If you, like me, are spending more time thinking about the Seahawks’ first playoff opponent than any adult should spend thinking about any sporting event ever — even one in which he or a loved one is involved — then these next few paragraphs are for you.
I’ve done a little math, and here are my probabilities* that a team will play the Seahawks in the second round.
The Saints are clearly the favorites to be the Seahawks’ first playoff opponent, because if they win Saturday night then the two teams play regardless of what happens in the Sunday game. So their odds of playing the ‘Hawks first are exactly their odds of beating the Eagles. And as you can see I think Saints-Eagles is a coin flip. The Saints are the better team on a neutral field, but it’s in Philly, so I think those two things cancel each other out. I’m surprised to see Vegas giving so much love to the Eagles (Saints are +120). I understand if you don’t trust New Orleans on the road in cold and possibly inclement weather (we all remember what happened a few Mondays ago in Seattle), but do you really have more trust in the Eagles defense stopping Drew Brees anywhere, in any conditions? If so, I respectfully disagree … Also, you are an idiot.
49ers-Packers is even more difficult to handicap because of the whole Aaron Rodgers thing. What sort of bump should a team get when its starting quarterback returns after missing half the season — and not just any quarterback, but arguably the best in the game? Vegas is going somewhere in the neighborhood of 55%-45%, Niners, and that seems reasonable to me. The 49ers are clearly better, even with Rodgers playing, but the game is in Green Bay, which should help the Pack. Also, the Niners are good but not great defensively. I could see Rodgers lighting it up. I set it 54%-46%, 49ers. This gives the probabilities above, taking into consideration that the Saints would have to lose for either the Packers or the Niners to come to Seattle in Round 2.
So that’s who I think the Seahawks will play. If you ask me who I want the Seahawks to play, that list is much easier to compile.
Not the 49ers: 100%
That’s it. Sure, 49ers-Seahawks would be exciting, but I don’t want exciting, I want easy (or easier, at least, no NFC playoff team is a pushover this year). Exciting is a luxury fans in places like New England and Pittsburgh can root for. It’s not for thirty-something Puget Sounders who’ve never seen a single one of their teams win a championship, ever. The path of least resistance is the path I prefer.
If the Sehawks do make a run at the Super Bowl this year, you are going to start hearing more and more jokes about the Seahawks’, shall we say, indiscretions concerning certain substances, perhaps of the banned and/or performance enhancing variety. I get it. It’s deserved. And objectively speaking, “Seadderall Seahawks” is a pretty good play on words. However, I thought a few fun facts about all the other playoff teams might be germane to the conversation.
In the past two seasons, the Broncos have had at least four players suspended for violating the NFL’s Substance Abuse Policy (hereafter referred to as SAP). This includes (now injured) star pass rusher Von Miller who was banned from playing the first six games of the season. That’s two games longer than the typical suspension because he allegedly tried to cheat a drug test.
New England Patriots
The Patriots are currently starting more players once busted for SAP violations than the Seahawks (two to one), including Aqib Talib, the best player on the team who isn’t married to Gisele. (The other is Steve Gregory.) Reserve running back Brandon Bolden was also once popped with a four-gamer. The Patriots are also the only team in NFL history who were caught cheating in the Super Bowl. Oh, and one of their biggest offensive playmakers the past few years probably murdered multiple people. Patriots fans really have no room to hector fans of any other NFL team for at least another decade.
Within the last year, the Colts have had at least two players suspended for SAP violations, Weslye Saunders and LaVon Brazill. And Erik Walden recently got nicked for a game for headbutting a dude.
San Diego Chargers
Although they used to have one of the original poster boys of PEDs in today’s NFL, Shawne Merriman, the Chargers are, as far as I can tell, currently the cleanest of the playoff teams. (They’re also the worst … coincidence?) Last season a scrub d-linemen named Garrett Brown got popped for four games, but he had never before (nor since) played a down in a regular season NFL game, anyway. Oh, there is this.
Another fairly clean team, by my research (i.e., Googling). Somebody named Andre Neblett was suspended for four games last season while a member of the Panthers. That’s about all I could find, except for two older stories. This one, which the Panthers franchise still hasn’t lived down because its funny (A punter busted for PEDs!), and this one, which the Panthers franchise still hasn’t lived down because it’s the most fucked up sports story since O.J. Oh wait, no it’s not; read my last sentence about the Patriots above. Sorry, Panthers fans. Considered it officially lived down.
San Francisco 49ers
June last year, Jim Harbaugh calls out the Seahawks players for using PEDs, specifically Adderall, in typical Harbaugh, holy-than-thou manner. (“We want to be above reproach in everything and do everything by the rules.”) August last year, the 49ers sign cornerback Eric Wright who the year prior was, yep, suspended four games for Adderall. Well played, Jimbo. Well played. Also, I’d like to point out that the 49ers’ best pass rusher is still awaiting trial for felony weapons charges.
New Orleans Saints
Saints … Saints … Let’s see … What dirt is there on the Saints? Ah, right, their head coach was suspended all of last season because members of his staff were allegedly paying their players to injure the other teams’ quarterbacks. Right, that.
So, you see, it doesn’t matter if you’re a fan of the Seahawks or the 49ers or anybody else. Jerry Seinfeld once joked that we cheer for laundry. We do. And it ain’t always clean.
*I know, I know, technically I’m not giving probabilities since strictly mathematically speaking a probability is a number between 0 and 1. But you understand what I mean. Also, don’t be such a pedantic dick.