Detroit Lions vs. Seattle Seahawks
Date and Time: Saturday, January 7, 2017, 8:15 p.m. ET
Location: CenturyLink Field, Seattle, WA
NFL Playoff Odds at BookMaker.eu: Seahawks -7.5, O/U 43
Detroit Lions vs. Seattle Seahawks TV Coverage: NBC
When Detroit Has the Ball…
The Seahawks are still menacing defensively, but it's not like they're nearly as good this year as they were in yesteryear. They don't have Earl Thomas thanks to a broken leg, and that has really hurt a defense that has all of a sudden allowed 38, 3, 34 and 23 in its last four games.
Where can Matt Stafford and the Lions take advantage of this? It's still going to be tough, especially with Theo Riddick on IR. Golden Tate is going to have to be the man of the hour, especially when he's not lined up against Richard Sherman. But if Stafford finds himself under pressure and can't get the ball out of his hands in a hurry, this is going to be a long, long game in the biggest game of Stafford's career.
When Seattle Has the Ball…
The Seahawks' offense is actually the far more interesting study right now. Thomas Rawls is back after missing so much of the early part of the season, and Russell Wilson is starting to run around again like Russell Wilson.
There's just this element that Wilson brings to the game that you won't see on the stat sheet. He's cerebral for sure, and the perfect example is when he sticks the ball out in front of him just before he runs out of bounds on scrambles to get every inch possible on every play. Here is a man who was all sorts of banged up from the waist down this year, and he still threw for 4,219 yards and 21 TDs. If he can get his legs going as well in this one and make one or two of those big runs when plays break down, the Lions are going to be in for a long day.
With Tyler Lockett missing thanks to a broken leg though, there are holes to be filled. Jimmy Graham is great near the red zone and out in space, while Doug Baldwin is a reliable, yet not particularly flashy receiver. The men who really need to step up are Jermaine Kearse and Paul Richardson. Richardson is the one to really keep an eye on. Darius Slay will draw the assignment with Baldwin for sure, and if Graham can keep the attention of the safeties underneath, Richardson might be able to use his track speed to get loose. It'll only take a play or two to break the Lions in all likelihood in this one.
The X Factor
You just can't underestimate just how real this home field advantage is for the Seahawks. Seattle hasn't lost a home playoff game in this building since 2004, going 9-0 since that point. Five of the nine games have ended with double-digit victories, and even the really close games have ended in examples of the opposition committing dumb penalties or making silly mistakes ( we're looking at you, Tony Romo! ).
Wilson has never lost a game at home in the postseason, nor has Pete Carroll. In fact, Wilson has only been beaten twice by non-NFC West teams in this building over the course of his entire career, once by Carolina and once by Dallas.
The Lions have won exactly one playoff game since 1957, and that was way back in 1991. Wayne Fontes was the Detroit coach, and Stafford was two years old.