Last week, the Senator chimed in on the Kansas City Chiefs. This week, the Representative joins us for a second time to give us his insight on the Seattle Seahawks.
Enjoy Jeff Podolak, the youngest member of the Podolak trio, introspective comments on Seattle. He comes at it from a different angle than the Senator but both are top-notch as you will see when you read on.
LH : Is Seattle the best team in the NFC right now?
JP : Leo, by the numbers, it’s at best a flat no. At this point, up to and including Thanksgiving Day, Seattle has a respectable mark of +6 in turnover differential, and this may seem better than the best team in the NFC that only has a +3 rating. However, that second team also leads the league with 316 points scored, 28.7 PPG, and a +103 scoring margin for the year. This team also boasts a rookie QB with a passer rating of 108.6 while only giving away 2 INT this season, combined with yet another rookie as the league’s leading rusher with 1,119 rushing yards and 11 TD. Of course, I’m referencing Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliot, and the Dallas Cowboys.
LH : Are we starting to see the real Russell Wilson the past three weeks?
JP : Signs definitely are pointing the arrow way up for Russell Wilson as a viable signal-caller for Seattle as he sets the pace for the rest of his team that is once again building momentum down the stretch heading into the last quarter of the regular season. Wilson has averaged 300 yards passing with no turnovers and has reintroduced timely rushing plays from the read option as an added weapon and even calling his own number as a WR option as well. The Seahawks will continue to hum on offense as long as his incredible streak of efficiency remains.
LH : Is the Legion of Boom back in business with the return of S Cam Chancellor?
JP : I would be inclined to say so, but with some reservations. With the built-in added physicality of Kam Chancellor in the lineup last week, Seattle held Philadelphia to only 15 points while adding 2 crucial INT as well as 2 sacks, not to mention the early exits of the Eagles top 2 running backs Ryan Matthews (knee) and Darren Sproles (rib). While all of those headlines could be skewed positively for the infamous Legion of Boom, they still surrendered 308 yards of total offense at home while facing the rookie QB Carson Wentz. Also, there easily could have been a minimum of 6 more points against the unit from a TD reception by Eagles TE Zach Ertz that was fortunately flagged away due to an illegal formation. In order for the Legion of Boom to reclaim its elite pedigree, they’ll have to increase pressure on opposing QBs (sacks, INTs), continue to stop the run (under 4 YPC for opposing RBs), take advantage of their physically dominant matchups in their LB and secondary corps, and refuse to yield touchdowns in the red zone. This should help keep their turnover differential positive and keep Seattle building their win column and playoff seed.
LH : Is HC Pete Carroll the X Factor for the Seahawks?
JP : I’m inclined to disagree. While there has been some creative philosophies introduced in all three phases of the game for Seattle this season, the bigger catalyst has been the carousel running game and the health of the team personnel that has powered it. While Pete Carroll may seem to be a convenient scapegoat for this team, consider that Seattle has named 3 different starting running backs this season while activating 4, with 2 rushers paying an alternating visit to the injured reserve list (Thomas Rawls, C.J. Prosise). While it has been noted that Thomas Rawls is a strong leading candidate to lead the Seahawks’ charge to the postseason, he’s doing so at the same time Prosise has exited through the turnstile of his season with a broken scapula. However, look for Rawls to be spelled by the powerful but unproven downhill runner Alex Collins in the coming weeks as well. The success of this new odd couple of rushers will directly determine the success of the team going forward.
LH : Seattle played the Patriots in Boston. Flew back to Seattle to host the Eagles. Now a 3,000 plus miles flight to Tampa to take on the Bucs. That has got to catch up with Seahawks eventually. Will it be this weekend?
JP : My insight tells me it won’t be a factor. The intangible being overlooked is the leadership of Russell Wilson combined with the coaching experience of Pete Carroll and the veteran core makeup of the defense that is the Legion of Boom. The Seahawks under this core group have a tradition of taking care of business following a slow start, and their woes of Wilson’s health not being up to par and their rotation off Walking Dead RB corps earlier in the season seems to be behind them. Although they took bad losses to New Orleans and in their own division to Los Angeles as well as a head-scratching tie with rival Arizona, this team also galvanized by out-dueling Atlanta, taking it to New England on the road, and most recently outplaying Philadelphia at home. Seattle is doing what every top NFL team should be doing this time of year: overcome adversity, establish momentum, and beat everyone in front of you.
LH : I like the Seahawks in a close one. In your opinion, who wins and why?
JP : Despite the recent upswing of the Bucs by winning a close game in Kansas City, I’d expect Seattle to begin the fourth quarter of their season with their first win at Tampa Bay. In addition to what has already been discussed about the plusses of Seattle, Tampa Bay is likely to be without 2 of their top 3 cornerbacks, a glaring weakness Russell Wilson will look to exploit, as a quarterback who enters Week 12 with a full and healthy complement of skill positions. Also, despite the impressive road win, Tampa Bay failed to record a sack against Alex Smith and the Chiefs. To extrapolate on the net effect of the Legion of Boom, Seattle’s defense is tied for first in the league with 31 sacks, tied for ninth in the league with 9 interceptions, and also 10th is passing yards surrendered. However, this could be a good matchup for Doug Martin and the TB rushing offense since Seattle has given up 9 rushing scores in their last week 10 games, including 100+ yards to a walking wounded group of Eagles runners as well as 3 TD to LeGarrette Blount and New England most recently. Also, Jameis Winston could find success against the vaunted Seattle defense if he continues to spread the ball to his backs and receivers like last week when he hit seven different receivers, six for more than 1 catch each, and 4 had 30+ yards receiving, with Mike Evans having the most targets (13 for 6/105/0 receiving) while Cecil Shorts III (seven for 5/62/0), Russell Shepard (four for 3/54/0), Adam Humphries (seven for 4/47/0) and Doug Martin (four for 3/42/0) all made for a balanced attack. Expect Seattle to stay patient against the Tampa Bay rushing attack if/when Doug Martin establishes it and minimize gains from the distribution of passes from Winston. The Legion of Boom will also have to pressure the TB pocket on passing downs to leverage themselves. Seattle should have moderate success running the ball which should allow for plenty of play action and read option opportunities for Russell Wilson and the Seattle passing offense. Take the Seahawks to cover, despite the 6 point line, 34-24.