Updated Feb 1, 2014 - 1:54 pm
Wyman, Mike & Moore on 710 ESPN Seattle
Sunday, January 19, 2014 @ 11:57pm
By Jim Moore
They will be overlooked again in the Super Bowl, and that's fine with Doug Baldwin, the Seahawk with a self-proclaimed boulder on his shoulder.
Forget the chip. He's upset with the ongoing perception that the Seahawks have an average receiving corps.
It started with a USA Today story several weeks ago and continued last week when NFL Network analyst Michael Irvin called the Seahawks' receivers the weakest link on the team. Then Baldwin heard comments from ESPN's Keyshawn Johnson and Cris Carter, who said Seattle's receivers were appetizers for the main course of Marshawn Lynch.
"They were talking about how Russell Wilson was struggling, and the reason he was struggling is because the receiving corps, they're appetizers," Baldwin said. "I'll take that. I'll be an appetizer. But that's a good-ass appetizer if you ask me."
Baldwin had his best game of the season as the Seahawks won the NFC title with a 23-17 victory over the 49ers at CenturyLink Field. In seven targets, he had six catches for 106 yards, including a 51-yarder that led to the Seahawks' first three points.
Golden Tate also had four catches for 31 yards, and Jermaine Kearse was on the receiving end of a 35-yard pass from Wilson that gave the Seahawks a 20-17 lead early in the fourth quarter.
"It irritates the hell out of me when you have guys that constantly want to talk about our receiving corps," Baldwin said. "Talking about how we're average, how we're pedestrian. Well, we're going to walk our ass to the Super Bowl.
|• Recap | Stats | Photos | Interviews | Pete Carroll Show||• O'Neil: What we learned from the Seahawks' win||• O'Neil: Seahawks' win validates Carroll's approach||• Henderson: Carroll revels in Super Bowl berth||• Henderson: Sherman pops off after game-saving play||• Henderson: Chancellor makes his presence felt||• Stecker: No redemption for Kaepernick | Notebook|
"The thing that inspired me the most is that we know in this offense, we're not going to get as many opportunities as we would if we were in a huge passing offense. But we also know that when we get our opportunities in the passing game, we have to make the best of them. You saw that tonight, and you've seen that all season long."
Take Kearse for example. Wilson talked about the former Husky in training camp after they worked out together in Los Angeles.
"I said at the beginning of the year that Jermaine Kearse is one of those guys I knew was going to have an outstanding year," Wilson said. "He's worked so hard. He's tremendous on special teams. He's tremendous catching the football. He's got great hands, and he's got that desire. That showed up tonight."
On the second play of the fourth quarter, the Seahawks faced a fourth-and-6 at the 49ers' 35-yard line, trailing 17-13. Coach Pete Carroll thought a 52-yard attempt by Steven Hauschka might be pushing it. But he didn't want to punt, and instead opted to go for it.
Wilson went with a hard count, hoping to draw the 49ers offsides – and it worked. As soon as Wilson and the receivers saw the flags, that caused a play change with Tate, Baldwin and Kearse running vertical routes toward the end zone.
"We practice that stuff all the time," Wilson said. "That was one of the biggest plays of the game. I tried to look off the safety as long as possible and give him a one-on-one shot, and he came down with an unbelievable catch."
Kearse had a similar take, saying: "When we drew the offside, we got the flag so we got the free play and took a shot."
For the most part the Seahawks relied on Lynch, who rushed for 109 yards, including a 40-yard touchdown run that tied the game at 10-10 in the third quarter.
That will be the focal point again in the Super Bowl. "Beast Mode" will churn out four-word quotes and four-yard runs. Baldwin, Tate and Kearse will be negatively compared to the Broncos' star-studded receiving crew of Wes Welker, Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas.
That's what they hope will happen. Overlook them. Ignore them. Fuel their fire, as Baldwin says. Then watch out. Explosive plays from the Seahawks' maligned receivers could be the difference in the Super Bowl.
Saturday, January 18, 2014 @ 12:04pm
By Jim Moore
The Seahawks are one game from the Super Bowl and I'm not trying to be a hater, I just don't think they're going to make it to New York.
