Boulware and Hamlin each have two) gives us a mighty +1 turnover differential, which is 10th in the NFL.
  • 9 sacks (Peterson and Tapp both with two) has us 9th in the NFL with Cinci.
  • We've committed 26 penalties on defense. That's the second most in the NFL and puts us right next to, well Chicago (27) and San Francisco (26). I can't decide if that's good or bad... but I'm leaning towards bad.
  • We give up a little over 15 points a game, which is in the top third of the NFL.
  • Teams convert on 3rd down about once every three times against us. Again, this puts us at the bottom of the top third of defenses in the NFL.

Conclusion? We're improved from last season but are not an elite unit yet. We have a fairly easy schedule after Chicago, so I'm not looking for the D to get any worse, that's for sure. We're good against the run, especially when teams try to bounce it outside. We're better than the Giants thought in the secondary. The weakness? Running it up the middle. If you can do that, our defense starts to bend. Chicago can't do this.

Second: This whole post started with me thinking about how much our special teams suck. Plackemeier has been an improvement from last year (over 46 yards a punt), but we still suck on returns. My main hope is for Jimmy and Willy to hold onto the damn ball! We only average 8 yards on punt returns for crying out loud.

We're also especially bad at kick-off coverage, giving up over 25 yards every why-the-hell-is-Kaz-in-there time. I think this has the greatest potential to change the game next Sunday. Chicago is in or near the top then NFL teams when it comes to punt and kick returns. Devin Hester has already scored once on a punt return this year. The Seahawks need to keep the Chicago defense and special teams from scoring in order to win this game. Can they? I give them a 50/50 chance.

posted by nach @ 11:47 AM  0 comments

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

BREAKING NEWS: PRAYER FAILS TO HEAL CRACK

Shaun Alexander made some headlines this morning by proclaiming himself healthy for next Sunday night's big game against Chicago and credited prayer with miraculously healing his broken foot.

In other news, after repeated efforts to duplicate this effect, my back still hurts. What's up with that, deity?

Unfortunately, the bane of religions everywhere, that whole "science" thingy, showed up to dampen Alexander's enthusaism by pointing out in a test today a crack on his fourth metatarsal (thanks to Mike Sando). So Maurice Morris will still be our starting tailback and Alexander can pray that Morris doesn't get annihilated by the Bears strong defense.

Luckily, we can still credit "prayer" with its role in replacing the NY Giants secondary with timid squirrels.

posted by Gavin @ 3:54 PM  2 comments

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Ultimate Explosion!! - Week Three Thoughts

First off, a few thoughts on this Shaun Alexander scenario...

1. This is no time to jump off a cliff. Shaun hasn't exactly been a total stallion in the first few games here, and we're a good enough team to survive three games without him. Remember, we beat the Redskins (a darn good defense) without him.

2. He wasn't going to play a big part against that good Chicago defense anyways. Seriously, you think Brian Urlacher was going to let Shaun run wild?

3. That 4 WR spread offense is pretty sweet.

4. Maurice Morris has run as well this season as I've ever seen him. He's hitting the holes quickly, and although I shudder to think of the situation if he goes down, between he and Mack Strong we'll make do.

Overall, if this was going to be for the whole season I'd be throwing random items against the window and considering changing religions to Scientology, because there would be a lot of thetans taking over my body. Four games? Bad, not awful.

Okay, on to the week in review, and what a week again for the Scientific Method. I'm not quite sure how he's doing it this time, but Colin is insistent on not making decisions that I can then make fun of. Seriously, that's the whole point of doing this post. I'm looking forward to this coming week, where I believe Colin is going to hit the skids.

Week Three Results:
Scientific Method: 12-2 (Ridiculous)
Petey Prisco: 6-8 (Sucker)
Bill Simmons: 9-5

Overall Standings:
Scientific Method: 34-12
Petey Prisco: 25-21
Bill Simmons: 24-22

The Scientific Method lengthens the lead. How did it occur?

What In The World Were They Smoking?

Colin gets a full pass on this. The games he picked wrong? Green Bay over Detroit AT Detroit, which I'm still a little wierded out by. Where was the team that we played in Week One? Did the Seahawks really play that badly? I suppose so. The second game? Arizona losing to St Louis with the infamous Kurt Warner fumble (more on that below). Both of those picks were what I would have done, so it's difficult to take exception (basically, he also made some picks that turned out to be right that I wouldn't have made, but I tend to forget those when crafting this work of art).

The other jokers aren't so lucky. Petey took the stab and the Giants over Seattle. Here's my problem with that pick. The Giants were one huge 4th quarter comeback from being an 0-2 team going to one of the toughest places to play in the league. You just don't favor them in that game, no matter what. Both Colin and I originally picked us to lose Sunday when the schedule was released but I had no doubts about victory for most of last week (this week is an entirely different matter). At least Prisco was finally somewhat impressed... it only took two years.

Bill Simmons took Houston over Washington. Look, I don't care how bad Mark Brunell has looked to open the season. The Redskins are far too talented a team to go 0-3 (since we picked them to win the NFC East... bad CO!). Since Gary Kubiak's magic apparently is less potent than previously believed, the Texans are back on track for pick #1 this year as well. True to form, the Redskins picked up the pace and throttled the Texans.

It's hard to laugh off too many picks, there were a ton of toss-up games this week (another reason why the Scientific Method's success was impressive). I would call about 10 of the 14 games "pick-em's" where either team could legitimately win.

Best Picks Of The Week

There were some huge games this past week.

Cincinnati beat Pittsburgh AT Pittsburgh in an enormous game with serious AFC Championship connotations. Now the Steelers are already 1-2 and facing more tough games down the road, while the Bengals can enjoy their two game cushion and the knowledge that the next game against the Steelers will be at home. Colin... picked this right.

Indianapolis beat Jacksonville for current supremacy in the AFC South. When I began watching this game, it was the beginning of the second half, and the game was tied at 7-7 even though the Jaguars had utterly dominated it statistically. I turned to my friends and said, "Indy wins this. No doubt." And they did. You just don't contain Peyton Manning and that offense for 60 minutes, and you have to take advantage of your opportunites when you have them. Jacksonville needs to give Byron Leftwich the keys to the offense, because it looks inept and the reason they aren't yet Super Bowl material. Colin... picked this right.

Denver beat New England in a rematch of last year's Divisional matchup, and I have to admit it was an ugly game. More on that below, but Colin... picked this right.

Seattle annihilated the Giants. Colin... picked this right.

Carolina salvaged their season against the Bucs, who apparently lost theirs when Chris Simms went down with that spleen (prayers for his safe recovery). The Panthers still look very beatable and are a far cry from a Super Bowl team yet, although the talent is still there. Colin... picked this right.

Finally, Chicago beat the Vikings on that late fumble recovery in a statement game in the NFC North. Again, Colin picked it. Nutty.

Biggest Questions Out Of The Week

I'm going to start with New England (again), because that offense looks lost. Even the last scoring drive, where Tom Brady was only looking for his tight ends and Kevin Faulk (although Doug Gabriel did catch the eventual touchdown). It turned into a six minute "hurry up" drive, because he couldn't find a wide receiver open down the field. Now the Broncos do have a decent secondary, but that's ridiculous. It is obvious he misses Deion Branch and the sooner Pats fans actually fess up that fact the better off we'll be (also, isn't it ridiculous that one of their reasons is that Branch has never had a 1000 yard season when last year he had 998 yards? Talk about missing the forest...) At this point the Patriots are still the best team in the AFC East, since the Dolphins are BAD, but look for them to have more stumbles along the way.

The Ravens and their new "improved" offense with Steve McNair have now had three mediocre weeks to start the season. Until that "improvement" starts showing up on the scoreboard, the Ravens are only a borderline wild-card unit with no shot at going deep into the postseason.

The Giants... have issues. That secondary performance was one of the worst I've ever seen, not that I didn't appreciate it.

Kurt Warner gave his job away with a bad performace against the Rams, and the Cardinals still were in it at the end because the Rams can't score in the red zone. The Hawks will go at least 5-1 in the NFC West.

The Jaguars, as I wrote above, need to take advantage of the defense they've created by actually opening up their playbook. They have way too much offensive talent to play this bad.

The Bears finally showed some offensive woes of their own and have their defense to thank for a win... sounds a little familiar to last year.

The Steelers have yet to put it together offensively either. In fact, there are very few teams who have looked good moving the ball consistently. Maybe, just maybe, the Hawks aren't the only team who are going to improve.

