Will Jimmy Graham play a part in a Seahawks victory over the Lions in the playoffs? (Troy Wayrynen, USA TODAY Sports)

The Detroit Lions will travel to Seattle to take on the Seahawks in an NFC wildcard playoff clash. The Lions come into the game as the 6th seed in the NFC and will play the Dallas Cowboys if they are able to win this weekend. If 3rd seed Seahawks are able to secure a victory, they will go on to play the Atlanta Falcons. What are the keys to victory for each team?

9-7 Detroit Lions At 10-5-1 Seattle Seahawks

Saturday, January 7th, 8:15 p.m. ET: NBC

Spread > Detroit +8 – Under/Over 43.5

WHY The Detroit Lions Will Win:

Can the Lions pull off the upset and beat the Seahawks in Seattle? (Tim Fuller USA Today)

 

  1. The Lions Can Expose Seattle’s Putrid Offensive Line:

The Seahawks have the worst offensive line of any playoff team. One reason for that is the Seahawks have allocated the least amount of money by any team across the offensive line. They have only spent $6.2 million across the whole line! Next in line are the Giants at $13.2 million.  The Seahawks haven’t just gone cheap, they went borderline crazy.  Both George Fant and Garry Gilliam are undrafted and grade out as among the worst tackles in football. The big question is whether the Lions can take advantage of an anemic offensive line. The Lions rank 25th in adjusted sack rate which means they aren’t getting a lot of pressure on opposing quarterbacks. However, they do have the players to do it. Ziggy Ansah is a pro bowl caliber defensive end despite having a down year in 2016. Defensive end Kerry Hyder has come out of nowhere this year to produce 8 sacks of his own. It is imperative for the Lions to get pressure on Russell Wilson in this game.

2. The Marshawn Lynch Days Are Over:

Seattle hasn’t run the ball well for this reason. Starting running back Thomas Rawls has only averaged 3.2 yards per carry, well below league average. One reason is because of the offensive line struggles. The other is because Thomas Rawls stinks. He predictably made me a very smart man when I called him a fantasy bust this season. Seattle could not have handled their running back situation worse in 2016. Christine Michael actually led the team in rushing yards and Seattle decided to release him for no reason. Since Michael has been a steady contributor for Green Bay. Rookie C.J. Prosise showed some promise as a receiving threat but he has since found himself on injured reserve. The one guy who may be able to resurrect this unit is a virtually unknown back named Alex Collins. To make one thing clear; the Seahawks are not a dominate running team anymore. This is Russell Wilson’s team now. A large chunk of the responsibility is going to be on Wilson’s shoulders. Since the Seahawks likely won’t be able to control the clock, this game could wind up being a shootout. That certainly plays right into Detroit’s hands who have a habit of winning close games. 8 of the Lions 9 wins have come while trailing at some point during the 4th quarter.

3. Seattle Is A Different Team Without Earl Thomas:

Not all injuries are the same. The Seahawks have been a different team without safety Earl Thomas who is out for the season. Seattle with Earl Thomas on the field this year: Seven TDs, 10 picks, 77.8 passer rating. Seattle without Earl Thomas: 9 TDs, 1 INT, 99.5 passer rating. Seattle isn’t the dominant defense that we once remember. Earl Thomas no longer can cover up the holes in this Seattle secondary. Detroit also has a bunch of weapons that can be productive in the passing game. Eric Ebron, Marvin Jones, and Golden Tate have actually done a nice job replacing Calvin Johnson. For a team that likes to take a lot of shots down the field, the Seahawks might lose contain on a few because Earl Thomas won’t be in the lineup.

Read About The Lions Playoff X-Factor Here!

WHY The Seattle Seahawks Will Win:

Are we seriously going to bet against Russell Wilson at home in the playoffs? (Tony Avelar The Associated Press)
  1. The Lions Are Playing Their Worst Football Right Now:

Let’s be honest for a second. Is there a formula for the Lions to even win this game? The Seahawks would have to not show up for the Lions to pull this one off. Detroit, losers of 3 straight, seem to be a defeated football team right now. With a chance to win the NFC North in week 17, the Lions basically rolled over giving the Packers an easy win. Part of the reason for this is because Matthew Stafford isn’t healthy. Stafford tore ligaments in his fingers and wears a glove to keep his splint in place. Given the fact that the Lions have the 30th ranked rushing offense means Stafford needs to play well in order to have a chance to win. The fact of the matter is his finger injury makes it impossible to imagine a heroic performance.

Stafford pre-finger injury: 67.2% complete, 21 TD, 5 INT, Lions 8-4.Stafford post-finger injury: 60.2% complete, 3 TD, 5 INT, Lions 1-3

Stafford post-finger injury: 60.2% complete, 3 TD, 5 INT, Lions 1-3

2. The Seahawks Are Dominant At Home:

The 12th man in Seattle creates one of the best home-field advantages in football. Seattle is 7-1 at home this season. Russell Wilson is 4-0 in playoff games at home. It’s hard to bet against this group in Seattle. Even if things don’t go the Seahawks way, the Lions can’t run the football. The recipe for beating the Seahawks in Seattle is controlling the clock and running the football effectively. The Lions can’t do either. In a game like this playoff, experience means something. Seattle has gone to the playoffs 5 straight years. The Lions haven’t won a playoff game since 1991. Matthew Stafford is 0-2 in the playoffs. I can’t possibly wrap my head around the idea that the Lions can win this game. Who do you trust to win a playoff game, Pete Carroll or Jim Caldwell? It’s not even close. Carroll will find a way to win. His team always play well in big games.

3. The Seahawks Have The Better Defense:

The Lions pass defense has been a nightmare late in the season (ESPN)

Sure Earl Thomas is out but Seattle’s defense is still a million miles ahead of Detroit’s. If defense wins championships it means this Lions team can’t win one. Detroit ranks 32nd is defensive DVOA according to Pro Football Outsiders. Quarterbacks have an astronomical 106.5 passer rating against the Lions defense this season. Top corner Darius Slay helps but the rest of the Lions secondary is pretty inferior. I can sense a Jimmy Graham sighting for Seattle this weekend. Seattle doesn’t have the defense that they used to but they still are a robust unit. The Seahawks can still get after the quarterback with Michael Bennett, Frank Clark, and Cliff Avril leading the charge. Seattle has 42 sacks on the season which is 3rd most in the NFL. Middle linebacker Bobby Wagner led the NFL in tackles with 167. Linebacker K.J. Wright is just as talented as Wagner is. Richard Sherman is still capable of being the best corner in football adding 4 picks to his stat line this year. As a whole, Seattle still ranked 5th in yards allowed and 3rd in points allowed on the season.

Read About The Lions Playoff X-Factor Here

In picking this game, it is hard for me to believe the Lions have a chance to pull off the upset. I think there is a chance they can cover the spread but that is about it. We have been waiting all year for the Seahawks to turn the corner and prove to us that they still are a dominant team. I think Pete Carroll has been saving their best performances for the end of the year. Look for a stellar performance from Russell Wilson in a blowout win over the Lions.

*If you agree or disagree make sure to let me know @treydaubert

Seahawks Defeat Lions 34-14