LAST WEEK STRAIGHT UP: 10-6
LAST WEEK vs. SPREAD: 8-8
After Marshawn Lynch got stuffed for a four yard loss on fourth and two just inside St. Louis Rams territory in overtime at the Edward Jones Dome last Sunday afternoon....
....I posted on my Facebook page that Kam Chancellor's leverage in his contract holdout dispute with the Seattle Seahawks "just skyrocketed". I made that observation for a lot of reasons, but really only needed one: Dion Bailey, Chancellor's replacement, tripping over his own feet and falling on his face, leaving Rams tight end Lance Kendricks wide open for the thirty-seven yard score that sent the game into overtime, where Marshawn Lynch got the opportunity to get stuffed for that four yard loss and fourth down with the game on the line.
Up until that point, it had been a typical Seahawks at Rams affair, apart from the overabundance of scoring. Nip and tuck, both defensive lines dominating their offensive line counterparts (Russell Wilson sacked seven times, Nick Foles somewhat less than that), Seattle dominating the rushing game and winning the turnover battle 3-1. The 'hawks also saw the inaugural "official" touchdowns of Tyler Lockett on a beautiful kick return for a touchdown in the first quarter and all-pro tight end Jimmy Graham on a red zone catch earlier in the fourth quarter.
But you could clearly see the impact of Kam Chancellor's absence, both in the less spirited way the LOB (entire defense) played and in how the secondary gave up almost three hundred yards passing. I will acknowledge that Nick Foles is a substantial upgrade on Sam Bradford at the quarterback position, but with the pressure that Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett and Bruce Irvin and the rest of the D-line were getting on the Rams signalcaller, you'd have thought that the three turnovers Seattle forced (and one run back for a touchdown by cornerback Cary Williams, whose debut in a Seahawk uniform went a helluva lot better than Byron Maxwell's did in Philly) would have been most or all interceptions, rather than fumble recoveries.
Now don't get me wrong, I'm not coming down with both feet on Dion Bailey. He's a good strong safety, and the embarrassment he suffered at the worst possible time last Sunday could have happened to anybody, including the selfish guy for whom he's filling in. But the point is, Bailey ISN'T that guy. A special player the magnitude of Kam Chancellor can't just be replaced in "next man up" fashion, any more than Earl Thomas or Richard Sherman or Marshawn Lynch or Russell Wilson could be. That reality was abundantly clear before Dion Bailey stumblebummed the 'hawks to their first losing regular season opener in three years. Bailey's clutziness just put an emblematic face on it.
Not that having Bam-Bam Kam back in the fold, all sweetness and light an everything forgiven, would make any difference this week. But being 1-1 would have been a lot better than 0-2.
Straight up picks indicated by asterisk (*); picks against the spread in parentheses (x). And no, don't bet the farm on these picks; they're just for my amusement and your aggravation. Or vice versa. We'll see how it turns out, now, won't we?
N.Y. Giants* (-2.5)
New England* (-1)
St. Louis* -3.5
Green Bay* (-3.5)
New Orleans* (-10.5)