Finally, the Atlanta Falcons just got exposed last night. That idiotic spread option offense is not suitable for the NFL. There's a reason the option/wishbone/gimmicky offense hasn't made the leap from college before. NFL defenders are too smart and fast to fall for a single dimension attack when given time to prepare. New Orleans just sent their defensive ends up the field to hem Michael Vick into the pocket and force him to hand off to Warrick Dunn, and then used the linebackers and safeties to hold it to a short gain. They played single coverage on the outside almost all game, and Vick was unable to make them pay since... he can't throw the football worth anything.

Most Impressive Performances of the Week

Although they didn't look great doing it, I was very impressed with what the Bengals were able to do in Pittsburgh. I thought they were going to take a step back (not a big one, but a step nonetheless) this year, and I may have been wrong on that one.

Of course New Orleans looked good, but we'll see how they play when they don't have quite the wave of emotion. Remember, they beat Carolina on opening day last year after Katrina, and then promptly sucked for the rest of the season.

Jake Delhomme wasted no time finding Steve Smith often, and Keyshawn Johnson was also a beneficiary. If Johnson and Smith are able to become a useful tandem, that Carolina offense will be scary good. There's a reason everyone was picking them...

Javon Walker singlehandedly won the game for the Broncos on the offensive side of the ball against New England Sunday night. That long touchdown run after the catch was beautiful and showed the combination of speed and power that made him such a factor in Green Bay. Broncos fans have to be salivating over his potential with Rod Smith (if Jake Plummer decides to un-suck).

This was quite the week. I don't care what else happens next week, but everyone better be on the couch (or standing up) by Sunday night!

posted by Gavin @ 10:30 AM  0 comments

Monday, September 25, 2006

Week Three Recap: Seahawks 42, Giants 30 (Shaun also out!)

Shaun Alexander, after another underwhelming performance against the Giants, is now officially out for the next four weeks, probably missing games against the Bears, the Rams, and the Vikings, who are a combined 7-2 as of today. That hurts, though it was apparent from Week 1 that Shaun was not operating with two healthy feet. I would have preferred that this decision had been reached three weeks ago instead of today, but maybe they just wanted to see if Shaun could make it work. Obviously he couldn't. As it stands, Maurice Morris is a capable backup, Mack Strong can still tote the rock a few times, and we will lean more on the passing attack, as we have the past two weeks, to propel us down the field. Bottom Line: It hurts, but I would rather Shaun is hurt NOW then in December or January. We beat the Washington Redskins with Maurice Morris running the football. We can beat the Rams and the Vikings (not sure about the Bears). Not worth a freak-out, but raises questions about the information that team doctors were operating under, and why Shaun was playing these first three weeks.

Now...... as of the certain game that took place yesterday.....

Our victory against the Giants last year created more doubters then well-wishers in the eyes of the national media. They took note of the three missed field goals, the insane crowd noise, and the critical Seahawks mistakes, and concluded that the Giants were the better team and would probably beat the Hawks if they met again in the postseason. Personally, I didn't want to see the G-Men again, as MY conclusion wasn't too far behind. We had failed to establish dominance, and had lucked one out against a quality opponent at home. An exciting win? Yes. But not a dominant win.

Thus, I picked the Hawks to lose this game when I went through our schedule at the beginning of the year (again, I concluded the Hawks would finish 11-5). That conclusion seemed, if anything, a little stronger after two unconvincing wins by Seattle matched against the Giants' improbable comeback against the Eagles. However, I ended my picking Seattle in my Friday post based on the uber-hype being poured on Eli and the fact that our offense usually took until Week 3 to gel.

And gel it did. Welcome, Deion Branch! Welcome, Nate Burleson (1st game he actually made an appearance in)! Welcome, Chris Spencer (let us never speak of Pork Chop again)! Welcome, Rob Sims (is more athletic than Chris Gray)!

I was speechless for most of the first half. Honestly speechless. Never in a million years did I suspect the absolute butt-kicking that the Hawks were about to enact on the Giants. I expected a close, hard-fought game that would get decided in the 4th quarter. Instead, I received virtual perfection from both sides of the football. This was the first game of the season that I watched and thought to myself, "These are the defending NFC Champion Seattle Seahawks." These are the type of games that brings skeptics like Petey Prisco over to our side (seriously, he remarks on that very fact this week!). We are continuing to build the kind of respect that will last in the national media's minds for years to come. It's been a long, loooooooong process, but we are close to completion. A win next week against the Bears would cement us as the best team in the NFC, by the way, especially if we do it without the former MVP of the league.

The Good:
-- Everything. Every. Thing.

-- In our preview, both Gavin and I called our secondary the glaring weakness of our team. In three weeks they have done all in their power to disprove us, stopping Roy Williams, Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin, Amani Toomer, Plaxico Burress, and Jeremy Shockey. Now they have to stop Muhsin Muhammed and Bertran Berrian (sp?). That's a step down in quality, but it remains to be seen if we can continue our dominance. Still, great job by Hamlin, Boulware, Trufant, and Herndon.

-- We have four awesome wide receivers. Wowsers. Hasselbeck stated that there was a mismatch every pass play. Let's keep that up, because the Giants were powerless to stop our passing attack. I felt like I was watching the Colts for a half.

-- ZERO sacks allowed by our offensive line. Excellent, and puts Spencer and Sims in a very positive light heading into next week. It's taken a few weeks, but we are beginning to cope with the absence of Hutch. Even Walter had his best week of the new season, dominating the Giants' defensive line.

-- We had an excellent game-plan coming in both on offense and defense. Kudos to John Marshall for completely confusing Eli Manning for the majority of this game.

-- Who haven't I mentioned? Tatupu, Peterson, Strong, Hasselbeck...... they were all good. I especially enjoyed the 10 minute drive that concluded in our final touchdown, as the Giants could do NOTHING to stop us and we went up 42-3. The game was over as of that moment.

-- I can't comment on the noise, since I was in a bar where the Cardinals game was getting piped in, but Gavin says that it was hella loud. I honestly don't know what Giants GM Ernie Accorsi was thinking in calling out the fans and the Hawks for cheating before the game. How stupid is that? Complain after the game, not before it, you tard!

The Bad:
-- Shaun still couldn't run, as now we find that we are without him for at least a month. Ouch.

-- 27 points for the G-Men in the 4th quarter. Note: I don't put this in the ugly category for one simple reason. THE GAME WAS ALREADY OVER. WE WERE UP BY 39 POINTS GOING INTO THE 4TH QUARTER. IT WAS DONE. FINITO. FINISHED. COMPLETE. THE OUTCOME WAS NOT IN DOUBT. IT MADE NO DIFFERENCE WHATSOEVER. OUR MINDS WERE COMPLETELY OUT OF THE GAME. DON'T WORRY ABOUT IT.

-- The bar only had Sam Adams Light, not the real thing.

The Ugly:
-- Nothing. Nothing. This was a great, dominating performance against a quality NFC foe.

Bottom Line:
For the first week, I am ok with people looking at us as one of the top three teams to beat in the NFC. We finally played like a contender. We can complete that thought if we go on the road and beat Chicago heading into the bye week. 4-0 would be mighty fine, and the Bears looked beatable against Minnesota. This will be a playoff atmosphere, and I predict that the Hawks will be ready to play. Just don't expect to score 42 against that Bears defense.

posted by colin_hesse @ 3:50 PM  4 comments

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Go Dawgs!

I'm excited as all-get out for Sunday's game, but before I get swept away by the riptide of Seahawks and Jesus tomorrow morning I wanted to give my utterly meaningless congratulations to the Huskies who managed a win over UCLA. Something UW hasn't done since I was... in high school? Have to check that. Anyway, the Huskies have three wins already and it's not even Halloween yet. Not even October!

The defense is improved over the last two games (not that I watched them) and the offense, while extremely inconsistent (like Vick only not as good), can put up points... sometimes. If the defense plays this well for the rest of the season... we may win another three games. Sweet!

Still, UW football has already exceeded my expectations, so congrats.

posted by nach @ 8:36 PM  0 comments

Week Three: NY Giants at SEATTLE

This game is going to be crazy.

That pretty much sums it up. Every other little item, albeit absurdly clever, that I could write about this game fails to describe it accurately. These two teams are going to play some football.

Flashback to last season...

Every year the Seattle Pacific University choir has a Choral Extravaganza at Benaroya Hall, and it happened to fall on the particular Sunday the 8-2 Hawks were going up against the Giants with home field advantage in the playoffs up for grabs. With a family member singing (love you, Jess!) I was only able to watch the first half, and tape the second. The first half was a decidedly underwhelming effort by the Hawks, and I wasn't looking forward to watching the recorded rest upon getting back to my apartment.

