Category Archives: Saint Louis Rams

Seahawks – Critical Games for 2016 Season

Cool Seahawk Logo

With the NFL pre-season underway, I thought I would take a peek at the regular season schedule and check for 6 critical games for the Seahawks.

Week 2 – at LA Rams

No matter what record the Rams have, they always seem to give the Seahawks fits.  This will be the home opener for the Rams at the Memorial Coliseum.  Rams last played in LA in 1994 so you know they are going to be hyped up.  Jeff Fisher always has a trick or two up his sleeve so Hawks need to be prepared for that.  I think a heavy does of Christian Michael and Thomas Rawls will be on the menu as well as some play-action fakes to keep the Ram defense honest.  As always, the game will be close and a win here is critical for both teams.

Week 3 – San Francisco 49’rs

I do believe the rivalry will be re-ignited with the presence of Chip Kelly, the new head coach for San Francisco.  And I really hope the Seahawks just pound the living snot out of the 49’rs to wipe that condescending and  smarmy expression off Kelly’s face.  San Fran isn’t much of a threat to the Hawks but they still need to remain wary.  Pretty sure (about 90% sure) this will be a win for the home team.

Week 7 – at Arizona Cardinals

A lot of mutual respect between the Hawks and the Cards.  Good, hard-nosed football between 2 innovative coaches who put faith in the players to perform rather than a system.  Toss up as to who will win but it won’t be by more than a field goal.  Depending on the standings, this could decide the NFC West despite having eight games left in the season.

Week 10 – at New England

Seahawks need to control their emotions because if they use revenge as a motive to try and beat New England, that’s just what Bill Belichick wants them to do.  Master of mind games, he will use that motivation to force the Hawks into mistakes.  Hawks defensive line needs to pressure Brady as much as they can and the secondary must have an exceptional game covering those pesky receivers that Brady throws too underneath.  They need to make Brady throw before he wants to.  They may get one or two sacks but if they can pressure him, they can force him to make bad throws.  I, as much as any Seahawk fan, would love if the Hawks can steal a victory here but they have to play smart and not get caught up in getting revenge for them stealing a Super Bowl from us.

Week 13 – Carolina Panthers

You don’t think the Seahawks watched Super Bowl 50 and took notice what the Broncos did to make Newton pout like a baby?  Look for Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril to pressure and contain Newton as well as Brandon Mebane and Tony McDaniel to come up the gut and get in his face.  I also see Frank Clark being a difference maker as he has the speed and strength to deal with Newton if he tries to take off and run.  It will come down to defense vs. defense and a last second field goal.

Week 17 – at San Francisco

One can only hope the Seahawks have secured their playoff spot by the time they get to San Francisco because you know darn well that Chip Kelly will want to end the season with a win over a division rival.  Regardless of where the Hawks are at by the end of the season, a sweep over the 49’rs is always sweet (it was sweetest when Harbaugh was there, right?) and would put a nice finish to the regular season.

Looking forward to hearing a lot of fireworks going off after every game.  The 12’s are some of the greatest fans in the NFL.

Go Hawks!

Beer Thinker NFL Predictions – Who Is Going to Finish Where

I have been writing a lot about politics and civil issues and the more I write about it, the more angry I get.  So I decided to get back to why I really created this site for…to write about sports.  And what better subject than predicting how each team in their respective division will finish.

AFC East:

  1. New England Patriots
  2. Buffalo Bills
  3. New York Jets
  4. Miami Dolphins

So now that Tom Brady has decided not to further challenge is part in “Deflategate,” he will accept the 4-game suspension.  How will this affect the Patriots?  Not too much.  Jimmy Garoppolo will take the snaps for these first four games.  Patriots start the season on the road against the Arizona Cardinals then the next three at home against the Dolphins, Texans and Bills.  Worst case scenario, I see the Pats going 2-2 but being undefeated in their own division with wins over the Dolphins and Bills.  Realistically, they go 3-1 with the sole loss at Arizona.

