Beat The Man - Wild Card Edition! is enough to get to the dance? Scott Jones sez, no! - not when Audrey Hepburn was promised and Roseanne Barr shows up. Like Seattle's reality in contrast to the preseason prognostications, our own Mr. Jones finds himself at odds with the concept of marking time...

Umm… hurray?

Last Week: 3-2
Season to Date: 36-35-1

The Seattle Seahawks have claimed the NFC Western Division and ‘respectability’, having tumbled one game past .500 to end the regular season at a gawdy 9-7. Are you satisfied? Inspired? Feel like tap dancing your way down Jacksonville Blvd shouting, “Katey bar the door, here we come!!” Does 9-7 ‘Beat The Man’? Hardly.

Should I be satisfied with my own enormously successful record of… oddly enough (and continuing a quite frightening theme of scary symbiosis between us) – one game above .500? (I’ve done them one better and slipped a tie in there to place myself just a sliver away from absolute average). If I were to call that satisfying – I’d have no business penning a weekly article filled with arrogant proclamations of fearless fortitude. Were I to claim that success, I’d expect a brutal rearrangement of my reality. Perhaps a swift kick in the ass to slip my legs out and remind me, “That’s precisely how far away from standing you are”.

Heading into this season, would you call 9-7 Division Champions satisfying? I don’t think so. It’s plainly not enough and here’s why:

This team is far too talented to be satisfied with that result.

And therein lies the rub…

I’ve come to the realization they think it’s enough to be talented. The actual accomplishment – isn’t something they actually burn for. “Yeah, we went 9-7 in 2004, but we all know we were a better team than that”. Or more poignantly, “I’m Shaun Alexander, and we all know I should have been given the ball again cuz I deserve the rushing title. I got robbed.” Yup, we won the Division on that Hasselbeck sneak, but you got robbed, Shaun. We’re well aware of your priorities. And we’re very, very, sorry that proper glory was not delivered unto you. Can we make it up to you by letting you out of Seattle? Fine then – happy trails.

Here’s the reality, Shaun. Consider all the many times between the 20’s you didn’t think that extra yard was of much import (as the end zone ain’t in spitting distance). Consider the enormous disparity between your style, and that of Walter Payton. And then perhaps you’ll understand what it takes to EARN a rushing title. Every down. Every inch. All you had to do was not fall over when you saw a shadow – and the title would have been yours. If you ask me, it’s a miracle in poetic justice that you missed it by a yard. Quite seriously. Perhaps that will improve your game some when the TEAM really needs that 1st down on 3rd and short from the 45…

Now, Shaun Alexander is in fact a fine Running Back. Going into the year, many were arguing we should unload Shaun now and recoup something before he departs as a Free Agent – and I was most certainly not one of those. It’s clear to me he’s a key ingredient to our Super Bowl aspirations. However, he’s now signed it in cement that he carries more respect for himself, than he does the game of football and the enormity of the team concept. (Some may have noticed he never even moved towards the line on that QB sneak. Likely hoping for a loss of yardage to allow for the distance he needs? He hardly seemed happy to score, eh. Which is just simply unacceptable to me).

And perhaps, that personality is the key to what’s wrong with this football team. It’s a conglomeration of individuals quite secure in their abilities, unwilling to pay the price to be something more than themselves. And that don’t cut it in the National Football League. No, sir. In this sport – it’s all about the ring.

Which is why I’m far from satisfied with a Division title. If we earn anything less than a Super Bowl appearance - this season is a failure. That’s all there is to it. Opportunities are slim in the NFL, and we’re sitting on a golden egg. We still have the talent to take it all the way (and that will NOT be the case for years to come). All that’s required is the right light bulb blinking in their heads. Editor Doug penned a quite satisfying and revealing interview this week with author James Lavin, who obsessively dug down underneath the New England Patriots to uncover their methods of consistent success and the answer was simple. Success in the NFL means: T-E-A-M. No one is bigger than the team. And anyone who thinks they are? Can’t be on it.

Shaun Alexander doesn’t understand that. Koren Robinson doesn’t understand that. Mike Holmgren doesn’t understand that. And neither does Ray Rhodes (ya gotta be accountable to be on the team, Ray). Jerry Rice? Nope. But there is one guy on this team who most certainly does. We’re real fortunate that he happens to be the guy behind center. Matt Hasselbeck plays football for the right reasons. Everyone else just needs to get in line.

And let me just say this: Consider the disparity of our chances of winning playing in St Louis vs. Seattle. We’re not playing in St Louis because Holmgren made the RIGHT call and let #8 take it in for the score. That’s the facts, Jack. Anyone who thinks otherwise needs to zzzzzzzzip it! ZIP! Zzztt! Sssst. Zip. Zip it!!