I successfully made it back without hearing the final score, and I turned on the game with the rest of the family. The Giants comeback was simply excruciating, as the refs gave the Giants two touchdowns (have to remember that), and as Jay Feely set up for that field goal at the end of regulation, I pressed the fast forward button... and then watched incredulously as the fans in the stadium started to celebrate. As the overtime continued and the field goals continued, the situation got more and more surreal, as Tom Coughlin refused to press the attack once he crossed the 30 yard line, and frankly, setting up Jay Feely to have to hit difficult field goals. I will never forget the shot of Jeremy Shockey hamming it up to the camera during one of those attempts, and then turning in shock as it was missed. We rewound that particular moment about fifty times over the next week.

All that to say, these teams remember, and these teams will be there to play.

Five "Gut" Reasons for Optimism

1. Julian Peterson will provide some underneath coverage we didn't have last year. Jeremy Shockey ate us alive over the middle, and we simply could not stay with him, and could not stay with many tight ends over the season. Our coverage on short routes this season so far has been unbelievable. Remember, Marcus Pollard of Detroit was their leading receiver last season, and we really shut him out. If Shockey can be contained, that offense will be hamstrung.

2. Welcome Deion Branch! He may not make a tremendous impact, but the Giants will have to account for him on the field, and that will stretch that weak secondary all the more.

3. Welcome Chris Spencer! Anyone who watched the game last week noticed the impact Spencer had on the second half of that game. Shaun may be able to cut back far more this week, and Spencer will help Walter Jones with that Osi Umenyiora fellow.

4. Shaun Alexander is due. Look... there is nothing statistical about this, but he is far too good a running back to not have a 100 yard day. This will be the day.

5. Hasselbeck can't be worse. We beat the Cardinals by a bunch with Hasselbeck really struggling. Look for him to take advantage of that weak Giants secondary (more on that later).

Five "Gut" Reasons for Pessimism

1. Plaxico Burress and Amani Toomer. We may have been able to limit Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin, but Burress and Toomer have been utterly on fire, catching balls they have no business coming down with.

2. Tiki Barber. It might have taken into overtime, but he was the first 100 yard back our defense allowed, and it's behind the same offensive line. Small quick backs give us trouble, especially in pass routes. We have to be disciplined in our gap coverage and blitz schemes.

3. The Pass Rush. They may not have been great in the first couple of games, but Strahan and Umenyiora dominated us, especially Walter Jones. I hadn't seen him get beaten that badly in years. I'm sure Walter remembers it, but he has looked shaky the first couple of weeks and needs to step it up and give Hasselbeck time.

4. Special Teams have been awful. In a game that's going to be close, we can't have blocked field goals and 15 yard punts. At some point this needs to get a lot better, at least to mediocre.

5. The refs. Two touchdowns last year, my friends, including one the league actually copped to later.

It's All About The Stats

1. Five false starts last week. 11 last year. This crowd is going to be absolutely nuts. I know it. I'll be there.

2. Hawks are ranked 4th in DVOA against the rush after the first two weeks. Giants are 15th against the rush. Advantage: Alexander.

3. The Giants and their revamped secondary are 28th against the pass in DVOA. This HAS to be a huge deal, and right now is why I think we win this game.

This game is going to be crazy and could be the game of the week. Everyone must watch.

The Hawks will win.

posted by Gavin @ 12:28 PM  0 comments

Friday, September 22, 2006

The Scientific Method: Week Three

Ah yes. The beginning of the bye week section of the NFL schedule. Means I can only screw up on fourteen games instead of sixteen. Glory be.

By the way, apparently the Hawks have earned the everlasting disdain of Bill Simmons to the point where he's joking about creating a voodoo dool to jinx Shaun Alexander, pretty much because Pats fans can't have it both ways:

-- The Hawks massively overpayed for Deion Branch
-- The Hawks screwed the Pats by trading for Deion Branch

When you have fans THAT conflicted about what your team did, you probably did the correct move. Sorta like Minnesota signing Hutch for beaucoup dollars (yes, I know Gavin disagrees with this, but I consider it a quality move).

Basically, I guess I'll begin to create my own voodoo doll of Tom Brady. Or maybe one of Laurence Maroney, since within the span of two games he has been given the seat at the right hand of God our Father. Yes! The running game worked against the Bills and the Jets! Mercy!

By the way, no way Daunte Culpepper marks the worst fantasy killer of all time. Here's a couple for you from the last two years:

-- Clinton Portis, two years ago: Just learning Gibbs' offense, could do nothing right
-- Jamal Lewis, last year: It hurt to watch the fantasy team in our league who was relying on that guy.
-- T.O., last year: Do I need to spell this out? Same with McNabb last year.
-- Corey Dillon, last year: People forget, this guy was getting drafted in round 1 last year.
-- Kevin Jones: Also a 1st-2nd round selection last year. He was TERRIBLE.

But, of course, it's really only about Bill, so I can't begrudge him feeling that HIS team is the one who gets screwed the WORST, and not because he was stupidly picking Chris Chambers IN THE THIRD ROUND!!! WHAT IN THE WORLD WERE YOU THINKING!!! DO YOU HAVE, LIKE, A 20 TEAM LEAGUE OR SOMETHING?? THAT IS YOUR EXPERT PICK?? CHRIS CHAMBERS??

Next week, my promise: No Bill Simmons rant. Unless he says something stupid.

By the way, Science has been rocking it so far, which means that you should flee from these picks. FLEE!

Sunday:
Carolina at Tampa Bay
And so it begins.... a string of tough games to pick. This is quite a week on the NFL schedule. Normally a game like the Giants visiting Seattle would be, by far, top dawg, but I really think that this game, Chicago/Minny, Cincy/Pitt, and even Jacksonville/Indy are more interesting games. I really do. As for this one, Steve Smith will probably be back and ready to deal out some pain. The Panthers defense played well last week. Nothing about Tampa Bay has been playing well.
Scientific Pick: Carolina

Chicago at Minnesota
Rex Grossman actually threw four touchdown passes in a game. Wowsers. I'll take, "Things I Never Expected to See in my Lifetime" for $500, Alex. As for Minnesota, they got massively bailed out of the game against Carolina, needing a completely awful special teams call and a fake field goal to carry the day.Now many people are predicting them to beat Chicago? Doubtful.
Scientific Pick: Chicago

Cincinnati at Pittsburgh
Every bone in my body screams that Pitt is the smart play here. They are coming off an embarrassing loss on Monday night, the defense will be jazzed to play against Cincy, who beat them to a tar last year in Pittsburgh, and Big Ben will be healthier and ready to go (down from his 104 degree temperature that was a crock and a half). HOWEVER, no team will be as ready to destroy the Steelers as Cincinnati. No team.
Scientific Pick: Cincinnati

Green Bay at Detroit

Ugh. Do I have to pick this game? Brett Favre has a so-so game against a bunch of stiffs in the New Orleans secondary and people are suddenly declaring him back, with the offense deemed ready to roll. Detroit, on the other hand, played very well at home against us before laying an egg last week in Chicago. You have to believe that Rod Marinelli kicked some proverbial butts, and I hate picking Mike McCarthy to win anything (does he just LOOK like the most incompetent football coach of all time?). So I won't.
Scientific Pick: Detroit

Jacksonville at Indianapolis
Listen. I like Jacksonville. I really do. I have their defense on my fantasy team, and they have helped me rise to a 2-0 beginning to the season (same with Gavin, unfortunately). However, when you play Indy, you can't stop the offense, you have to contain them AND score some points. Like, more than 9. Jack Del Rio just seems too conservative to make the call that would propel them to victory, like Brad Childress did last week. I'm taking Peyton and the boys to defend their title. Big time.
Scientific Pick: Indy

NY Jets at Buffalo
Only in the AFC East could BOTH these teams receive a ton of love for playing as poorly as they have for two weeks, both losing to the Patriots along the way. JP Losman, in particular, threw for under 100 yards and was acclaimed as coming into his own. No, he's not. The whole team is not. They are 1-1, and will be 1-2 after Sunday. That's right, I'm picking....
Scientific Pick: NY Jets

Tennessee at Miami
The bandwagon in Miami is officially empty. Only brambles and spiderwebs now hang where, before, millions of people stood, holding hands and swaying together as they poured out their love on the Dolphins. Now...... silence. There's a hole in the pit of my stomach as I just think of the poor Dolphins, with their poor, poor quarterback, their even worse offensive line, and a coach who just can't get any breaks from the officials. Aaaaaaaah.
Scientific Pick: Miami

