Another NFL season begins tonight with the country’s most powerful league bowing to the President of the United States and the Democratic National Convention and moving their annual Thursday night opener to Wednesday. The Cowboys and the Giants will kick things off from Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ at 5:30pm Pacific time. The Cowboys are over rated as usual and are not likely to make much noise this season. The Giants are the defending Super Bowl Champs and likely to be formidable again as quarterback Eli Manning is really only now entering his prime.
In Renton (not Seattle) my beloved Seahawks gear up for a highly anticipated season in which it’s expected they can have a winning record for the first time since 2007, the year before we all went sailing off the Seattle Sports Cliff that was 2008. You remember 2008 don’t you? Ooooo! Make’s me shutter just thinking about it.
The Seahawks were 7-9 last year for the second straight year. But unlike 2010 had no playoff appearance and subsequently no playoff win. But they did have a strong second half of the season, going 5-3. Those three losses coming by a combined 11 points.
Seattle opens against the Arizona Cardinals in Phoenix. They do so with their third starting quarterback in as many seasons. This time it’s rookie Russell Wilson getting the call over free agent acquisition Matt Flynn. I couldn’t disagree with Pete Carroll’s decision to start the 3rd Round Draft pick more strongly. Flynn doesn’t have much playing experience in his 4 seasons as league MVP Aaron Roger’s backup. But shouldn’t his evaluation in two regular season games carry more weight than Russell’s in 3 exhibition games? I think so. And Flynn’s production in those two games was phenomenal. His production during THIS preseason wasn’t bad either. He was a few Terrell Owens dropped passes away from matching every statistic Wilson piled up.
Still we open with a very talented rookie who will make mistakes. Hopefully they’ll be limited and something the team can overcome. We’re still better off with Wilson and Flynn backing up than we were with Tavares Jackson with Charlie Whitehurst backing up; which we all suffered through last year.
And overall I’m very encouraged for the coming year. Seattle’s defense looks really, really good. They ranked 9th in the league in 2011 while inserting lots of new players. Having a year under their belt, playing together, and getting used to Carroll’s system can only help. Adding 1st round draft pick Bruce Irvin from West Virginia should improve the defenses only weak spot from 2011, the pass rush. They ranked 19th in the league in sacks last year. And while Irvin didn’t show much this pre-season he has so much speed that if he learns how to best utilize it he could put on quite the show. More importantly, Seattle’s secondary of Cam Chancellor, Earl Thomas, Brandon Browner, and Richard Sherman could be the best in the league. Thomas and Browner have already made the Pro Bowl; and I think Sherman is a better corner than Browner. But Sherman didn’t get into the starting lineup until half-way through his rookie year.
Seattle has a tough schedule. Don’t they always seem too? But they’re fortunately playing division rivals St. Louis and Arizona 4 times, which I count as four wins. And I believe they’ll split with defending division champ San Francisco, like they almost did last year losing 19-17 in large part because Jackson is one of the all time worst 2:00 minute quarterbacks. Unfortunately from a win-loss standpoint and fortunately from a fan viewing standpoint the Hawks host both New England and Green Bay this year. Both are Super Bowl favorites, and both I’m expecting to be losses.
So I’ve mentioned 8 games and predicted a 5-3 record from those games. Of the eight remaining only three are at home against the Cowboys, Vikings and Jets. They are all wins. The five remaining road games will determine the season for Seattle. Three are east-coast games and only Miami looks winnable. Buffalo in mid-December ought to be a treat. NOT! Carolina October 7, Detroit October 28, and Chicago December 2 I’m counting as losses too.
That’s a 9-7 record. And I’m being conservative. I think 10-6 is very realistic, and 11-5 isn’t completely out of the question…especially if a switch to Matt Flynn occurs early in the season.
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