Geno Smith wasn’t the only one that “they” wrote off, but here the Seahawks are atop the NFC West with a golden chance to stay there well into October.
Sure, the 49ers are favored this week - by a lot.
Seattle shocked the nation by defeating the Denver Broncos in their home opener on Monday Night Football. Six days later, they’ll shock a smaller audience by traveling to Santa Clara and spanking a team that was one play away from going to the Super Bowl last season.
Yeah, I’m that confident.
Admittedly, it’s best not to read too much into Week 1 results.
But it’s kind of hard not to.
In Week 1, Geno Smith looked like he was teaching a Master-level course in Quarterbacking (at least in the first half), while Trey Lance was slipping and sliding in Chicago and looking very much like someone who has only thrown a few hundred passes since high school.
- Geno: 23 of 28 (82.1%) for 195 yards with 2 TDs, 0 INTs, and a quarterback rating of 119.5
- Trey: 13 of 28 (46.4%) for 164 yards with 0 TDs, 1 INT, and a quarterback rating of 50.3
Meanwhile, San Francisco’s vaunted defense gave up 3 straight touchdown drives to start the second half last week, accounting for all 19 of Chicago’s points.
By comparison, Seattle’s somewhat maligned defense, after losing one of its star players earlier in the game, started the second half with 3 of the best goal line stands you’ll ever see, resulting in 2 turnovers and a mere 3 points.
Putting all of that (QBs + defense) another way ...
One team was favored by 7 points last week and lost to a team that’s expected to be very bad this year while the other team was a 6-1/2-point underdog and beat a team that chose to mortgage its future because it believed they were a quarterback away from competing for a Super Bowl.
Raise your hand if you’d heard of Jeff Wilson, Jr. prior to this week.
For the record, my hand is NOT raised.
Also, I’m betting that some of you are thinking, “Who the heck is Jeff Wilson, Jr. and why is FTR asking us about him?”
Background: J-Dub2 is a 5th-year running back (2018 UDFA) whose career thus far consists of 307 carries for 1,287 yards with 13 touchdowns.
Which basically makes him Rashaad Penny, stats-wise (292 for 1,632 with 11 TDs). Except that Penny was valued much higher coming out of college.
Why it matters: For the second season in a row, the San Francisco 49ers lost their starting running back to a knee injury in Week 1. Last year, it was Raheem Mostert who went down with 20 yards on 2 carries; this year, it was Elijah Mitchell who had 41 yards on 6 carries when the Niners reached Deja Vu.
The next man up this year is the aforementioned Jeff Wilson, Jr.
Last week, he ended up carrying the ball 9 times for 22 yards (an average of 2.44 yards per carry). We could blame that performance on the water-covered field, but Mitchell was averaging 6.83 yards per carry when he got hurt.
If I’m the Seahawks defense, I’m keeping one eye on Trey Lance so I can stop his scrambles and quarterback keepers and I’m keeping the other eye on Deebo Samuel any time he’s anywhere near the backfield because those two are the players Seattle needs to worry about in the run game, not Jeff Wilson, Jr.
(Knock on wood.)
Power rankings are a funny thing.
Heading into Week 1, here is where some of the well-known publications ranked Seattle:
- The Athletic: 22nd
- NFL.com: 24th
- ESPN: 24th
- PFT / NBC Sports: 25th
- SI.com: 28th
- CBS Sports: 31st (big surprise)
- Walter Football: 31st
- PFF: dead last
And here’s where they ranked the Seahawks after Week 1:
- The Athletic: 12th (up 10 spots!)
- NFL.com: 18th (+6)
- ESPN: 23rd (+1)
- PFT / NBC Sports: 22nd (+3)
- SI.com: 30th (down 2 spots - REALLY?!!?!)
- CBS Sports: 26th (+5)
- Walter Football: 26th (+5)
- PFF: 28th (+4)
Now, before y’all start tossing money at The Athletic for a subscription because “they believe in us” and you want to have a front row seat to see how high we can climb, I should explain something about how The Athletic did their rankings ...
Heading into Week 1, it’s pretty much the same as everyone else - i.e., complete guesses based on preconceived notions and personal bias. However, after Week 1 ends, every team that won is ranked ahead of every team that lost with teams that tied stuck in the middle.
Or, as they put it:
For this week’s power rankings, and this week’s alone, the record matters. We have the 1-0 teams with stars on their bellies and the 0-1 teams with stars on their helmets, then next week things really get into a horrible mess.
In other words, don’t be surprised if the Seahawks fall a few spots in The Athletics’ Week 2 rankings ... even after they mop the Levi’s Stadium field with Trey Lance.
On a personal note, The Athletic gets a gold star for referencing my favorite childhood book.
