LAST WEEK STRAIGHT UP: 7-9
LAST WEEK vs. SPREAD: 8-8
SEASON STRAIGHT UP: 17-15
SEASON vs. SPREAD: 16-16
[Handicapper's note: My pick for Thursday night's Week 3 kickoff game took the N.Y. Giants and the points over the Washington [Obamas]. Which is already establishing a pattern of my getting off to good starts followed by Sunday crash & burns, especially last Sunday. But then that also tends to happen early in the season before patterns have emerged. I'd shrug and say something like "It's a living," but I don't get paid for this, either.]
Not a whole lot to say about the Seahawks' 27-17 loss in Green Bay a week ago. I doubt anybody was expecting us to beat Aaron Rodgers at Lambeau, where his winning percentage the past three-plus seasons is over 90%. I sure as heck wasn't. So I didn't even look up from the last blog posts I'd be able to upload until this one, even after Russell Wilson engineered a couple of third quarter touchdown drives to take a brief 17-13 lead that I knew wouldn't last. And, of course, did not.
I will say that the same problems that cost Seattle the opener at St. Louis were still on display: Terrible offensive line play (hence Marshawn Lynch's pedestrian 41 yards rushing), stupid defensive penalties (defensive end Michael Bennett just can't stop jumping offside), and more or less complete confusion in the secondary (I'm not calling them the Legion of Boom until You Know Who returns - more on that below). The latter two were on display on a single first half play.
The Pack had possession just on the edge of field goal range. It was third down. Stuff them once more and Green Bay might be forced to punt. Instead, Bennett jumps offside (again), giving Rodgers a free play. So he did what any decent quarterback does in that situation - he took a shot at the end zone.
Meanwhile, downfield, ex-Raiders wideout James Jones was running a post pattern free and unfettered through the ordinarily suffocating Seattle pass defense. Ran right past all-pro cornerback Richard Sherman, who only belatedly seemed to realize that nobody else was going to pick Jones up. He sprinted to catch up, almost did, but Rogers' pass got through. Touchdown. Precisely the kind of play that doesn't happen to the LOB because their communication and experience with each other is so good they're almost telepathic. But while Sherm and all-pro free safety Earl Thomas were out there and opposite corner Cary Williams is doing a decent job as Byron Maxwell's replacement, strong safety Deshaun Shead was....is....well, no Kam Chancellor, whose holdout was still ongoing. Kam would have communicated everything Sherm needed to know in a split-second glance. Shead? Evidently not. And Sherm wound up looking really really bad on that play.
There is one other defensive problem, and it's amazing I'm writing this, but it's an absence of toughness and intimidation. Simply put, nobody in the NFL lights up opposing offensive skill players like Kam Chancellor. Ask Vernon Davis and Demarius Thomas, for starters, if you don't believe me. His first freight-train collision with the latter in the first quarter of Super Bowl XLVIII temporarily dislocated Thomas's shoulder. And then there was his vaulting over the entire line in the playoffs against Carolina last year to almost block consecutive field goal attempts. And his pick-six in that same game.
It's like I said last week and the week before, and not unlike what Mickie Goldmill told Rocky Balboa about the difference between the fighters against whom he had been defending his title and Clubber Lang: "No, they weren't setups; they were good fighters but they weren't killers like this guy". Dion Bailey and Deshaun Shead are good strong safeties, but they're not killers like Kam Chancellor. He's the leader of that defense - or he was, before this holdout, anyway - not somebody that can simply be replaced in "next man up" fashion.
But now.....he's baaaaaaaaaaack.
Kam Chancellor reported to the V-MAC on Wednesday and he's been activated for today's home opener at the Clink against the already overmatched and woeful Chicago Bears, who will be without even the wildly inconsistent quarterback Jay Cutler. How much of a difference will his return make? Probably not as much as the delirious, orgasmic joy and relief in this town is leading twelves to expect. Reportedly Kam is in the physical condition of an ancient Greek god, but that doesn't mean he's in "football shape". He hasn't hit and been hit, precisely the kind of thing that training camp and preseason are for. But since Seattle is only facing the
Although we all know that's not how the Lion of the Legion rolls.
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?
New England* (-13.5)
N.Y. Jets* (-2)
San Diego (+2.5)
Green Bay* (-6.5)