Good morning from Cleveland. The weather forecast for today is about 60 degrees and partly sunny at game time. So the weather should not play a role on today’s game.
Here are five things to watch for in today’s contest between Seattle and Cleveland, as the Seahawks try to win back-to-back games on the road for the first time since 2007.
Clog the middle: The Browns are one of the worst running teams in the league, averaging just 81.6 yards a game on the ground. Peyton Hillis likely will not play because of a hamstring injury, which means Montario Hardesty will get the call. Seattle has been one of the better run defense so far in the first half of the season, and there’s no reason for the Seahawks to let the Browns get going on the ground this week.
Where’s Colt? Although second-year pro Colt McCoy has struggled with his completion percentage this year (just 56 percent), he still has an impressive ability to escape the pocket and make plays on the run. So if Seattle can stop the run and force McCoy to beat them through the air, they have to make sure to contain him so he can’t distort the defense outside the pocket and create explosive plays.
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A Steady Whitehurst: Much like he did against St. Louis last year, the Seahawks do not need Charlie Whitehurst to throw for 400 yards and four touchdowns. If Whitehurst comes out and manages the game well, does not turn the ball over and helps the offense move the chains, Seattle will put up enough points on the board to get a win.
Unleash the beast: Marshawn Lynch benefited from Seattle’s up-tempo style of offense two weeks ago in New York with 98 yards on 12 carries. And with Cleveland giving up 129 yards a game on the ground, I expect Lynch to have another good game. The more Lynch runs, the more pressure he takes off of Whitehurst to win the game with his arm.
Win the return game: Two of the best returners in the game will face off with Cleveland’s Joshua Cribbs and Seattle’s Leon Washington on the field today. Neither player has gotten off to a good start, but both could explode at any time. The Seahawks would like for Cribbs to stay cold for another week, and Washington to get going.
Here’s my story from today, which focuses on Whitehurst and his ability to lead Seattle to a win coming off the bench, similar to what the Seahawks had to Seneca Wallace when he served as Matt Hasselbeck’s backup.
Clare Farnsworth of Seahawks.com writes about the no-huddle offense and how it will continue to be an important part of what Seattle does on that side of the ball, even with Whitehurst in.
Tony Ventrella of Seahawks.com previews the game in this video link.
Steve Kelly of the Seattle Times headed out here a day early and interviewed Browns president Mike Holmgren at the team’s facility. Holmgren said ultimately the Seahawks did not want him in charge back in Seattle.
Christian Caple of Seattlepi.com provides five things to watch for in today’s game.
Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer writes that the Browns are gearing up to stop Seattle’s no-huddle offense.
Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal offers some keys to the game for the Browns.
Dan Pompei of the National Footbal Post explores the proliferation of the spread offense in the NFL.
Greg Bedard of the Boston Globe discusses the league’s policy to use mikes on offensive linemen for TV sound, and how some players do not like it because teams can go back and pick up their line calls on the TV copy when they scout the game.