Please let this sink in like Seattle rain on my "Wanted" poster.
I love the city of Seattle, despite its seemingly daily drizzle. I love the Pike Place Market and the Seattle Aquarium and the postcard vistas that surround you from atop the Space Needle.
Not only does Seattle have the best seafood and coffee, but the best major-league baseball park (Safeco Field) and the best NFL stadium (Qwest Field). I wouldn't mind living in Seattle, which just might be an even better San Francisco. For me, Seattle is nirvana, and I don't mean the grunge rock band of the late, great Kurt Cobain.
But now, alas, I'll be ground like coffee if I ever set foot in Seattle again, because I cannot tell a lie.
I would rather eat fish eyes than see Seattle's Seahawks in my beloved Super Bowl. The Sea-frauds have had the luckiest road to the Super Bowl this side of a fast food contest winner. I'm convinced they're the destiny-driven product of the NFL's easiest schedule and weakest division, the NFC West.
If this Seahawks team were still in the AFC West, it wouldn't have made the playoffs, let alone have won a bye week and home-field advantage all the way to the Super Bowl.
I'm sorry, but the Emerald City has a cubic zirconia football team.
Yet now I just know the Seahawks are going to eliminate the team I picked to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl. Now they're going to beat yet another team they have no business beating. Now -- right on schedule like the Puget Sound ferry -- my Carolina Panthers have lost running back DeShaun Foster to a broken ankle and, quite possibly, defensive end Julius Peppers to a shoulder injury.
On the way to Seattle, my Panthers might as well have crossed a black cat's path.
For them, the loss of Foster and Peppers took the air and joy out of their 29-21, 434-yard shattering of the Bears and their vaunted defense Sunday at Soldier Field. Peppers, the volcanic Mount Rainier of NFL defensive ends, is listed as questionable for this Sunday's game. But (bad sign) he hasn't practiced this week.
• NFC: Panthers at Seahawks
• AFC: Steelers at Broncos
Even if he tries to go, he'll no longer be unblockable.
Raindrops keep fallin' on my head.
I keep trying to delude myself into believing I'll be OK with my third-string back. Sure, when the going gets tough, the tough get Goings. Give me my tough, smart little overachiever, Nick Goings. Little? Heck, he weighs 225 pounds. Last season he had five 100-plus-yard games -- three of them on 30-plus carries.
All week long, I've heard Skip Bayless rip the Seahawks on "Cold Pizza." Today, on Page 2, he explains why Seattle is a joke and would soil the sanctity of the Super Bowl if it reaches the big game.
Well, on behalf of Seahawks fans everywhere, here's my retort:
• Seattle has played 17 football games that counted this season. Of those 17, the Seahawks won 14. They lost one in overtime after a field goal hit the upright at the end of regulation (Oct. 2 at Washington), one when they pulled Matt Hasselbeck, Shaun Alexander and most of the starters at halftime (meaningless season finale at Green Bay), and one when they fell apart in the final minutes of a close game (season opener at Jacksonville).
• The Seahawks scored the most points in the NFL (452) and outscored their opponents by 181 points, which trails only Indianapolis (202) for widest margin of victory in the NFL. Those teams had by far the widest scoring margins.
• Yes, Seattle did play what is statistically the league's fourth-easiest schedule with an opponents' winning percentage of .457 (better only than Eagles at .453, the Cardinals at .449 and the Rams at .445). But the Seahawks dominated their schedule like no NFL team outside of Indy.
• Skip continues to pick apart the Seahawks' wins over Dallas and the Giants. Remember, however, Skip, that the Dallas game was tied and headed for overtime when Drew Bledsoe threw that pick, and Seattle had just seized the momentum with a TD in the final minute. The Giants' victory came because of inept kicking -- but so did Seattle's loss at Washington, so isn't that a wash?
• As Bill Parcells is fond of saying, "You are what you're record says you are." Seattle has won 14 of the 16 games it "tried" to win this year. That's not too shabby.
--Kevin Jackson For more on feeling Super hopeful in Seattle, click here.
But who am I kidding? He doesn't have DeShaun's slash and dash. He can't make the Seahawks pay with 40-yard touchdown runs the way DeShaun could. That means the Seahawks will get away with triple-teaming the baddest little man on the NFL planet, Steve Smith.
