Each week I attempt to see both sides of the upcoming Seahawks match-up. Let’s explore what a loss could look like first.
Tampa Bay is a lot like the Seahawks in one key way, injuries have drastically altered the product on the field. They are missing important players on both sides of the ball, but still have managed to put an effective offense on the field behind 2nd year QB Josh Freeman, rookie receiver Mike Williams, tight end Kellen Winslow and waiver wire pickup of the year, RB LeGarrette Blount. They are a balanced attack that averages 31 pass attempts and 27 rush attempts per game. Compare that to Seattle’s 34 pass attempts and 23 rush attempts. The Seahawks average the 3rd fewest rushing attempts per game in the NFL. Tampa can win this game on the ground. In the confusion of all this quarterback controversy, most people have completely missed that Seattle’s rush defense has returned almost to where it was with Red Bryant healthy. The difference can largely be traced to Colin Cole’s return to the field. Not only has Cole been a difference in the middle, but he allowed DT Junior Siavii to slide to Bryant’s defensive end position. It worked amazingly well against the powerful Atlanta rushing game, keeping them under 3 yards per carry. The problem is that Siavii is out indefinitely with a stinger (which can be career-threatening, by the way). Expect the Bucs to test the Seahawks run defense early and often. Blount is better than the Saints Chris Ivory, and will force the Seahawks to tackle him the way they did with Michael Turner last week.
Freeman sports a nice 88.8 QB rating and an 18/6 TD/INT ratio. The Seahawks secondary has been vulnerable to just about everything, so Freeman will have opportunities to make plays. If the Bucs can gain over 330 yards of offense and control the clock with a ground game, they will have enough to get a win.
Defensively, Ronde Barber is a terror no matter how old he is. If given the chance, he will make a play to change the game. The Bucs will be forced to gamble on defense based on their recent results and injuries, so Matt Hasselbeck will need to make proper reads and not get baited into the crippling mistakes he’s made the last two games. If the Seahawks have more than one turnover, they will not win.