Sports Out West

Seahawks vs. Titans preview: Strong defenses meet in Seattle

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, right, throws to tight end Luke Willson, left, in front of Indianapolis Colts outside linebacker Erik Walden during the first half of an NFL football game in Indianapolis, Sunday, Oct. 6, 2013. (AP Photo/Brent R. Smith

For the first time this season, head coach Pete Carroll will have to rally his Seattle Seahawks team following a loss.

Fortunately for him, the task will be made much this week, as the team will return home after two games on the road against AFC South opponents. The Seahawks have not lost a game in Seattle since Week 16 of the 2011 Season.

They will try to keep the streak going this week when they host the Tennessee Titans. The Titans, at 3-2, have been playing well, particularly on the defensive side of the ball. Oddsmakers aren’t giving Tennessee much of a chance as 13-point underdogs, but this game could be much closer than that

Tennessee has allowed the ninth fewest yards in the NFL this season, and will pose yet another challenge to the Seahawks’ offense. Opponents have only averaged 218 yards passing against the Titans, with no small part of the reason why being the presence of cornerback Alterraun Verner, who is having an outstanding year.  Along with Richard Sherman, two great corners will be on the field Sunday, and will challenge opposing quarterbacks to spread the ball around to other areas of the field.

Sherman, however, is going to have to play more like his usual self this week for the Seahawks to improve to 5-1. He was torched by T.Y. Hilton last week on a 73 yard touchdown pass on a rare misplay. Tennessee’s Nate Washington is a much different type of receiver, but still has big play ability down the field, which the Seahawks will have to prevent.

The big questions the Titans face are if Ryan Fitzpatrick can fill in adequately for the injured Jake Locker, and if the offense can somehow get Chris Johnson going. Fitzpatrick played decently last week against the Kansas City Chiefs, a stout defensive team, and made some plays happen with his legs. Johnson is not putting up big rushing numbers, particularly in between the tackles, but can still make plays happen if he gets the ball in space.

Middle linebacker Bobby Wagner would be a great matchup fit to stop the run, but is questionable with an ankle injury. One player to watch will be Bruce Irvin, who is listed as the starter this week at outside linebacker. Irvin will provide a nice pass rush element, but has been beaten badly often on run plays in the past.

The Seahawks offense will again rely heavily on its run game, which looked dynamic last week, as both Marshawn Lynch and Russell Wilson rushed for over 100 yards. If Wilson can again put up those kind of numbers on the ground and keep plays alive with his legs, it will put pressure on the Tennessee secondary and possibly open up the passing game a bit.

Expect the Seahawks to hold the Titans at bay with a grinding rushing attack, in a contest that’s within 10 points for the majority. Seattle should certainly win again at home, but this game is far from a guaranteed thing.

News Roundup:

-The Seahawks beat up offensive line will get some help, as Max Unger practiced late in the week and is expected to play

-Tight end Zach Miller is day-to-day with a hamstring injury

-Wagner is the only other big question mark, as he did not practice during the week

Photo Credit: Brent R. Smith / Associated Press


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Nathaniel Reeves

Nathaniel Reeves is a journalism student at the University of Washington, currently covering sports for The UW Daily in addition to Sports Out West. He has been closely following Seattle sports his entire life.