Updated Oct 1, 2012 - 4:00 pm
The Kevin Calabro Show on 710 ESPN Seattle
Friday, October 12, 2012 @ 10:12am
After five weeks of predicting Seahawks' outcomes, I'm 4-1 against the spread after correctly guessing that Seattle, as a 2.5-point underdog, would beat Carolina last week.
The Seahawks won 16-12 in a much lower-scoring game than my projected result of 34-24. I should have known there wouldn't be many points scored by either team – every Seattle game has gone under the total this year.
This week's over-under against New England is 44, and the Patriots are favored by 3.5 points.
It's a classic matchup featuring the NFL's best offense against the NFL's best defense. The Patriots score 33 points a game; the Seahawks allow 14 points a game. The Patriots average 439 yards a game; the Seahawks allow 259 a game.
New England's Tom Brady is a future Hall of Famer, but he hasn't played a game in Seattle's CenturyLink Field. (AP photo)
But the hell with those prolific numbers. And with all due respect, the hell with Tom Brady, too. While we're at it, the hell with Bill Belichick and his hoodie. And the hell with New England this and New England that.
I'm sick of the Patriots. Everything about them makes me ill, particularly their constant winning. I can't wait for Sunday. Well, actually, I can wait for Sunday – I can't wait for Saturday night and the Coug game if I'm being totally honest. I think we're going to beat Cal straight up as seven-point underdogs.
Here's the thing about the Patriots: they're perceived as invincible when they're really not. We're supposed to be in awe of them, and I wonder: "Why is that? We're supposed to be in awe of a team that lost to Arizona at home?"
There are parts of me that can see New England driving up and down the field against the Seahawks. But there are other parts of me that can see New England being stuffed, stifled and stoned by the Seahawks' defense.
Somebody tell me what I'm missing here. Since the Seahawks shut down Tony Romo and Aaron Rodgers at CenturyLink Field, shouldn't they be able to shut down Brady, too? Understanding that Brady is a future Hall of Famer, but is he that much better than those guys? I'll give you a yes on Romo, but Rodgers, too?
And the last time we saw the Seahawks at home, didn't they have eight sacks against the Packers? I mean, these defensive guys are hell on wheels wherever they play, but aren't they even better at home?
Won't the 12th Man adversely impact the Patriots' no-huddle offense? I would certainly think so, even if they've taken measures to cope with the noise.
Then when you take a look at the other side of the ball, Russell Wilson, just as he did last week at Carolina, should find some downfield opportunities against New England. The Patriots are 30th in the league against the pass, allowing 290 yards a game. That's 40 yards worse that Carolina's pass defense.
Here's another factor I'll mention that you won't see anywhere else – New England's Zoltan Mesko is among the worst punters in the league. Maybe Leon Washington can make something happen with one of Mesko's wobblers.
When I put it all together, I can't see why New England is favored by 3.5. I thought it would be more like a pick-'em game.
Unless I'm mistaken, a good defense usually has the upper hand against a good offense, especially when the good defense is supported by 68,000 ear-shattering fans.
I'm going to ignore the fact that the Patriots are 12-1 vs. the NFC in their last 13 road games and take the Hawks to put it in their invincible faces on Sunday.
My prediction: Seahawks 24, Patriots 16
For the Go 2 Guy's picks on the Husky and Cougar games, visit his website www.jimmoorethego2guy.com. Jim also writes for the Kitsap Sun and Cougfan.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @cougsgo.
Friday, October 5, 2012 @ 10:43am
If you listen to all of the talk in town, Russell Wilson needs to have a breakout performance to save his job this week.
The Wilson detractors think he's too conservative and doesn't make it happen often enough in the passing game, particularly on third down. But Wilson is operating under Pete Carroll's restricted guidelines and hasn't been allowed to air it out as much as he'd no doubt like to.
I'm guessing that starts to change this week. Based on an over-under of 43.5, the Seahawks figure to be in a higher-scoring game against the Panthers. To this point, every Seahawks game has gone under.
The Panthers have the league's 22nd-ranked passing defense thanks largely to a secondary that has been susceptible to big plays. (AP photo)
That's what I'm thinking anyway, and of course I could be way off base. But when you look at Carolina's pass defense, which is 22nd in the league, Wilson should have some downfield opportunities.
After Carolina was torched by Matt Ryan and the Falcons in a late comeback last week, Scott Fowler of The Charlotte Observer wrote that the Panthers were four solid starters from having a good secondary. Ouch.
