Beat The Man - Week Eleven

"In their eyes there's something lacking...what they need is a damned good whacking!" Ol' Liverpool George must have dealt with the Man a time or two, and the lyrics to "Piggies" mirror Scott Jones' own feelings about that devious and deviant oddsmaker. And there a hint of fear in the Man's wicked smile? Does he know what we know about our beloved team?

Last Week’s Results: 3-2
Season to Date: 25-30
Hawk Picks: 3-1

Seachickens, eh?

I don’t think so, mate. Not a Sandpiper. Not a Seagull. Not a parrot. Not a Sea-bird of any kind (nor the kind you cook in late November). These – are Hawks. Meat-eaters of the sky. We see it and we eat it. We don’t pray… we Prey.

This team is playing like the kind of team you always wish you had. Able in every area. Finding a way to make a play when threatened. Masters of the 4th Quarter. We encounter, overcome, suppress, and when you’re fighting for your last breath – we rip a chunk out of your neck and end you. We’re jamming a fork into teams like a family of 53 with very little bird left to eat.

As a long-time Hawk fan, you just have to love the way we’ve been getting it done since a paper-thin loss at DC. Each successive week affords a historical benchmark to point to and… Curb Your Enthusiasm. Only, they’re not behaving like Hawk teams of the past at all - and the benchmark becomes a fresh history of success. The momentum builds… and continues to do so. It does not falter to collect itself. Hawk teams of the past would find their feet ahead of themselves and trip on the turf monster, coughing up the ball and dropping them back into a position they’re far more familiar with – struggling to regain control.

Perhaps we’ve now bought into the NFC mentality. The NFC has always been about controlling your opponent. Getting them down and then bludgeoning them. While the AFC flaunted the ability to manufacture a miracle comeback at any given moment. We now exemplify a team perfectly capable of controlling the opponent - and in the last couple weeks since the BYE – bludgeoning any belief they might have in a ‘miracle comeback’. We’re playing suffocating football. And you can be sure that at THIS point, having lynched any remaining skeptics with the end of the Rams regime last Sunday… we’re not fighting teams for respect anymore. We expect them to fight for OURS.

The one specific aspect of winning that even talented Seahawk teams of the past have perpetually struggled has been – maintaining momentum. Folks, at 7-2 and rolling up a 5 game Win streak, improving our play with each successive contest - our mallet is now bludgeoning its way to gore.

The question of ‘Can they finish?’ no longer exists.

Clearly – we can finish. And if they can’t stop us now, what are teams going to do when Darrell Jackson gets back on the field? As our young LB’s scratch another game in their education? When our Secondary gets healthy? While we tattoo the fresh blood of absolute confidence into our chests? Huh, what you gonna do? I dare you to knock this off…

Qualified teamwork and a persistent football mentality. We are properly perched and now survey our prey with a green eye of erudite confidence. And here’s the trump card. You’ll want to add to that a well-documented history the Seahawks themselves have in miracle comebacks. We understand adversity and that memory and ability remains at the ready should we require it’s familiar need in the coming weeks.

This – is a complete football team.

I am more proud than I’ve ever been, due to the way we’ve been doing it. My loyalty now rewards me. I hunger for more…

Now let’s get to the picks, cuz I’m eager to produce:

IDY –5.5 @ CIN
The Game of the Week is a no-brainer – I expect the Colts to make Pittsburgh look easy by the time they’re through with Cincy. One month ago the Bengals had a chance to be For Real and put the screws to the Steelers. That did not happen in any way shape or form. The Steelers took back command of the Division, predictably pounding them for 221yds on the ground in a 27-13 win that I’m told wasn’t even that close. Carson Palmer was held in check with 0TD’s and 2INT’s, while Roethelmeisterburger spiked ‘em for 2TD’s having only need throw it 14x the entire game. Neither side of Pittsburgh’s line is playing as well as Indy – particularly vs the Pass (Cincy’s bread and butter). I fell for Cincy heading into that contest. Won’t happen this week.

