Seattle scrambling for Running Back after Rawls Injury

thomas-rawls-seattleThomas Rawls had been filling in admirably at running back for the Seattle Seahawks…then he suffered a broken ankle and torn ligaments in Sunday’s 35-6 victory over the Baltimore Ravens. Rawls, who had 830 rushing yards on just 147 carries this year, will now miss the rest of the season.

Head coach Pete Carroll says that the team is now trying to figure out when previous starter Marshawn Lynch can return. The 5-time Pro Bowler last played on Nov. 15 against Arizona, then underwent abdominal surgery on Nov. 25. The hope was that Lynch could return within 3-4 weeks; however, it doesn’t look like this will happen now.

“We’ll see how Marshawn does,’’ said Carroll. “He was back in rehabbing with us (this week). We’ll see where he is. He’s got a chance to get back. It’s all about getting back in shape and getting right. I don’t know what the timetable is at this point. Our trainers can’t tell yet. But that will be the next thing we will look to see how that works out.”

Without Lynch and Rawls, Seattle will go with DuJuan Harris and Fred Jackson, who combined for just 57 yards on 25 carries after Rawls exited the Ravens game with an ankle injury. Fullback Derrick Coleman could also receive some carries, given that he had a 19-yard run last Sunday.

The Seattle Times predicts that the Seahawks will be looking through the free agent ranks in hopes of adding another tailback, considering that the trade deadline has already passed. This leaves possibilities like former 49ers RB Kendall Hunter, former Philadelphia Eagle Bryce Brown, ex-Denver Bronco Montee Ball and former Arizona Cardinal Marion Grice.

marshawn-lynchTwo more options would be former Seahawk Christine Michael, who’s currently on the Washington Redskins practice squad, and ex-Baltimore Raven Ray Rice. The latter has not played since 2013, as Rice was suspended for the entire 2014 season following a domestic incident.

Obviously none of these options are extremely exciting to Seattle since they’ve already had chances with other teams. But it wouldn’t hurt to add some depth at tailback until they can get Lynch healthy and starting again.

In the meantime, the Seahawks will try to wrap up a playoff berth in the NFC. They get the Browns and Ravens at home, which offers a perfect opportunity to settle the running game against weaker opponents. Then Seattle finishes with a tough home game against Arizona, which has already clinched the NFC East at 11-2.

Since beginning the season at 4-5, the Seahawks have gone on to win four straight games and put themselves in position to earn one of the NFC’s two Wild Card spots. They won the Super Bowl in 2013 and came within a yard of winning the Super Bowl last year. Odds are that they’ll have a much tougher time recreating the same feat in 2015 with so many injuries at running back. But if Lynch can return in time, maybe they have a shot at another title run.

Is Christine Michael ready for an expanded Role in Seattle?

christine-michael-seattleSeattle has no shortage of depth at running back. For starters, they feature Pro-Bowler Marshawn Lynch, who racked up 1,257 rushing yards and 12 TDs while starting in the backfield. They also have Robert Turbin, a multi-purpose back who gained over 500 total yards on the 2013 season. That said, there was little need to play rookie Christine Michael during the Seahawks’ championship run last season.

Now, this isn’t to say that Michael wasn’t deserving of playing time. The bruising 5’10”, 221-pound player out of Texas A&M runs a 4.43 forty and has the moves and power to be a great NFL tailback. But buried behind two veterans like Turbin and Lynch, Michael only managed 18 carries for 79 yards.

Coming off of what was akin to a redshirt season, Michael may force his way onto the field this time around. So if you’re interested in 2014 Seattle Seahawks betting, you’ll want to take into account how loaded this second-year man makes the team’s backfield.

Fitting in

He’s already been shining in OTAs, ripping off a number of impressive runs that have writers talking about the 23-year-old. Of course, this is nothing new to Seattle since they knew he had talent, taking him with their highest pick (62nd overall) in the 2013 Draft, despite already having two strong backs. But what’s really impressed coach Pete Carroll is the strides that Michael has been making in other areas.

christine-michael-seattle-1“We have very high expectations for him,” Carroll said. “He’s going to get a ton of work. He’s just a million miles ahead of where he was in terms of understanding what we want scheme-wise, pass protection-wise, route-wise and we know he’s a natural runner. He’s got explosive talent and we just want to get him to fit in.”

As Seattle running backs coach Sherman Smith points out, the only thing keeping Michael off the field more is a typical roadblock for many young players – understanding the NFL intricacies. “For Christine, it’s just the development that he has to go through,” Smith said. “You see the physical part of his game, there’s no question about that. It’s the mental part where most guys have to develop.”

