Wild Card Weekend Preview: Detroit at Seattle

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Wild Card Round

#6 Detroit (9-7) vs. #3 Seattle (10-5-1)

Seattle, Washington (Century Link Field)

January 7th, 5:15 PST

NBC

6 days after Detroit lost the division title at home to their rival Green Bay Packers, they are back on NBC fighting for their season in Wild Card Weekend. This time the task is much tougher. They will have to go on the road and play in in the toughest, loudest place to play in the NFL, Seattle.

Seattle’s Offense vs. Detroit’s Defense

Detroit’s defense is going to have to play a very good game to keep their offense in it. It is also hard to score in Seattle, with that defense and crowd, so Detroit’s defense has to keep Seattle’s offense under 20 if they want a realistic chance at winning.

The Detroit defense has been an average unit this season. They rank 13th in points against (22.4) and rank 18th in yards against (354.8). The defense is nothing special and will have to play above expectations if they want to make a lengthy run in the playoffs. They have also been playing poor football in the last 2 games (two losses) and have given up 31 and 42 points respectively. I expect Wilson will take advantage of this poor defense.

Wilson is getting closer and closer to 100% every week and may be able to play without the brace on his knee for the first time since his injury in week 3. In addition, their running backs have been getting healthier with the recent return of Thomas Rawls. Their offense over the past 5 weeks has stepped up, averaging 26 points per game, which is 4 points per game higher than their season average (22.1 ppg, 18th in NFL). If their offense continues their upward trend, then they should have a good chance of winning today’s game and making a strong and long push in the playoffs.

Thomas-Rawls

Seattle RB Thomas Rawls

Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

Detroit’s Offense vs. Seattle’s Defense

This is the matchup that is going to decide the game. There is MVP candidate, Matthew Stafford, against the feared Seattle defense. Matt Stafford has been having an incredible season with 4,327 yards passing and 24 touchdowns to just 10 interceptions. He started off the season extremely hot but has tailed off as of late. Their offense only ranks 21st in scoring with 21.6 points per game. It is not an extremely high mark, and not a mark of a playoff contender. However, it is a product of their slow finish in which they lost their last 3 games of the season. Their offense has elite capability with Stafford, Tate, and Jones, but they need to find their early season stride if they want a shot to win this game.

Luckily for Detroit, Seattle will be without their heart and soul of the defense, Earl Thomas, who suffered a broken leg a month ago. Ever since his injury, Seattle’s defense has not been the same. They have dropped 3 out of their last 6 games and have given up 24.5 points per game since Thomas’s injury, which is up from their season average of 18.3. Make no mistake, this defense really suffers without Earl Thomas.

I think this injury really hurts their chances at the Super Bowl, but shouldn’t stop them from winning the game.

Prediction

Detroit needs to take advantage of the Earl Thomas-less Seahawks because I don’t think we will ever see this defense more vulnerable than it is now. However, I don’t see it being enough for Detroit to overcome the factors of their team having much less talent, slumping, being on the road in Seattle, and playing a much more experienced team. Seattle should win, but it will be close because of Detroit’s pure will. They need to play inspired because they have lost 3 straight games and don’t want to be embarrassed by losing a 4th straight in a blowout loss in the playoffs.

Seahawks 27, Lions 21

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