Seattle Times beat reporter Bob Condotta breaks down Monday night’s game at CenturyLink Field.
Lions quarterback Matt Stafford, the first overall pick in the 2009 NFL draft, is off to one of the worse starts in his career. He has thrown five interceptions and lost a fumble through the first three games. It’s not all his fault, as he’s getting little protection. According to Pro Football Focus, the Lions have the most total sacks, hits and quarterback hurries in the NFL at 51, and their pass-blocking-efficiency grade is the second-worst in the NFL. So former Lion Cliff Avril (he played in Detroit from 2008-12), Michael Bennett and the rest of the Seahawks’ front seven should have ample chances to put some heat on Stafford. And the odds of the Seahawks’ secondary finally getting its first interception of the season could hardly seem better.
Transforming Megatron into a non-factor
The most recent time these teams met, in 2012, one of the dominant story lines was the pregame Twitter jousting and in-game verbal sparring between Seahawks cornerback and Richard Sherman and Lions receiver Calvin Johnson. Sherman changed his Twitter handle to “Optimus Prime,’’ who in the movie “Transformers” is the enemy of Megatron — which is Johnson’s nickname. Sherman helped hold Johnson to three catches for 46 yards, though Detroit won, 28-24. Sherman downplayed that history this week, saying he and Johnson “had a couple laughs about it’’ at a commercial shoot. Johnson, 30, remains one of the more dangerous receivers at 6 feet 5 and 237 pounds and along with Tate will provide a good test for the now-intact Legion of Boom. The Seahawks are allowing 186 passing yards per game, second-fewest in the NFL.
Giving the Lions a Hill to climb
The Seahawks will be short-handed on their defensive line with starting tackle Brandon Mebane and reserve Demarcus Dobbs ruled out because of injuries. Strong-side linebacker Bruce Irvin, who often lines up as a rush end in the nickel package, is questionable because of an ankle injury. Mebane’s absence means third-year player Jordan Hill is likely to start. The Seahawks also will use David King and Will Tukuafu to add depth. Tukuafu’s official position is fullback but he played defensive line at Oregon. He has periodically played on the defensive line for a few snaps a game since arriving in Seattle last October. The Lions, meanwhile, come to Seattle with the NFL’s worst rushing attack, averaging just 45 yards per game and 2.6 per attempt. They will be without veteran running back Joique Bell because of an ankle injury, and rookie Ameer Abdullah likely will start.