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[author image=”https://www.the3pointconversion.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/20150718_133951-1-e1438220323399.jpg” ]Vincent “The Fantasy Juru”, Atlanta, GA firstname.lastname@example.org[/author]
The Detroit Lions (9-7) are back in the playoffs for the second time in three years. The Lions are heading to the postseason losers of three straight, but they have seasoned veteran quarterback Matthew Stafford leading the way in hopes to lead his team to its first playoff victory since 1991. The Seattle Seahawks 10-5-1 on the other hand, were not great either heading to the postseason going 3-3 in their final six games. They suffered a huge lost when their co-captain safety, Earl Thomas, suffered a broken leg in week 13 and their defense have struggled since. The Seahawks defense averaged 25 points per game from weeks 14-17. Nonetheless, Pete Carroll’s team has won its fourth NFC West title and will be ready to play the Lions in their first round home playoff game since 2010.
Keys to the Game
Seattle’s great run defense and their 12th man (the crowd) needs to be the anchors of the team. The Seahawks defense, though facing some key injuries, has an excellent run defense and should be able to make this game one-dimensional. Matt Stafford will be forced to throw a bunch to former Seahawk Golden Tate, future Hall of famer veteran Anquan Boldin, Marvin Jones, and tight end Eric Ebron. The Seahawks are a terrific 7-1 at home this year and are in position to take full advantage of the Lions weakness: which is their running game.
As for the Detroit Lions, they need a big spark from their defensive front to put pressure on Russell Wilson. They finished second to last in the league with only 26 sacks. In order for this game to be close, Kerry Hyder and Ezekiel “Ziggy” Ansah will need to knock Wilson on his back to alter the timing of the passing game. That lack of a pass rush could be difficult for Detroit to overcome, even though Wilson has had struggles behind a poor offensive line. Bothered by knee and ankle injuries, Wilson posted the worst passer rating (92.6), yards per attempt average (7.7) and the lowest rushing yardage total (259) of his career this season.
The X-Factor for the Lions is running back Zach Zenner. He’s been strong down the stretch this season, setting a career high with 67 rushing yards against Dallas, then followed up the next week with 69 yards against Green Bay. He accounted for a career-best 110 yards overall against the Packers, and scored three touchdowns the last two weeks. The Lions truly need a running game in order to keep Seattle’s offense off the field.
The X-Factor’s for the Seahawks is safety Steven Terrell and Kam Chancellor. Terrell has played well since Thomas’s season ending injury, allowing just one catch last Sunday against the 49ers Chancellor has been the vocal leader of the defense. If the Lions running game fails, Stafford will have to throw more, which makes Chancellor more dangerous to cause turnovers. The 12th man (the crowd) will also be a huge factor in the game.
Prediction: The Lions will compete toe-to-toe with the Seahawks, but Seattle is too tough at home. Seahawks 24 Lions 20.