Washington at Houston

Why is Washington now dead? Did Joe Gibbs suddenly disappear? Why has everyone written this team off as well? Yes, I know they have looked bad so far, but it's the beginning of the season. They have too much talent, especially on defense, to be looking this bad.
Scientific Pick: Washington

Baltimore at Cleveland
Unfortunately, the Ravens play the Browns this week, which means that they will win and we will hear more about how they are the best team in the league, which, again is pathetic. Michael Irvin actually had them ranked #1 in his stupid power polls. #1! Over Indy, Cincy, Pitt? What? But, yes, the Browns suck.
Scientific Pick: Baltimore

NY Giants at Seattle
I had chalked this game up as a loss as I went through our schedule before the season started. Now.... I don't know. This business about the noise level will only make the noise louder, Eli has looked lost until the 4th quarter, the offensive line for the Giants was horrible last week, and their secondary was even worse! On the other hand, the Hawks haven't looked overly impressive after two weeks....
Scientific Pick: Seattle

Philadelphia at San Francisco
I'm not a big fan of holdover effects, and I don't buy it here. McNabb knows what to do after a loss, and I expect the Eagles to roll here.
Scientific Pick: Philly

St. Louis at Arizona

How's the St. Louis bandwagon, Billy? Holding strong? First class still full?
Scientific Pick: Arizona

Denver at New England
Here's another interesting game for me. Jake Plummer IS an effective quarterback in the NFL, though I wouldn't want him on my team. He is surrounded by offensive talent like Rod Smith, Mike Bell, and Javon Walker, with a defense that HAS performed moderately well after two weeks. New England, on the other hand, has struggled at times against two mediocre teams. Plus, I now hate New England.

Update: Petey King, while picking New England in this game, tells all fantasy owners to pick up Doug Gabriel because he feels that Gabriel and Brady are about to become quite an item. That just might be the most insanely stupid bit of fantasy advice I have heard this year so far. C'mon, not even going with the talented rook Chad Jackson like Simmons? Doug Gabriel?

Scientific Pick: Denver

Monday:
Atlanta at New Orleans
This pick will probably end up being wrong, but Atlanta is in for the emotional game of the century. The first game, sold out, in the Superdome since Hurricane Katrina? Good night. I would be picking the Saints against ANYONE else.
Scientific Pick: New Orleans

posted by colin_hesse @ 11:02 AM  3 comments

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Crowd Noise

So there's nothing better to do than stir up a little ruckus over the noisiness at Qwest as Gavin realizes the limits of sports as a means to life-fulfillment.

I was there Sunday and it was loud. Is the crowd being amplified artificial? It's possible. Do I think it's funny the subject only comes up as the Giants head back to town? (11 false starts and umpteen missed field goals) You bet.

Why is Qwest the loudest stadium in professional football? Some guesses:
- the caffeine and anger at sucking so much for so long add up to really loud desperation
- beer sales don't stop at the 7th inning
- there's no NASCAR track anywhere close up here, so all the white trash can focus exclusively on football
- Mike Hargrove isn't bungling things up
- there are only 7 other home games, most of which you probably aren't going to, unless you are, and that means you laid down some serious cash and can't afford NOT to cheer real loud
- there hasn't been anything to cheer for like this in a long time
- we know the Hawks will suck again, one day... we're just not sure when, exactly

Also, this guy is an idiot. I know it was written last year, but still... idiot. Why sell tickets if the contest is supposed to be decided by the participants alone? This isn't golf. Golf fans would cheer if Tiger tackled VJ on the fairway and Garcia stiff-armed Mickelson to the ground as he left the tee box.

Think of it--full contact golf. It's not the number of strokes that counts but who gets the ball in the hole FIRST!

I'd cheer anyway.

posted by nach @ 7:05 PM  0 comments

A Startling Realization

Colin and I have determined that, outside of pro football, there is absurdly little to care about as a Seattle sports fan right now.

Husky football? Ummmm... they beat two WAC teams. Yippee. College football in general has still lost me at times with the whole "bowl games versus playoff" system, resulting in morons like Bob Stoops reacting like Pac 10 referees just gang raped his oldest daughter. That's what happens when "every game is a playoff game", like proponents of bowl games like to mutter. Yeah, it is awesome and definitely a playoff game to watch West Virginia take on Eastern Washington. Meanwhile, Texas gets clobbered by Ohio State. Go College Football! (Note: if the Huskies are ever somewhat relevant again I'll jump on the bandwagon... I'm fickle and admit it)

Mariner baseball? I'm waiting until the offseason when we can start discussing random free agent moves, and USS Mariner (subsidiary of GodCo) can pontificate about sabermetrics, WARP3, and such, and I read it all like a sucker.

Sonics basketball? Still a month away.

Husky basketball? Still a couple of months away (but man, I can't wait),

So instead we're left with the midweek letdown, where it's too early to be thinking too hard about the Giants game on Sunday, too late to still be discussing the Arizona win last week, and not much else of true substance to care about... and you wonder why normal sportswriters write "bored" every once in a while.

Let's go, sports world, excite me! Give me more than "Tiger Woods is MAD because someone took nude pictures of his wife". That's funny, but not exactly blog material, it's even funnier that columnists are using it as "now the US is going to CLEAN UP at the Ryder Cup". Ah, golf... pastime of lazy suckers (like me).

In case anyone missed it, Norm McDonald was on the Daily Show a few nights back and had some pretty funny stuff on the Crocodile Hunter. I can't find the link, but you're all intrepid internet searchers, find it and watch it.

posted by Gavin @ 4:11 PM  2 comments

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

OK, Seriously, Stop It

Oklahoma is now threatening to cancel the scheduled game against UW in 2008 because of the missed call in the Oregon game.

This has officially entered ridiculous territory.

I want all those who complained about Hawks fans whining about the Super Bowl to be outraged over the Sooners' absolute meltdown over the botched call. You know what, Sooner fans? Sometimes the refs do screw up, and in a big way.

We know. Vinny Testeverde never scored against the Hawks. Same with Big Ben.

We were told to live with it.

You live with it. And get a life.

posted by colin_hesse @ 5:16 PM  0 comments

Ultimate Explosion!! - Week Two Thoughts

Welcome to this edition of Ultimate Explosion, where I prepare to offer insightful, sarcastic, and knee-jerk analysis of Week Two of the NFL regular season.

Speaking of jerks, welcome to Nach for finally joining the realm of Crushed Optimism, where he can provide us a new bouquet of grammatical/spelling errors with which to show off his history major.

Speaking of myself, this is going to be a quick and fairly poor effort. I'm warning all readers up front. This is going to be an awful post, and not my normal sense of awful, but this will be pure total crap. My reasoning will be worthless, and you might as well be reading Clark Judge or Petey King.

On to the recap... as of last week, the Scientific Method was in the lead over Petey Prisco and Bill Simmons.

SM: 11-5
Petey: 8-8
Billy: 6-10 (yes, we know he picks against the spread, but I think that's lame, so I punish him for it, he writes his picks as Miami OVER Buffalo... not sure why we should give him the benefit of the doubt)

The Week Two results were as follows:

Scientific Method: 11-5 (22-10)
Petey Prisco: 11-5 (19-13)
Bill Simmons: 9-7 (15-17)

In other words, we had three pretty good weeks as all three prognosticators were over .500, and Colin is off to an amazing start, which entails a giant collapse as the weeks go on.

What In The World Were They Smoking?

Oddly enough, no one picked the Cardinals to beat Seattle, so I can't rail against pundits on my favorite soapbox. Prisco, I was especially counting on you.

Let's start with Colin and Simmons, who inexplicably picked the Jets to beat New England. Colin even wrote that it was a stupid pick, apparently realizing that he would incur the wrath of the Ultimate Explosion. Let's see... the Jets are a bad team, the Patriots I picked to be in the Super Bowl. You think I make this pick, no matter how close the Jets made it? No way. I think Simmons just wanted to do this pick now so when he picks them to win the next 14 weeks he can point back and say, "I'm not a pathetic homer, look, here's where I picked them to lose!". Man, he's lame now.

The other "Scientific" pick, and I use the term as loosely as allowed was Colin's pick of the Lions to beat the Bears... at Chicago. The sheer idiocy demonstrated here continues to baffle me... and again, Simmons joined Colin on the idiot-train. Was Pete Prisco actually one of the only reasonable pickers this week? Really? Have we sunk this low? The Bears were almost indestructible at home last season, that defense dominated at home, and the Lions suck on the road. What part of this equation equaled Detroit winning? I'm not totally sold on Rex Grossman, but at least they're scoring points, unlike the 17-6 Kyle Orton-led snoozefests of a year ago.

