Beat The Man - Week Fifteen

From Zorn and Largent, to Moon and Galloway, to Hasselbeck and Jackson and Jurevicius…Oh, MY!!! Has victory ever been this sweet? Having suffered through this many more miles of desert, could the water be any more life-giving? As the Seahawks round into the season's homestretch, challenging the echoes of past defeats to death match after death match, the Man looks on, utterly bewildered. Could this be the end of apathy as we know it?

Last Week’s Results: 1-3-1 (supercalifragilistic)
Season to Date: 30-46-1 (Bah humbug)
Hawk Picks: 3-5 (Hawk results: 8-0. Yum!)

So it now appears I’ve locked up a losing record going into the Playoffs. But hey, if Rudolph can overcome a blood red nose from getting punched in the face on a weekly basis? So can I.

In the meantime, let’s use this week’s opening space to reflect on the status of our dearly beloved Seattle Seahawks. This just in… they are worthy of discussion.

Many of you may be avid viewers of ESPN’s Monday Night Countdown. Many of you may have noticed Michael Irvin crown our logo on his head this past Monday. Did you enjoy that as much as I did? (Yes, Virginia - there is a Santa Claus.) Many of you may also feel a bit like Michael Irvin in this respect… Can you believe the position we’ve got ourselves into? The Seattle Seahawks, a team so irrelevant to the NFL that crappy teams get more press than we do - simply for being crappy – look to be the hands-down winner of the NFC’s top seed.

That’s right, we are the Kings of the NFC – unless someone can come into our house and take it away from us.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been a fan of this team for 25 years and to witness us atop the standings at 11-2, one win away from landing the top spot (with 3 to go, 2 of which face clearly inferior opponents)? It’s something I can’t quite wrap my head around. In a way, I feel the dismay of the general NFL fan. “Are the Seahawks really in that position?”

Even the season of 12-4 in ’84 was an uphill battle as we kicked off the playoff’s second fiddle to the 13-3 Broncos, having chased and ultimately lost to them the final week of the regular season in the Kingdome. The result of that year was a loss to the Dolphins in Miami, the same team we arrived against in our second greatest season. In 1983, following a 9-7 season where they spanked the Broncos in the playoff’s 31-7, the upstart Seahawks grabbed an alarming victory on the road against the Dolphins (where everyone learned the name Curt Warner). Only to fall to the Raiders in our 3rd successive road game. Following a playoff game in 1988 (where I’ll never forgive Chuck Knox for punting late in the game in Bengals’ territory. And neither will Dave Krieg)… we essentially fell off the map.

Ever since then we’ve been mediocre at best.

And ever since then I’ve insisted we’re more than that (with the exception of Mike Holmgren’s second year in 2000, where he nuked the entire roster and I knew we had nothing to compete with). Even the year of 2-14, in 1992, we had a Defense that year that was just extraordinary. As preposterous and incapable of even a first down our Offense was (lead by, of all things, a RAIDER in coach Tom Flores, grrrrrrrrr), that defense, led by guyz like Tez, Rufus Porter, Eugene Robinson, was vicious and unrelenting in their demand to win a game. I can tell you that several of my friends who had previously mocked my loyalty to the Hawks – let them into their hearts that year (out of respect for the tenacity shown and absolute refusal to accept a ‘reasonable’ defeat).

Struggle. That is what the team has always known. It’s what you love about them. We understand the underdog. And what’s more – admire and salute that position.

And how then, does one firmly grasp the concept of continual accomplishment? That’s for Barbie and Ken, who never actually have to work for it as hard as you and I, right? Surely, in order to have continual success – it’s been handed to you, correct? For if that is not the case, why have 30 years of continual effort not met with earned success? What’s the difference between this year’s Seahawks - and Bobby Engram dropping a pass in 2004 that would rightfully be considered one of the greatest plays in NFL post-season history? (Instead, it’s the consummate snapshot image of agonizing defeat.)

Persistence. The difference is persistence. The difference is – we choose to continue to hammer away at the granite until it gives way to the thrill in our ability to crack it. If you continue to pound, you WILL eventually crack it. (And if you drop the hammer and walk away – you won’t.). Ignore the past and persist in the present.

That guy in the end zone at Seahawk Stadium knows exactly what I’m talking about. He hammers away at the wall while his Bassist Burton hair chants forth like a dragon’s reign of fire (I just love that guy. The thunder that one individual can make. That is a football fan’s fan). And guess what? I think he made a difference. He’s been bludgeoning that wall for 3hrs+ every Sunday his Hawks are in town since they built the new joint – and it mattered. His persistence paid off.

We are now sitting pretty atop the conference AND have an opportunity to dethrone the NFL’s only unbeaten on Xmas Eve (please gawd let them beat San Diego and come to us with a roster of starters, oh please, oh please, oh pleaaaaaase!). That is a rare moment of significance this team has been afforded. We’ve perched ourselves in an advantageous position and must now encounter the beyond.

