'...and if you boo Golden Tate I will come to your house and personally bop you on the nose while your family watches.'
Words written by you-know-who last Sunday on Field Gulls, while either leisurely enjoying, or post stogie. And y-k-w is spot on.
I refer to this not only because your heart should reserve a domicile for one Golden H. Tate III. No, watching the Seahawks' extremely poignant 40th Anniversary Halftime Ceremony last week made me wonder who we might see when the city of Seattle celebrates 70 and/or 75 years of the Seahawks. And, yes, it's a stretch to think that Tate might come anywhere close to being championed in such a way. But is it such a stretch? To those in positions far loftier than we can ever aspire to reach, he probably has no chance. However, to us, who do sometimes know far more than those in positions far loftier than we can aspire to reach, it can be argued that a space should be reserved for Tate when the day comes. Heck, Ricky Watters took the applause last Sunday and I mean not to disparage Watters in any way when writing that; Tate is more relevant to the Seahawks than Watters.
The role Golden Tate played in Seattle is difficult to overlook and I don't just lazily mean by being a 2nd round draft pick (almost an irrelevance), as his receptions per year are far from spectacular. That didn't preclude him from snagging 99 balls in Detroit last season, of course, but here's a curio: Tate only caught 4 TDs on those 99 receptions in 2014 whereas he had 5 on 64 receptions with Seattle in 2013. Plenty of you could be ahead of the game here, but I didn't know that until now so apologies that I'm only just hitting the 21st century.
No, Tate, aside from being a more than modest chain mover, was an integral part of the fabric woven patiently by Pete Carroll and John Schneider. He got it. He simply got it. Golden Tate the receiver was Golden Tate the beautiful punt returner in 2013, returning 51 of them at a healthy 11.5 yards per clip. None of them went for touchdowns, but he provided a spark, he provided something. Tate mattered. Tate cared. Tate meant something to us.
He mattered to us because when you think of Golden Tate (or at least when I do), you think of the chemistry he had with Russell Wilson. The broken play that Tate would help to redeem downfield, the innate trust between the two. That trust, that camaraderie, it permeates any work place, and any and every football team needs it. Almost above talent. Tate was one of many staggeringly astute draft picks since 2010 that helped forge what we see now and I was gutted when he was allowed to leave.
The love-in is almost over. You can draft talent, but you can't draft heart. Heart? Tate's chutzpah is off the charts, not to mention the cojones of the little fella.
Plus, he proudly sported a black eye courtesy of Percy. Taking one for the team. It's what Tate did in Seattle.
Why would Tate choose this week, of all weeks, to openly call out his own offensive coordinator, Joe Lombardi? Tate never once named him, but he didn't have to. I actually believe Tate when he says he wasn't throwing anybody under the bus, but I do believe his motive to be a selfish one; he's not with the Seahawks anymore.
What's the one game on Tate's schedule this season that he simply has to have an impact on? He wouldn't want to be seen dead with two catches for 25 yards on his old stomping ground. Why not dare Lombardi to make things less predictable in Seattle? With the extra day to prepare, Detroit will inevitably look to mix things up on offense now. Lombardi may already be glancing surreptitiously over his shoulder and the Lions are 0-3, on the road against the two time defending NFC Champion. There really is nothing to lose...which makes them dangerous, despite how shoddy they've looked at the start of the campaign.
Everywhere you care to look describes Detroit's defense as ‘woeful' or, at best, ‘struggling'. Matthew Stafford has the ubiquitous ‘banged up' circling above his head and the Lions rank dead last in rushing YPG (45) and rushing YPA (2.6). What they do have over Seattle is two rushing touchdowns. The Seahawks have none (must be Jimmy Graham's fault), which puts them on a par with Jacksonville and Miami, the odds of which you would've been able to make up yourself had you asked for such a line before the season began.
If Detroit are as crocked as it appears and lack any real, tangible talent apart from Tate and Calvin Johnson (which just isn't true, but these damned headlines can be very persuasive, y'know), then what chance do they have of offering a serious threat to Seattle on MNF? The Seahawks are nigh on invincible at home under lights on the national stage so, what, the line must be around 12 or 13 points? Nope, 9.5, on more sportsbooks than I care to tell you about. And it looks too good to be true so, go on, lump on the Lions +10.5, which will be available up until kickoff. It's only a half point below 10, but it's mightily significant as I'm amazed that we're being allowed to back Seattle by less than two scores. This could almost be forgiven as buying money...on a team with a 1-2 record.
