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, October 13, 2006

Week Five: Hawks at Insanely Lucky CrapHeap (St Louis)

Ok. Here's the deal. This game is being overhyped. I know it. You, our faithful five readers, know it. Even Colin, who apparently has taken a much-needed hiatus from blogging (probably to return and actually make sense when he writes) knows it.

THE RAMS ARE 4-1!! The world is going agog over these Rams and their brilliant record, Bill Simmons is lactating in excitement over picking that St Louis had a chance to do well with an early schedule that included San Francisco, Green Bay, Detroit and Arizona. You think? An inebriated monkey could pick that they should be over .500 (I would have said 3-2, with losses against Denver and Arizona). Scott Linehan is already being fitted for his vestments, but seriously, the man is touched by the good Lord, because there is some serious prayer holding this crappy team together. I'm not even going to address this game in my normal fashion. You know why? Because I'm not that concerned.

Why should I be pessimistic? Well, I suppose that starts with the health of our offensive line, that Shaun Alexander and Bobby Engram could be out. Also Colin LOVES to talk about his "house of horrors" theory, he'll drone about that stupid thing forever if given the chance. (Yes, I'm trying to take a few cheap shots at Colin here... he keeps on having insanely good weeks with his picks and I have to get them in somewhere) Apparently the Dome in St Louis contains some magic pixie dust within that attaches itself to the brain of Matt Hasselbeck when ingested and forces him to throw the ball directly to Wil Witherspoon instead of Jerramy Stevens. I don't know, it's stupid, ask him for more explanation.

There are probably a few more reasons to be concerned about this one, and I'll get into the stats here in a sec, but I want to focus on why I am fully convinced that I'm going to pull up my recliner on Sunday and watch a nice Hawks win.

For starters, the Rams record is a total mirage. I have NEVER seen a luckier team in my short, painful existence on planet Earth. They do everything they can to lose games against bad teams, only for those teams to blow it at the end. Let's take a quick peek at three "wins" the Rams totally backed into...

1. at Arizona (win 16-14)
I think we can all agree that the Cardinals are not exactly defensive stalwarts. Well, the Rams averaged a resounding 2.3 yards per rush and were actually OUTGAINED on the ground by the Cardinals (which should never happen... ever). The Rams were actually up 16-7 at the beginning of the 4th quarter, at which point they promptly gave up a 16 play 87 yard drive for a touchdown, which included some atrocious red zone defense (allowing Edgerrin James to basically finish the final 25 yards). Then, the Rams, instead of being able to ice it, FUMBLE (read the articles and it sounds like the Rams never turn the ball over... ever) on their own 30. The Cardinals move the ball into field goal range, Kurt Warner fumbles himself, game over. This should not have been considered a win.

2. Detroit (win 41-34)
If there's one thing we can all agree on, it's that Detroit's offense has not looked tremendously powerful these first few weeks. Just look at the scoreboard and tell me how impressive that Rams team is. St Louis got lucky again, converting only 4 of their 13 third down opportunities, and basically capitalizing on Detroit being morons and turning the ball over three times, which led to at least 10 Rams points.

3. at Green Bay (win 23-20)
This game almost made me physically ill. No one who watched this game should consider the Rams a good football team, of course the national media didn't which is why they're getting so much love. Green Bay (which S-U-C-K-S) was a significantly better team. Vernand Morency gift wrapped the first touchdown courtesy of being an awful running back, and then, once benched, was replaced by Noah Herron (this week's winner of the "who the hell is that?" fantasy performance) who ran 20 times for 106 yards. That's right... Noah "who the hell am I" Herron ran for over FIVE YARDS A FRIGGIN' CARRY. Then, just like against the Cardinals, the Packers have the ball inside field goal range, fumble it away, and the Rams get to feel good about losing to a better team.

I don't understand this. The Rams should AT LEAST be 2-3, and Bill Simmons should be regretting ever calling them a sleeper.

With all that said, here are a few more reasons we should feel good about ourselves.

1. Jerramy Stevens is back. If we don't have Shaun in the red zone, we'll at least have our best passing option, who hopefully can hold on to the damn ball. Remember, Stevens had a huge game last year against the Rams, who apparently thought he was a streaker or a harmless bunny on a few touchdown routes.

2. We are pissed. Think back to how the NY Giants came out and physically dominated the Redskins last Sunday. The Rams are due to suck, and we are due to come out and own a good team.

3. Don't believe the hype about the Rams rushing attack. Against Green Bay was the second time this season they've been unable to punch it in from first and goal at the one. They are 30th in the league in FO's Stuffed rank (of course we're at 29... but #3 in Power Success, another indicator that we're not as far away as Art Thiel thinks from being a better offensive team), and remember, they have only played one legitimate defense all year (Denver) and struggled there.

4. Yes, I'm concerned about Torry Holt. We have had problems with the deep ball so far this year. It's always a concern when you play St Louis, but they've taken many of these plays out of their normal offense. The Rams rarely looked down the field against the Packers, content with short "safe" passes, that if Green Bay linebackers could actually hold on to interceptions, would have resulted in at least three. Here's the good news. Against #1 WRs (and we've played some good ones), the Hawks have an insane -67.0% DVOA, #2 in the league. In other ways, we can gameplan effectively to remove Holt as a weapon. We've done it multiple times at this point. We're #10 in the league against the #2 (and 30th against the #3... go Kelly Herndon, who normally covers the slot).

5. The Rams defense is still bad. The defensive line isn't stopping anyone, as evidenced by ranking 32nd (out of 32 teams) in Stuffed, only halting teams in general rushing scenarios 12.7% of the time. This is absurdly terrible. If we decide to run on first down all game, we have an 87% chance of it being a positive gain. The Hawks, by the way, Stuff the opposing team 30.6% of the time (although we haven't been able to stop an opposing team yet in a Power Success scenario).

Yes, it is a tough divisional opponent. Yes, it is probably our toughest divisional game of the year. Yes, we may lose. However, we are not even close to the Rams from a talent level. They are playing way above their heads and it will catch up to them. Hopefully that will be on Sunday. I think we'll win by double digits.

posted by Gavin @ 2:49 PM  0 comments

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