Monday, September 25, 2006

Madden Curse in Effect

  • 2005 NFL Most Valuable Player Shaun Alexander is out indefinitely after X-rays revealed a small crack in his left foot. Alexander has clearly been slowed down by the sore foot, averaging only 2.9 yards per carry, in the first three games. Coach Mike Holmgren says it is possible Alexander could miss as much as a month.
  • Coming off of last year's record-setting 28 touchdowns along with a league-leading 1880 yards, the loss of Shaun Alexander is a huge blow to the Seahawks offense. However, Seattle put up 42 points against the Giants despite Alexander rushing for only 47 yards. With the Seahawks going more to their stacked receiving corps anyway, I have confidence that backup Maurice Morris, who has 22 carries for 66 yards already this year, and fullback Mack Strong, 9 carries for 65 yards and 1 touchdown, will be able to pick up some of the slack and keep the Seattle offense somewhat balanced.
  • Enormous win for my Seattle Seahawks over the inconsistent New York Giants. Starting 3-0 does not guarantee much, but it was a relief to see the defense make big plays and offense move the ball efficiently. Seattle not only won a big game at home, but they won it convincingly, which is what great teams should do.
  • How big would a win in Chicago be next week? Winner will be 4-0 and the early favorite to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl.
  • I always knew there must be something good about all that coffee. The energetic Seahawks fans, also known as The 12th Man, were loud in Seattle, severely hampering Eli Manning. In addition to the false starts, the noisy crowd made it very difficult for Giants' offensive line to make adjustments, which was why the Seahawks' front seven was constantly pressuring Manning.
  • Matt Hasselbeck threw FIVE touchdowns. He has so many weapons, it may not even be fair.
  • The spread formation with Darrell Jackson, Nate Burleson, Bobby Engram, and Deion Branch with Shaun Alexander in the backfield is dangerous. Not only is it near-impossible for any team to cover all four quality receivers with four quality corners, but against the Giants I caught a couple runs from Alexander and fullback Mack Strong right up the middle.
  • All this fuss about Seattle's offensive line, but I will take 106 rushing yards and 0 sacks every Sunday.
  • A bunch of great finishes in Week 3. I love the NFL.
  • Sports Illustrated's Peter King threw us an amazing statistic in his column this morning: Sports Quiz: Name the two leaders in quarterback rating right now. Give up? David Carr, 113.6. Philip Rivers, 107.
    e. Name the 21st and 22nd. Tom Brady, 78.5. Steve McNair, 78.3.
    f. Followed by chaps named Culpepper, Delhomme, Leftwich.
    g. And that's why they play the games.
  • I am looking forward to two big showdowns next week in San Diego at Baltimore and Seattle at Chicago. Neither will be pretty, but both will be good games.

America's Team

Monday Night Football: The Homecoming
Atlanta Falcons at New Orleans Saints

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Pre-Week 3 Thoughts

  • FOX is nationally televising a HUGE NFC showdown in this Sunday's late game featuring a rematch of 2005 game of the year as the New York Giants visit the Seattle Seahawks. Last season, New York kicker Jay Feely missed three potential game winning field goals before Seattle's Josh Brown nailed his first opportunity in overtime. Despite eleven false start penalties, the Giants had the Seahawks beat on multiple occasions. This time around, the Giants, coming off an amazing 17-point comeback in Philadelphia, are simply trying to escape a ridiculously difficult early schedule with a winning record, while the Seahawks, who have yet to truly get their offense rolling, must win this game in order to reestablish themselves as the team to beat in the NFC. Seattle has never opened a season 4-0, and considering they are already halfway there, it seems rather difficult with another NFC showdown looming in Chicago next week.
  • This is why the NFL is great: divisional matchups that we see all the time manage to be the most intriguing, particularly this week's Cincinnati-Pittsburgh and Jacksonville-Indianapolis.
  • Chicago and Baltimore have to win on the road this week in order to be considered major contenders.
  • Upset of the week: Houston Texans over Washington Redskins
  • The Sunday Night game will be a close one because Denver usually has the Patriots number, but neither team has gotten it going offensively.
  • Joe Horn said the atmosphere in New Orleans for the return of NFL football is similar to that of the Super Bowl. I say winner of Monday's game goes on to take the division.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Class of 2010

I found this to be rather humorous and interesting...