What to expect from Michael in 2014

Smith has made it clear that Lynch is the starter, and for good reason too. “Beast Mode” is in the prime of his career and showed no signs of decline last season. But as for Turbin, well, Michael definitely has a shot to steal work – or outright take the backup role – from the fourth-year veteran.

A big reason why Turbin backed up Lynch is because he had a better understanding of the offense and is a strong blocker. But judging from Carroll’s comments, Michael seems to have improved in these areas. And even if he’s not quite as good of a blocker as Turbin, he could still usurp the latter’s role.

The idea behind drafting Michael was that he’d be the franchise’s running back of the future. So Seattle will definitely be looking to groom him more in 2014. And it’s not entirely crazy to think that he could be starting in 2015, given that Lynch is 28 and would add $9 million to the salary cap in two years. But first thing’s first, and that is for Michael to get some meaningful playing time this season.

Adam Muema’s Bizarre Behavior may bounce Him out of 2014 NFL Draft

adam-muema-nfl-draftGoing into the 2014 NFL Combine, San Diego State running back Adam Muema was an intriguing prospect with a 40-inch vertical leap and an unofficial 4.57 forty-yard dash time. More importantly, his last two years with the Aztecs were pretty impressive. In 2012, he rushed for 1,458 yards and 16 touchdowns on 237 carries. He followed this up with 1,244 yards and 15 touchdowns on 256 carries in 2013.

Given all of this, some analysts had Muema going as high as the third round of the 2014 NFL Draft. The lowest estimates were usually in the fifth round due to his smallish (for running backs) 5’10”, 205-pound stature. But thanks to recent developments, it’s almost impossible to see Muema getting drafted at all.

Those around the league were already wondering about his sanity when he left the combine because he was “following God.” Muema later told reporters that God told him it was already a given that he’d be playing for the Seattle Seahawks. Forget the voices in Muema’s head since the thought of him playing for the Seahawks is already crazy enough. They return Marshawn Lynch, capable backup Robert Turbin and heralded first-rounder Chrstine Michael, so it’s highly unlikely that he’d crack this lineup.

adam-muema-nfl-draft-1Things have gotten even more bizarre lately because Muema was missing for three days after he left the combine. Thankfully, he’s turned up, but the reason why he was missing is because God told him to stay in a Florida airport for three days. Oklahoma linebacker Corey Nelson, who’d been working out with Muema, explained the matter to the San Diego Union-Tribune, as you can see from the following excerpt:

Adam Muema was found Thursday at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, ex-Oklahoma linebacker Corey Nelson said.

The airport is near the athlete performance facility where they spent the past two months training for the NFL. Muema had been there since Monday, when his Southwest flight from Indianapolis landed at about 1:30 p.m. ET.

Muema called Nelson on Thursday to ask for a ride. When Nelson arrived, he said Muema was still dressed in NFL-issued combine gear. When asked to describe Muema’s demeanor on Thursday, Nelson said the running back seemed “focused, cheerful and very wise.”

“He said he was at the airport for three days straight,” Nelson said. “He was telling me when I picked him up that God told him to stay at the airport and don’t do anything. Just stay there. That’s what he did for three days straight.

“On the fourth day, he told me he couldn’t do it anymore. He decided to call me.”

Not to turn this whole situation into a sacrilegious joke, but there’s a strong chance that God doesn’t want Adam Muema to get drafted with the advice that he’s supposedly been dispensing. It’s not like Muema was a guaranteed first-round pick going into the combine. And now that he’s shown some very irregular behavior as of late, the former San Diego State star will have a very difficult time convincing anybody to draft him.

Maybe some team that’s desperate for a running back will take a seventh-round flier on Mumea…maybe he won’t get drafted and he’ll work his way on to a team with a great preseason. Or, just maybe Muema’s odd decisions will continue and he’ll never see the field in a regular season game.

We’re not wishing the worst upon the 21-year-old. However, he needs to change things around quickly, or he’ll be the new Dimitrius Underwood, who was drafted in the first round of the 1999 NFL Draft. After being drafted by the Vikings and later signing a 5-year, $5.3 million contract, he walked out of training camp saying that his Christian faith and playing football didn’t mix. He later blew an opportunity with the Dolphins after showing little aptitude for the sport. Underwood hit rock bottom when he said he “wasn’t worthy of God” and tried to commit suicide by slashing his neck with a cutlass. Following this incident, he spent several months in a treatment facility.