But if true – and he watches them every week – it provides a good spot for Wilson to duplicate what he did against Kansas City when he won the job from Matt Flynn in the preseason.
Carolina allows an average of 259 passing yards, and that's nearly twice the average that Wilson has thrown for thus far. I keep waiting for play-action stuff to open up for Wilson, and it should happen over and over again on Sunday.
More encouraging numbers: the Panthers are 26th in the league in rushing defense, allowing 134.8 yards a game. And now they're facing the NFL's top rusher in Marshawn Lynch, who could go for 150 against Carolina.
But let's say he just goes for 100, the Panthers have to focus on stopping him first, giving Wilson the chance to shine against that sad secondary of theirs.
I haven't properly analyzed this game from the Carolina point of view. But I'm not writing a post for a Charlotte website. If I were, I'd point out that the Seahawks are going to have a tough time stopping Newton, who's a threat to run and pass, and you're never quite sure what he's going to do.
I'd also point out that the Panthers, at 1-3, need this game worse than the 2-2 Seahawks. And the Panthers are at home, another advantage in their favor.
Defensively, Carolina will bother Wilson with Charles Johnson, a relentless menace who had 3.5 of the Panthers' seven sacks against Atlanta last week.
Carolina's a 3-point favorite, which surprised me because I thought it would be a pick-'em game.
I'm 3-1 in Seahawks' predictions so far, missing only the Green Bay game, which means I'm a good referee away from being 4-0.
This week I'm taking Seattle and the points. Wilson will throw for 250 yards and two touchdowns while Lynch runs for 125 yards and two touchdowns. The defense will bottle up Newton often enough to allow the Hawks to prevail.
My prediction: Seahawks 34, Panthers 24
Wednesday, October 3, 2012 @ 10:22am
If I were to be the cynical curmudgeon that I usually am, I'd criticize the Mariners for moving in the fences and tell them to get hitters that can knock it out of any park no matter the thickness of the marine layer.
I'd tell the hitters that they already have to suck it up and shut the hell up and quit whining about the dimensions of Safeco Field. They're getting millions of dollars to play baseball – deal with it and make it a home-field advantage and quit letting it mess with your heads; you're coming across like a bunch of mental midgets.
Though there's a part of me that feels that way, a bigger part is glad that the M's made the move. I'm sick of watching a sad offense at Safeco Field, where the Mariners are batting .218 this year. I know it's not true, but it seems like they've been feeble forever.
With the shorter dimensions at Safeco Field, a 30-home run season from Jesus Montero seems realistic. (AP photo)
I still like pitchers' duels, but not night after night after night. If you bet the under on every Mariners' home game the past three years, I'm guessing you're reading this post from Tahiti, where you're currently lounging and sipping your drink with the little umbrella in it, and I'm hating you from afar.
Last night during the Angels-M's game, everyone was talking about the warning-track outs that would be home runs next year. Guaranteed, the opposite will happen next year – there will be home runs that everyone will say would have been warning-track outs last year.
Jesus Montero and Justin Smoak, when he's batting right-handed, will benefit the most. One of the two will lead the Mariners with 30 home runs next year. I'm ready for that to happen. It's been a joke the past two years – Miguel Olivo being the team leader with 19 homers last year and Kyle Seager with 20 this year.
When you have a major-league team, your leader should have 25 home runs minimum if not 30. Nineteen or 20 doesn't cut it, and fortunately that will never happen again.
The fences were moved in the most in left-center field, 12 to 17 feet. That will benefit right-handed hitters the most, of course. Kevin Calabro wanted right-center field to be moved in more than 4 feet to help Montero, who has opposite-field power.
But the dimensions in right field and right-center field have never been a problem in this ballpark. They were more than fair already.
I'd also argue that if the Mariners truly want to help out Montero, they'd move the bases closer to home plate because the guy can't run. Maybe then he could turn some of those shots off the walls into doubles.
Jason Vargas will be hurt the most. I'll be honest, I'm stealing these stats straight out of Geoff Baker's game story in The Seattle Times this morning: Vargas has allowed 26 homers on the road and only nine at home. Those numbers will change next year.
It might make it tougher for Felix Hernandez to win Cy Young Awards in the future, too.
But all in all, I'm glad they moved the fences in. It's ridiculous when you spend most of the spring talking about marine layers and mind games.
The Mariners don't have to play from the back tees anymore. If it helps them and helps attract free-agent sluggers, all the better.
