Beat The Man - Week Ten

After a season in which he's played the part of the Man's punch-clown, our own Scott Jones got off the mat and whacked the odds, Balboa-style, with a Philly Cheesesteak right in the chops. And although a certain Philly Cheesehead has been everyone's top story this week, it seems there's a little game up in "Egypt" with some serious implications.

Last Week’s Results: 5-0 (Hruh?!)
Season to Date: 22-28 (doh!)
Hawk Picks: 3-0

Stop the presses, stop the presses – Schleprock went 5-0 for the week!

But let’s talk about the Seahawks, shall we? Last Sunday the Cardinals came out of the gate quite resolute to take one away from us. That was apparent throughout the 1st Quarter. What was also apparent (and this truly gets me excited), was that we were prepared for that kind of effort from them – and just as resolute to quash it. The energy began to drain from the Red Birds as the minutes ticked past… the Seahawks would not yawn off the BYE… the green eye was focused and intent on its prey. By the time Alexander ripped off double 8’s to start the Second Half? Our Opponent was as dry as the Arizona desert.

Furthermore, I absolutely loved Mike Holmgren’s play calling early. He was mixing it up sensibly. I don’t at all mind a pass on 1-10. If it fails, I very much support a run on 2-10. That is a sensible approach to keeping the Defense off balance while maintaining a control approach to the game and lessen the yardage needed on 3rd down. What I do mind is an absolute refusal to ever run the ball on 2 consecutive plays – a concept which Holmgren seems to abhor. In the initial drive, he proved a willingness to do that and while we did not score a TD, I believe it set the tone that we would “out-physical” AZ. Which is exactly what we did.

We bogged down in the 3rd after Alexander’s score perhaps made us a bit too comfortable, but once again proving this is not last years squad – we firmed up in the 4th with 12:04 to play and closed out the game. Again, with a heavy dose of running. That is what a Championship team must do. It’s been my one complaint all year and I’m quite relieved to see us address it.

They could not handle us because we’re a better team than they are. And we wanted it more. Line up and get down in your stance, cuz I am going to crash your face. End of story. Hawks win.

It’s worth noting that the T-E-A-M concept continued with Jordan Babineaux mimicking a Boulware-like season, LB Leroy Hill stepping in for D.D. Lewis and earning Rookie of the week consideration (in my opinion D.D. Lewis cannot be on the field for 1st and 2nd down – he’s consistently running himself out of position. A valuable Nickel LB, but Hill has got to hold that job on early downs from now on), and S Marquand Manuel stepping in for Hamlin and stuffing a sock down my throat just as I was expressing concern about that in my living room (well done Mister, I’m still choking up cotton).

The love-affair continues…

This week’s picks:

HOU +17.5 @ IDY
Classic trap game, folks. I had this on my list at half-time last Monday Night. Knowing I’d get 16 or better, I am ALL over this gift like a bowl of Crunch Berries (only, can we just go back to the red berries please? If I want purple and all those other colored puffs I’ll just eat Trix, thanks). Are the Colts 17pts better than the Texans? Absolutely. Are they going to be this week? After finally offing their annual nemesis and feeling REALLY good about themselves and their positioning? Nope. They’ll be thinking about how comfortable it is eating cereal in a recliner while watching Seinfeld.

Houston has covered their last 2 games and were surprisingly competitive in JAX last week. That’s enough to get them feeling good about themselves, or enough to motivate a one-off on the best team in the league – as they’re quite aware they won’t be getting anything else out of this season. Meanwhile, the Colts have covered 5-in-a-row. That’s a long-standing betting opportunity for me – going the other way. Those streaks end. They almost NEVER get to 6 (though I got killed on that 2 years ago, for any that recall). Besides, Indy goes to Cincy next week – they’re taking this week off and get healthy for next week, trust me.

I am VERY tempted to put this down as a Guarantee game. I have a perfect record for published Guarantee games, so that’s sayin’ somethin’… Aw hell with it. THIS – is a GUARANTEED game, people. Jump on it!!

DEN –3 @ OAK
By now I’ve documented several times that Denver has made my list of serious contenders this year. A team that I had no interest in initially, has tetherballed me in the face and now has my absolute respect as I watch the ball swing up the pole, while they pound each and every opponent. Each and every QUALITY opponent. Furthermore, they remain remarkably healthy at this point in the season – a must for most any Super Bowl contender (the exception being last year’s Patriots squad).

Denver, who is 6-2, now face their very first team of the season with a below .500 record – the 3-5 Raiders (discounting wk1 @ MIA, which would have to now be considered a fluke and far behind them). That might lead to some trap game concerns, if not for the fact these teams hate each other passionately. Nope, I’m not concerned about a let down of any kind here. I might fear the amplification of hate giving the Raiders extra motivation being in Oakland, except that Denver has had excellent success there going 7-3 ATS the last 10 years.

The Raiders have been a bit more competitive than I originally gave them credit for. But there is no reason to believe the Broncos don’t go in there and blast them by more than 3pts. Possibility for an upset here, but I’m only happy to find that gives us a more manageable number. Book it.

