Okay, okay. So the Lions disappointed us last week against the Vikes (curse you, Austin Seibert and your right hip abductor!). This week, we welcome Russ... I mean Eugene Cyril Smith II and the Seattle Seahawks to Ford Field. This looks like a winnable game on paper, but the last two weeks or so have shown that our relative inexperience can lead us to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory sometimes.
So what does the paper say? Let's break down the Seattle roster, look at their stats, and make some predictions that are 100% (not) going to come true. Just like the team needs to adapt with roughly a fifth of our roster DNP'ing on Wednesday, I too shall adapt and make these previews a bit easier to read. We'll follow the same general structure, but with much less to read.
2-1-0, 3rd in NFC West, 15th in NFC, 28th in NFL
Expected W/L: 0.8-2.2
Geno is having a remarkably efficient season as Seattle's QB1 after Drew couldn't Lock down the starting gig. He's completing 77.5% of his passes (79/102) for 717 yards, 4 TDs and 2 INTs, as well as running 10 times for 15 yards. History could repeat itself, as Smith took his first live NFL snaps against the Lions in the '13 preseason, completing 6 of his 7 passes for 47 yards and an ankle injury. His O-line has allowed pressure on 25.5% of his dropbacks for 9 hurries, 13 hits, and 6 sacks for 52 yards. The combination of these suggests he's getting the ball out quick to his playmakers and trusting them to create offence, meaning that we can perhaps negate the massive hole that Tracy's injury has left in our secondary by avoiding deep passes.
On the ground, it seems after the Penny dropped Week 14 last season, he has taken the reins as their lead back. He has toted the ball 32 times for 141 yards (4.4 ypc) so far this season, so 7 more times for 29 fewer yards than he did against us in Week 17 last season. However, the emergence of Penny didn't stop them from drafting Heismann candidate and Spartan hero Kenneth Walker III. Walker has been handed the ball 7 times for 29 yards. Dallas in Seattle has 3 carries for 21 yards. The worrying thing is that more of these yards have come before contact than after, suggesting that it is the backs who are creating yards rather than the OL making big holes. This means it'll be on our LBs and safeties to wrap up and get them down when they get to the second level.
For a man who's been talking some mad smack about Jefe, Metcalf hasn't really been playing that well. He's only brought in 64% of his targets (16/25) for 135 yards, 7 first downs, 1 TD and a 74.6 passer rating when targeted. On Sunday, he'll eat his words. It's his teammate Lockett who has been their most targeted WR, catching 81% of his targets (21/26) for 211 yards, 11 first downs, no TDs and a 68.4 rating. Amani better have a bounceback game against him or his ass might be on the grass. The tight ends have also been involved in the passing game, with Fant getting 10 targets for 9 catches, 54 yards, 2 first downs and an 89.2 rating. Dissly has caught all 8 of his targets for 77 yards, 3 first downs, 1 TD and a 146.4 rating when targeted. Unlike during his time at MSU, Walker has been getting involved in the passing game, bringing in 5 of his 6 targets for 19 yards and a 79.9 passer rating. Luckily for whoever is going to cover the slot for us, Goodwin has only been targeted 7 times for 4 catches, 53 yards, 2 first downs, and an 81.2 rating.
So, how should Glenn and co. set up the defence to nullify the Seahawk offence? For starters, continue to have Okudah matched up on their biggest physical threat. Let him personally show Metcalf the error of his ways. Give Amani one last chance against Lockett, especially with Iffy fully acclimatised in training now and Jacobs being close to returning as well. I would say the same for Mike Hughes in the slot, but I think starting Lucas might help with communication issues due to his high football IQ. Given their recent good play, continue to let Rodrigo, AA and Board roam the middle of the park to stop the run. For now, start JuJu Hughes in Tracy's spot, but keep him on a short leash because live game snaps can only help in Kerby's development. Upfront, rotate, both to avoid further injuries but also to not let the Seattle OL settle, as moving and rotating players can let Wash and Glenn get creative with scheming up pressures.
Seattle is not good against the run. So even if Swift doesn't suit up, we should be able to make gains on the ground if we so choose. Woods leads the team with 3 TFLs, along with 13 combined tackles (10 solo) and 2 missed tackles (13%). Brooks is their leading tackler with 32 combined (23 solo) and has also missed 2 further tackles (6%). Barton has 26 combined tackles (15 solo) with 2 TFLs. The other factors in the run game have been Taylor (6 solo tackles, 2 TFLs), Nwosu (13 combined [7 solo], 1 TFL), Mafe (7 combined [6 solo], 1 TFL), Jefferson (6 combined [2 solo], 1 TFL), and Harris (3 combined [1 solo], 1 TFL). Ford has 6 combined tackles (5 solo) but with no TFLs. Therefore, I believe we can run our inside zone scheme without too much worry about if Seattle can stop it. The only issue we might have is getting explosive runs if Swift is not healthy, as Jamaal's longest run has been 15 yards, and Reynolds' was 11 yards.