I'm ready to hear Rick Rizzs say: "Goodbye, baseball!" more than he ever has before.
Tuesday, October 2, 2012 @ 11:43am
Along with hitting three field goals of 48 yards or longer, Rams rookie Greg Zuerlein booted four of his five kickoffs for touchbacks in Sunday's win over the Seahawks.
That's been the story so far for Washington, who has returned just seven kickoffs this season but has the Seahawks leading the NFL – by far – with a 37.7-yard average. Only three other teams have an average of at least 30: Atlanta (31.0), San Francisco (30.4) and Minnesota (30.1).
Washington's strong start has been especially important to a Seahawks offense that has struggled to move the ball.
His 69-yard return on Sunday came as Seattle trailed 16-7 in the third quarter. That didn't turn into points, though, as Russell Wilson was intercepted on the second play of the drive. The Seahawks had only mustered three points in the third quarter of the season opener when Washington gave them excellent field position with an 83-yard return that set up their only touchdown.
The emergence rookie Robert Turbin figures to diminish Washington's role in the backfield. He has just eight carries this season, including one on Sunday. He may not get many chances to return kickoffs, either, with Seattle's defense giving up only 14.5 points per game.
But with an offense that has plenty of limitations, Washington will have to continue to do what he's done so far: make the most of limited opportunities.
Note: Washington joined "The Kevin Calabro Show" on Monday and talked about the art of returning kicks, among other topics. You can listen to that interview here.
Friday, September 28, 2012 @ 11:28am
That was one of the greatest games in Seahawks history. That was one of the most unbelievable endings in NFL history. That was one of the most incredible games ever on "Monday Night Football."
When you're involved in a game like that, how can you possibly get fired up for the next one on the schedule?
Here's a list of reasons why I'm picking the Rams to beat the Seahawks on Sunday:
Cornerback Cortland Finnegan embodies the tough and aggressive mentality that new coach Jeff Fisher has brought to the St. Louis Rams. (AP photo)
• It's a 10 a.m. kickoff. Last year the Seahawks handled early starting times better than they have in the past, but it's still a concern.
• Michael Robinson said the Seahawks left the Monday night game on Monday, but with all of the hoopla surrounding Golden Tate's controversial touchdown reception, this hasn't been a normal week for the players. There's been so much national attention and so many tweets this week – I'm guessing all of that that stuff has been highly distracting.
• Under normal circumstances, a game against the Rams is rarely one that the Seahawks would circle on the schedule. Seattle has beaten St. Louis 13 out of the last 14 games. And these aren't normal circumstances.
• Jeff Fisher. I respect Jeff Fisher. Even if the Rams lose this game, I expect their head coach to keep them in the game.
• Cortland Finnegan. I'm glad the official officials are back for this game because the St. Louis cornerback is a dirty player who will try to get into the Seahawks' receivers' heads. I'm guessing in spite of their best efforts to steer clear of a scuffle with Finnegan, he'll be a positive factor for St. Louis.
• Brandon Gibson gives the Rams a complementary receiving threat to Danny Amendola. What, did you think I'd write an entire post without a gratuitous reference to a Coug? And in Gibson's case, it's not that gratuitous – he has two touchdown receptions so far.
• If the Seahawks can dominate Dallas and Green Bay, it figures that they'd be able to dominate a much weaker St. Louis offense. But it doesn't always work that way in the NFL, as you know. What you see one week can drastically change the next. The Seahawks' defense won't have the 12th Man to help them on Sunday.
• Greg Zuerlein. Who's Greg Zuerlein? The Rams' kicker. He's 8 for 8 on his field goals. A sixth-round pick out of Missouri Western, Zuerlein made a 56-yarder last week against the Bears. He's also hit a 74-yarder in practice. It says here that Zuerlein hits the game-winner from 55 yards on Sunday.
My prediction: Rams 20, Seahawks 17
Tuesday, September 25, 2012 @ 5:36pm
By Brady Henderson
The Seahawks defense entered this season with a revamped pass rush intent on improving upon the 33 sacks Seattle collected last season.
So far, so good.
And while drafting Bruce Irvin 15th overall and signing Jason Jones to a one-year deal stood as the most significant additions to Seattle's defensive line, it's the steady veteran of that group, Chris Clemons, who is again leading the way.
Clemons collected a career-high four sacks in Monday's win over Green Bay. He now has five this season, putting him on pace to reach double digits for the third consecutive season.
