The Seattle Seahawks will face the Detroit Lions on Saturday at 5:45 p.m. in the NFC Wild Card Round. This is not the same dominant team that we’re accustomed to seeing. Injuries to key players have plagued Seattle this year. They have been hurt on the offensive line, as well as in the secondary with Earl Thomas breaking his tibia. Since his injury, the Seahawks have allowed opponents to average 24.5 points against them.
In the beginning of the season, Russell Wilson was dealing with a leg injury that kept him from stretching the defense or extending drives with his legs. He is now healthy, but he has been consistently under pressure. The Seahawks has not been able to run the ball well since Marshawn Lynch retired. C.j. Prosis had impacted the running game a bit, but he has not been consistent with staying healthy. Currently, he is sidelined, due to a shoulder injury. Since his return, in Week 11 Thomas Rawls has only one game over a 100 yards and hasn’t found much success on the ground either.
“We keep running. We have to keep running to make sure that we have the mix that we want. That’s our style of play, and it doesn’t always matter how you run the ball early in the game. It’s more important how you finish running the ball so that you can finish running the game just like we needed to do,” said Seahawks’ head coach Pete Carroll.
The last three games the Seahawks have averaged around 79 yards on the ground with an average a 2.9. In order for the Seahawks to win they will have to established some type of running attack. They have to get the running backs involve early and not rely on Wilson to make something happen the entire time. The Lions can put pressure on Wilson and that struggling offensive line to make it tough for him, but they are averaging 19.8% of pressure when Quarterbacks are dropping back. If given time in the pocket Russell could do some damage in the Lions’ secondary.
What to Know about Detroit:
The Lions have lost their last three games and lost a chance to win the division with a lost to the Packers last week. They have suffered a lot of injuries on the offensive side, as well as Matthew Stafford with a finger injury, but this team does not quit. The Lions need to find some rhythm in their running attack. They have struggled to find a running back to eclipse 50 yards in a game. Zack Zenner has provided a spark in the last two games. Even though he has carried the ball 20 times and has only 60 yards, he still has been productive with finding his way to the 1st down mark when the Lions need him.
It will be interesting to see if the Lions could establish a run game against the second-ranked run defense in the league.
Stafford is going against a secondary that is banged up and has let opponents scored an average of 24 points on them. Stafford is known to throw in tight coverage and sometimes that is a risk. With the Seahawks, who are known to play tight and physical coverage, he has to be careful with letting it go.
The Lions’ defense has given away 16.3 points to their opponents in the second half.
The Lions have lost eight consecutive playoff appearance and has only won one postseason game.
Keys to victory:
The Lions have to exploit the Seahawks’ secondary on the offensive end. They have to let Anquan Bolden and Golden Tate get their touches early. They’ll need to stretch the field and take shots down the middle of the field. On the defensive end, pressure Wilson and make him throw the ball early.
Seattle has to get Jimmy Graham involved. In the last few games, they have left him out of the game plan a bit. They need to get him involved on crossing patterns, streaks down the field and stop and go routes. The Lions will probably play a soft coverage on Graham, because they do not want to get beat down the field. On the defensive end make Stafford and the offensive front one dimensional. They do not have a running game. Do not let the Lions convert on third downs. Put pressure on Stafford and force to throw on his back foot.