Wednesday, October 31, 2007

NFC Stock Market Week 8

I will take a look at what happened for the Seahawks and the NFC each week and update my predicted record for the Hawks and the Top 5 teams in the NFC. I will try to do this each Wednesday.

Seahawks Stock: Neutral
Pre-season Predicted Record: 10-6
Current Predicted Record: 10-6

Man, looking at the schedule, the Hawks are really at a crossroads. I could see them finishing as low as 8-8 or as good as 11-5. This game against Cleveland looked like a win going into the year, but I have real doubts we will score enough to win this game on the road. I hate seeing Hasselbeck talking about potentially having the best record in the NFL. That's loser talk. Winning teams don't daydream about having the best record, they say things like "We're not getting ahead of ourselves." That's a sign to me the Hawks are trying to convince themselves that they are good, which is never a good thing.

NFC Top 5
  1. Dallas Cowboys (Neutral): Bye week.
  2. Green Bay Packers (Rising): Impressive win in Denver. The defense on this team is good enough to keep them winning, and the offense does just enough. Sounds like the Bears from last year, with Favre/Grossman being the big difference.
  3. NY Giants (Neutral): They were not impressive in London, but they won.
  4. Detroit Lions (Rising): 5-2 and impressive wins @Bears and against Tampa.
  5. Seattle Seahawks (Neutral): Tossup with the Redskins.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Power Rankings Week 8

Don't look now, but a couple teams are rising from the ashes. San Diego is all-of-a-sudden ranked fifth after starting out the year in serious trouble. New Orleans had the largest single week jump in team strength.

Two NFC West teams now occupy the bottom two spots in SF and STL. I'm not sure I see that changing anytime soon.

Clearly, the best two teams square off in Indy this week, but look at the difference in team strength. Indy might be #2, but they are trailing by 8pts in team strength. That would be like Dallas facing the Hawks or Tampa in that it could be a good game, but one team is clearly better than the other.

Cleveland is a bigger challenge than I expected early in the year. This would be a significant win on the road, but I'm not feeling confident about our ability to score enough to pull this out.

















































































































































































































Rank
Team
Team Strength
Change
1
New England
28.34
2.88
2
Indianapolis
20.26
1.35
3
Pittsburgh
16.09
-0.33
4
Dallas
12.8
0.00
5
San Diego
7.2
3.72
6
Green Bay
5.53
0.07
7
NY Giants
5.35
-0.33
8
Tennessee
4.62
0.09
9
Philadelphia
4.34
0.63
10
Seattle
4.1
0.00
11
Tampa Bay
3.28
-0.22
12
Jacksonville
2.88
-0.78
13
Baltimore
0.29
0.00
14
Minnesota
-0.18
-1.38
15
Cleveland
-0.41
1.64
16
Washington
-1.04
-8.21
17
Arizona
-1.41
0.00
18
Carolina
-1.58
-4.72
19
Kansas City
-2.04
0.03
20
Detroit
-2.32
2.54
21
Oakland
-3.6
-0.66
22
Houston
-4.6
-3.29
23
Cincinnati
-5.73
-1.08
24
New Orleans
-5.97
5.54
25
Buffalo
-6.81
3.20
26
Chicago
-7.19
-0.81
27
Atlanta
-9.61
0.00
28
Denver
-10.26
-0.23
29
NY Jets
-10.47
-0.32
30
Miami
-11.06
1.33
31
San Francisco
-12.61
-2.23
32
St. Louis
-17.03
1.34

Monday, October 29, 2007

The Saints Are Marching


Our embarrassing loss to the winless Saints may turn out to be the game that turned their season around. They are now in the hunt with a record of 3-4, and just one game out of first place in their division.


The Panthers are 4-3, and the Bucs are 4-4. Neither of those teams has shown enough to think they could run away with the division, and both have significant injury issues. If I were a betting man, I would probably put my money on the Saints to win that division at this point.

Stunning turnaround.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Can't Afford a Brown-out on Offense

Taking a very early look at the Hawks next game, and one thing stands out: you better score some points if you want to beat the Browns.

The Browns have only scored less than 27 points three times so far this year (all losses). They average an impressive 27 points/game. The Hawks, by comparison, average just under 20 points/game.

The good news is the Browns defense allows an average of more than 31 pts/game, including 34 in two of their three losses.

