Welcome to a very special presentation from NFL Films. For the first time, we're bringing you a highlight package from the future. Yes ladies and gentlemen, you heard right--a technology has been developed that allows us to view complete NFL highlight videos from the 2013 season for each NFL team even though many of the games haven't even been played yet!
Confused? Don't be. Just suspend belief and think of it like that one scene in Spaceballs where they're watching the movie as it's being made. So fire up the NFL Films theme song and queue the dulcet tones of the late, great John Facenda (the technology also allows us to bring him back; just go with it) as he spins a yarn about Sunday's showdown in Seattle:
"Sunday, November 17, 2013. For most NFL fans it was just another football Sunday as battles for playoff positioning began to heat up across the league. But in Seattle, the 12th Man knew better. This particular Sunday was far from ordinary.
The Seahawks were a Super Bowl favorite heading into the 2013 season. Their record looked the part heading into their Week 11 game--9-1, good for tops in the NFC. But the Seahawks were playing far from their best. Seattle was winning but lacked the look of a champion. Just two weeks earlier they needed to mount a 21-point comeback just to edge the winless Buccaneers in overtime at home. The road to the Super Bowl in the NFC was still going through Seattle, but their recent play had many wondering whether the stop would be little more than a speed bump for stronger opponents in the playoffs.
Until that fateful Sunday afternoon that would prove to be the turning point for Seattle's season, one man had spent his entire season on the sidelines. Percy Harvin was acquired in a blockbuster trade with the Minnesota Vikings in the offseason but a hip injury prevented him from playing a single down through the first ten games of the season.
It was serendipitous that Harvin made his return against the team that employed him for the first four seasons of his illustrious career. Harvin's stay in Minnesota was often tumultuous and his departure wasn't exactly amicable. The animosity between Harvin and the Vikings leading up to the game was palpable.
Percy would show no mercy to his outmatched former mates on that day. Harvin ran roughshod through the helpless Vikings defense, catching 8 passes for 124 yards while rushing for another 68 on only three carries. He even returned the opening kickoff of the second half 106 yards for a score. By the time the final gun sounded, Harvin had scored four times in his first game donning the bright green, blue, and silver of Seattle. The Seahawks had finally found the final piece of their championship puzzle.
They say revenge is a dish best served cold. But for Harvin, the temperature of the dish wasn't important. It was all about the location.
And on that cool day in mid-November, Percy Harvin was serving up revenge in the only place that mattered: the end zone."
The "Percy Harvin Returns For Revenge Against His Old Team" storyline definitely makes for a great narrative regardless of whether you read the previous passage in Facenda's "Voice of God" baritone. (Although I highly recommend it.) But is it really true? Do we really think that Harvin could have played a week or two ago but had this game circled on his calendar to be sure he was ready for his return? Is Harvin going to be more motivated just because this game is against the team that signed his paychecks for four years?
I have my doubts. All signs are pointing to Harvin playing his first game with his new team on Sunday. The fact that he's returning against his old team is a happy coincidence for those of us writing about the game and little else.
Think about it. Does Percy Harvin strike you as a deeply loyal player that would hold a grudge against the team that gave up on him? Or is he just a colossally talented athlete that's amazing to watch on the field but difficult to understand off it? If Harvin has a big game against the Vikings it won't be because he had extra motivation. It will be because Harvin is a great football player (when healthy) and the Vikings defense isn't very good. Chris Myers and Tim Ryan will probably mention the Revenge of Percy at least a few times throughout the FOX broadcast on Sunday. Every beat writer and blogger between St. Paul and Sammamish has written about it this week. But in the end it's simply a really good wide receiver returning from an injury.
Even if Harvin doesn't have a return worthy of the NFL Films treatment, the Vikings have plenty of other worries when it comes to the Seahawks. For starters, Adrian Peterson won't be the usual head and shoulders above his counterpart on the other team for once. Marshawn Lynch is a whole bunch of no fun to tackle. Watching the Vikings attempt to tackle Alfred Morris last week was a whole bunch of no fun as well. (Their tackling was so bad in the first half that it prompted me to make this joke about wrapping up during the game last Thursday.) That combination could result in the Seahawks grinding the clock and the Vikings making their 31st-ranked average time of possession even worse.