Beloit College’s Mindset List for Class of 2010
By The Associated Press

A rite of autumn is under way with the arrival of first-year students at thousands of colleges and universities for registration. Most 18-year-old students entering the class of 2010 this fall were born in 1988. They grew up with a mouse in one hand and a computer screen as part of their worldview. They learned to surf the internet as they learned to read. While they were still in their cribs, the 20th century started to close as the Berlin Wall came down, the Soviet bloc disintegrated, and frequent traditional wars in Latin America gave way to the uncontrolled terrors of the Middle East.

Every year, Beloit College releases its Mindset List to give a snapshot of the world view of the incoming freshmen class. The list for the Class of 2010:

1. The Soviet Union has never existed and therefore is about as scary as the student union.
2. They have known only two presidents.
3. For most of their lives, major U.S. airlines have been bankrupt.
4. Manuel Noriega has always been in jail in the U.S.
5. They have grown up getting lost in giant retail stores known as “big boxes.”
6. There has always been one Germany.
7. They have never heard anyone actually “ring it up” on a cash register.
8. They are wireless, yet always connected.
9. A stained blue dress is as famous to their generation as a third-rate burglary was to their parents’.
10. Thanks to pervasive head phones in the back seat, parents have always been able to speak freely in the front.
11. A coffee has always taken longer to make than a milkshake.
12. Smoking has never been permitted on U.S. airlines.
13. Faux fur has always been a necessary element of style.
14. The Moral Majority has never needed an organization.
15. They have never had to distinguish between the St. Louis Cardinals baseball and football teams.
16. DNA fingerprinting has always been admissible evidence in court.
17. They grew up pushing their own miniature shopping carts in the supermarket.
18. They grew up with and have outgrown faxing as a means of communication.
19. “Google” has always been a verb.
20. Text messaging is their e-mail.
21. Milli Vanilli has never had anything to say.
22. Mr. Rogers, not Walter Cronkite, has always been the most trusted man in America.
23. Bar codes have always been on everything, from library cards and snail mail to retail items.
24. Madden has always been a game, not a Super Bowl-winning coach.
25. Phantom of the Opera has always been on Broadway.
26. “Boogers” candy has always been a favorite for grossing out parents.
27. There has never been a “sky hook” in the NBA.
28. Carbon copies are oddities found in their grandparents’ attics.
29. Computerized player pianos have always been tinkling in the lobby.
30. Non-denominational mega-churches have always been the fastest growing religious organizations in the U.S.
31. They grew up in minivans.
32. Reality shows have always been on television.
33. They have no idea why we needed to ask “... Can we all get along?”
34. They have always known that “In the criminal justice system the people have been represented by two separate yet equally important groups.”
35. Young women’s fashions have never been concerned with where the waist is.
36. They have rarely mailed anything using a stamp.
37. Brides have always worn white for a first, second, or third wedding.
38. Being techno-savvy has always been inversely proportional to age.
39. “So” as in “Sooooo New York,” has always been a drawn-out adjective modifying a proper noun, which in turn modifies something else.
40. Affluent troubled teens in Southern California have always been the subjects of television series.
41. They have always been able to watch wars and revolutions live on television.
42. Ken Burns has always been producing very long documentaries on PBS.
43. They are not aware that “flock of seagulls hair” has nothing to do with birds flying into it.
44. Retin-A has always made America look less wrinkled.
45. Green tea has always been marketed for health purposes.
46. Public school officials have always had the right to censor school newspapers.
47. Small, white holiday lights have always been in style.
48. Most of them have never had the chance to eat bad airline food.
49. They have always been searching for “Waldo.”
50. The really rich have regularly expressed exuberance with outlandish birthday parties.
51. Michael Moore has always been showing up uninvited.
52. They never played the game of state license plates in the car.
53. They have always preferred going out in groups as opposed to dating.
54. There have always been live organ donors.
55. They have always had access to their own credit cards.
56. They have never put their money in a “Savings & Loan.”
57. Sara Lee has always made underwear.
58. Bad behavior has always been getting captured on amateur videos.
59. Disneyland has always been in Europe and Asia.
60. They never saw Bernard Shaw on CNN.
61. Beach volleyball has always been a recognized sport.
62. Acura, Lexus and Infiniti have always been luxury cars of choice.
63. Television stations have never concluded the broadcast day with the national anthem.
64. LoJack transmitters have always been finding lost cars.
65. Diane Sawyer has always been live in Prime Time.
66. Dolphin-free canned tuna has always been on sale.
67. Disposable contact lenses have always been available.
68. “Outing” has always been a threat.
69. “Oh, The Places You’ll Go” by Dr. Seuss has always been the perfect graduation gift.
70. They have always “dissed” what they don’t like.
71. The U.S. has always been studying global warming to confirm its existence.
72. Richard M. Daley has always been the Mayor of Chicago.
73. They grew up with virtual pets to feed, water, and play games with, lest they die.
74. Ringo Starr has always been clean and sober.
75. Professional athletes have always competed in the Olympics.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Oh Matt, you so funny

