SI Vault
Paul Zimmerman
September 09, 1987
The Seattle Seahawks rose up with such fury at the end of '86 that everyone is picking them to go to the Super Bowl, even though they didn't even make last season's playoffs. I pick 'em, too. Like everyone else, I've been seduced by their finish. Just look at what the Seahawks did. In October they beat the Super Bowl-bound Giants, but that was just a warmup. They ended the year with five straight wins, including a 17-pointer over the Cowboys in Dallas and a 37-0 whipping of the Raiders, when L.A. was pushing for a playoff berth. Denver coach Dan Reeves promised to send his Seattle counterpart, Chuck Knox, a case of Scotch for the victory over the Raiders. Knox thanked Reeves by knocking off the Broncos 41-16 on the last weekend of the season.
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September 09, 1987

Scouting Report

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The defense is improved, thanks to the arrival of All-Pro outside linebacker Chip Banks from Cleveland. Not that the defense was so bad last season. The Chargers were seventh in the NFL against the run. They also were second (behind the Raiders) in sacks with 62, because of a brilliant rookie, Leslie O'Neal—who's out this season with a knee injury—and the emergence of linebacker Billy Ray Smith as a first-rate rusher. With Banks blitzing from the right—or Lawrence Taylor—side, a switch that fills Banks with joy, San Diego will again make life unpleasant for quarterbacks. Rookie Louis Brock, a nifty little bump-and-run cornerback, should make the secondary better, too.

Former Raider executive Steve Ortmayer has brought stability and competence to San Diego as director of football operations. The draft, which supplied last year's best collegiate tight end, Rod Bernstine, to team with Kellen Winslow and the usual cast of thousands of other receivers, was productive. But the Chargers have relied on Fouts's magic for a long time. Without him, or a trade for a Fouts facsimile, the motor just won't have the necessary spark.

[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]

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