There's a difference between wanting them to win, which I do, and thinking they'll win, which I don't.
I'm in the camp with those who feel like their sputtering offense will play a part in preventing them from beating the 49ers in the NFC Championship Game Sunday at Century Link Field.
I'm also in the camp with those who think the 49ers might be just a little bit better than the Seahawks at this very moment -- not over the course of the season, and certainly not four months ago when they were whipped here 29-3.
The 49ers are on an eight-game winning streak, the last seven of which have come since wide receiver Michael Crabtree returned to action from Achilles tendon surgery on Dec. 1. (AP)
I look at the 49ers and see a team that has won eight in a row and is four points away from having a 15-game winning streak.
They have come together, winning two playoff games on the road, against the Packers on the really frozen tundra and against the Panthers, a team that beat them in San Francisco two months ago.
They are unbeaten since Michael Crabtree returned. They have a quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, who has a 102.2 rating over the past five games with nine TDs and one interception.
I also see a team that is playing in its third consecutive NFC Championship game and think the experience will be of value on Sunday.
By picking the 49ers, it pretty much guarantees a Seahawks' win. That's the prevailing thought anyway -- listeners and readers recall the Monday night game when I picked the Saints, and the Seahawks ran them out of town, 34-7.
But I'm 9-7-1 this year in predicting outcomes of Seahawk games against the spread, which means I'm not a loser every week, though it's nowhere near last year's mark of 15-3.
Though there's nothing to worry about with the league's best defense, I'm concerned about the offense. Marshawn Lynch will probably run for 85 or 90 yards, but the Seahawks need to get more out of Russell Wilson and their receiving corps.
You could give Wilson a pass for his subpar 9-for-18 performance against the Saints last Saturday because of the weather, but he hasn't been up to his standards for the past five games.
It's one thing or another -- he's a little off with his throws, he's not being consistently protected by the offensive line or the receivers aren't getting open.
Plus Pete Carroll and Darrell Bevell have gotten conservative with their play-calling, wanting to hold on to the football above all else.
I get their thinking to a point. But it also reduces the margin for error and puts too much pressure on their defense.
I keep wondering what happened to the offense that was hell on wheels last year down the stretch. And what happened to the offense that allowed Wilson to run more than he has this season.
|"The Pete Carroll Show" | Blue 42 | Cold Hard Facts||• O'Neil: Errors may decide NFC championship||• O'Neil: Stopping the 49ers starts with Frank Gore||• Henderson: Taking a closer look at the 49ers||• Henderson: Russell Okung vs. 49ers' Aldon Smith||• O'Neil: How the rivalry became so heated | Timeline||• Moore: Pete Carroll, Jim Harbaugh deny animosity||• Henderson: 'No better matchup,' Pete Carroll says|
Isn't it time to run some more read-option plays and let Wilson use his legs and add a much-needed component to a sputtering offense?
There's a part of me that thinks Wilson will snap out of it on Sunday. He said he loves to be challenged. Think back to the times when he's been criticized before -- for not converting third downs or making plays in the red zone; he always comes through.
But if he doesn't -- and there are also reasons to think that he won't -- will the defense play well enough to help the Seahawks win a low-scoring game?
There won't be a Percy Harvin to help Wilson out -- the offensive-life injector has been ruled out with a concussion.
And what about the 12th man and their impact? It's important for the Seahawks to get an early lead so the doubts and demons can clutter 49er minds again -- we all know that San Francisco has been outscored 71-16 in its last two games at the Clink.
The Seahawks could also have an edge in the punt-return department. They almost set an NFL record with their coverage unit while Golden Tate gives them a threat to take it to the house every time he fields a punt.
The betting line has not budged all week -- Seattle has remained a steady 3½-point favorite. I would've thought the line would be 1½ or 2, maybe even 2½ or 3, but 3½?!?!
A buddy of mine texted me and said the 49ers and 3½ is "the best bet in the history of forever."
I tend to agree. But the thing is, anytime a line looks too good to be true, it probably is. When you think the guys in Vegas are way off, they're right on.
