September 6, 2017

DKSB's Perfectly Accurate (LIES!) and Unbiased (LIES!) 2017 NFL Predictions

"You’ve got numbers on your phone of the dead that you can’t delete
And you got life-affirming moments in your past that you can't repeat"
-"Emotional Haircut" by LCD Soundsystem

Yesterday I read that only 13 members of the XLVIII-winning 2013 Seahawks are still on the team. Thirteen? That's all? Our Championship Season couldn't have been that long ago, right?

I remember where I was in my life at that moment, having just started living authentically as a woman just weeks before the Super Bowl. It felt like thirty years of twelving had lead up to that moment, and I (knowingly, completely irrationally) had this overwhelming feeling that they had waited for me to be ready - That the forces of the football universe didn't want me to have to celebrate perhaps the best day of my life as a sad, beardy egg. The truth? The realistic chance we had of winning XLVIII motivated me to finally come completely out as a trans woman. I had been on hormones for a year and a half, but was still hesitant to take that final leap. I had reached the limits of what baggy clothing could hide, but it was the Seahawks who finally shoved my increasingly voluptuous ass out of the nest. 

I was there when Sherm tipped it to Malcolm Smith, and the Super Bowl itself was such an orbital nuking that it felt more like Team USA beating Finland for the gold that the Miracle on Ice. The coronation was cathartic, though - For me the tears only started to fall once I saw "Super Bowl Champion Seattle Seahawks" scrawled across the bottom of the TV. This was it. This was everything I had waited for my whole life.

That's how a lot of things felt for me in early 2014, and if they made a rousing biopic of my life, that's probably where you cut to the closing credits under an upbeat, anthemic song by some 90s alternative rock legends (Maybe this one?). 

That's not how real life works, though. As Don Draper once mused, "the universe is indifferent." The euphoria of coming out wore off, and while I was immeasurably happier, facing stupid reality as woman still meant... facing stupid reality. Transitioning solved one very big problem, but it didn't solve all my problems. I still had to worry about making rent, about staying tenuously employed, about my remaining mental health issues, about managing multiple fraught and awkward relationships, and about all the annoying bullshit that piles up and up until you scarcely believe you could ever get over or around it. 

The Seahawks? Well, if I take estrogen and spironolactone every day to help me be myself, I take Vitamin 12 once a week for 4-5 months every year to do the exact same thing. Nothing else allows me to express the full range of my emotions in anything close to a socially acceptable context. Nothing else is as effective at making me feel connected to my family and friends back home, even though I'm 2300 miles away. Nothing else gives me a soothing feeling of continuity and connection reaching back to when I was an eight-year-old kid screaming bloody murder at enemy players hundreds of feet away who couldn't possibly hear me. That's why I had a weird feeling of relief that mingled with my pain and sadness at the end of XLIX - I was afraid that after winning a Super Bowl, the Seahawks wouldn't matter as much. I was afraid that I had changed. I hadn't. Because that loss still STUNG. The Seahawks still MATTERED. 

Thankfully, even as XLVIII and the team that won it all fades into a fog of nostalgia, this team that we love still matters. Not only are they still an immensely talented group, but they demand your attention because on and off the field they are never boring. For better or worse, they let you know exactly what is on their minds

It's dizzyingly exciting to imagine Donald Trump watching Super Bowl LII and screaming obscenities at the screen because the Seahawks have congregated at midfield to pass around the Vince Lombardi Trophy. You KNOW he hates our guys; Our stalwart heroes who not only refuse to lose, but also refuse to "stick to sports." Just take a second and close your eyes. Imagine his sputtering tantrum when Kam Chancellor stuffs Marshawn Lynch at the goal line on the final down of the Super Bowl. Imagine how red and bloated his loathsome face will be. It will be glorious. 

Russ is healthy. Earl is healthy. So is Tyler Lockett. The offense has more firepower than John Wick. The defense just added Sheldon Richardson to what was already going to be the most dominant unit in the league. They're hungry. They're pissed. They're primed. They're going to win the Super Bowl again. 

Life goes on, but it can still be awesome. My life can be a grind sometimes, and I have bad days, but I'm happy. You can't repeat those life-affirming moments, but you sure as shit can make new ones. Anyway, here's my 2017 NFL Predictions... 

Now, the usual preamble: 

All preseason predictions are, to a greater or lesser degree, bullshit. The beauty of this game is its unpredictability. Anyone who tells you they KNOW who will make the playoffs, who will win the Super Bowl, etc, is trying to sell you something. Folks with deeper, more detailed knowledge of the game might be able to give you slightly more accurate predictions, but at the end of the day it's still, at best, educated guessing. 

I've always had particularly deep contempt for implausible preseason predictions. In particular, I'm talking about when some lazy sportswriter predicts the records for all 32 teams and comes up with an impossible aggregate record. That's why every year I go through the ENTIRE regular season and predict the winner of EVERY game, so all the pieces fit together. What follows is my own particular flavor of bullshit, which you can dissect in the comments at your leisure.  

