Seahawks-Lions Preview

Now that the Seattle Seahawks have their first win out of the way, and the fact that Kam Chancellor has returned, the team can return its focus towards winning their division and making the playoffs. Division rival Arizona Cardinals have gotten off to a phenomenal start, but three weeks does not a season make. The Seahawks still control their destiny.

This Monday night the Seahawks can continue their new momentum with a win over the visiting Detroit Lions. What do the Seahawks need to do to win?

NFL: Chicago Bears at Seattle Seahawks

Get off to a good start with running the ball

The Lions have more talent than they have shown this season, but they did lose defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh to free-agency this offseason making them more susceptible against the run. Against the Minnesota Vikings in week two, the Lions allowed Adrian Peterson to run for 199 yards. Obviously, Peterson is extremely talented, and the Vikings offensive line is currently better than the Seahawks. Also, there is a question as to whether running back Marshawn Lynch will be able to play on Monday due to a leg injury. Backup Thomas Rawls, however, should still be able to get some yards against Detroit. Rawls ran for 104 yards on 16 carries versus Chicago in week three, so he should be brimming with confidence. Many of his yards, though, did not come until the second half. The Seahawks led only 6-0 over a poor Bears team at halftime. Getting the running game going early and scoring touchdowns, not field goals, will be important.

Slow down the Lions pass

The Lions offensive line has had many of the same issues the Seahawks line has had this season, mainly an inability to consistently run the ball. The Lions have only rushed for 135 yards total this year. That is last in the league. While Seattle’s defensive line has been far from perfect in 2015, the talent is still there. One concern is that nose guard Brandon Mebane is unlikely to play, but newcomer Ahtyba Rubin should help overcome the loss. The key for Seattle will be to slow quarterback Matthew Stafford from getting the ball to his talented wide receivers, Charles Johnson and Golden Tate. Stafford, forced to throw even more due to the bad performance of the running game, has thrown for five interceptions this year (second worst in the league), but he also has the ability to play a very clean and productive game. Cornerback Richard Sherman moved around more in the first two games this season than he normally does, but with Chancellor back there is less need for Sherman to do that. Seattle will probably play more Cover-three press coverage, and have cornerback Cary Williams play straight on the opposite side of the field from Sherman.

As a side note, it should be interesting to see how former Seahawk Tate plays for the first time as a Lion in Seattle. He left with bad mojo and how he responds to the fans and how the Seahawks respond to him should be must-watch football.

baldwin

Keep Jimmy, Jimmy

The Seahawks finally connected with talented tight end Jimmy Graham in the game against the Bears. Graham had a team-high seven catches for 83 yards and a touchdown. The Lions linebackers should struggle to keep Graham under control, so quarterback Russell Wilson needs to look Graham’s way more often than he has. Seahawks receiver Angry Doug Baldwin might be expected to be even more emotionally charged in this game, as there seemed to be some rivalry between him and Tate when Tate was in Seattle. Baldwin will be out to prove he is the better of the two receivers, so his involvement in deep routes should open the middle for Graham. While the Lions struggled against the run when they played Minnesota, they have had even more issues against the pass in their two other games versus the San Diego Chargers and Denver Broncos, respectively. The Seahawks do not have the scheme to throw as much, or possibly even as effectively, as the Chargers or Broncos, but Wilson has proven when he needs to throw to win, he can. Wilson threw 30 times against the Bears, and it would not be surprising to see him close to that number against the Lions. At least 10 of those passes should head Jimmy Graham’s way.

The Seahawks have won six in a row at home and 22 of their last 24. They feed of their fans emotions possibly more than any other team. Seattle should be able to overcome the Lions and move to 2-2 on the season. It is too early in the season to call this a “must-win” for Seattle, but they simply must win this game.

Prediction: Seattle 24 Lions 21