WHEN : Saturday, January 7th. 8:15 p.m. (EST)
WHERE : CenturyLink Field in Seattle, Washington.
The toughest stadium to play at in the NFL will get to host a wild card game this postseason. The Detroit Lions will travel across the country to face off against the Seattle Seahawks. Detroit enters this game with a healthy record of 9-7. They stood atop the NFC North for the majority of this season, until a week 17 loss to the Packers threw them back into the second wild card spot. Seattle’s season has been strong as well. In a year in which talent was lacking in the NFC West, the Seahawks dominated earning a 10-5-1 record. Both of these teams are extremely talented in their own ways, and have the potential to make a respectable playoff run.
The Lions are led by their elite quarterback, Matthew Stafford. The young gun has put up fantastic numbers this year, throwing for over 4,300 yards, 24 touchdowns, and a rating of 93.3. Stafford also eclipsed Dan Marino’s record by throwing the most passing yards ever in a quarterback’s first 100 games. Stafford will have a very tough time this Saturday going up against a stellar Seahawks defense. They are the 5th best defense in the league in total yards allowed, and 8th in the passing yards column. Detroit knows they are going to have a tough time gaining ground through the air, and their rushing attack is almost depressing.
Prior to this season, Detroit’s run game was projected to be handled by a combination of Theo Riddick and Ameer Abdullah. Both of these running backs experienced injuries that forced them to sit out for the remainder of the season. The third string back is Dwayne Washington, a 7th round draft pick in 2016, he also went down with an injury that cost him his season. Now, Detroit has Zach Zenner, an undrafted running back from South Dakota State. Zenner rushed for 69 yards, his career high, in a week 17 loss to the Packers. He is a power back, that does not obtain the speed, or agility, that Detroit running backs are usually known for.
Seattle has proven to be a very tough team to beat. Over the past several years, they have been a powerhouse in the NFC. Seattle is balanced, their defense ranks top 10 in the league, and their offense isn’t too shabby either. The offense is led by quarterback Russell Wilson, who has thrown 21 touchdowns this year and added on 4,219 passing yards. Their running game has been strong over the past few years, thanks to Marshawn Lynch heading the backfield. After Lynch retired in the offseason, Seattle spent most of 2016 trying to find the heir to his throne. They may have done so in second year back, Thomas Rawls. He was going to be the for sure starter in Seattle, until an injury set back his progression. After fully recovering from his injury, he’s reclaimed the starting spot, and has now started 7 games. The Lions are giving up an average of 106 yards per game to opposing running backs, so Rawls could play a big factor in this contest.
The NFL playoff atmosphere is a tough thing to match. Home field advantage plays a key role in all of the games, and Seattle is no exception. The Seahawks own a 7-1 record at home, whereas the Lions are a measly 3-5 on the road. Detroit does well in their dome, but playing at CenturyLink Field is an entirely different monster.
MY PREDICTION : I am picking the Seattle Seahawks to beat the Detroit Lions in this contest. Stafford is a very talented quarterback, but I don’t think the players surrounding him will be able to score enough against this tough Seattle team. The lack of production in the running game allows Seattle to focus on Stafford, and the Seattle secondary proved they can hang with the best quarterbacks. I think the final score of this game will be 30-17. Detroit will get bounced out of the bracket, and Seattle will move on to face Atlanta in the Divisional round of this year’s playoffs.