Continuing the Power Rankings theme, but tossing out The Athletic because of how they do their Week 1 rankings, here are how Seattle’s first 6 opponents rank:
Week 1: Denver Broncos
- Initial Ranking: High of #4 (Walter Football), low of #19 (PFT / NBC Sports)
- After Week 1: High of #5, low of #24
Week 2: San Francisco 49ers
- Initial Ranking: High of #3 (NFL.com), low of #10 (CBS Sports)
- After Week 1: High of #6 (PFF), low of #13
Week 3: Atlanta Falcons
- Initial Ranking: High of #26 (2 sites), low of #32 (2 sites)
- After Week 1: High of #28, low of #32 (CBS Sports)
Week 4: Detroit Lions
- Initial Ranking: High of #14 (Walter Football), low of #28 (PFT / NBC Sports)
- After Week 1: High of #15, low of #30 (2 sites)
Week 5: New Orleans Saints
- Initial Ranking: High of #6 (CBS Sports), low of #20 (3 sites)
- After Week 1: High of #6, low of #19 (PFT / NBC Sports)
Week 6: Arizona Cardinals
- Initial Ranking: High of #13 (PFT / NBC Sports), low of #23 (Walter Football)
- After Week 1: High of #21 (4 sites), low of #23
- Walter Football’s ranking of Denver at #4 heading into the season isn’t nearly as surprising as their unwillingness to drop the Broncos more than one spot after they lost to the Seahawks.
Even more surprising though, was them ranking Detroit in the top half of the league - at least 9 spots higher than each of the other sites.
- CBS Sports is an odd duck - and not just because of their obvious bias against our local team. Heading into the season, they had the Saints ranked #6 and the Falcons ranked dead last. I’m going to dig into the ending of Saints @ Falcons in my next thought so I won’t elaborate here. Instead, I’ll simply say that there’s no way that both team’s rankings should have remained unchanged.
- Based on the rankings, Weeks 3 and 4 look like Wins for the Seahawks and Weeks 5 and 6 look very winnable as well. If all goes well in Santa Clara ... look out!
For all of those who lament Pete Carroll’s tendency to punt in the opponent’s end of the field, I give you Arthur Smith.
Atlanta’s second-year head coach had his team ready to go last Sunday. They scored on their first possession (3-0), they had a 9-point lead at the break (16-7), and with just under 13 minutes left in the game, they extended their lead to 16 points.
And then ...
4 plays, 75 yards, in 1:29, TOUCHDOWN SAINTS. The 2-point try is GOOD. It’s an 8-point game with 11 minutes left.
Atlanta grinds 4 minutes off the clock then punts.
8 plays, 86 yards, in 3:27, TOUCHDOWN SAINTS. The 2-point try FAILS though so the Falcons are still up by 2 with 3:38 to play.
Atlanta methodically grinds the clock, taking it down under the 2-minute warning and forcing New Orleans to burn all of their timeouts.
On 4th and 1, from the New Orleans 42-yard line, Arthur Blank looks over his play sheet, takes stock of everything that’s happened, and then - KNOWING THAT A SINGLE YARD STANDS BETWEEN ATLANTA AND A WIN OVER A DIVISION RIVAL ...
Arthur Blank decides that the best course of action is to take a delay of game penalty and punt the ball.
Naturally, the inevitable happens.
5 plays, 47 yards, in a mere 29 seconds (with no timeouts, mind you), and the Saints kick a 51-yard field goal to take the 1-point lead.
Both amazingly and amusingly, Atlanta manages to go 30 yards in the final 19 seconds and lines up for their own (potential) game-winning field goal from 63 yards out.
Sure, it’s just one in a very long list of Atlanta Falcons late-game meltdowns but the whole last minute of that game was completely unnecessary if Atlanta’s head coach doesn’t make a completely terrible decision on 4th and 1.
Pete Carroll should take note.
More rankings! Courtesy of PFF.
Through Week 1, Seattle’s offense ranks 12th overall with a grade of 67.4. Denver is 21st (62.5), San Francisco is 24th (61.7), Atlanta is 14th (65.2), Detroit is 27th (59.8), New Orleans is 3rd (75.1), and Arizona is 25th (61.2).
The Seahawks’ defense is ranked 25th, but that’s ahead of both the Lions (30th) and the Cardinals (32nd) and only 2 spots behind the Saints. The Broncos are 7th, the Niners are 15th, and the Falcons are 20th.
On Special Teams, Seattle ranks 6th - and none of their first 6 opponents rank higher than them. The Saints are the closest one at 13th overall, followed by the Falcons (17th), the Lions (19th), the Cardinals (21st), the Broncos (27th), and the 49ers (28th).
