But, in the immortal words of Bluto from Animal House, Over? Did you say "over"? Nothing is over until we decide it is! The Seahawks get the exact opportunity they need with the Birds of the Desert making their trek northward. They get the ability to bring that gap down to 2 games. They can improve their division and conference records which will almost certainly come into play when we get to the tiebreakers. Apparently Vegas believes in the Hawks as well, instilling them as 6.5 point favorites in the sports book. I think Springfield believes in the Hawks too. Let's get ready for the game through the antics of Homer, Bart, Marge, and Lisa in The Simpsons Movie.
"Ach! Everything is 'crisis this' and 'end-of-the-world that'! No one opens with a joke! I miss Danny DeVito." That most certainly has been the state of Seahawks Nation for a good chunk of this season. First it's not beating teams badly enough. Then it morphs into the offense not being very good. Then the defense takes a turn for the worse. Then the injuries are piling up. Oh, and let's not forget the national airing of the dirty laundry with the whole Percy Harvin episode. Of course, these kinds of things happen everywhere, but the microscope is aimed squarely at the defending champs, as one would expect. The key is being able to work through those issues, which the Seahawks have done with less than ideal success.
"He's not Spider-Pig anymore, he's Harry Plopper." Drew Stanton, not Carson Palmer, leads the Cardinals back up to Seattle, the only team to beat the Hawks in the friendly confines of CenturyLink Field last season. Bruce Arians declared there was a new sheriff in town after that win. Of course, the sheriff didn't make the playoffs last year and the deputy won the Super Bowl, so there's that. Drew's looked halfway decent in his handful of starts thus far. However, there is one place he's yet to make a start and that very well might be the stadium that borders Occidental Way. Anyone care to tell us how quarterbacks perform in their first start at CenturyLink? Oh, that's right, they often, if not always, have a yellow stain running down the front of their pants once hearing the 12th Man in full throat. Speaking of...
"In every marriage you get one chance to say, 'I need you to do this with me.' And there's only one answer when somebody says that." I'll freely admit, this might be piling on, but I've been disappointed with the 12th Man this year. The edge isn't there. The volume certainly isn't there. I used to head home from games and have my ears still ring hours afterward. There were times I couldn't hear myself scream because of the raucous noise around me in the upper deck. Sure, the Green Bay opener was amazing. The 12s were at their very best. Since then? It's been a steady 2 month decline. Even national guys like Bill Simmons have called us out on it and he's been one of the biggest fans of the 12th Man the last decade. Obviously there are reasons for it. The chip on our collective shoulder goes away once you win a title. The defense hasn't produced nearly as many turnovers at home as they did last year, and that was always the thing that lit the 12th Man fuse. But I think there's an issue here that takes the biggest piece of the blame pie. Those fans that have been selling their tickets, and in particular the fans that now fill those seats. Allow me to illustrate:
Picture it. Seahaws v. Raiders a couple weeks ago. My buddy Corey and I work our way up to our perch in section 339 ready to watch a dismantling. Two gals in their mid-20s sit down in front of us a couple minutes later. These seats are never occupied by the same 2 people for any 2 games in a row, which is a key indicator for the kind of "fan" that ultimately occupies those seats. Anyway, these gals are dressed head to toe in Seahawk garb, right down to the beads that most of us threw out 10 years ago. They've obviously done some pre-funking in Pioneer Square which can add a little entertainment at least from our perspective. So, the game begins, and the Raiders get a first down. What do these two do? Jump up hollering like the Hawks did something great. I asked them very politely "what in the damn hell do you think you're doing? You do realize the Raiders made that play, not the Seahawks, right?" Oh we know, we just wanted to cheer for something. Ugh. They spent the rest of the first half taking selfies and engrossing themselves in endless texting. Only when a chunk of the crowd got up at halftime did they realize something happened, and it was probably time to get another beer. We didn't see them again until about midway through the 4th quarter. Why? Oh, because they got lost and sat in the wrong seats for an hour. Most likely occupying the seats of other folks who didn't care about the game, but just wanted to be able to tell people they went to the game. These are the "fans" that have occupied far too much of CenturyLink Field this year. There's your reason for the erosion of what we think of as the true 12th Man advantage.
So with that, I implore you. I need you to do this with me. With the season on the line, there's only one answer that will suffice.
"Okay, epiphany, epiphany... oh I know! Bananas are an excellent source of potassium! Ow! Uh, America will never embrace soccer. Ow! More than two shakes and it's playing with yourself?" I think this is the week for the Darrell Bevell epiphany. In the name of everything good and decent, can we maybe come up with some schemes that our opponents don't have 138 hours of tape on to prepare for? Obviously, you give the ball to Marshawn as much as you can. We all know that. Few have shown the ability to stop it. You know what they do stop? The bubble screen. The fade. The traditional screen. Did we take the slant out of the playbook and I missed it? That play tends to work on occasion in the NFL. Arizona brings a pretty good defense to town on Sunday. Getting creative and being less predictable is going to be an absolute requirement.
"That was the most incredible experience of my life! And now, to find my family, save my town, and drop ten pounds! Thank you boob lady!" Well, the last part of that might be tough this Sunday. It's the return of the tradition unlike any other. Thanksgiving In The Alley will be on full display Sunday morning. The one day a year where we take our tailgate that's gotten fully out of hand this year and elevate it to an even higher level. As a primer for the real thing on Thursday, a smorgasbord of turkeys, hams, potatoes, stuffing, pies, and indigestion await our Seahawk fan brethren. With the weather forecast, we'll probably have an extra canopy or two so we don't water down the potatoes.
"What are you telling us, were trapped like rats? No, rats can't be trapped this easily, you're trapped like... carrots." We've got the Cardinals right where we want them. Trapped like carrots. They've gotten all fat and happy on their 9-1 record. They look with disdain upon a Seahawk team a full 3 games behind them. But this week, I think we see a return of the Fiesty Blue Jackals that won a championship last year and their fans are ready to return to their former glory as well. Drew Stanton doesn't yet realize he's trapped like a carrot, but come the 4th quarter, he'll realize it. Oh, he'll realize it.
Seahawks 22, Cardinals 13