Another combination that should concern Vikings fans hoping for the big upset this week? Russell Wilson and playing at home. He has never lost at CenturyLink Field. Not once. His home splits are ridiculous: 12-0 record, 65% completion, 24:6 TD:INT, 114.5 quarterback rating, and an astounding 9.70 adjusted yards per attempt. (By comparison, Christian Ponder's career AY/A is 5.6. Peyton Manning's career AY/A is 7.7.) Wilson can beat you in a million different ways...which is unfortunate because Minnesota's defense has already been beaten in a million different ways this year.
Speaking of numbers, Arif's blind power rankings have had Seattle at or near the top for most of the season. When the Daily Norseman's Official Football Metrics Guy® tells you that Seattle is the best team in the league, it means Seattle is the best team in the league. Questioning Arif's infallible logic is futile. Don't believe me? Just try to contradict him. He will drown you in a sea of inarguable facts and metrics until you submit. I know because I tried it once. He only spared me from complete humiliation because he might need me to give him a ride to Training Camp next year.
You don't need numbers to tell you that Seattle's defense is really good; you only need eyeballs and a basic understanding of the game of football. The only positive for the Vikings is that Seattle's vaunted secondary probably won't be at 100%. Brandon Browner isn't expected to play and shut-down motormouth Richard Sherman is banged up as well. It's just too bad that there's also a very, very good front line for Minnesota to deal with. Michael Bennett, Cliff Avril, and Chris Clemons can all make Ponder's day miserable regardless of how his non-throwing shoulder feels.
The Seahawks were probably going to beat the Vikings no matter what circumstances surrounded this game. Although the Vikings have looked much better the past two games and Seattle was looking very beatable before righting the ship in Atlanta last week, there's a reason why one team is 9-1 and the other is 2-7. Harvin's return only accentuates the inevitable.
Just don't try to sell it as revenge. (Save that angle for next week, when Greg Jennings makes his triumphant return to Lambeau!!!)
Prediction: Seahawks 31, Vikings 14
And now for the rest of my Week 11 NFL picks (home teams in ALL CAPS):
Colts over TITANS: The good news for both teams: it can't get any worse than their embarrassing home losses last week.
Falcons over BUCCANEERS: The good news for both teams: another loss keeps them in front of the Vikings in the 2014 draft order. And the good news for you: Tampa Bay has good looking cheerleaders. It's time for the Gratuitous Picture of the Week!
BILLS over Jets: The good news for Buffalo: this is the "L" portion of New York's crazy W-L-W-L-W-L-W pattern they've started the year with.
BEARS over Ravens: The good news for Chicago: their backup quarterback is much better than Green Bay's.
BENGALS over Browns: My Surivor Pool pick of the week, now 7-2 on the season after Jacksonville destroyed most of the remaining entries by beating Tennessee last week. Cincy is struggling but the Browns haven't won there for five years.
TEXANS over Raiders: I'm sure everyone that hoarded Ben Tate on their fantasy bench for nine weeks until the Arian Foster injury was thrilled about the whopping 56 yards Tate put up last week. It probably felt like cashing in a savings bond your grandma gave you 20 years ago only to find out it was worth only half of its original value.
EAGLES over Redskins: If Philadelphia doesn't put up a ton of points on Washington's defense this week, I officially give up on trying to understand football. Or at least Chip Kelly.
Cardinals over JAGUARS: Obviously I can't pick the Jags to win two games in a row. But can I really pick Arizona to be 6-4?
Chargers over DOLPHINS: San Diego is favored by about 2 points in this game; in other words, one point for each rushing yard that Miami could muster against Tampa last week.
Packers over GIANTS: Because waaaaaaaay too many people are riding the "Green Bay is totally doomed without Aaron Rodgers!" and the "Giants could still totally win the NFC East!" bandwagons right now.
SAINTS over 49ers: The six teams San Francisco has beaten are all 5-4 or worse. The three teams they have lost to are 6-3 or better. Are the Niners this year's classic Bill Simmons "Good Bad Team" that beats up on bad teams but loses to strong competition?
PANTHERS over Patriots: I said last week that I would officially believe in Carolina if they beat San Francisco. And if history tells us anything, it's that NFL teams never lay an egg the week after a big road victory.
Last week: 9-5
Season so far: 95-52