The Seattle Seahawks are returning home to CenturyLink Field after an emotional loss to the division-leading Los Angeles Rams on the road, marking consecutive losses to the two new franchises in L.A that have dropped the Seahawks to 4-5 overall. While Seattle remains a strong team at home, it also has lost two straight games — again, to both teams in L.A. — at home. Thursday night’s contest against the Green Bay Packers starts a stretch of five home games in the next seven weeks for Pete Carroll’s team.
Basics on the Seahawks
The Rams swept the season series with the Seahawks with a 36-31 victory at the L.A. Memorial Coliseum. The Seahawks took a 21-20 lead late in the third quarter on a 23-yard touchdown pass from Russell Wilson to Tyler Lockett, but then the Rams finished out the game by scoring 16 fourth quarter points and held on in the final moments.
The quarterback (Russell Wilson) and top receivers (Doug Baldwin, Lockett) remain familiar to veteran Packers players, but the Seahawks have a new offensive coordinator in Brian Schottenheimer. He last called plays in St. Louis from 2012-14 and is a branch off of the “Air Coryell” scheme. While that generally leads one to think about deep passing concepts, Schottenheimer has a history of strong rushing attacks, including four previous top-10 run groups in his nine previous years as a coordinator (including four times when he was with the New York Jets from 2006-11).
Defensively, Ken Norton is also new after Carroll shook up his coaching staff. Norton called plays for Oakland from 2015-17 but has coaching roots in Seattle as the Seahawks’ linebackers coach from 2010-14. He is running a 4-3 scheme with the Seahawks.
The Seahawks have the league’s top-ranked rushing attack on offense.
Overall defensive scoring rank for the Seahawks.
Percentage of made kicks by Seahawks kicker Sebastian Janikowski.
Players to watch
Rashaad Penny, RB
The rookie, drafted No. 27 overall out of San Diego State, has played in all nine games but has not started. He had his breakout performance last week in Los Angeles, carrying the ball 12 times for 108 yards (9.0 yards per carry) and scoring his first touchdown. He also has caught nine passes, but he has not often been a huge focal point in the passing game. His role may be diminished with the likely return of starter Chris Carson (497 rushing yards, 4.5 yards per carry), but he is one to pay attention to if he’s in the backfield.
Doug Baldwin, WR
The number of players that were big parts of the Seahawks’ Super Bowl teams is dwindling with time, but the 30-year-old receiver remains a big threat in the pass game for Russell Wilson. Despite the fact that he has only 23 catches and Tyler Lockett has scored seven times, Baldwin remains a physical presence and a trustworthy outlet for Wilson on plays that break down.
Frank Clark, DE
The 25-year-old has been a nightmare for opposing offensive linemen, as he leads the team with eight sacks while also forcing three fumbles. He also has an interception and a fumble recovery. He plays off the right edge, and while Packers left tackle David Bakhtiari is very good, he has been beaten at times.
Reasons to worry
Well, it is CenturyLink and the Seahawks. And the Packers are going there on a very short week, leaving Tuesday evening to help combat the time change and also to help players get healthy with a full day in town to recover and practice lightly. And, the Seahawks are just as desperate as the Packers, with consecutive losses overall and at home. The Seahawks, by the numbers, are much like the Packers as they aren’t great in any one area but are dangerous at times — so the big worry for Green Bay is just the intangible part of the long trip and a home team that seems to have their number.
On the field, the Packers are just 22nd in the league against the rush while the Seahawks are No. 1 in rushing, and they are probably getting starter Chris Carson back. Seattle will no doubt challenge the front seven in that regard and then see if they can get any of Green Bay’s substitute secondary players to bite on play action, or even fall off receivers if Wilson breaks contain.
Reasons to relax
The Seahawks are an average team. They’ve beaten Dallas (4-5), Arizona (2-7), Oakland (1-8) and Detroit (3-6). They’ve lost to Denver (3-6), Chicago (6-3), the Los Angeles Rams twice (9-1) and the Los Angeles Chargers (7-2). They’ve lost twice at home. When they lose, they give up big gains on the ground — only the Bears didn’t run for at least 140 yards — and the Packers may have found their new offense in giving Aaron Jones the ball and playing off of his success. On a short week and with the passing game still operating in fits and spurts, it makes sense to continue to load up in multiple tight end sets and establish Jones. And under Mike Pettine, the Packers have turned into one of the league’s best pass-rushing teams (31 sacks) with 15 different players recording at least a half sack. Wilson has been brought down 29 times already, including eight times in the last two weeks.