After a hard fought regular season, the Lions lost the NFC North and fell to the 6th seed in the NFC playoffs. They now head to Seattle to take on the NFC West Champion Seahawks in the most difficult building to play in in the NFC. For the Lions, not winning the NFC North was disappointing, but they’re glad to be in the playoffs anyways.
Caldwell: "There's only 12 teams still working tomorrow morning. We're one of those 12…We're excited about our opportunity."#OnePride
— Detroit Lions (@Lions) January 2, 2017
The Seahawks are beat up on both offense and defense and with the injuries mounting the Seahawks are more vulnerable than ever. They could hardly put away the 49ers and they lost to an inconsistent Cardinals team in their own building. This game is hardly unwinnable for the Lions.
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So what do the Lions have to do to get the win on Wild Card weekend?
The Seahawks offensive success starts and ends with Russell Wilson. They don’t have the running game that led to success in previous seasons and they’re leaning almost entirely on a passing attack that’s only held up by a patchwork offensive line. Teams that get pressure on Russell Wilson can shut down this Seahawks offense with ease.
Wilson’s mobility has been a huge problem for teams in the past, including the Lions.
"The Great Escape From Lions."
— NFL (@NFL) January 5, 2017
The good news for Detroit is that Wilson doesn’t have that kind of speed this season. His injuries have slowed him down to the point that he can’t beat most edge rushers. This means his keepers on the read option are way less effective and his pocket mobility is limited.
The other key to the Lions winning is shutting down Jimmy Graham and there’s no one in this Lions linebacking core that can match up to Graham in man to man coverage. Devoting a cornerback to covering Graham is going to leave more opportunities open for the Seahawks receivers, so it’s a bit of a Catch-22 for the Lions secondary.
Offensively, the Lions have to continue to utilize Zach Zenner to keep their offense from being one dimensional. Even without Earl Thomas this Seahawks secondary is more than capable of shutting down the Lions receivers, so the Lions are going to want to keep running the ball.
The injuries for the Seahawks levels the playing field for the Lions, but winning at CenturyLink Field is a tough thing for any team to do.
Detroit Lions: 13
Seattle Seahawks: 17
The Lions can put some points on the board, but I don’t think we’ve seen enough out of this team to take them in this Wild Card game.