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Buccaneers/Seahawks Preview

2 Nov
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Photo Credit: seahawks.com

Matchup: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Seattle Seahawks

Site: CenturyLink Field (Seattle, Washington)

Kickoff: 1:05pm

The Seahawks return home to start the second half of the season as they host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday afternoon. After escaping St. Louis with a win the Seahawks currently hold a 7-1 record and have a one game lead on the San Francisco 49ers for first place in the NFC West. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers stumble into Seattle with more than 99 problems, if you know what I mean. The Buccaneers are 0-7, the seat head coach Greg Schiano is sitting on is white-hot, and on the field the Buccaneers have looked more like the Tampa Bay “Yuckaneers” of the 1970’s, 1980’s, and early 1990’s. The Seahawks lead the all-time series with Tampa Bay 7-4. In their last meeting in 2009, a terrible 2-win Buccaneers team came into Seattle and crushed the unraveling Seahawks 24-7. Once again the Seahawks are heavily favored and practically no one is giving Tampa Bay a chance to win this game. Remember though most people also gave the St. Louis Rams no chance of winning last week and they were one yard away from winning. Here is what the Seahawks must do to avoid a colossal upset and what to know about the Buccaneers.

 It’s obvious that a big key on offense this week is to better pass-protect quarterback Russell Wilson so I will spare my obvious analysis of this point. With the loss of Sidney Rice for the rest of the season to a torn ACL and the absence of Percy Harvin for at least one more week, the Seahawks will have to search for a new way to move the ball through the air this week. This will be that much more important because Tampa Bay allows only 95 rushing yards per game; 7th best in the NFL. Golden Tate and Doug Baldwin will be our primary receivers and Jermaine Kearse will have a more prominent role in the offense against Tampa Bay. Kearse could have a big impact because of his height. Although Tate can be a play-maker on the outside the Seahawks need a guy with great vertical range who can jump up and get passes. Baldwin will ideally be used out of the slot meaning Kearse will line up opposite Tate for the majority of the snaps he sees. I do not expect recently activated wide receiver Ricardo Lockette to see much playing time at all, if any. If the Buccaneers can do a good job of staying with their receivers down the field, Wilson and the Seahawks offense will be forced to use screen passes to move the ball through the air. Look for Zach Miller and Luke Willson to potentially make a big impact in the short passing game.

On defense, the game we must play this week is “confuse the rookie.” The quarterback of the Buccaneers is rookie 3rd round pick Mike Glennon, the man who replaced Russell Wilson at North Carolina State after Wilson transferred to Wisconsin. Glennon took over for Josh Freeman who was traded to the Minnesota Vikings earlier this season. One of the biggest confidence boosters from my perspective is the thought of a rookie quarterback coming into CenturyLink Field to play his first game here. With our defense and the crowd noise, first timers playing Seattle tend to struggle more than in their previous games. Look for the Seahawks to blitz more than they did last week. Heavy blitzes resulted in 7 sacks of Carson Palmer two weeks ago but Kellen Clemens was only sacked 3 times last week. Dialing up extra blitz packages this week and sending a wide array of pass-rushers on different plays will result in an increase in sack production and may confuse Glennon to make bad decisions. Forcing turnovers could be the determining factor in the outcome of this game. If the Seahawks can strip the ball and force interceptions, we will win this game no doubt about it (as long, of course, as the offense can turn those turnovers into points).

With a rookie quarterback in Mike Glennon, a back-up running back in Mike James, and a coach that is on the verge of completely losing the locker room, I believe that the Buccaneers offense is a complete mess coming into this game. The Buccaneers average only 14 points per game. It will be terribly difficult to score points on Seattle this week, especially since the Seahawks have not allowed a touchdown for two weeks. The only way Tampa Bay has a realistic chance of winning this game will be because of a dominant performance by their defense. On paper the Buccaneers have lots of talent on defense. Linebacker Lavonte David leads Tampa Bay in tackles and sacks while defensive tackle Gerald McCoy has recorded two sacks of his own. Before the season started it was highlighted that this game would feature the two best cornerbacks in the league as Richard Sherman and Darrelle Revis would share the same field in this game. Sherman has maintained his title as one of the best cornerbacks in the league but Revis has slipped slightly. Revis leads all Tampa Bay defenders in passes defensed with 6 but he has only recorded one interception. My X-Factor player to watch for Tampa Bay this week is linebacker Mason Foster. Foster, from the University of Washington, Has done a little of everything on defense this year, making him a player that definitely warrants an offenses undivided attention on every play. Foster is 4th in tackles on Tampa Bay’s defense with 42, he has recorded 2 sacks and he can also drop back into coverage, which was highlighted in week 2 when he intercepted a pass and returned it 85 yards for a touchdown.