The Hawks have one of the better scoring defenses in the NFL, allowing just 15 pts/game. We cannot expect the defense to hold this team down all day. If the Hawks are ever going to get their ground game going, this would be a the game to do it.

The Browns allow almost 5 yards per carry, and the Hawks offense needs to hold onto the ball for long stretches playing on the road against an explosive offense.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Getting By the Bye

It's the dreaded bye week, my friends. Our favorite team will be absent from the TV, radio and other assorted media. Save your jokes asking why that is different than any other week.

The calluses that have formed on my vocal chords will start to fade. My heart rate will remain relatively constant. I will be neither manic nor depressed. Well, maybe a little depressed.

Most of all, I will be a rudderless. A wandering soul looking for meaning. There are no players, coaches, fans or media for me to direct my attention and analysis at. HawkBloggerWife is likely to catch me staring blankly at walls while the kids throw various toys at my head. It's not pretty.

It's a dangerous game the NFL plays. The NBA season is batting her eyes at me as it gets underway, and my Blazers are looking pretty interesting. The NFL, though, is the equivalent of Kate Beckinsale.


The League knows it can send me away for a week, and I'll come crawling back. I wonder if Rams fans feel the same way.


Thursday, October 25, 2007

NFC Stock Market Week 7

For the uninitiated, each week I will take a look at what happened for the Seahawks and the NFC and update my predicted record for the Hawks and the Top 5 teams in the NFC. I will try to do this each Wednesday.

Seahawks Stock: Rising
Pre-season Predicted Record: 10-6
Current Predicted Record: 10-6

The win over the pitiful Rams at home was good, but certainly not great. The bye comes at a good time for the team. I will need to see a couple more games to get a better feel for where we really stack up in the NFC. Right now, I wouldn't feel confident in the first round of the playoffs against any of the top NFC contenders, let alone a trip to the big dance.

NFC Top 5
  1. Dallas Cowboys (Neutral): The Vikings are a tough team to beat, and that game was much closer than the 24-14 score indicated. The Cowboys are leaps and bounds above the rest of the NFC at this point.
  2. Green Bay Packers (Neutral): The top two spots remain stable this week.
  3. NY Giants (Rising): The Giants are the hottest team in the NFC, and have star power at key spots on offense and defense. Eli Manning is weak-minded, though, and will never scare me when the chips are down.
  4. Washington Redskins (Falling): Although they beat the Cards, they did not deserve to.
  5. Seattle Seahawks (Rising): The Hawks squeak back in, but it's tenuous.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

When do we sign Grady Jackson?

Not sure if you saw that 350-pound DT Grady Jackson was released by Atlanta. I'm pretty sure we've lost at least two starting DTs so far this year in Marcus Tubbs and Chuck Darby. Jackson led the league in tackles for loss last year, so he appears to have fuel left in the tank.

I think the addition of a real space eater like that would be really interesting for our dynamic linebacking corps. Tim R. tends to like smaller, more agile d-lineman that get stunt and get up the field, but I can't imagine we couldn't find value in even just designing a package with Jackson in mind.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Offensive Personnel Groupings: What is our strength this year?

There was an intriguing comment from csu91 that I wanted to discuss a bit:

I returned from Kodiak this morning and had a chance to watch a replay of the game this evening.

What I would like to see on offense is more I or Offset I formation and play action off of it. Focus on two or three running plays and work on excelling at them. Ever watch Indy run the stretch play ad naseum? Or the old Redskins with the counter-trey?

http://blogs.thenewstribune.com/seahawks/?cat=173

If you scroll down that link you get a short breakdown of personnel groupings that the Hawks ran in 06. It's quite possible that we simply aren't using the right personnel groupings based on the talent and experience on hand. What was a good fit in 05 or 06 may not be a good fit in 07. The Hawks ran Tiger (1RB, 2WR, 2TE) 4% of the snaps in 06. Wonder what it is this year?
I think this is a great point. I don't think we're the power running team we once were, and I'd argue that means that we should line up in the I formation far less than we have in the past.

I do not chart plays like the great Mike Sando, but we appear to have more success running out of spread formations recently. That success has not translated into more use of the Eagle (4WR) formation. This specific post from Sando illustrates cwu91's point even more. People focus on the loss of Hutch, but it was also Joe Jurevicous and Ryan Hannam that made that running attack purr.

We have neither great blocking WRs nor great blocking TEs anymore. Will Heller is not what Ryan Hannam was, especially near the goal line. So what do you do?