Do you think we’re ready?

This season we have been up against the wall time and time again. You can point to game to game specifics, injury catastrophe, off the field distractions, you name it. During that time we have maintained one result – another notch in the Win column. Where all previous years those situations have been the excuse for a Loss. This season, we wipe it clean and keep on pounding.

Ignore the past and persist in the present.

Every possible manipulation of, “Well they have this to deal with now, remember when…” has been continually conquered during this 9-game win streak. How do you follow up a record-setting Monday Massacre of the defending NFC Champs? By brandishing the largest fork known to man and slamming it down as a Division Champion staple (unbeaten). How interested in winning games does 83-3 sound in the last two weeks? Does that sound like the right kind of drum to be pounding? Little drummer boy has quite a thump these days, don’t he?

Hawks and their fans know struggle. That has built us all HARD like R. Lee Ermey would have us, able to endure. And now, the time has come to surpass mediocrity. The ice pick punched a hole a zillion times in the mountain and the hand now reaches for the peak. Mount Everest is coming to town next Saturday. We’re as ready as we’ll ever be. For once, we’re not bemoaning our Seahawks to get it right. They are leading Us…

If you want to achieve… you must ignore failure.

Persistence pays.

Santa, all I want for Christmas is… well, sir – I think you know me quite well. And I think I’ve earned it. Don’t you? (If not, I’ve still got my trusty hammer and a hand to hold it with. If the hammer cracks instead? I’ll use my other fist.)

And now for the stuff that don’t matter:

PIT –3 @ MIN
Can someone please explain to me how the Steelers fumble the division-clinching game away to the Bengals, ignoring the method they’ve used for prior success – and then ram the ball down that Chicago defense’s throat to the tune of 190 rush yards? Like really, Santa, you’re going to have to handle all gifts for me this year – cuz I’m getting robbed!

In any case, I said here last week that the Vikings aren’t purple enough to cover 6 straight. They responded by punching me in the face and saying, “No - YOU’RE purple”. I just love the way I’m getting abused this year. You can count on me to get on the streak late, off it early, or anything else that procures opposite of the reasonable results. I got that kinda talent, mate.

So I’m taking the Steelers here ‘cuz the NFL makes about as much sense to me this year as the Blonde Bomber often does on FOX (I actually really like Terry Bradshaw, but that’s seems a fitting jab). Minnesota’s on a cover streak that has to end and you have to like Pitt as the more qualified team.

DAL +3 @ DC
Nice match-up here. I’m a bit of a Cowboy fan in 2005 and was quite surprised they could only manage a Push @ -3 last week vs KC (as I don’t at all respect KC anywhere near the way I do Dallas).

You’re looking at a true dogfight in the NFC EAST. Old school, baby! The general consensus has New Yawk at the top in week 17. I’ve been fighting that perception all season (perhaps ignorantly) and… expect that trend to continue (though I have a surprise next on the list). I remain firm that the Cowboys deserve the Division, regardless of the standings – and will say so come Playoff time. They must also show the Redskins this week that 2 hail Mary’s does not make you better. Revenge? Well not only that but it is absolutely CRUCIAL the Cowboys win this game. 8-6 might keep them alive, but you don’t want Big Blue (or is it Red now, what the..?) extending their lead and you don’t want the Skins getting back in the mix.

Expect an entertaining football game, but if Dallas is to be what they and I think they are? A win has GOT to occur here.

NYG –3 vs KC
Yes, I’m going to bite the bullet and go with Little Boy Blue here. Why in the world would I do that after what I said above? Well hey, at this point .500 would be considered successful (oops, I just managed to cause both my picks to lose). The prevailing wisdom here (once again questionable) is that KC just doesn’t have the right stuff, ultimately. They are not quite high-caliber though they have been fun to watch. On the road, with the schedule that remains? I don’t think they can hack it through and that lesson starts right now.

The Giants have played exceptional ATS football going 8-4 on the year. It’s time I stop ignoring their successful progression and respect their opportunity to validate giving 3 at home to a similar opponent. The difference here being – a Defense that has placed themselves #3 in Passing Defense (which I find particularly alarming) and #8 facing the run (which will be key here).

We all witnessed a sound effort against NFL MVP Shaun Alexander weeks ago. If Metropolis can manage a similar effort facing a less dynamic back in Larry Johnson? KC is dead in the water.

CHI –3 vs ATL
Ah yes, Chicago. The team we need to fear when it comes to top seed in the Playoffs (the team we actually need to fear IN the Playoffs – is Carolina. But we don’t discuss them ‘round here anymore until the post-season). They did us a big favor last week allowing Jerome Bettis, Player of the Week honors. That was quite miraculous, and though I put my pick on Chicago – it was one I was happy to lose (albeit mystified by the exacting results). Does this mean their Defense is suddenly suspect, and Kyle Orton can’t get a win anymore after providing enough to go 8 wins in a row? I would think not. Keep the guy we don’t know anything about on the bench, and let that Defense fail a few times before you rape their accomplishments.

