The national media seems to be dismissing the Seahawks right now, “wild-card and done” and “the deteriorating defense” are being thrown around all over the place. But as Seahawks fans know, doubting them is the worst (or best!) thing you can do. They come alive into a whole different realm when things are stacked up against them. They take it to a different level that doesn’t seem humanly possible and they just “get it done” time after time.
The Texans are a legit NFL team, no doubt. Add into the mix a seemingly franchise QB in rookie Deshaun Watson who has thrown 14 touchdowns in his last 4 outings (only one of those games was on the road) and it sets up the perfect storm for Seattle to once again, get everyone fearing them in their home. When they’re playing it, nobody wants anything to do with their hard-hitting defense. This team can make the opposition beg for a bye week the following week and for good reason. They play as physical as they do smart, and that’s a recipe for wins in this league, make them scared to throw, make them scared to catch, make them scared to run. It’s all part of mental mind-set the Seahawks try to impose on their opponents and when it works, boy does it work well!
There is probably nowhere in the NFL a rookie quarterback would rather not play than CenturyLink Field. The noise, the atmosphere all comes together and can make seasoned vets stutter and doubt themselves, let alone first-year players throwing to the formidable Legion-of-Boom. Deer in the headlights springs to mind.
So how do the team win this game? Let’s take a look from both sides of the ball.
Offensively, it all comes down to execution. They have the talent to beat anyone, anywhere but if the execution isn’t there, it puts a strain on the defense which is where explosive plays happen, something the team must avoid. Keeping the ball moving down the field is also critical, going three-and-out and giving the Texans strong field position is a sure-fire way to let them get points on the board. Keep them deep in their own red-zone and force them to drive 90+ yards down the field and Watson will make an error at some point, let him start his drive at the 50-yard line and mistakes may not happen. Those goalposts look a lot further away when you’re starting your drive at the 10.
I’d like to see the offensive line continue their linear positive curve in pass-protection and hope Ethan Pocic takes more snaps at LG this week, he didn’t give up a single pressure last week which begs the question of why he hasn’t started earlier? Perhaps he stole Tom Cable’s lunch money. Or Chris Foerster’s cocaine.
Tyler Lockett also seems to be recovering from his brutal injury last season and is at about 80-90% speed, I’d expect him to be used to open the field and hopefully catch the attention of the Texans free safety Andre Hal giving one-on-one coverage to the likes of Baldwin, Richardson and Graham.
Defensively is where both teams really shine, though. No doubt both teams will score but this game will, once again, be on the D’s shoulders to take over. I’m not saying Russell Wilson and co will have a bad game, just that this game will be won by who has the more prolific defense on the day.
Don’t get too excited about not having to face J.J. Watt, Whitney Mercilus and Brian Cushing, the Texans have strong depth at all three spots and their replacements are playing at an adequate-to-good level. Defensively, the Texans don’t excel at anything, but are very much rounded and good at all aspects, especially playmaking. I wouldn’t be surprised if this game absolutely ruined Wilson’s turnover stats.
Houston has some legit receivers in their group, DeAndre Hopkins & Will Fuller have combined for 536 yards and 11 touchdowns between them. Expect to see #25 following Hopkins in man-coverage.
Something that should make Hawks fans salivate, however, is that 89% of Houston’s points have come from bottom 12 defenses. Does that mean they will struggle against Seattle’s D? Absolutely not. Is it a good indication and something to be optimistic about? You bet…
I’m looking forward to this game far more than I was at the start of the season, Seattle is starting to find it’s groove with 3 straight wins and it’s first home game in just under a month, the path to the playoffs is looking brighter and if the Hawks can get into their notorious mid-season swing, watch out opposing teams.
As always, go hawks!
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