"We went and got Deion Branch because it was a great move for our team, period...when all is said and done, we're going to be explosive on offense. We might even score 10 points this week."
- Seattle quarterback Matt Hasselbeck

Wow, that is right up there with, "we'll take the ball and we're gonna score!"

Monday, September 11, 2006

Deion Branch

The Seattle Seahawks traded their 2007 first round draft pick for disgruntled New England Patriots' wide receiver Deion Branch this morning. Despite Tom Brady hitting his wideouts for a lowly 51 yards in Week 1, the Patriots decided to rid themselves of an issue that did not seem it was going to be resolved. After a career year (78 catches for 998 yards and 5 touchdowns), Branch, who is currently his entering his fifth and final year of his rookie contract, has been holding out since a mandatory mincamp in June a contract extension and has been subject to a $14,000 fine per day since the opening of training camp on July 28. The Seahawks and Branch reportedly agreed to a six-year, $39 million deal that would have paid him $13 million in combined bonuses and about $23 million in the first three years of the contract.

The addition of Super Bowl 39 MVP Deion Branch strengthens the Seahawks shaky receiving corps, which consists of Darrell Jackson, who is coming of off two knee surgeries, Nate Burleson, an offseason signing who is still settling into the offense, Bobby Engram, Hasselbeck's security blanket who is best used out of the slot, and tight end Jerramy Stevens, who is out until October with a torn meniscus in his left knee. The cost for Branch, Seattle's first round draft choice, should prove to be well worth it, as the Seahawks are not expected to be picking anywhere above the 20s anyway. While Branch is certainly capable of contributing immediately, it generally takes quite a bit of time to fully comprehend Mike Holmgren's west coast offense and build chemistry with Matt Hasselbeck, as shown with Nate Burleson. Because of this, the trade may pay off more in the future than it will this season. Whatever the case, kudos to Tim Ruskell and the Seahawks front office for pulling the trigger on this move and staying active in trying to improve what is already a Super Bowl caliber team.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Week 1

Random thoughts about each NFL game from Week One...

Pittsburgh 28, Miami 17
This was a great football game to kickoff the season. The Pittsburgh Steelers defense makes no one look good, but the Dolphins' offensive line was terrible, as was both Daunte Culpepper and Ronnie Brown. How about Charlie Batch with three touchdowns? I find it interesting how the Steelers' two most recognizable defenders, Troy Polamalu and Joey Porter, both get huge game-changing interceptions. I love big time players making big plays.

