2016 Seahawks Opponents, AFC East
You can circle week 10 and hope your revenge fantasies against the New England Patriots come to fruition. Super Bowl 49 hurts so much due to the nature of the loss. It’s like the worst relationship implosion one can imagine. Why? Because most breakups, the texts get cool, you start getting too busy for each other, the physicality goes down a notch—there are signals. What happened during Super Bowl 49 was akin to being dumped at the alter. You’re standing there, waiting for your spouse to arrive, thinking, “This is great. I’ve wanted this moment for my entire life. Nothing can go wrong.” And then…… Permanent psychological damage requiring a few visits with a psychoanalyst to flesh out fully.
Expect the Patriots to be a formidable team—even if the roster looks different. They are like a Toyota. It’s never 100% of what it could be, but it never breaks down, either. Tom Brady and his hyper-accuracy and sense of timing will face off against the Legion of Boom, who have proven their kryptonite is hyper-accurate passers who have a sense of timing. The Seahawks offense should see some opportunities. The Patriots create formidable defenses with cast asides or no-names, but they can be gassed by speed and versatility, something the Hawks have in spades. The big question and story is the billing of two elite tight ends, Jimmy Graham and Rob Gronkowski. The missing piece for the 2014 Seahawks was a massive target who must be respected. And you can bet Belichick will game plan for Graham, as Belichick knows if the final, fateful pass in Super Bowl 49 went to Jimmy Graham instead of Ricardo Lockette, well, let’s just say Butler would’ve looked like he’d been in a car wreck.
These are two elite teams having a match up just as the critical part of the season gets started. Both the Hawks and the Pats should be vying for a first round bye and this game will give the victor a solid edge on it.
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The Miami Dolphins are forever stuck in perpetual adolescence. Always in the midst of some rebuild, the Dolphins love trying to hit home runs instead of singles. The team was gutted this year due to poor salary cap management, and the defense looks to be in sad shape. Ryan Tannehill will impress in the short passing game but get ready for a wince-fest every time he tries to go to the second level. When he throws it deep, it will be so off target you probably won’t see the ball on TV. Where Miami can hurt the Hawks is in the trenches, especially the defensive line. While Suh, Wake and Co had a slow start to last year, the line finished strong. They should have a great game against Rawls and get after Wilson. The Hawks will be forced to adjust and improvise, and this is not a fantastic first outing for a new offensive line looking to establish itself.
The Dolphins have a propensity for blowing games, both at home and on the road, but they are always a steady team living in the 6-10 to 9-7 zone. A prepared Hawks in week one should dispose of the Dolphins, but it will not be a gimmie.
Also, look for Byron Maxwell to be giving the Seahawk’s sideline puppy-dog eyes, hoping to inspire enough pity to take him back.
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The Buffalo Bills enter season two of American Idol, Rex Ryan Sound Bite Edition. Rex himself is a case study in the question of if a coach can succeed when he has no quarterback. The dude always seems to get a hungry defense assembled, and his game plans—while basic—are respectable. That said, there is a weird aura of proficiency and lunacy in every Ryan team. You sort of get what they’re trying to do, but it never quite gets there or is derailed by poor execution. Always one for a good pep-talk, Ryan has been forced to relegate himself to pure hyperbole instead of bold promises. This season, his quarterback prospects improve slightly, as Tyrod Taylor gets broken into the saddle, but it will take a leap for Taylor to mask some of the Bills glaring deficiencies.
Like Miami, the Bills are in a constant state of rebuild, but unlike Miami, the Bills can be sneaky dangerous. They put together two or three gems a year. They can pull one off on a Seahawks team who is asleep at the wheel…… (Maybe because it’s week 9 and the Hawks are looking ahead to a visit to Foxboro coming off a short week?)
A victory against the Bills is essential for the Hawks to secure the one seed—a must win.
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The New York Jets are another franchise who can never figure out what it wants to do and gives up on whatever it is trying to do if it doesn’t work in 2-3 games. The Jets had a somewhat exciting season last year, getting hot for stretches, but—as of the writing of this article—it feels like they will struggle to win even three games. Right now, their plan is to play 2016 without a quarterback, an experiment even the most casual of fans could confidently say will fail. If Fitzpatrick comes back, the Jets will claw their way back to the median, but the franchise may be debating pushing the reset button.
What are your opinions on the AFC East next year? Should the Hawks be concerned or is it four cupcakes?
— Seattle Seahawks (@Seahawks) April 15, 2016