I'd like to see more single-back sets and split backs. I'd like to see significantly greater use of the screen as a way to supplement the running game (but with Weaver!!). I'd also like to see each our RBs tried in these different groupings/plays to see which performs the best in each case. Just because I am sick of hearing people boo Shaun for no valid reason does not mean I wouldn't want to see Weaver get more carries.

What do you guys think would improve the running game?

Power Rankings Week 7

The Seahawks moved up a bunch this week according to the power rankings. In fact, they moved up more than any other team. Thankfully, we were not responsible for moving a second team in two weeks out of the cellar. In fact, we made the worst team in the league even worse. Bonus!

As always, I'd love to hear your thoughts, questions, ideas.

















































































































































































































Rank
Team
Team Strength
Change
1
New England
25.46
-0.06
2
Indianapolis
18.91
1.51
3
Pittsburgh
16.42
-3.72
4
Dallas
12.8
-0.31
5
Washington
7.17
-1.17
6
NY Giants
5.68
1.74
7
Green Bay
5.46
0.00
8
Tennessee
4.53
-0.39
9
Seattle
4.1
3.84
10
Philadelphia
3.71
-1.28
11
Jacksonville
3.66
-6.08
12
Tampa Bay
3.5
-1.95
13
San Diego
3.48
0.01
14
Carolina
3.14
-0.02
15
Minnesota
1.2
-2.62
16
Baltimore
0.29
-0.80
17
Houston
-1.31
-0.35
18
Arizona
-1.41
0.19
19
Cleveland
-2.05
0.00
20
Kansas City
-2.07
0.82
21
Oakland
-2.94
0.58
22
Cincinnati
-4.65
2.51
23
Detroit
-4.86
2.81
24
Chicago
-6.38
1.52
25
Atlanta
-9.61
0.42
26
Buffalo
-10.01
2.87
27
Denver
-10.03
2.59
28
NY Jets
-10.15
0.23
29
San Francisco
-10.38
-1.08
30
New Orleans
-11.51
3.83
31
Miami
-12.39
-2.29
32
St. Louis
-18.37
-1.58

Monday, October 22, 2007

The day after: Hawks beat Rams 33-6


My mother taught me better than to take pleasure in other people's pain, but man, was there anyone that didn't enjoy seeing Bulger get a beating yesterday? I've waited for a performance like that against the Rams since we entered the NFC West, and as they said so well in Office Space, "It was everything I thought it could be."

As I mentioned in the blog preview yesterday, there were a number of reasons to expect a blow out. Long time Seahawks fans know one absolute prerequisite to a Hawks blowout is that nobody is expecting or talking about the possibility of a blowout leading up to the game. If you expect one, you get a performance like we saw against the Saints.

A few things stuck with me about yesterday's game:


1. Despite the fact that he clearly blew a couple routes yesterday, my mancrush on Nate Burleson is still going strong.



2. If you still have the game on DVR, it's worth watching Josh Wilson's vicious block toward the end of the Nate's return. That one was suhweet!

3. Certain plays need to be yanked from the playbook each year. They are like players who have bad seasons, except it's MUCH easier to get rid of them. Last year, the draw play was just horrible. This year, it's the deep fade and the pass to Shaun out of the backfield. How many times are we going to waste a play throwing it deep along the sideline? Our receivers don't make good plays on the ball. Matt throws it out of bounds at least 30% of the time, and I can't remember completing one since Joe J left us a couple seasons back. I can only imagine Holmgren keeps calling it because it "looks good in practice."

I've got a clue for you big guy: It looks good in practice because we have possibly the worst DBs on jump balls in all of football. Just ask Larry Fitzgerald and Torry Holt.

Shaun has bricks for hands, and simply cannot reliably catch the ball, especially if it's over his shoulder. He has some success when it's a swing pass that he can run up to, but otherwise, throw it out! That's what Weaver and Morris are for.

4. Either Shaun or Mo need to be nicknamed "Bob." So we can line them up with Leonard and have the Bob and Weaver backfield. Yes. That was worth my time to write.

5. Jason Babin is *really* small
I was very confused and then very worried when I saw Jason Babin getting all the reps after halftime for Darryl Tapp. He looked like a JV player out there. I think we're in deep doo-doo if Tapp is every injured. Barraka Atkins was out there a bit, but he's not having much of an impact.