2014 Super Bowl Outcome Likely to change Future of NFL Teams

cliff-avril-seattleIn a day and age where NFL teams desperately reach for the next great quarterback while ignoring the rest of their roster, the Seattle Seahawks are an anomaly. Their GM, Joe Schneider, in collaboration with head coach Pete Carroll, took no shortcuts en route to transforming a middling team with no identity into the powerhouse that destroyed Denver 43-8 in Super Bowl XLVIII.

The league definitely took notice of this spectacle, as Seattle’s tall, lengthy corners, Richard Sherman and Byron Maxwell, held the Broncos’ star-studded receiving corp in check. The league saw safeties Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas make crushing hits whenever Peyton Manning did find his receivers for mostly harmless chunks of yards. They watched as Seattle’s pass rushers, Chris Clemons, Cliff Avril and Red Bryant, completely took one of history’s greatest quarterbacks out of his comfort zone. They witnessed the Seahawks’ offensive stars, Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch, make huge plays whenever they were needed. And now, the league is going to act on what they saw in the 2014 Super Bowl.

You can count on a dozen or more teams working to build a roster that’s more akin to Seattle. And this means that defensive players will gain a little more value this offseason. Greg Hardy, T.J. Ward, Aqib Talib and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie are all set to make far more money this summer thanks to the Seattle Seahawks.

richard-sherman-seattleTeams have already been gravitating towards quarterbacks who can throw on the run. However, guys like Johnny Manziel and Teddy Bridgewater gain even more value in the draft after Wilson helped lead Seattle to a championship. Furthermore, the prototypical height requirement of 6’3″ or taller is diminished because of the 5’11” Wilson.

Running back committees have almost become automatic in this day and age. But when looking at the success Seattle had with a bruising, workhorse back like Lynch and a competent backup in Robert Turbin, getting somebody who can carry the load will be of extreme importance.

The Seahawks have definitely created the template here. And multiple teams will now be hoping to emulate Seattle’s roster. Obviously some organizations will fail badly at doing so. Others might achieve the success of San Francisco and Carolina, which are both very similar to Seattle. But will anybody be able to reach the heights that the Seahawks did this year? Or will it be the team from the Pacific Northwest repeating again as champs? You can bet that this will be a busy offseason as teams try to prevent the latter from happening again.

2014 Super Bowl Betting Prediction

peyton-manningEarly into the 2013-14 NFL season, many analysts tabbed the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks to meet in Super Bowl XLVIII. Of course, we all know how these early-season predictions can quickly be derailed through the lengthy grind of an NFL season. But in this case, the best two teams will be battling each other for the Lombardi Trophy. Now, the big question is which of these squads has the upper hand as we head towards the February 2nd showdown in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

Both teams finished with a 13-3 record, which tied for the league’s best record. You could make an argument for either team playing in the league’s toughest conference. In the AFC West, Denver twice played playoff-bound clubs in Kansas City and San Diego. Seattle, meanwhile, played their NFC West division rival San Francisco twice in the regular season and in the NFC Championship game. They also played a 10-win team in Arizona two times during the season.

So there’s not much that can be learned from either team’s regular season record or division. Does either team have much experience in the big game? Not really. It’s been 15 years since the Broncos last made it to the Super Bowl. In 1999, John Elway led Denver to a victory over the Atlanta Falcons, marking their second straight Lombardi Trophy. Seattle’s lone Super Bowl was in 2006, when they lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers. There are no holdovers from this team to teach the current Seahawks what to expect in the world’s biggest football game.

If there’s any separation to be found, it’s in what the Broncos and Seahawks do best. For Denver, this means scoring points, which they did at a record pace after breaking the all-time points-per-game mark with 37.9 PPG, tallying 6 different games where they topped 40 points. Peyton Manning made it look easy as he set some history of his own by throwing for 5,477 yards and 55 TD’s. It certainly doesn’t hurt his cause that he has Demaryius Thomas, Wes Welker and Eric Decker to throw the ball to.

russell-wilsonSeattle did their damage on defense by holding opponents to a league-best 14.4 PPG. They were especially effective against quarterbacks after holding signal callers to a meager 172 passing yards per game. Their offense is pretty solid too, led by second-year QB Russell Wilson and RB Marshawn Lynch.

But make no mistake about it, the attention will all be on how Peyton and his receivers deal with CB Richard Sherman and the vaunted Seattle pass defense/rush. Believe it or not, this is actually just the first time that the league’s number one passing attack will square off against the top pass defense.