Regular Season Awards: 
League MVP: Derek Carr, Oakland 
Offensive Player of the Year: David Johnson, Arizona 
Defensive Player of the Year: Joey Bosa, Los Angeles Chargers 
Offensive Rookie of the Year: Christian McCaffrey, Carolina 
Defensive Rookie of the Year: T.J. Watt, Pittsburgh
Comeback Player of the Year: Earl Thomas, Seattle 
Coach of the Year: Pete Carroll, Seattle 

NFC West
Seattle 13-3 (#1 NFC Seed) 
Arizona 10-6 (#5) 
Los Angeles 6-10
Santa Clara 3-13

NFC North 
Green Bay 11-5 (#4) 
Detroit 9-7 (#6)
Minnesota 8-8 
Chicago 4-12 

NFC East 
New York 12-4 (#3) 
Dallas 8-8 
Philadelphia 8-8 
DC 5-11

NFC South 
Atlanta 13-3 (#2) 
New Orleans 8-8 
Tampa Bay 7-9 
Carolina 7-9 

Wild Card Round: New York 26, Detroit 17; Green Bay 32, Arizona 20 
Divisional Round: Seattle 24, Green Bay 23; New York 36, Atlanta 33
NFC Championship Game: Seattle 27, New York 19

AFC West 
Oakland 12-4 (#2) 
Kansas City 10-6 (#5) 
Denver 6-10 
Los Angeles 5-11 

AFC North 
Pittsburgh 13-3 (#1) 
Baltimore 9-7 
Cincinnati 9-7 
Cleveland 5-11 

AFC East 
New England 12-4 (#3) 
Miami 10-6 (#6) 
Buffalo 7-9 
New York 0-16 

AFC South 
Houston 10-6 (#4) 
Tennessee 7-9 
Jacksonville 6-10 
Indianapolis 4-12 

Wild Card Round: Kansas City 18, Houston 14; New England 30, Miami 16 
Divisional Round: Pittsburgh 37, Houston 10; Oakland 27, New England 26 
AFC Championship Game: Oakland 32, Pittsburgh 29 (OT) 

Seattle 23, Oakland 19 
MVP: Kam Chancellor 

Here's how the season will shake out for the Seahawks: 

-The three losses? At New York, at Arizona, and at Dallas. 

-Seattle opens the season with a mild upset over the Packers at Lambeau Field. Former Packer Eddie Lacy scores a pair of TDs and Earl Thomas picks off Rodgers late to secure a 26-20 Seahawks win. 

-The season's requisite insane comeback win happens at Tennessee in week 3. The young Titans run out to a 21-3 3rd-quarter lead, but a Tyler Lockett punt return TD and Cliff Avril strip/sack/scoop/score pulls the Hawks to within 7 late. Down 24-17, Russell Wilson finds Jimmy Graham for the tying score on the final snap of regulation. On the opening drive of overtime, Thomas Rawls gets loose and sprints 64 yards for the winning touchdown. 

-Seattle flattens Indianapolis in week 4, delivering a 42-0 walloping that gets Chuck Pagano fired the next day. 

-Against DC at home, Russell Wilson fires four touchdown passes, including three to Doug Baldwin, in a 38-17 win that runs Seattle's record to 6-1. 

-In the game that will eventually decide home field advantage in the NFC playoffs, the Seahawks top the Falcons 27-26. Michael Bennett's pair of sacks and forced fumble leads the defense, and Richard Sherman's tackle of Julio Jones just short of a first down late in the game gives the offense one last chance. Wilson drives the Hawks into field goal range, and Blair Walsh nails the 47-yard game winner as time expires. 

-On the season's final day, the Seahawks need to beat Arizona to secure the #1 seed. Paul Richardson scores twice, and a Bobby Wagner pick-6 in the 4th quarter rings in the new year with a 27-16 Seattle triumph. 

-In the divisional playoff, the revenge-hangry Packers leave Seattle unsatisfied. Trailing 23-16 with only four minutes left to play, the Hawks have no choice but to punt on 4th and long. Jon Ryan pins the Pack inside their own 5-yard line. K.J. Wright ropes in Rodgers in the end zone for a safety with three minutes left. Then Russell Wilson whips Seattle downfield on a frenzied 75-yard drive that includes not one but two 4th down conversions. With only 12 seconds left to play, Wilson takes it in himself from 15 yards out, once again melting the hopes of Cheeseheads worldwide. 

-In the NFC Championship Game, Seattle runs out to a 27-3 lead before a couple of late NYG TDs + 2-point conversions pull the Giants within one score. Twelves are only able to exhale when Sheldon Richardson dives on an Eli Manning fumble forced by Frank Clark in the waning moments. 

-Super Bowl LII. I'm going to give y'all what you want. 

4 seconds left. Seahawks up 4. Raiders' ball at the Seattle 1. 

Jack Del Rio thinks his guys can out-muscle ours. The call is made: Hand it to Marshawn. 

The biggest audience in television history sees Carr hand it to Shawn. It looks like he has a sliver of daylight. That daylight is blotted out by an eclipse named Kam Chancellor. Kam gives Shawn the Bam Bam treatment, stuffing the hole and allowing Wagner and Thomas the chance to bring Beast down, six inches from the goal line. 

Shoulda called a pass... Amiright? Kam Chancellor wins a richly deserved Super Bowl MVP award, and the historical legacy of the Legion of Boom, of Russell Wilson, and of the PCJS Seahawks is secured. 

Would You Like To Know More? 

Postscript: They always say "Show your work!" Here you go: