Matchup: Seattle Seahawks vs. Detroit Lions
Site: Ford Field (Detroit, Michigan)
After a long break the Seahawks head back to the scene of the crime to take on the Detroit Lions. This is the second time the Seahawks have been to Detroit since that dreary February evening in 2006. The last time these two teams played was in 2009 in Seattle where the Seahawks came back from a 17-0 deficit to beat the Lions 32-20. The Seahawks lead the all-time series against Detroit 7-4. The 4-3 Seahawks are looking to end the first half of the season with a victory while the 2-4 Lions are looking to gain momentum and regain some ground in the surprisingly deep NFC North. Here is what I will be looking for from both teams this Sunday.
It is no surprise by now that Russell Wilson struggles mightily on the road. In 4 road contests so far this season, Wilson has 7 interceptions. Limiting turnovers will be crucial this week but the biggest key on offense this week will be to control time of possession. The Seahawks do a good job of scoring points and taking time off of the clock in the first half but in the second half we struggle to do these two things. If we can establish long possessions in the second half, it will be likely that we will be able to put up points later on in the game. Just like what the 49ers were able to do last week, long possessions will tire out the Lions defense which will also be to our benefit.
In order for us to maintain long possessions we have to be able to effectively run the football. I feel Marshawn Lynch is overdue for a big game. He has not scored multiple touchdowns in any game so far this season and I think he could break off for a few decent size runs and he can get into the endzone more than once. If Lynch can do this Russell Wilson will not be forced to throw the ball late in the game and the pressure on Wilson’s shoulders will be limited.
This week the Seahawks will be without wide receiver Doug Baldwin who is nursing an ankle injury. Charly Martin will take Baldwin’s place in the lineup. My prediction for our leading receiver this week is Sidney Rice. Russell Wilson looked Rice’s direction a lot in San Francisco last Thursday and he will be targeted a lot again this week. Rice will go up against Lions cornerback Chris Houston. Houston is coming off his most productive game so far this season, making 6 tackles on Monday night against Chicago. Although I am predicting Rice will be the most productive receiver this week, do not be surprised if the catches, targets, and yardage numbers are close together this week among all of the wide receivers since both Russell Wilson and Coach Carroll have talked about spreading the ball around more in practice this week.
The one-on-one matchup I am looking forward to the most this weekend is Lions receiver Calvin Johnson vs. Seahawks cornerback Brandon Browner. Browner is definitely the tallest defender Johnson has had to face this season and Browner may turn out to be the most physical defender also. After last week’s game 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh claimed that the Seahawks defensive backs were playing unnecessarily physical against his receivers. After fueling their fire with those comments, I would expect both Browner and Richard Sherman to try to jam their receivers frequently. As a matter of fact, I am worried that this may lead to stupid penalties this week. If illegal contact and pass interference is called against the Seahawks defense this week, the game plan may change and the Lions may try to take advantage of our looser play on defense.
Although the Detroit Lions are only 2-4, they possess some talented players on both sides of the football. On offense the Lions field general is 4th year quarterback Matthew Stafford. After a 5,000+ passing yard season last year, Stafford has struggled this year. Stafford is averaging 293 yards per game and has thrown more interceptions (6) than touchdowns (5). Stafford’s biggest target is the previously mentioned Calvin Johnson, who also has not been producing as well as previous seasons. Johnson has only one touchdown so far this season. If the Seahawks are successful in shutting Johnson down the Lions may be in trouble. They lost receiver Nate Burleson to a season-ending leg injury last week and their other receivers include Titus Young and rookie Ryan Broyles. Young is a fast, talented receiver who can make plays happen but the Lions depth at receiver is not good overall.
The Lions running game is my focus this week when they have the ball. Much like San Francisco, Detroit runs with a trap-blocking scheme. This style of blocking makes it difficult for the defense to detect where the ball carrier is between the holes and tackles. Frank Gore was able to run for over 130 yards last week against the Seahawks and if nothing has been done to improve the run defense, I am afraid Mikel Leshoure will have his way with the Seahawks run defense this week. Leshoure is a physical back who will not go down easily. We must make sure our tackling is on point this week. If Leshoure can consistently get going, the Seahawks defense will give up points and will put added pressure on our own offense.
The Lions defense is led by tackle Ndamukong Suh and defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch. The Lions average just fewer than 3 sacks per game on defense which is good news for Russell Wilson and the Seahawks offensive line. The talent on defense for Detroit leaves me questioning how effective Marshawn Lynch will be this week. Overall, I do not think the Lions defense will have as big of an impact as a lot of people think.
One final note on the Lions, they had trouble with punt returns against Chicago. Stefan Logan may be pulled from his punt return duties this week. If he is not however, look for Jon Ryan to sky some punts to see if we can get Logan to cough up the ball again.
Random Thoughts: I love the fact that Richard Sherman changed his Twitter name to “Optimus Prime” this week. Megatron does not know what is coming his way… The last time we played in Detroit we barely escaped with a win. I understand it is hard to win on the road in a different time zone but I wouldn’t be surprised if we struggle… Uniform prediction of the week: once again, white jerseys and grey pants… It is looking like I’ll be watching the game back in Bellevue at my dad’s house. I haven’t watched a game with him since we went to the Arizona game on the road last month. I’m looking forward to spending the day watching football over there… I lost my dinner bet last week. I’m leaning towards my pasta specialty: Angel hair with homemade meat sauce. Maybe I’ll experiment with a pesto sauce as well. Date and time TBD… Chris Myers and Tim Ryan have the call this week for FOX. This duo calls a pretty good game so I’m not too disappointed about the play-by-play assignment this week… I need a win in fantasy football this week. I can’t afford to fall to 3-5… I consider this game to be the last of our “tough” games on our schedule. At the beginning of the season I predicted that we would be 3-5 at the halfway point. We have a chance to be 5-3. That is incredible to me. Even if we lose and go to 4-4, I’ll be satisfied overall but I’ll be disappointed about this one game after the fact.
Prediction: The Seahawks are now averaging just under 13 points per game on the road. Unfortunately, I think that the trap-blocking scheme the Lions have in place will be tough for the Seahawks defense to handle. Mikel Leshoure will run for more yards than Marshawn Lynch and the Lions success running the ball puts pressure on Russell Wilson and the rest of the Seahawks offense. I expect this game to once again be close nearing the end of the game, but I don’t think we have enough fire power on offense to pull this one out.
Lions 23, Seahawks 17
Look for my review of this game on the blog sometime Monday. Enjoy the game everybody and as always, thank you so much for reading. Go Hawks!
“NOT Detroit. How many times do I have to go to that city?!”- One of the guys I go on my annual Seahawks road trip with when asked about which game he wanted to go to this season.