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Originally published Saturday, September 28, 2013 at 12:08 PM

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Keys to the game

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Starting fast

Getting off to a quick start is always a good idea, but maybe more important on the road to keep crowds quiet. And the trends for the Seahawks are favorable as they have outscored foes 32-7 in the first half while the Texans have been outscored 48-23. Seattle has been almost as good in the second half, outscoring opponents 54-20. Houston also has been much better at the end of games, outscoring opponents 47-34 in the second half and overtime, using late comebacks to win at San Diego and defeat Tennessee at home. Houston, though, couldn’t come back last week at Baltimore, losing 30-9, and an early Seattle lead could put doubt in the minds of the Texans.

Protect the house

Seahawks will be short-handed up front — the only question is exactly how much and to what effect. Seattle will undoubtedly be without left tackle Russell Okung and more than likely center Max Unger and right tackle Breno Giacomini. Even with those three, Seattle’s pass protection has been lacking at times, and now the Seahawks face a Houston team known for bringing lots of pressure, led by reigning NFL defensive player of the year J.J. Watt. Russell Wilson’s scrambling ability figures to come in handy in this game.

Special delivery

While Houston ranks high in many offensive and defensive categories, its special teams are poor across the board — the Texans gave up an 82-yard punt return last week that allowed Baltimore to break the game open, for instance, and kicker Randy Bullock is just 4 of 8 on field goals (and has attempted none longer than 51). Seattle, meanwhile, has been solid on special teams. Most notably, Golden Tate ranks fifth in the NFL in punt return average and appears to be getting more comfortable in that role with each game.

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