The Seattle Seahawks proved last week they could win a game the ugly way, while the Tampa Bay Buccaneers haven’t tasted victory once this season.
The two teams will meet on Sunday afternoon at CenturyLink Field as 17-point favorite Seattle tries to find a new weapon after losing top receiver Sidney Rice, and the Buccaneers try to regain their defensive footing.
Quarterback Russell Wilson and the Seattle offense could only muster 135 total yards and two third down conversions in Week Eight’s 14-9 victory over St. Louis, highlighted by two touchdowns from receiver Golden Tate. Typically rush-first Seattle gained only 44 yards on the ground after averaging more than 150 yards in the previous seven games.
Nevertheless, Tate’s solid performance could be a sign of even more production as Rice went down with a torn ACL, and receiver Percy Harvin still isn’t ready to return to the field from hip surgery over the summer.
"With the workload that he's had to endure to get back and get in shape, there's going to be some stuff, and he's a little bit sore from last week. We don't want to go too far, too fast" Seattle head coach Pete Carroll said to USA Today about Harvin. "We're looking for the long-haul here with his recovery, and trying to manage our way through that. We are being very careful. He didn't do a lot last week. Very little. It seems like it is best to keep him in that mode a little longer."
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Running back Marshawn Lynch rushed for 23 of those yards on eight carries, his lowest yard output in a single game since 2011. Lynch is still the fourth leading back in the NFL with 601 yards and six touchdowns, but was kept out of practice on Wednesday and Thursday due to a knee injury.
Even if the offense sputtered along, the Seahawks fourth ranked total defense could carry the club for long stretches. Seattle’s third in the league in points allowed (15.6) and is tied for first in the NFC with a solid plus-nine takeaway ratio thanks to 13 interceptions and eight fumble recoveries.
Meanwhile, the Buccaneers were supposed to have one of the league’s best defenses, but top cornerback Darrelle Revis told the Tampa Tribune he’s still working on regaining strength in his left leg. Even though he's not at 100 percent, Revis still leads the Tampa in passes defensed.
Revis and Tampa have played a lot of zone coverage, hiding the three-time All-Pro from the one-on-one coverage that made him one of the best in the NFL. The Buccaneers are 19th against the pass this year, and have given up 31 points off eight passing touchdowns for three straight weeks.
Against NFC South rival Carolina, the Bucs also clearly missed injured running back Doug Martin, gaining only 48 total rushing yards in the 31-13 blowout. Rookie Mike James has stepped in as Martin’s sub, but has been unimpressive with 3.6 yards per carry.
In his fourth start of the year, quarterback Mike Glennon went 30-for-51 for 275 yards and a touchdown. Down early and often, the Bucs have asked a lot of the rookie. He’s averaging 45 pass attempts a game, with Glennon’s completion percentage just above 58 percent.
Betting Odds: Seattle favored by 17 points
Over/Under: 40.5 points
Where To Watch Online: NFL Sunday Ticket
TV Channel: FOX
Time: 4:05 p.m. Eastern Time
Prediction: Seattle 34, Tampa Bay 17