Again, I'll be pulling for the Seahawks. I'd love to see the Legion of Boom tangle with Tom Brady or Peyton Manning in the Super Bowl.
But in a head-over-heart prediction, I'm taking the hot team to beat the home team.
Prediction: 49ers 24, Seahawks 16.
Season record against the spread: 9-7-1.
The Go 2 Guy also writes for his website jimmoorethego2guy.com and kitsapsun.com. You can reach Jim at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @cougsgo.
Friday, January 17, 2014 @ 2:31pm
By Jim Moore
We're led to think that Jim Harbaugh and Pete Carroll don't like each other. We probably even hope they hate each other. When you're in a rivalry like the one with the 49ers and the Seahawks, you don't want the head coaches to get along.
But when asked if there were animosity between the two men whose teams will square off in the NFC title game Sunday, Harbaugh said that's an "erroneous" perception. Asked a similar question, Carroll said he has "great respect" for Harbaugh yet knows that reporters are "having a field day with it," distorting the truth about their relationship.
In Seattle, we like to think that Harbaugh's a jackass. We hear his awkward interviews, see his sideline antics and assume he's more than a little off as a human being. He makes a remark about the Seahawks' run of performance-enhancing drug offenses, and we automatically assume he's public enemy No. 1.
But what do you think 49ers fans are saying in San Francisco about Carroll? They see this gray-haired guy bouncing around on the sideline, always upbeat, always smiling, always making them sick. They no doubt feel that Carroll beat feet out of USC before NCAA violations caught up to him. They probably mock his catch-phrases like "Always Compete" and "All In" and wonder what he would have told NCAA investigators on "Tell the Truth Monday".
|"The Pete Carroll Show" | Blue 42 | Cold Hard Facts||• O'Neil: Errors may decide NFC championship||• O'Neil: Stopping the 49ers starts with Frank Gore||• Moore: Crowd isn't enough for Hawks to beat 49ers||• Henderson: Taking a closer look at the 49ers||• Henderson: Russell Okung vs. 49ers' Aldon Smith||• O'Neil: How the rivalry became so heated | Timeline||• Henderson: 'No better matchup,' Pete Carroll says|
Admit that no matter what happens on Sunday, you can't wait to see Harbaugh and Carroll shake hands after the game. And that's the thing – will they shake hands? With these two, you can't be sure. And if they do, what will be said? "Good game" or something else? If the 49ers win, will Harbaugh slap Carroll on the back like he did with Jim Schwartz during that infamous confrontation with the Lions' head coach? If the Seahawks win, will Carroll's exuberance cause a heated exchange?
Admit it, either way, you don't want it to go smoothly. You want sour grapes. You want a poor loser. You want postgame fireworks to further fuel an already hot rivalry.
If you could do it, would you trade Carroll for Harbaugh? No? You sure about that?
Harbaugh is 41-13-1 in his three years with the Niners. He has led them to three consecutive NFC title games. He is 4-2 against the Seahawks.
Carroll is 40-27 in four years with the Seahawks, though the roster he inherited in 2010 needed more of an overhaul than San Francisco's did when Harbaugh took over.
On the outside, it's hard to understand how Harbaugh makes it work. When he talks to the media, he doesn't seem like a strong leader of men, but clearly he is, much like the Patriots' Bill Belichick, who also comes across poorly in press conferences.
Carroll, meanwhile, is hip and glib. He owns press conferences. He smiles all the time. He's engaging. It's easy to see why players want to go through walls for him.
I used to think that Harbaugh was completely unlikable based solely on his rudeness in conference calls. But I'm warming up to him. He's become a part-time jackass.
There's another side to him I wasn't aware of. I got a kick out of how outwardly happy he was on his 50th birthday when the 49ers beat the Falcons. And it was amusing when he hugged one Bay Area reporter and kissed another on the top of his head after the 49ers beat the Packers in the first round of the playoffs.
Then this week we find out that he wears khakis that he bought for $8 at Walmart. I don't know about you, but I find it impossible to hate a multi-millionaire who wears an $8 pair of pants.
