We are on the verge of some changes.  And depending on your view, it is going to be bad or good.  This weekend could determine all of that when Washington hosts Washington State in the 56th edition of the Apple Cup and the Seattle Seahawks play the San Francisco 49ers in Santa Clara.

Both Washington and the Seahawks are banged up as they go into what I consider defining moments. Washington has  starting cornerback (Jordan Miller) , two of its top receivers  (Chico McClatcher, Hunter Bryant)and its best offensive lineman  (Trey Adams) out with season-ending injuries but has managed to keep going while posting a 9-2 record going into Saturday night’s 5 o’clock game at Husky Stadium against the also 9-2 Washington State Cougars.

The Seahawks are really, really hurting. They have lost to injuries both starting cornerbacks (Shaquill Griffin and Richard Sherman and safety Kam Chancellor and offensive lineman Oday Aboushi and running back Mike Davis will probably not play.  There are a slew of others that are questionable, including defensive tackle Jarran Reed and all-pro linebacker candidate Bobby Wagner, who has a hamstring problem.

In my view, the Seahawks are on a downward spiral. Their offensive line problems make them a one-dimensional team that has to rely on the artful dodger skills of quarterback Russell Wilson to make up plays on the run and count on a defense that traditionally has been one of the best in the league. That defense, however, is aging and without Sherman and Griffin is vulnerable to a half-decent passing attack.

The 49ers are not great. They have won just one game, but remember they only lost to the Seahawks in Seattle 12-9. Do I expect the Seahawks to lose? No, but it wouldn’t shock me if they did because they are not an elite NFL team right now. There are much better teams in the NFC alone – Philadelphia (9-1), Minnesota (9-2), New Orleans (8-2) and maybe the Carolina Panthers (7-3) and the Los Angeles Rams (7-3).

I still can’t understand how the good leadership of the Seahawks – John Schneider and Pete Carroll – can for the last three years not do enough to upgrade the offensive line. If you are going to say that you want to be a running team first, then why don’t you build the team around that idea instead of making the offensive line the last thought when it comes to payroll?

And it’s almost comical, albeit a dark comedy that the running back situation never gets settled due to injuries that you can almost count on happening, with Davis being the latest injury victim.

Even with all of that, the Seahawks are still seventh in the NFL and fifth in the NFC in total offense.  So that is a positive.

Offensively, the Seahawks are 9th overall in the league and 4th in the NFC behind Carolina, Minnesota and Philadelphia.

But I think the window on being a playoff team is closing. The Seahawks are 6-4 and if you believe they can beat the 49ers they still have to play Philadelphia, Jacksonville and the Rams in the following three weeks. That’s a tough stretch. I can see them maybe beating the Rams so that would make them 8-6 heading into the last two games – at Dallas and home against Arizona.

The game at Dallas would be winnable if not for the fact that star running back Ezekiel Elliott comes off his six-game suspension in time for that game. But if I’m right, the Seahawks really need to beat the Cowboys and Arizona to get to 10-6 to have a possible chance at a Wild Card berth.

I really think the Seahawks will finish 9-7 and miss the playoffs.

As for Washington, the Huskies blew their chance at a major bowl when they lost at Stanford and now are on the outside looking in. If they beat Washington State it knocks the Cougars out of the Pac-12 title game against USC and puts Stanford in it instead.

So this is a real big game for the Cougars and I believe they have a good chance of ending their four-game losing streak in this Apple Cup match-up (Washington leads in Apple Cup games 39-16 and 71-32-6 overall; the game was called the Governor’s Cup through 1961).

The reason why I say that is in the last two Washington games the Huskies have been exposed in their young secondary. And we all know that Cougar senior QB Luke Falk leads an “Air-Raid” offense that generates a lot of yards through the air.  I can’t see how Falk won’t be the key figure in this game, although it is important to note that Falk does not perform as well on the road as he does in home games, and he has been on the losing end of the last three Apple Cup games in which Washington has outscored WSU 121-40.

But I sense some changes in this game. In order for Washington to win it has to shut down a respectable Cougar running game and put heavy pressure on Falk. That’s easier said than done, but it is the key factor.

Washington does have one of its starting cornerbacks back. That would be Bryon Murphy, who came back from early season injury last week against Utah and played Ok. If he is back on his game 100 percent, he could be a difference maker.

One thing that has bothered me about WSU coach Mike Leach is that he sometimes (often?) sticks with the Air=Raid offense even when he has very good running backs. He has one in Jamal Morrow and if he uses him more often that could be a tipping point.

But I have seen Leach too often stubbornly stick with the Air-Raid and that, I feel, works against the Cougars because they become predictable on offense and in a close game that could be a disadvantage for them.

So we’ll see.

If I have to predict, I think the Cougars will win 34-27 and the Seahawks will somehow manage to nip the 49ers again, this time 24-17.

I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving and that you stayed out of our Pacific Northwest liquid sunshine.

Be well pal.

Be careful out there.

Have a great day.

You are loved.