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Week 2 preview: Seahawks vs. Lions under the big top in Motor City

The elements won’t be an issue on Sunday, but the opponent might be.

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Seattle Seahawks v Detroit Lions Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Fresh off a devastating loss against a team they were expected to beat, the Seattle Seahawks travel to Detroit this week to face a well-rested Detroit Lions team that has won nine of their last eleven regular season games, including an impressive victory over the defending Super Bowl Champions last Thursday.

Sunday’s 10am game will be the third matchup between the Seahawks and Lions in as many years. Seattle came out on top in 2021 and 2022, and in the three matchups before that as well. In fact, the Seahawks have won eight of their last nine games against the Lions with only one loss since the turn of the century.

DraftKings Sportsbook is favoring Detroit by 5.5 points in this one, though.

Which is as it should be.

What’s at stake on Sunday

It’s too early in the season to call this a “must win” game for the Seahawks, but it’s probably fair to say there’s some added importance given the three points below:

One. Since the 1970 merger, less than 10% of the teams that started a season 0-2 made the playoffs.

Of the 14 teams that made the playoffs last season, only the Cincinnati Bengals started the season 0-2. Before that, no 0-2 teams had made the playoffs since the Seahawks and the Texans accomplished the feat in 2018.

So, yes, it’s possible to make the playoffs after starting 0-2, but it isn’t very likely.

Two. The NFC West currently has two teams, the Los Angeles Rams and the San Francisco 49ers, sitting at 1-0, with the other two teams sitting at 0-1. The two 1-0 teams face each other in Week 2. Barring a tie, one of them will be 2-0.

Thus, if the Seahawks lose to the Lions on Sunday, they’ll be two games behind the NFC West leader, which may end up being an insurmountable deficit.

Three. Head-to-head tiebreakers matter. Just ask the Lions.

Last year, in Week 4, Seattle and Detroit combined for 93 points in a game that the Seahawks won by three.

Fourteen weeks later, the head-to-head tiebreaker from that game was the reason the 9-8 Seahawks went to the playoffs instead of the 9-8 Lions.

Seattle’s opponent

On paper, the Seahawks’ Week 2 opponent is equal to or better than Seattle’s Week 1 opponent in every way, with the possible exception of coaching.

Game-wrecking D-lineman? Check.

The Rams have three-time Defensive Player of the Year, Aaron Donald; the Lions have Aidan Hutchinson, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.

Donald had 9 sacks his rookie season; Hutchinson had 9-1/2.


Elite wide receiver? Check.

Cooper Kupp, meet Amon-Ra St. Brown.


Former No. 1 overall pick at quarterback? Check.

Matthew Stafford was the first selection in the 2009 NFL Draft. Seven years later, Jared Goff went No. 1 overall. On January 31st, 2021, they were traded for one another.

Career-wise, they’re almost like mirrors:

  • Completion percentage: Stafford 63.2% | Goff 64.2%
  • Touchdown percentage: Stafford 4.6% | Goff 4.4%
  • Interception percentage: Stafford: 2.4% | Goff 2.0%
  • Yards per pass attempt: Stafford 7.3 | Goff 7.4
  • Yards per completion: Stafford 11.6 | Goff 11.5
  • Quarterback rating: Stafford 90.9 | Goff 92.8


Position group rankings? The Lions top the Rams in all but one of them - and that one comes with a pretty big asterisk* right now.

The following comparisons are pulled from PFF’s 2023 positional rankings:

Note: Here’s the aforementioned asterisk:

Per PFF: “It was pretty tough to place the Rams on this list. If you replace Cooper Kupp with even an above-average wide receiver, this is probably a bottom-five group in the league.” . . . “Kupp does the heavy lifting here, but with him healthy, it’s hard to put this group much lower.”

Newsflash: Kupp isn’t healthy. Advantage: Detroit!


Coaching? Dealer’s choice.

Fun Fact: When the Rams hired him in 2017, Sean McVay became the youngest head coach in NFL history. Fast forward to today and what do we find? It’s Year Seven in La La Land and McVay is still the youngest head coach in the league.

Matchups to watch

I’m not a scout and I’m not going to search Google for a bunch of video clips, but these are the matchups that I think Sunday’s game might come down to . . .

