Seahawks game preview
Keys to victory
Three keys to Seahawks victory
1 Step on the gas. Seattle's offense started moving once it stopped huddling, and with Tarvaris Jackson unlikely to play because of a strained pectoral muscle, it's up to backup quarterback Charlie Whitehurst to keep the offense going. He led three scoring drives in the second half of Seattle's victory at New York two weeks ago, and he'll try to pick up where he left off if he starts this game, as most expect.
2 Stop the run. That has been the strength of Seattle's defense this season, allowing a league-low 3.1 yards per carry. The Browns average 81.6 yards rushing, fewer than every team but the Jets and Titans. If Cleveland can't establish the run, that puts the onus on an overworked Browns passing game. The Browns have attempted 106 passes in the past two games, losing both, and they haven't scored a rushing touchdown the past three games.
3 Run, don't walk. The Seahawks' success in the no-huddle shouldn't override the fact that Seattle's ground game has been gaining traction. Seattle rushed for a season-high 145 yards two weeks ago. Marshawn Lynch gained 98 of those yards, his most in any regular-season start for Seattle. The Browns defense has yet to hold an opponent to fewer than 100 yards rushing in any game this season.
Three keys to Browns victory
1 Pressure the passer. Seattle has given up 20 sacks this season, second-most in the league. "I'm most displeased about getting the quarterback sacked as much as we have," said Tom Cable, Seattle's offensive-line coach. "And it seems to come in spurts." With Whitehurst making his first start this season, there are going to be differences in the cadence and calls, which could help kick-start the Browns' pass rush.
2 Protect the ball. Seattle coach Pete Carroll considers turnovers the most important factor in a game, and the Browns have not committed more than one in any game this season. The Seahawks forced five turnovers in their last game at New York after forcing just two in the first four games. Cleveland's best bet is to turn this game into a slog, which means holding on to the ball at all costs.
3 Return to sender. The game features two of the games most explosive returners in Seattle's Leon Washington and Cleveland's Josh Cribbs. Each ranks in the top 10 in yards per punt return. The Browns have scored more than 20 points only once this season, which means they could use all the scoring help they can get.
Defensive end Chris Clemons vs. left tackle Joe Thomas. Thomas is a cornerstone of Cleveland's offense, a player the Browns have already locked up to a long-term extension. Clemons is a quick-twitch pass rusher who has shown he can get an offense out of rhythm almost entirely on his own. He has four sacks in the past four games and a total of 15 in his 21 regular-season starts for the Seahawks.
The Seahawks are 2-1 against Cleveland since the franchise was reactivated in 1999. They have not played the Browns since 2007, when Seattle lost in overtime. Seattle is 1-3 coming out of its bye over the previous four seasons, with last year's victory at Chicago the only win.