Good morning. It looks as if the weather will play a role in today’s game, with a steady rain likely throughout the day. So expect a wet one if you’re headed out to CenturyLink Field for the game this afternoon.
That said, here’s five keys for the Seattle Seahawks as they begin a stretch of six of their last 10 games at home.
Win the turnover battle: Sticking with our weather theme, taking care of the ball will be important today under wet conditions. Seattle is 2-0 so far this season when they have a plus turnover ratio. Cincinnati has a +3 turnover ratio, so the Bengals do a good job of taking care of the ball. However, rookie Andy Dalton could be pressured into some mistakes if Seattle’s defense can make him uncomfortable.
Miller time: Seattle gets a key part of its offense back with tight end Zach Miller returning to action after sitting last week because of a concussion. The Seahawks have worked hard to get the ball to the tight end the past couple weeks, but drops and inaccurate throws have plagued them. However, expect Seattle to look for Miller early and often.
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A competent Jackson: Tarvaris Jackson (strained pectoral muscle) will be a game-time decision, but I expect he’ll play today. What he doesn’t need to do is put on a Superman cape and pass for 400 yards and four touchdowns. If Jackson does get the start, all he needs to do is make the plays in front of him, put some points on the board and not turn the ball over. Also, expect a return to more up-tempo play and the no-huddle offense with Jackson on the field, who has a better command of the offense than Charlie Whitehurst.
A healthy Lynch: The Seahawks saw how valuable Marshawn Lynch is to the offense when he did not play against Cleveland. Seattle needs the hard runner to ignite the running game, takes pressure off Jackson and the defense by helping to control the clock with a consistent running game.
No big plays: Rookie Richard Sherman will have his hands full matching up with Cincinnati big receiver A.J. Green. But Seattle likely will give him help over the top with safeties Earl Thomas or Kam Chancellor. The Seahawks have given up just 16 passing plays of 20 yards or more, tied for seventh overall in the league.
Dave Boling of The News Tribune writes if the Seahawks lose this one to Cincinnati they can pretty much kiss their playoff hopes goodbye.
Here’s my preview of today’s game, focusing on the Seahawks’ schedule turning in their favor down the stretch. Seattle finishes with six of 10 at home. Seattle also faces an easier schedule, with their opponents a combined 26-29.
Clare Farnsworth of Seahawks.com takes a look at Seattle’s inconsistent play defensive on third down.
More Farnsworth: He previews the game here.
Christian Caple of Seattlepi.com gives us five things to watch for in today’s game.
Danny O’Neil of the Seattle Times provides some keys to the game here.
Dan Pompei of the National Football Post says Cincinnati offensive lineman Andew Whitworth is the best offensive tackle in the game right now.