Random Thoughts: Blue jerseys and blue pants for the Seahawks this week. The Buccaneers will most likely wear their unique (or weird looking depending on who you talk to) bronze colored pants with their white jerseys… Kenny Albert and Daryl “Moose” Johnston have the call for FOX this week with Tony Siragusa reporting from the sidelines. Is it possible that because the Seahawks have such an impressive record we have been rewarded by no longer being subjected to play-by-play and commentary from Chris Myers and Tim Ryan?! Hopefully so since they have only broadcasted two of our games this year, the last one coming in week 4… Mike Carey is the referee this week. Carey is my favorite referee in the league although his crew has made some questionable calls against the Seahawks the past couple of years. The reason why I like Carey so much is his intense pointing when announcing penalties and the way he rolls his hands when he states what down it will be following said penalties… To everyone attending this week’s game remember it is a 1:05 start NOT a 1:25 start. Like I always say that 20 minute span makes all the difference. I recommend you make sure you are at your seats by 12:50 at the latest; at least 15 minutes early… For the first time this season I will not have an issue with the warmth and the weather. No doubt a sweatshirt, jeans, and perhaps a knit hat will be necessary this week to keep warm… Hawks Nest Bar and Grill pregame. Be there… The Seahawks will be honoring the 30th anniversary of the 1983 Seahawks; the first Seahawks team to make the playoffs. That season the Seahawks went 12-4 and advanced all the way to the AFC Championship game. If it turns out to be a halftime ceremony it will surely be one to remember. Let’s get out of this game healthy and with a win to get to 8-1. Come on boys!

Prediction: The Seahawks offense will improve from last week but will not handle the Buccaneers like most people think they should (think the Cardinals game last December). There will be a lot of field goals in this game, which is good for me since Steven Hauschka is my fantasy football kicker. The Seahawks defense will play a very good game sacking Mike Glennon 5 times and recording 2 interceptions; one from Richard Sherman and one by K.J. Wright. The Seahawks will get to 8-1 with a big road test against the Atlanta Falcons looming next week.

Seahawks 26, Buccaneers 3

Look for my review of the Buccaneers/Seahawks game late Sunday night or in the wee hours of Monday morning. Enjoy the game everyone. Go Hawks!

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Review: Seahawks 16, Panthers 12

9 Oct

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For the third time this season, the Seahawks turned their road game into a nail-biter. This time around however, the Seahawks were able to execute on offense when it counted and because of a couple of huge defensive stops late in the fourth quarter, the Seahawks prevailed; beating the Carolina Panthers 16-12. Here are some notes and thoughts I took from this wild win.

Wilson Is Finally Taking Some Chances: As a fan of a team with one of the best running games in the league, I usually take the stance that we should always establish the run by giving the ball to Marshawn Lynch on the first play of the drive. But for all the fans including myself who also wanted to see Russell Wilson get loose and stretch the field early, this game was for you. On the very first offensive play Sunday, Wilson looked left and completed a pass to Sidney Rice for 18 yards and a first down. Although the final tally may not reflect it, Russell Wilson kept improving in Carolina on Sunday. In front of some friends, family members, and fans that saw him play at North Carolina State, Wilson finished the game 19/25 for 221 yards with one touchdown pass and two interceptions. Wilson’s biggest mistake of the game was an interception returned for a touchdown by Captain Munnerlyn in the third quarter. Other than this Wilson looked much sharper to me. There were still some rookie moments that were frustrating to watch. These moments will come and go throughout the season. There were two big highlights in my eyes from Russell on Sunday. The first was a 56-yard pass to Golden Tate which was called back because of a penalty. Although the pass did not count, it was as beautiful of a pass as possible. Wilson put it right on Tate’s hands and the penalty negated what could have been the biggest offensive play of the game. The second was his touchdown to Tate, which did count, which came from inside the red zone. The commentators pondered the possibility of Russell Wilson being too afraid about possibly making a mistake so deep into enemy territory that he did not take chances. I am hoping with this touchdown, Wilson has shaken the monkey off of his back and will continue to split defenders down inside the red zone.

