The Seattle Seahawks are the next team up for the Detroit Lions, and regardless of record, this game isn't the cakewalk many might have you think it is. Seattle has already toppled one NFC North titan in Green Bay (yes, with the help of replacement officials) but they've also beaten New England and played San Francisco tough on the road. Strangely, the most impressive thing about the Seahawks is their much improved defense, and specifically, their underrated pass defense. For the Lions to succeed this weekend, they'll have to take a dramatic step forward throwing the ball and getting in the end zone.
Below are a few other players and match ups to watch out for this Sunday:
Seahawks Offensive Difference Maker: Marshawn Lynch. He doesn't come with the name of LeSean McCoy or the pedigree of Matt Forte, but for the third week in a row, the Lions are going to have to win a defensive battle against a tough opposing running back. They stopped McCoy, but failed to contain Forte Monday night, which helped in their demise as much as turnovers. It's hard to bring Lynch down, so it will take a committed tackling effort from everyone to stop him. The last thing Jim Schwartz and Gunther Cunningham want is Russell Wilson getting his running game going. If that's the case. the Seahawks can use play action and bootlegs all day long, helping their offense to move the ball better.
Seahawks Defensive Difference Maker: Richard Sherman. The same guy who had the gall to ask Tom Brady if he was "mad, bro" and called Jim Harbaugh a bully is talking again. This time, he's referring to himself as "Optimus Prime" on Twitter in reference to Calvin Johnson being called "Megatron." The implication is, of course, that Sherman plans on shutting down the Lions' best receiver. Sherman has been good in 2012, leading Seattle with three interceptions and playing sticky defense on a few of the NFL's better wide outs. If the Lions want to win, they'll need to quiet Sherman down by hitting some deep passes on him and his mates. As with any defensive back/receiver battle, it's all about pride and who wants it more. Seattle's players have been playing with an edge while the Lions pass catchers have looked very disinterested and sloppy. Might that play a role this week?
Seahawks Major Problem: Offensive consistency. For Detroit, the good news is, Seattle isn't a team that's going to run away and hide with a huge offense. They rank 31st in passing yards and young Wilson has been intercepted seven times. The rushing offense ranks eighth in the NFL, which puts pressure on Lynch to run well given the fact the Lions have been respectable against the pass recently. The offensive line will need to protect Wilson and get a good push if the Seahawks want to win. Scoring 14-21 points might not get it done on the road in a tough environment if the Lions' defenders are hot and playing motivated.
Seahawks Major Strength: Pass defense. They've only given up six touchdowns while intercepting six passes. As far as yardage is concerned, they're only giving up 213 yards a game, good for eighth in the NFL. Given the Lions have struggled throwing the ball against anyone lately, these numbers can't make Schwartz and company feel good. Detroit will need to get a better game out of Mikel Leshoure on the ground to help set up the pass. Then, when the ball is thrown to them, the Lions' receivers cannot be dropping easy passes. Stupid mistakes in the passing game have cost the Lions in their four losses, and Matthew Stafford and company need to be operating efficiently to outfox a good passing defense.
Biggest Intangible: A feisty home crowd. Nobody in Detroit is happy with the Lions' poor start. This will be the first home game in two weeks, so fans should be more than ready to get into it. How might that affect a rookie quarterback with an offense that can't always finish drives? Like Detroit, Seattle will need to avoid bad turnovers on the road. If they can't, they will be doomed because the Lions' crowd should be more than fired up. Wilson's last two starts indoors were ugly losses (against Arizona and St. Louis), so that's definitely something to look out for on Sunday afternoon. If he improves, Seattle's got a shot. Should he throw the ball around, they're in trouble.
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