6. People need to just dial it back with Shaun
This is a guy who nobody really liked when he was playing great. I think we're seeing years of frustration with his style emptied out now that his performance is not up to snuff. There is no difference in how he is running now compared to 3-4 years ago. He did run noticeably harder in 2005, but that was definitely not his only great season. The real difference is our offensive line. It's not what it once was. There were a number of plays where Weaver or Morris would run hard into the line and get nothing, but I heard no boos then. Had it been Shaun, I guarantee there would have been. He also got booed a few times when he made two guys miss that his line didn't block but couldn't get past the line of scrimmage. That's just bush league. It feels odd defending the guy because his style has always annoyed me as well, but I hate group think, and that's all this is.

7. Weaver rocks
He is a great new weapon. People need to gameplan for him now, and I wonder what that will open up elsewhere. I still think we haven't seen the best out of Marcus Pollard yet.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Game Thread: Rams @ Seahawks

My KangarooTV is updated. The winless Rams are in town talking about being in the division race. Shaun Alexander is talking about hesitating longer before hitting the hole. Mike Holmgren is considering using Courtney Taylor more and Nate Burleson less. The Seahawks are 3-3 and fighting for self-respect (league respect is not realistic anytime soon). Let's play some football!

One thing you all should know is that I hate the Rams. I hate their smug attitude still left over from when they mattered. I hate Marc Bulger and his ass face. I even hate their uniforms. That is why it is going to be all the more enjoyable when we shove their helmets in the fake grass at Qwest today.

The Hawks have only themselves to blame for letting a team like the Rams talk about being in the NFC West race. Only the most blindly optimistic fan would still think the Hawks are among the NFC's best teams after the last two weeks. No team falls behind 21-0 in consecutive weeks without some serious flaws.

That said, I think Matt and Co. are going to walk all over the Rams today. The only thing that give me pause is the history of close games between these two teams.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

NFC Stock Market Week 6

After a one-week hiatus, I have been inspired by the groundswell of support for the blog to bring back the stock market.

For the uninitiated, each week I will take a look at what happened for the Seahawks and the NFC and update my predicted record for the Hawks and the Top 5 teams in the NFC. I will try to do this each Wednesday.

Seahawks Stock: Falling (like a rock)
Pre-season Predicted Record: 10-6
Current Predicted Record: 10-6

Even for the Seahawks, hopes have been a roller coaster the last three weeks. The 49ers game was as impressive as this team has looked since 2005. They were embarrased in Pittsburgh and humiliated against the Saints. It's hard to even predict 10-6 at this point, as they are showing signs of being a very average team, but there schedule remains very favorable.

NFC Top 5
  1. Dallas Cowboys (Neutral): There is no shame in getting whupped by the Patriots. Dallas looks like they have a cake walk to the big dance at this point.
  2. Green Bay Packers (Rising): Beating the Redskins was meaningful, but this is the worst 5-1 team in football.
  3. Washington Redskins (Neutral): Making their first appearance in my top 5, although they would have made it last week if I had done one. I believe this is a better team than the Packers on a neutral field, but since their only chance to make the playoffs is as a wildcard, that doesn't matter much.
  4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Neutral): Their addition of Michael Bennett could keep their playoff hopes on track.
  5. NY Giants (Rising): The Giants have the honor of being the team that bumps the Hawks off the top five for the first time this season. They have won four in a row, and we've lost in horrible fashion the last two weeks.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Power Rankings: Week 6

Well, the Seahawks managed to move the team ranked dead last up a spot, so that we can play the worst-ranked team in back-to-back weeks. Let's hope we don't do anything to help St. Louis jump out of the bottom spot.















































































































































































Team
Team Rank
Change
New England
25.52
-1.26
Pittsburgh
20.14
0
Indianapolis
17.4
0
Dallas
13.11
-6.52
Jacksonville
9.74
3.52
Washington
8.34
-2.8
Green Bay
5.46
-0.54
Tampa Bay
5.45
-0.21
Philadelphia
4.99
0.93
Tennessee
4.92
-1.91
NY Giants
3.94
4.1
Minnesota
3.82
0.36
San Diego
3.47
3.33
Carolina
3.16
2.86
Baltimore
1.09
3.48
Seattle
0.26
-1.7
Houston
-0.96
-4.97
Arizona
-1.6
-3.11
Cleveland
-2.05
2.81
Kansas City
-2.89
1.66
Oakland
-3.52
-3.89
Cincinnati
-7.16
0.37
Detroit
-7.67
0.1
Chicago
-7.9
0.5
San Francisco
-9.3
0
Atlanta
-10.03
-2.72
Miami
-10.1
-0.63
NY Jets
-10.38
0.35
Denver
-12.62
0
Buffalo
-12.88
0
New Orleans
-15.34
6.27
St. Louis
-16.79
-0.58

Monday, October 15, 2007

Who is more foolish? The fool, or the person who follows the fool?