AFC North

  1. Pittsburgh Steelers
  2. Cincinnati Bengals
  3. Baltimore Ravens
  4. Cleveland Browns

The Bengals took the AFC North last year with a 12-4 record.  They actually beat the Steelers 16-10 in Pittsburgh in November but faltered at home in December losing at home 33-20 and folding again against the Steelers in the Wild Card game 18-16.  Granted the Bengals didn’t have Andy Dalton but I am not sure that would have helped.  Until the Bengals can prove they can perform under pressure, the Steelers are going to be the big kid in the sandbox.

AFC West

  1. Kansas City Chiefs
  2. Oakland Raiders
  3. San Diego Chargers
  4. Denver Broncos

Despite the fact Kansas City finished last year at 11-5, they went 1-1 in the playoffs, routing the Texans 30-0 but losing the Divisional game against the Patriots, 27-20.  Andy Reid has a great regular season record going 161-110 over the past 17 years.  However, he has gone 11-11 in that same time frame but never being able to win the big games.  2016 could see the Chiefs in the Super Bowl but can Reid show he can win it?  Denver will finish no better than.500…and yes, I may have picked them last just because I have an intense dislike for them.  Still, too many questions on offense and I see a 7-9 season despite that great defense.

AFC South

  1. Houston Texans
  2. Indianapolis Colts
  3. Jacksonville Jaguars
  4. Tennessee Titans

Texans are favored this year with the signing of QB Brock Osweiler to win the division though it is doubtful the Texans will get past the Divisional playoffs.  Colts will have a healthy Andrew Luck back in the mix but if the offensive line play doesn’t improve, it could be hard going.  Jacksonville will surprise a lot of teams and might sneak in the playoffs.  Long shot will be the Titans but with the addition of DeMarco Murray will make them competitive.

NFC East

  1. New York Giants
  2. Dallas Cowboys
  3. Washington Redskins
  4. Philadelphia Eagles

The NFC East is competitive again.  The Redskins won the East last year with a 9-7 record but I don’t think that will cut it this year.  The Giants will be with a rookie head coach in Ben McAdoo and have the inside track after spending big on free agents.  General Manager used more than $10 million to bolster the defense on Janoris Jenkins, Damon Harrison and Oliver Vernon.  Despite going 4-12 last year, the Cowboys are right behind the Giants to win the East.  Tony Romo and Dez Bryant are coming back healthy and adding running back Alfred Morris gives them a shot.  And while the Redskins did win the division last year, the other rival teams did better in the offseason.  Sam Bradford is back with the Eagles but defense still has major holes.

NFC North

  1. Green Bay Panthers
  2. Detroit Lions
  3. Minnesota Vikings
  4. Chicago Bears

I really hope the Lions prove me wrong and run away with the North.  They have lost Calvin Johnson but Golden Tate is poised to step in as the number one receiver and the addition of Marvin Jones, still have a credible deep threat.  If Matthew Stafford can come close to how he played in the 2nd half of last year, the Lions are a legitimate threat.  Theo Riddick will play a huge part in that success.  Packers are always going to be in contention as long as Aaron Rogers stays healthy.  The Vikings are a team on the rise as Teddy Bridgewater continues to mature as an NFL quarterback.  Adrian Peterson will still need to carry the team.  I picked the Bears last because, well, they are the Bears.

AFC West

  1. Seattle Seahawks
  2. Arizona Cardinals
  3. Los Angles Rams
  4. San Francisco 49ers

The Seahawks may have lost Marshawn Lynch to retirement but they do have three running backs that will be very, very hard to stop.  Thomas Rawls will take the place of Lynch as the bruiser to wear down defenses and is a threat to break off long gains.   Alex Collins will be used to push Rawls and will get a lot of carries.  C.J. Prosise is a former wide receiver and will be a huge 3rd down threat out of the back field and can flat out fly.  As for receivers, Doug Baldwin, Jermaine Kearse and Tyler Locket will drive defenses nuts.  On the defensive side, strong as ever despite the loss of Bruce Irvin.  Cardinals are pretty much the same team as they were last year.  But defenses are going to do whatever they can to get to Carson Palmer because as goes Palmer goes the Cardinals.  Rookie QB Todd Gurley will make rookie mistakes but for the most part, if he can be protected and the defense stays strong, the Rams could contend.  49ers have a lot of work to do to become contenders again and Chip Kelly will need at least a couple of years to bring them up.

