Opposing View: Seattle Times writer Danny O'Neil previews Lions-Seahawks matchup

Posted Oct 28, 2012

This week's opposing view comes from Danny O'Neil, who covers the Seahawks for the Seattle Times. You can follow him on Twitter @DannyONeil

Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson has thrown six touchdowns and no interceptions at the friendly confines of CenturyLink Field, but has just two touchdowns and seven interceptions on the road. What's been the biggest difference with him at home vs. on the road?

This is probably the biggest question facing Seattle right now as Wilson's quarterback rating in home games is 116.9, best in the NFL. His quarterback rating on the road - 55.7 - is No. 31.

It's kind of puzzling since the Seahawks' road schedule has included games at Arizona, St. Louis and Carolina - none of which are noted for the volume of the crowd.

Seattle's game plan has been more conservative on the road, but Wilson's road-home split is the biggest concern for Seattle's rookie quarterback.

It's unique in today's NFL to have three players in the secondary 6-foot-3 or taller. The one player under six-foot -- Earl Thomas -- might be the best player back there. What does that size and skill allow the Seattle defense to do that others can't?

Seattle's ability to stop the opponent's running game is a strength that is based in large part on the strength of cornerbacks Richard Sherman (6-3) and Brandon Browner (6-4).

The Seahawks ask those two to play press coverage in man-to-man situations, and they are known for the aggressiveness in getting hands on opponents and disrupting them in the first 5 yards from the line of scrimmage.

Kam Chancellor is 6-3 and built more like a linebacker than a strong safety while Earl Thomas is a free safety with the range to go from sideline to sideline. Seattle uses that range as it frequently plays a single-safety-high coverage in which Thomas is the only one patrolling the middle of the backfield.

What matchup Seattle is most worried about Sunday?

Calvin Johnson. No doubt. Seattle's use of the single-safety alignments is what allows Seattle to be so stout near the line of scrimmage, but it also creates a bit of a risk in terms of the long ball.

Matthew Stafford has both the arm and the willingness to go deep and Calvin Johnson is as good as any receiver in this league of going up to make a catch even when covered.

The Lions don't anticipate the Seahawks doing anything different than what they've seen on film, which is a lot of eight-man boxes and single-high-safety looks. Is Seattle one of those defenses that does it does best and doesn't worry about anything else?

That's exactly what Seattle has shown so far. They didn't rig up a special scheme to account for the Patriots tight end tandem of Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez.

They didn't adjust the personnel to face Carolina and its read-option rushing attack. So far this season, Seattle has stuck to its principles and its personnel. I wouldn't expect anything different Sunday.

The Lions have been playing well defensively the last two weeks. How do the Seahawks attack an aggressive Lions defense with a very good front seven?

Seattle wants to run the ball. It has made no secret about that. Fifty-five percent of Seattle's plays from scrimmage are rushes, the highest percentage in the league.

The Seahawks have made a habit of getting out to an early lead. They've scored first in all seven games this season, but the second and third quarters have shown a tendency for Seattle to emphasize the run to try and preserve the lead.