It's been four years since the Seattle Seahawks won Super Bowl XLVIII and three years since they last played in a Super Bowl. The past two years, they've won a Wild Card playoff game, then bowed out in the divisional playoff round. Yet, the Seahawks are still the toughest challenge in the NFC West. Los Angeles Rams fans might point at their squad, but in the LA Coliseum earlier this year, the Seahawks beat the Rams, proving they're still the baddest bullies on the block.
The defense still has six starters from that Super Bowl champion team in 2013. As such, it's a unit loaded with experience and nastiness, especially up front where Sheldon Richardson and Jarran Reed have been added over the last couple of years. Future Hall of Famer Dwight Freeney was also signed this week, so the Seahawks have plenty of experience on the roster, at least on the defensive side. As a comparison, the Texans will start only two players that were starters in 2013.
2013 was also the last time the Texans played the Seahawks, but no one in Houston wants/needs a reminder of that unfortunate debacle. So, let's get to know this year's version of the Seattle Seahawks.
4-2 (0-1 v. AFC South in 2017)
L, 17-9 @ Green Bay Packers
W, 12-9 San Francisco 49ers
L, 33-27 @ Tennessee Titans
W, 16-10 @ Los Angeles Rams
W, 24-7 @ New York Giants
2017 Team Profile (6 games)
Rush offense - 108.3 ypg (18th in the league)
Passing offense - 243.8 ypg (11th)
Total offense - 352.2 ypg (13th)
Scoring - 22.3 ppg (14th)
3rd Down Percentage conversion - 43.3% (8th)
Giveaways - 6 - 4 INT and 2 Fumbles (5th in least giveaways in NFL)This is the Seahawks' projected starting lineup for Sunday against the Texans:
WR - Doug Baldwin
WR - Paul Richardson
LT - Rees Odhiambo
LG - Ethan Pocic (Rookie)
C - Justin Britt
RG - Oday Aboushi
RT - Germain Ifedi
TE - Jimmy Graham
TE - Luke Willson
QB - Russell Wilson
RB - Thomas Rawls
**WR - Tyler Lockett (more than likely would start in 11 personnel)
Key Offensive non-starters
RB - Eddie Lacy
RB - J.D. McKissick
RB - C.J. Prosise
WR - Amara Darboh
What's the biggest concern for the TEXANS defense facing the SEATTLE offense?
Russell Wilson. Without Wilson, the Seahawks offense would look like head coach Pete Carroll's first two units in Seattle in 2010 and 2011 (in other words, not real good or explosive). Wilson can pull magic out of his hat, no matter what in the blink of an eye. In the 2014 NFC Championship game, Wilson severely struggled over the first three quarrters of the game, but led an amazing comeback for the win in the fourth quarter and overtime. That's just the most well known instance. In 2017, he's ninth in the league in passer rating and he shredded the Giants last week on 27 of 39 passing for 334 and three touchdowns.
Receiver traits. Doug Baldwin's quickness, Tyler Lockett's explosiveness and Paul Richardson's wheels could be an issue for the Texans defensive backs as well. The Texans secondary must keep them in front and tackle in space well to have a chance to slow this offense down enough to have a shot to win.
What's the biggest concern for the SEAHAWKS offense facing the HOUSTON defense?
The Texans can still generate pass rush pressure without Whitney Mercilus and J.J. Watt. It's more difficult, but they put together a four sack day against the Browns, in addition to an intentional grounding for a safety. This Seahawks offensive line has been inconsistent this year, which often leads to Wilson scrambling for his life on occasion.
If, IF the Texans can keep Wilson in the pocket and keep him from scramble drill plays, the Texans can frustrate Wilson and this offense. If the Seahawks have an impediment to another Super Bowl run, it might be up front, protecting Wilson. This group did a much better job protecting Wilson against New York, yielding only one sack and none to the defensive front.
Receiver Paul Richardson - he can fly and has tremendous hands, so the Seahawks like to test secondaries down the field at key times.
2017 Team Profile (6 games)
Rush defense - 113.7 ypg (17th in the league) Passing defense - 190.8 ypg (8th) Total defense - 304.5 ypg (8th) Scoring Allowed - 15.7 ppg (1st) 3rd Down Percentage conversion allowed - 37.3% (13th best) Takeaways - 10 - 5 INT, 5 Recoveries (T9th most takeaways in NFL)This is the Seahawks' projected starting lineup for Sunday against the Texans:
DE - Michael Bennett
DT - Jarran Reed
DT - Sheldon Richardson
DE - Frank Clark
OLB - Michael Wilhoite
MLB - Bobby Wagner
OLB - K.J. Wright
CB - Richard Sherman
S - Kam Chancellor
S - Earl Thomas
CB - Shaquill Griffin
Key Defensive non-starters
DE - Marcus Smith
DE - Dwight Freeney
CB - Justin Coleman
What's the biggest concern for the SEAHAWKS defense facing the HOUSTON offense?
Containing Deshaun Watson. I can just put this down as the key for each team that wants to stop or slow the Texans offense in the near future. The difference is that the Seahawks have the personnel up front to accomplish that task. If they do keep Watson in the pocket, the next challenge is matching up with the Texans receivers all over the field. Can Shaquill Griffin handle DeAndre Hopkins' strength? Can Richard Sherman run with Will Fuller? Those two defensive backs are exceptional players and will make life tough for the Texans receivers, but the receiving corps presents issues for that duo as well.
What's the biggest concern for the TEXANS offense facing this SEATTLE defense?
PRO-TEC-TION. The Seahawks are nasty, whether in the middle or from the edge or in the back, but up front, they can truly take over the game with their ability to get to the quarterback. Whether it's Michael Bennett/Frank Clark on the outside or Sheldon Richardson/Jarran Reed on the inside, pressure can be provided at every single spot on the front. Throw in the recently signed Dwight Freeney and there's more than enough players to make that task difficult.
Defensive lineman Jarran Reed - he had seven tackles, a sack, two TFL a quarterback hit and a forced fumble against the Giants. His power is tough to handle for any of the interior players for the Texans.