LAST WEEK STRAIGHT UP: 9-6
LAST WEEK vs. SPREAD: 6-9
SEASON STRAIGHT UP: 39-24
SEASON vs. SPREAD: 32-31
You know those games where you win on the scoreboard but everything about the game feels like a crushing defeat? That's what Seattle's 13-10 victory over the still-winless Detroit Lions on Monday Night Football felt like. It was a game the Seahawks dominated on one side of the ball but got so badly pummeled on the other side that the one-bonehead-play-call-away-from-two-time-defending-World-Champs really deserved to lose. Which they did not, ironically, thanks to the man who is largely responsible for their 0-2 start.
Now that Kam Chancellor is back, the LOB (my stubborn nickname for the entire 'hawks defense) is back to being its normal suffocating self. Detroit couldn't run the ball, Matthew Stafford couldn't pass it from under the pile of pass rushers that made his night miserable, Calvin "Megatron" Johnson got introduced to the NFL's best strong safety head on. Pretty much another day at the office....
....except for the absence of takeaways. We're four weeks into this regular season and the Legion has zero, zip, nada, bupkis interceptions. That's no misprint. We've recovered a few fumbles, but we haven't picked off a pass in sixteen quarters. Not Sherm, not Earl Thomas, not Bam-Bam, not Cary Williams, not Tharold Simon, Desean Shead, Dion Bailey....nobody. Period. That's a serious and conspicuous hole, because opportunistic defense leading to short-field offense has been one of the key ingredients to the unparalleled success this franchise has enjoyed over the past few years. Never an offensive powerhouse, the more Russell Wilson & Co. have to "earn" points, the more lugnuts go flying off the wheels of the Pete Carroll Express.
And given that Marshawn Lynch missed a game for the first time since 2011 with a hamstring injury, and Fred Jackson sustained a high ankle sprain, Seattle was thin at running back, meaning the $87.6 million man didn't have a reliable running game on which to lean. That factor, combined with Wilson's mobility, is why the Seahawks have been able to get by (and to consecutive Super Bowls) with a mediocre offensive line that has never been great at pass protection. This season we've got, without question, the worst offensive line in the National Football League. Patchwork doesn't begin to describe it. They can't run-block (as has been painfully obvious when Beast Mode HAS been on the field), they can't pass-block (giving up four sacks to the f'ing Bears, six more to the Lions, eighteen overall - and remember, that's of the most mobile QB in football. If we had Peyton Manning back there, let's just say he'd already be retired.
That's why Russell Wilson lost three fumbles against Detroit, one of them run back for a twenty-seven yard touchdown that put the Lions in position to win the game late. Which also happened to be when they mustered their only long drive of the game, which would have produced the go-ahead (and game-winning) TD but for the ball being punched out of Megatron's hands at the one-yard line by....Holdout Man himself.
So Kam Chancellor costs his team the Rams game and prevents the offensive line from kicking away this one. Goes to show how much of a difference one player can make.
Or four. We keep hearing on Seattle sports radio from Pete Carroll and the players that they'll get these O-line problems "fixed," but when three-quarters of your offensive line is made up of guys who never played offensive line before this season (two converted D-linemen and a former tight end), that's the kind of O-line problem that can only be fixed in the off-season.
But then this is the stage of their run on top of the league that the Seahawks are in. Before they paid off all their core guys, they had extra cash under the salary cap to bring in lots of linemen. That's no longer the case, and now they're paying for it. Especially Russell Wilson, who is plainly and simply getting hit way too much and is sooner or later going to suffer a season-ending injury that will destroy the 2015 campaign for this club. Being on pace to be sacked seventy-two times and hit who knows how many times more, it is more or less inevitable.
As for this morning's game at The Jungle, the Cincinnati Bengals are undefeated, and though they've not played any top teams yet, their offense is a well-oiled machine, and their defense is always underrated. And given that Marshawn Lynch has been scratched from the lineup again today, the 'hawks will be unable to do what they've always done best - run the ball - unable to keep Andy Dalton & Co. off the field, unable to set up play action passes to Jimmy Graham, we've got no shot at being competitive in this contest. So forget about it. Even the LOB will be worn down and overwhelmed.
And the Seattle Seahawks will once again sink below .500. A new experience for all those bandwagon jumpers we picked up since 2012, and one they'd be well-advised to get used to.
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?
Kansas City* (-9.5)
Green Bay* (-9.5)
N.Y. Giants* (-7)