The Seattle Seahawks are going to the playoffs again. Don't be an ungrateful bastard. The Seahawks have made the playoffs in four straight seasons, five times under Pete Carroll, and 10 times since 2003.
The Cardinals franchise is going to the playoffs for the 10th time ... since 1920.
Think of relevance droughts for teams like the Bills, Browns, Raiders, Titans, Jaguars, Rams, Bucs, Dolphins, or Lions, where even a one-off playoff trip doesn't even feel like a playoff trip. NFL playoff games are the best thing American sports have to offer today for my money ('cept I don't have to pay any money to watch 'em) and Seattle will have at least nine of those in four years, with two Super Bowl trips and one win. That's not as much as you could ask for. That's what an asshole asks for. That's what greedy fuccbois from one of "those cities" actually expects of their team or hops off the bandwagon until it's headed back to Bixbie for the next gold rush. That's not what you ask for. Not what you would have ever expected you'd expect if you actually watched the Seahawks in 1992 or 2009.
So keep that in mind when you watch Seattle play in "Week 18" this year. Don't be a greedy fuccboi.
That being said, if they don't advance to Week 19, I'll never watch this god damn team again. So in order to heighten their chances of reaching the divisional round of the playoffs, I asked some questions to the smartest NFL person I know:
What me and Kenneth Arthur are going to dig into today is which of the three potential matchups for the wild card round would be best for the Seahawks. A lot of these answers will be based around Kenneth's opinion of said teams, none of which are particularly good, but still provide different challenges than each other. Now, Kenneth has not been right about everything this year (predicted Buffalo would win the AFC East (also predicted Tyrod Taylor would be very good though), and that Sam Bradford would be a Pro Bowl QB) but overall his record has been pretty decent.
Teams Kenneth didn't like before the year included the Packers (who we will get into, of course), the Steelers, the Cowboys, the 49ers, the Colts (as always, though he thought another season in the AFC South would set them up just like last season), and the Rams. While Kenneth predicted a division win for Seattle, he had the Cardinals in the playoffs, just not as the powerhouse that they currently appear to be.
He also thought (and still thinks) that the Panthers have been overrated all season long and might not win a single playoff game -- but we will get to that if we eventually must get to that.
Field Gulls: Hey Kenneth, thanks for joining me. Looking good.
Kenneth "Geniusman-Sportswise" Arthur: Feelin' good, man. Thanks. You look good as fuck. Damn, dude.
FG: Thanks, brother from the same mother, and in fact not technically my brother but thine own self, to be true. Ready to spout some truths about the NFL right now?
KA: Just call me Federal Grant because I'm about to deliver a bunch of knowledge for free.
FG: So let's get some basics out of the way. What are the playoff scenarios for Seattle?
KA: "Basics"-illy, it comes down to this: if the Vikings beat the Packers, they will be the three seed and knock Green Bay down to the five seed. The Packers win a tie-breaker over the Seahawks, so even if Seattle wins, they can't be the five seed and would headed to Minnesota. However, if Green Bay wins (which is very likely) then Minnesota drops to 10-6. If the Seahawks beat the Cardinals, then they would be the five seed and travel from Washington state to the Washington district to play a team that really offends me (Mr. Arthur coughs) by how overrated they are --
FG: Haha, hold your horses, we will get to that. Go on.
KA: If Seattle loses to Arizona though, then they will simply have a worse record than the Vikings and will go to Lambeau Field, which was named after the famous coach, Vince Lambeaudi. All three are possible destinations but if the Seahawks lose, they are definitely not going to the district of colombia, which would be good because I'm not allowed to travel out of the country.
FG: Okay, so will -- sorry, I just got distracted for a moment there looking into your beautiful green eyes. Do you have a girlfriend, Mr. Arthur?
KA: I don't.
FG: I can't believe that. You're the perfect man.
KA: Let's keep this professional, but feel free to let your readers know that I'm still single and more than willing to mingle.
FG: Of course, monsieur. So where were we? Oh yeah, the playoff scenarios. So will the Cardinals be coming to play on Sunday or is it #time2sleep?
KA: Both number one seeds are still up for grabs with one game to go, but the road to Santa Clara can only go through the hot burning Phoenix January sun if the Panthers lose to the Bucs on
Sunday Morning Football. (EDIT: Apparently the No Flex League didn't want to give the Cards the option of knowing their fate, so moved the Panthers-Bucs to the afternoon, which seems kind of rude to Carolina; Something I would never do. I'd never be rude to Cam Newton or the Panthers. Therefore, Arians won't be able to rest anyone unless Carolina's game gets out of hand early, and I don't expect that either. How much it changes the tone, I don't know, but probably not much. Both teams should be motivated for the same reasons they were previously.)