NFC South

  1. Carolina Panthers
  2. Atlanta Falcons
  3. New Orleans Saints
  4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Panthers have mostly kept their roster intact from their 15-1 2015 season and should be in good shape to take their 2nd straight division title.  I am not a fan of Cam Newton but I cannot deny that he has done some good things with the Panthers.  Defense is still strong and will keep them in games.  The Falcons made some good moves in free agency, the best pick-up being WR Mohamed Sanu to take pressure off Julius Jones.    Running back Doug Martin stayed with the Bucs and the Saints picked up Nick Fairley and Coby Fleener.  But the Saints are getting old and Drew Brees and the Saints will more than likely not make the playoffs.

 

 

 

 

Seattle Seahawks – Team of Destiny? I’m In!

Seahawk Im In

From the few who’ve read articles I’ve written on Beer Thinker Sports, it’s a known fact that I am an unabashed Detroit Lions fan. And make no mistake, this article is me jumping on the Seahawk bandwagon…I admit it freely.

While most of my articles have been about the Lions, I’ve also written about my second hometown team, the Seahawks. Let me tell you that the Hawks recent success has buffered the pain and agony of being a Lions fan.

This season though, had me worried of being a fan of both teams. Lions started out the season 1-7 despite having success of an 11-5 season last year. Seahawks weren’t much better over the first 8 games going 4-4, including a game saving win by Kam Chancellor over the Lions in week 4.

If you look at both teams, on paper, one could say that they are pretty evenly matched. But the one distinct advantage the Hawks have over the Lions: Heart.

The 2015 Seahawks may be the most exciting team Pete Carroll and company have put together yet. He continues to stick to his guns and play rookies and undrafted free agents that have a quality that he looks for. Again, heart.

And just what is the definition in this respect? In my opinion, it’s the player that won’t give up, isn’t afraid to make a mistake but learns from them as to not repeat them and will give his all until the final second ticks off the clock.

Perfect example is that victory over the Lions in week 4. Lions had the perfect play drawn up against a tired Seahawk defense when Lions QB Matthew Stafford found Calvin Johnson at the 8-yard line with an open lane to the end zone with about 1:45 left on the clock.

Trust me here when I say I was on my feet yelling “Yes!” at the top of my lungs when the play developed. Johnson was hit at about the one but leaning forward over the goal line when it happened.

Kam Chancellor, in only his second week, clinging to Johnson punched the ball from his grasp…and sealed the victory for the Seahawks.

I was devastated. But had to admire Kam’s heart. He never gave up, never stopped and found a way to make a play.

I figured that if the Lions had scored on that play, they were going to win the game. After all, the Lions defense had harassed Russell Wilson all day and sacked him 6 times. And after giving up only a field goal in the second half, the defense was primed to give the Lions a rare West Coast road win.

But the collective heart of the Seahawks, as well as Kam’s ability to dig deep, denied the win.

Was it a turning point for the Hawks? I’m not sure. While the win evened their record at 2-2, they did lose the next two games to be at 2-4. There was the epic meltdown against the Bengals, blowing a 17 point lead in the fourth quarter as well as the 15 point lead against the Carolina Panthers at home.

The Seattle press wasn’t really lambasting the Seahawks but were beginning to question Pete Carroll’s coaching decisions. Allowing the offensive line to be in rebuild mode, with several players that were being defensive linemen converting to offensive line which resulted in an alarming rate of sacks on Russell Wilson. At one point, with the rate of sacks being allowed, the Seahawks were on target to give up over 65 sacks over the season.

Where I think the turning point for this season was the home loss against the Arizona Cardinals in week 10. The Cardinals came out hot in the first half, building a 22-7 lead. But the Seahawks made some adjustments and starting to peck away at the Cardinal lead. At the end of the third quarter, it was 25-17 as the Hawks gave up only a field goal in the third.