Seattle 9, Detroit 6
Yes, I know the score. But despite how much I have been saying Matt Hasselbeck has an opportunity to be great this season, 25/30 for 210 yards impresses me. Darrell Jackson's run after the catch to other side of the field was not only a huge play in the game, but encouraging to see after two knee surgeries. The Seahawk defense contained Mike Martz's offense. This game was closer than it should have been as the Lions blocked two Seahawk field goals. Shaun Alexander (19 carries for 59 yards) was unable to take over in the redzone as he normally does. This is why Seattle's offensive line, which also gave up five sacks, continues to worry me.

Atlanta 20, Carolina 6
The Michael Vick show is back! Warrick Dunn was great as usual, but the Falcons are near-impossible to stop when they are running all over you and Vick throwing two (!) touchdowns. John Abraham was a beast pressuring Jake Delhomme, who was without Steve Smith.

Baltimore 27, Tampa Bay 0
Steve McNair, Derrick Mason, Jamal Lewis, and the Ravens offense looked good as they actually moved the ball. Chris Simms, Cadilacc Williams, and the Buccaneers offense did not.

New England 19, Buffalo 17
The Patriots needed a game-winning safety to overcome a nightmare of a first half. While Buffalo was definitely impressive, no one has good chances against Tom Brady playing catch up.

Cincinnati 23, Kansas City 10
After a nasty hit, Trent Green is doubtful for next week. Without him, the Chiefs are in trouble as defenses will further key on Larry Johnson and his already weakened offensive line.

St. Louis 18, Denver 10
I am not sure whether Jim Haslett has vastly improved the Rams' defense, or whether Jake Plummer just made it seem that way. I give Jake Plummer two more games like this before Mike Shanahan makes the switch to Jay Cutler.

New Orleans 19, Cleveland 14
If you are not rooting for New Orleans, you are just evil. Sean Payton, my prediction for coach of the year, is using Reggie Bush perfectly (141 total yards off of 14 carries, 8 catches, and 3 punt returns). The combination of Bush, Deuce McAllister, and Drew Brees dumping it off to them, will prove to be better than most expect. With a soft schedule and what appears to be a weakening division (2005 Playoff teams Tampa Bay & Carolina lost), the Saints are in position to make some noise this year.

N.Y. Jets 23, Tennessee 16
I like the idea of throwing Vince Young in the second quarter for a drive. He actually looked good and completed his first three passes before taking a shot downfield and getting picked off. Chad Pennington was in control of the game, and was able to starve off an amazing Kerry Collins-led Titan comeback.

Philadelphia 24, Houston 10
David Carr looked a lot better, but still got sacked five times. Andy Reid ran the ball thirty times, setting up Donovon McNabb and the passing game for over 300 yards and 3 touchdowns.

Chicago 26, Green Bay 0
I doubt the Packers have ever been shut out at Lambeau. It is going to be another long season for Brett Favre.

Jacksonville 24, Dallas 17
T.O. had six receptions for 80 yards and a touchdown. The Cowboys' defense was looking really good, but failed to overcome Bledsoe's 3 interceptions. Remember, the Jaguars made the playoffs last year in a tough conference despite a banged up Byron Leftwich; imagine what they could do if healthy.

Arizona 34, San Franciso 27
Kurt Warner threw for over 300 yards and 3 touchdowns, but the Cardinals defense was unimpressive. I will be able to say that about the Cardinals quite often this season.

Indianapolis 26, N.Y. Giants 21
The Manning Bowl lived up to the hype. A questionable offensive pass interference call followed by an Eli interception sealed the win for the Colts. Think New Yorkers will feel for us Seattle fans after having a flag cost them a shot at winning the game?

Minnesota at Washington
The two starting quarterbacks' ages' combine for 74 years. The Redskins must win after a discouraging preseason while the Vikings look to get big road victory in a weak division.

