What to watch for: Seahawks at Lions
1. Pass, present and future.
The Seahawks have run the ball on 55 percent of their plays from scrimmage, the highest rate in the league. But Seattle has shown a willingness to throw more in the first quarter. Is it just a coincidence the Seahawks scored on four of their five first-quarter possessions over the previous three games? What's the lesson there? Don't be afraid to keep passing.
2. Avoid turnovers.
It's all about the ball. That's coach Pete Carroll's overriding belief about football, and in three home games this season, Seattle has committed a total of two turnovers. In four road games, it has committed nine. It's not a coincidence that Seattle is 3-0 at home and 1-3 on the road this year.
3. Apply pressure to Matthew Stafford.
The Seahawks have 19 sacks through seven games, which is tied for eighth-most in the league. Sounds pretty good, doesn't it? Except 10 of those sacks occurred in the first 10 quarters Seattle played, and nine in the next four and a half games. The Lions average 46 passes per game, which means Seattle will have a ton of opportunities to pin its ears back and get after the quarterback. Improving the pass rush was a point of emphasis this offseason, and this is a chance for the Seahawks to show they've improved.
Keys to Lions victory
1. Get going early.
Seattle has scored first in all seven of its games this season, which has allowed the Seahawks to try and nurse the lead and avoid taking chances with their rookie quarterback. Detroit's offense has scored 13 touchdowns in six games, only one of those has been in the first half. But if the Lions can get an early lead, it would force Seattle to try and throw its way back into the game, which would put quarterback Russell Wilson in the defense's crosshairs.
2. Stymie Seattle's short game.
Detroit's defense is at its best when the opponent gets in close. When an opponent gets the ball inside the Lions 20, they have given up a touchdown only 25 percent of the time. That's a league-best in terms of red-zone defense, and in fact, Detroit hasn't allowed a single red-zone touchdown at home. Seattle has scored touchdowns on only 16.6 percent of its red-zone possessions this year, the worst percentage in the league.
3. Don't give Seattle a short field.
The Seahawks' average starting position last week was their own 15. It was the worst starting field position for any team this season. While the Lions can't plan to replicate that, they can avoid the turnovers and long kick returns that would set up Seattle in good field position. Keeping Seattle pinned against its own end zone, coach Pete Carroll gets nervous about giving his rookie quarterback a chance to make a mistake.
Lions WR Calvin Johnson vs. Seahawks cornerbacks Brandon Browner and Richard Sherman.
Much has been made of the fact Calvin Johnson has only one touchdown catch this season after having 15 a year ago. But Johnson has caught 38 passes, which is two more receptions than he had after six games last season. Seattle has stayed true to its defensive principles, which means trusting its cornerbacks to match up with the receiver lined up across from them. That's going to be a tall order this week against the 6-foot-5 Johnson.
The Seahawks are 3-0 against the Lions since moving to the NFC, but only one of those games was in Detroit. That was back in 2006, when Seattle won its season-opener 9-6 at Ford Field, which was where the Seahawks had lost in the Super Bowl eight months earlier.