As good as the Seahawks have been at home in the Pete Carroll era — the fourth-best winning percentage in the NFL at 64-24 since 2010 — they’ve been even better in home openers.
In fact, they’ve been perfect, winning every home opener of the Carroll era and 17 of the past 18, the only loss in that stretch coming in 2008, the last year that Mike Holmgren was coach.
Since that loss, Seattle has won 12 home openers in a row by a combined score of 294-124, though the last two have been close.
The Seahawks obviously hope the 13th won’t be the unlucky one as they host the Tennessee Titans at 1:25 p.m. Sunday at Lumen Field in what also will be the first home regular-season game in front of fans since the 2019 finale against the 49ers.
“To know now that our fans get to come, take part in it and be in this game with us is a big deal,” Carroll said.
Here’s a look at some keys to the game:
Matchup to watch
Tennessee RB Derrick Henry against Seattle’s front seven
Henry became just the eighth player in NFL history to rush for more than 2,000 yards in a season last season with 2,207, averaging 5.4 per carry. But he hardly looked like the same player last week as the Titans were routed by Arizona 38-13. Henry was held to 58 yards on 17 carries and 3.41 per attempt — it was fewer yards than all but one game last year and lower YPC than all but three games last year.
Henry, though, hasn’t been held below 100 yards in back-to-back games since Weeks 8 and 9 of 2019. So the Seahawks know they’ll see a Tennessee team determined to “establish the run.” Seattle stopped Indy’s vaunted run game last week, at times using a five-man defensive front — the Colts averaged 3.8 YPC. But Seattle will need to tackle better to duplicate that effort against the 6-3, 247-pound Henry.
Player to watch
WR DK Metcalf
A fun subplot this week is that of Metcalf and his Ole Miss teammate A.J. Brown are playing for the first time against each other as professionals. Both downplayed their relationship and its effect on the game this week. But you can bet Metcalf would love to one-up Brown, who was drafted 13 spots before he was in 2019. Metcalf started quiet last week but finished with four catches for 60 yards and a TD.
The Titans used their first-round pick on cornerback Caleb Farley. But he’s serving as a backup right now to second-year player Kristian Fulton and Jackrabbit Jenkins. Jenkins struggled last week against Arizona allowing six receptions on seven targets for 69 yards.
Coaching decision to watch
Letting Russ Cook, Part II
The Seahawks offense, in terms of production and execution, was everything any fan could hope for in Week 1, so none of this note should be viewed as critical. But, given the offseason debate over Russell Wilson’s usage, it was hard to ignore that Seattle finished with 23 pass attempts in 50 plays.
More accurately, Wilson had 28 dropbacks and Seattle 25 rushing plays, according to Pro Football Focus. When taking into account scrambles and kneel downs, that’s roughly 53% passing. Seattle threw it 59% of the time last year. Seattle called runs on eight of the first 10 first downs, and ranked 27th this week in play neutral passing at 49%. It might show that the question isn’t what you do — run or pass — but doing it well.
But Wilson will undoubtedly throw a lot more some weeks, and this could be a good one given Tennessee’s issues getting pressure on the QB and uncertain corners.
The play of Seattle’s cornerbacks
The big question heading into the opener — how would Seattle’s cornerbacks fare? — hardly seemed to be a factor when the game was over. As Carroll said, you barely heard the names of Tre Flowers and D.J. Reed, which is a good thing, since that meant the ball wasn’t going their way much. But Brown and Julio Jones figure to be more of a challenge this week, especially if Henry gets going and the Seahawks have to worry more about the run.
Player who could surprise
RB Alex Collins
With Rashaad Penny expected to miss the game, Collins figures to be active to fill the backup role to Chris Carson at running back. Carson is going to be hard to take off the field too much, so touches might not be easy to come by for Collins or the other two backups — DeeJay Dallas and Travis Homer. But Collins, who was inactive last week, figures to get some work and a chance to continue his strong play from the preseason. And a chance to continue to make a statement of where he stands in the running back rotation.
That was the yards per play Seattle allowed last week to the Colts. And the key was limiting big plays, always a Carroll emphasis. Seattle did not allow a pass of longer than 25 yards and only one run of longer than 10 (12). That’s fewer of what the team calls “big gains” in its official stats than Seattle allowed in any game last season.
The Final Word
Seahawks 34, Titans 23
The Seahawks will get Tennessee’s best shot after the Titans lost their opener at home to Arizona in disastrous fashion. And if this game were on the road, I might lean toward the Titans. But it’s not, and as noted at the top, Seattle has been spectacularly good in home openers in the Carroll era. There’s no reason to think that trend won’t continue.
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