And in the fourth quarter, Marshawn Lynch scored on a 3 yard run and Bobby Wagner recovered a fumble and ran it back for another TD. Both 2 point conversions failed but the Hawks were right back in it, leading 29-25.

But Carson Palmer playing out of his mind this year, tossed a 4th quarter TD and Andre Ellington busted a 48 yard TD run to re-take control of the game.

But the heart of the team became evident in this game…and I think it brought them together to reel off 4 straight wins and all in pretty convincing fashion. Hawks averaged just over 35 points a game over the stretch of the 4 games and the defense allowed just 14 points a game.
The offensive line has finally come together and Wilson has only been sacked 10 times in that 4 game stretch. With the line playing as it is, it has allowed Wilson to show just how talented he is. He’s thrown for 16 TD’s and no interceptions over the last 4 games. That puts him with only 2 other quarterbacks in NFL history to accomplish that feat, those being Tom Brady and Peyton Manning. Not bad company to be in.

He is the first Seahawk quarterback to have two 5 touchdown games in a season. He is also the first Seahawk QB to have at least three touchdown passes in four straight games. He is the only quarterback in NFL history to have four straight games with at least 3 touchdown passes, no interceptions and a 70% completion rating.

Wilson isn’t the only Seahawk to play at a historic pace. WR Doug Baldwin, an undrafted free-agent who came to the Seahawks in 2011, put up some fantastic numbers over the last 3 games: 17 catches for 321 yards and eight touchdowns. He is on pace to be the first 1,000 yard receiver for the Seahawks since Bobby Engram accomplished that feat in 2007.

And the defense, the Legion of Boom, is back. Michael Bennett, Cliff Avril and Bruce Irvin are getting after QB’s. Along with rookie Frank Clark, the rest of this season is going to be very tough on opposing quarterbacks. Kam, Bobby Wagner, Richard Sherman and Deshawn Shead have brought back the attitude of the Legion, that nothing is going to get by them and no team is going to score on them. And if they do, they will pay for it.

And the dismantling of the Cleveland Browns on Sunday just clarifies each point. Russell Wilson added to historic pace with 3 more TD’s with Doug Baldwin catching two of them. Jermain Kearse made some very clutch catches and caught 7 passes for 110 yards.

And what about Christine Michael? Coming off the scrap heap for a second chance with the team that drafted him in the second round of the 2013 draft? Once a promising RB with comparisons to Adrian Peterson, he was traded to the Dallas Cowboys as the Seahawks felt, and rightly so, that Thomas Rawls beat him out as back-up to Marshawn Lynch.  He played sparingly with Dallas before being released in November. He signed with Washington as a practice squad player but was released November 17th, his career seemingly over at age 25.

The Seahawks and Pete Carroll are all about giving players another chance.  And Michael responded well to this opportunity, heeding safety Earl Thomas’ advice to reel it back and play without pointing fingers at himself for doing well. The result was 16 carries for 84 yards and a repentant Michael gave credit not to himself, but to the offensive line for his success.

Perhaps this will be the window of opportunity for Michael to have a successful career in the NFL.

Who knows, right? I don’t see Lynch coming back in 2016 as he is breaking down. I think the smart thing for him would be to retire now while most people can remember just what a remarkable running back he was.  With a tandem of Thomas Rawls and this version of Christine Michael, the running game would be in good hands.

The Hawks are 9-5 right now. If they can win out, that will put them at 11-5 which most likely will put them as the number 2 as a wild card. They will most likely travel to the NFC East division champion, most likely the team from Washington which I see them as winning.

Next up are the St. Louis Rams, a proverbial thorn in the Seahawks side if there ever was one…if they can win that game, I believe there will be a re-match with the Patriots and this time, the outcome will be very different.

I’m in!

GO HAWKS!

Detroit Lions: Who Are These Guys?

Who Are These Detroit Lions

Watching the Detroit Lions destroy the Philadelphia Eagles yesterday, two recurring movie quotes kept popping up in my head.

