In an NFC Wild Card playoff game in January of 2017, the Seahawks smashed the Lions 26-6 at CenturyLink Field. Although this game happened just 22 months ago, the cast of players involved would make for some excellent “Remember him?” trivia. Thomas Rawls ran for a franchise playoff-record 161 yards for the Seahawks. Zach Zenner started at running back for the Lions. Both are currently out of the league. Marcell Reece caught a pass for the Seahawks. Anquan Boldin — Anquan Boldin! — caught two passes for the Lions. Both teams have undergone plenty of turnover since that game, the last time the Seahawks earned a playoff victory.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH
Justin Coleman vs. Golden Tate
A big test for Seattle’s nickel cornerback comes this week in the form of former Seahawk Golden Tate. The Lions’ slot receiver is a broken tackle waiting to happen. Tate does the majority of his damage underneath — his average targeted air yards of just 6.3 is near the bottom of the NFL for qualified pass-catchers — and often turns short catches into long gains with his shifty, powerful running skills. Tate averages 7 yards after catch per reception, a terrific number for a player rarely targeted in the deep passing game. Coleman, with help from the Seahawks’ linebackers, needs to be able to bring Tate down quickly and prevent big gains and long drives from Detroit.
Chris Carson vs. ‘Snacks’
No we’re not talking about Funyuns and Cocktail Pep — because clearly Carson and his chiseled frame has never had either — but instead new Lions defensive tackle Damon “Snacks” Harrison. Detroit traded for the All-Pro on Wednesday, and he should be able to suit up against the Seahawks on Sunday. According to Pro Football Focus, Harrison has been the top interior run defender in the NFL for three years running. The Seahawks have run 54 plays up the middle for an average gain of 5.63 yards, good for second in the league. Something has to give. Snacks will be waiting to take a bite out of Carson.
Seahawks vs. Ford Field Demons
Perhaps unknown to the newer generation of Seahawks fans, and forgotten by the rest of us for a variety reasons, Seattle actually played a Super Bowl on the turf at Ford Field in 2006. That’s right, Super Bowl XL, as much known for the controversial calls as the fact that the Seahawks fell to the Steelers 21-10, was played in Detroit. On a side note, the Seahawks have reached three Super Bowls in team history and TWO of them have been in cold-weather climates (also New York in 2014). The Seahawks have only returned to Detroit once since the fateful day, a 28-24 loss to the Lions in 2012. That was Week 8 of that season. This game is Week 8 of this season. It’s time for the Seahawks to exorcise a couple of demons on Sunday.
6.4 — The yards per carry from Lions running back Kerryon Johnson, second highest in the NFL. Similar to the Seahawks, Detroit has finally discovered a running game after years of futility. When Johnson eclipsed the 100-yard mark in Week 3, it snapped a staggering 70-game drought in which the Lions failed have a 100-yard rusher (that was Reggie Bush in 2013 on another episode of the Six Degrees of Pete Carroll). And they haven’t stopped there. Detroit had 248 yards on 35 carries in last week’s win over the Dolphins, with Johnson piling up 158 yards on the ground. The Lions have always been able to move the ball through the air. Add in a run game and their offense becomes extremely difficult to gameplan for.
DID YOU KNOW?
According to ESPN, the Seahawks sport the fifth-best pass blocking tackle tandem in the NFL. Say again? That’s right, the website recently listed Duane Brown and Germain Ifedi near the top of the NFL as a duo in Pass Block Win Rate, a metric used to describe which linemen can sustain their pass blocks for 2.5 seconds or longer. This is a staggering development for a team that gave up 12 sacks in the first two weeks of the season, with fans eagerly awaiting either the return of Breno Giacomini or George Fant’s promotion to starting right tackle. It’s time to back off Ifedi and give credit to he and offensive line coach Mike Solari for turning things around in such a dramatic fashion.
The words “gap” and “technique” often get tossed around when discussing offensive and defensive line play in football. It’s really not as complicated as it may sound. Think of gaps as the space between each offensive lineman. And each gap is assigned a letter. The “A” gap is the space on either side of the center, the “B” gap is between the guard and the tackle and the “C” gap is between the tackle and tight end, or just the outside of the tackle if no tight end is involved. Similarly on the defensive side of the ball, each lineman is assigned a number or “technique.” A “0-technique” lineman lines up directly over the center. In fact, all even numbers means a defensive lineman lines up face-to-face with his offensive counterpart (2-technique over the guard and 4-technique over the tackle, etc.). Odd numbers mean a defensive lineman is lined up in a gap. So a “1-technique” is lined up in the “A” gap and, a “3-technique” in the “B” gap and so on.
In honor of the Seahawks taking on Tate and the Lions in a morning game, a box of Top Pot doughnuts would be quite acceptable. In case you’ve forgotten, and really there’s no excuse for that, Tate was once issued a warning by police for wandering into a Top Pot at 3 a.m. craving a freshly baked maple bar. There’s a Top Pot in Edmonds, but also QFC and Fred Meyer carry the delicious pastries. A Bloody Mary would certainly pair well for a morning game, but if you’re more inclined for a bottle of suds, go with a Founders Breakfast Stout. Brewed in Grand Rapids, Michigan, this stout has a fresh-roasted java flavor perfect for a 10 a.m. contest.
Seahawks 28, Lions 24
The Seahawks seemed to have found a sense of identity and are feeling good coming off a win and a bye week. The Lions picked up a nice win last week against the Dolphins, have won two in a row and need to keep winning to stay afloat in the jumbled NFC North. These teams are similar in many ways and all signs point to a close contest, but Seattle squeezes this one out on some late heroics from Russell Wilson.