Game Preview: Seattle Seahawks (3-3) at Detroit Lions (2-4)

The Detroit Lions have not been mathematically eliminated from Wild Card contention, but their playoff hopes are flickering.

The Detroit Lions have not been mathematically eliminated from Wild Card contention, but their playoff hopes are flickering.

Do or die for the Detroit Lions. Their wildcard playoff lives still hangs in the balance after a 2-4 start with a division championship on the back burner unless some other North teams start losing some games. Next team up, the 4-3 Seattle Seahawks. The game is back in the friendly confines of Ford Field that won’t remain friendly if Detroit drops this game like the fumbles and redzone drops of the first 6 weeks.

The stats

After a 7 point garbage time fumble filled effort in Chicago, Detroit offensively has dropped to 22.2 PPG including 19 , 13 and 7 point outings against the best defenses they have faced in the 49ers, Vikings and Bears.

Detroit will be tested once again by a tough defense on Sunday at 1pm. Seattle only allows 15.1 PPG, 212 Passing Yards per game(8th), 57.8% completion and 85 rush yards per game(6th) at a 3.7 YPC average. Seattle’s defense has talent and brings pressure as they have 19 sacks, 23 QB hits and 78 hurries in 7 games. Detroit’s Oline counters with very good pass protection allowing 12 sacks(9), 12 hits and 45 hurries in 6 games with a +23.5 grade from PFF due to the high number of passing attempts but low sack/hit/hurry totals.

Seattle’s “offense” on the other hand shouldn’t test Detroit. Seattle only scores 16.6 PPG offensively led by rookie QB Russell Wilson. Seattle only passes for 162 YPG and has 59.4% completion with Wilson at the helm. The run game is more worrisome as Seattle runs for 131 YPG(8th) led by Beast Mode Marshawn Lynch at 4.4 YPC.

Detroit defense is giving up only 18 PPG defensively (25 PPG total) after a good outing against Chicago. Detroit gives up 211 YPG(6th) passing so they shouldn’t have trouble with the rookie Wilson. Detroit is bringing more pressure the last two weeks and have 17 sacks, 26 hits and 46 hurries in 6 games. Seattle’s Oline has given up 14 sacks(7), 13 hits and 60 hurries in 7 games with a -5.3 grade from PFF. Detroit should be able to bring pressure at home.

Match-ups

Beast Mode/scrambles vs. Lions run defense

Lions run defense has been hit or miss this season. Lions rank 16th allowing 108.8 YPG and 4.1 YPC. Last week against the Bears, Detroit was gashed for a big run early(39 yarder) and 2 Cutler scrambles along with some timely good Michael Bush runs. However, AFTER the Forte 39 yard run and not counting the scrambles which are really passing plays, Detroit only gave up 3.4 YPC to Forte and Bush combined for most of the game(27 carries). Detroit must not let Lynch get a big run early and continue to have solid run defense. Wilson is mobile so they need to be aware on passing plays for a scramble, but this sometimes breaks down depending on the aggressiveness of the pass rush and how the routes are run leaving openings. Lynch averages 93.1 YPG and 4.4 YPC so he is the number one threat for Seattle. He is a big back and tough to tackle so the entire Lions defense must tackle well especially the Linebackers to limit big gains.

Lions Run Game vs. Seattle Defense

Seattle’s defense is stingy against the run(6th) and the Lions should be used to that after playing the Bears, 49ers and Vikings. LeShoure and Bell were efficient on Monday night but did not secure the ball at crucial moments. The Lions must fix ball security to avoid Seattle adding to their 4 forced fumble total. The Seahawks are led by DT Brandon Mebane in run defense but have very good LBs in Bobby Wagner, Leroy Hill, KJ Wright all are positive in run defense. Brandon Browner and Richard Sherman are big corners that can tackle and safeties Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas are also very good in run defense. It is a team effort by Seatte with the only weak link at DE from Chris Clemons, Bruce Irvin and Jason Jones. However, given Jeff Backus’ run blocking struggles, Detroit will need to be creative to find holes to run and LeShoure and Bell will have to fight for extra yards, hopefully with more ball security.