The first, as you can tell by the picture of Paul Newman and Robert Redford, is from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.    When being chased by a posse of the best lawmen money can buy, Butch turns to Sundance and asks, “Who are these guys?”

The second one, after the game was over, is from a Richard Dreyfuess movie Let It Ride.  After winning a ton of money at the track, Dreyfuess shouts, “Did I win?  Did I win?  Son of a bitch, God likes me! He really, really likes me!  What a day!  What a fabulous day!”

So here we are, the Lions playing some very good football on both sides of the line.  Now 4-7,  after starting out 1-7 looking like an imitation of a Matt Millen team.

But changes, ones that have been a long time coming, were made.  Joe Lombardi, who directed the offense last year to a 11-5 record, was jettisoned after losing to the Minnesota Vikings  28-19 at home.  Lombardi, despite having the success in 2014 as well as being the QB coach to Drew Brees the previous 5 years in New Orleans, was never a good fit.

Stafford often appeared uncomfortable with the offense.  He is not the type of QB that is going to be successful dumping off to backs and tight-ends…and Lombardi seemed to forget that he had one of the best wide receivers on the planet in Calvin Johnson.

Enter Jim Bob Cooter…really, that’s his name, you can’t make this stuff up.  Granted he started off badly with the uninspired loss to Kansas City in London but the Lions were still basically running the Lombardi offense.

Then came the firings of Tom Lewand and Martin Mayhew and since then, the Lions offense has gotten better each week…and have 3 wins in a row to show for it:

First was the biggest win the Lions have had in recent years, the 18-16 victory over the Green Bay Packers in Lambeau ; the first since 1991.  Granted there was the gut-wrenching final seconds where every Lions fan was sure Mason Crosby was going to make that 50-yard field goal.  But he muffed it and the Lions won for the first time in Green Bay in 24 years.

Next up was the rising Oakland Raiders.  The Lions, despite playing at home, were underdogs in this game.  But the Lions D had something to say about that.  They held David Carr to just 169 yards passing and no TD’s.  They stymied the rushing attack, holding them to a collective 54 yards but did give up 1 TD.  Hey, this is the NFL and it’s hard to keep teams out of the end zone in this league.

Then came yesterday’s masterpiece, the 45-14 dismantling of the Eagles.  The offensive line gave Matthew Stafford time all day.  And Stafford showed just how good of a quarterback he can be when he is given time.  A sterling 337 yards passing with 5 TD’s and zero interceptions and a career best QB rating of 137.5.

Let’s talk about Mr. Stafford for a minute here:  For all you folks that want to heap the troubles the Lions had on his shoulders, you were wrong to do so.  Stafford showed that given the time, he has the capability to put up Tom Brady stats…and I say right now that if Stafford had the protection that he had yesterday for his whole career, the Lions would have been in the Super Bowl already.

The Lions need to get more depth on the offensive line and need to do so in the upcoming draft.  They have the talent at the position spots with Calvin Johnson, Golden Tate, Lance Moore, Ameer Abdullah and Joique Bell.  Shore up that line because everyone knows that the offensive line needs quality players on the first, second and third string.

That line yesterday, in addition to allowing Stafford to throw for 337 and five TD’s also gave some hope to the dormant rushing attack.  Granted, we didn’t have an individual rush for 100 yards, but collectively they went for 108 yards on 30 attempts and scored 1 rushing TD.  Getting nearly 3.6 yards per attempt as a team is pretty darn good.

And how about Theo Riddick?  The Lions have something special in this guy and better keep utilizing him.  Five receptions for 62 yards and a score.  He has become the third-down receiving threat coming out of the backfield.  When the Lions played like they did yesterday, there isn’t a team that can cover all of their receivers.  And if Eric Ebron can ever pull his head out of his ass and catch the ball, adding a good receiving tight-end into the mix, tell me how doubling up on Megatron is gonna stop this team.

The Lions still have a mathematical chance of making the playoffs.  They are now 4-7, right there with nine other teams such as the Tampa Bay Bucs, New Orleans Saints and Chicago Bears.

