The NFL season-opener for the Seattle Seahawks was a bit of a letdown for ‘Hawks fans to say the least, as they lost in Green Bay to a surprisingly stout defense and the Aaron Rodgers-led Packers. That was just one week, however, and there weren’t very many teams who looked good in week one anyway (Kansas City and Minnesota stood out for me).
Week two will be a different animal as the Seahawks host the San Francisco 49ers in their home opener at CenturyLink Field (I almost called it Safeco…I’m still in baseball mode apparently). Running back Thomas Rawls – also known to pretty much only me as the “Rawls Royce” of the backfield garrison returns to action this week as the apparent feature back.
Rawls had a game to remember in 2015 against the 49ers when he rushed for 209 yards in a breakout game at home. Christine Michael enjoyed the home game against San Francisco last year when he rushed for 106 yards on 20 carries with two touchdowns. Other backs will be looking to join the 100-plus yard parade this year as Rawls is joined by a garrison of salivating players including Eddie Lacy, C.J. Prosise and Chris Carson.
Rawls hopes to get a majority of the carries this week, however, and will look to continue the ground assault on the 49ers defense. If coach Pete Carroll decides to split up the carries or feature someone else – also known as pulling a Bill Belichick (Not a spygate situation) – and use all four of his backs, any of them could be in store for a big day. No one has more to prove than Lacy, who managed three yards on five attempts in his Seattle debut in week one.
Yikes…three yards on five carries is pretty rough. I know he signed an incentive-laced contract regards to his weight, but I doubt even if his playing weight remains manageable that his contract will yield him any incentives if he continues to average two-thirds of a yard per carry. Carson is the guy many fantasy football analysts are talking about right now – I would even argue to the point that he is “#trending”. Personally, Rawls is my guy and I like Prosise as a third-down back. Let Lacy and Rawls battle for the lead-guy role, feature that guy in the offense and let Carson go nuts next year.
My opinion doesn’t really matter to anyone with any organizational pull, however, so expect another RB circus for at least another week or two. At least against the 49ers, it should yield success this week.
WHAT WILL ULTIMATELY DECIDE WHO WINS
Let’s hope the correct answer here isn’t Blair Walsh with a late field goal. I think the Seahawks are better than that.
That defense though…in Seattle – I’m not writing about the 49ers other than to say their run defense is vulnerable at best. Seattle’s defense will continue to win them games this year. Earl Thomas is healthy, and all the big-name guys are back – Kam Chancellor, Michael Bennett, Richard Sherman and the defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson they got from the Jets for Jermaine Kearse – sidebar, I liked the trade for the ‘Hawks, but I am sure some Seattle fans did not.
Russell Wilson and the offense don’t need to do much more than everyone’s least favorite quarterback-related, performance-based phrase “manage the offense.” I don’t know why Alex Smith of the Kansas City Chiefs gets so much flack for being a “game manager”. Russell Wilson is exactly that as well, but never gets compared to him for some reason. Anyways, back on track…the offense won’t need to do a whole lot this weekend to get a win.
Sure, seeing a few big plays and some nice, sustained drives lead to touchdowns would be lovely, but it won’t necessarily be…well…necessary. The defense is as good as it has ever been. Mark it down.
THE ULTIMATE X-FACTOR
I totally over-dramatized that on purpose. I just wanted to pick a player who may be a little under the radar, yet in a position to make a difference on the outcome of this game. This week, I am going with Tyler Lockett, who may not make ‘The BIG play’ as a slot wide receiver, but perhaps on special teams. Even if he doesn’t return one for a score, the difference between starting at the 20-yard line versus near mid-field could mean a world of difference for Wilson and the offense. Lockett is healthy, and hopefully hungry after a lackluster week one performance.
I guess this is an appropriate time to pick a winner and a score. Obviously, I will take the Seahawks at home in this one. The spread is -14.0 last I checked, which is a pretty healthy number for an NFL game. I don’t dare bet real-person money (cheese crackers or jelly beans and I’m all in) on football games, but if I did I would probably go with the moneyline on Seattle and play it super safe. As for a score, I will go 27-9, Seahawks. Walsh gets his two field goals, Wilson throws one TD, Lacy sneaks one in on the goal line the defense gets one as well.
For the sake of this article, I will say Rawls gets about 60-percent of the carries and finishes barely shy of 100 yards, but the team as a whole eclipses the 150-yard mark.
Go Seahawks, Go Ducks (Sorry Beaver fans). Go Beavers (sorry Duck fans) and enjoy week two of the football season!