I'm feeling a little philosophical after watching my beloved Hawks get pantsted on national TV. As much as I may have predicted this possibility, I never expected them to look so inept. It's not often that you can lose 21-0 and then look significantly worse the following week. We managed.

This is not new territory. Seattle sports fans are used to being the butt of jokes or just ignored. So why do we continue to cheer for these teams? My buddy's wife gets so angry at him when he screams at the TV that she will yell, "Why don't you just cheer for the other team then?!!"

When he told me that story yesterday, I burst out laughing. It still makes me chuckle. The idea of just deciding I would cheer for the team that was winning seems so absurd. Then again, nothing is stopping us from doing just that.

I have friends that are Yankees fans or Laker fans or even just the flavor-of-the-year fans. These are lower quality fans, right? Picking a team because they always win isn't what sports is about. Without experiencing the humiliation of showing up at school or work the day after the team everyone knows you love loses in some dreadful way, how can you truly appreciate the highs of winning a division, a conference, a championship?

Is that sports fan high horse really worth it? If I started to teach my sons to be Yankees fans, maybe they would have fewer depressing days. The unibomber is friendlier than me after a loss. I'm not sure I would wish that anguish on the ones I love the most.

With the Internet and satellite TV/radio, it would be much easier now to grow up being a fan of a team outside your hometown. I can't even remember when I decided to be a fan of my favorite teams. My parents were not big pro sports fans. It just sort of happened.

And yet, I wouldn't trade it for the shallow experience of just being able to be the fan of a consistent winner. My NFC championship glass means more to me than most Yankees fan's world series pennants. I certainly had to suffer more to get it.

It's a little like the slots in Vegas, where every loss adds to the pot. If you keep hitting the jackpot every few turns, it's hard to get excited about those small returns. But when you've been pulling that handle for 30 years, watching that pot grown, you just know that jackpot is going to be unreal.

The jury is still out on whether the Seahawks are going to be adding to that pot this year. I know I'll still be pulling the handle each week.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Game Thread: Cutting through the crap

I've recieved a number of notes from my "Faithful Two" readers asking where I've been this week.

"Mack Strong has retired!"

"Deion Branch is out!"

"We were shut out and looked terrible!"

"Our running game is horrible!"

"Our defense can't got off the field on 3rd downs!"



Count me in the apparently quiet minority. WE ARE FINE. Say it with me everyone. We....are....fine. Before we even start looking at the Hawks, let's look at the rest of our division.

The Rams are winless and hopeless for so many reasons, I don't want to waste time getting into it.

The pre-season favorites to win the division, the 49ers, have the worst offense in the NFL. The worst! The Saints come to town with a QB who has a ~57 QB rating, a starting RB injured for the season and the 49ers offense has been worse. They are teetering on the edge of irrelevance, and do you remember which team put them there?

The Cardinals have played well, but lost half their QB tandem (Matt Leinart) for the season with an injury. Their entire season rests on the shoulder of 36-year-old backup Kurt Warner. This is a guy who has started well for a couple of seasons, but always gets injured after a few starts.

A record of 9-7 may run away with this division. I still see the Hawks going 11-5 or 12-4. Nobody is going to touch them.

That means we are really looking at the playoffs and our ability to compete there. We have plenty of time to find the running game, and that still remains my only concern about the Hawks. Our defense played well last week. The Steelers QB has a fantastic second half. Give him credit. Move on. I will take a 17 play TD drive over a 1 play TD drive any day. Despite our troubles getting off the field, at least we did not give up the big play like we did on the 45-yard run in the 1st half.

I'm so confident that this team is on pace for a good year that I won't even be worried if we lose to the winless Saints today. My friends would tell you that I tend to be a glass half-empty guy when it comes to my favorite teams. I've been a Seattle sports fan long enough to know heartache and tattered dreams. But I also am not influenced by the swaying tides of public opinion.