San Diego at Oakland
Denver and Kansas City both lost, and neither looked good in doing so. The Chargers have the perfect opportunity to jump out to an early lead in the AFC West.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Super Bowl Prediction

And that means its time to declare Super Bowl Predictions…

Yes, I know Peyton Manning cannot seem to win the big game. Truth be told, my heart believes the San Diego Chargers will shock everyone with a Super Bowl Run. Then my memory reminds me of Ben Roethlisberger’s 27-4 record. But half of those losses were against the New England Patriots, and watching the preseason, my mind told me Tom Brady will make his own star receivers out of no-namers as he leads the Pats deep into the playoffs yet again.

But how do you bet against the Colts, who were ready to pop the champagne after starting last season 13-0. It is about time the coaching staff, offensive line, and Manning figure out how to beat the 3-4 defense which New England, San Diego, and Pittsburgh have all used effectively. Think Peyton’s “let’s just say we had some, uh, protection problems,” fell on deaf ears? Fifteen years after Michael Jordan finally leads the Chicago Bulls past the Detroit Pistons, Peyton Manning will lead the Colts past his roadblock for years, the 3-4 defense.

Look for Reggie Wayne, Dallas Clark, and Brandon Stokely to all step up their production as Marvin Harrison may nearing the end of his prime at age 34. While Edgerrin James’ blocking will be missed, Dominic Rhodes and Joseph Addai will combine to help Peyton Manning continue rolling the juggernaut that is the Colts offense. Look for the brilliant tactic of running the ball and keeping their defense off the field to return as it worked wonders for the Colts last season. The losses of linebacker David Thornton and defensive Larry Tripplett should not be evident if the scary front four in Dwight Freeney, Robert Mathis, Corey Simon and Montae Reagor picks up from where it left off last season.

Sep 10 @N.Y. Giants 8:15pm
Sep 17 Houston 1:00pm
Sep 24 Jacksonville 1:00pm
Oct 1 @N.Y. Jets 1:00pm
Oct 8 Tennessee 1:00pm
Week 6 BYE
Oct 22 Washington 4:15pm
Oct 29 @Denver 4:15pm
Nov 5 @New England 8:15pm
Nov 12 Buffalo 1:00pm
Nov 19 @Dallas 1:00pm
Nov 26 Philadelphia 1:00pm
Dec 3 @Tennessee 1:00pm
Dec 10 @Jacksonville 1:00pm
Dec 18 Cincinnati 8:30pm
Dec 24 @Houston 1:00pm
Dec 31 Miami 1:00pm

If you look at the schedule, the Colts have it a lot tougher than they did last season. While the rest of the AFC South poses no threat to Indianapolis’ division crowning this year, save for a couple physical Jacksonville games, two tough home games late in the season may be potential playoff previews when the Cincinnati Bengals and Miami Dolphins visit. Road trips to Denver, New England, and Dallas are certainly losable while everyone has their eyes on Sunday Night’s Manning Bowl in New York. This tough schedule may actually prove to be a blessing in disguise if it prevents the Colts from packing it in December like last season instead of staying in rhythm all the way through the playoffs.

Remember, the Indianapolis Colts were just one missed field goal or one missed tackle from hosting the Denver Broncos in the AFC Championship game. And we all know how that story would have ended.

The Super Bowl Loser Trend. The Sports Illustrated Cover Jinx. The Madden Curse. The Seattle Seahawks have achieved the first Triple Crown of football curses, and yet I still believe that they will manage to pull off another Super Bowl run.

The Seahawks’ front seven quietly led the NFL with 50 sacks last season, and may have actually improved with the signing of linebacker Julian Peterson, who joins two young rising stars in Lofa Tatupu and LeRoy Hill. Free safety Ken Hamlin returns to anchor the hard hitting secondary while Michael Boulware is due for a breakout third year as strong safety.

The well documented loss of Pro Bowler Steve Hutchinson to Minnesota is a fatal blow to Seattle’s offensive line, which was widely regarded as the NFL’s best last season. Injury prone Floyd “Pork Chop” Womack is expected to fill in at left guard, with impressive rookie Rob Sims ready to fill in if necessary. No matter how well either performs, it would definitely be an immediate downgrade. Then again, whoever is blocking for MVP Shaun Alexander and next to football’s best left tackle in Walter Jones cannot look so bad.

