Sunday night’s battle is a tale of two teams going in different directions. The Seattle Seahawks have had a strangle hold on the NFC West for years, but the window is not only closing, but seems to be shut and locked with the team sitting at 1-4. The Tampa Bay Bucs are coming off a statement win over the Panthers Sunday at home, and at 4-2 are tied for the lead with Carolina and Atlanta atop the NFC South.
The Hawks will come in banged up, again, and this time at a critical spot on the field – quarterback. Matt Hasselbeck will not play due to a bulging disk in his back and a related knee problem. Backup Seneca Wallace is also recovering from a calf injury, but is hoping to make his first start since 2006. If he can’t go, the team will turn to former Browns starter Charlie Fyre, who started last weeks 27-17 loss to the Packers at home. He wasn’t very good, going 12-of-23 for 83 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.
Seattle has had numerous issues on offense, with the 31st-ranked passing offense in the NFL. They haven’t been much better running, and whatever running game they have the Bucs should be able to stop rather easily in this matchup. Tampa Bay did a good job shutting down the Panthers run game last Sunday in their win at home 27-3.
So for Seattle to score the win, their defense, which also has not been all that good, is going to have to step up and cause some pain for Jeff Garcia. The former backup now starter once again played well last week against the Panthers, and seems more in his comfort zone when playing in front of the home fans. He went 15-of-20 for 173 yards and a touchdown while spreading the ball to eight different receivers and avoiding any turnovers or sacks vs Carolina.
Seattle allows 355.8 yards on defense, so the Bucs should be able to do what they want. They have the 11th ranked offense, 6th rushing, so expect a lot of Earnest Graham and Warrick Dunn vs a Seattle team that can’t seem to stop the run or pass. Frankly put, John Madden isn’t doing this game for NBC, and he’s not missing much. Look for the Bucs to roll to a 5-2 record with a big home win.