Well dear readers, this is the final Fireside Sports lightning round of 2018. We have greatly enjoyed this new way of showing you our questionable theories and opinions, and hope you have enjoyed participating. We look forward to coming back in 2019 better than ever, with even more absurd ideas to share with you. If you think we have peaked in our ability to be outlandish….think again friends, think again.
With the NFL regular season coming to a close in the next two weeks, we figured this was a great time to offer our thoughts on the Seattle Seahawks’ last two games, predict if they will make the playoffs, how far they can go, and discuss if Pete Carroll and Russell Wilson have done enough to earn our imaginary votes for coach of the year and MVP.
We hope you all have a great last couple weeks of the year, and enjoy quality time with friends and family. Stay safe out there, and we will see you next year! Due to practice time violations that occurred without our head coach’s knowledge (that can happen??), sanctions were handed down by the NCAA, and our recording studio was shut down for the remainder of the year and will not product podcast episodes until January.
Without further ado, here is the final lightning round for 2018. Please feel free to follow our weekly contestants on Twitter – Bryant Knox (@bryantknox) and Casey Mabbott (@oregonsportsguy), and feel even more free to shame them for their questionable opinions. You can submit questions to our producer at firstname.lastname@example.org
1. With two games remaining, the 8-6 Seattle Seahawks are clinging to a one game lead in the wild card hunt after losing to San Francisco last week. This Sunday night, they host the 11-3 Kansas City Chiefs in a must win game for both teams. The over under is currently set at 54.5 , what do you expect to be the combined score?
(CM) This is going to be a good one – I will put my name down as taking the over, and signing these teams up for a combined score of 60 plus. Seattle’s front seven can contain the run, but they have lapses in pass coverage and don’t always seem to be on the same page. Kansas City struggles to slow down anyone. Seattle’s defense is underrated as a unit, but this is an offense unlike any they have seen this year, and that includes the Rams. That isn’t a knock on one of the NFC’s elite teams, it is just to show how unique Kansas City is. They love gadget plays, spread formations, and using every skill player in a variety of roles and positions. On the other hand, Seattle likes to grind out rushing yards, lull the defense to sleep, then go deep for a score. It’s a very good matchup of strength vs strength. This game will test the mettle of both sides, that’s for sure. Regardless of what kind of weather Christmas Eve Eve throws at them, this will likely be the game of the week. Good choice, NBC.
(BK) With an over/under of 54.5, the Hawks-Chiefs game has the highest projected point total of the entire weekend. Seattle would love to turn this contest into a slog, but that’s going to be tough against a team that has made just about every moment of every game a part of their blueprint for success. I’m with Casey here. This one goes over—I’d say about 64 total.
2. Kansas City is #1 in yards per game and #31 in yards allowed. Seattle is #19 in yards allowed and yards gained, indicating much better balance. Which team do you expect to have more success this weekend, in a game likely to be played in cold and rainy conditions?
(CM) The Chiefs are likely to be at full strength for the first time in a month. Regardless of who they start at RB, that player has at least one quality start under their belt, and is a proven commodity in the running and passing games. They are down Sammy Watkins but have Kelvin Benjamin with more experience in this offense, and they get a healthier Tyreek Hill after he played his way through a painful dud last week. On defense they have all-pro safety Eric Berry back and he had last week to shake the rust off. Seattle is at near full strength, with Chris Carson, Doug Baldwin, and Rashaad Penny all expected to be fully available after taking turns being banged up the last few weeks. Right guard DJ Fluker has been missed, and will hopefully be back this week. On defense, they hope to get linebacker KJ Wright and safety Bradley McDougald back on the field as they have both missed game time due to knee injuries. If the Seahawks are at full strength, I like them to give the Chiefs everything they can handle while playing on their home field in front of a rabid crowd. If Seattle is missing key players on both sides of the ball, it may not matter what their season stats tell you, they may struggle to produce yards on offense and to hold the fort on defense. At this point in the season every player is banged up to some extent so you can’t use injuries as an excuse, but I would be much more confident in Seattle if they have most of their starters out there versus fill in players at key positions. If the Seahawks are only missing one or two guys, I think they will have a lot of success early, and have to play keep up late as the Chiefs mount an aerial attack. If Seattle gets pulled in to an all game shootout, it could come down to who has the ball last. Either way, advantage home team.