The bigger loss may be wide receiver Joe Jurevicius, who helped fill in for often injured starters Darrell Jackson and Bobby Engram. Seattle hopes that free agent acquisition Nate Burleson will combine with healthy Jackson and Engram to help replace Jerevicius’ whopping ten touchdowns last season.

I was ready to proclaim 2006 as Jerramy Stevens’ put up or shut up year before he injured his knee in training camp. Because former starter Itula Mili is banged up as usual, Stevens will still have a decent opportunity to redeem himself if he can return healthy by October as expected.

Another question is if Shaun Alexander, who was not the toughest runner to begin with, will dial it back a bit after cashing in on his record setting season with a $62 million contract over the next eight years. With defenses keying in on Shaun Alexander, a regressed offensive line, and a head coach who prefers to throw the ball in Mike Holmgren, the stage is set for Matt Hasselbeck to have his career season. While it is unlikely he will be worth a first-round pick (!) in a fantasy football draft, Hasselbeck will cement himself with Steven Young and Brett Favre as another Holmgren trained legend.

Barring injuries, the major factor in determining Seattle’s ability to confidently sing Will Smith’s “Going to Miami” is making sure that the road to the Super Bowl runs through Seattle, just like it did last season in which the Seahawks were 10-0 at Quest Field.

Usually, optimistic teams enter the season with winning their respective division as their primary goal. However, Seattle swept their NFC West rivals last season and should expect to do the same in 2006. The Arizona Cardinals are expected to contend for the division title or a wild-card playoff berth, but that all relies on their shaky offensive line and run defense. The San Francisco 49ers are considered to be the worst team in the NFL talent-wise and are far away from improving. The St. Louis Rams have the talent, but completely new coaching staff, offense, and defense. Seattle should have the division wrapped up before Thanksgiving.

Sep 10 @Detroit 1:00pm
Sep 17 Arizona 4:05pm
Sep 24 N.Y. Giants 4:15pm
Oct 1 @Chicago 8:15pm
Week 5 BYE
Oct 15 @St. Louis 1:00pm
Oct 22 Minnesota 4:15pm
Oct 29 @Kansas City 1:00pm
Nov 6 Oakland 8:30pm
Nov 12 St. Louis 4:15pm
Nov 19 @San Francisco 4:05pm
Nov 27 Green Bay 8:30pm
Dec 3 @Denver 4:15pm
Dec 10 @Arizona 4:05pm
Dec 14 San Francisco 8:00pm
Dec 24 San Diego 4:15pm
Dec 31 @Tampa Bay 1:00pm

If you look at the schedule, Seattle has a four road games that they can easily lose: at Chicago, at Kansas City, at Denver, at Tampa Bay. In order to survive this, the Seahawks must pull off another undefeated season at home. The Seahawks play much better at noisy and rainy Quest Field than they do anywhere else, and will roll through the softer home schedule. The only two tough games will be against the San Diego Chargers on Christmas Eve and Eli Manning’s New York Giants, who actually had the Seahawks beat in Seattle last season if not for nine false starts and three missed field goals. If the Seahawks manage to steal one of the tough games on the road while holding down the fort at home, another 13-3 season is not a stretch at all. All this schedule talk is, of course, based on speculative expectations.

As they demonstrated during last year’s playoff run, the Seahawks home-field advantage in the playoffs makes them a near-impossible team to beat. Even with MVP Shaun Alexander going down early against the Washington Redskins, Matt Hasselbeck was able to rally behind the hungry Seattle fans. The Seahawks went on to shut down Steve Smith, and consequently the entire Panthers offense, during the rout that was the NFC championship game in Seattle. If the Seahawks have home field advantage, it does not matter who comes to Seattle; they stand no chance.

The Colts offense is still banged up after a grueling dogfight against the surprising San Diego Chargers in the AFC championship game.
A couple of questionable holding calls and Michael Boulware interception prevent Peyton Manning from scoring in the redzone.

Seattle 21, Indianapolis 10