Pete Carroll is never far away. Even in my Monday to Friday world that is teacher recruitment, Pete Carroll is never far away.
I met a gentleman this week. No, it wasn't Pete Carroll. I suppose it's fair to surmise that we met on the premise of him being my next boss. I went in on something of a whim (if he'll forgive me for that), not quite knowing what to expect. What transpired was unexpected, to say the least. You know how it is when you meet somebody and the conversation takes you somewhere you hadn't envisioned? Well...we stumbled upon the topic of motivation and how sports coaching philosophies are natural bedfellows with business leaders. Not the greatest surprise, perhaps, but he delivered a bolt from the blue by mentioning Vince Lombardi. This gentleman knew who Vince Lombardi was. Now, to you fellas this is nothing. On this side of the pond, nobody, apart from a select little band of sports geeks (and the odd prospective employer, as it turns out) knows of Vince Lombardi. I visibly shuffled in my chair. Things were getting very interesting.
He then asked me what I do outside of work. Being football season, my first thought was the Seahawks (isn't it always?) and I probably proceeded to speak at about a million miles an hour. "We're great after being not so great for what seems like forever and...and...and...we have this incredibly driven quarterback who Jacksonville didn't draft in the third round because they had the amazing idea of picking a punter at number 70 (the Anger!) and Marshawn Lynch is just this man mountain who carries tacklers on his back and there's a defensive secondary for the ages who us grown men have seriously fallen in love with and there's Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril and Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright. Wright used to nullify Jimmy Graham, who's now his teammate, and we won the Super Bowl two seasons ago and last season was unforgettable for all the wrong reasons." This didn't happen, of course, but you don't go for job interviews over here and be allowed the opportunity to get all Seahawky on somebody.
So, as coaching philosophies had become de rigueur, I couldn't not mention Pete Carroll and what he'd done to transform my life, to name but one of us. It was lovely (yes, lovely), being able to speak about Carroll to somebody who, while not knowing anything about him, had a genuine interest in what I was saying. I asked him to look up ‘Win Forever'. I got home and emailed him to say ‘thank you'. The email I received back contained this: 'Stay hungry, remain humble and get better today.' Impressed? Blown away.
Without researching it, I'm sure I've written this already this season, but we are incredibly fortunate to have Carroll steering this ship (like you don't already know this). As I say, I don't know if I have written it, but I sure as hell think it on a daily basis. Yes, even at 2-4 this season. Yes, even when blowing the Super Bowl in masterful fashion. Following this team since 1984, many was the year when I would've given my right arm to blow the Super Bowl in masterful fashion; how wonderful it is to be noticed and not just because you have Brian Bosworth on your roster. Mr. Wilde, over to you: ‘There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.'
Shall we talk odds? It's probably about time.
Why do I feel so confident going into this one? I'm unsure as to how uneasy this mood makes me as I'm never the optimist, at least in sporting terms. Part of the reason is ridiculous, but I'll share it with you anyway as at least one of you (blimey, half my audience) may feel the same. It's the Arizona Cardinals. Whipping boys for so many years. However, lest we forget that they beat Seattle 17-10 at the CLink when the Seahawks were but six weeks away from squeezing the life out of the greatest offensive juggernaut (at least statistically) in league history in the Super Bowl.
Maybe my confidence is due to the fact that Seattle has allowed just 15 points in the last eight quarters...all of it on the road. In fact, this is hugely significant. It's been voiced on the Cigar Thoughts podcast more than once this season (watch them all back and prove me wrong) and by Danny in previous seasons, but winning on the road in the NFL is one heck of an achievement. To do so, back to back, without giving up a touchdown, is almost unheard of. I would guess. Unless you're the 1985 Chicago Bears. Or the 2000 Baltimore Ravens. Or the 2012-2014 Seattle Seahawks. Well, wouldn't you just know it?
There are myriad reasons to feel confident and, despite what is just a 2-1 record ATS in the RWE against Arizona at home (please see below), you might want to note that the Cardinals have only scored 20 points in Seattle in the last 12 quarters played there. I do appreciate that Arizona's current offense is a far more frightening proposition than anything we've seen from them since about 1923.
2012, Week 14: (Seahawks -10) WON 58-0
2013, Week 16: (Seahawks -10) LOST 17-10
2014, Week 12: (Seahawks -6.5) WON 19-3
The 58-0 demolition came one week after what will always be one of my favourite Seahawk passages of play...namely, Russell Wilson coming of age on the final two drives in Chicago during Week 13 of the 2012 season.
Primetime. Seattle just doesn't lose at home in Primetime, at least with Wilson under center. In fact, before Detroit rocked up back in Week 4, Wilson had helped lead Seattle to a 5-0 record both SU and ATS at home in the national spotlight since the beginning of the 2012 season. The Lions well and truly put the kybosh on any considerations the Seahawks had of never failing to cover the spread as long as Wilson was playing quarterback throughout the rest of his career (in Seattle, if I may dare). All things must come to an end, although, strangely, the years of futility that us fans shared with the Seahawks seemed eternal.
Here's the record as it stands now:
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
2015, Week 4: (-9.5 vs. Lions) WON 13-10
So, 5-1 ATS in those games, but Seattle obliterated the line in four of them. Perhaps a tad bizarrely, the bookends of that bunch featured two of the most controversial calls in Seahawks history. Is it that bizarre? This is the Seahawks after all. The path of true love never did run smooth.
What is stupendously bizarre is that, having the luxury of writing this at work on Friday afternoon, a guy sitting near me has just said this: "I've committed the cardinal sin of letting my password expire." One can only wonder what would've come out if Seattle were playing the Vikings on Sunday.
As has been mulled over on this site this week, it's probably to be expected that Arizona will pile up a fair few points on Sunday. All the Seahawks need to do is simply score more. Such a simple sport for prognostication is this.
I suppose we simply have to assume that, should Richard Sherman be assigned to cover Larry Fitzgerald, for example, that that should pretty much take care of one side of the field when time comes for Carson Palmer to take to the skies. Such a simple sport for prognost...blah, blah, blah.
It could probably be remarked that, for the remainder of the season, Seattle doesn't have the luxury of looking ahead to any game. However, if matters go swimmingly this week, San Francisco's visit next week may see them do just that (not that it would ever be owned up to) as Pittsburgh follows thereafter. A win on Sunday would fill the Seahawks with even more self belief than they already own and the Steelers present a far sterner test than the 49ers so don't be shocked if I'm betting against the Seahawks next week.
It's now Saturday morning, the time when I usually add the final 500 or so words to these posts, but I have to confess to my mind not being on it this morning so I'm curtailing this. I'm glued to the horrible news from Paris, a city I adore, and am doing little else today. I must apologise, but sometimes life takes over.
Take the Seahawks -2.5.
Please gamble responsibly.