When you get right down to it, Harbaugh and Carroll probably have more in common than we're led to believe, but what fun is that?
The Go 2 Guy also writes for his website, jimmoorethego2guy.com, and kitsapsun.com. You can reach Jim at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @cougsgo.
Wednesday, January 15, 2014 @ 11:53am
The referee assignments for this weekend's conference title games were among the subjects discussed in Tuesday's edition of "Cold Hard Facts" with John Clayton on 710 ESPN Seattle.
Welcome to championship week, where the analysis leading up to each game is such that no storyline goes uncovered. This one, though, certainly seems worthy of some attention. Referee Gene Steratore has been assigned to the Seahawks-49ers game, which is significant from both teams' perspectives given one of his crew's notable tendencies.
"He lets them play," Clayton said, noting that Steratore's crew called only 13 pass-interference penalties in 15 regular-season games.
It should be noted that the championship-game crews will be comprised of the highest-rated officials from the regular season, so Steratore won't be working with his usual crew. Still, his assignment to this game is noteworthy.
A more loosely called game in terms of contact in pass defense would seemingly benefit the Seahawks given the physicality with which their defensive backs play. And the last time these teams met – a 49ers win in Week 14 – officials didn't let the Seahawks get away with some of that contact. Cornerbacks Richard Sherman and Byron Maxwell were penalized for holding (another holding call on Sherman was declined). Receiver Golden Tate was flagged for offensive pass interference as well.
"I'm sure there was a lot of complaining about the pass defense from their end of it, and I think some calls went that way," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said afterward.
According to football-refs.com – which keeps track of assignments for NFL officiating crews – Steratore has worked one Seahawks game this season, which was their Week-8 win over St. Louis. Ten penalties were called against the Seahawks that game, including two for holding by their cornerbacks. None of Seattle's penalties were for pass interference.
Follow Brady Henderson on Twitter @BradyHenderson.
Friday, January 10, 2014 @ 1:50pm
By Jim Moore
If you listen to "Wyman, Mike and Moore", you've maybe heard the back and forth I've had with John Clayton about Percy Harvin. The Professor says it would be a mistake if the Seahawks use him as a kickoff returner Saturday because it increases the chances of him reinjuring his hip.
But Pete Carroll said Thursday there will be no limitations.
"Percy Harvin's back and ready to go, and we're anxious to add him to the mix," the Seahawks' head coach said.
When asked if he planned to return kicks, Harvin said: "Absolutely."
Harvin looks forward to helping out his supportive teammates. During his extensive rehab, on almost a daily basis, cornerback Richard Sherman told him: "We've got it, but we're gonna need you to finish."
Percy Harvin returned a kickoff 58 yards when he made his only appearance with the Seahawks back on Nov. 17. (AP)
We all know what this season has been like with the Harvin Hip Watch. To briefly recap, we found out on the first day of training camp that Harvin had a torn hip labrum and required surgery. Then we saw him make his Seahawks debut Nov. 17 against the Vikings. We figured that he would be playing the rest of the season, but we haven't seen him since.
Carroll tells us each week about Harvin's status, giving us little details about the hip soreness that prevented him from returning. Then two Mondays ago, it sounded like Carroll was ready to put Harvin on injured reserve. But later that afternoon, he had a change of heart after seeing Harvin work out. He stunned reporters when he said that Harvin would practice with the intent of playing in the first playoff game.
It's exciting news for two reasons, as you know. Harvin's electric, a game-changing playmaker. And this sputtering offense can use a spark. Clayton understands this, too. He feels that it's more important to use Harvin only on offense.
We got a glimpse of the difference he can make in the Minnesota game. Harvin made a one-handed catch on third down, had a great block for Marshawn Lynch and generally occupied defensive backs, giving his receiving teammates more room to operate.
