A rough season of home games for football fans at the college and professional level in Seattle reaches its conclusion on Sunday as the Seattle Seahawks host the Detroit Lions. If you combine the home records of the Washington Huskies and the Seahawks heading into Sunday, fans have been treated to a 4-10 home record between the two teams. This week's game involves a pair of teams playing for pride and future employment in the NFL, even if many players don’t return to their current teams for the 2022 season.
It was another hard-fought loss for the Lions (2-12-1) last week as they lost 20-16 to the Atlanta Falcons in Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Tim Boyle completed 24 of 34 passes for 187 yards, one touchdown, and an interception. Unfortunately, that wasn't enough, as the Lions failed to score more than 17 points in a game for the 11th time this season. One of the biggest reasons was the lack of production in the red zone, as Detroit failed to score on all four such trips on Sunday. The defense held up its end of the bargain, holding Atlanta to 254 yards while registering three sacks.
Seattle (5-10) played its third-ever snow game in the history of Lumen Field, and for a while, it looked like it didn't affect the home team too much, nursing a 24-14 lead over the Chicago Bears in the fourth quarter. But the Seahawks failed to finish off the game, losing 25-24 to secure a last-place finish in their division for the first time since the 1996 season. The pressure on head coach Pete Carroll has gone up after this loss, as this is the first time he has had a season of double-digit losses in Seattle. Rashaad Penny was a bright spot on offense with 133 rushing yards and a touchdown on just 17 carries. Once again, the defense was on the field way too long and couldn't get the Bears, who converted half of their third-down attempts, off the field at critical points of the game.
Detroit (2-12-1) at Seattle (5-10)
Kickoff: Sun, Jan. 2 at 4:25 pm ET
Spread: Seahawks -7
Three Things to Watch
1. Seattle offense
Russell Wilson had another average performance against the Bears, completing 16 of 27 passes for 181 yards and two touchdowns. There were accuracy issues, and his knack for holding on to the football too long cost the Seahawks in the fourth quarter. Up 24-17 with about halfway through the final period, Wilson had a third-and-4 deep inside Chicago territory (8-yard line). Wilson took a 13-yard loss on a sack by Robert Quinn, and then Jason Myers missed the subsequent 39-yard field goal attempt. Instead of potentially salting the game away, the door was left open for the Bears, who made the most of the opportunity by scoring the winning touchdown (and 2-point conversion) with a little more than a minute left on the clock. Wilson must improve his decision-making this week to win the game. Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf both need to see plenty of targets on intermediate passing routes, although the weather could be a factor once again with the forecast calling for rain showers. Penny needs to continue to get his touches too after recording 100-yard games in two of the last three contests.
2. Detroit's offense
The good news for the Lions is that after missing four games with a shoulder sprain, leading rusher D'Andre Swift is expected back. Swift is Detroit's best offensive weapon; he can make things happen both as a rusher and receiver and leads the team with seven total touchdowns. He and Jamaal Williams will give head coach Dan Campbell two solid options in the backfield to help Boyle, who is expected to start again at quarterback in place of an injured Jared Goff. After missing last week's game because he was on the Reserve/COVID-19 list, Goff is doubtful for Sunday with a knee injury. Boyle posted 187 yards (on 24-of-34 passing) with a touchdown and an interception last week against Atlanta, but the return of Swift and the shape of Seattle's injury-ravaged secondary could set him up for more success. Boyle figures to look for wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown early and often, as the rookie leads the team with 94 receptions. He caught nine passes for 91 yards and a touchdown last week.
3. Seahawks' defense
Injuries can be assigned some of the blame, but the reality is this Seattle defense is ranked second to last in the league at 385.5 yards allowed per game allowed. The Seahawks have done an excellent job of limiting the damage on the scoreboard (20.5 ppg, tied for seventh), but this is a unit that's seemingly headed for a host of changes during the offseason. One of the big questions on this side of the ball is the future of longtime fixture Bobby Wagner. The six-time, first-team All-Pro linebacker once again leads the NFL in tackles and has been named to his eighth Pro Bowl. However, this could be the final home game at Lumen Field for Wagner, who carries a $20 million cap hit for the 2022 season. That, combined with the team potentially headed to a full-on rebuild, could mean that Wagner, 31, will be looking for a new team. It will be interesting to see if the defense rallies around Wagner to send him off on his potential last ride with a tremendous effort. The line must win the battle at the line of scrimmage and contain Detroit's running game early. This will make it easier to pressure an untested Boyle and try and force him into some mistakes. An early turnover or two also could help give Wilson and the offense a much-needed boost of confidence if they can turn those takeaways into points (preferably touchdowns).
The Lions will play hard in all three phases as they have all season long for Campbell in his first year as head coach. On the other hand, the Seahawks are a bit of a mystery since you don't know how they will respond now that they have been eliminated from playoff contention. With two games left and no justifiable reason to tank since the Jets have their first-round pick, it would be in everyone's best interest to put their best foot forward. That is why the game will be competitive for four quarters and neither team will pull away from the other. Unless Swift goes nuts in his return (which could happen), Seattle should have enough firepower to outlast Detroit and win its last home game during what has been a disappointing season.