Not many would have imagined that back in 2009 when Clemons, a former undrafted free agent, was a part-time player on his third different team in five seasons.
"Really and truly, nobody else really gave me that opportunity," Clemons told "The Kevin Calabro Show" on Tuesday. "When I first got here, coach [Pete Carroll] told me that I had an opportunity to start. Everyone wanted me to rush on third down not thinking that I could play against the run for some strange reason. So when I got here coach Carroll told me, 'You've got a chance to start.' So my thing was take advantage of the opportunity that I had."
Before the 2010 season, the Seahawks acquired Clemons and a fourth-round pick from the Eagles in exchange for Darryl Tapp, a move that has proved to be one of the most significant made by Carroll and general manager John Schneider.
Clemons, 30, posted consecutive 11-sack seasons in 2010 and 2011 – his 22 sacks were the eighth-most among pass rushers in that span – while playing the LEO, a position unique to Seattle's defense. After averaging 50 tackles and not missing a game in either of those two seasons despite a serious ankle injury, Clemons held out during the offseason feeling that he deserved a new deal. He ultimately got one – even though he had a year remaining on his old deal – and so far that decision looks like a wise one.
Clemons has a forced fumble and five sacks, the third-most in the league through three games. On Monday he tied an NFL record with four first-half sacks.
"I don't know how a guy gets four sacks in one half," Carroll said after the game.
Clemons has an idea.
"We knew going into the week. I told Bruce that ... I knew they would bring the chip to my side and I told him that he had to start off fast. That's exactly what he did; the first series he ended up with a sack and after that I knew that they'd have to start changing their protections and they would leave me backside with one-on-one protection with [left tackle Marshall] Newhouse," he said. "So that was the way I was going to be able to actually get free. I knew we could work on him all game long."
Irvin and Brandon Mebane finished with two sacks apiece, giving the Seahawks eight total. Seattle has 10 sacks on the season, the fifth-most in the NFL. That's a major reason why Seattle leads the league in scoring defense, allowing just 13 points per game.
"I think our defense is better than any defense in the NFL. I'm not saying I think; I know our defense is better than any defense in the NFL," Clemons said. "And not to sound cocky, it's just the mentality that we have as far as a defense. We don't think that any other defense can compete with ours."
Sunday, September 23, 2012 @ 6:20pm
As former Seahawks coach Chuck Knox used to say, "It's not who you play, it's when you play them." As Seattle prepares to take on the Packers Monday night, it's important to keep that adage in mind.
Granted, both teams are riding high after notching convincing victories at home. But right now, in Week 3, the Seahawks have a golden opportunity to exploit a glaring weakness of Green Bay's.
How do we know? Just ask San Francisco.
In Week 1, the 49ers went to Green Bay and notched a 30-22 win at Lambeau Field. The Niners' formula was simple: Utilize their fast, physical defense to create turnovers and keep everything in front of them; Use a conservative approach with their passing game while gathering chunks of yardage on the ground.
If that isn't a perfect description of who the Seahawks are right now, I don't know what is.
Marshawn Lynch should find plenty of running room against the Packers and their 27th-ranked run defense. (AP photo)
The Packers rank 27th in the league against the rush. San Francisco averaged 5.8 yards per carry in their victory over Green Bay two weeks ago.
Frank Gore, who is 29 years old and past his prime, ran 16 times for 112 yards. He averaged 7 yards per carry. We're talking about Frank Gore (cue the Allen Iverson). Even backup running back Kendall Hunter ran nine times for 41 yards, at 4.6 per carry.
Are you telling me Marshawn Lynch and Robert Turbin aren't capable – at the very minimum – of putting up at least similar (if not superior) numbers Monday night? At home?
Some of you might be saying, "Alex Smith played a huge part in that San Francisco win. You need to account for that, too."
Absolutely correct – and I will. Smith went 20 for 26 for 211 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. Extremely effective. Why? The success on the ground allowed San Francisco to stay conservative with its passing game (per their plan). Twenty completions for 211 yards. That's an average of only 8.1 yards per completion. Small potatoes.
Sound familiar, Seahawks fans? It should.
Russell Wilson did the same thing last week against Dallas, going 15 for 20 for 151 yards (7.6 yards per completion), one touchdown and no interceptions.