What a waste it would be to lose Harvin if he were whacked and knocked out of the game on a kickoff return, Clayton reasons. But remember what happened on his one kickoff return against Minnesota? He returned it 58 yards, setting up a short touchdown drive.
|• Pick'em | 'Pete Carroll Show' | John Clayton||• O'Neil: Hawks mantra: They deal with us||• O'Neil: QBs Wilson, Brees play different roles||• O'Neil: TE Jimmy Graham is the mismatch||• O'Neil: FS Earl Thomas is the equalizer||• O'Neil: WR Percy Harvin is the wild card||• Moore: Don't expect another blowout win||• Huard: Seahawks should be able to run||• Henderson: Wilson hopes for pressure||• Henderson: Carroll stressing right mindset|
This is one of the reasons the Seahawks traded for him. It's one of the reasons they're paying him $11 million a year. When you're paying someone $11 million, you don't want a portion of what he can do – you want the full-meal deal.
Clayton would argue that a portion is better than nothing, but we're in the playoffs, and a long kickoff return by Harvin might be the difference between winning and losing against the Saints.
I know you can argue otherwise. The Seahawks are good enough to beat the Saints with or without Harvin or with or without him returning kicks.
It's like the debate with Russell Wilson. Are you worried about him getting hurt when he runs out of the read-option? In my opinion, Wilson can get hurt in the pocket just as easily as he could in the open field.
I feel the same way about Harvin. You can probably dig up some stats showing that players are more apt to get hurt on kickoff returns than on regular offensive plays. But there's so much of an upside with Harvin that it's worth the risk. It wasn't just a one-time thing what he did in that Vikings game. Last year he averaged 36 yards on his 16 kickoff returns. In 2011, he averaged 32.5 yards on 16 kickoff returns.
Think about the difference – not only do you have the chance to score on one play, at the worst you're going to start your drive at the 30- or 35-yard line instead of the 20.
Say what you will about Jermaine Kearse, Doug Baldwin and Robert Turbin as kickoff returners. They all have good qualities, but they're not consistent threats to go 100 yards like Harvin.
When Carroll was asked on Thursday if Harvin would be limited in any way, he said: "He's going. I told you if he's going to go, he's going to go. So he's playing."
Reading between the lines, that would seem to mean that Harvin will be in the end zone for kickoff returns.
Clayton is called "The Professor" because he's earned that nickname. I'm a student in the back of his class. We agree to disagree to the point that I think it would be a mistake if the Seahawks don't have Harvin returning kicks against the Saints.
Friday, January 10, 2014 @ 1:09pm
By Jim Moore
The last time the Saints and Seahawks played, I not only took New Orleans and the five points but predicted that Sean Payton's team would win the game.
I could've sworn the Saints were 9-2 coming into that Monday night matchup, suggesting that they were equipped to at least make it a competitive game. But the Seahawks were 10-1 and unbeaten at home. I am here to tell you, again, that I was completely wrong with that pick. I have no excuses. I wasn't drinking. I just screwed up.
Despite his forgettable night back in Week 13, Drew Brees still gives the Saints the edge at quarterback. (AP)
I've been encouraged (mocked?) to pick the Saints again by listeners who think I'm wrong all the time. They're thinking it's a good sign for the Seahawks if I pick against them.
They would have been right two weeks ago, too, because I took the Rams and 10 in a game the Seahawks won 27-9, easily covering the spread.
This time around, the Seahawks are favored by eight over the Saints. Oddsmakers no doubt adjusted the line after seeing Seattle throttle the Saints 34-7.
The Saints have only one clear-cut advantage at tight end with Jimmy Graham, who had 16 touchdown receptions this year. But keep in mind that Graham had only three catches for 42 yards in the first game against Seattle.
Then again, linebacker K.J. Wright blanketed Graham in that game, and Wright is injured and won't play this time around. Nonetheless, you'd think that Malcolm Smith should have some success against Graham – the Seahawks' linebacker had two interceptions in the last two games.
|• Pick'em | 'Pete Carroll Show' | John Clayton||• O'Neil: Hawks mantra: They deal with us||• O'Neil: QBs Wilson, Brees play different roles||• O'Neil: TE Jimmy Graham is the mismatch||• O'Neil: FS Earl Thomas is the equalizer||• O'Neil: WR Percy Harvin is the wild card||• Moore: Harvin should be turned loose||• Huard: Seahawks should be able to run||• Henderson: Wilson hopes for pressure||• Henderson: Carroll stressing right mindset|
You'd also have to give the Saints an edge at quarterback, Drew Brees over Russell Wilson. Yet I say that begrudgingly for two reasons – in my mind, Wilson's the best quarterback in Seahawks history and Brees had a miserable night against the Seahawks last month. But he's still Drew Brees.