The Lions remaining five games are all winnable, provided they can keep playing the way they are:

12/3 – Green Bay:  After a fast 6-0 start, the Packers have come back into the NFC Central pack.  With last night’s loss to the Bears, they now are in second place in the division.  Lions have to protect the home turf here and with the way they are playing, should do so on Thursday night football.

12/13 – @ Rams:  This is going to be a tough game for the Lions…and it will be a low scoring one.  The Rams defense is one of the toughest in the league and if the O-line can give Stafford some time against that front four, Stafford should be able to have success.  Theo Riddick will be an important tool in this game.

12/21 – @ Saints:  Saints can score points but they just can’t stop anyone.  Drew Brees is still one dangerous quarterback but he doesn’t have the top flight weapons that he used to have.  Still, they are in New Orleans and dem Saints fans are some of the most supportive in the NFL.  High scoring shoot-out, Calvin and Golden Tate could both have huge games…and Abdullah could run wild against the Saints run defense.  Could be a great Monday Night Football game.

Side note:  My wife, an avid Saints fan, is convinced that the trade of Jimmy Graham to the Seattle Seahawks have hurt both teams.  Saints may have improved their protection of Drew Brees but lost a valuable offensive weapon in Graham.  Seattle still hasn’t figured out quite how to use Graham thus both teams have taken a hard road this year.

12/27 – San Francisco 49rs:  This team is a mess…and the Lions cannot take this team lightly, something they have done in the past.  If the Lions do actually beat Packers, Rams and Saints the three previous games, then this becomes a must win game, more so than any other game.  I would call this the definition of a “trap game” and the Lions need to stomp the 49ers into oblivion.

1/3/16 – @ Da Bears:  How sweet it could be if the Lions and the Bears both needed to win this game to get into the playoffs…and the Lions would shut the Bears fans up and eek out a close win.

If the Lions do indeed win out, that would give them a 9-7 record and quite possibly the 13th seed in the wild-card.  Granted, we can forget a home playoff game but I would say that most Lions fans would call the 2015 season one of the best they’ve had.  To start out 1-7 and finish 9-7?  That is some serious football.

Who are these guys?  These are the Detroit Lions!

Go Lions!

Seahawks vs Rams – Time for Payback!

 

It's Payback Time!
It’s Payback Time!

With all due respect to my good friends Rick and Bonnie, long time Rams fans, I have a sneaking suspicion that the Hawks aren’t going to be fooled this time around.

The last time these teams met was back on October 19th in St. Louis where the Rams prevailed 28-26.

If you look at this game on paper, you would have sworn the Hawks had this game…and you would have been right if it not for 3 very big plays by the savvy Rams.

C’mon now, we must give the Rams their due.  They have played all year long with a dub-par offensive team but an outstanding defense along with some very good special teams.  Granted, I’m sure many a Seahawk fan felt the Rams stole this game.  Again, you would be right but all is fair in love and war…and NFL football.

The first play involved the Rams making it appear one player was going to get a punt when in reality, it was another player on the opposite side of the field.  Stedman Baily took that punt 90 yards for a score.  Tavon Austin should be nominated for an Oscar for his depiction of staggering under the kick if he were going to receive it.

Another Rams score was set up by Benny Cunningham who took a  squib kick out of the end zone for a 75 yard return that set up another Rams score.

And of course, the play that stunned almost everyone except the  Rams themselves.  The fake punt that had punter Johnny Hekker completing an 18 yard pass on 4th and 3 to keep their drive alive.

Not that the Seahawks didn’t have their opportunities…and cashed in on most of them.  They came storming back and as I indicated above, statistically, out performed the Rams.  They gained 462 total yards against the Rams 275 yards.

Russell Wilson had 313 yards passing with 2 touchdowns and no interceptions along with 106 yards on the ground with one TD.

But the Rams did better than the Hawks in the most important statistic:  They put more points on the board than the Hawks.

So what’s the key to this game?  Watch for the Rams trickery.  While they may be out of the playoffs and the Hawks are in, the Rams would like nothing more that to make the Hawks playoff run as difficult as possible.

It will be another close one but Hawks will come out on top, 30-28.