If you would have told me at the start of the season that this weekend was a pivotal one for both of these teams, I probably would not have believed you.
Let’s start with the Seattle Seahawks…only because if they win against the Kansas City Chiefs, they will become the biggest fans of the Detroit Lions as they take on the 8-1 Arizona Cardinals.
The Seahawks seemed to have righted themselves after a rocky start. I think it was a wake-up call when they traded Percy Harvin to the Jets. It allowed the team to get back to what they are: a team that needs to establish run and play solid defense. Hang around until the 4th quarter and then take over the game.
I have found it very interesting over these past few weeks listening to sports talk shows, mainly the Danny, Dave and More show on 710 ESPN radio here in Seattle.
There is an understated sense of panic about these Seahawks. At the start of the year, the Hawks changed the focus of their team and got away from what had made them so successful last year when they build the offense around Percy Harvin. There is no denying that Harvin is a special talent. But to paraphrase a famous line from Bull Durham, “million dollar talent but a .10 cent head” sums him up perfectly.
I applauded the quick reaction taken by the Seahawks when it just wasn’t working with Harvin…they cut their losses and got back to being the team they were last year, giving the ball to Marshawn Lynch as well as letting Russell Wilson take command of the team late in games. It’s no surprise the Hawks are 3-1 since the departure of Harvin.
We must also take into consideration the considerable amount of talent that left the building after the Super Bowl. Many of the second team players on the squad last year could have started on a lot of teams. And every player in the NFL wants to be a starter.
Also, did everyone expect all other teams not to improve? Arizona already had one heckuva defense as well as the Rams. The Cardinals are winning because Bruce Arians is one helluva coach and they made some very smart moves to improve the offense.
The Seahawks have a very tough game ahead of them in Kansas City, one I would consider a must win. Both teams are set up similarly, with great running backs (Hawks with Lynch and Chiefs with Jamal Charles). Both teams have quarterbacks that make few mistakes with the ball, Russell Wilson of the Hawks and Alex Smith with Kansas City.
So what is it going to take for the Hawks to win? First and foremost, they have to take the crowd out of the game. Opening drive needs to be a long, sustained drive with seven points on the board. The defense needs to keep the Chief offense off the field. Smith loves to throw to his running backs and tight-ends so it would be wise to cover them. They are a “move the chains” team and while they do take their shots down the field, that would play into Seattle’s strength, allowing the secondary to make some big plays.
As for the Lions against the Cardinals, all I can say is this is going to be one heck of a game. The Lions appear to have shed the image of not being a good road team. They did play flat against the Falcons in London for 3-1/2 quarters but came alive to win that game.
We may have caught a break with the injury to Carson Palmer…but ex-Lion Drew Stanton has the backing of Bruce Arians has he convinced the team to go after him in free agency. Arians has so much confidence in Stanton, he feels that he should be a starter in the NFL.
No player wants to see a teammate get hurt but many times, it’s the only way to get your shot.
Lions will need to put the game in Stanton’s hands by stopping the run game and putting the Cardinals in 3rd and long situations. Stanton is only completing 49% of his passes so the more pressure put on him, the better off the Lions will be. But they will need to contain him since he can run.
I imagine that after tomorrow, I am going to be pretty hoarse…I’ll be nervous and jittery as I cheer on my two hometown teams. But my heart will be mostly with the Lions.
Enjoy tomorrow everyone…this is what NFL football is about!