Defense Is Dominant: After giving up only 12 points on Sunday, the Seahawks now have the number one overall defense in the National Football League. My defensive studs this week go to Bruce Irvin who had 2 sacks, upping his season total to 4.5, Bobby Wagner, who co-led the defense in individual tackles with 6, Brandon Browner who ripped the ball away from DeAngelo Williams which set up the Wilson/Tate touchdown, and Richard Sherman who did a great job containing the ever-dangerous Steve Smith while also being able to get inside Smith’s head which caused him to commit an unnecessary roughness penalty. Although the Seahawks are 1-2 on the road this season, the defense is giving up an average of 17 points per game on the road which should be enough to win most games. The Seahawks return home this weekend and are giving up 9.5 points per game at home. Against the Patriots that may change but at home our defense has proven it can shut down even the most explosive offenses in the league.

Sophomore Slump: Name all of the synonyms for the word bad. Cam Newton’s performance on Sunday could be described by any one of those words. Newton had the worst game of his career on Sunday. He threw for only 141 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions. The entire game was summed up at the end when, on 4th and goal from the 1-yard line, instead of jumping over the goal line in his signature “Superman” style which is what the Seahawks were expecting, Newton rolled to the right and threw a stinker of a pass which fell short of intended receiver Ben Hartsock. The Seahawks took over on downs and held on for the win. Newton felt pressure all game long and struggled with our dominant pass rush in his face. Newton was sacked 4 times on Sunday. The thing that hurt Carolina the most was the ineffectiveness of Newton and the offense when they entered Seahawks territory. The Panthers scored only 3 points after offensive drives. Their other points came on Munnerlyn’s interception return touchdown and the safety we gave up at the end of the game (more on the safety in random thoughts). Newton overall has not been impressive this season and Panthers fans should be worried. Even Earl Thomas called out Newton, stating that “once we bottle it up and frustrate him, we know he is going to tank…” Newton is even more frustrating in his postgame interviews. Newton seems to be very immature and unable to handle questions that easily make him upset and mad. If Carolina’s play doesn’t improve, things may get ugly in the Carolina Panthers locker room later on this season.

Impressive Rookie. I Called It: Luke Kuechly showed why I would have liked to draft him if he was available this past offseason. Kuechly did a great job filling the void left by Jon Beason, almost passing as a seasoned veteran. Kuechly led the team in solo tackles with 7 and also led the Panthers in total tackles with 11. He will be a stud with this team for a very long time to come. I wrote about Kuechly’s poise and potential in my preview post. Hopefully you also saw what I was talking about. I’m glad I was right about him. I’m even more glad our offensive performance was enough to beat his defense.

Random Thoughts: The safety at the end of the game was a genius move. By having Jon Ryan run out of the endzone, we took more time off the clock, we gave Ryan the opportunity to free kick back to the Panthers with no pressure in his face, and the Panthers still needed to drive the length of the field to score a touchdown. Huge kudos to the coaching staff for planning that play. Very smart in my opinion… I think the blue jersey/grey pants combo looks a little weird. I think white pants would look better when we have to wear blue tops on the road… Not going to lie, there were a couple brief moments in the middle of the game where I wanted to see Matt Flynn take over for Wilson. Let’s just say I was frustrated. Just ask my roommates… Coach Carroll benched Breno Giacomini after his latest personal foul penalty and rightfully so. If this keeps up (which I’m sure it will) Giacomini may lose his starting spot. That’s right I’m calling you out Breno… Beating Carolina is a HUGE momentum boost for our game against New England at home next weekend. That game will be incredible especially since we haven’t played at home since the Monday Night Miracle… Once again the game seemed to go pretty fast… The good news and the bad news: The good news is all NFC West teams are over .500 this late into the season for the first time since re-alignment in 2002. The Bad news is that the Seahawks are in last place. Me thinks that won’t last for much longer… Steve Smith only got me 4.9 fantasy points this week but I still won my matchup. Success… I can’t wait for this week anticipating the Patriots game. I’ve got a fun week and weekend ahead of me.

Programming Note: Academically, I’ve got a small essay due next Monday for one class, a quiz next week for another class, and a mid-term next Wednesday that I will be studying for most of this week. Socially, my roommates and I are hosting a soiree on Friday night, I will be attending the USC Trojans/Washington Huskies game on Saturday, and the Patriots/Seahawks game on Sunday. Needless to say the next few days will be pretty hectic. Nevertheless, expect my preview of our week 6 game against the New England Patriots to be posted sometime Saturday morning. Thanks for reading everybody. Go Hawks!