Five things to watch as Lions host Seahawks; plus prediction

Both teams at 3-3 heading into match-up at Ford Field

ALLEN PARK — To have a chance to win the NFC North, the Lions have to win at home.

So far they’re 2-1 at Ford Field with impressive wins over the Patriots and Packers and an  embarrassing loss to the Jets.

Sunday’s game at Ford Field against the Seattle Seahawks isn’t a must-win but almost halfway through the season it’s time to get on the right side of the .500 mark.

The Seahawks (3-3) have won three of their last four just like the Lions (3-3). Tee up another tough one for the home team. Seattle is coming off its bye week so should be rested and ready to go.

“I think Seattle has a little bit of jump on us this week and got going early. I know coach (Pete) Carroll is going to have his group ready to go,’’ coach Matt Patricia said. “We just have to be ready to go from the start. We can’t let whatever happened last week affect us this week. We have to move on and get ready to go and just expect their best right away. They are a fast-starting aggressive team, we know that just in general so we’re going to have to be ready to go as soon as that thing kicks off. But we know that they’re energy, the competitiveness that Seattle brings, they’re going to do a great job of trying to get on top early and keep the throttle going all the way through the game.”

The Seahawks have outscored opponents 28-21 in the first quarters of their six games while the Lions have a 45-13 scoring edge in the first quarter.

Here are five things to watch:

1. No room for complacency on the Lions run game. Feed the ball to Kerryon Johnson and LeGarrette Blount. Don’t shy away. Keep pounding. Got that Jim Bob Cooter? I think he does, actually. Cooter has looked like an offensive genius since Johnson has found his groove.

2. Matthew Stafford has been playing out of his mind. In the last five games he’s thrown 11 touchdowns and one interception and finished each game with a rating of more than 100 (158.3 is perfect). He has the respect of the Carroll, the Seahawks and everyone else. “He’s a terrific player, I have great respect for him. He’s one of the great ones in the game. He’s got all the background, all of the experience, he’s thrown a million passes in unbelievable situations late in the game, two minutes, you name it, big third down guy, big red zone guy,’’ Carroll said on a conference call this week. “He’s a great player and he’s one of the classic quarterbacks in this league and has been for a long time.” The Seahawks’ passing defense is ranked third in the NFL allowing just 206.0 passing yards per game and they have nine interceptions, tied for sixth in the NFL

3. Will have to wait and see whether NT Damon “Snacks” Harrison will make his Lions’ debut. Patricia wouldn’t say either way prior to Friday’s practice. The nose tackle, acquired for the Giants, practiced with the team on Thursday and Friday. Stafford, who has played against him, said he’s not only good for stopping the run, but he’s also sneaky good in the pass game too. The defense has improved at stopping the run, but Harrison’s addition could be huge.

4. Detroit’s defense has to make Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson uncomfortable which is tough because he’s still dangerous when he gets outside the pocket. “Russell Wilson is still Russell Wilson, moves around a lot, makes a lot of plays for them. They are getting back to what they like to do is run the ball, run the ball, control the game up front and then take some shots off the run game,’’ Lions safety Glover Quin said. Wilson has thrown 13 touchdowns against just four interceptions.

5. Keep an eye on Seattle running backs Chris Carson (4.5 yards per carry) and Mike Davis (4.6 yards per carry).  The Seahawks average 127.8 rushing yards per game. “Coach ( Brian (Schottenheimer) and I went against each other for a long time when he was at the Jets and I know he likes that downhill kind of pound-it run game,’’ Patricia said. “And I think he just has two backs that he feels are big, physical guys that will be hard to tackle for 60 minutes. And I think they’re in a situation where they’re handing the ball off 30-plus times here recently in order to control the game and I think that’s what they want to do. I think that’s what he likes is just having those bigger backs that—it takes a toll. When you have those big guys, you may stop them for a yard or two early but those one or two-yard runs turn into five or six and then all of sudden it’s a 10 to 12 to 20-yard run and that’s the biggest problem with guys like that. And I think they’ve just settled into a system that fits them really well.”

PREDICTION: Lions 27, Seahawks 21

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Author: Paula Pasche

Paula Pasche, a veteran sports writer, covers the Detroit Lions for her Lions Lowdown blog. She has written two books, "Game of My Life Detroit Lions" and "100 Things Lions Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die" which are available at bookstores and on Amazon.com. She won first place for column writing from the Society of Professional Journalists in Detroit (Class B) in 2011, 2012 and 2013 and was The Oakland Press 2010 Staffer of the Year.

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