WHEN THE SEAHAWKS HAVE THE BALL
Whoever lines up under center for the Seahawks this weekend could see some returning faces to the offensive line. Left guard Robert Gallery was scheduled to return to practice this week in the hopes of being able to play for the first time in four games because of a groin injury. Center Max Unger has started all five games, but is battling a foot injury that has him questionable. Tight end Zach Miller (8 receptions) is also questionable with a concussion. Jackson (1012 passing yards, 6 TD, 5 INT) completed 15-of-22 pass attempts with an interception before his exit against the Giants. He totaled 166 yards and threw an 11-yard touchdown pass to Ben Obomanu (17 receptions, 2 TD) to open the game’s scoring. He was also sacked four times, however. Baldwin (20 receptions, 2 TD) led the team with eight catches for 136 yards in the win and Obomanu ended with six receptions for 51 yards. Top wide receiver Sidney Rice (15 receptions, 1 TD) was limited to four catches for 38 yards, while fellow wideout Mike Williams (8 receptions, 1 TD) did not play due to a concussion. Seattle’s 28th-ranked run game (83.0 YPG) posted 145 yards on the ground versus the Giants, with Marshawn Lynch (239 rushing yards, 2 TD) recording 98 yards on 12 carries with a score.
Seattle’s offensive line figures to face a challenge this weekend against a Browns club that has notched 13 sacks this season and ranks fourth overall versus the pass with 192.0 yards allowed per game. A pair of veterans have been leading the charge in linebacker and top tackler D’Qwell Jackson (49 tackles) and defensive tackle Ahtyba Rubin (21 tackles), both of whom have a team-leading 2 1/2 sacks. However, two rookies have also been getting into the mix in left end Jabaal Sheard (18 tackles, 2 sacks) and defensive tackle Phil Taylor (23 tackles, 2 sacks). The duo both logged a sack last weekend and Sheard forced his second career fumble. Jackson, meanwhile, had nine tackles and has led the team in that category in all five games. Cleveland held Oakland to 178 passing yards despite cornerback Joe Haden (13 tackles, 1 sack) sitting out with a knee injury. Dimitri Patterson (14 tackles) started for the first time this year in his place alongside Sheldon Brown (17 tackles) and made a career high-tying seven tackles, and strong safety T.J. Ward (26 tackles) finished with seven stops as well. Linebacker Scott Fujita (26 tackles) is doubtful for this game due to a concussion suffered last week.
WHEN THE BROWNS HAVE THE BALL
Hillis (211 rushing yards, 15 receptions, 2 TD) figured to be a key part of the Browns’ offense after his breakout season last year, but Cleveland ranks only 30th in the league with 81.6 rushing yards per game. The scoring has suffered, with the Browns posting an average of just 18.2 points per game. Montario Hardesty (143 rushing yards) got the bulk of the carries versus the Raiders, running 11 times for 35 yards. With Cleveland playing from behind, McCoy (1199 passing yards, 8 TD, 3 INT) was forced to attempt 45 passes, completing 21 of them for 215 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He did not throw an interception and is the first Browns quarterback to open a season with at least one scoring pass in the first five games since Derek Anderson did so over the first seven of the 2007 campaign. McCoy ranks second in the AFC with a 1.4 percent interception rate, and credit goes in part to an offensive line anchored by left tackle Joe Thomas. McCoy has been sacked just nine times this season, tied for the fourth-fewest in the league. Rookie wide receiver Greg Little (20 receptions) had a big game versus the Raiders, hauling in six passes for a career-high 72 yards. Tight end Benjamin Watson (19 receptions, 2 TD) and Massaquoi (17 receptions, 2 TD) both had three catches in the loss and tight end Alex Smith (7 receptions, 1 TD) caught his first touchdown pass since 2008.
Though it was the Seahawks who came out on top in their last meeting with the Giants, the defense did allow 464 total yards, including 395 through the air. The big play nearly cost Seattle, as New York quarterback Eli Manning connected with wide receiver Victor Cruz for a 68-yard score against the Seahawks’ 23rd- ranked pass defense. However, Seattle’s defense did make some plays as well, with end Anthony Hargrove (8 tackles) logging a safety in the third quarter and Browner’s (28 tackles, 1 INT) aforementioned pick-six. Curry made four tackles in his final game with the Seahawks, as he had lost his starting job on the outside to rookie K.J. Wright (13 tackles), who made four stops against New York. Leroy Hill (31 tackles, 1 sack) led the team with eight tackles in that game, but is questionable for this week with a hamstring issue. Walter Thurmond (10 tackles) is expected to replace Trufant (23 tackles, 1 INT) in the starting lineup for a secondary that logged three interceptions its last time out, with safeties Kam Chancellor (30 tackles, 2 INT) and Earl Thomas (32 tackles, 1 INT) also recording picks in the Week 5 win. Defensive end Chris Clemons (16 tackles, 4 sacks) had two sacks and forced a fumble against the Giants, while defensive tackle Alan Branch (14 tackles, 1 sack) also got to the quarterback.
KEYS TO THE GAME
With the quarterback position in a bit of a flux — Whitehurst will get most of the practice reps even though Tarvaris Jackson hasn’t been ruled out — it will be important for the Seahawks to try and get their ground game going. Lynch and Justin Forsett should both get time on the field against the Browns’ struggling run defense.
Get the points. No need for the Browns to get cute in Seahawks territory. Dawson is a perfect 7-for-7 on field goal tries this year and has also hit on all 10 of his extra points.
Cleveland’s linebackers. With the likes of Rubin, Taylor and Sheard doing a great job up front for Cleveland’s defensive line, D’Qwell Jackson and company will need to prevent Lynch from getting to the outside, which could be more of a challenge with Fujita likely unable to play.
Prediction – The Hawks don’t know who is going to be under center probably till Sunday, and the Browns are coming off a bad loss to the Raiders. The Browns need to get back to running the ball, and getting some plays from their secondary, which could get Joe Haden back. Seattle got a win over the Giants two weeks ago, but still are void of big playmakers, and now are without CB Marcus Trufant. Cleveland will get enough from Colt McCoy and the offense to get to 3-3. Cleveland 24 Seattle 13