Honestly, Prisco's picks made overall sense to me. Part of me wants to criticize picking Green Bay over New Orleans, but those were two bad teams playing, and the Packers were up by a bunch at one point. Man, those Packers are bad though, huh? Between them and the Raiders the Scientific Method should be 2-0 to start every week by picking them to lose. I can't believe how pathetic the Raiders look on offense. Why did they drop Kerry Collins and pass on Matt Leinart? This made no sense then and really looks stupid now.

Best Picks Of The Week

I was really impressed by how all three pundits picked the Jaguars last night to beat the Steelers. I sure wouldn't have done that, but apparently I didn't realize just how bad the Steeler rushing attack might be this year. It's not like Jacksonville's offense is still impressive... at all. If that defense has improved, they are going to turn into the 11-5 Baltimore Ravens, make the playoffs, and fall short of the Super Bowl. The Steelers have to be genuinely concerned about two weeks where their offensive line did not control the line of attack. The Hawks aren't the only team with major questions. Other than that, the game was boring as all get out. I think Pitt might also miss Antwaan Randle El, because Santonio Holmes doesn't look that impressive right now (as with most young receivers), and the low scoring game just screamed for one of Ken Whisenhunt's trick plays.

Props also go to SM and Bill Simmons for picking the Vikings to beat the Panthers, even if they did it in an extremely cheap fashion. I'd be stringing up the hangman's noose if I was a Panther fan right now. I don't care if you're without Steve Smith, you win these games... but at least the defense showed up. They'd really be freaking out if Minnesota had pounded them like Atlanta.

Biggest Questions Out Of The Week

Oakland - Will they score? Will the offensive line look legitimate? Will Art Shell explode into a rage of fury and chew through his offensive coordinator's skull? When will Randy Moss explode as well? This is setting up to be a long and awful season for Raider fans. At least they get to see Andrew Walter now... (snicker).

Where is the New England killer instinct? They haven't been able to put away two bad teams in their division to open the season. If not for Tom Brady, they're at least 1-1, if not 0-2. I wrote it last week, I'll write it until they prove me wrong, the Patriots are starting to see the effect of their "it's the system, not the players" mentality. If it was the system, they could draft me to play cornerback. Hint: I'd suck.

Where is the St Louis offense? Only one TD in two weeks of the Scott Linehan offense, and an ugly loss to San Francisco (for the second year in a row). At this stage, Jeff Wilkins is going to be my fantasy MVP, because he keeps kicking field goals. We'll see if Bill Simmons is still on the bandwagon next week.

What the heck has happened to Washington, and especially to that defense? That offense looks incredibly abysmal, and it can't be just because Clinton Portis has been hurt. Mark Brunell was missing wide open receivers and they just can't seem to find Santana Moss or Chris Cooley. Find the playmakers who made you a surprise last year or look forward to a high draft pick, because the road doesn't get any easier.

Most Impressive Performances Of The Week

I suppose this has to start with Chicago, who look like the best team in the NFC right now (which is pretty hard for me to swallow, but that offense is playing in midseason form now, while we still are dropping passes and throwing costly picks.

Atlanta's rushing offense continues to be impressive as Jim Mora has established a Vince Young-style attack... it will be interesting to see how opposing defenses adjust. Personally, I'd throw ten into the box and dare the wide receivers to beat me deep. Also, Warrick Dunn is carrying the ball too much, and you don't want him to wear down.

Of course the NY Giants comeback was good, but no way Philly lets that happen. I got flashbacks to that awful St Louis loss a couple of years ago. The Hawks never truly recovered, and I don't know if Philadelphia can either. Eli Manning continues to play poorly and get bailed out by his playmakers. I'm not as concerned about this team as I would have been last year coming in to next week, but more on that later this week.

I like the Chargers... a ton. Man, that team looks good, and Philip Rivers looks like he was ready to take the reins. They may hit some bumps (new quarterback), but with Denver and Kansas City already looking weak, the Chargers are easily the current class of the AFC West. Have to like Shawne Merriman... if Lofa Tatupu had to lose to someone for Defensive Rookie of the Year, I'm glad it was him. He's a beast.

I'm probably missing a few more performances, but I already said this post would be awful, so I suppose you'll have to deal. T-minus five days until NY comes to town!

posted by Gavin @ 2:05 PM  0 comments

Monday, September 18, 2006

Week Two Recap: Seahawks 21, Cardinals 10

When Gavin and I began to blog here at Crushed Optimists, our original plan was to include our good friend Nate Acheson as a co-blogger, since he's freaking hilarious and we sort of grew up as Seattle sports fans together (we also had no girlfriends growing up, which helped the relationship). Unfortunately, Nate was serving missionary work in Uzasdjflsdjkl and Kazasdkfjssil, PLUS he got married, so he was not able to join up with his buds.

Well, he's back in Seattle, he finally got internet connection, and we are proud to welcome Nate to the land of crushed optimism. I am sure that Nate will measure up to the high (snicker) standards that we set here at CO Inc., and we hope that you enjoy his off-the-wall commentary as much as I will.

Just don't forget who the REAL brain is behind this web site.

Mitch Conners, alias Jennifer Lopez (if you haven't watched that South Park episode, then I can't help you. Help yourself help you.)

Before I touch our game, I want to but into Gavin's scheduled weekly summary tomorrow to wish Bill Simmons and the rest of the St. Louis bandwagon all the luck in the world. You guys rock, you are an excellent prognosticator of talent, and I hope you pay a lot more attention to the NFC West. Hint: The Seahawks are going to win the division. The team from Seattle.

For the Seahawks, this was the second game where the Seahawks came out with a victory, and yet the offense didn't look impressive, leading some to deduce that our offense isn't as good as last year. Again, perhaps..... or perhaps the Seahawks scored 21 points in their first home game LAST year, while scoring a whopping 0 points the entire second half of that game, escaping with a victory over the Atlanta Falcons. Also, perhaps Matt Hasselbeck plays his worst games statistically against the Arizona Cardinals, which is shown again and again throughout the years. STOP FREAKING OUT, PEOPLE!!!

The Good:

-- Once again, this team showed the ability to pick up the intensity when the chips were on the table. The offensive drive that resulted in our third touchdown was a classic Seahawks drive, involving large amounts of Shaun, role players (Morris, Strong), with a dash of Engram and D-Jack. Bam. 7. The Cardinals defense had been owning us for two quarters, Womack had just gotten hurt, and we rocked their world, resulting in the penultimate touchdown of the game. There just wasn't a whole lot of doubt in my mind, even after Matt's boneheaded second interception a few minutes later.

-- D-Jack wants people to consider him a #1 wide receiver. That initial catch that led to the 1st touchdown was a thing of beauty. He was schooling Antrel Rolle just like last year, running precise routes and getting over the top of the secondary. Deion Branch isn't our best wide receiver, not in this system. That title belongs to Jackson.

-- Enough about the offense. The defense was, once again, spectacular. Lofa Tatupu is shrugging off the sophomore slump by once again becoming the quarterback of our defense. Leroy Hill backed up his strong rookie season by becoming an immediate impact player both in rushing the passer and defending the run. Julian Peterson..... well, he's a beast. Our linebacking corps, as of now, is playing phenomenal football, reminding me of the New England defenses of their championship years, where the heart of the defense was in the corps of Bruschi, Vrabel, McGinest, etc.

-- Marcus Trufant played one of the best games I have ever seen him play. Larry Fitzgerald was a ghost, making a few big catches, but not playing a big role whatsoever in the outcome of this game. That's impressive. That's really, really impressive. Fitzgerald is quickly becoming a top-5 receiver in this league. If Trufant is a shut-down corner, then our defense becomes that much more potent.

-- Once again our pass rush showed up to play, with several sacks and constant pressure on the immobile Kurt Warner. No one had two sacks, but several individuals had one sack. That's blitzes coming from all sides, with a team-based rushing scheme.

The Bad:

-- Once again, Grant Wistrom might as well not have shown up for this game. Where is this guy? Why are we paying him obscene amounts of money to do absolutely nothing? Actually, where is Bryce Fisher?

-- If Willie Ponder is taking up a roster spot, and possibly costing Hackett a spot, shouldn't we get, well, anything from our return game? Any joe schmuck can get it to the 20-25 yard line.

-- Kelly Herndon got absolutely abused on the long touchdown, but he actually played well besides that, so I won't move him into ugly territory.

