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Seahawks vs Lions preview: Highlighting 3 key matchups

NFL: Atlanta Falcons at Detroit Lions Lon Horwedel-USA TODAY Sports

The Seattle Seahawks are coming off another disappointing loss to the Atlanta Falcons. Despite taking the lead on four separate occasions during the game, Seattle was never able to take control, leaving the door open for the Falcons to win. The Seahawks offense had two possessions in the fourth quarter with an opportunity to go back ahead but negative plays prevented that from happening.

Seattle did have the edge in a few areas as Geno Smith passed for 325 yards, they sacked Marcus Mariota three times and they forced two turnovers, albeit one was on the final play of the first half. But as was the case in their Week 2 loss against the 49ers they did not win any of the key battles. This week’s game against the Detroit Lions should be another close game that will be decided by a few players, as DraftKings Sportsbook currently has the Seahawks as a 4-point underdog.

Lions running game vs Seattle’s Front 7

The Lions' running game has been dominant all season. Through their first three games they are averaging a league best 5.9 yards per carry, and rank 5th in rushing DVOA. There is an argument to be made that number is slightly skewed due to wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown having 68 rushing yards on 2 carries. Even if you were to remove those two runs, they would still be averaging 5.2 yards a tote which would be the fifth best mark in the league.

Detroit has done a great job all season in using pulling guards and tackles to either seal or open running lanes. We can see that in the first video where second-year tackle pick Penei Sewell fluidly is able to work down the line and beat defenders to the spot. Sewell is not just used exclusively as a pulling tackle as he has the play strength required to move defensive tackles which is shown on the second play. Detroit uses Sewell in a duo block on the play although, the guard has to quickly swipe off of it to pick to pick up #57. Once left on his own, Sewell is able to comfortably move Fletcher Cox, one of the better defensive tackles in the league, 6 yards with ease. This is something to look out for with the Seahawks’ Al Woods who has been able to blow up multiple running plays in the early part of the season. Detroit may call more duo blocks in mind with the intention of wiping Al Woods out of the play to open up gaping holes.

The edge - The Lions running game - Despite the fact Detroit will likely be playing this one without lead back D’Andre Swift, they have one of the better complementary backs in the league in Jamaal Williams. Williams has averaged 4.4 yards per carry in his last two contests and that should continue in this one. With how good the Lions offensive line has been this season, in addition to how poor Seattle’s run defense has been this season it is difficult to envision the Lions running game not having a big week this Sunday.

Aidan Hutchinson vs Seahawks Offensive Line

Despite being in only his fourth game as a pro, Hutchinson has the skillset required to take over a game as an edge rusher. Detroit has gotten creative with Hutchinson using him in both a two- and three-point stance as well as lining him up on the defenses left and right.

Despite having three sacks thus far he has not jumped off of the screen in the early part of the season in 1v1 passing rushing situations. Although, when Detroit has used him in stunts and twists, he has been a problem as it allows him to utilize his quick get off and downhill speed. Twists such as the two shown above showcase Hutchinson’s athleticism. He takes his first few steps downhill and then he quickly jump cuts inside whilst the interior defender is occupying both the guard and center. This in turn gives Hutchinson a clear path right at the quarterback for an easy pressure and potential sack.

The edge - Aidan Hutchinson - Despite the performances of Charles Cross and Abe Lucas, Seattle’s offensive line as a whole has not been great so far. The unit has only allowed 6 sacks thus far but still leaves a lot to be desired. Hutchinson has not been great either this season, but in situations like this one I am always going to choose the best player which is Hutchinson.

T.J. Hockenson vs Seahawks Secondary

T.J. Hockenson is a fluid route runner and a true weapon with the ball in his hands. On the first play Hutchinson runs an out route against a zone defense. Once he catches the ball, he immediately bounces off of two Packers defenders and then drags another two defenders with him turning what should have been a 15-yard gain into a 30-yard gain. On the second play Hockenson runs what looks like a post route out of the slot. He beats the defender to the spot inside and provides Jared Goff with a catchable target and goes up and gets it with his fingertips.

The edge - The secondary - Despite struggling against tight ends this year, I think Seattle should be able to hold Hockenson in check this week. Detroit is likely to be without wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown, who has yet to practice this week. As a result, Seattle should be able to turn more of their secondary attention to stopping Hockenson to try and force the likes of Josh Reynolds and Kalif Raymond to beat them in the air.

Week 3 review

Drake London vs Seattle’s corners

Predicted edge - London - Actual edge London

This was a toss-up as London did only account for 54 receiving yards and a touchdown on 3 receptions and 6 targets. Although, London’s 30-yard reception could have been an 88-yard touchdown had Marcus Mariota not underthrown the ball. Taking Mariota’s miss into account as well as the fact the Falcons only attempted 20 passes which helps explain his “small” stat line I give London the slight edge.

Grady Jarrett vs the IOL

Predicted edge - Jarrett - Actual edge Jarrett

Jarrett had a big day for the Falcons on Sunday totaling 4 solo tackles, 3 tackles for loss and what was essentially the game ending sack. Jarrett is a dominant interior defensive lineman, and he showed that throughout this game.

Cordarrelle Patterson vs Seattle’s front 7

Predicted edge - the front 7 - Actual edge - Patterson

I was badly wrong on this prediction. I thought Seattle was going to be able to stand firm against Cordarrelle Patterson, but he instead gashed the defense throughout the game rushing for 141 yards on 17 attempts.

(All advanced stats cited provided by Pro Football Reference)