Seattle Seahawks

Five NFL questions for Week 15

Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch stands in silhoutette while on the field Nov. 22 before Seattle plays San Francisco at CenturyLink Field.
Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch stands in silhoutette while on the field Nov. 22 before Seattle plays San Francisco at CenturyLink Field.

When will Marshawn Lynch return to the Seahawks?

Your guess is as good as coach Pete Carroll’s. No, really. The coach and the entire Seahawks franchise really does not know when their star running back will decide to show up at team headquarters again. Lynch doesn’t talk to them when he’s not with the team. He is “at large” and “off site,” according to Carroll, while recovering from abdominal surgery he had Nov. 25. It’s hard to fathom a future Hall of Famer off on his own, away from the team and its athletic-training staff during the crux of the season before heading into the playoffs. Hard to fathom, until we all remember this is what the Seahawks have allowed Lynch to do since he got here in 2010 — his own thing, on his own time. The Seahawks have been willing to make that trade and give Lynch his own rules in exchange for the most rushing yards and touchdowns in the league from 2011-14. Now that he’s not indestructible anymore, that tradeoff is not so even. Or justifiable.

Is this a more dangerous Seahawks team than the previous two seasons?

The offense is more explosive and has far more of a passing fancy with Lynch and now his replacement Thomas Rawls injured. Russell Wilson is playing the best he ever has. That makes this Seattle team more potent, with more consistent big-yardage plays than the previous two NFC champions. But the defense is not as deep nor as strong in pass coverage, especially down the middle. And the Seahawks’ poor September and October likely will cost them any home playoff games. The three times they’ve reached the Super Bowl, the Seahawks have had home-field advantage for all of their NFC playoff games. This team is more dangerous offensively, yes — but more dangerous to themselves on defense against the elite and/or hot quarterbacks (Cam Newton, Carson Palmer) they may end up facing later in January.

Why does everyone get on Johnny Manziel?

That’s what his current and former teammates have been saying this week. Tacoma’s Xavier Cooper, Cleveland’s rookie defensive tackle, calls Manziel “a good dude” and “strictly business” at the team facility. Patrick Lewis, Manziel’s center at Texas A&M and now the Seahawks’ center, told my TNT colleague Dave Boling that Manziel is “a gracious guy and a great teammate. A lot of people have a perception of him, but when you meet him, you can’t believe it’s the guy you hear about.” Former Browns defensive tackle Ahtyba Rubin, also with the Seahawks, says Manziel is “a great guy who really cares” about his team. But as long as he signs $100 bills for fans on the edge of the field before games and gets filmed partying after telling the Browns he wouldn’t do that during their bye week, the attention will stay on him. Then again, let’s not forget he’s still a 23-year-old young man.

Would Broncos sit Peyton Manning if he was healthy when playoffs begin?

The 39-year-old legendary quarterback hasn’t played since Nov. 15 because of plantar fasciitis near his heel. He threw in practice Wednesday and Thursday, then shut it down Friday because of soreness. Brock Osweiler, 25, will make his fifth consecutive start for Manning on Sunday at Pittsburgh. Denver (10-3) is 3-1 with Osweiler, and he had his first 300-yard passing game last week. But he got sacked five times and didn’t throw a TD in a 15-12 loss at home to Oakland. Osweiler is completing 63.5 percent of his throws with five TDs, three interceptions and 17 sacks. Manning is completing 59.9 percent of his passes — his lowest rate since 1998, his rookie season with the Colts — with nine TD passes, 17 interceptions and 15 sacks. The guard has to change some time in Denver. Is that time now? If Manning is healthy for the playoffs, no way.

Did we just see the last Rams home game in St. Louis?

The NFL has set a Dec. 30 deadline to get stadium proposals from the cities of St. Louis, Oakland and San Diego. That’s ahead of a hoped-for vote of league owners Jan. 12-13 to decide which of those franchises get to move to Los Angeles. On Friday, the St. Louis Board of Aldermen approved $150 million of public money to be spent on a proposed $1 billion stadium. Rams owner Stan Kroenke has shown no interest in any St. Louis plan; he wants to move his team to L.A. This quote appearing on from St. Louis Alderman Sharon Tyus, who voted against using St. Louis’ public money on a new Rams stadium, aptly sums up how city leaders should feel about NFL owners essentially extorting them for new palaces: “We’re like at the strip club. And the stripper is throwing the money back at us.”