And that means my quarterback, Jake Delhomme, who's 5-1 in postseason games with a 108.5 rating (10 TD passes vs. just two interceptions), will let his hyper energy turn into frantic frustration and force up a couple of killer picks. That means my team's resolve will finally crack during their third straight playoff road trip -- this one a six-hour flight. That means
the Seattle Seahawks ARE GOING TO PLAY IN THE SUPER BOWL.
What's next, Milli Vanilli as the halftime entertainment?
Now Seahawks owner Paul Allen has hit the lottery twice -- co-founding Microsoft and lucking into the easiest road to Super Bowl fame since Janet Jackson's. Think about it: Allen's Seahawks played only four teams in the tougher AFC. They opened in Jacksonville, where they were predictably thumped 26-14. Then, right on schedule, they got to play the Texans and Titans as they were crumbling. Finally, Indianapolis played its junior varsity when it visited Seattle in Week 16.
Of Seattle's division opponents, St. Louis went 6-10, Arizona 5-11 and San Francisco 4-12.
And in their NFC nondivision home games
The Seahawks survived Atlanta 21-18 when Michael Vick was banged up in the fourth quarter; survived Dallas 13-10 when Drew Bledsoe threw an inconceivably stupid late interception -- to somebody named Jordan Babineaux -- that set up a 50-yard field goal as time expired; and survived the New York Giants 24-21 in overtime when Jay "I've Lost My" Feely missed three field goals that could have won it.
The Seahawks' most impressive performance came on a Monday night in Philadelphia, when they won 42-0 -- while the no-Donovan, no-T.O., no-heart Eagles of Mike McMahon turned the ball over six times. But that night, much of America woke up and realized the Seattle Seahawks had sneaked up and stolen the NFC after playing the easiest schedule since the strike year of 1987.
And I'm supposed to look forward to them turning my Super Bowl into William Hung winning "American Idol"?
Don't let Shaun Alexander play in my Super Bowl. He won the NFL MVP mostly because of a Charmin schedule and because he ran behind the NFL's best left side of an offensive line. Tackle Walter Jones and guard Steve Hutchinson I do greatly respect.
But not Alexander.
For years, his reputation around the league has been that he'll turn soft when called upon to get the hard yards. He did nothing Saturday to erase those doubts. Early on, he turned what looked like it might be a short touchdown run into an unforced fumble -- whoops, I dropped it.
Then, after a fairly routine collision, he appeared to be woozy. Soon, the team announced he had a concussion. Maybe he did. But it's unusual for a concussion victim to come out of it 20 minutes later and be cheering his team from the sideline while not offering to return and help win a playoff game.
It looked suspiciously like Alexander wanted no more part of a Redskins defense that will ring your bell. The following Monday, he told reporters that he had been ill the week before the game and had taken some medicine on game day that made him "loopy." Yes, very suspicious.
His teammates must have been thrilled with him. They appeared to play even harder without him -- or in spite of him.
But Seattle outlasted the Redskins 20-10 mainly because they held Clinton Portis to just 41 yards on 17 carries. The Redskins' offense went as Portis did, and Saturday, he appeared to be going nowhere fast because of two shoulders he banged up at Tampa Bay in a wild-card win. Portis tip-toed instead of attacked.
Give the Seahawks a little credit. But mostly blame that equivalent of a street fight in Tampa that also cost the Redskins defensive end Renaldo Wynn. During last Saturday's game in Seattle, they also lost fill-in guard Ray Brown, which forced them to use backup center Cory Raymer at guard, which was a disaster.
Has Kurt Cobain's ghost had anything to do with all this?
I still say coach Mike Holmgren's Super Bowl legacy was mostly a product of Brett Favre's offense and Reggie White's defense.
I still say quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, living on borrowed time, got away with three more wild throws against the Redskins that could have been game-changing interceptions.
I still say the NFL's most overrated team belongs to the world's most underrated city. I'll miss it.
Skip Bayless can be seen Monday through Friday on "Cold Pizza," ESPN2's morning show, and at 4 p.m. ET on ESPN's "1st & 10." His column appears twice a week on Page 2. You can e-mail Skip here.