Seattle Seahawks: 15 Opposing Players Seahawks Fans Should Pay to See in 2011

Amaar Abdul-Nasir@amaarabdulnasirAnalyst IIJune 23, 2011

Seattle Seahawks: 15 Opposing Players Seahawks Fans Should Pay to See in 2011

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    Bad economy. Desolate job market. Rising gas prices. Skyrocketing college tuition.

    And a bunch of rich pro football players and richer team owners fighting over millions of dollars.

    Whenever the NFL's ongoing labor dispute is settled, it will understandably be tough for a lot of fans to reconcile the idea of spending their limited funds on what the league is selling. If you’re a fan of the sport though, some football players are always worth the price of admission—and parking, and food, and souvenirs—despite any disillusions with the league's business model.

    For Seattle Seahawks fans, here are 15 players coming to CenturyLink Field next season you'll want to pay to see.

15. Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings

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    The only reason Peterson isn't ranked higher is because he'll only be in town for a preseason game, so his playing time will be limited.

    That said, there isn't a more talented or explosive running back in the NFL than the Vikings superstar. Peterson is a modern-day mix of Earl Campbell and Bo Jackson, and now that Minnesota is done with the Brett Favre experiment, Peterson will have the offense running through him full time again.

    Save The Date: Aug. 20 (Preseason)

14. Brandon Banks, Washington Redskins

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    Since the Redskins' Marching Band doesn't travel, Banks is about the only person associated with this team worth paying to watch. As a rookie last season, he finished 10th in the NFL in kickoff return yards, third in punt return yards and scored on a 96-yard return at Detroit.

    Considering the Seahawks might be kicking off a lot when they play lowly Washington, Banks will get a few chances to do something spectacular.

    Save The Date: Nov. 27 (Week 12)

13. LaRod Stephens-Howling, Arizona Cardinals

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    Another home run threat you won’t want to miss (just in case).

    Stephens-Howling led the NFL in kickoff return yards last season, was fourth in kickoff return average (27.2 YPR) and found the end zone twice, including a 102-yard TD against Oakland.

    Against the Seahawks, Stephens-Howling ripped off a 71-yard kick return in Week 7 and a 52-yarder in Week 10.

    Save The Date: Sept. 25 (Week 3)

12. Tony Gonzalez, Atlanta Falcons

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    Why would you drop anything beyond NFL Sunday Ticket money to watch a 35-year-old tight end?

    Because Tony Gonzalez is arguably the greatest tight end in NFL history, and it's not often that you get a chance to say you saw the G.O.A.T. perform in person.

    Save The Date: Oct. 2 (Week 4)

11. Michael Turner, Atlanta Falcons

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    Think Maurice Jones-Drew without the recognition.

    Turner runs like a wayward bowling ball stuck on fast-forward, pinballing off linemen and linebackers before flying past defensive backs. Last season he finished third in the NFL in rushing yards (1,371) and tied for second in touchdowns (13).

    The Seahawks kept Turner relatively under wraps in their Week 15 meeting, as he gained just 3.3 yards per carry on 25 tries and didn’t score. But don't be surprised to see him post a big number the next time around.

    Save The Date: Oct. 2 (Week 4)

10. Ed Reed, Baltimore Ravens

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    He’ll blow up your backfield on a safety blitz, de-cleat your receiver going across the middle, separate your tailback from the ball in the red zone and pick off your quarterback to take it back for six points.

    And he might do all of that in one series.

    Oh, and every now and then he’ll return punts.

    Reed is slowing down a bit due to age and injuries, but the future Hall of Famer is more often than not the most dangerous man on the field whenever he suits up.

    Save The Date: Nov. 13 (Week 10)

9. Chad Ochocinco, Cincinnati Bengals

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    Is he more flash than substance? At this point in his career, yes. But Ochocinco can still back up the boasts coming out of his ever-running mouth.

    Last season No. 85 caught "only" 67 passes for 831 yards and four touchdowns, but that was after he'd been demoted to Cincinnati's No. 2 receiver behind Terrell Owens. With T.O. most likely out of the picture next year, Ocho will be back to his familiar featured role.

