Gridiron football. It's a crazy game where anything can happen any Sunday (or Monday or Thursday for that matter). As a fan it is our tendency to get real high on teams that are expected to win and really low after losing games we are expected to win, it is the nature of the game and is a testament to the predictability of human emotion. One week you are riding your high horse and the next you've lost a game and the season is over before it's ever really gotten going.
Being a Seattle fan I've spent the last five years on top of the mountain and down in the deepest valleys as far as recent seasons have gone. The Seahawks as a team went from being Super Bowl participants to being NFC West co-cellar dwellers in a matter of two seasons. I expected this season to be the beginning of a rebuilding process, a three-year plan, but a flurry of flashy off season moves, a successful draft, and the general hype surrounding the Seahawks as a possible divisional upset choice in the NFC West all culminated in a Week 1 victory over the team that the majority had picked to win the division in the San Francisco 49ers. Granted, I've never been one to drink the Kool-Aid of teams that have been recently in the gutter or have consistently been on the fringe as the 49ers have, but it's not like they have any real competition on paper.
Arizona hemorrhaged too many star players and key contributors to stay competitive.
Seattle and St. Louis have been horrid for two straight seasons and are both busy with their own rebuilding projects.
Fans in San Francisco believed that their ticket to the playoffs was punched prematurely, but here's a reality check.
Nothing is automatic and nothing is guaranteed, not in a game where at any given point the worst team can beat the best team in the most awkward of circumstances.
In Week 1 that Seattle win elated fans in the Northwest and instantly deflated hopes of those in Niner nation. There were calls for the heads of Michael Crabtree, Mike Singletary, Jimmy Raye, Alex Smith, you name it. Meanwhile everything was all optimism here in the north...until Week 2.
The Seattle Seahawks took the field and began to quickly slice through the Denver defense like a hot knife through butter, getting into the red zone in what seemed like no time flat. Matt Hasselbeck had tempo in his favor, the offense looked upbeat and was playing well. Two penalties, one called back touchdown, and an interception later, everything seemingly fell apart in front of our eyes. Walter Thurmond dropped a punt return which was recovered by Denver within our red zone, they scored, and the rest is history.
Now fans are calling for the heads of Hasselbeck, Kelly Jennings, Colin Cole, Pete Carroll...you name it. Many are already ready to throw in the towel even though there are still 14 games left for this team to be played, and even though we can't finish out this week any worse than in a three way tie for the division lead with a Arizona team that looked even worse than we did today, and the same 49er team we've already beaten.
I'm not going to go out and predict scores, but looking at our teams strengths, I believe we can overcome the mental errors that killed our chances of winning today's game. The fact remains that this unit still needs time to jell, on both sides of the ball, and by the bye week we should be playing much more cleanly than we did today. So I decided to to try not to predict exact scores, but the general probability of the Seahawks winning in their 14 remaining contests based upon what I've seen in the first 2 weeks of the season. Don't give up just yet hawks fans, this season may be a rebuilding project, but an easy schedule and a weak division may pave the way for possible playoff contention by the time the season is over.
I did my best to factor in home field advantage, team strengths and weaknesses on both sides of the ball and how those strengths and weaknesses compare and either cancel each other out or enhance each other (ex. bad secondary play by Team A vs. great passing offense for Team B = great passing day for team B)
The Seahawks project as a balanced attack on offense with solid (average) passing and strong (above average) running on offense while being a great run stuffing team with average to below average secondary play as a whole with the potential for big plays being the saving grace of the coverage's shortfalls.
1 (San Francisco @ Home) - W
2 (@ Denver) - L
3 (San Diego @ Home) W probability 65 percent
They are too depleted at the receiver position and have yet to prove that they can run with consistency, beyond that we will have the advantage of playing at home in the toughest place to play for opposing teams on the road. I think the Seahawks welcome the Chargers to the "Bowl of Noise" with a solid Hawk victory. It will be hard for Philip Rivers to have easy communications with his coaches and teammates if our fans have anything to say about it.
4 (@ St. Louis) W probability 70 percent
The Rams haven't beaten us in forever, be it home or away. I'll believe they're better than us when I see it. They are a strong running team which is neutralized by the strength of our run blocking front, and Sam Bradford can only be expected to do so much so well as a rookie.
6 (@ Chicago) W probability 20 percent
They are playing out of this world in almost every aspect of the game and they will be playing at home, that doesn't bode well for the hawks. Their strength as a phenomenal passing team is further exacerbated by our average secondary play.
7 (Arizona @ Home) W probability 75 percent
They are even more depleted than San Diego and we will be at home. They are a pass-first team trying to provide a balanced attack that I don't see Beanie Wells or Tim Hightower succeeding in. Derek Anderson is having trouble despite having a phenomenal set of receivers at his disposal.
8 (@ Oakland) W probability 60 percent
I haven't bought into the hype surrounding either team in the bay area, Darren McFadden won't be able to run and the QB circus in Oakland should generate yards but falter in the end zone, where our secondary tends to play better than it actually is.
9 (New York Giants @ Home) W probability 40 percent
They are a scary good team that plays well on the road, however our record against them over the past few years has been favorable when in our house. I believe that even if we shut down Ahmad Bradshaw/Brandon Jacobs, they just have too many talented receivers being targeted by Eli Manning to fail...despite playing at Qwest Field.
10 (@ Arizona) W probability 60 percent
They won't want to be swept by us and the desert heat may bite us if our D stays out for too long, but I believe this franchise is too crippled to beat us at home or away. The circumstances for the win are no different in this repeat performance in the desert.
11 (@ New Orleans) W probability 10 percent
Unless Drew Brees has been affected by the Madden Curse at this point in the season, there is virtually no way we can beat a stacked Saints team in the Superdome.
12 (Kansas City @ Home) W probability 70 percent
The Chiefs win by running the ball, our D neutralizes the run and victimizes bad Quarterbacks. We will be playing at home and we will win unless we beat ourselves.
13 (Carolina @ Home) W probability 65 percent
If the same Carolina team that takes the field resembles the one we've seen over the first two weeks of the season, this will be an easy home game. Carolina's strength is in the run and we will neutralize that strength at home.
14 (@ San Francisco) W probability 40 percent
The 49ers are too good to lose to us at home, they will want revenge after being trounced in the first game and Alex Smith will most likely not be starting for them at this point in the season. If we contain the run again we have a solid chance at victory but I see this one slipping away from us.
15 (Atlanta @ Home) W probability 35 percent
While there is a solid window of opportunity for us to win, I could see Atlanta having a field day against us if our fans can't disrupt their offensive communication throughout the game. A likely loss as Atlanta is both a proficient passing and running team.
16 (@ Tampa Bay) W probability 50 percent
In a meeting of the 1976 NFL Expansion teams I expect a tossup. If Tampa truly develops a consistent offense and defense by this point in the season I have a hard time predicting an easy win unless Marcus Trufant can blank Tampa's Mike Williams.
17 (St. Louis @ Home) W probability 80 percent
We have swept St. Louis every year since reaching the Super Bowl, even as bad as we have been. Sam Bradford alone will not completely turn around such a lowly team and we will be playing at Qwest Field. While I can envision a close game, I can't imagine a scenario where St. Louis wins this game.
In the end I believe the Seahawks benefit from a easy schedule on paper so, as far as my predictions go, there is quite the probability that the Seahawks go 10-6. While that record would be more a reflection of the light schedule they have, I believe they can be a competitive team against stiff opposition as they continue to jell throughout the season, going 8-8 at worst, which could still win the NFC West if the 49ers can't live up to their expectations.