Tag Archives: Stephen Hill

Panthers/Seahawks Preview

17 Oct
Photo Credit: Panthers.com

Photo Credit: Panthers.com

Matchup: Carolina Panthers at Seattle Seahawks

Site: CenturyLink Field (Seattle, Washington)

Kickoff: 1:05pm

For the second straight week the Seahawks will face off against an undefeated opponent, this time at the friendly confines of CenturyLink Field. The defending NFC South champion Carolina Panthers come to town to take on the Seahawks in what will be their 4th straight season meeting in the regular season. The Panthers have gotten off to a 4-0 start and control first place in the NFC South. The Seahawks of course are 2-3 after losing a heartbreaker in Cincinnati last Sunday. The Seahawks lead the all-time series with the Panthers 7-2. Their last meeting came back in January when the Seahawks dismantled Carolina 31-17 in the NFC Divisional Playoffs. Before the season many 12’s would have rolled their eyes at this matchup and assumed a win was imminent. Instead this will be a very difficult game for the Seahawks to win and they are going to have to earn it. Here are some points of emphasis I will be looking at in this game.

Last week before the Seahawks defense collapsed late in the game the Seahawks offensive line did a decent job of protecting quarterback Russell Wilson. With no personnel changes coming along the line this week, I expect more improvement from this unit. It will be a challenge because once again the Seahawks will face one of the best defenses in the league. Last week the Seahawks offense found success especially in the long passing game. Jermaine Kearse and Doug Baldwin in particular had very productive days. Against Carolina expect to see more of what worked against the Bengals, including deep shots, and intermediate passes in the middle of the field. Running back Marshawn Lynch is also expected to be back this week which should bolster Seattle’s offensive game plan. Keep in mind however that in his last 4 games against Carolina, Lynch has run for an average of only 62 yards per game. The Seahawks will be in good shape if they can score at least 24 points on Sunday.

This week on defense the Seahawks must play a clean game. My eye will be on Michael Bennett in particular. Last week Bennett was flagged for a personal foul penalty at the end of the first half and he also jumped offsides once, something that has unfortunately become his trademark. Eliminating penalties will go a long way in making sure we have a successful day on defense.

The evolution of Panthers quarterback Cam Newton has steadily progressed in 2015. With limited resources around him at the skill positions, Newton has had to take the game into his own hands to make big plays happen. Newton should absolutely be the Seahawks defense’s number one priority. The Seahawks have yet to face a duel-threat quarterback this season but have done an excellent job in stopping Newton in prior matchups. This season Newton has only thrown for 200 or more yards one time, and he is averaging 49 yards per game on the ground. In his career against the Seahawks however Newton has averaged only 171 yards per game passing and 35 yards per game running. Shutting Newton down will mean the Seahawks will likely come out of this week with a win.

As I said above, the Carolina Panthers offense is missing key playmakers due to injury. Starting wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin is out for the season with a torn ACL and receiver Stephen Hill is also unavailable. In the passing game it will be up to rookie Devin Funchess and veteran tight end Greg Olsen among others to get open for Newton to be effective through the air. It will be an extremely difficult task, but in my eyes the best way for the Panthers to be successful on offense is to pound the rock with running back Jonathan Stewart. Stewart is now the lone option in the backfield after the departure of DeAngelo Williams. Using the read-option with Stewart could take a lot of pressure off of Newton. Keep in mind however that Stewart has not scored a touchdown yet this season and is only averaging 55 yards per game on the ground. Misdirection must be a key component for the Carolina offense in order to trick the Seahawks defense for yards and possibly even points.

Of all the defenses the Seahawks have faced so far this season, no unit may be better as a whole when healthy than the Carolina Panthers defense. This week the Panthers will be close to full strength with the return of all-pro middle linebacker Luke Kuechly from a month-long concussion. Outside linebackers Thomas Davis and rookie Shaq Thompson have combined for 37 tackles and a pair of sacks in their first 4 games and the secondary is anchored by Josh Norman at cornerback who has averaged in interception in each game thus far. Defensive end Jared Allen was traded to Carolina from the Chicago Bears two days after Allen suited up for the Bears in Seattle against the Seahawks in our home opener on September 27th. Although he has been ruled out with a back injury, Allen should have a fresh memory of what he went up against three weeks ago so his expertise and mentoring of the rest of Carolina’s defensive personnel could give them a leg up in game preparation. My X-Factor Player to Watch for the Panthers is likely the primary beneficiary of Allen’s injury, defensive end Mario Addison. After recording two sacks in their season opener, Addison has made minimal impact rushing the passer. His season high for tackles is 4 back in week 3 and he did not show up on the stat line in their last game against Tampa Bay. With the help of Allen in the film room however, do not be surprised if Addison makes a big impact in this game.

