ARE THE SEAHAWKS BACK?
That headline screamed from the screen on NFL GameDay last Sunday before Marshall Faulk and Michael Irvin chipped in with their two pennies worth. For what it matters, Faulk doesn't think so due to the offensive line (you line ‘em up and he'll hit ‘em outta the park) while Irvin took it back to the importance of Marshawn Lynch, which I took to mean "yes." As life highlights go, it was a wild three minutes worth of stop-whatever-you're-doing-and-get-in-here-now TV. Aw, I shouldn't mock as it's a wonderful way to while/wile (you choose) away the hours before the games begin. Already, I chat nonsense. Right, on with it.
I happened to write this last week, after defeat to Carolina: ‘I've only once seen Russell Wilson as upset as he was during his post game press conference last Sunday and that was after defeat in Kansas City last season.' Now, I'm pretty darn sure that you've all seen the press conferences after the win over San Francisco, right? Did you see how Wilson was? Yeah, yeah, immaculately turned out as ever and speaking at pace as he always does. No, there was more to it. I'm not going to dare venture that a swagger could be hinted at from Wilson as that's simply not what he's about, but, boy, oh, boy, he was a man most certainly at ease with himself. And with the team, it seems. And that's pivotal; crucial days these and you'd be forgiven for thinking that the Seahawks have just gotten plain sick of handing over the keys to the castle almost every week.
Wilson then chose that moment to drop the bombshell of him and Michael Bennett hooking up for a natter after the Panthers loss. Or, as Russ put it (at pace): "Michael Bennett and I just kinda talked." Don't you just love that? I wonder who approached who on that one?
I only refer to it as a bombshell in so much as to what forces of the universe possibly conspired to pull these two together? The forces of the universe that dictate that opposites shall indeed attract. Naturally, I love Russ, but, bless him, you know exactly what's going to come out of his mouth next. Bennett? Edge of your seat, mate. He might deliver you a dash of Keats as readily as he would toss aside an offensive lineman. Or the laws of cricket, with the glint in his eye giving away that he wants to tell you the filthiest joke he knows.
Yes, there was undoubtedly more than just the one conflab (probably), but Wilson spoke of Bennett. Maybe he didn't quite believe it happened himself, like when you hear something you know can't possibly be true and you actually repeat it out loud.
As Bennett is the current theme here, how about the Wednesday press conference? Old news alert, but this is one incredibly bright man with a brain probably as fast as Robin Williams. Alright, not quite, but you get it. It's safe to assume that he has no chance at a career in TV when done are his playing days. Like he gives a crap. His response to what was his favourite Halloween costume as a kid was both high comedy and irreverence straight from the Gods.
Actually, having seen Bennett speak on Wednesday, maybe there was just the one conflab as he and Wilson addressed the team.
As Wilson is the current theme here (yeah, I know), how about the touchdown pass to Tyler Lockett against San Francisco? For those that care, you want to know what really grabbed me about it? It's been barely mentioned (I believe...please correct me), but it's the utter perfectness of the throw. Only it was more than that. It wasn't merely inch perfect. It was more than that. Millimetre perfect. Millimicron perfect, Goddammit. THAT's why Russ was so at ease afterwards. No, maybe it is that. The touchdown pass to Ricardo Lockette against Carolina required some work to become six points. Lockett's was different.
The accuracy needed to throw a football that far over an as-far-as-it-will-go outstretched arm/hand and landing in the precise spot it was meant to...just consider that. Well, of course you have and I'll drop the spoon feeding. Yes, there was the two picks after that, one of which was truly horrible, but Wilson was in the ("championship") mindset of being able to do anything after the Lockett TD. Not for the first time have I used this, but confidence is the key to life, only Wilson threw the dice, instead of a ball, to Baldwin and Kearse. However, to overly criticise Wilson for pretty much anything is folly. He's a Seahawk through and through, is a supreme athlete the like of which we once aspired to but waved goodbye to many moons ago, and has taken us on an unforgettable ride thus far. As for the interception that Kearse apparently gave up on, do me a favour. That was all on Russ. But I'm not criticising.
