The Seahawks Dont Stand A Chance Unless Russell Wilson Can Keep Up

The most anticipated matchup of the divisional round of the NFL playoffs might be the Atlanta Falcons’ No. 1 scoring offense against the Seattle Seahawks’ No. 3 scoring defense. But the game between the two teams may be decided when the ball is in Russell Wilson’s hand.When the two met in Week 6, the Seahawks edged the Falcons in Seattle, 26-24. But both teams have played a lot of football since then, and though Wilson has already led the Seahawks to eight playoff wins in his young career, he might not have enough talent around him to go into the Georgia Dome on Saturday and end the Falcons’ season.The most obvious change to either team has been the Seahawks’ loss of safety Earl Thomas; his five-year Pro Bowl streak ended when he missed five of the Seahawks’ last six regular-season games with injuries. With him patrolling the backfield, the Seahawks allowed just 16.4 points per game. In the Seahawks’ five regular-season games without him, opponents averaged 22.4 points, including 34 points in a home capitulation to the already-eliminated Arizona Cardinals.But as much as the Seahawks have missed Thomas, it is their offense that has struggled with explosiveness and consistency all season. The 26-6 final score of last week’s wild card game against the Detroit Lions might make it look as though the Seahawks are back to business as usual. But going into the fourth quarter the score was just 10-6.While the Seahawks’ offensive line earned praise for its dominant run-blocking performance against Detroit, it also allowed slumping Lions pass-rusher Ezekiel Ansah to register two sacks, as many as he tallied throughout the regular season. The Seahawks will have a much tougher task on Saturday when they face the Falcons’ Vic Beasley, who had 15.5 sacks in the regular season.Tailback Thomas Rawls set a franchise playoff rushing record against the Lions, but going into the rematch with the Falcons there’s little depth behind him. Christine Michael, the Seahawks’ top rusher in the first Atlanta game, now plays for the Green Bay Packers. Head coach Pete Carroll told reporters that C.J. Procise, who has been out since Week 11 with a shoulder injury, will be a game-time decision; fifth-round rookie Alex Collins would be the only option behind Rawls if Procise can’t go.Between Michael, tailback C.J. Spiller and receiver/returner Tyler Lockett, 43 percent of the Seahawks’ 333 total yards in Week 6 were produced by players no longer on the Seahawks active roster, and the Falcons still outgained them 362-333 in that game. Wilson targeted wideouts on just 43.2 percent of his attempts; according to Pro Football Reference’s charting, he attempted only two passes deeper than 14 yards all day. He threw no touchdowns.The lack of deep passing that day was partly by design, to keep opposing pass-rushers off the banged-up Wilson.“We’ve been careful in how we would expose Russ,” head coach Pete Carroll later told the team’s official site. “He was begging us to do more and all that, but we were trying to do the right thing by him, and he was doing phenomenal things just to play for the last two months.” But Wilson’s adjusted yards-per-attempt didn’t increase meaningfully after that interview.Though three rushing touchdowns got Seattle the points they needed to win in Week 6, they might not have happened if the Falcons hadn’t set them up: Ryan’s sack-fumble on his own nine-yard line led to the game’s first score; his interception near midfield set up the last one.Even then, it almost wasn’t enough. The Seahawks’ final go-ahead field goal still left Ryan and company with a 1:57 to drive for a game-winning score; a controversial fourth-down no-call sent them packing:Since that play, however, the Falcons spent the season improving — and proving themselves the better team.In Football Outsiders’ Weighted DVOA, which prioritizes recent performance, the Falcons are the No. 4-ranked overall team at 19.8 percent; the Seahawks are ranked 14th at 4.7 percent. While the Seahawks’ offense ranked 17th in both season-long (-2.7 percent) and weighted (-2.1 percent) DVOA, the Falcons’ defense rises from 27th (8.1 percent) to 22nd (5.6 percent) when recent games are more heavily weighted.Now Wilson will have go on the road and score more points against the improved Falcons than Ryan can score against the Seahawks’ struggling defense.Check out our latest NFL playoff predictions. read more

OSUs Marder catching on with professional league

For the Ohio State softball team, the season is over. But one senior will trade away her Buckeyes uniform to represent a new team.Catcher Sam Marder, Ohio State’s all-time home run and RBI leader, will suit up for the Akron Racers this summer in the National Pro Fastpitch league.Marder was the seventh overall pick and first selection for Akron.“I’ve been watching her play for four years and her work ethic and athleticism is unbelievable,” said Joey Arrietta, president and general manager for the Racers.Though Marder is known for her hitting, Arrietta considered that a bonus when she drafted the two-time All-American.“To make your pitching staff the best it can be, you need a great receiver on the other end,” Arrietta said. “I looked first at the catcher she was. You need to allow the pitcher to throw every type of pitch in her repertoire. I think we have a solid pitching staff and my job was to get the best catcher out there to help.”Marder will face difficult competition as big names like Jennie Finch, Cat Osterman and Jessica Mendoza all play in the league. In fact, 10 out of the 17 players for the 2010 USA national team will be playing in the NPF.Though Marder is facing tougher competition, Arrietta expects nothing less than a stellar performance this year from her starting catcher.“I expect her to make a great transition from the collegiate game to our level,” she said. “I think she has had a significant amount of experience and I expect her to be part of that starting lineup and make an impact in our lineup.”The league features four teams: the Chicago Bandits, Tennessee Diamonds, USSSA Pride and Akron Racers.With four teams in the league, the five-round draft set-up only allows teams to pick the best seniors in college softball.Marder will play under two-time Olympic Gold medalist Crystl Bustos. Bustos, who retired from the Racers this past summer, has agreed to be the field manager.Marder will also have a chance to reunite with former OSU player Jamee Juarez. The combo played together in the 2006-2007 season.Though Marder could not be reached to comment, she said earlier this season she is excited for the opportunity to play professional softball.The excitement between Marder and the Racers is mutual.“Four years ago I didn’t know if we were going to be able to get her into a Racers uniform,” Arrietta said. “Now that she is, I am extremely thrilled and can’t wait to see what she does for us.” read more

Frequent school changes hurt kids math scores

first_imgStudents who change schools frequently are at risk of lower math scores and have a harder time managing their behaviour and attention in the classroom than students who stay in the same school, says a new study.Children who experienced fewer school transitions over a five-year period, demonstrated greater cognitive skills and higher math achievement in early elementary school, relative to their counterparts who changed schools frequently, showed the findings of the study. Also Read – ‘Playing Jojo was emotionally exhausting’All the children in the study were from low-income families in Chicago. “Simply stated, frequently changing schools is a major risk factor for low-income children’s school success,” said the study’s lead author Allison Friedman-Krauss from New York University.Data for the study came from 381 children (52 per cent girls) enrolled in the Chicago School Readiness Project. On average, children in the study scored in an acceptable range on standardised math tests in fourth grade.  However, children who moved frequently were predicted to score, on average, 10 points lower than their peers who did not change schools frequently, the authors wrote. Also Read – Leslie doing new comedy special with Netflix“Although moving once or twice may not be extremely detrimental to the development of children who are already at risk, moving almost every year during elementary school increased the probability that students would face more difficulty in the long run,” study co-author C Cybele Raver, professor of applied psychology at New York University noted. This suggests the need for policies at the state, district and school levels to prevent school changes and to support students, families and teachers when children do change schools,” Raver pointed out. The study was published in the American Psychological Association’s journal Developmental Psychology.last_img read more