(BK) I disagree with Casey in that if this game comes down to a shootout, I don’t think the Hawks stand a chance. The Chiefs are too good in that kind of contest, and as great as Russell Wilson has been, he’s not going to storm a comeback from down two or more touchdowns. The good news here, and where I think Casey and I agree, is that this isn’t how this game should play out. The Seahawks may not be able to turn it into a complete slog, but they just might be able to chew up significant clock in at least one quarter. That’s a big deal against a team that’s considered a favorite to make the Super Bowl in the eyes of many.
3. If Seattle loses this game, there is a slim chance they could miss the playoffs if they don’t win vs Arizona in week 17. How devastating to the fans would it be for them to climb out of an 0-2 hole, claw their way to 7-5, only to stumble at the end and miss the playoffs?
(CM) I’ll tell you the same thing fictional booster John Aubrey told real life head coach Gary Gaines about his career and how it connected with the Texas State Football Championship in 1988 – “Everything’s going to be just fine. Everything’s alright as long as we win.” If Seattle loses….that would be just a real bad deal for everyone. So let’s not think that way. It’s the holidays, this is not the time to think about what happens if Seattle goes from 7-5 to missing the playoffs. This is the time to think about miracles happening and how great of a story it would be if they go on a deep playoff run. Next question.
(BK) This would be tough to swallow. If the slow start had never materialized into a winning season, it would be a different story. But any fan base, whether used to winning or not, would struggle to deal with the reality that they exceeded expectations just to come up short of even qualifying for the postseason. This isn’t the same thing as a cinderella story in March Madness just to fall short of the Final Four. At least that team earned the spotlight. In this scenario, the 12s are left to wonder what could’ve been if they’d just won one more game—and also wondering what could’ve been if they’d tanked the year away and planned for the future ahead of schedule.
4. Let’s assume question three was born in a dark place far far away, and will never happen. Instead, let’s assume Seattle clinches a playoff berth – how far will they go in the postseason?
(CM) It really depends greatly on who they have to travel to in the wild card round. If they get stuck with travelling to the Saints in round one, I don’t like their chances to advance. Not that they can’t win, that’s just a ton of pressure in the opening game. If they get pretty much any other team, I like them straight up against any opponent. This team was built for January football, and few other teams are. This time of year you have to have balance, which the Saints have, but I’m not sold on the Rams and Bears as world beaters, not yet anyway. If they draw the Bears, Cowboys/Eagles, or Rams in round one, I think they will win and advance, and with that confidence I truly can see them going the distance. If they draw the Saints, it’s going to be a huge ask for them to win going coast to coast and taking on the NFC’s best team in one of the most difficult venues for road teams.
(BK) If the Hawks draw the Saints or Rams, it’s going to be an early exit. As much as Seattle has been able to play up to its competition at times this year, it’s tough to see the team coming through on such a grand stage against a team that could get an early two-touchdown lead and coast to a win. But any other team and I like Seattle as a dark horse contender. This team is dangerous right now, but as is always the case, matchups are what matters most in this league.
5. What do Pete Carroll and Russell Wilson need to do to win your vote for coach of the year and MVP?
(CM) As long as they make the playoffs, Pete Carroll has won coach of the year in my book. This team wasn’t supposed to succeed, but here they are, succeeding. Carroll has the Seahawks on the same path they were on in 2012, only with more veteran leadership. They probably won’t benefit from their more successful division rival falling apart like the 49ers did, but if they stay on course they should be in contention for a title in the next couple of years. I don’t mean this as a knock on Wilson as he has done a great job this year, but I don’t think there is much he can do to claim the MVP this year. Patrick Mahomes and Drew Brees have just been on another level, and that they play for Super Bowl favorites makes them get the spotlight perhaps more than they deserve. Without Wilson this team is not a playoff team, not sure I can say the same about the Saints and Chiefs just yet, but that’s just not how the voting works. The media will vote for the player that impresses them the most, and right or wrong, this year Mahomes and Brees have won the nation’s attention.
(BK) Pete Carroll is worthy of Coach of the Year consideration, and, in my opinion, is far more likely to take home individual hardware thann Russell Wilson. (Not because Wilson himself isn’t worthy, of course.) But my person COY is Anthony Lynn of the Los Angeles Chargers. That dude is killing it in L.A. and he’s doing it while overcoming both significant injuries and a stigma against Philip Rivers and the rest of the perpetually-underwhelming squad. Sorry, Hawks nation. He’s just too deserving.