The Seahawks have an edge at every other position group aside from the offensive line, which needs to protect Wilson from Cameron Jordan, who had 12.5 sacks this year. Wilson was sacked 14 times in the last four games, an area of continued concern.
Will the Saints blitz like they did in the first game? Probably not. You know how that turned out – Wilson burned them time and again, taking advantage of man-to-man coverage downfield.
What about the Saints? Will they run more frequently? Mark Ingram rushed for nearly 100 yards against Philadelphia last Saturday.
You could say, well, the Eagles' rush defense isn't as stout as the Seahawks', but Philadelphia played well against the run down the stretch. And the Saints also ran for 125 yards at Carolina a few weeks ago in a narrow 17-13 loss. No one questions the Panthers' defense.
If you're leaning toward taking the Saints and the eight points, you like to think they will be the looser team now that they've shaken that road playoff jinx. What do they have to lose in Seattle? Everyone expects them to lose. That can have a galvanizing effect on a team. If the Saints win, can't you see Brees talking to Erin Andrews and telling everyone: "No one gave us a chance, but we all believed we could win."
But if you're thinking about taking the Seahawks and giving the eight, you point to them being the vastly superior team. You like that they're playing at home in front of the 12th Man, where they're 15-1 over the past two seasons.
You know their defense is the best in the league. You also like that receiver Percy Harvin promises to spark a sputtering offense.
The Seahawks can score on offense and with Harvin and Golden Tate, they can score on kickoff and punt returns, too.
Added up and put together, it's good news and bad news – the Seahawks will win to move on to the NFC Championship Game but won't cover the spread.
Prediction: Seahawks 23, Saints 20
Season record against the spread: 9-7
Saturday, January 4, 2014 @ 7:11pm
By Brent Stecker
Entering the 2013 season, the Seahawks didn't have a clear-cut No. 1 wide receiver, especially with new acquisition Percy Harvin recovering from hip surgery. What they did have, though, were two receivers in contract years – Golden Tate and Doug Baldwin – that each had the opportunity to become quarterback Russell Wilson's top option and prove they are worthy of being a priority for the Seahawks re-sign.
Golden Tate, who will be a free agent after the postseason, emerged as the Seahawks' top receiver during the regular season, leading the team with 898 receiving yards. (AP)
With the regular season in the books, Tate appears to have emerged as that top option.
In his fourth year, he set career highs with his team-leading 898 receiving yards and 64 receptions, and he was huge in the Seahawks' NFC West title-clinching win over the Rams last Sunday, hauling in eight catches for 129 yards (both also career highs) and a touchdown.
For comparison's sake, Tate's previous season-bests were 688 yards and 45 receptions in 2012, and the next-closest Seahawks receiver this season was Baldwin with 778 yards and 50 receptions.
With the Seahawks on a bye this week due to their division title win, Tate was able to reflect on the regular season, which he did while on with 710 ESPN's Seattle's "Wyman, Mike and Moore" Friday.
"I'll just say it was better than last year," Tate said of his 2013 performance. "I always want to do better than I have the previous year, and I think I did. I think I made a huge jump."
Tate's improvement should make him a big priority for the Seahawks to re-sign in the offseason, as ESPN NFL analyst John Clayton said during his "Cold Hard Facts" segment on "Wyman, Mike and Moore."
"He's kind of the main guy now. I think that you've gotta try to re-sign him because he's part of the core group of the team. He fits the personality of this team," Clayton said. "He's aggressive, he's tough, he's a Hines Ward type of guy, and I think he's the guy that I think Pete Carroll would like to have on his team for his entire career. ... He may not be a No. 1 guy but I think he's clearly an established No. 2 receiver in the big picture."