If I may regurgitate again from last week's post, I also wrote this: ‘Seattle's never been a flat, five point favourite on the road with Russ leading the offense...as far as I can make out.' Well, wouldn't you know it? The Seahawks can be backed -5 with Coral this week, with no half point either way, unless you like the Cowboys +5.5 as that is available (as is 6 points at Sportingbet). Would I advocate backing them minus that many? No. Remember, despite Seattle's dominance last week, it was against a poor 49ers outfit and, most importantly as it pertains to this column, the Seahawks can only boast going 2-6-1 ATS in their last nine games. Then, you have to consider that, despite the rest they've had, this is still their second road game on the bounce against a team who'll play them a whole lot tougher than San Francisco did. That said, Dallas is on a four game SU losing skid...but it looks as though Dez Bryant will play, even in a limited capacity.
If Bryant does play, how game ready will he be? Not very. Plus, he'll have Richard Sherman covering his every move. Yep, Bryant has to return at some point, but he could've picked an easier time. With it being just his first game back, against Sherman, I don't see his return as being that significant.
It's now Saturday morning and you can bin what I wrote about being able to back Seattle -5. Coral have seen fit to trim the line by a whole point so if you like your Seahawks in Dallas being asked to cover by more than four points, you go do it...I'm still not buying.
Russell Wilson will just be agog at news of Russell Okung being doubtful and Alvin Bailey likely taking his place. Wilson already knew that he'd be doing plenty of running (away) on Sunday and Pete Carroll's "he's [Bailey] the most versatile guy we have" is as backhanded a compliment as you ever could wish to see; man-of-the-moment-for-being-a-jackass Greg Hardy must be licking his chops. I wouldn't be shocked to see him finish the game with four sacks, so little faith have I in Seattle's pass protection. It's getting draining and all we have to do is watch the damn game.
Perhaps a tad bizarrely, and having just checked the docket, Seattle's never gone on the road in the RWE as a four point favourite. Let's take a look at road games where the line's at least been in the neighbourhood:
2013, Week 10: (-4.5 at Falcons) WON 33-10
2014, Week 2: (-4.5 at Chargers) LOST 30-21
2014, Week 8: (-4.5 at Panthers) WON 13-9
2015, Week 1: (-3.5 at Rams) LOST 34-31 (OT)
There you have it, an uninspiring 1-3 record ATS, which leaves you with very little to go on. I realise I'm about as much use as a chocolate teapot right now. I suppose the biggest surprise is that it took over a season and a half with Wilson under center for Seattle to go anywhere as a 4.5 point favourite, but that win in the Georgia Dome was one beautiful Seahawks performance to gaze upon.
Speaking/writing of beautiful performances and completely straying from the thread for a moment, are the Panthers really getting flak (from a minority of quarters) for not being good to watch? They run the ball well with a sprinkling of read option, backed up by a solid defense. That gets certain teams to Super Bowls. Back to back Super Bowls an' all. Good luck to ‘em.
So, if I may get back to Wilson's demeanour after the win in San Francisco and it more than hinting at team unity after the supreme disappointment of finger pointing on the field (ARE THE SEAHAWKS BACK? Well, probably), my first thought was that Seattle doesn't lose its next game...or the one after that...or the one after that. That goes against my nature, but loving this team since 1984 will push you towards pessimism. Much like Super Bowl XLVIII, perhaps the Seahawks always knew they were going to win last week. I couldn't watch it live over here on account of my job so had to avoid anything and everything the following day before watching it on the Friday night. It was a long day, but I eventually settled down to the pure glory of Seattle's opening drive and, aside from warming the ol' cockles, it told you all you needed to know about what the outcome would be.
It's been mentioned more than once this season on Field Gulls, either in writing or via podcast, that if the Seahawks do make the playoffs, we can at least accept that they'll begin on the road. However, if the glow is as rosy as Russ makes it appear, Seattle is some team's beautiful nightmare. And, once again, the ol' cockles are getting warmer.
I appreciate that Green Bay looms large, but can you imagine the Seahawks going to Carolina for the NFC Championship? Just let it happen. The heart quickens. Why am I being so optimistic? Russell Wilson has given me a reason to believe and that's without even seeing what's gone on behind closed doors.
Seattle won't lose this week, but it's close enough for me not to trust them on the spread. As ever (in a good way), here's a few trends courtesy of oddsshark.com:
Seattle is 2-6 ATS in its last 8 games against Dallas
Seattle is 2-4 ATS in its last 6 games in Dallas
Seattle is 1-4 SU in its last 5 games against Dallas
Seattle is 1-5 SU in its last 6 games in Dallas
Jeez, this is demoralising, ain't it? Hang on, better news comes.
Dallas is 1-5 ATS in its last 6 games
Dallas is 1-7 ATS in its last 8 games at home
You know the drill. Please gamble responsibly.