-- The rushing game (and the offensive line in general) also improved to the bad range. Keep Chris Spencer in, Holmgren, because the second year player shone from the moment that he was brought in to replace Womack, who was, yet again, struggling with both aspects of his game. Walter Jones is limping, which is drastically hampering his mobility on stretch runs and cutbacks. However, we still got over 130 yards rushing, and Shaun SHOULD have had 100 yards except for the fact that Holmgren, as is his wont over the years, completely disregarded the rushing game from the beginning of the second quarter to the last minutes of the third quarter. Seriously, for half the game it was pass, pass, pass, pass, punt. Oh, and anyone who saw Shaun close to the goal line yesterday...... he's ready to roll. Just give him the ball, man!

The Ugly:

-- Nate Burleson was horrific, dropping several easy passes. Our whole corps dropped five or six total, most directly leading to punts and a loss of field position. Come on, people. This isn't 2004.

-- Ryan Plackemeier had a terrible game, with poor punts and a bad hold that resulted in a missed field goal. I don't mean to get on the rook, but, c'mon. You have, like, two jobs. You're on the field for about 40 seconds total. Do your job.

-- Hasselbeck looked rattled several times, and that second INT was just terrible. Atrocious. The first one, that ruined a promising drive, was a stupid decision as well.

-- Come back, Stevens! We need a tight end! Right now the only safety valve for Hasselbeck is Mack Strong for a 1 yard gain. We need that big target to show up over the middle. Obviously Mili has decided that he doesn't want to be any part of the offense (and now he's injured).

Bottom Line: We are now 2-0, and that feels awesome, especially with a game lead over the rest of the division. The offense is making improvements, and I expect them to come out Sunday with their best game of the young season against a Giants defense that is extremely vulnerable against the pass. Our defense is showing signs of dominance, but it's too early yet to make any large conclusions about their play.

posted by colin_hesse @ 3:03 PM  0 comments

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Memory Lane

Remeber when Husky football was a bigger deal than the Seahawks?

Remember when 8 and 8 was exciting and cause for optimism because, hey, it's better than 2 and 14?

Remember when you knew the 'Hawks were going to run on 3rd and 8 because even though we knew we were screwed for a first down, the chances we lower for a turnover.

Remember Dave Kreig soapdishing the ball?

Remember when Brian Bozworth and Rick Mier were the next big thing? (not at the same time, obviously)

Remember when Bo Jackson broke us over his knee like a bat?

Remember stifling excitment on the rare occoasions a Seahawk actually made it into the endzone with the football because you were waiting for the flag?

Remember those nasty piss troughs in the Kingdome?

Remember when Crushedoptimists only had TWO uninformed lazy jerks rambling on about the Seahawks?

Those days are gone.

posted by nach @ 11:04 PM  3 comments

Week Two: Arizona at SEATTLE

We are one day away from one of the best days of the year... the home opener for your Seattle Seahawks! Entering the sphere of pain is one overhyped team, the Arizona Cardinals. Our team, a bit battered and bruised from an unimpressive week one, is ready to put some questions to rest... and me, your faithful writer, will be rocking it from the 300 level from the minute opening lineups are given.

I can guarantee a few things about the pregame festivities...

1. I will tear up several times
2. Alana will not have any idea what she's getting herself in for
3. Colin will be insanely jealous for missing everything
4. The place will be going absolutely nuts insane

Frequent commentor (at least during football season, when apparently we're actually readable) Eric has pointed out that many people make their predictions based on the gambling spread. That would be why Petey Prisco picks us to win on one page, but picks Arizona to beat the spread on the other. Frankly, I feel that's an insanely cheap way to pick NFL games... way to take a stand, Petey.

On to the preview!

Five "Gut" Reasons For Optimism

1. The Hawks have to be just aching to play this game. The offensive line especially looks to drastically improve on an unimpressive (to put it mildly) week one, and since the Cardinals lack anyone with the playmaking skills of Shaun Rogers, that seems as a likely proposition.
2. The Cardinals let the 49ers put up 27 points against them... at home.
3. The crowd is going to be unbelievable, and if you think that has no effect on a game, you weren't at either of the playoff battles.
4. Leroy Hill should be back, and make our defense that much faster and stronger (I wasn't very impressed with DD Lewis a week ago).
5. The karma gods are on our side, as long as Arizona remains such a hyped team prior to actually deserving it.

Five "Gut" Reasons For Pessimism

1. Pork Chop Womack looked like a giant pork chop, and now he's going up against Bertrand Berry. Can he step up? Can Walter Jones, who also looked like he'd lost a step?
2. Can Nate Burleson, Darrell Jackson, and yes, even Deion Branch get open down the field? Our leading receiver sure better not be Mack Strong.
3. Who's the long snapper? Losing JP Darche is an underrated blow to an already weak field goal unit... our confidence can't be too high this week especially if Josh Brown is asked to kick a deep game winning field goal.
4. Our cornerbacks are short, Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin are tall... and dominated us the past two seasons. This is our first huge secondary test.
5. We looked especially turnover prone against Detroit. At home that's giving Arizona all they need to come away with the victory.

It's All About The Stats!

1. That darn Arizona offensive line. We've gone over this multiple times, so no need to really rehash the statistics, but...
STUFFED: 32%
POWER STATISTICS: 41%
Since they haven't been able to rush in either the preseason or Week One (against SF) the addition of Edgerrin James doesn't appear to have made a significant impact.
2. If you think Shaun Alexander is going to be stuck below 60 yards for two weeks in a row you're a mental patient. Still, Arizona ranked #2 in STUFFED themselves defensively, so it won't be as easy as we'd like to think.
3. With the return of Leroy Hill, that #1 sack unit (#6 in adjusted sacks on FO) will be able to generate more pressure... necessary pressure to force Warner into bad decisions and interceptions.
4. The Hawks allow true #1 wide receivers to go nuts (12.9% DVOA), so expect a big day from Larry Fitzgerald.
5. 10-0 at home in 2005. 10-0. Time to start a new streak.

Since we're still a few weeks away from having a true statistical analysis of where teams stand, we still are too much into "guess mode", which I don't particularly like. This game boils down to a simple fact... if Arizona still can't run the football, they lose this game. I don't see them doing it, not against a run defense that looked as strong as ours. So we win, and probably by double digits.

posted by Gavin @ 10:05 AM  0 comments

Friday, September 15, 2006

The Scientific Method: Week Two

Nothing...... NOTHING makes me more ready to write this post every week then after reading the weekly mailed in attempt by my former all-time favorite sportswriter Bill Simmons.

Seriously. Every week..... "Pats rule, Pats rule (even when I pick against them), lame reference to some porno movie, lame reference to some lame reality show, lame reference to some "face" that you believe you created, Pats rule, etc."

Sigh. I remember when you were cool, man. Remember? When you were cool? Now..... I just don't know anymore. The world isn't what it used to be. You're officially (I hate to do this) off my Christmas card list.

Fortunately, I learned through the miracle of Gavin actually posting that I kicked Simmon's (apostrophe for Gavin's sake) a** last week, so here's hoping that continues!

Sunday:
Buffalo at Miami
Do I go with the Buffalo Bills that showed up in the 1st half against New England? The ones that, um, couldn't defend the run and couldn't go for the jugular against a team just begging to be beaten? Or do I go with Miami, a team that REALLY couldn't stop the run and showed a shocking tendency to absolutely suck with the game on the line? Decisions, decisions..... wait. Who's coaching the Bills? Dick Jauron?
Scientific Pick: Miami

Carolina at Minnesota
That noise you hear is the sound of thousands of people all jumping off the Carolina bandwagon, which ticks me off. If you really thought they were the best team in the NFL going into the season, why would you stop thinking that after only one game played, a game they played without their key offensive weapon? Here's the problem for me with this game. Minny looked terrific on Monday. Hutch was amazing, Brad Johnson was his old predictable self, and the defense shut down that vaunted (snicker) Washington offense. But you have to think that the Carolina defense, after getting embarrassed by Michael Vick, will be ready to rumble come Sunday. This game is a toss-up to me, which I hate, because I usually pick these wrong.
Scientific Pick: Minnesota

Cleveland at Cincinnati
Finally, an easy game (you would think) to pick. You have a craptastic team who just got manhandled, at home, by the New Orleans Saints. You also have a good team that looked efficient and strong in beating the Chiefs on the road. Seriously, Carson Palmer didn't even need to break a sweat in that game, and, yes, it was over way before Trent Green got poleaxed. There will be a ton of Rudi in this game, and the Bengals will win big, buoyed by their fervent home fans and their home opener.
Scientific Pick: Cincy

Detroit at Chicago
Last week I trusted that Brett Favre would have one last swing at glory and upend the Chicago Bears. Instead, he got shut out by the Bears. The defense looked fantastic, and even Rex Grossman showed signs of life. As for Detroit.... that offense looked like it has a long way to go before it becomes watchable, and the Hawks made the defense look like a beast. Thus, you gotta go with...
Scientific Pick: Detroit (suckers. Shaun Rodgers rules!)

