It's now November in Seattle, so it's expected to be typical today for the 1:25 p.m. kickoff of Seahawks-Raiders at CenturyLink Field: cool with an 80-percent chance of rain by game's end.
If you missed it: The Seahawks made one roster move yesterday because they had only three healthy safeties. The moves seem to indicate rookie Paul Richardson will return kickoffs and perhaps punts today.
--Here is my game preview story that's in today's News Tribune. It notes even Raiders rookie quarterback Derek Carr has been around long enough to realize what he did against Seattle two months ago in the preseason means little today.
--TNT columnist Dave Boling writes how this is far from the same cast of key contributors that won Seattle its Super Bowl nine months ago.
--Here are what I see as the keys to today's game:
1. Get on the ball – because it’s comin’: Carr showed Seattle in August – and the rest of the league in seven regular-season games since – that he’ll throw the ball deep and often, on anyone. Each week he’s challenged the opponent’s best corners down the field. And today Carr will be going after sore-kneed Tharold Simon in Simon’s third NFL start as the fill-in for injured Byron Maxwell. The “Legion of Boom” secondary has been boom-less for most of the season with just three interceptions in seven games. They are going to get many chances on the ball from the pass-happy Raiders.
2. Pin ‘em back, let ‘er rip: Rush specialist Bruce Irvin was saying this past week that the reason he got such great jumps on his two sacks last weekend on Carolina’s final drive that sealed Seattle’s win was because “I could pin my ears back” know the Panthers had to throw. It’s one of the few times this season the Seahawks’ pass rush could do that. They can do that today more than in any other game, after weeks of teams using the run for balance and ball possession. No NFL team has run fewer times for fewer yards than Oakland. So Irvin, Michael Bennett, Cliff Avril and friends should be able to get their pass rush on from the opening kickoff, for a change,
3. Run Lynch right at his home boys: Oakland native Marshawn Lynch has a new, 285-pound fullback to bulldoze in front of him; Will Tukuafu signed this week. There may be no better time to use both of them on runs inside than today. The Raiders have the league’s 26th-ranked run defense, and teams have continually pounded Oakland with the run to get and then keep the lead in games. For the Raiders, today should be another day of “see how they run.”
The pick: Seahawks, 27-14. Even if Seattle had nine starters out instead of four, this Raiders team is one the Super Bowl champs should boat race early. But nothing’s easy for Seattle this season.
Players to keep an eye on today, and why:
No. Name Pos. Ht. Wt. Year
27 Tharold Simon CB 6-3 202 second
Derek Carr threw at Richard Sherman in last meeting. Think OAK’s QB won’t target backup CB?
52 Brock Coyle LB 6-2 243 rookie
From Montana Griz to undrafted to starting middle LB on Super Bowl champs in 6 months. Enjoy.
46 Will Tukuafu FB 6-4 280 fourth
Carroll says new blocker for Lynch will play 4 days after signing. Let’s see how big the holes are.
No. Name Pos. Ht. Wt. Year
24 Charles Woodson FS 6-1 210 17th
Ageless. And still OAK’s best defender. Former CB is now freelancing safety always on the ball.
89 James Jones WR 6-2 200 eighth
Leading receiver with 36 catches. Sherman may end up shadowing him if Carr keeps targeting.
66 Gabe Jackson LG 6-3 336 rookie
3rd-round pick will have his hands quite full with Brandon Mebane smashing into him all day.