SEATTLE -- Yep, it's that time of year again. Time to get your buddies together in a basement and put some names together. Time to claim that the Seahawks will go 16 and 0 this year. Time to hope the Huskies and Cougars aren't the bottom dwellers they were last year.
ARE YOU READY FOR SOME FOOTBAAAALL?!?!
First up, the Seahawks season preview. The Seahawks gained quite a few names this offseason, including WR TJ Houshmandzadeh (that's Whoosh-manned-zah-dah) and rookie LB Aaron Curry, but they lost Bobby Engram, Maurice Morris, and, already, have lost Marcus Trufant and Walter Jones to injury.
On the offensive side of the ball, Matt Hasslebeck will, once again, will be carrying the weight of the entire team on his back. Here's the simple equation: Healthy offense = A winning season. If Matt and his receivers can stay healthy, our passing game will work. The problem is, last year we lost not one of those groups, but both Matt AND several receivers spent some quality time with the team doctors last year. Our running game also broke quickly because our offensive line got broke as well. However, this year Matt has a great go-to option in the fresh face of TJ Houshmandzadeh, as well as other options like Deion Branch and Nate Burleson. The running game will be the weakness of this offense, with a frequently broken offensive line and a not-too-powerful Julius Jones baked up by Edgerrin James. Bottom line: The offense this year looks to be pass-heavy, but could put some points on the scoreboard if the line holds up.
Moving to defense, the Seahawks set themselves up with one of the best trios of linebackers in the NFL while ignoring the DB position. With Leroy Hill, Lofa Tatupu, and Aaron Curry starting behind the linesmen, the running games of opposing offenses should be less than phenomenal while the pass rush will get a boost when the 'Hawks blitz one of the LBs. The line itself, though, is less than stellar, with no big names or young talent that jumps out. Still, the Seahawks got 12 sacks in the preseason. The big gaping hole will be the defensive backs. With Trufant out until at least Week 8, the backfield of the defense will have to step it up if they want to keep offenses from passing all over the field. Bottom line: The defense will stop the run fairly well, but will have some trouble stopping opponent's passing game.
Overall, the Seahawks are looking to be pretty average in the NFL this year, and since this is the NFC West they play in, who knows, they could make the playoffs this year.
Moving on to the college teams. While I'm not going to be capable of providing the kind of analysis I did for the Seahawks since college football is not my strong point, I will make some predictions on what the teams will do this year, starting with the Huskies.
The Huskies are coming off of what might be remembered as one of the worst coaching eras in their history. Steve Sarkisian, the offensive coordinator out of USC, has taken over as head coach and, based on the LSU game, turned things around very quickly. While, yes, it was a loss on the record, it was a few crucial UW turnovers that gave the game to the Tigers, and the Huskies played 'em close the entire game. While, yes, we know that the score was only 31-23 because of a touchdown scored by the Huskies with 0:00 on the clock, it wasn't like the Tigers were leading by two touchdowns the entire game. The Huskies did something not a lot of people thought they would do, keep it close. And that might be a foreshadowing to the rest of the season. This was easily their toughest non-conference game (which isn't saying much, since they only have two OOC games this year), and in the top 3 of the hardest games this season. It's not too far out of the realm of possibility that they will get to a bowl game this year, and they probably will be the victors in the Apple Cup (even though the logo in the slot for my college football team has a Cougars logo, I don't really have a bias between the two, I usually root for the one with the best chance at getting into a better bowl game than the other).
On the eastern side of the mountains, we have the Cougars. Ah, the Cougars. Unlike the Huskies, the issue for them doesn't appear to be coaching, it appears to be a lack of recruiting. Not a lot of talent heading into Pullman right now. While the team probably will grow and improve this season, it's really hard to get a favorable record when you play in the Pac-10. They should at least beat SMU, but that may be it. Give them two or three years and they could pick themselves up, or just stay down. Who knows. I think they'll get that one win I mentioned and go 1 for 11.