Numbers-wise, Tate would need to keep his contract demands under $6 million a year to be viable for Seattle, according to Clayton.
"If he pushes for more than $6 million, I think it's gonna be tough. If he comes in under six I think he's gonna be fine," Clayton said. "Somewhere between $4 and $6 million a year (is expected). That cost is gonna cost them Sidney Rice, but they've gotta try to manage it."
From Tate's perspective, he's prepared to sign long-term with Seattle.
"I think the trust in this organization with me is very strong, so I appreciate that, and I definitely want to be here," Tate said. "I really enjoy everything about this city, all the way from the coaching staff and the guys I work with all the way down to just being in the community, the food. The fan base is awesome and I tell you guys that every week. There's nothing bad about this city. I really enjoy being here and I hope to be here for a bit longer."
Friday, January 3, 2014 @ 11:37am
By Jim Moore
Will someone explain why the topic of the Seahawks' most desirable divisional-round opponent is even debatable? This is such a no-brainer, it's a gimme putt, it's a slam dunk, it's a whatever cliché you want to use.
Who do I want the Seahawks to face next Saturday?
Let me give you the easy answer in two words: New Orleans.
If that doesn't make sense to you, let me try two different words: The Saints.
As I recall, the Seahawks flattened the Saints 34-7 in a Monday night game early last month at CenturyLink Field. The Saints were blown out from the opening kick. They were never in the game.
Some idiot co-host from "Wyman, Mike and Moore" picked New Orleans to win that game, but the Seahawks knocked some sense into him with their plastering of the Saints.
Maybe it's just me, but I'd prefer to face a team that you're clearly superior to in your first playoff game. I would like to take the easiest path possible to the Super Bowl.
I don't think that 10 years from now, anyone will look at that Lombardi Trophy in the trophy case at the Seahawks' headquarters and say: "Well, you know, there should be an asterisk on that championship because they didn't face the 49ers on their way to the Super Bowl."
Yet Michael Grey wants a piece of the 49ers next week, and fellow co-host Dave Wyman wants to see San Francisco in the NFC Championship Game.
I want to see the Seahawks play the 49ers again, too – next year in the regular season.
Grey loves the 49ers-Seahawks rivalry and wants to see a third game between the NFC West opponents this year. Wyman believes that to be the best, you've got to beat the best.
I sort of understand where they're coming from – it's why I wanted to see the Seahawks beat the 49ers in San Francisco this year, to take the NFC West title by going through the front door and beating them in their own house.
But, again, I'd rather face a Saints team that you've already crushed and has lost four of its last five on the road. Everyone knows how bad the Saints are on the road and how good the Seahawks are at home.
The fifth-seeded 49ers are the hottest team entering the playoffs, winning their final six regular-season games. (AP)
I'd rather see Green Bay beat the 49ers on Sunday, or Carolina beat them next weekend.
If you have scores to settle with San Francisco, settle them next year. I would expect Seattle to beat the 49ers, but they have won six in a row. They're the hottest team in the league, and they've got Michael Crabtree back.
I can picture Grey and Wyman and I talking about what a great win it was if the Seahawks face the 49ers and beat them. But I have also pictured what it would be like the Monday after if the 49ers knock the Seahawks out of the playoffs. I'd be sitting there thinking: "Be careful what you wish for."
So if I had to list them in order of priority, it would be New Orleans, Green Bay and San Francisco.
You could make a case for wanting the Packers more than the Saints and the 49ers. They're 8-7-1, so how good can they be? They also have the 25th-ranked defense in the NFL. But they're 6-2 with Aaron Rodgers at quarterback, and he's back. I'd also be concerned about extra motivation the Packers would have after losing to the Seahawks last year in controversial fashion
I also understand if I were on a talk show in Green Bay or San Francisco, I'd be saying I don't want any part of the Seahawks, hoping that some other team would knock them off. There's a reason why oddsmakers favor the Seahawks to win the Super Bowl. They're the best team. They're equipped to prove it if they have to.
But if I've got my choice, I hope they get to prove it first against the Saints instead of the 49ers.
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