DE Aidan Hutchinson vs. whoever the Seahawks line up at Tackle

This was always going to be one of the keys to Sunday’s game given that Aidan Hutchinson is a game-wrecker at defensive end.

Then the Seahawks put RT Abe Lucas on IR, and the ever-optimistic Pete Carroll said it’s going to be a “challenge” for LT Charles Cross to play on Sunday.

Advantage Detroit.

Last year, Hutchinson had three quarterback pressures in the Week 4 matchup vs. Seattle’s rookie tackles: 2 QB hits + 1 hurry. He’s improved a lot since then.

Last week, against the Kansas City Chiefs, he had seven pressures: 3 QB hits + 4 hurries.

On Sunday, Seattle’s options for keeping him in-check are:

  • Stone Forsythe
  • Jake Curhan
  • Two tackles they poached off other teams’ practice squads
  • A 41-year-old Jason Peters they signed to the practice squad on Tuesday

So, um, yeah . . . this could be ugly.


Seattle’s revitalized run-defense vs. Dan Campbell’s “two-headed monster”

The Lions turned more than a few heads when they used the 12th overall pick in this year’s draft to select Alabama running back Jahmyr Gibbs. Especially after letting Jamaal Williams leave in free agency and signing RB David Montgomery to a 3-year, $18M contract to replace him.

But third-year Head Coach Dan Campbell envisions a two-headed monster in Detroit’s backfield and he was executing on that vision.

The results in Week 1 were decent:

  • Montgomery carried the ball 21 times for 74 yards and a touchdown.
  • Gibbs had 7 carries for 42 yards with a long of 18, and added another 18 yards in the passing game (2 targets, 2 catches).
  • Combined, they had 116 yards rushing on 28 carries which is an average of 4.14 per.

Last year, the Lions averaged 4.5 yards per carry for the season, but pushed that to 5.8 yards per carry against the Seahawks.

Not good.

But, as noted above, the Seahawks’ run-defense has been revitalized!

In Week 1, the Seahawks held their hated division rivals to a mere 2.3 yards per carry.

Repeating that performance on Sunday could go a long way toward getting the Seahawks a win.


Seattle’s pass catchers vs. Detroit’s secondary

The secondary that the Seahawks faced last year is basically gone. It’s been replaced by a young, strong group of ballhawks, led by C.J. Gardner-Johnson who had six interceptions for the Philadelphia Eagles last year.

Note: Gardner-Johnson’s 6 INTs in 2022 tied him with three other players, including Riq Woolen, for the league lead.

Detroit’s other ballhawks include longtime Steelers CB Cameron Sutton, who had three INTs in 2022; 2nd-year DB Kerby Joseph, who had four INTs for the Lions last year; and rookie Safety Brian Branch, who kicked off his professional career with a 50-yard pick-six at Arrowhead Stadium.

Seattle counters with one of the best WR trios in the league, plus a pair of running backs who can be utilized in the passing game, and some very dependable tight ends.

Last season, Metcalf and Lockett combined to catch 13 of their 18 targets for 240 yards. The tight ends were 7-of-8 for 69 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

A repeat performance would be nice.

It might be hard to come by though - - - especially if Geno Smith is running for his life on every play. (insert the “Oh my God” meme from last week here)


Detroit’s pass catchers vs. the middle of the field

I won’t belabor this point, but Detroit’s combo of Amon-Ra St. Brown and Josh Reynolds is better than the Rams’ combo of Tutu Atwell and Puka Nacua.

Much, MUCH better.

TE Sam LaPorta, although he’s just a rookie, is just as dangerous as Tyler Higbee.

And Jahmyr Gibbs . . . he’s a playmaking dynamo in the passing game.

Last week, Atwell and Nacua combined for 238 yards on 16 receptions while Higbee added 3 receptions for 49 yards.

Seemingly ALL of that yardage came in the middle of the field.

If Seattle can’t find a way to fix what ailed them vs. the Rams, the Lions are going to have an absolute field day against them - - - a Middle of the Field Day.


Both teams vs. the scoreboard

Whatever the Over/Under is on this game, it’s probably too low.

Last year, these two teams combined for nearly 1,100 yards of offense (1,084 gross; 1,075 net), and it’s reasonable to expect a repeat performance.

At least by the Lions.

Whether or not the Seahawks can hold up their end of the bargain is something we won’t know until Sunday morning.

Go Hawks!