Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Quarterly Reports

by: Michael Steffes

Often by NFL coaches and management, the teams schedule is broken up into and analyzed in 4 game segments. This creates four quarters in the regular season. It is pretty clear, it makes it just like a football game.

Much like a football game, teams like to get out the gate fast in the first quarter. Usually they grind out the 2nd and 3rd quarters and hope to take the air out of the ball in the 4th quarter. In schedule terms, the team want to start well, survive the grind, and then be able to rest players down the stretch. Will the Hawks be able to follow this game plan? It certainly looks promising.

If you want to read what I think about each quarter, and my predictions with in them, then.....

@ Buffalo, San Fran, St Louis, Bye, NYG

First off, it stinks that the team has their bye in the first quarter. Hopefully, it will not slow down momentum that the Hawks will seem to have after week 3. Buffalo reminds me of opening in Jacksonville in 05', but this is a much more experienced team. Plus, there is a chance Tubbs will still be healthy at this point (please don't jinx him) and that will help with Buffalo's run first offense. Then the team gets two winnable home games against division opponents. Those are key. Expect the Niners to have a long day during the home opener and St Louis, while they will be geared up, they would much rather face us in the dome before coming to Qwest. The Hawks then get the bye to prepare for the hardest game of the set vs. the Giants. Unfortunately the Giants get a bye week to prepare for us.

My prediction is 3-1 out of the blocks with the bye week behind us. Also two of the four 10am starts are now behind us. Personally, I would rather the team drop the game in Buffalo and then hunker down and beat the Giants, however, I suspect it will go the other way. If the Hawks do beat the Giants, expect it to spring board them to a great season.

Packers, @ Bucs, @ 49ers, Eagles

The second quarter has some teams that project to be fine football teams. The first two games are against NFC teams that won their division last year. To me this is the hardest quarter to predict. The Hawks could win all four, or they could struggle like this section of last year. Speaking of struggles, personally, I believe that Aaron Rodgers is going to struggle. Even if it is less than I imagine, Qwest will break him on that Sunday. Plus, the Packers are a young team. Often young teams have a hard time building on unexpected success. They have to learn it is even harder the next year. Just ask the Hawks. Tampa Bay is an interesting game. It is a prime time Sunday night affair. Expect Raymond James to be rocking. However, the NFC South Champ has a history of nose diving. I think the Bucs will be Ok. In my mind that game could go either way. Playing at night limits the heat factor which dramatically improves the Hawks chances. The Niners will be out for blood. I expect that to be a game for the ages. Also, the Eagles, if healthy are fully capable of beating the Hawks. They will want revenge for last year. However, they haven't ever been to Qwest. It will give the Hawks an edge.

My prediction... 2-2. The Hawks will still be feeling themselves and their new parts out. Expect some injuries by this point in the season. With the quality of the home opponents and the two on the road being revenge games, I think 2-2 is a fair estimate. It could be better, but my honest opinion is that we drop a couple in this stretch, especially if the team gets over confident after their hot start.

@ Miami, AZ, Skins, @ Dallas on Thanksgiving

This is where the grind of the season will really set in. Luckly for the Hawks they will have plenty of motivation for these games. Traveling to Miami is the longest trip the team will make all year. However in Nov. the heat will have subsided a bit.Holmgren does very well historically against Parcells, and this team is at least a year away. Arizona is coming off a short week with a divisional game the week before. The Hawks have already circled this one on the schedule. The Cards have too, but they won't have the legs to make it count. After that game the Hawks will be 3-0 in the division and looking good. Zorn coming back will be another reason to keep focused. Not to mention that the Skins Hawks has become a rivalry. However, the Skins are making their third trip to Qwest, and if the Hawks let down after the Cards and look forward to Dallas, that game could be trouble. Dallas on Thanksgiving is a very tough task. However, they players will have every reason to be up for it. Both teams should have a lot to play for. And sometimes being at home on Thanksgiving is worse than the road. The team will want to win to get the next 5 days off.

Prediction 3-1

I think it too much to expect the Hawks to go through this stretch undefeated, however this is the time of the year they really start to role. Plus, they will be thinking bye at least for a few more weeks. The important thing is that they leave this quarter of the season feeling good and gaining momentum. They should even have welcomed Deion back by now. That will provide a boost in energy to the offense.

NE, @ Rams, Jets, @ AZ

The New England Sunday Night game starts off this quarter, and it will be like a playoff game. John Madden will probably soil himself. I can't wait to see it. While many think that the Patriots are too good to be beat even in the mighty Qwest, I see it a different way. Up till now the only decent team they will have faced is the Colts. The Hawks will have had ten days to prepare/rest. It will certainly be an epic battle. Too bad, that either way the will naturally let down after back to back games with Dal and NE. One thing that could keep them focused would be if the Rams were actually contending. Either way, the Rams will want to take a chunk out of the Hawks, as will the Cards the final week. With the Jets in between, this shapes up to be a difficult quarter. I think that if the Hawks are looking for a bye, that will help them. If they are fighting for the division that will help too. But anything in between and I see the patented late season flailing by the Hawks.

Prediction 2-2

Chances are two of these teams will get the Hawks. If you are more optimistic, then you haven't watched the struggles at end of the last two seasons. Either way, at this point it is more important that the team gets as healthy as possible, either by getting themselves a bye or by resting some partially injured guys.

Overall season... 10-6....NFC West Champs...3 seed.

Many of you may think this is a little light on Seahawk wins, however, 10 wins in the NFL is hard to obtain. This team has a tougher schedule and teams will be giving the Hawks their best shot. I think that 12-4 is a possibility if things break right. But for now, with out even seeing the draft picks, and assuming some key injuries, I say 10-6 is another solid, playoff season. Plus there is room to do better. Either way, lets just hope they get hot in January and give Coach one last dream ride.