LAST WEEK STRAIGHT UP: 8-5
LAST WEEK vs. SPREAD: 7-6
SEASON STRAIGHT UP: 88-44
SEASON vs. SPREAD: 67-65
Last year, the "murderers' row" of the Seattle Seahawks' schedule looked to be down the home stretch in the last half of the season. Ditto our Super Bowl championship year of 2013. In the latter, we were just that damn good. In the former, we weren't as good, but every break broke our way, most especially the season-ending injuries to Arizona Cardinal starting quarterback Carson Palmer and then his backup, Drew Stanton. The latter only got a field goal off of the Legion of Boom up here at the Clink; the third-stringer they signed off the street, Ryan Lindley, who hadn't taken an NFL snap in two years....actually managed a couple of field goals. It's like the karma was perfectly arranged in the right order, with the Cards being - and this was documented - the luckiest team in the league, zooming out to a three-game NFC West lead, and then completely collapsing as we got hot in November and especially December. All the pieces for a second straight Super Bowl run fell into place, and but for one boneheaded play call from Offensive Coordinator Darrell Bevel, we'd have won the first back-to-back championships in over a decade.
This season the "murderers' row" portion of the 'hawks' schedule came in the first half, and we've got the .500 record to prove it. But there's more to it than who we've played and where. A pattern has definitely emerged.
Here are the QBRs and rankings of the starting quarterbacks of the teams Seattle has defeated:
Jimmy Clausen (Bears), 58.7, #47
Matt Stafford (Lions), 84.1, #28
Colin Kaepernick (49ers), 78.5, #39
Matt Cassel (Cowboys), 78.1, #40
And here are the QBRs and rankings of the starting quarterbacks of the teams that have defeated Seattle:
Nick Foles (Rams), 79.7, #36
Aaron Rodgers (Packers), 108.2, #4
Andy Dalton (Bengals), 111.2, #2
Cam Newton (Panthers), 81.4, #34
Discerned the pattern yet? Okay, here it is: We have only beaten teams with crappy quarterbacks, or whose QBs had off days. Look at our four wins; two of them were against teams playing backup signal-callers, and a third - Kaepernick - has since been benched. And we barely beat the lone current starter, Stafford, only because Kam Chancellor returned to save the day on Detroit's last drive when he punched the ball out of Calvin Johnson's hands at the one-yard line as he was heading into the end zone for the winning touchdown.
Now don't get me wrong, there's no shame in losing to Aaron Rodgers at Lambeau where the Packers never lose when he's running the show, and Dalton is having a career year and the game was in Cincy. But we made Foles look like he belonged in the same elite category (115.8 QBR), and Newton....okay, we humiliated him like we usually do for three quarters, but in the final stanza the LOB let him really turn into Superman. Ditto Dalton, really.
Time was when this defense imposed its will on even the greatest of quarterbacks - remember Peyton Manning's nightmare outing in Super Bowl XLVIII? - but ever since Tom Brady dropped an MVP performance on them in Glendale nine months ago, the Legion just hasn't been the same.
And now, tonight, in front of a national television audience and almost seventy thousand anxious 12s at Century Link, Seattle faces not just its biggest division rival, not just the team that is leading the NFC West, not just the game that will likely determine whether this team even makes the playoffs in 2015, but the team....with the #3 ranked quarterback in pro football: Carson Palmer and the 6-2 Arizona Cardinals.
In the words of Volstagg after being summoned by Heimdall in Thor, "We're doomed".
But what the heck, we might as well look at the tale of the tape:
TOTAL OFFENSE: Cardinals #3, Seahawks #19
RUSHING OFFENSE: Seahawks #3, Cardinals #9
PASSING OFFENSE: Cardinals #4, Seahawks #28
TOTAL DEFENSE: Seahawks #2, Cardinals #3
RUSHING DEFENSE: Cardinals #4, Seahawks #9
PASSING DEFENSE: Seahawks #2, Cardinals #7
Crunch the numbers and what you get is that the Cards will stuff Marshawn Lynch and Thomas Rawls, contain Russell Wilson in the pocket and probably challenge the NFL record for sacks in a single game versus the worst offensive line in the league, and maybe ever. Whereas Carson Palmer will light up the mojo-less LOB like a gamma ray burst in the second half and win going away.
But....there is the matter of the Cardinals' first half schedule being so ludicrously easy that one can not unreasonably suspect an NFL anti-Seahawk conspiracy being afoot.
Take another look at our wins, with my current power rankings....
San Francisco (#29)
St. Louis (#12)
Green Bay (#7)
....and then Arizona's wins....
New Orleans (#25)
San Francisco (#29)
St. Louis (#12)
While the Seahawks have been running the Klingon painstik gauntlet, the Cardinals have been beating up on tomato cans that would have difficulty against the University of Redlands. And when they've faced a quality opponent, down they've gone.
We come into this game still ranked at #6, Arizona at #4. But they've faced one winning team all year (and the Steelers are only 5-4), while we've already played three guaranteed division champions, two of them on the road.
And we're at home.
I say the Cards get dealt tonight. But we won't make it easy. We NEVER make it easy.
But if we do....the rest of the league had better get ready to collectively gasp and exclaim, "Uh-oh...."
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?
St. Louis* (-7.5)
Green Bay* (-11.5)
Kansas City (+6.5)
New England* (-7)