Houston at Indianapolis
When you have a furniture store that belives in you so little, they are willing to give away $3000 in furniture to a boatload of fans just IF YOU WIN, you know that it isn't going to be your year. When you have to trade for Samkon Gado because of your running back situation, you know, ONCE AGAIN, how stupid you were for drafting Mario Williams ahead of Reggie Bush. Williams, by the way, did absolutely jack squat in Week One. Sure, Indy can't run the football. Shucks. I guess that just means that Peyton Manning might have to throw the ball a lot. Gee, that never works.
Scientific Pick: Indy

New Orleans at Green Bay
The Reggie Bush Experience began with a bang last Sunday. No, he didn't have amazing numbers, but he had every eye in the stadium trained on him every play he was on the field. By the way, that's not too shabby in New Orleans to have Deuce and Reggie sharing the load there, huh? By the way, Green Bay absolutely sucks. I am not, not, going to pick them in the near future. If you read me picking them, by all means make fun of me. I'll deserve it.
Scientific Pick: New Orleans

NY Giants at Philadelphia
Bill Simmons can't stop patting himself on the back for predicting that Philly would have a good team. Wow, stud, you really think you were the only one who thought that might be possible? Did you ALSO stop to think about the fact that they played HOUSTON last week and that their schedule the rest of the way is ridiculous? As for the Giants, you had to love the way that Tiki Barber sliced through the Indy defense on Sunday night. That secondary, though..... woof. Is Stallworth the answer for Philly's receiver woes? No.
Scientific Pick: NY Giants

Oakland at Baltimore
Man, Baltimore fans are going to be insufferable after this one. Yes, you'll win. Yes, you'll probably win large. But that won't mean a single thing, people. Not against Oakland. At home. It almost makes me want Oakland to win just to shut up Baltimore fans. I just can't, in any way, actually predict that to happen. I just can't.
Scientific Pick: Baltimore

Tampa Bay at Atlanta
Michael Vick! Yeah! Michael Vick! MmmmmMmmmm munch MmmmmMmmmm, ooooooh, Michael! This just in, everybody. He went 10-22. Warrick Dunn SOMEHOW went for 150 yards rushing the football, which is just nuts. Does anyone think that Tampa Bay's defense is going to be a little jazzed heading into this game? And that Cadillac Williams might gain more than 20 yards in this game?
Scientific Pick: Tampa Bay

Arizona at Seattle
Normal Patriots fan, like Bill Simmons, pre-Deion Branch trade - "He's an awesome wide receiver who will help us win a Super Bowl. He's a proven winner, Super Bowl MVP, and Tom Brady's favorite target. Great wide receiver."
Normal Patriots fan, like Bill Simmons, post-Deion Branch trade - "He's an ok wide receiver who is vastly overrated and who the Seahawks, in a panic, overpayed for with a 1st round pick. We are still a good enough team to win the Super Bowl with Reche Caldwell and Doug Gabriel as our best two wide receivers."
Have I mentioned how much Pats fans irritate me, sometimes (except for you, Tash :) )?
Scientific Pick: Seattle

St. Louis at San Francisco
Another annoying Simmons self-kiss about how the St. Louis bandwagon is now filling up. No, it's not, and if it is, that's incredibly stupid. They won by having to kick six field goals and goading Jake Plummer into having a Jake Plummer type of day, especially in Week One. Again, people are reading way too much into that. People are also now gooing over Frank Gore after he sliced through the Arizona defense. People, THAT WAS THE ARIZONA DEFENSE!! HELLO!! ARIZONA!! Two teams slightly overrated after only one week. Sheesh.
Scientific Pick: St. Louis

Kansas City at Denver
When you have a backup QB as bad as Damon Huard starting the game for you, there is really nothing left to analyze. So I won't write anything else. Except for this: Jake Plummer should be the starting quarterback for the Denver Broncos this season. I'm serious. If Shanahan panics, their Super hopes are over.
Scientific Pick: Denver

New England at NY Jets
Chad Pennington as offensive player of the week? Oooooo-kay, that was unexpected. New England not being able to throw the football? Ooooooo-kay, that was expected. Laurence Maroney getting uber-love simply because he's on New England? Oooooo-kay, that was also expected (the Bills D sucked against the run last year, everyone). You know what? This is an incredibly stupid pick, but I don't care.
Scientific Pick: NY Jets

Tennessee at San Diego
Number of times Phillip Rivers will actually have to throw the football during this game? 11.
Scientific Pick: San Diego

Washington at Dallas
It's difficult to express how disappointing Washington's defense looked on Monday night. This was supposed to be a top-3 defense, but they made Brad Johnson look extraordinary, and Chester Taylor ran right through them. If that's a sign of things to come, ouch. Dallas is further realizing that Drew Bledsoe isn't super-awesome (you would think that people would remember that before picking them to reach the Super Bowl every year) and Tony Romo might be getting the job. Both teams are hurting after Week One and really need to win. Honestly, I'm interested in this game and will definitely tune in (another example where the NBC game is WAY better than the ESPN game). I also will have to flip a coin on who will win this game. Answer: heads.
Scientific Pick: Dallas

Monday:
Pittsburgh at Jacksonville
Refs heart Pittsburgh. That's for sure. More surprisingly, Fred Taylor looked mobile against the Dallas defense, and the wide receivers showed up in tandem (several catches for Jones, Wilford, and Williams). However, the Pittsburgh defense looked spectacular. Honestly, both defenses looked good, while both offenses looked a tad lucky in their performances. Ok, here we go....
Scientific Pick: Jacksonville

posted by colin_hesse @ 10:47 AM  8 comments

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

The Land of (Jumping to) Conclusions: Week One Special Edition

Gavin mentioned this a little in his stupid post yesterday, but nothing seems to bring out the conclusions like Week One of the NFL. Every loss and win are overanalyzed; every poor performance is believed to be indicative of the entire season. Playoff teams are reseeded, and some are believed to be out of the playoff story entirely.

Before I get into some of the specific conclusions I've been reading and hearing, this is my overall belief about Week One:

It MIGHT be indicative of the rest of the season, but it is FAR from a sure thing.

For example:

-- Welcome back, Michael Vick fans! You were sure quiet last year, but your boy went 10-22 for about 150 yds, which was good enough to beat the Carolina Panthers on the road. Now we are hearing that he has learned the West Coast offense, that he is back as an uber-offensive threat, and that the Falcons are a top-tier NFC team once again.

Hold on now. Hold on. 10-22 does not cut it, and most teams aren't going to allow Warrick Dunn to rush for 150 yards. Honestly, I have no idea why Carolina appeared to play the pass instead of clogging the running lanes, because Atlanta showed the exact same offense that allowed them to be a .500 team last season. Run, run, run, Vick throws a horrible pass, run, completion, run, run, punt. This is not a championship-caliber team as of yet.

-- As for Carolina, I did pick them to go 7-9, but people need to quit jumping off their bandwagon after one game. They did lose Game 1, at home, against New Orleans last year. That's a worse team than Atlanta of this year. Steve Smith wasn't even on the field, and we all know how that offense struggles without their gamebreaker. Sure, they might have been a tad overrated (no argument here). But, no, they are still a team in the running for a championship.

-- Quit lavishing heaps of praise on Steve McNair and the Baltimore offense. That game was won at Tampa by the Baltimore defense scoring one touchdown and taking another turnover inside the 10 yard line. Baltimore fans are just so relieved that they have any offense whatsoever that they are gleefully talking about how much they should now be considered in the playoff hunt, while I still believe they are the third-best team in their own division, behind Pittsburgh and Cincy.

-- The Seahawks offensive line should be fine. Over the course of the past five years, the offense has gotten off to slow starts several times. It happens, and this year was no different. What people should be concentrating on is that we actually got an opening-season win, which is quite definitely not the norm if you are a Hawks fan.

-- The Colts rushing game desperately needs to improve for them to become the Super Bowl champion of my prediction. Peyton Manning can not be counted on to lead a team to victory by himself in the postseason, and they dominated that game against the Giants before hanging on by the skin of their teeth due also to a less than powerful defensive effort.

-- The St. Louis defense had ONE great effort against a team that laid an egg on the road to begin last season, against a quarterback that has a tendency to get flustered and turn into a turnover machine. They are not YET a defense that can be considered MUCH improved. Again, this is just a small sample problem. We might change our tune after about Week 4 or 5 depending on the evidence.

-- If Brad Johnson plays as well all season as he did against Washington, that could easily be a playoff team in Minnesota. He shredded that secondary, which is hard to do (except when Mike Rumph is on the field).

