Here, let's just start with this and get you back into a good mood:
That was nice, wasn't it? Got you all warm and ready like a
Luther Vandross Boyz II Men Next The Weeknd jam, didn't it? Okay, awesome. That was pretty dope, after all, wasn't it? Tyler Lockett's first ever punt return was pretty much a repeat performance of what he did in the preseason. And all of his returns have been 73% more impressive than an average return touchdown, so it's reasonable to think this could happen a lot. Wow, Lockett, what a dream!
Now let's talk about the NFC West.
Arizona Cardinals (1-0)
A nice consolation to the Seahawks starting 0-1 would have been knowing that their best competition in the division also got upset, but sometimes when you go to the NFC West you become the king of wishful thinking. The Cardinals beat the Saints 31-19, pulling away in the fourth quarter when Drew Brees saw his two drives end in field goals and the New Orleans defense collected not on bounty.
I think what disturbs me most about Arizona is that their secondary is starting to look like it could be better than Seattle's. Emphasis on "look like" because the Seahawks secondary has been historically good over the last three seasons, but just tell me which of these groups you'd rather have:
- Earl Thomas, Richard Sherman, Cary Williams, Dion Bailey, Tharold Simon, Marcus Burley, DeShawn Shead, Tye Smith.
- Patrick Peterson, Tyrann Mathieu, Rashad Johnson, Tony Jefferson, Jerraud Powers, Deone Bucannon, Justin Bethel.
I understand that Thomas and Sherman are usually better than Peterson and Mathieu, but I would have to say that the depth for the Cardinals is better by a considerable amount. Johnson, Jefferson, and Powers might not be household names yet, but they've been exceptionally good recently while Bucannon was a first round pick in 2014. If Kam Chancellor returns, that changes things a lot in terms of the starting back four, but I don't think there's a team in the NFL that can compete with Arizona's six best defensive backs.
The other big thing of course is that Carson Palmer is healthy and is also 14-2 over his last 16 starts.
Palmer went 19-of-32 for 307 yards, three touchdowns, and no interceptions. The last time an Arizona QB went for 300 yards, 3 TDs and zero picks? Kurt Warner in 2008. With Palmer, Larry Fitzgerald looks like Larry Fitzgerald, but he also includes others in the party. Former Seahawks TE Darren Fells caught four passes for 82 yards and a touchdown. It was more yards than he had in his entire career previous to that, plus his first career touchdown. Also, John Brown looks like he could be the best receiver on the Seahawks, whereas he's the second or third best in Arizona, depending on your opinion of Michael Floyd, who has been super inconsistent for the last two-and-change seasons.
The one downside to the Cardinals win is that running back Andre Ellington is expected to miss 1 to 3 weeks with an LCL sprain, but I don't even know if that's a downside. Ellington played poorly last season, so David and Chris Johnson (no relation that I know of, though 'Johnson' is a unique name) will split duties for now. David had a 55-yard touchdown catch to seal the win for Arizona, while Chris was good back in like 2010 when The OC was probably still on television or something, I don't know.
So should you be scared of the Cardinals?
I probably wouldn't go that far quite yet. After all, the franchise is in it's 96th year of existence (not an exaggeration or a joke, they started off in 1920 as the Chicago Cardinals) and have gone to the playoffs just 10 times. Their last championship was in 1947, some 47 years before the year of our lord, Justin Bieber, was born.
I'll take 95 years of history over one win over a team that is actually quite bad. However, do I think they're talented? Yes. I've just got bad luck on my side.
Remember that they still need to find a way to protect Palmer for some 500 more dropbacks.
St. Louis Rams (1-0)
What else do you need to know at this point?
Key defensive end rotation player Eugene Sims is expected to miss a few weeks with a knee injury, as is special teamer Chase Reynolds. Running back Tre Mason could return in Week 2 versus Washington ...
Oh, how's that for good news? The Seahawks travel to Green Bay in Week 2, while the Rams travel to Washington. Washington State, you say?! Nope. Washington, D.C., which as far as I'm concerned stands for "duck, cover."
However, as Joe McAtee of TurfShowTimes pointed out to us on the Real in the Field Gulls podcast last week, he fully expected them to beat Seattle, get some good momentum going, and then completely blow it against the Redskins and kill all of that 'entum.
The way the Rams play against the Seahawks in St. Louis simply has not translated to how they play against everyone else. Austin Davis being the perfect example. Davis completed 17-of-20 for 155 yards, 2 TDs, and a rating of 132.3 against Seattle last season. His career with the Rams was essentially over three games later.
I said that the Cardinals might have the best secondary in the NFL, well, the Rams might have the best front-four in the NFL. When Chris Long is your fourth-best defensive lineman, that's saying something. But they don't have much else other than that. Again, I'm going to point to history as a sign of optimism for Seattle fans:
San Francisco 49ers (1-0)
In the very last game of the week, the 49ers started off the post-Harbaugh, post-Willis, post-Borland, post-Aldon, post-Gore, post-Crabtree, post-Anthony Davis, post-Justin Smith, post-Culliver, post-Cox, post-Iupati era with a 20-3 win over the Minnesota Vikings. It was somewhat of a surprise when you consider how much they had to replace over the offseason amid the turmoil of firing the best head coach they had since Bill Walsh, but there's no denying that they won fair. Most likely square, also.
Probably the biggest takeaway from Monday night is that in the post-Gore era, Carlos Hyde might be an upgrade.
Hyde had 168 yards on 26 carries with two touchdowns, but beyond the numbers he just looks like a high-end starting running back. Hyde made some excellent moves, made some "elite" cuts, and overall he appears to be the biggest breakout star of the "unproven running back class that's getting an opportunity" of 2015"... something that Christine Michael can not yet compete with in Dallas.
That being said, the most important questions we have yet to answer are:
- What if Minnesota isn't actually as good as many people assumed? They were 7-9 last season. Everyone expects them to take a step forward, but maybe they'll actually take a step back. They are also 24th in yards per carry allowed.
- Is Colin Kaepernick capable of leading a "rag tag" team to a winning record? San Francisco made the playoffs in 2013 when they were very talented, but they went 8-8 last season when they were ... still mostly as talented. What about now, when they've got to replace a significant amount of their best players from last season? Kaepernick showed why he's dangerous on certain plays but otherwise I don't think that he had a lot of impressive passes.
- Again, maybe the Vikings just suck. I'm not ready to declare that Teddy Bridgewater, Mike Wallace, and Adrian Peterson are all going to be great this season, all for varying reasons.
I'm not going to take away a whole lot from a Week 1 home win over a team that might suck, but we can say this:
The Seahawks hold sole possession of last place!
And with that, there's nowhere to go but up. Is it the worst possible start? Yes. But as Pete Carroll always says: "It's not how you start, it's how Nick Foles, Colin Kaepernick, and Carson Palmer hold up over 16 games." I'm feeling pretty confident in that case.