The Colts have a whopping 31 sacks this season and that means Carson Palmer won’t be getting comfortable back there. Furthermore, he won’t be getting many chances either as the Horseshoe earn a ringing endorsement for their Offensive approach to every game thus far - and that means Manning is going to hand off and gash away at that Bengals Rush D all damned day long (allowing 124.2/gm; 4.7/carry). The only back anywhere near Shaun Alexander this season is the Edge (the football player, not the guy from U2. He doesn’t play football. Nor does he run much, I’ll wager). If they DON’T cremate the Bengals on the ground it will be because Manning threw 4TD’s using play-action. But I fully expect James to put up enough yards to keep Alexander motivated, as the Colts control the game wisely and thoroughly.

Cincinnati has not managed a win against anyone credible this year (other than Chicago?). Meanwhile, I snuk a win from Indy last week (and kept my Guarantee Games lifetime undefeated – phew!) as they beat Houston by only 14. I sincerely expected the Colts to struggle in that game. They did not. Instead they showed me they absolutely have their eye on the prize and it’s going to be very difficult for ANYONE to beat them this season. (You might like the Under (47) on this game as well).

Colts = For Real. Bengals = Not So Much.

CAR -3 @ CHI
In an unexpectedly compelling game, Chicago gets a chance to prove their 5-game winning streak worthy - facing a Panther team on a 6-game streak. While I’m hesitant to side with the Panthers, who were quite erratic through week 6, they appear to have now picked up their game - scoring and covering the last 3 (tallying 3 successive 30+ weeks leading up to this game. One of those at TBay). Their list of competition leaves reason for concern, but many are favoring the Panthers for the NFC crown at this point. Steve Smith is a guided missile that no one can curtail. And their Defense has managed themselves back into the top 10 of the NFL (specifically vs the Rush (2) and not the Pass (21) – allowing just 81yds/game and 3.4/carry on the ground).

Across the ball, while Chicago has the finest Defense in the NFL (both statistically and credibly), they are not much of a threat to score – ranking near the bottom in most every category. That was the problem with them going into the year and it remains a quite relevant concern. Putting up less than 20 most every game is not going to cut it against a team that scores 20 in their sleep. In fact, the only source of Offensive production the Bears have managed is via the Rush – playing right into Carolina’s strength.

At the start of the season I mentioned I would be taking Chicago early and often. They produced beyond expectations. That is now affecting the favorable spread we were getting with them. I also said I would specifically avoid them in games facing teams prolific in the Passing game. The last opponent Chicago faced with such ability were the Bengals – who handled them in Chi-town nicely 24-7. That score is a bit skewed due to Turnovers giving Cincy the ball in fine field position all day… Carolina is +9 in that category. Mark it down, folks.

ATL –6 vs TB
Here’s another nice match-up to consider. And one I’ll admit I’m not too comfortable putting on the ticket (but we gotta keeps things interesting around here while I crawl back into a respectable record, eh). I like Atlanta. Have all year. But their Defense has not been anything close to what I expected of them. They have really struggled vs the Pass on 3rd down (flip a coin whether they make the sack or allow a conversion on 3rd and 10+). And they’re allowing 116.7/gm and 4.5/carry to the Rush game – which is as good as any Rushing Offense can expect… unless you’re Atlanta, who average a whopping 5.3/carry on the ground.

I don’t like Tampa. Wasn’t interested in them to start the season. But they came out impressively and I loved the Caddy coming out of college – so I let them hang me on spreads they couldn’t cover, due to a play-calling vest tighter than a bustier from the French Revolution. They just don’t score enough points (unless they’re playing an excellent DC Defense that I bet on last week. Hurray – go for 2 and end my misery!). You pull out last week’s game and they’ve really been struggling. But – you can’t pull out last week’s game cuz baby-Simms might have just broke out of the cradle and that could mean more to come.