I am looking forward to a watching a few things at the game today:

1) Leonard Weaver
I admit to being infatuated with the guy. I should be wary of the fumbles in the preseason, but I'd be happy to see this guy as our featured back, at least for a while. I really think he is a weapon catching the ball out the backfield and has a chance to influence our gameplan as the season wears on.

2) Ben Obamanu
The guy looked like a worldbeater in the preseason, but dropped a key 3rd down pass last week. Dropping passes can't happen. If he gets past that, he could be in for a huge game soon.

3) Seneca Wallace
Matt missed him on a pass last week. Let's see if he can finally impact a game this week.

4) Pass rush
It disappeared in the second half last week. It is the key difference between our defense being good and it being great.

5) Running gameplan
Don't be surprised if the Hawks start out grinding the ball on the ground. The coaches and players don't want to have to keep answering questions about the running game, and I bet they will try to use this game as a way to stem the tide. If they are unsuccessful, it could give the Saints a chance to get toehold in this game.

I fully expect to the Hawks win, but won't be shocked if they lose. Seattle teams don't historically play that well when everyone expects them to win.

Let me know what you think. I'll check back after I get home from the game.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Power Rankings Week 5

No surprise the see the Hawks tumble after that performance.















































































































































Team
Team Rank
New England
26.78
Pittsburgh
20.14
Dallas
19.63
Indianapolis
17.4
Washington
11.14
Tennessee
6.83
Jacksonville
6.22
Green Bay
6
Tampa Bay
5.66
Philadelphia
4.06
Houston
4.01
Minnesota
3.46
Seattle
1.96
Arizona
1.51
Oakland
0.37
Carolina
0.3
San Diego
0.14
NY Giants
-0.16
Baltimore
-2.39
Kansas City
-4.55
Cleveland
-4.86
Atlanta
-7.31
Cincinnati
-7.53
Detroit
-7.77
Chicago
-8.4
San Francisco
-9.3
Miami
-9.47
NY Jets
-10.73
Denver
-12.62
Buffalo
-12.88
St. Louis
-16.21
New Orleans
-21.61

Monday, October 8, 2007

Observations, the morning after, Seahawks lose 21-0



Do you ever wake up before a big presentation or important interview and just know you don't have it that day? I believe that happened to Mr. Hasselbeck yesterday. From his poor clock management to ill-advised throws to ill-advised non-throws for sacks, this was not the guy we've seen all year.

I just finished reading he Seattle PI and you'd think we lost to the Rams at home by the way Art Thiel was jumping off the bandwagon. Same thing over at the TNT blog with the reader comments. The second half of that game was horrible, but that had as much to do with a pretty amazing performance from their QB as it did with our poor play.

I'd argue that we were at least the Steelers equal in the first half, and that our defense was the best unit on the field for almost that entire half. Give the Steelers credit, they out-coached and outplayed us.
Publish Post
I don't think this game will haunt us much. The Hawks coaches need to figure out how to attack the Steelers defensive gameplan as other teams will start copying it. Other than that, I don't think we'll see that game again from Matt anytime soon. And despite the second half collapse, I thought the defense played well for the second week in a row. Look at the Steelers numbers, they are not that gaudy (other than the total rushing yards).

Let's get our heads straight for the game against the Saints this week and get back to business.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Gameday thread: Seahawks at Steelers

I'm Brian's wife, filling in for Hawkblogger as he endures a 3 hour roadtrip home from Grandma's house with our 3 year old. Nobody panic - he'll be here soon.

I'll spare you my take on today's game, since all I know is that if they win Brian usually wants to go out to dinner, and if they lose, he just wants to warm up a burrito in the micorwave.

Go Hawks!

Friday, October 5, 2007

Steeler RB questioned in domestic violence case

Looks like injuries won't be the only distraction for the Steelers this week. Their backup RB is being investigated for involvement in a domestic violence dispute that happened last night.

Steelers Injury Update: Polamalu, Hampton may not play after all

UPDATED 3 PM: It looks like Ward, Hampton, and Polamalu will all miss the game. You couldn't ask for a better chance to win a big road game.

I've been eagerly looking for signs about whether key Steelers players were going to suit up Sunday. Polamalu and Hines Ward were supposed to practice yesterday. Neither did. Casey Hampton has not practiced at all this week either.

All news from the Steelers camp was that they were still expected to play, until...

I saw this article today.