    Save The Date: Oct. 30 (Week 8)

8. Frank Gore, San Francisco 49ers

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    After a down year in 2010—his 853 rushing yards and three touchdowns were his lowest totals in five years—Frank Gore is poised to bounce back behind an improved offensive line and first-year Niners coach Jim Harbaugh's more imaginative offensive schemes (provided he stays healthy).

    Gore has a potent blend of power and breakaway speed, and the Seahawks know exactly what he can do: In a 2009 matchup, Gore racked up 207 yards and two TD’s on just 16 carries against Seattle.

    Save The Date: Dec. 24 (Week 16)

7. Patrick Willis, San Francisco 49ers

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    Certainly the best linebacker in the NFL today (probably the best defensive player in the league overall), and if he keeps going at this rate, he’ll need to be tested by the government.

    Patrick Willis has made the Pro Bowl four times in his four pro seasons, averaging just under 150 tackles per year. He can do everything you’d want a linebacker to do, and he does it well. Willis is one of those players you have to see in person to truly appreciate; TV doesn’t do his game justice.

    Save The Date: Dec. 24 (Week 16)

6. Steven Jackson, St. Louis Rams

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    Even as a Seahawks fan, I wanted to see Jackson get the ball more than 15 times in last year's must-win regular-season finale.

    A power back in every sense, Jackson can and will run over any defender in his way; he's one of the reasons Madden added the Truck Stick.

    And while nobody is paying attention because his St. Louis teams have been so bad, Jackson is the NFL’s sixth-leading active rusher, as well as the Rams’ all-time leading rusher ahead of Eric Dickerson and Marshall Faulk.

    Save The Date: Dec. 12 (Week 14)

5. Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals

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    If he’s not the best wide receiver in the league, he’s close to the front of the line.

    Fitzgerald makes plays on the ground, through the air and most importantly, in the end zone. He makes plays against double or single coverage with two hands or one.

    Now, as soon as Fitz gets a decent quarterback on his team, watch out.

    Save The Date: Sept. 25 (Week 3)

4. DeSean Jackson, Philadelphia Eagles

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    From the opening kickoff to the final gun—just ask the New York Giants—Jackson is a threat to score anytime, from anywhere, on the field.

    He led the NFL in YPR last season (22.5), and four of his seven touchdowns covered 50 yards or more. In 2009, Jackson tied an NFL single-season record with eight TD’s covering 50 yards or more.

    Save The Date: Dec. 1 (Week 13)

3. Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons

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    "Matty Ice" is strong-armed, accurate, cool under pressure and has a knack for fourth-quarter heroics.

    Seattle fans have seen this movie before; it was called John Elway.

    With a growing arsenal of weapons at his disposal—including Roddy White, Tony Gonzalez, Michael Turner and incoming rookie Julio Jones—and his Atlanta team steadily moving up to contender status, Ryan will be a Pro Bowl fixture and one of the league's best quarterbacks for the foreseeable future.

    Save The Date: Oct. 2 (Week 4)

2. Ray Lewis, Baltimore Ravens

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    Another living legend you'll be able to catch in person while he’s still productive.

    If you want to see a football player control a game without touching the ball, watch Lewis command the Ravens' defense—and often their opponents—from his middle linebacker spot. From sideline to sideline, end zone to end zone, the 36-year-old is just as disruptive and scary today as he was more than a decade ago.

    The only downside to buying a ticket to watch Lewis work is that even a front-row seat won't get you close enough to hear his nonstop trash talking and running comedy act.

    Save The Date: Nov. 13 (Week 10)

1. Michael Vick, Philadelphia Eagles

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    Just do yourself a favor and stay in your seat whenever Philly has the ball—the nachos aren't going anywhere.

    The best part of Vick’s maturation into a legit drop-back passer—his 100.2 QB rating last season was a career-high, by far—is he didn’t lose any of the electricity in his ground game that made him a human highlight reel in the first place.

    Vick is the most valuable, most talented and most exciting player in pro football—and the Seahawks probably could have had him a couple years ago when he was an affordable free agent just looking to salvage his career.

    Next season, Seattle gets a chance to witness first-hand what could have been.

    Save The Date: Dec. 1 (Week 13)