Sherman summed up the challenge that his team will be facing by writing the following on his Sports Illustrated blog:

The Broncos stand in our way, and it’s a large obstacle. They’ve got the smartest quarterback in football and receivers who are large (mostly), explosive with the football and run great routes. Wes Welker is quick and elusive, Eric Decker is a great receiver with hands and speed, and Demaryius Thomas is as strong as they come. And Peyton knows how to get each of them in spots.

Sherman is easily one of the league’s cockiest and best players. So when he starts touting the weapons on Denver’s offense, you know they have to be good! Of course, Seattle is far from a pushover, and they’d be a Super Bowl favorite in many other years. But with Peyton playing in his third career Super Bowl and the Broncos coming off an easy 10-point win over the Patriots in the AFC Championship game, we like Denver in this one.

2014 Super Bowl Prediction: Denver 27, Seattle 20

GTBets.eu Line: Denver -2.5   Over/Under 47 (-110)

Vegas Line: Denver -2.5

4 NFL Playoff Spots up for Grabs in Week 17

drew-breesLast weekend saw a few teams sew up NFL playoff spots and/or division titles. The Denver Broncos (12-3) are looking the best now since they clinched both the AFC West title along with a first-round playoff bye. Of course, this weekend’s game against Oakland is by no means a rest-your-starters situation because Denver must win to lock up home field advantage.

And why is this the case? Because the AFC East champion New England Patriots (11-4) hold the tiebreaker over the Broncos. If they can beat the Bills at home and Denver loses against Oakland, they’ll grab home field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs. However, if New England loses, they could be out of a first-round bye.

Both the Cincinnati Bengals (10-5) and Indianapolis Colts (10-5) have a chance at unseating New England for the second first-round bye. Cincinnati, which clinched the AFC North, has to beat a playoff-desperate Baltimore team and have New England lose. Indianapolis needs to beat the Jaguars, plus have both Cincy and New England lose.

Rounding out the five AFC teams that have already secured a postseason spot is the Kansas City Chiefs (11-4). They have no chance of winning the AFC West (swept by Denver), and are locked in as the AFC’s number five seed. So if they feel like it, Kansas City could rest their starters against San Diego.

The NFC picture is a lot murkier at the top. Only three teams have clinched playoff berths, and nobody has wrapped up a first-round bye or division title. So far, we only know that the Seattle Seahawks (12-3), Carolina Panthers (11-4) and San Francisco 49ers (11-4) are assured of a postseason bid.

russell-wilsonSeattle is in the driver’s seat of NFC home field advantage, but they must beat the Rams to secure this edge. If they lose, everything opens up at the top because Carolina could gain NFC home field advantage if they beat the Falcons, the Niners win at Arizona, and Seattle loses against St. Louis. For San Francisco to grab home field advantage and unseat Seattle for the NFC West title, they must win, have Seattle lose, and have Carolina lose or tie.

What we’ve discussed so far only covers the teams that are guaranteed a playoff spot. There are four remaining postseason bids left, which we’ll discuss below.

Last AFC Wild Card Spot – Four teams are still alive for the last AFC Wild Card berth. Due to a myriad of tiebreakers, all of these teams need help in making the postseason, and you can check out the scenarios here. Baltimore holds a tiebreaker over Miami (current sixth seed), but San Diego holds the tiebreaker over Baltimore, and Miami holds the tiebreaker over San Diego. In short, it’ll be interesting to see how this playoff-hunting triangle plays out. As for the Pittsburgh Steelers, well, they need all three of the aforementioned teams to lose, plus a victory this weekend.

karlos-dansby-interceptionLast NFC Wild Card Spot – The final NFC Wild Card slot is a much simpler matter because only the Saints and Cardinals are chasing after it. Assuming New Orleans wins against Tampa Bay, they are in. But if they lose, Arizona makes the playoffs with a victory over San Francisco.

NFC East Title – The Dallas Cowboys got a dramatic, come-from-behind victory over Washington to set up a huge game this weekend. Now, they’ll play the Philadelphia Eagles at home for the NFC East crown. The winner goes to the playoffs and grabs home field in the first round, while the loser will be watching on TV next week.

NFC North Title – Just like the East, this is another win-or-you’re-out scenario. Chicago plays Green Bay at home, with the victor grabbing the North title and a playoff spot.

NFC South Title – This one is between Carolina and New Orleans. If Carolina wins, they capture the South title. But if they lose and New Orleans wins, the latter clinches the South and a playoff bid.

NFC West Title – Seattle must win to secure themselves the West title. However, if they lose, then San Francisco could step in and take the West crown with a victory over Arizona.