Seattle Pressure

Lions have had good pass protection most of the year. Seattle has the talent to challenge them. Chris Clemons has 7 sacks, 5 hits and 21 hurries after a big day against Green Bay, Bruce Irvin has 4.5 sacks ,4 hits and 10 hurries, Jason Jones adds 2.5 sacks, 3 hits and 7 hurries and Brandon Mebane has 2 sacks on top of his exceptional run defense. If Backus limits Clemons, Stafford should have the time to turn around his first half and redzone passing woes.

Megatron vs. Browner/Sherman

Both are big CBs with great coverage per PFF and will be a great challenge for Calvin Johnson. They have the size and speed to match up with Calvin and both make Seattle’s secondary a nightmare to face. On Monday night, shutting down Calvin by Charles Tillman, shut down the Lions offense with the aid of some fumbles too. If Sherman and Browner can do the same on Sunday, Detroit may be in for a low scoring affair.

Titus Young and Ryan Broyles showed signs of life in the second half Monday for Detroit and they absolutely must show up early and often against Seattle facing the Sherman/Browner left over and nickel back Marcus Trufant. Seattle’s safeties of Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor historically are good in coverage but Thomas has struggled surprisingly a little this year. Scheffler and Pettigrew must keep that trend continuing against Thomas so Detroit can get in the endzone more than once.

Lions Pass Defense vs. Wilson and his weapons

Lions pass defense has done well with the return of Louis Delmas to the lineup limiting the big passing plays. Sidney Rice and his 312 yards and 2 TDS is Seattle’s biggest threat. He’s a big receiver with speed and should challenge Chris Houston who has been playing great since Week 3 for Detroit following his injury. Rookie 6th round pick Jonte Green and re-tread Alphonso Smith did surprisingly well in their first action on Monday Night holding Cutler to 150 yards. Smith did get beat when facing Marshall however so Detroit should hope they don’t get a Rice/Smith matchup if rookie Dwight Bentley(shoulder) and concussed Jacob Lacey can’t play. Golden Tate and Braylon Edwards should be a tough matchup for Green and Smith however, but Doug Baldwin is injured.

Also, Amari Spievey had another concussion against Chicago unfortunately and since this is his second this calendar year likely won’t play. This leaves Delmas and veteran Erik Coleman at safety to combat the efficient Zach Miller (14 catches in 18 targets at Tight End for Seattle.

You should see a heavy dose of Marshawn Lynch and Robert Turbin unless Detroit finally gets an early lead but when Wilson does pass, Detroit must pressure Wilson and limit the dink and dunk of the West Coast offense and avoid big game changing plays.

Special teams

Detroit seems to have fixed their coverage the last 2 games but Leon Washington is another dangerous returner. With Erik Coleman, returning to the starting lineup this could hurt special teams. Also, Stefan Logan must hold onto the ball. Historcially, he has only lost one fumble a year so Detroit fans hope Monday night was the last lost fumble.

Prediction

Must win for Detroit for the season. This is Week 1 of do or die. Detroit does pull out a win this one limiting Lynch, forcing Wilson to turn the ball over. However, given Seattle’s defense, it should be a low scoring close game.

Detroit 17 Seattle 14

How it could go wrong?

  1. Lynch runs wild
  2. More bad Detroit turnovers at the wrong time taking away points
  3. Leon Washington big return
  4. Sherman/Browner shut down Calvin

Must win for Detroit. One game at a time and Seattle is a tough opponent. They are tougher in Seattle so luckily this is in Detroit but Detroit must avoid the 2-3 crucial mistakes that have cost them 4 losses. Live to see another day Detroit. 2-5 would be awfully tough to recover.

About the author

Known as much for his in-depth analytical articles and statistically intensive style as his sometimes brash and confrontational tone, Russ Thomas covers the Detroit Lions beat for the Water Cooler Sports Network. Feel free to contact him at .