Carolina may not "Scare-o-lotta" Kenneth Arthurs, but Tampa Bay is still a pretty bad football team so there's a very good chance that actually not, the Cards won't have anything to play for this week.
And as we saw last year, Arizona can go from being a powerhouse to an outhouse if they don't have Carson Palmer.
Bruce Arians insists he won't rest his starters, no matter the stakes, but that would seem to be a pretty poor strategy if the Cardinals have literally nothing to play for other than the opportunity to sweep the season series against the NFC's best team over the previous two years. (Which okay, is something to play for, in terms of establishing alpha male dominance in the West.)
But still, the players for one team will be suffering from bye-week-itis, and the other team will feel pretty shitty about themselves if they allow the team to go 2-4 against the division with both wins coming over the garbage pile 49ers. There is still a decent chance that Seattle will win this game.
FG: So which team destination is most likely?
KA: I still think it's Washington, oddly enough. It seemed like they blew their chance at the five seed, but the Packers should be favored and the Seahawks are perhaps a little more motivated than the Cardinals. Once you bada the bing and the boom, that still leads to 10-6 Seattle going to face a (likely) 9-7 Redskins team.
FG: Is that an acceptable result, you damn genius you?
KA: Yes. It is still more than acceptable. People have become really damn stupid about Washington.
FG: Really though? Are they stupid opinions? Because if they finish 9-7, like you said they probably will, that'll be a four-game winning streak, and a 7-3 record over their final 10 games? Now who's stupid? (The interviewer gives a sly smile and twists his fake mustache.)
KA: The opinion-havers that think the Redskins are good or that Kirk Cousins is suddenly Smirk Dozens. (On account of how many times he can smirk after throwing a touchdown.)
Yeah, Cousins' stats right now are kind of insane. He's got 20 touchdowns and three picks over his last nine games. He leads the NFL in completion percentage. If the same streak came via Russell Wilson (oh, he's got a better streak going actually) but if the same streak was accredited to Wilson, I would be loving it. (I'm more loving Wilson's actually-better streak.)
However, Cousins is largely doing this against inferior defenses. The Eagles have given up the second-most passing touchdowns in the league (he had four against them) and the Saints have given up the most passing touchdowns in one season in NFL history (he had four against them.) Cousins is good for exactly one touchdown against a good defense, and then a bunch more against a very bad defense.
I would correctly predict a stat line around one touchdown, one interception, and 6.5 Y/A versus the Seahawks for Cousins. The Redskins are 0-6 when Cousins posts a passer rating below 90.
That's why they are 0-3 against playoff teams this year, all three losses coming by at least 14 points. By Pro-Football-Reference's "Simple Rating System" score, Washington is a worse team than the Bears, Rams, Lions, Bills, Raiders, Texans, and has the same SRS as the Ravens.
They would be a fantastic team to play against for a chance to advance in the playoffs.
FG: Eh, I don't know. Everyone's saying they're afraid not of the team, but of the turf! THE TURF, MAN! HAVE YOU HEARD ABOUT THE FEDEX FIELD TURF?!
KA: I've heard about the damn turf. (Bernie Sanders voice) "I'm sick of hearing about the damn turf!" Here's what happened: Three years ago -- THREE YEARS AGO -- two key players tore their ACL on FedEx Field during a playoff game between Washington and Seattle. The agent for Chris Clemons blamed the turf. Everyone on RGIII's side blamed Mike Shanahan. (Or you know, the fact that RGIII's knee was blasted by a human, not a muddy blade of grass.) The turf wasn't ideal, but a lot of non-experts became experts that day.
And even if it was the turf, that was three years ago. If players were tearing their ACL on that turf every week, wouldn't that be a bigger news story than anything about anything? "NFL Team Refuses To Improve Condition Even Though They're Now Down To 13 Players"
Two players on the Redskins have torn their ACL this year: Adam Hayward did it in the second week of the preseason on a kickoff and Derrick Carrier tore his while playing in Chicago. Hell, Seattle played there last season and even Percy Harvin managed to still have a beating heart afterwards. (Assuming it was there to begin with.)
Get a new meme.
FG: So then that's it, you really want the Seahawks to go to Washington! It's settled!
KA: Eh, I know we're already in the middle of a pretty beefy interview here, but while the Redskins actually do kind of suck, it's hard to ignore the potential possibility of a rematch against a team you just beat by 31 points on their home turf.
FG: But they're a team that just won their last two games by scores of 38-17 and 49-17. Certainly, you're joking.
