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Seahawks host Lions on Monday night
By Bo Chapman
DETROIT LIONS (0-3) at SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (1-2)
Kickoff: Monday, 8:30 p.m. ET
Line: Seattle -9.5, Total: 43
The Lions try to get their first win of the season in arguably the toughest stadium in the NFL when they visit the 1-2 Seahawks on Monday night at CenturyLink Field.
Detroit is 0-3 (SU and ATS), and has lost its games by an average of 9.0 PPG. The offense was terrible last Sunday night in a 24-12 home loss to Denver with three turnovers and only 28 rushing yards. It will be even more difficult to gain yardage against a Seattle defense that forced Chicago to punt 10 times in 10 possessions in last week’s 26-0 drubbing, which improved the team to 1-2 (SU and ATS). These clubs last met in 2012, which resulted in a 28-24 Lions home win, and the last meeting in Seattle was won 32-20 by the Seahawks. There are plenty of reasons to bet either side on Monday night. Detroit is 24-11 ATS after a double-digit home loss since 1992 and Seattle is 6-19 ATS in this same timeframe when coming off a home win by 21+ points. But the Seahawks are 15-5 ATS after their game has gone Under the total since 2013, and the Lions are 4-18 ATS when visiting NFC West teams since 1992. Injuries could also be a huge factor in this game, as Detroit has five key players questionable in RB Joique Bell (ankle), TE Brandon Pettigrew (hamstring), G Larry Warford (ankle), DE Ezekiel Ansah (groin) and LB DeAndre Levy (hip). But Seattle could be missing star RB Marshawn Lynch (hamstring), and have four others questionable in TE Luke Willson (back), DT Brandon Mebane (groin), CB Tharold Simon (toe) and S Steven Terrell (hip).
Detroit has managed only 18.7 PPG and 305 total YPG this season, due largely to a weak 27:17 average time of possession. The running game has been downright atrocious with an NFL-low 45 rushing YPG on 2.6 YPC (2nd-worst in league), and it won’t get any better if Joique Bell doesn’t play. Shifty RB Ameer Abdullah (3.9 YPC) has been much more effective than the powerful Bell (1.1 YPC), but the rookie has only one 20-yard gain all season. QB Matthew Stafford has also had a down season, completing 64% of his passes for 814 yards (6.4 YPA), 5 TD and 5 INT. He has been sacked six times and only one of his touchdown passes has been to a wide receiver. Superstar WR Calvin Johnson has a career-low 10.0 yards per reception (career avg. is 16.0), while No. 2 WR Golden Tate isn’t much better with 10.7 yards for his average catch. Johnson has been targeted 30 times in the past two games, but will not likely see that kind of action being covered by Seattle CB Richard Sherman. Detroit’s defense has also been subpar, allowing 27.7 PPG on 396 total YPG. The most alarming part is the pass defense that has allowed opposing quarterbacks to throw for 284 YPG on 8.4 YPA and a whopping 78% completion rate. The run-stop unit has also fallen off dramatically from last year when it led the NFL with allowing only 69 rushing YPG. This year just 12 teams have given up more rushing yards than the Lions (112 YPG) on 3.7 YPC, but Detroit could catch a break if the Seahawks have to play without their top ball carrier.
Seattle RB Marshawn Lynch had only five carries last week before exiting with his bad hammy, and is said to have a 50% chance of playing on Monday. If he cannot go, Central Michigan rookie RB Thomas Rawls will try to duplicate last week’s success when he ran for 104 yards on just 16 carries (6.5 YPC). But the Seahawks may have an easier time throwing on Detroit’s weak secondary with QB Russell Wilson. The fourth-year pro has completed 70% of his passes this season for 692 yards (6.9 YPA), 4 TD and 2 INT. But the team is averaging less than 10 yards per catch and really needs star TE Jimmy Graham to produce like he did last week when he hauled in seven catches on eight targets for 83 yards and a touchdown. Wilson’s favorite target this season has been WR Doug Baldwin who has secured 17-of-20 throws for a team-high 162 yards. Even with last week’s success, the Seattle defense hasn’t been all that special, allowing opposing quarterbacks to complete 69% of their throws for 7.2 YPA, and Matthew Stafford will be the second-best thrower the team will have seen this year behind league MVP Aaron Rodgers. After forcing three turnovers in the season opener at St. Louis, the Seahawks have only one takeaway in the past two weeks. Look for them to try to make more plays on the ball as Detroit already has eight giveaways with multiple turnovers in all three contests.