Good morning from Toronto, where we’ve got light rain and a high of 47 degrees predicted for weather this afternoon. Of course, that won’t matter much because the Seattle Seahawks will be playing inside at the Rogers Centre.
Remember, even though we’re on the East Coast it’s a late start today – 1:05 Pacific Time.
Here are my five keys for the Seahawks as they take on the Bills and try to get to 9-5 on the season.
Feed the Beast: Even though he will not talk about, I have to believe that Marshawn Lynch will have a little bit of extra juice playing against his former team in Buffalo. And while Russell Wilson’s growth has allowed Seattle to create more balance on offense, this is still a running team that leans on Lynch. The Bills are giving up 134.5 yards a contest, which is 28th in the league. However, in the past four games Buffalo has allowed just 81 rushing yards a contest in the last four games.
Go get the football: Both Pete Carroll and defensive coordinator Gus Bradley talked about it this week – the Seahawks are great at creating turnovers at home, but not so much on the road. Of Seattle’s 25 takeaways, only eight of them came on the road. The Seahawks need to change that today, and they should have opportunities against a Buffalo team that has turned it over 26 times this season.
Tackle in the open field: Buffalo has some guys who can create explosive plays in running back C.J. Spiller, receiver Stevie Johnson and tight end Scott Chandler. So it will be important for the Seahawks to be sure tacklers on passing downs, particularly in nickel when Seattle will have less experienced players on the field in Byron Maxwell, Jeremy Lane and Malcolm Smith.
Bring pressure on Fitzpatrick: Ryan Fitzpatrick can make some plays if he has a clean pocket. But like most quarterbacks, Fitzpatrick will turn the ball over if he’s under pressure. Fitzpatrick has thrown 21 touchdowns, but also 13 interceptions. So Chris Clemons, Bruce Irvin, Jason Jones and Brandon Mebane have to do a good job of keeping Fitzpatrick inside the pocket and get him on the ground a few times.
Play a clean game: With 92 penalties for 733 yards, the Seahawks are still No. 6 in the league. Pre-snap and personal foul penalties have been drive killers for Seattle, particularly on the road. And regardless of Buffalo’s 5-8 record, this is a team that has some talent and will beat the Seahawks if they do not play a clean game.
Here’s my advance for today’s game. The Seahawks face speedy Buffalo’s C.J. Spiller, the latest elusive running back Seattle’s defense will have to contain.
Dave Boling of The News Tribune delves into the reasons for Seattle’s improvement on offense, and also talks about the shared duties of offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell and offensive line/assistant head coach Tom Cable.
Larry Stone of The Seattle Times writes that Buffalo offers the potential of a trap game for Seattle.
John Boyle of the Everett Herald writes that the Seahawks are proving draft experts wrong with the success of this year’s draft class.
Clare Farnsworth of Seahawks.com writes that the Seahawks are looking to put together their first, three-game winning steak since last December.
Jerry Sullivan of The Buffalo News writes that C.J. Spiller vs. Marshawn Lynch should be an entertaining matchup today. Sullivan provides an interesting perspective on what went wrong for Lynch in Buffalo.
Bob Mitchell of The Toronto Sun breaks down the game here.