Random Thoughts: All navy everything for the Seahawks this week. The Panthers will wear white tops and silver pants… Sam Rosen and John Lynch have the call for FOX with Pam Oliver reporting from the sidelines. Rosen takes over play-by-play duties from Kevin Burkhardt who is currently covering the Major League Baseball postseason for FOX. This is normally the #2 FOX broadcast crew… This is the first of two 1:05pm kickoffs at home this season. A public service announcement to those attending; please be aware that kickoff comes 20 minutes earlier than the Chicago game. Make sure you leave the bars and tailgates a little earlier so you’ll be in your seats with time to spare… Terry McAulay is the referee this week. McAulay previously called the NFC Divisional Playoff between these two teams back in January… This week I will be tailgating in the sky. I’m taking a friend who lives in the Stadium Place apartments in the CenturyLink Field North lot. We’ll be on the roof hovering over those making their way into the stadium. It should be fun. I was up there before the preseason game against Oakland but the roof was completely empty. Maybe things will be spiced up since this is a regular season game… What I like about the view from his building is that you can eavesdrop into the stadium hours before the gates even open, so you get kind of a behind-the-scenes sneak peek at the gameday presentation rehearsals. After this game there will be a 28 day gap between home games. Normally that would be brutal but good thing I’m going on a couple of trips in between to dull the pain.

Prediction: The Panthers always play us tough and this week will be no different. Russell Wilson will throw a touchdown to Jimmy Graham and Marshawn Lynch will run one in from 25 yards out. The Seahawks defense will be faced with a similar situation from last week and will redeem themselves. Needing a touchdown to take the lead, Cam Newton will be intercepted by Earl Thomas with less than two minutes left, clinching the Seattle victory. The Seahawks will get to 3-3, the same record they had after 6 games a season ago.

Seahawks 20, Panthers 16

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Jets/Seahawks Preview

10 Nov

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Matchup: New York Jets vs. Seattle Seahawks

Site: CenturyLink Field (Seattle, Washington)

Kickoff: 1:05pm

The Seahawks have a chance to head into their bye week at 6-4 and on a two-game winning streak. In their way this week is the New York Jets. The Jets are coming off their bye and are sitting at 3-5 and they are looking to get back into the AFC playoff picture. The Seahawks lead the all-time series with the Jets 9-8. In their last meeting, the Seahawks defeated the Jets and their quarterback Brett Favre 13-3 in December of 2008. That game was most famous for being in the middle of the worst snowstorm stretch in Seattle history. It was also Coach Holmgren’s final home game coached for the Seahawks. There is a lot to be looking for out of both teams this week. Here is what I’ll be watching for.

Marshawn Lynch is 119 yards away from reaching the 1,000 yard plateau for the second straight year. The New York Jets defense is giving up an average of 141 rushing yards per game. It is no surprise given these numbers that running the ball will have a big impact on the productivity on offense this week. I do not think Russell Wilson will have to put up big numbers passing this week. My hope is that we can have a 55/45 mix in terms of running and passing the ball. The Jets defense is banged up and all-pro cornerback Darrelle Revis is out for the season. Outside of Lynch, I think Sidney Rice will have a big game this week. Russell Wilson has been looking more towards Rice’s direction recently and I think it is only a matter of time before Rice really breaks out and puts up numbers that challenge for the best wide receiver numbers in the NFL in a given week. The key to Wilson’s play this week will not to be too eager to throw the ball, especially if he gets into a comfortable rhythm. This is the type of game could get sloppy with multiple turnovers if the Seahawks are overconfident. If the Seahawks offense has more than 2 turnovers, the game may be closer than I hope.