Here's the bottom line. Take until Week 4 or Week 5 to make huge changes to your view of the NFL landscape. One week, especially Week One, is full of surprises and upsets. That's the beauty of the NFL. Just cool the jets on the huge gushes of love on "surprise" teams for now.

posted by colin_hesse @ 3:15 PM  0 comments

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Ultimate Explosion!! - Week One Thoughts

Hi all-

Comin' straight up out the hizzy in Mountain View, CA, preparing to give the seminar presentation of a lifetime... all the way to the bank!

I did thoroughly enjoy Week One in the NFL, except the Seahawk portion of it, which was vaguely reminiscent of having to sit through three hours of lectures on Electromagnetic Theory. Seriously, could the offensive line look much worse? Now we have all these gloaters commenting on sites like Football Outsiders about how we lack O-line depth... and I have no response. Womack, you better prove me write about the level of awesomeness you possess. I will find your address and leave you a disapproving letter under the windshield wiper of your car.

The Scientific Method (which next week will attempt to actually write using words/sarcasm/depth, instead of excuses about computer failings and personal ineptitude) ended this past week with an awe-inspiring 11-5 record, so Colin's off to a "must destroy Petey Prisco and Bill Simmons" sort of start. I'll actually be tracking this through the year, especially because we have officially declared Bill Simmons a "hater". And you do NOT want to get on our bad side. We hurt with our words.

Scientific Method: 11-5
Petey Prisco: 8-8
Bill Simmons: 6-10

Slightly different format this year, as I fully admit that I do not watch every single game that happens on a Sunday (although I wouldn't mind, I am that pathetic). Still awesome, though. Never forget that.

What In The World Were They Smoking?

In this section I, your faithful writer, with the advantage of hindsight, make fun of the poor prognosticators for the worst, most heroin-induced picks ever.

For example, to those who actually picked Green Bay to beat Chicago. I don't care if it was at home. We spent this whole offseason criticizing the Packers for creating an absolutely awful football team. Colin wasn't the only one who went down this awkward and potentially libelous path... both Simmons and Prisco also picked the Bears to lose. Isn't that just plain nutty? Frankly, if I was putting together a Scientific Method, I would find ANY upset that both Prisco and Simmons picked and stay the hizz-ell away from it. Are the Packers really that bad? Well, it doesn't get much better than the Bears defense, and I'm not sure exactly how installing the Mike McCarthy offense was supposed to revitalize the attack. Let's see... new head coach... who was the offensive coordinator for THE 49ERS... not exactly a recipe for success, especially at the beginning of the year. On the flip side you have the Bears who are probably just itching to start putting the doubters to rest. I wouldn't be surprised if they have a pretty big chip on their shoulders.

Next up on the "What The..." list would be Petey and Bill's pick of Detroit over Seattle. Yes, it was close... but really?

Simmons actually picked the Bills to beat the Patriots. I don't see how you make this pick at all, as long as JP Losman is the starter for Buffalo. Again, I know it was close, but that's just moral victory talk for losers. Now, the Patriots definitely have questions... more on that later.

Finally, a special award has to go to Petey Prisco for his pick of Houston over Philadelphia. I know, even I have written that the Texans would be better... but Philly is just an improved football squad.

Best Picks of the Week

I'm not sure how this happened, but all three prognosticators called the St Louis upset over Denver. Really. That game happens 10 times and Denver wins 8 of them. I'm personally wierded out not just by the victory, but how it happened. The Rams didn't have a great offensive attack going, you never do if you settle for six Jeff Wilkins field goals (although my fantasy team appreciated it). Instead, their defense actually showed up and stuffed the Denver rushing attack. I'd panic more if I was a Broncos fan except that this was exactly what happened last year at Miami. New head coach at home wanting to put on a show (maybe I'm too hard on those who picked Detroit to win... except they are HATERS). The Broncos and Jake Plummer responded well last time, let's see how this year goes. There is far too much talent on both sides of the ball on that team for them to have a collapse. The "Put in Jay Cutler" talk needs to end. It always happens when you draft the hyped kid with the golden arm. You put him in before he's ready and he gets abused. Let's see if Mike Shanahan is smarter than that.

Also mad kudos go to Colin and Bill Simmons for picking Atlanta to beat Carolina, in what was, to me, the biggest upset of the week. Carolina, at home, Steve Smith or no, does not lose this game, not and think they are a legitimate Super Bowl team. Again, more on that as we continue.

While this may not have seemed like a big upset to many, I do like that Colin and Prisco picked Jacksonville to beat Dallas, as yet another preseason Super Bowl fave went down the tubes.

Biggest Questions out of the Week

This has to start with Carolina. The method of defeat was just bizarre, as that hyped defense got gashed by the running game. However, we probably should remember that there was a reason the Panthers were the sixth seed last year in the NFC... because they just lost games like this. For all the love John Fox gets (and he apparently is almost into the Belichick zone), the Panthers choke away an absurd number of games. Last year they absorbed losses to New Orleans and Miami early in the season. As for all the hype surrounding Deshaun Foster and the running game, 54 yards a star does not make.

Next up comes the first true QB controversy surrounding Dallas. Tony Romo has looked impressive, like when he gashed us in the preseason. Drew Bledsoe is most definitely still Drew Bledsoe, and I have to say that the Dallas defense looks extremely fast and powerful. If the offense can become a legitimate force I do see Dallas being able to make it out of the NFC East, even if it's just as the wild card. That was a very winnable game against Jacksonville, who (as we guessed) still have an awful long way to go offensively. They needed a lot of Dallas mistakes to pull that one out.

Washington as well has some offensive questions. Now, I do hate jumping to conclusions after Week One, but the Redskins had sputtered offensively going through the end of last season. It's not a good comparison with a week like Seattle had. They weren't able to effectively establish the run against a mediocre defense in Minnesota. That has to be worrisome.

The Oakland Raiders may only win two games, one lower than I picked last week. What an abysmal offense, although to their credit, Michael Huff and Thomas Howard are two nice young defensive studs. Way too early to tell what the story on Philip Rivers is... he wasn't asked to do anything for San Diego.

What in the world was up with Tampa Bay? We may not like Chris Simms here, as we've made clear multiple times, such as when we called his critical interception against Seattle two years ago (before the establishment of this site, but it still counts), but we really thought a good steady dose of Cadillac Williams should have been enough to at least put points on the board.

Also questionable...

Indy's running game: apparently AWOL. Joseph Addai may be the starter sooner rather than later.
NY Giants and Eli Manning: still missed a lot of open receivers, stats were padded by two incredible catches by Plaxico Burress.
Arizona Cardinals defense: no way you let the Niners put up 27 on you at your home and stadium opener. No way you give them a chance to tie.
New England offense: Do you think you might miss that Deion Branch guy a little? No matter, we'll find a use for him.

Most Impressive Performances of the Week

This has to start with Baltimore's offense, who did something I sure didn't expect in putting up 27 against a terrific Tampa Bay unit. I'm not sure if aging stars like Steve McNair, Jonathan Ogden, Jamal Lewis, and Derrick Mason can keep it up for a full season, but football appears to be a little more fun for Ravens fans.

The St Louis defense gets huge props for their work stopping a good Denver rushing attack. Not sure where that came from. Wil Witherspoon might have been a bigger offseason acquisition than I gave them credit for.

I'd give the Chargers defense more credit for all their sacks if I didn't basically see the Raiders quit midway through the 3rd quarter. Welcome back, Art Shell!

The Detroit Lions have an absolute monster in Shaun Rogers. Yeesh.

Speaking of comebacks, was that Donovan McNabb finding a legitimate WR in Donte Stallworth? Now, that first long touchdown was an AWFUL blown coverage. A blind monkey could have completed that touchdown, but it sure must have been nice to see for the Eagles.

Yes, Michael Vick had a good fantasy day and I do love Warrick Dunn, but let's cut down early the Mike Vick is back hype. When you only have to complete 10 passes to win, you haven't exactly been asked to take over a game. Still, he managed the game effectively against that vaunted Carolina corps.

Byron Leftwich made some incredible throws against Dallas. Some absolute lasers into traffic right into receivers' chests. They were so hard the targets had to catch it or lose a kidney. I was actually impressed by a quarterback I don't like that much.

Welcome back Chad Pennington. Now do it against a legitimate defense.

Remember all, let's not make too many assumptions until at least Week Four. Then more will become clear. Still, what a great week! 16 more to go!

posted by Gavin @ 8:16 PM  3 comments

 


Go Here Sometimes...

We Wrote These...

Blast to the Past