DC –1 @ TBAY
The Skins had a skid in New York. That was ugly. But they bounced back to handle an Eagles team that has shown the capacity to fight back, even though they’re down. I’m going to forgive DC for their inability to handle the Wellington Mara Wake, and assume them back to where they left off. As far as I’m concerned the Division belongs to them or Dallas – and not New Yawk.

Meanwhile, the Bucs are bleeding. Injuries and a tight-vested approach have left Tampa losing 3 of the last 4 and failing 5 of the last 6 ATS. That includes cover failures to GB, DET, NYJ, and SF. Where last we left off, Carolina routed them 34-14 (Miami scored 27 on them 2 weeks prior). They are clearly BARELY hanging on. With that theme facing a dangerous and unforgiving Redskins team, who’s Offense is much improved since the early weeks of the season (keep in mind, the Redskins Offense is not Rush dependant. They’ve shown an ability to adapt), I’ve got to favor the Skins to scalp a win here. While the Bucs continue to search for buried treasure.

DAL +3 @ PHI
Looks like I’m hitting the road again this week (picking all road teams). That’s dangerous. Ah, well…

Philly has failed to cover their last 4 in-a-row (5 of the last 6) and I am VERY surprised to see this number laying there will all the distractions they have going along with their disappointing results. Since Dallas last spanked ‘em 33-10, the Eagles found a miracle ball bounce in beating the Chargers, and then went on to lose to both Denver and Eastern Division contender DC. Why in the world would they be favored by 3 in this spot. Am I missing something? Who’s on drugs – me or the oddsmaker?

At this point, you’d have to consider Dallas the more able (and stable) squad. Tuna has his eye on teams in the Division and they’ve succeeded at that with the exception of the week2 final minute miracle facing DC. They are committed to winning the Division and are playing very tough football - it’s not an accident they played Seattle so tight. I’m fully aware that Philly wants to come out and put T.O. to bed (as do I. When do we get to stop talking about him? A spoiled child will continue being spoiled if he keeps getting all the misguided attention he needs), but they have shown they are not quite the capable squad of former years. They’ve been… Monday Night, folks… JACKED - UP! Dallas gets Julius Jones back and they find a way to win.

Take the money line and get paid handsomely.

RAMS +6.5 @ SEA
Ohhh noooooooo youuuu di-ant, Schlep, no you Di-ant!! You ain’t gonna do our boys like that! No way, no how. We will string you up by your… and… other bad things.

Listen, I won’t be betting on this game. A few weeks ago, I promised I’d make a gun-point pick on the Hawks each week from now on. I will do that with results in mind and heart aside. Don’t fail to notice that we can win the game without covering (which is actually what I’m expecting will happen). This spread opened at –3.5 and bumped up 3 points to get near a full TD. That’s nuts. For a spread to bounce like that, by midweek, without any injury alterations – is freakish and frightening (in fact, Torry Holt got healthy and it appears Darrell Jackson still isn’t. Add Michael Boulware to the list of concerns). There is absolutely NO WAY I could take Seattle in this spot at that number.

We are playing impressive football. I am as excited as anyone. But the Rams have the potential to beat us. We went into St LOU and pulled out a win, but it went down to the wire and we can’t possibly think we’ve suddenly got their number. While our WR’s were banged up – so was their Secondary. We’re still minus one there and our Secondary is continually on the mend while theirs got healthy. This is going to be a very, very difficult game for us – and don’t you think it isn’t. They are go to come at us with everything they’ve got and are now running a pounding Rush game that can really wear you down (and set you up deep). Did I mention they’re coming off a BYE and have had 2 weeks to think about how important this game is? (Not to mention an impressive confidence-boosting win against Jacksonville the week prior). Their HC is looking to set himself up with that job next year. You think he’s not doing heavy overtime to knock us back just one game up? You think they aren’t eager, inspired, and motivated to snatch back a grip on the Division? Punch us in the face? Listen Mister, they know this is it – if they lose this game? The Baton has passed over. We will own command.

And THAT - is why we will. Own command.

When the chips are down, we’re going to find a way to win it. Our boys will gut it out because they know the difference now. They won’t allow themselves to fail those around them. They’ve finally gotten a taste of that kind of Victory and the confidence in Will it affords. Unity, and Faith - is a powerful weapon. They’ll look at each other when they need it… and they will get it done. We won’t be thinking ‘Uh Oh’ this time around. We’ll be thinking ‘It’s time to go do it. Let’s go do it’. And we will firmly believe that we can (we - as opposed to only Matt Hasselbeck).

We’re going to get the crap beat out of us in the process. But we WILL be the last man standing. ‘Cuz we now know it’s worth it. (And I’m counting on the reincarnation of Cliff Burton to pound that end zone wall with a furry. Buy that redheaded maniac a beer. He’s legendary.)

Hawks win. But don’t cover 6-plus…

This week’s picks:
HOU +17.5
DEN –3
DC –1
DAL +3

…and RAMS +6.5

Beat the Man… cuz he’d love for the Rams to cover. (Me? I’ll take a loss on that one willingly.)

G. Scott Jones is a freelance writer who contributes regularly to Seahawks.NET. Reaction of any sort is always encouraged at schleprockhawk@sbcglobal.net.

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