KA: I'm not joking and don't call me Certainly.
The Vikings beat the Giants 49-17, a team that was already bad with Odell Beckham, Jr, who was out due to being suspended for naughtiness at Christmas time. A team that is 30th in scoring defense and 32nd in total defense despite being a defense that exists at the same time as the Saints defense. There's nothing to be impressed by there. The other game against the Chicago Bears also isn't that impressive in context.
When Minnesota doesn't turn the ball over, they're 3-0. When they force multiple turnovers, they're 6-1. If not for all the bad snappin' and flappin' in the rain on Sunday, Seattle would be ranked even higher in turnovers, and they're already ranked fifth.
When the two teams played before, the turnover battle was 1:1 and Seattle won by 31.
FG: So then you definitely want to see the Seahawks play the Vikings moreso than the Redskins?
KA: Maybe the matchups are slightly better, but I'm saying that Minnesota and Washington are two of the three worst teams to make the playoffs, along with the
Jets Steelers Keith Wenning's Bengals Texans. If they lose to either one of them, then they probably weren't going to get by Arizona in Arizona. (They could still get by Carolina in Carolina.)
The game against the Rams was so flukey that I hardly even count it as a bad thing, other than having to actually admit to girls on a first date that the Seahawks lost at home to the Rams.
FG: Why not just lie and say that it didn't happen?
KA: Because I'm a man of honor, integrity, and the highest moral code.
FG: What about just not bringing it up? Talk about something else.
KA: What else is there to talk about other than Seahawks?
FG: True, you got me there. Okay, so back to the playoffs. We've talked about Washington and Minnesota and how they're more superbad than jonah hill, but not of Green Bay. I heard the Packers are actually the most favorable matchup because they're bad, and they're terrible, and they suck. You yourself said you don't like Green Bay and that Aaron Rodgers is not able to air-any footballs anymore, so then Lambeau is the best dest, right?
KA: No, I don't think so. I think people who actually want to play in Green Bay over playing at Washington or Minnesota are more cray than the missing part of this sentence: "Seahawks safety Kelcie Mc____"
I wrote about Rodgers and the Packers struggles here for SportsonEarth this week, but also implored that testing Rodgers at home is just a stupid thing to want to do. At least moreso than testing Cousins or Bridgewater on their home turf. That's like wanting to face Mike Tyson over Glass Joe and Von Kaiser simply because his name was changed to "Mr. Dream."
The two teams are very different from the ones that played in Week 2. Seattle has improved, Green Bay is in the dumps, but the worst case scenario is still obviously the Packers. I'll tell you the same thing my parents once said to me: Don't get caught up in this lovefest with Cousins. It's immoral. I don't care if you're second cousins.
The last part may not apply.
FG: So they'd lose to the Packers?
KA: I definitely didn't say that. Green Bay stinks right now and I didn't even like them to start the season as it was. But this is still a team that gave the Seahawks problems in both of their last two meetings. That has not happened recently with Minnesota or Washington. Seattle should be able to beat all three, but the pecking order of who I would want to see them face definitely has the Packers at the bottom. It's just that all three are the blandest of playoff teams right now.
FG: So the worst case scenario (which isn't that bad of a case anyway. Not as bad as this case of Kenneth fever I have) is that the Packers win and the Seahawks lose this week, sending Seattle to Green Bay?
KA: Basically. And that's a very likely scenario considering that Arizona is still going to try and beat the Seahawks and put a stamp on their newly established NFC dominance, but I think Seattle has more of a chance to win this game than we all think right now following that garbage game against St. Louis. And I still think the Vikings should lose in Green Bay by a fair margin, but as we saw this past week, weird things are happening around the league. It could be a trip to Minnesota. Or Washington.
It's really hard to tell right now.
FG: Even for a genius like you?
KA: Even for a genius like you!
FG: Oh yeah. So then, Green Bay is third. Who is first?
KA: It's practically a tossup at this point, but given that the Redskins have Jordan Reed at tight end and the Vikings have basically the worst passing game in the NFL, Minnesota is the favored destination. Not that it should matter because the Seahawks out-talent both of them enough to win by 20.
FG: You're getting awfully cocky. Isn't this bad karma?
KA: Good, we can tackle this issue with fans too: I do not. control. the destiny. of football games. I can only control the density of my chocolate souffle. Did I mention I'm a world class chef?
FG: You are truly the total package.
KA: I get it from you.
FG: Thanks for your time.
KA: For you, I've got all day. Every day. For the rest of my life.
FG: This is getting weird.
KA: It already was. It already was. (in sync)
FG: It already was. It already was. (in sync)