Here are the highlights:

Polamalu might sit out

Pro Bowl safety Troy Polamalu did not play the second half in Arizona with what was diagnosed as torn rib cartilage, but was not even listed among the injured players by coach Mike Tomlin

How can that be?

Polamalu was initially said to have sustained an abdominal strain when he was tackled on a fumble return against the Cardinals. But because the Steelers did not have the medical equipment to properly evaluate his injury, he was kept from the game as a precautionary measure.

The cartilage tear was not detected until the team returned to Pittsburgh. Polamalu did not practice again yesterday and might not play against the Seahawks. He would be replaced by second-year safety Anthony Smith.

"I feel good, but I don't know [if I'll play]," Polamalu said. "It depends if [coach Mike Tomlin] wants something to linger for 10 weeks. That's the danger with any injury. It's definitely an injury than can get worse."

Injury update

In addition to Polamalu, nose tackle Casey Hampton (hamstring) and No. 3 cornerback Bryant McFadden (ankle) did not practice.

Hampton's status will be determined today. McFadden is not expected to play against the Seahawks.

That certainly sounds like Polamalu is not going to suit up, and Hampton does not sound too likely either.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Things to look for against Pittsburgh



I've done a little bit extra for everyone this week. Posted here is the season log for Pittsburgh so far in 2007, along with some highlighted breakdowns of interest. I've also posted the 2005 log for the Steelers that I prepared for the Super Bowl.

If it's not obvious, this team is all about running, both on offense and defense. They are the 3rd-ranked rushing offense and 8th-ranked rushing defense. When they don't rush for 100 yards as a team, they lose...period. So...

1. Stop the run!
The Steelers had rushed for 206, 184 and 205 before facing the Cardinals last week and netting 77 yards on the ground. Arizona is the 11th-ranked rushing defense, and the Hawks are the 13th, so it's not completely unrealistic to hope for the Hawks to slow down that part of their offense.

2. Injuries
Hines Ward is among the best blocking WRs in football, and it's no coincidence that the Steelers had trouble running once he was out of the lineup. He is going to do everything he can to play in this game. Casey Hampton and Troy Polamalu have not practiced this week, although both are expected to play according to the coaches. Of course, they were saying Polamalu was going to practice today, but he didn't. Sticking with the run theme, if Hampton is out, we stand a much better chance of getting our running game off the ground (pardon the pun).

3. Exploit the nickel and dime packages
Our offensive strength has been passing the ball. The Steelers are without their nickel corner, and will either have an injured safety playing or a backup. Either way, I'd like to see us attack them with four-wide. Our pass protection has been solid, but will be tested against a great blitzing team. I would love to see Weaver used in the passing game with some screens. It would also be great to feature Obamanu as I'm sure nobody is game-planning for him yet.

4. Bring the Starbucks!
The Hawks are notoriously bad in 10AM games where they travel cross-country (are there other types of 10 AM games?). I'd hate to see the Hawks not show up for this game mentally. Every Seattle fan deserves to see this team play with a purpose against the Steelers. Losing would be bad. Playing sloppy or uninspired would be unacceptable.

5. Bring the 49ers defensive gameplan
While I don't expect the Steelers to look as inept pass blocking as the 49ers, I think we have to take the same approach. If we can stack the run and win first down, I like our chances. When we get to Rothlisberger, we have to wrap up as he is a big boy and has a tendency to break out and make plays.

6. Beware the Steelers TEs
Our safeties and LBs will need to be aware of Heath Miller, especially in the red zone. He is Rothlisberger's security blanket.

Conclusion:
This is a game that nobody expects us to win, but it's certainly a game we can win. I sense a fire behind Matt's words this week. This is a guy who stood in front of massive rally crowds and promised to bring home the Lombardi Trophy. He was pretty honest on the Warren Moon show about how fresh the wounds still were. Combine his motivation with his performance so far this season, and there's reason to be excited to watch this game. If the defense can keep the Steelers under 125 yards rushing, I really like our chances.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

DIVISION NEWS: Quaterback craziness in the NFC West

One team may lose their QB for the season, and be playing with a 35-year-old backup that looked done (not rusty) last week.

Another just benched their injured and ineffective starter in favor of a 36-year-old backup.

And the other team is regularly rotating in their 36-year-old backup.


Thank goodness for Matt Hasselbeck. Who would have predicted this to start the season?