Let's have a look...the Seahawks aren't coming off an emotional win last week. They'll be pumped at being at home on a Monday night. The Kam Chancellor-as-prodigal-son glow won't have dissipated. Thomas Rawls looks dynamite in the post Marshawn Lynch era (huh?) and even Jimmy Graham can afford to smile...finally. What can possibly go wrong...? What's that? The Bengals...await...next Sunday...in Cincinnati...at what time you say? Bugger. And just for a week, the Seahawks were back being the Seahawks. Hang on, Cincy might lay an egg at home to Kansas City this week and then Andy Dalton can get back to being Andy Dalton.
OK, if, as should happen, the Seahawks and Bengals both win this week, next week represents the 10th most likely Super Bowl pairing currently on offer at Ladbrokes (40-1). However, it should be 8th as they have Colts/Packers (22-1) and Patriots/Eagles (28-1) as likelier Super Bowl matchups. The Colts???
Indianapolis is going nowhere near the Super Bowl this season. I've always thought, ever since we witnessed what Russell Wilson is truly capable of, that no Seahawks fan would trade Wilson for Andrew Luck and the same could also be said the other way. Not one fan. On either side. Is that possibly changing? I still don't believe a single Seahawks fan exists who would trade Wilson for Luck, but might there now be a different answer in Indianapolis? Just a thought.
I guess it makes sense to look at Seattle as a home favourite between seven and ten points since Russell brought his hustle to proceedings in the Pacific Northwest. It's pretty uninspiring reading to be honest, over the seven occurrences, including the playoffs. The more telling form line comes in a little while. Here's the news so far:
2012, Week 14: (-10 vs. Cardinals) WON 58-0
2013, Week 16: (-10 vs. Cardinals) LOST 17-10
2013, Div. Play: (-7.5 vs. Saints) WON 23-15
2014, Week 6: (-7.5 vs. Cowboys) LOST 30-23
2014, Week 10: (-8 vs. Giants) WON 38-17
2014, Week 15: (-9.5 vs. 49ers) WON 17-7
2014, NFCCG: (-7 vs. Packers) WON 28-22 (OT)
A 4-3 record ATS and that includes two covers by a half point against San Francisco and New Orleans. Now, they all count, of course they do, but Seattle's a gnat's whisker from ‘boasting' a 2-5 record ATS in those games and aren't really to be trusted with your hard earned when favoured in the 7-10 points territory at home. However, you may ignore that this week as I really fancy them to do a number on the Lions, for what it's worth. Sure, Tate will be fired up, but that's one man. We don't think the Seahawks defense will be fired up?
Detroit's allowing its opponents to complete 78% of their passes so far this season so we should probably expect to see Russ improve upon his already solid 70.3% completion rate this week. After all, this is such a simple sport to predict.
If you're a tad shaky about lumping on the Seahawks this week after seeing how, er, shaky they are when favoured such as this, let's make things a little more comforting. In the RWE, Seattle's appeared at home in the national spotlight on five occasions during the regular season, be it a Thursday, Sunday or Monday night. They're good.
2012, Week 3: (+3.5 vs. Packers) WON 14-12
2012, Week 16: (-0.5 vs. 49ers) WON 41-13
2013, Week 2: (-2.5 vs. 49ers) WON 29-3
2013, Week 13: (-5.5 vs. Saints) WON 34-7
2014, Week 1: (-5 vs. Packers) WON 36-16
As you can see, only one of them was even vaguely close, even ATS, which Seattle's seriously obliterated in its last four. And, pertinently, each of those teams was very good at the time. Does the streak continue this week? I believe so. I just don't see how Matthew Stafford, sorry, the banged up Matthew Stafford, cures his inaccuracy ills on Monday night with the CLink crowd going bananas, no matter who his receivers are or how uber focused one of them might be. They haven't properly clicked through three weeks. How on earth is that going to change this week?
Here's a few trends courtesy of oddsshark.com:
Detroit is 1-6 ATS in its last 7 games
Detroit is 1-7 ATS in its last 8 games on the road
Detroit is 1-4 ATS in its last 5 games in Seattle
Seattle is 1-4 ATS in its last 5 games
Please gamble responsibly.