Now, I’ve grumbled enough and here’s the positive angle:

The Rams are the perfect team to tangle with in this spot. It all went sour the last time we had them at home and if we can right our ship against the team that put a hole in it… If we can come out like gang-busters and throttle the Rams, unforgiving and relentlessness… CLOSE OUT the Rams in fine fashion? That could be enough to knock off the smell of bad fish and propel us forward. That’s the ONLY thing we can have right now that would allow for any semblance of confidence, focus, and resolve. Kick some mountain goat ass at the scene of the crime – and we just might have ourselves the motivation to pay it forward. That is, if the team cares enough about more than the individual…

I know I do.

(With apologies to reader, “Juice”) I’m takin’ Seattle minus the 4 at home and we’re gonna whup some billy goat tuckus!!

Ouch, that’s a tough spread. However, the Chargers truly are the real deal (and a lesson Seattle can learn from). You cannot ignore what they’ve accomplished this year – consistently. Nor the fact they have proven to be one of the more balanced teams in the NFL, despite the initial poor flavor of their roster. Dare I say it… they may be the team the Steelers have to beat (I don’t foresee a SD win in that situation, but it is an interesting match-up). But looking only at this game:

I very much like the Chargers 3-4 Defense facing the Jets conservative check down approach. The only way to exploit the Chargers is down the field against their questionable corners (though Peyton Manning had difficulty there himself). They’re going to key on BTM beater Curtis Martin and swallow up all that 10-yard dink-and-dunk passing. It’s going to be difficult for the Jets to move the ball, and that is going to inspire the crowd to an amplitude difficult to deal with. The 12th man is a difference maker in this match-up, to be sure. They’re starving for it. A turnover or two early spells doom for the Jets.

On the opposite side, I respect Herman Edwards tremendously, and I do not doubt they will come to play. The speed of the Jets defense could create a problem for the Chargers similar approach to offense. They have GOT to open it up early and get them on their heels. The concern here is… will Marty go back to what he knows and play conservative football? Or has he truly bought in to the “new” NFL?

BTM says yes. Marty loves these players. He’s going to let them play. And be rewarded for it. Chargers by 10.

Yup, I know. They got killed last year in this same situation. This just in: You almost ALWAYS find success the other way when it comes to a playoff rematch. Furthermore – that is a boatload of points for the Colts to be giving to a team with a fine opportunity to score in any facet of the game.

‘But Schlep, you’ve been railing the Broncos all year. What’s with the sudden respect?’ No sudden respect. I’ve been finding success vs. Denver when they were favored facing a quality opponent. So let’s do the math here… Denver gets 10 points from the other guys… Denver GETS points? Oh, hey, that means they aren’t favored. They’re the underdog! By a really whole lot!! Wow – starting with 10 points is really fun! Let’s go with Denver!! Hurrayyy beer!

But seriously, Denver can score points. The Colts have an admittedly porous defense – but they get turnovers, right? And Denver is turnover prone. That’s true. However, the Broncos overuse of the bootleg is going to serve dividends in this game. That aughta do plenty to freeze chaos mastermind DE Dwight Freeney. Freeney can’t tee off from the end with the spin move, etc – when Plummer keeps killing him outside the pocket. And another thing – Jake Plummer is going to have a fine game. You can mark that down. This guy can play and he will earn respect come Sunday.

Do I think Denver is going to win? Uh, no. But they have a chance to. And that’s all I need to feel to take 10 points (never take a team you think has NO chance of winning regardless of how many points they’re getting. That is not what I’m falling prey to here).

Now here’s a game I can really bank on!! I LOVE the Vikings in this game. I know, I know, I’ve been saying all year that they’re not last year’s team – and then they went and lost to the Skins, and flopped into the playoff’s even more disturbingly than Seattle did. And Randy Moss walking off the field makes Shaun Alexander look like the most dedicated football player of all time. And besides, if they’re any damned good, they should have beat GB at home when they had the chance and claimed the Division. Yup, yup, and yup… but they’re still going to beat the Pack in Lambewwww. And if they don’t – they’re gonna cover. I guarrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrantee it.

The Packers aren’t any damned good. That’s what I say! They’re not in a position to win by 6. They’ve been all over the map as far as credibility goes.

Contrarily, the Vikings, although they’ve dropped a few games they shouldn’t have – HAVE NOT CHUMPED OUT THIS YEAR! Going backwards the last 10 games to an ugly game against New York (13-34), the results are as follows: -3 @DC, -3 vsGB, +1 @DET, -4 vsSEA, -10 @CHI (oops), +11 vsJAX, +3 vsDET, -3 @GB and -3 @IDY. And now they’re going to get killed by the Pack? I don’t think so, sister.

The Vikings will come to play and THEY are the better football team. Perhaps they’ll be inspired by the way we remove our hex against the Rams, eh.

And there you have it. Road teams have a chance in Wild Card week. Let us Prey that don’t ring true in Seattle…

SEA –4
SD –7
DEN +10

“Beat The Man… because you may not get a chance at one more yard.”

G. Scott Jones is a freelance writer who contributes regularly to Seahawks.NET. Reaction of any sort is always encouraged at Top Stories