Like Smith against Green Bay, Wilson will have yet another opportunity to do what he's already been successful at – executing a conservative, short passing game supplemented by a plus running attack. Use the play action as a weapon, complete the quick outs, the slants, the hook routes, and the seam routes to the tight end. Run first, pass second, short-yardage conversion attempts, chew clock.
I'm not going to come up with some wild theory on how to shut down Green Bay's MVP quarterback, Aaron Rodgers. But I will say that running the football successfully leads to long, drawn out scoring drives that limit the opponents' possessions. Against Dallas, the Seahawks had three drives in excess of 10 plays and 6 minutes – and two of them were in excess of 7 minutes.
I'll again remind you that Green Bay is 27th against the rush. The opportunity for "grind-out" drives is ripe for the picking.
Coach Pete Carroll always cites winning the turnover battle. But trust me, winning the time of possession is just as important to him. So is a fast, physical defense that creates turnovers and keeps everything in front of it. So is using a conservative approach with your passing game while gathering chunks of yardage on the ground.
The 49ers already used that recipe two weeks ago on the road.
The Seahawks, with a little home cookin', are going to do the same at CenturyLink Field on Monday night.
My prediction: Seahawks 24, Packers 20
Steve Sandmeyer is a fill-in host on 710 ESPN Seattle. You can also follow him on Twitter @SteveSandmeyer or find him on Facebook at the "Steve Sandmeyer Fan Page".
Saturday, September 22, 2012 @ 9:06pm
As a self-confessed blind squirrel, I'm surprised that I'm 2-0 at picking Seahawks games against the spread, choosing underdog winners and nailing it both times.
I took Arizona, as a 2.5-point dog, to beat the Seahawks 20-13 two weeks ago, and the Cardinals prevailed 20-16. Last week I took the Seahawks, as three-point dogs, to beat the Cowboys 24-17, and they won 27-7.
I'm looking for another acorn this week in the Green Bay-Seattle Monday night game. The Packers opened as 3.5-point favorites but are now listed as three-point favorites because more money is being bet on Seattle than Green Bay, thus the downward movement in the line.
The Packers have been so-so thus far, not really resembling the 15-1 team from last year. They lost 30-22 in their opener at Lambeau Field to the 49ers in a result that could be called shocking if the 49ers weren't so damn good themselves. Then they beat the disheveled Bears 23-10 on "Thursday Night Football" but still didn't look like an offensive juggernaut.
The Seahawks will have their hands full with Green Bay's Clay Matthews, who leads the league with six sacks. (AP photo)
At first glance, you look at this game and think the Seahawks have a decent shot at another upset. They'll be amped to the max, playing in front of the 12th Man again. And the 12th Man will be more fired up than ever, wanting to unleash every distracting decibel on the Packers while hoping to impress a national-TV audience. That has to work in the Seahawks' favor.
But don't you think that Aaron Rodgers has faced this type of atmosphere before? Don't you think that Rodgers, of all quarterbacks, is equipped to deal with the noise and a defense as tough as Seattle's?
He could also have Greg Jennings, one of his go-to receivers who injured his groin in the opener and missed the Bears game. I can see the Packers being slowed by the Seahawks but not snuffed like Dallas was.
The other thing about the Cowboys, I just thought the Seattle game was a letdown spot for them, coming as it did after Dallas upset the Giants in the NFL season-opening game.
This isn't a letdown spot for the Packers. I can't imagine them being 15-1 last year and going 1-2 this year.
Raise your hand if you think Green Bay will score fewer than 20 points. I don't think that will happen, and the Seahawks, as the Seattle Times' Danny O'Neil reported, are 1-15 under Pete Carroll when the opponent scores more than 20 points.
Then again, you could argue that no one would have thought the Seahawks would hold Dallas to seven points, but they did. I don't have a good comeback for that, but I still think the Packers are a better team than the Cowboys and will find their way to the end zone three or four times Monday night.
On the other side of the ball, as much as I like Russell Wilson and his potential, he's still going to be a rookie starting his third game in the NFL. He will face a defense that leads the NFL in sacks with 11, led by Clay Matthews with six.
You could counter by saying that the Seahawks held Dallas' DeMarcus Ware in check with a backup left tackle, Frank Omiyale, last week. And again, I wouldn't have a good comeback for that either; maybe they'll shut down Matthews, too.
As impressive as the Seahawks were against the Cowboys, I just can't see it happening two weeks in a row. They'll be competitive for awhile, but the Packers will take control in the second half and win going away.
My prediction: Packers 31, Seahawks 13