And here’s the worst part… Michael Vick has had true difficulty facing Tampa. You’ve got to believe at this point it’s the scheme that perfectly denies his abilities. You watch him playing Tampa and he looks absolutely strung up and confused. Asking me to drop a fat 6 on that poor history is really challenging my sensibilities. But in the end – I like the Falcons ability to bounce back from an upsetting loss (Green Bay). They’ve fed off such situations in the Mora era. Therefore, it’s going to be close… but I hope to manage a cover here (I’m not liking much of anything this week other than IDY and CAR, to be honest)

MIA +2 @ CLE
Am I betting on an appearance by Gus Frerotte? Nope. I’m betting that Miami is better than Cleveland regardless. The record is the same, but the talent level isn’t. And furthermore, the Dolphins have had a far more difficult schedule than the Girl Scouts (Brownies) have.

There’s been talk for several weeks now about yanking Dilfer for some slob named Charlie Frye. I don’t comprehend this consideration whatsoever. Dilfer has played relatively well considering the dearth of talent he has to throw to (not to mention a Run blocking line that does not excel in Pass protection). His problem is – he’s on a crappy team. It ain’t himself that’s causing the brown stains. But the talk exists nonetheless, and that will tell you all you need to know about the Offense in Cleveland (while Reuben Droughns is running well – they still have only 2 team Rushing TD’s all year. That’s scary).

Miami still maintains a credible Defense that should bring plenty to advantage Cleveland’s lack of confidence. Meanwhile, the Pug Nose sit near the bottom of the standings vs the Rush (allowing 132.7/gm) which ought to allow the Fish to do what they prefer on Offense and maintain control of this game start to finish. Fist ‘em in the mouth and de-bark the Dog Pound.

SEA –12 @ SF
Really? We’re only giving 12? Why – that’s insulting! The Niners have been getting double digits every week since week 5 vs IDY (+16.5). We march in with the NFL’s #1 ranked Offense… and we’re only getting 12? I mean, just last week they gave the Bears 13!! (granted they get an extra 3 for being on the road, but I just documented the fact the Bears can’t score! I mean, they’ve failed to score that spread total four times this season!).

You know what this means? It means we’re on a 5-game Win streak but the Man has failed to respect it. Last week we closed –6.5 because the Public moved the spread 3 points after it opened at -3.5 (which is why I boinked a loss in the Hawk picks this week - happily). The Man still thinks we’re soft. And what do we do to the Man when he fails to get wise? We jump him, pin his arms down, and start wailing on him. It appears we’re going to be the team Mister Spread Maker is going to be slow to catch up with (Seattle is 6-3 ATS. And by the way, teams that cover consistently for the year… you know where they end up? Nothing is more consistent than where teams with a clear edge in covers end up. But I don’t want to jinx us just yet).

So far this week I’ve heard plenty about Carolina, and Tampa, and the Cowboys, and the Giants still, and how great Atlanta is, what a shocker they lost – but nothing about Seattle. No one cares that the Seahawks are kicking ass and taking names. And ya know what? I don’t care that they don’t care. It makes no difference whatsoever. All I care about is the reality on the field. We’ve all seen enough to deflect the negative notions that enter our minds for ‘let down week’. Sure, sure, sure, here’s another scenario where we show up half-asleep and lose. Well, mates – I just don’t see that happening here. I think we made ourselves so sick with that taste last year that we can bear it no longer. Plus, this contest against the 49ers is NOT just another football game. We’re looking to sweep the Division and there’s nothing we enjoy more than spanking the Niners (they replace what we used to love doing to the Raiders). It would be embarrassing to lose to this floundering football team. And I think we’ve now made it clear… we’re not interested in being embarrassed this season.

The No. 1 Offense is playing the team that holds a 32 ranking on both Offense AND Defense. You can’t find a larger disparity than that. Make ‘em pay.

The media and the Man can ignore us all the way to February for all I care. We’ve got each other.

This week’s picks:
CAR -3
ATL –6
MIA +2

And SEA –12

Beat the Man… cuz his number disrespects us.

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