In terms of pass rush, their leader is Nwosu with 6 pressures (1 hurry, 4 QB knockdowns, and 1 sack). On the opposite side, Taylor has 5 pressures (2 hurries, 2 knockdowns, and 1 sack). The rookie out of Minnesota has 4 pressures (3 hurries and 1 sack). Along the line, Jefferson leads the way with 3 pressures (1 hurry, 1 knockdown, and 1 sack). Woods has 2 pressures from the nose (1 hurry and 1 knockdown), with Harris also having the same statline. Poona has had a poona time rushing the QB so far, generating 1 pressure (a knockdown). On 6 blitzes, Barton has 1 pressure (1 sack) and Brooks has none. I can trust Sewell and Decker against their edges, but if Logan Stenburg is put back into the lineup at RG, I could see pressure coming from Jefferson and Harris.
Coverage-wise, targeting the middle is once again the name of the game. This is because their outside corners have been decent so far. The Smooth Criminal has had 50% of his targets completed (6/12) for 83 yards, 2 PBUs, no TDs and a 72.6 passer rating when targeted. Former Roadrunner Woolen has allowed 5 passes on 12 targets (42%) for 90 yards, 2 PBUs, 1 INT, no TDs and a 33.3 rating. Given the injuries to Chark and Reynolds, this is concerning. In the slot, Bryant has a 71% completion rate in coverage (5/7) for 98 yards, 1 TD and a 153.3 rating. Once again, the Sun God has a good matchup in his favour if his ankle doesn't become his Achilles heel, especially as 73% of the yards allowed by Bryant have come after the catch. Former Lion, who was forced to grow wings by Quintricia, Quandre Diggs has allowed 3 catches on 5 targets for 46 yards, 1 TD and a 130 passer rating in coverage. Josh Jones, the former stinky Cheesehead corner turned Seahawk safety, has allowed 7 catches on 11 targets (64%) for 104 yards, 1 TD and a 124.8 rating. It is their linebackers who are the true weakness in coverage. Barton has allowed catches on all 11 of his targets for 109 yards, no TDs and a 108.0 passer rating. Brooks has a 91% completion rate in coverage (10/11) for 110 yards, no TDs, and a 108.3 rating.
So how will Ben Johnson and Dan Campbell attack this defence? Short answer: through the middle with the run to set up easy completions over the middle to Hock and St Brown when the LBs creep too close to the line. Given his athleticism, ithe Seahawks will try and match Woolen up on Chark. However, since Seattle runs a heavy Cover 3 zone scheme, Johnson will be able to move our receivers around to exploit matchups. Therefore, I could see Reynolds' route running stymying Woolen given his rookie status, while Chark's speed and height will likely cause Jackson issues so Diggs will have to stay over the top. I can also see ARSB giving Bryant problems, and our tight ends and backs giving the LBs and Jones problems.
Our kick coverage team needs to be on point to limit Dallas on his returns. Inversely, if Myers' kicks don't reach the endzone, Jackson better take advantage to make Seattle pay.
Keys to Victory:
Lockdown Lockett- I trust Okudah to make Metcalf regret his remarks and limit big plays. But whoever starts at the other outside corner spot better limit Lockett too or things could get ugly.
Count the pennies- We don't want a repeat of last year. Stop the run, force Seattle to be one-dimensional, and we can win.
Attack the middle- Jamaal is good power back. Duce likes to run inside zone concepts a lot. Seattle's IDL is weak against the run. This is a match made in heaven for us and a dance with the devil for Seattle.
Be consistent- This goes for the offence, defence, special teams, and coaching. We can't make the same mistakes we have time and time again that have cost us games.
Goff- 23/36, 260 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs, 103.9 passer rating/2 sacks, 11 yards lost/1 rush, 7 yards
Williams- 18 rushes, 75 yards, 2 TDs/3 targets, 2 catches, 15 yards
ARSB- 9 targets, 8 catches, 95 yards, 1 TD/1 rush, 20 yards
Harris- 3 tackles, 1 TFL, 3 pressures, 1 sack
Anzalone- 10 tackles, 1.5 TFLs, 1 pressure
Okudah- 7 tackles, 2 PBUs, 1 INT
Smith- 27/39, 290 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, 88.6 passer rating/2 sacks, 15 yards lost/5 rushes, 20 yards
Penny- 12 rushes, 50 yards/2 targets, 1 catch, 10 yards
Lockett- 10 targets, 8 catches, 85 yards, 1 TD
Nwosu- 3 tackles, 0.5 TFLs, 2 pressures, 1 sack
Brooks- 12 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 pressure
Woolen- 9 tackles
Hot take: Myers kicks as many FGs as Fox punts the ball
Score: Lions 34, Seahawks 26
How do you think the game will go? Can our Lions restore our Pride, or will the Seahawks peck us to defeat? Who do you think will be the stat leaders, and what will the final score be?
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