Although the NFL playoffs may be second only to March Madness in conduciveness for upsets, few are picking the sixth-seeded Lions to eliminate the third-seeded Seahawks.
It’s that time again. The Seahawks are back in the playoffs for the fifth straight season and the sixth time in the last seven.
Unable to secure the No. 2 seed and a bye in the wild card round of the playoffs, Seattle hosts the sixth-seeded Detroit Lions on Saturday at 5:15 p.m. The Lions, too, once had a hold on the No. 2 seed but finished the season on an even more sour note than the Seahawks. They lost their last three games, though the most competitive of which came in their last, a 31-24 loss to the Packers.
Despite the uninspiring performance from the offensive line — and team as a whole, really — to close out the season, most experts are picking the Seahawks to get past the Lions and advance to face the Falcons in Atlanta next weekend.
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Here’s what they’re saying:
Bob Condotta: Seahawks 27, Lions 16. “The Seahawks aren’t exactly cruising into the postseason. But at their best this season they were better than the Lions, who rank 18th or worse in six of the eight major NFL stat categories and no better than 11th in any of them. Detroit also has not been the same since quarterback Matthew Stafford suffered an injury to the middle finger on his throwing hand on Dec. 11. That Detroit has a solid passing game is worrisome given Seattle’s issues playing without Earl Thomas. But if Russell Wilson plays well the Seahawks should be able to advance fairly comfortably.”
Jayson Jenks: Seahawks 24, Lions 21. “The Seahawks haven’t played well in four games, even in their wins. But the Lions are and always have been the best possible matchup for the Seahawks in the playoffs because they aren’t great at running the ball, stopping the run or getting pressure on the quarterback”
Larry Stone: Seahawks 24, Lions 17. “The Seahawks lucked into the only playoff team with less momentum than them. That should be enough to escape with a home win, but the key for this game will be for Seattle to show that it is poised for an extended playoff run rather than two-and-done.”
Matt Calkins: Lions 24, Seahawks 21. “Let’s be honest — something isn’t right with the Seahawks. As favorable as a matchup as this may seem, Seattle still hasn’t shown any consistency on offense and has been mediocre defensively since Earl Thomas went down. It’s hard to just flip the proverbial switch in the NFL. I see an upset at CenturyLink.”
Sheil Kapadia: Seahawks 24, Lions 23. “This isn’t the same Seahawks team we’ve seen in years past. They struggle to run the ball, and the pass defense has looked vulnerable without Earl Thomas. Look for the offense to rely on a quick passing game with Russell Wilson targeting Doug Baldwin and Jimmy Graham often. Defensively, the Seahawks need their pass rush to dominate. Seattle ended the season 3-3 in its final six games. Look for a close contest that’s decided in the final two minutes.”
Michael Rothstein: Seahawks 20, Lions 10. “Detroit’s offensive line issues could lead to Matthew Stafford being hit an abnormal amount, and if that happens, he could be forced to make poor decisions. It’ll be a close game, but the Lions’ inconsistent offense fails them again in the second half, an area they’ve been beaten badly in by Dallas and Green Bay the past two weeks.”
All 13 panelists pick the Seahawks.
Chris Burke: Seahawks 27, Lions 21. “The Lions’ chances of quieting the crowd rely on exposing Seattle’s own potential weaknesses, most glaring of which are: 1) a secondary that has not been the same since losing all-world safety Earl Thomas to a broken leg in Week 14, and b) an offensive line that has been hit or miss, at best.”
Mike Florio: Seahawks 27, Lions 17. “The down-and-up Seahawks are vulnerable, with alternating losses and wins over the last six games. But the Lions have lost three in a row to cap a season that includes no wins over a team that made it to the playoffs. While an upset isn’t out of the question, the safer choice is the home team, which has been very hard to beat at home in the playoffs.”
Michael David Smith: Seahawks 30, Lions 17. “The Seahawks haven’t been the same team since Earl Thomas went down, but the Lions haven’t been the same team since Matthew Stafford injured a finger on his throwing hand. Seattle is a tough place to play, and the Lions haven’t played well in a month, so I’ll take the Seahawks.”
Ryan McCrystal: Seahawks 27, Lions 20. “Matthew Stafford will help the Lions keep it interesting, but, ultimately, Wilson leads the Seahawks to victory to face the Atlanta Falcons.”
Dave Birkett: Seahawks 23, Lions 16. “This isn’t mission impossible for a team that won eight of nine at one point. Thomas’ absence is enormous, and the secondary hasn’t been the same without him. Defensively, the Lions have the personnel to shut down Baldwin and take advantage of a weak-link offensive line. But the Seahawks’ defensive front is so good, and the Lions have been so inconsistent on offense that it’s difficult to see the Lions winning their first playoff game in 25 years.”