Keeping with the rankings, but turning our attention exclusively to this weekend’s game in Santa Clara ...
Per PFF, the 49ers were the best pass-blocking team in Week 1 with a grade of 78.8. Seattle’s pass rush was ranked 18th with a grade of 65.1. Advantage SF.
Likewise, SF would appear to have the advantage when running the ball with a Run-Block grade of 64.0 in Week 1 (#11 overall) while Seattle’s run defense grade of 52.0 ranked 23rd league-wide.
When Seattle has the ball, we’ll see the league’s 5th-best passing offense (78.3) going against the league’s 6th-best coverage group (70.9). Advantage Seattle. Barely.
Seattle is tied for 15th in rushing (63.5) while San Fran is ranked 10th in run defense (64.4). That said, the scores are close enough (a difference of only 0.9) to call this one a push - especially when you consider that the Seahawks had a couple of long runs called back because of penalties in Week 1 and the Niners were playing defense in the middle of a lake.
For what it’s worth, for the the season, Seattle’s opponents have scored zero touchdowns (and only 6 total points) off of 4 trips into the red zone while the Niners offense is 1-for-3. On the flipside, San Francisco’s defense has given up a touchdown each and every time (i.e., both times) that their opponent has gotten into the red zone while the Seahawks are 0-for-2 (one field goal, one turnover on downs).
Bottom line: Division games are always nasty and this one shouldn’t be any exception.
I should have never agreed to join my workmate’s fantasy football league. Not because it isn’t fun (it is!) but because I tend to overdo things.
What started as 1 team in 1 league grew to 4 teams in 4 leagues by the time the Sunday morning games kicked off.
I didn’t stop there.
I now have 21 teams (most of them through ESPN) and what precious little free time I used to have is now long gone for the next 4-1/2 months.
So, if any of you are in an ESPN league with Eff the Rams; Go Hawks; Team FTR; Team Work; Team Mate; Lucky Number 7; Crazy Eights; You Mad, Bro?; Bam Bam Kams; Bobby Boucher, Jr.; The 12s; Flag on the Play; Pound the Rock; 3rd and 15; 4th and Goal; Under Dawgs; Phoney Balonies; What Da Heck Just Happened?; Han Solo Shot First; or For the Win ...
Hi! My (fake) name is Frank and I look forward to our match(es).
However, 2 of the 3 of them are favored.
For the Lions, it breaks a streak of 24 straight games as an underdog.
Week 2 breaks a 15-game streak for the Giants.
The Jags are underdogs though.
Personally, I think the Lions are better than the Commanders, the Giants are better than the Panthers, and the Colts are better than the Jaguars. But ... Indy was favored by 8-1/2 over the Texans and barely managed a tie after scoring the final 17 points of the game. If the Colts fall behind again this week, they may not be so lucky.
One of the cool things that PFF does is create graphs that look really cool and then use them in articles that don’t really tell you anything but do, well, look really cool.
If you have access to that article (it might be behind a paywall but I don’t really know since I have a subscription and am always logged in), the first graph they show is titled Week 1 NFL quarterback PFF grades and efficiency.
The Seahawks logo is hovering at the point that corresponds with an EPA (expected points added) of just under 0.25 and a PFF grade in the mid-80s.
The Broncos logo is hovering a bit above the 0.25 EPA line and in the mid-50s grade-wise.
The 49ers logo ... below the negative 0.25 EPA line with a grade roughly equal to, but slightly to the left of (i.e., less than) Denver’s logo.
It’s a pretty graphic, but I don’t want to have to ask permission to share it and it isn’t really necessary to include it here to make my point: Geno did good in Week 1 - in fact, Geno did better than most of the other quarterbacks in the league.
It’s a small sample size, sure, but what if he does it again this weekend? And next weekend? And the weekend after that?
Just to drive this point home, that same PFF article includes what they call the “Bayesian Quarterback Rankings: 2022” - which is basically just the spreadsheet that they used to create the aforementioned graph.
Geno ranks 7th heading into Week 2.
Russell Wilson ranks 11th.
Trey Lance is 28th.
Geno Smith has a passer rating of 153.3 on throws of 10-plus yards so far this season.
Just gonna leave that there.
(May revisit it after Sunday’s game against the Niners.)
Kenneth Walker III (aka KW3 aka K9) is going to win the league’s Offensive Rookie of the Year award - even after spotting the rest of the field a head start.
I don’t think anyone has beaten the drum for this guy louder, longer, or more consistently than Seaside Joe. That said, I think there’s going to be a lot of people joining the drum section over the next few weeks.
This is my favorite tweet of the week!
9️⃣ is ready for his debut. pic.twitter.com/RjGkcDxqqX— Seattle Seahawks (@Seahawks) September 16, 2022