1. Is Russell Wilson going to be fully healed after this Seahawks bye?
He and coach Pete Carroll won’t say the quarterback will be fully healthy for next weekend’s home game against Atlanta, just that he will be a lot better. The sprained medial collateral in his left knee and high-ankle sprain on his right leg aren’t likely to be completely gone after this weekend without a game. But Wilson is likely to be more able to run, or at least elude pass rushers than he’s been in a month. But, does it matter? Though relatively stationary in the pocket, he’s on pace to beat his 2015 season of 4,024 yards. And that was the first 4,000-yard passing season in Seahawks’ history. We are watching the evolution of his already-supreme game into doing whatever needs to be done, whatever his health or offensive line or …
2. Who is the Seahawks’ biggest threat in the NFC West now?
Still Arizona. Yes, the Rams are 3-1 entering Sunday’s game against Buffalo in Los Angeles. But the Cardinals and Seahawks remain the two most-talented teams in the NFC. Carson Palmer’s concussion is his latest in a string of injuries that have marred his career. When he plays the last four seasons the Cardinals are 30-12. After their win Thursday night at woeful-again San Francisco the Cards are 6-5 since 2013 when Palmer has been out. At 2-3 Arizona isn’t all that far out of the West lead. But the Cardinals need to get Palmer back by the time Seattle comes to the desert for a Sunday night game Oct. 23 to get back in the division race.
3. What’s it going to take for the 49ers to try Colin Kaepernick again?
Blaine Gabbert quitting? Locking Gabbert – and coach Chip Kelly – in the locker room during games? If the Niners don’t go with Kaepernick after Gabbert’s dreadful performance Thursday night, they never will. As in, ever. Now come reports the team and Kaepernick are working on restructuring his contract to give the quarterback the option of voiding the rest of it after this season -- and getting rid of the injury guarantee that were apparently keeping him on the bench. Forget the numbers – and Gabbert’s are indeed forgettable – the 49ers aren’t running any semblance of an efficient, quick-strike Kelly offense with Gabbert. At 1-4, it’s time to see if Kaepernick has anything left from what made him a Super Bowl QB and star a few years ago.
4. Which has been the most impressive team in the NFL so far?
New England going 3-1 with Tom Brady suspended raised eyebrows and is further evidence of how good coach Bill Belichick and his program are with the Patriots. (By the way, Brady is back Sunday so DeflateGate is now over. Thank the heavens, stars and anything else you believe in). But the Minnesota Vikings missing starting quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and superstar running back Adrian Peterson – and being 4-0, including wins over Green Bay and at defending NFC champion Carolina is the best feat so far this season. That and the Washington Huskies’ revival make this the Autumn of the Purple. It’s more than their palace of a new stadium in downtown Minneapolis shaped like a Vikings ship. It’s Minnesota’s defense. It is attacking and plundering. The Vikes are second in the NFL in points allowed (12.5), third in passing yards allowed and third in interceptions. But in the back of their minds – and though they’ll never admit it -- the Seahawks don’t fear the Vikings. Not after two wins in Minnesota late last season, including in that arctic ice box of January’s wild-card playoff game.
5. Are the Seahawks concerned Doug Baldwin’s ongoing efforts to improve race relations and policing are taking away from his day job?
It’s a valid question, especially after Baldwin has revealed his agent sought personal protection for the top wide receiver after Baldwin said he received death threats last month. But Pete Carroll is not only fine with all Baldwin, Richard Sherman, Michael Bennett and other Seahawks have done speaking out and meeting with Seattle police officials, the coach is encouraged and proud. Of all of it. "These guys have done everything they could possibly do to get ready," Carroll said. "They are extraordinary competitors. And without question, their heads and minds are in the right place. They get to love life, too, and they have their day…they have Tuesday (each week). And they have about half of that, with the work they do to condition and take care of themselves. I couldn’t be more proud of where they’re putting their focus when they have their free time."