‘Ere, I suppose you saw that the team that systematically picked apart the Seahawks in Week 5, having been dominated for practically the entire first quarter before outscoring Seattle 34-16 after being 12-0 down on their own patch, couldn't even reach double figures in San Diego a week later. The one blip on the Seahawks' W-L record this season came against that team.
That doesn't make me feel too good, but it was blatantly a case of ‘after the Lord Mayor's show' for the Indianapolis Colts. However, to dwell on the most recent of Monday Night Football's isn't for here. Stampede Blue or Bolts From The Blue are sure to have an opinion on such things. Hang on, somebody missed a trick surely...nah, they can't have; there must be a coltsbolts.com somewhere.
Apologies, but I'm still a little fascinated by the AFC West. You know, to absent friends an' all that.
I've rarely seen a game as crazy (I'm trying not to be too hyperbolic, but am struggling) as last Sunday's against Tennessee. Remember the Titans? This will be a difficult one to forget.
Of all the craziness (ahem) that occurred during the game, one moment stood out and as the (short) week wears on, still stands out. It isn't the craziness (I hate myself for this) of Seattle's field goal attempt as time expired in the first half. No, something significant happened during the fourth quarter, something that, if offered to a film studio as part of a screenplay, would likely be laughed at for being too...crazy?
How does anybody explain Zach Brown scooping up the loose ball on Marshawn Lynch's fumble on 1st and goal at the two yard line straight into the hands of Russell Wilson? Amidst the throes of a game of football, it looked so gentle, like a father offering a football to his five year old son, hoping it's the beginning of an odyssey for his offspring he wants to see ‘make it' in life.
Russ is just there. He's always there. I'm beginning to believe he can't possibly, really exist, so bleedin' celestial is he. The Seahawks can't possibly have lucked out like this. Blimey, we have.
Here's how I see what happened on the fumble. Hmmm, OK, not actually what happened, but please bear with me. It's 10-10, very early stages of the fourth quarter and as Lynch fumbles the ball, all Brown can see is Russ and 90 yards of grass behind him. This was his moment, time to reduce the most ferocious crowd in all of football (Arrowhead...indeed) to a deafening silence. Not so fast, Zach, not so fast. Russ would've caught you. He may even have stopped you dead in your tracks before you'd reached your own eleven yard line. The fact he didn't have to may have saved Wilson's season.
We're Seahawks fans, we know the way the universe works. Hard knocks (no pun) are frequent, it's the inherent charm of following this franchise.
Lynch's fumble could've been catastrophic. Yes, yes, it wasn't, but say Brown doesn't gift it to Wilson and goes past him with the initial momentum. Wilson is sure to catch up with Brown probably somewhere around the 35 to 40 yard line. Wilson grabs Brown, is dragged along a little, Brown topples to his left and lands on Wilson. Wilson's left shoulder jolts into the turf, ending his season. This has happened hundreds of times on football fields since its inception and is a scenario that could easily have played out on Sunday.
You're all familiar with the phrase ‘the ball not bouncing our way'. Not only did the ball bounce ‘our way' on Sunday, it got lifted, beautifully lifted, by an opponent into the hands of the last line of defense, a last line of defense constituting the greatest quarterback in franchise history. This is Wilson's team and now he's even willing opposing linebackers to just give him the ball back. And they do.
Seattle isn't playing anywhere near the level of offense they were towards the end of last season, but they're 5-1. Without Percy Harvin. In sport, winning when playing badly is the difficult part. The Seahawks are putting in the hard yakka and missing only a few beats along the way. The defeat in Indy sticks in the craw, but I've written before how they're a formidable foe when playing as the underdog at home. I can live with that one reversal. Well, I have to.
Seattle was an eight point favourite for this Thursday before the Tennessee game and I wrote last week that it looked generous if you're thinking of backing the Cardinals, adding that I'd be happier if the line was 6.5 and that it might be after events on Sunday. Lo and behold, it is, with a string of oddsmakers. From what I'm looking at here, only youwin.com offers Arizona +7.
This is the heaviest the Seahawks have been favoured by on the road in the Russell Wilson era. Second to that was the 5.5 points Seattle was favoured by when facing the Bills in Toronto last season. Overall (Wilson era), the Seahawks are 4-4 ATS as a road favourite and 2-0 ATS when favoured by a field goal or more (Bills in Toronto and this year's opener in Carolina).
This promises to be a low scoring affair and, while the Cardinals will undoubtedly look to put the skids on Lynch, the defense being kept honest offers Wilson the opportunity to utilise the receivers at his disposal against an Arizona pass defense ranking 19th in the league (260.0 YPG), despite the presence of Patrick Peterson. Seattle does only possess the NFL's 24th ranked passing offense, but we all know that with Wilson at quarterback, that's one of the most skewed statistics in football and I need not spoon feed any one of you.
Speaking of quarterbacks, this is the most settled the Cardinals have been at the position since Kurt Warner retired, but, as solid as Carson Palmer is when compared with Kevin Kolb and/or John Skelton, he's thrown seven touchdowns to eleven interceptions this season with nine of those in his last four games.
Taking the following stat straight from ESPN's Power Rankings this week, Palmer was 1 of 8 with two interceptions on throws of at least 15 yards downfield last Sunday in San Francisco. His seven picks on deep throws leads all quarterbacks and he's second only to Eli Manning on INTs over the season. This is hardly ideal preparation for facing Seattle's vaunted secondary and we're all surely daring Palmer to ‘go long' on Thursday night. However, it pays to remember that this is no ordinary week.
I wrote last time that, due to the short week, the Seahawks wouldn't cover the spread against both Tennessee and Arizona and that they may not cover in either contest. The former proved correct and I believe the latter will also prove to be the case, which is why I advocate backing the Cardinals +7.
Lynch was simply outstanding in all facets against the Titans (the fumble that Wilson willed back aside), but Arizona's stingy against the run, giving up just 90.7 rushing YPG. As perhaps a slightly better gauge, the Cards have given up 95 and 49 yards rushing at home to the Panthers and Lions respectively this year.
In addition to the short week is that this is hardly a happy hunting ground for Seattle. Wilson's regular season debut was here and he was harried practically all day, but that baptism of fire was not a bad thing and you'd like to think that his experiences that afternoon are helping to shape his game now. It was noted at the time that his learning curve would be a steep one after the chasing he got and he's going through exactly the same harassment this season.
Not only do we have a lot to thank Zach Brown for, but perhaps Week 1 of the 2012 season was a case of addition by subtraction.
(Un)happy hunting grounds is where I was at and if my money wasn't already going on the Cardinals, they had me at going 6-1 against the Seahawks both SU and ATS in their last seven meetings in Arizona. Much like going up against the Colts in Indy, Seattle faces a fair weight of history here and it is trends such as these that are difficult for me to ignore, especially on a Thursday.
I'm going to be sitting up throughout the night in London watching this one with not a single thought of how wrecked I'll be at work on Friday, praying the Seahawks emerge with a 6-1 record. It's always worth it, even in defeat, but, while Wilson may be able to will a single play to go ‘our way', pulling this one out of the bag and overcoming a seven point handicap...well, Luke Skywalker he may be. Yoda, he ain't. Yet. The X-Wing awaits in the swamps of Dagobah.
Please gamble responsibly.