NFC Stock Market Week 4

Each week I will take a look at what happened for the Seahawks and the NFC and update my predicted record for the Hawks and the Top 5 teams in the NFC. I will try to do this each Wednesday.

Seahawks Stock: Rising
Pre-season Predicted Record: 10-6
Current Predicted Record: 12-4

Things are rosy right now. Looking at the Hawks schedule, losses I had predicted @ Pittsburgh, @ STL, @ Philly, @ Carolina and home against Baltimore all look winnable. I think at least two of those go the Hawks way, so I am upping my predicted record.

NFC Top 5
  1. Dallas Cowboys (Neutral): Beating a struggling, injury-tattered Rams team at home is nothing to brag about. They did dominate, after a slow start, so I give them that.
  2. Seattle Seahawks (Rising): If the Seahawks defense can be even half as effective rushing the passer the rest of season as they were on Sunday, this could get really fun. The missing link continues to be the running game. Lots of teams wish they only had one weak area.
  3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Rising): That season-opening win over the Bucs is looking better and better each week.
  4. Green Bay Packers (Rising): I still believe the Packers are paper tigers, but I can't ignore 4-0. They are averaging just 2.7 YPC and allowing 4.5 YPC. Poor running offense and defense is not a good combination.
  5. Arizona Cardinals (Rising): Going against the grain here a bit. The other options are Washington, Philly or Carolina. I'd take the Cards in a game against any of those opponents at this point.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Darn: Steelers injury situation not that bad

This story just got posted. Casey Hampton and Troy Polamalu are scheduled to play against the Hawks. Hines Ward is questionable, but that probably means he's back as well.

They lost their nickel corner, so we may be able to exploit the rookie they will plug in there.

Maybe our offense can knock out some players this week, since our defense has been doing that this far.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Power Rankings Week 4

Hawks strong performance translates into a jump in the rankings. Note that while the Packers defense is getting all sorts of credit, the Hawks are allowing fewer YPC, YPA and PTS/Game.




Here is the Excel version.

An explanation of the ranking formula can be found here.

Looks like we hear about the Steelers injury situation tomorrow

It appears they hold their press conferences on Tuesday.

More red zone stats

The Seahawks are tied for 1st in the NFL in red zone possessions allowed. Opponents have only entered the red zone 6 times so far this season against the Hawks, and only 2 of those were turned into TDs. That makes for a .333 red zone TD %, tied for second in the NFL. The 2 red zone TDs allowed is the fewest in the NFL.

Pittsburgh and NE are the other teams with 6 red zone possessions allowed so far (Patriots game still in progress).

This is an interesting stat since people have referred to the Hawks as a bend, but don't break defense. That may need another look since they don't even appear to be bending all that much. This is further supported by their #5 ranking in pts/game allowed.

Surprising Stat of the Week

Guess which team is the only one in the NFL to allow a TD on every opponent's possession in the red zone?

Answer: The New England Patriots.

No kidding. They had allowed 5 TDs in 5 tries in the red zone before tonight, and the Bengals are 1-for-1 so far tonight.

The morning after


Fantastic win yesterday. For whatever reason, my attention has quickly turned to the next matchup against the Steelers.

The win this week really allows us to enjoy this matchup instead of dread it. We have very little to lose since most would expect Pittsburgh to win at home, and are setup for a 10-11 season without winning this game.

A win against Pittsburgh puts us into the 12-win area, and then we can really start talking about a home-field advantage race. The only thing we really can't have this week is a blowout loss. This team is starting to believe, and that needs to continue to build.

A couple 1st half stats I called out at halftime of our game thread, that I didn't see show up in the press coverage:

- 6 sacks in the 1st half were more than in any full game so far this year, and most since we had 9 agains the Raiders last year

- 11.7 YPA

- Deion Branch goes for 117 yards in the 1st half (122 was his season-high)

- 5 forced fumbles in the 1st half. FIVE. (matched the team total for the season)

Already looking ahead: Key Steelers' Injuries

Looks like the Steelers lost some key players yesterday, including NT Casey Hampton and SS Troy Polamalu.

No word yet if any of these guys will miss the game against the Hawks. Hines Ward was inactive for yesterday as well.

We'll need all the help we can get winning in Pittsburgh. It wouldn't bother me one bit to see them try to win a game without their starting safety. Nobody outside of Seattle seemed to notice when Marquand Manuel left during the Super Bowl, leading directly to two of the Steelers TDs.