I watch film of the New York Jets and I see an offense and a quarterback that can get flustered fast and try to force passes. Of course one of the most important aspects of a successful defense is establishing a pass rush but if that does not work this week, the Seahawks can get off the field if they can shut down New York’s receivers. If Mark Sanchez finds an open receiver, he will make a throw. But what happens if Sanchez cannot find an open read? Sanchez will hold on to the ball and try to force throws into coverage. The faces of Earl Thomas, Brandon Browner, and Richard Sherman will not have wider smiles if this happens this week. I expect at least two interceptions thrown by Sanchez this week. Stopping Shonn Greene will also be a focus this week given our struggles in the running game the past three weeks. I think the key to victory on defense however begins with forcing Mark Sanchez into mistakes. I will even go on a limb right now and make the bold prediction that Tim Tebow will be the Jets quarterback late in the fourth quarter, as Sanchez will struggle mightily this week.

On special teams, I am interested to see if the Jets do anything differently in order to stop Leon Washington. Washington previously played for New York before being traded to Seattle on draft day 2010. Because of this, the Jets and head coach Rex Ryan would know better than anybody how to stop Washington. Leon has struggled recently, especially on punt returns. It would be nice to see him break off a couple decent returns but I am not expecting anything extraordinary.

The New York Jets have been labeled my many fans and critics as “The Circus” given the always-contending mentality of Rex Ryan and the fact that they sport the league’s most popular backup quarterback, Tim Tebow. This year the Jets have gotten off to a shaky start at 3-5. The Sanchez vs. Tebow debate rises every week that Sanchez struggles and the Jets also have lost two of their best players for the season due to injury; cornerback Darrelle Revis and wide receiver Santonio Holmes. It is the Jets’ offense that has my attention this week. New York is averaging just shy of 20 points per game on the road this season and they are 1-2 in the process. I put my spotlight on the Jets receiver corps this week. Without Holmes, the Jets available receivers are Jason Hill, Clyde Gates, Jeremy Kerley, Chaz Schilens, and rookie Stephen Hill. None of these receivers have proven themselves to be Sanchez’s go-to target and the leading receiver, Kerley, only has 30 catches for 478 yards on the season. As I noted earlier in my preview, if the Seattle defense can stay on top of New York’s receivers all game long, Sanchez will have a difficult time. All-in-all, the Jets defense does not scare me one bit. 20 points per game may be an okay amount on the road, but I expect the Seahawks to hold them for significantly less this week.

One more quick note, this week the Seahawks need to keep up the momentum at home. This is the first home game where the Seahawks are unanimously picked to win by all the experts on every sports network. After beating Minnesota last week, a mental letdown would be the worst thing for this team, especially since our next two games after the Jets are on the road.

Random Thoughts: This week is “salute to service” military appreciation week around the NFL. The Seahawks will participate in a card stunt during the national anthem just like last season. The Seahawks will also wear camouflage accessories on the field and World War II vet Joe Moser will raise the 12th Man flag… I got my customized authentic Seahawks home jersey in the mail this week. It looks so cool. I can’t wait to wear it on Sunday… Speaking of uniforms, expect the Seahawks to wear blue/blue again this week… I am taking my dad to this weekend’s game. One slight negative to taking my dad is I give up my aisle seat for him. I am more than happy to do it but when you sit in that seat 9 out of 10 times a season, sitting in seat 2 feels really weird… The Washington Huskies play Utah at 7:30 Saturday night. I was praying the Huskies game would be an afternoon game. Now I have to decide how hard to go Saturday to make sure I am rested and ready to go for Sunday… The temperature is supposed to be in the high 40’s at gametime. It looks like I’ll be able to wear the beanie I got with my season tickets for the first time this week… I am sick of all these 1:05 starts. It’s nice to have an extra 20 minutes if the game starts at 1:25 instead. The good thing I guess is the rest of our games are 1:25 kickoffs, barring a game being flexed into Sunday Night Football… No word on the pregame giveaway at this point. Odds are the giveaway will be military themed though… Marv Albert and Rich Gannon have the call for CBS this week. Given Marv’s primary broadcasting focus is basketball, how many times do you think he will call the Seahawks the Sonics?… It will be nice to have a bye after this game. If we can beat the Jets and win in either Miami or Chicago, we have a tremendous chance of making a push for a playoff spot.

Prediction: I have no reason to believe the Seahawks will lose this game. We are better than New York in all three phases of the game. Like I predicted earlier, Lynch will get to the 1,000 yard mark, he will score a touchdown, and Tim Tebow will be quarterbacking the Jets by the end of the game. Rex Ryan will make a statement in his postgame press conference about how the Jets play was embarrassing, and the Seahawks will head into the bye week with a 6-4 record.

Seahawks 28, Jets 9

Check back Monday for my review of the Jets game. Enjoy the game everybody! Go Seahawks!