For the life of me, I cannot think of a bigger non conference regular season game for these Seattle Seahawks to have played in over the years than this game against the New York Football Jets on New Year’s Day in Seattle. Sure, the game this season against Denver was massive because of Russell Wilson returning to town, but this game against the Jets is for all the marbles for both teams.
The team that wins keeps their playoff hopes alive for another final week in the NFL, and the team that loses will see their playoff chances vanquished into the ether. Therefore, this is precisely a playoff game in the regular season.
It is also a do or die match that is full of intriguing back stories. Let’s look at a few key subplots.
The New York Jets were the team that drafted Geno Smith to be their franchise quarterback after Mark Sanchez, and they gave up on him way too early. While he would never characterize this as a revenge game, beating the team that basically sentenced him to the life of a career backup up until this year would have to be pretty damn meaningful on top of keeping Seattle’s playoff hopes alive.
Conversely, the Jets are coached by Robert Saleh who was a one time Pete Carroll disciple in Seattle during the Super Bowl years, and then kind of became a bitter enemy of the Seahawks when he became the defensive coordinator of the 49ers under Kyle Shanahan. Whenever pressed about his days in Seattle, Saleh almost always down plays them a bit as he did this week again. Who knows how things stand between him and his former boss, I’m sure there remains a degree of respect and adoration, but I can imagine he would like nothing better than to roll into town with his top end defense and put a beatdown on Carroll’s Seahawks like a Sith apprentice burying his demonically red light saber through the back of his Master.
There’s even a jaded history between each team’s front offices with how the Jets’ GM absolutely fleeced Seattle with the whole Jamal Adams trade. I suspect that behind closed doors with no recording devices around, John Schneider probably throws darts at a picture of Pete Carroll for having him send two first round picks, a third, and starting safety Bradley McDougald to the Jets for often injured Adams who is clearly neither Kam Chancellor nor Earl Thomas, but who knows. Either way, there probably isn’t a day that goes by that Jet’s GM Joe Douglas doesn’t laugh his ass off whenever the subject of the Seahawks comes up.
Adding even further intrigue into this game is the battle of the two rookie phenom corners in the Jets’ Sauce Gardner and the Seahawks’ Tariq Woolen both battling for DROY. No doubt both players want to show up big in this one, and not be outdone by the other.
Adding even further and further cornerback intrigue into this game is one time Seahawk stud corner DJ Reed who was low balled by John Schneider in free agency last Spring, signed with the Jets, and playing his MF’ing ass off this year. Double no doubt he wants to show Seattle they made the wrong call on him.
Also on the Jets’ roster are former Seahawk offensive tackles Duane Brown and George Fant. I bet they want to stick it to Seattle, as well.
Geno Smith wants revenge but won’t ever say it, DJ Reed wants it too and probably would, Sauce and Tariq want to out do each other, and Robert Saleh wants to end his old boss’s coaching career.. all this Sunday… and each team have EVERYTHING TO PLAY FOR.
Who does not want to watch this game?
Only the most half assed football fan wouldn’t want to watch this one, and that’s fair. I’m a half assed baseball fan.
So, how do I think this will go down?
I have no idea. Both teams are struggling lately, and both teams are more talented in areas where the other team isn’t. This could make for a wacky affair on New Year’s.
Seattle should have the better offense. Geno Smith is a better quarterback than Mike White, I believe. Seattle has better receivers and running back and tight ends, probably. However, Seattle has a struggling offensive line, and the Jets have one of the best defensive lines in the game, especially at defensive tackle.
The Jets have a significantly better defense than Seattle does, but Seattle’s defense feels like it has been playing a bit better lately. While I remain mildly skeptical of how much of a positive turn on this Seahawk defense is actually happening, my gut tells me that they will show up well in this one.
So, I think this game could go down to how well Mike White plays in front of a jacked up Lumen Field crowd, and how well Geno Smith can get back on track against a top defense. Geno struggled badly for a good portion in the game against the 49ers’ stellar defense, but he didn’t have Ken Walker running the ball. If Seattle can get Walker going, I think Geno could snap out of his slight funk.
Make no mistake, though, getting Ken Walker going against this defensive front won’t be easy. We need this Seattle offensive line finding it within themselves to play one of their better games, and we need Walker to be more aggressive about hitting whatever creases he sees. We also need commitment from offensive play caller Shane Waldron to stay with the run enough.
For the Seahawks to win this game, they got to be willing to make this a blood bath. The team that runs better and tackles better wins this game, and the Seahawks truly need to get back to Pete Carroll football to make that happen.
I hope so. I want them to. I think they can. They did this two months ago against the New York Football Giants, who are better than the Football Jets.
So, in the end, sure, I will pick them. Why not?
They are playing at home with everything on the line. Now is the time for them to rise, and salvage this once promising playoff season of theirs.
Therefore, I say the Seahawks win this one with a weird 23-19 final score in a very un-pretty but yet totally satisfactory way.. because it will have been a total team effort to get it done.
On a side note; games like this one is projected to be are the biggest reason why I love football. At it’s best, it’s tough, it’s bloody, it’s awful, and thrilling, and thus victory feels well earned, and even the defeat can feel satisfactory.
I expect both teams to lay this one out all on the line, and what a way to kick in New Year’s.
Just get it done, Seahawks. Go get it.