The last preseason game is a mere two days away, afterward is a grueling nine day wait until the regular season starts. While the last preseason game is usually the last audition for the fringe players to make the last cuts, the regular season is slowly coming into focus. We finally have our game one starting QB, our defense looks like it is clicking and we can be assured the run game will still carry the offense. Even the most casual Seahawks fan knows our identity but maybe now is a good time to look at the identities of the teams we face in the first quarter of the season.
I you are anything like me, just before kick off you will be riding a massive high of hope and excitement and just like many players you will soon settle down and get in your "fan-mode." Some of us will have a bowl of chips and drinks on the table in front of a big screen TV. Others will be sitting in a sports bar scarfing down buffalo wings with ranch or blue cheese dressing. Some will sit in front of their computers ready to share in the open thread. A few unfortunate souls will have work or weddings or other things that will keep them away, but a select few might end up in Arizona.
The first thing the Seahawks will be greeted by will not be screaming adoring fans or a flock of reporters, not the first thing they will be greeted by is intense heat. This week Phoenix will reach 110 degrees. Coming off the cool breezes off lake Washington sitting at as low as 66 degrees, the change in temperature can be a major factor in this game.
Besides the temperature, that should clearly favor the cardinals, Arizona is in trouble. Arizona is embroiled in a QB controversy, and while I don't buy into the fact that having competition at the QB spot is bad, the Cardinal's QB battle is bad. Seattle's QB competition was good for several reasons. We had two new guys who were clearly better than our previous starter, to name one reason. Arizona's QB battle is clearly about who sucks less. Having two Qbs vie for starting position who are clearly worse than the former third string QB for the Seahawks (TJ) makes me smile.
We can not discount the Cardinals all together though. We can not forget they finished with a better record than the Seahawks last year, but new season, new rules. The Cardinals have the best receiver on the planet in Larry Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald may well be the best receiver ever by the time he retires but for now he is merely a player who can single-handedly win a game. Even against what most would consider the best secondary in pro football, Fitz dominates.
The Cardinal's have a run game that at times can be very good and at times be very bad. Last year we didn't have to face Beenie Wells due to injury. This year Beanie wells is being pushed by Ryan Williams and both running backs can be threats, even stacked against the Seahawks dominant run defense.
Last but not least Arizona has an average defense. Calais Campbell and Darnell Dockett are names that pop out at you, but the over all defense is solid. Their defense doesn't particularly excel at anything and they don't particularly have any major weaknesses either. Over all the cardinal's should be considered drastically behind us in both offense and defense but not enough to expect a blow out, though one might occur.
Largest unknown factor: Replacement referees. We saw several issues not only with the referees in the preseason, but also with the guys who hold the down markers, clock managers and even TV time out guys. The start of the season is going to be sloppy, even if the regular referees come back in time they will not be in game shape.
Seahawks should be favorites to win by at least a TD
Every year Dallas is a media circus. Mark Cuban and Jerry Jones are both showmen who know how to bring in revenue to their respective clubs, but I gotta ask, is there something in the water that just makes people crazy? The focus of the circus this year is Dez Bryant, who is clearly being punished for stepping outside the bounds of what even Jerry Jones deems as unacceptable behavior. Doug Farrar calls it "Double Secret probation" Unfortunately I don't really think it is a secret at all. Be it sagging in a mall or being fielded questions about his mother's um...alleged former occupation, Dez brings drama.
Dallas features one of the most dominant pass rushers in the game in Demarcus Ware. As a whole the Dallas defense has an epic amount of talent and only added to it this off season with Claiborne. The defense features a bottom ten passing defense (7.6 yards per pass allowed) coupled with a top ten rushing defense (4.1 yards per rush allowed).
Last year we were able to dictate our run game but so was Dallas, the difference boiled down to QB play. Romo is a very capable QB, and could be considered a top ten QB, but the difference was TJ throwing three picks. Matching up the Cowboys have advantage at QB, The hawks with more depth have the advantage at running back. Seattle will also have the home field advantage, the home opener at "the Clink" should be loud.
Largest Unkown Factor: Romo. Romo can come out and look like an absolute stud, putting up nasty numbers and making defenses look like Swiss Cheese. On the other hand he can also come out and look like an undrafted free agent rookie who hasn't learned to make reads. We should dominate "Bad Romo", But "Good Romo" is more than a handful, even for our stalwart defense.
Seattle should be slight favorites to win.
Anytime you have the best QB in the league on your team, you have a shot to win. One could argue that is Aaron Rodgers with a fair amount of certainty. Rodgers is the complete package with athleticism a gun for an arm accuracy and great leadership. It doesn't hurt to have what can be arguably the best wide receiver corp in football. The packers can put up numbers and in a hurry. The packers put up 9.3 yards per pass attempt best in the league, but only pick up 3.9 yards per rush.
Against the pass, the packers are a bottom ten team allowing 7.8 yards per completion, and against the run they are also bottom ten giving up 4.7 yards per rush attempt. Not only can Green Bay allow the ball to be moved against them with regularity, they also can be scored on.
Green Bay has been dealing with some serious injury bug issues. They injury/released starting Safety Peprah before the season started and also lost Linebacker Bishop for the season making their IR total before the season 8. 3 other players are on the PUP and unable to play until week 6. They have a lot of players dinged up and many of them do not look to be ready by week three.
This year could be the first year where we don't have to look at particular teams and think we don't have a chance in that game. Some games are always going to be tougher, but I think the team has gotten to the point now where we should be considered a perennial play off team, and anything less is a disappointing season.
Greatest Unknown factors: Home game and Monday night game. Looking at the first quarter this game seems like the hardest match up for the 'Hawks, but we get to play it at home, and that can have a significant impact on the game alone. It is also a Monday night game, and history backs the 'Hawks on Monday night. The Seahawks are an unbelievable 17-8 on Monday nights, including a win last year against the Rams. Historically the Packers lose more on Monday night that they win on Monday night this may provide a psychological advantage but nothing more, unless "The ghost of MNF past shows up"
Green Bay should have a slight advantage for the win.
The Rams are an interesting prospect. The have a new proven Head Coach in Jeff Fischer, They have a young Talented QB in Bradford and a proven veteran at RB. They have a few really good talents on the defensive line and LB corps. Other than that they are a sinking ship.
I see this team as at least a few years away from competing mostly because their O-line is in shambles and their secondary is in worse condition. Last year the Rams were bottom 10 in rushing attempts and rushing yards per game they added to their woes by also being a bottom three team in yards per pass attempt at 5.9.
On defense, unfortunately for Rams fans they were bottom 5 in run yards per attempt allowed. Despite a direct corridor from CB to IR the rams were able to stay out of the bottom ten in passing yards allowed per attempt, but just barely. This is the silver lining the Rams have to look at.
Greatest unknown factor: Seahawks ability to bring pressure against a terrible offensive line. The more pressure the bigger the blow out.
This one, despite being in STL, should be a blow out with the 'Hawks getting some second team work in.
Synopsis: The 'Hawks Early schedule is actually looking better by the day. I'd guess with my super over the top optimism that the hawks go 3-1, with an outside chance of 4-0 or 2-2