Meanwhile, the Falcons, a team I want to like… has just not been getting it done as expected this season. Here’s the key stat. Remember that Kyle Orton thing? You know why it’s not that important? Because he’s about as important as Jim McMahon was – the Bears like to run the ball. They don’t pass to win. And Atlanta – is allowing 4.6/carry this season. That ain’t good. I’ll take odds that the Bears run it more successfully on the Falcons than I do the Falcons running it more successfully on the Bears.

Atlanta has played well on the road. But the Bears – have been exceptional at home.

SD +8 @ IDY
Now who in their right mind wants to bet against the Colts this year? Well folks, I’m not the ‘right’ mind to question. Sanity now it’s beyond meeeee, there’s noooo choiiiiiiice (Ozzy).

The Colts have been thumping through the NFL in a manner rarely witnessed. The most impressive thing they’ve done is approach and succeed at the game in any manner they choose. Having begun the season in knuckle-chewing low scoring games, where a Defense that could not play football for years – suddenly became stalwart and unrelenting. They’ve since put up points at will, maintaining a stable defensive effort. Meanwhile, Peyton Manning has managed to inCREASE our respect for his mental manipulation by putting the pass in his back pocket and making fine use if the back right behind him. It occurred to me (and was later verified from the mouth itself) ‘He is using games, both past and present, to set up future games. It used to be intra-game – now it’s beyond that. The guy is insatiable.’ They are thereby dominant.

So am I going to say the expected – that the Colts will look past this, don’t need it as desperately as the Diegan’s do, and therefore will flatline? Well, besides the fact I enjoy being frustratingly unpredictable, I am not going to say that - because the Colts have already met those options and SLAYED the competition anyway (myself included). What I will say is: The Chargers are a respectable team and, with the exception of last week, have fought tooth and nail all season (I almost threw in a Dokken reference, but I’d never live that one down… It’s all about Lynch, it’s all about Lynch!). They are going to scratch and claw for a win here and have the potential to keep things close. Getting eight? I’m going to take the points and kick myself later (If the Colts lose outright – I’ll kick myself even harder. Cuz we want them clean for Saturday).

TEN +7.5 vs SEA
Yup, I know, I peppered you with that ‘we are so thorough’ speech at the top… and now I’m picking the Titans (for a spread a bit lower than anticipated, I might add). Did I hear Ozzy again? “Entries, of confusion, dear diary… I’m here to stay”. Monday ‘till Sunday in stages, set meeee freeeeee!

The last 4 weeks I’ve been on the wrong side of Seattle, picking them to fail the number vs SF and PHI, and cover vs NYG and SF (never picked them to lose, mind you). I’m on a roll. And we are 4-0 where it matters during that stretch. Do you really want a guy with a 30-46-1 ATS record picking Seattle to cover a relatively small spread right now? I don’t think so.

Having said that, this is a trap game in every possible sense of the term. And not at all simply a ‘play down to the competition concern’ (a la the Chargers last week). We just spanked 2 opponents by astronomical margins. We just wrapped-up an undefeated record in the Division. We have a 2 game lead on anyone else in the Conference with only 3 left to play. If we choke this we still get Green Bay to pound on. We’re finally getting media respect (when Michael Irvin trumps his own Cowboys to wear a foam Hawk on his head – you know you’re getting respect). We’re on the road, playing a team in their house that has nothing to play for beyond a day’s satisfaction. And most importantly – we’re playing the absolute clear front-runner in the NFL this year the following week at home. Everyone will be watching us then. And NO ONE will be watching us now. In fact, we might not even be watching ourselves.

This kind of game terrifies me. (And most any successful coach in the NFL.)

Earlier this year I pumped up the volume on the motivational skillz owned by Titans coach Jeff Fisher. He is a coach I truly admire. While the Titans have in no way validated my expectation for them to sneak up on teams late in the season and steal a few (they’re 2-6 ATS the last 8 weeks). He remains a coach you must concern yourself with. The situation that we are in, very much speaks to the possibility of an upset (whether you’re the Seattle Seahawks of old, or any other team in the history of the NFL).

The Man knows you want to bet on Seattle this week. He is ASKING you to bet on them by giving you a cheaper number than expected. He is grinning like the green guy up on the mountain over Whoville. He’s putting antlers on his dog in an effort to assure a more helpless allure. And he’s doing that because HE knows – the mathematical results. And I hate the Man. So I’m going avoid his trap. Here’s hoping the Hawks do the same and punish me for my lack of conviction…

Humble the Grinch and beat that number.

This week’s Red Light Specials (the kind that cost more than you’d like to spend):

PIT –3
DAL +3
NYG –3
CHI –3
SD +8

…and TEN +7.5

“Beat The Man… cuz anyone who yanks the last ornament from Cindy Lou Who - must be punished.”

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