The Seattle Seahawks will be looking to get back to the .500 mark on Monday night as they will take on the Detroit Lions in another must-win game for both teams. Detroit won the last meeting in the regular season between these two back on Oct. 28, 2012, defeating the Seahawks 28-24 in a thrilling finish at Ford Field.
Last week, thanks to a 105-yard kickoff return from Tyler Lockett at the start of the second half the Seahawks pulled away from an overmatched Chicago Bears team 26-0 to get their first win of the season. Offensively, the Seahawks finally got into a little bit of rhythm, especially in the second half by getting Russell Wilson on the move and Jimmy Graham involved more in the passing game. They also got a big-time contribution from Thomas Rawls, who had 16 carries for 104 yards in place of the injured Marshawn Lynch. Rawls also showed some good signs of quickness as well, which brought a different dynamic to the Seattle running attack.
Detroit comes into this matchup as a wounded animal that will play with reckless abandon in order to save its season. Matthew Stafford has struggled with taking care of the football, as he has already thrown five interceptions. Also, the Lions have not had much of anything that resembled a running game in 2015 and that is a recipe for disaster at CenturyLink Field, as Seattle's defense will be looking to tee off on Stafford and the Detroit offensive line. This game also will mark the first one back in Seattle for Lions wide receiver Golden Tate. I am sure Kam Chancellor and the Legion of Boom will welcome their former teammate with open arms, as in an early bone-crushing hit or two.
Detroit at Seattle
Kickoff: 8:30 p.m. ET (Monday)
TV Channel: ESPN
Spread: Seattle -9.5
Three Things to Watch
1. Fast start for the Seahawks' offense
The Seahawks have been notoriously slow starters in the first half on the offensive side of the ball. It is incumbent on offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell and offensive line coach Tom Cable to get Russell Wilson on the move early and get the team in rhythm immediately from the start. Whether it’s coming out with more of an up-tempo type of offensive attack, which the Seahawks tend to thrive in, remains to be seen. It would be wise against a desperate team like the Lions to get an early score on say the opening drive so, then the defense can pin its ears back and go after Matthew Stafford and the Lions' suspect offensive line.
2. Richard Sherman vs. Calvin Johnson
This is what makes the NFL great — one-on-one matchups between two of the league's elite players at their respective positions. Johnson was held in check for the most part during the 2012 matchup at Ford Field, as he had three catches for 46 yards. Sherman is still looking for his first interception of the 2015 season and no doubt will enjoy the bright lights of the national spotlight on Monday night. It will be a great opportunity for Sherman to go toe-to-toe once again with Johnson and more importantly,get his first interception of the season to break the ice for the Legion of Boom.
3. Seahawks' running game without Marshawn Lynch
The team announced Sunday that Lynch would not play tonight because of a hamstring injury, so veteran Fred Jackson and newcomer Thomas Rawls will be counted on to shoulder the load in the backfield. This will end a Lynch's consecutive games streak wtih the Seahawks at 61. Jackson can catch passes out of the backfield and keep things stabilized if Lynch is out for an extended period of time. Rawls showed signs of potential with his performance against the Bears last Sunday, so the combination of these two along with Wilson using his legs will be able to keep defenses at bay for a few weeks at least. The Seahawks just need to survive as long as they can without Lynch and get him healthy for the second half of the season when they will need him the most. Also, with these injuries popping up with Lynch the reality is going to have to set in for the 12s and the local Seattle media that it's time the Seahawks prepare for life without Lynch, especially with all the uncertainty surrounding the different injuries he has already dealt with this season.
Look for the Seahawks to get out of the blocks offensively with an early score and will come out flying defensively as well against Detroit. Jimmy Graham should get another six or so receptions for about 70-80 yards and another touchdown. Russell Wilson will take it upon himself to create an extra 50-60 yards in the running game or more to complement Fred Jackson and Thomas Rawls. Defensively, look for defensive coordinator Kris Richard to unleash the hounds and blitz more than normal and show no respect, rightfully so, for the Lions' running game. In the end Seattle wins this game going away to get to 2-2 without much difficulty.
Prediction: Seahawks 27, Lions 13
— Written by Scott Whittum, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and also writes for College Sports Madness, covering college football, basketball, softball and baseball. Follow him on Twitter @scottwhittum.