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Danny O'Neil covers the Seahawks for The Seattle Times.

December 15, 2012 at 5:59 AM

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Keys to the game: Seahawks vs. Bills

Keys to Seahawks victory

Seahawks 1. Contain C.J. Spiller.
Spiller is one of the most explosive running backs in this league, averaging 6.6 yards per rush, only Washington quarterback Robert Griffin III has a higher average than Spiller among players with more than 85 carries. Spiller somewhat inexplicably carried the ball only seven times last week, but with Fred Jackson out, expect Spiller to play a featured role in this game. "He makes people miss," said Gus Bradley, Seattle's defensive coordinator. "He is a real threat, not only that, but all of the screens he catches, and all of the different styles of screens to get him the ball. They're really aware of him. They utilize him in numerous ways."

Seahawks 2. Keep the turnover train rolling.
Seattle forced eight turnovers last week, going from No. 17 to the league in takeaways entering Week 14 to being tied for seventh a week later. Seattle has had a hard time forcing mistakes on the road, though, as 19 of the team's 27 takeaways have occurred at home. The Bills have committed 26 turnovers, which is tied for the fifth-most in the league. Buffalo is 0-7 this season when it commits more turnovers than it forces.

Seahawks 3. Keep the secondary battened down.
Seattle will be starting its third right different right cornerback in three weeks with Brandon Browner still suspended and Walter Thurmond out with a hamstring injury. The Bills' Stevie Johnson ranks No. 22 in the NFL with 61 receptions, and Seattle's depth in the secondary is going to be tested even more.

Keys to Bills victory

bil-mark-1-cl.gif 1. Slow Seattle's run game to a crawl.
The Seahawks are coming off their best rushing game of the season, gaining 284 yards on the ground against Arizona. It was Seattle's fourth-highest single-game rushing total in team history. Buffalo ranks No. 28 in the league in run defense though coach Pete Carroll warned that defensive tackle Marcel Dareus and defensive end Mario Williams are a handful. "Those guys are tough," Carroll said. "They just don't give you any opportunity to move them off of the line of scrimmage."

bil-mark-1-cl.gif 2. Don't sleep on the Seahawks' tight ends.
There was a time that Seattle's tight ends might as well have been listed as tackles they spent so much time blocking, but that time was last year. Zach Miller caught a 24-yard touchdown pass last week - his second of the year - while backup Anthony McCoy caught three passes for 105 yards, becoming the first Seahawk player to surpass 100 yards receiving in a game this season.

bil-mark-1-cl.gif 3. Hold a special-teams advantage.
Leodis McKelvin is one of the most dangerous returners in the game, and he has scored twice this season on punt returns. Buffalo leads the league in punt returns, averaging 17.2 yards, and ranks fourth in kickoff returns at 27.7. Of course, Seattle is No. 3 in kickoff returns, and with Buffalo's difficulty stopping the run combined with its pretty pedestrian passing game, the Bills need special teams to be a strength against Seattle.

Matchup microscope

Seahawks MLB Bobby Wagner vs. Bills LB C.J. Spiller
Spiller is a shifty runner, who likes to bounce outside. Miami's Reggie Bush showed that can be an effective approach against Seattle when he gained 87 yards on 14 carries on Nov. 25, an average of 6.2 yards per carry. Spiller averages even more than that. Wagner's speed makes him an upgrade in the middle of Seattle's defense, and his ability to flow with the play will be critical in Seattle's ability to stop Spiller.

Series history

Seattle last played Buffalo in the season-opener in 2008, losing 34-10. The Bills have won the last two games between these teams by a combined score of 72-19. The Seahawks have lost five consecutive road games to AFC East teams, a streak that goes back to 2001.

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