SEATTLE The last Seahawks game day of October dawned foggy. That was supposed to clear for a beautiful, sunny Sunday for Seattle’s first home game since Oct. 1, against the Houston Texans.
HOUSTON TEXANS (3-3) at SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (4-2)
Sunday, 1:05 p.m., CenturyLink Field, Seattle
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The series: The Texans have lost two of the three previous meetings since their expansion season of 2002. Their only trip to Seattle was on Oct. 16, 2005, a 42-10 loss during the Seahawks’ first Super Bowl season. The Texans won in Houston Dec. 12, 2009, 34-7, one of the last games before Seattle hired Pete Carroll and John Schneider to remake the franchise. Seattle won the last meeting, also in Houston 23-20 in overtime on Sept. 29, 2013. The Texans blew a 20-3 lead in the second half in a game Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman still talks about.
SEATTLE’S KEYS TO VICTORY
Make it a Seattle Sunday for Watson: As I wrote for Sunday’s News Tribune, rookie quarterbacks have had nightmare starts in Seattle over the last seven years: 1-6 with a 68,0 passer rating. As great as Deshaun Watson’s been—15 touchdown throws, tied with Dan Marino for the most in NFL history by a rookie through seven weeks—the Texans’ quarterback hasn’t faced noise and talent on defense like he will in this one. The louder it gets, the simpler Houston’s offense is likely to become for Watson. The simple offenses are the ones the Seahawks usually dominate.
Wing it outside: The Texans have had issues with injuries and performance at cornerback. It’s part of the reason they are tied for 25th in the NFL in points allowed per game. The Seahawks have had recent success with Russell Wilson throwing outside to Doug Baldwin, Paul Richardson and, when he catches the ball, Jimmy Graham. Expect Wilson to probe even more than usual outside the numbers.
The McNair factor: The Texans are ticked, enraged over their owner Bob McNair saying during an NFL owners meeting of players and their social activism "we can’t have the inmates running the prison." Star receiver DeAndre Hopkins skipped practice Friday. The Houston Chronicle reported McNair met with the players Saturday before they left for Seattle, to hear them out and answer their questions, and that all players prepared to play got on the team’s plane to Seattle to do that. Once the game begins this may not be a factor. But the Texans have reportedly vowed to do something in response before the game.
The pick: Seahawks, 20-10. Until they prove otherwise, these Seahawks will continue winning because of its defense making big stops in the red zone and forcing turnovers—and in spite of its offensive line and thus its offense. The so-far wondrous Watson gets zapped by Seattle’s defense and noise.
No. Name Pos. Ht. Wt. Year
54 Bobby Wagner LB 6-0 245 sixth
Loves these games. A young, hotshot QB and flying offense coming into his house? Usually has responded in his All-Pro way
25 Richard Sherman CB 6-3 195 seventh
Thinking this will be the first time this season of him shadowing the top WR. DeAndre Hopkins can be a problem.
10 Paul Richardson WR 6-0 183 fourth
Time to capitalize on his recent momentum and big touchdown catch last week. HOU’s cornerbacks are question marks.
No. Name Pos. Ht. Wt. Year
4 Deshaun Watson QB 6-2 221 rookie
Rookie quarterback’s toughest test since the national-title game in January for Clemson against Alabama.
10 DeAndre Hopkins WR 6-1 215 fifth
When Houston needs a play, especially on third downs, he’s still the man with the hands. Plus, his team owner has ticked him off.
57 Brennan Scarlett LB 6-4 260 second
With All-World end J.J. Watt, OLB Whitney Mercilus out for the year, he’s become an important pass rusher. Moves across the line on third downs.