Nothing cute this week. This is a largely irrelevant game, against a poor opponent, that's too damn early to drink during. This is the your annual, don't lose and for God's sake don't get hurt stretch of games that rounds out the season for the NFL's contenders, and I, for one, wouldn't be the least bit opposed to Seattle resting every important starter. That won't happen. So this contest is either gravy or a terrifying exhibition of futility with much to lose and little to gain, depending on your perspective.
Strength Versus Strength
Is Steve Smith the 77th most valuable wide receiver in football? Of course not. He can't help that the offense has dissolved around him, or that he's roughly the Panthers only legitimate weapon. So when I call the Hawks 6th ranked ability to shutdown top receivers versus the Panthers' Smith a strength versus strength matchup, you can see my reasoning, but also understand that it's a complicated matchup. For one, Smith is likely to take most of his snaps opposite Kelly Jennings, not top corner Marcus Trufant. Jennings is very quick, a plus versus a speedster like Smith, but Jennings is a liability tackling. As is his double team partner, Brian Russell. I'm remiss to use the boogeyman card on any Panther, but it wouldn't surprise me if Smith doesn't shake loose for a few too many yards on Sunday, albeit on limited receptions.
Power Success rears its ugly little head again, as the Hawks 27th ranking makes even mediocre run stopping defense like the Panthers suddenly look menacing. I'm not going to revisit this. Look a fossa.
Deshaun Foster?!? Yes he sucks, but the fast little boom/bust back that he is, he can get to edge like few rushers. As such, the Panthers are very good at running around the ends (3/3). The Hawks one weakness on run D is Kelly Jennings, Brian Russell and to a lesser extent Julian Peterson. Their power combined helps Seattle have the 3rd worst run D against rushes around left end. So, between Smith, Foster and Deangelo Williams, Russell and Jennings might make this game unduly interesting on Sunday. Don't be surprised if the announcers credit Seattle's poor play on the road or some such bollocks, but the right answer, the one not fed to them through their headset, is this duo of poor tacklers. Hooray///
Panthers Pass Offense (31)/Seattle Pass Defense (4)
This is the important one. The Panthers post-Delhomme quarterbacks are awful, old or Matt Moore. When not wrestling white tigers, Moore is a completely unproven quarterback. He had an uninspiring two year stint with the Beavers, but, then again, some perfectly crappy quarterback has a big game every season, so it's not impossible that fates lotto has dialed up Moore's tiny universe and picked him to have his improbable day in the shade. The operative adjective there is "not impossible".
The Seahawks special teams once soared, but has since sagged under the weight of one Boone Stutz. The NFL minimum salary for second year players like Stutz is $375,000 dollars. Therefore, in 4 games the recently 25 Stutz made about 94 thousand pretax dollars.
That's some scratch, or scrill, depending on how big of a douchebag you are. Watching Stutz play the past few weeks, I'm confident he'd call it scrilla.