After a devastating run-in with the Baltimore Ravens in their place last Sunday, the most hotly anticipated contest in perhaps the entire NFL for the coming Sunday is occurring in our place. The white hot Seattle Seahawks bring their special mix of a killer secondary, brutal front seven and an offense that has moments of brilliance to Reliant to face an angry Houston Texans team, fresh off a painful loss that nobody saw coming - at least not in the manner it did.
So what exactly is an unsettled Texans squad preparing to face from the juggernaut that is the 2013 Seattle Seahawks? Instead of my grandiose opinion, we got the person you really want to hear from: Keith Myers, Seattle Seahawks Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. He's broken down the tape, studied the roster and knows what players to expect where and what they're supposed to be doing. Without further ado let's get inside Keith's head.
Has QB Russell Wilson shown signs of staying away from the sophomore slump that usually plagues successful rookies?
I looked into this a few months ago, and the "sophomore slump" is a myth. If you go all the way back to Peyton Manning 16 years, and look at every QB who played at least 10 games in their 1st and 2nd season, all but 1 have improved in their 2nd year.
As for Wilson, he's improved his completion percentage and his yards per attempt so far this season, and has done so despite facing a lot more pressure. At this point it seems safe to say that Wilson wont be joining Matt Ryan as the only QBs who have slumped in their 2nd year.
RB Marshawn Lynch has gotten off to a slow start to the season only averaging 3.4 yards a carry; what is the reason for that?
The biggest problem has been the offensive line. The unit has struggled to open any running lanes and he's been having to deal with defenders in the backfield far too frequently.
It doesn't help that the Seahawks also opened the season against Carolina and San Francisco, which have arguably the two best front-7's in the NFL.
With DE Bruce Irvin out, who is providing the pass rush for the Seahawks defense right now?
The Seahawks have been getting pressure on QB from a number of contributors. Michael Bennett has been extremely effective on the inside, and Cliff Avril has been great on the outside. The Seahawks also has Chris Clemons return last week from his ACL injury suffered in the playoffs last season.
Seahawks seem like a defensive juggernaut. What's their Achilles heel? (@hayscountyht)
This defense has an Achilles heel? Honestly, if there is one tough to know what it might be at this point. Week 1 suggest it might be the rush defense, but then the Seahawks shut down the 49ers running game in week 2 and MJD in week 3.
If everyone is healthy, this defense is very good at all 3 levels. Until another team can show everyone where that weakness might be, it's impossible to know what it might be.
It is no secret on how good the Seahawk secondary is. Talk about their evolution as a group these past few years and what makes them the best in the league.
The thing about the Seahawks secondary is that it is made of almost entirely of players that no one else wanted. CB Richard Sherman and SS Kam Chancellor were 5th round picks. CB Brandon Browner was playing in Canada. CB Walter Thurmond was a 4th round pick. Only FS Earl Thomas, who was a first round pick, was highly coveted before joining the Seahawks.
GM John Schneider has done a fantastic job of identifying talent that fits Seattle's scheme, and the coaches have been very good at turning that talent into production on the field.
Seattle looks really dominant in everybody's mind right now at 3-0, but they've only beaten one playoff team. Houston hasn't played all that great and got embarrassed by the Ravens who we all thought was a sure win by the Texans. Is anybody in Seattle worried that this might be a trap game for them? (@JARivas_TX)
Lots of people in Seattle are worried. This game has been been circled on the calendar as one of the season's toughest challenges since the schedule came out. Besides, good teams don't often play poorly two weeks in a row, so the Seahawks are expecting a very tough game, especially since the game is on the road in Houston.
What is the best way to flummox Russell Wilson (@BroncosItaly20) and could 6'6" J.J. Watt be the X factor for a Texans win if he is able to deflect passes by the 6'1" Russell Wilson (@_black_pug)?
Opposing teams have been trying to figure that out for almost a year now. He just never gets rattled.
Wilson's passer rating is 46 points higher when there isn't pressure. His passer rating is also 34 points higher against the blitz than against a base defense. So teams that have to blitz to get pressure aren't going to find success against Wilson.
The best way to show down Wilson is to be able to get pressure up the middle, and to do so without blitzing. Teams that can do that have given Wilson a tough time.
Who are some unknown players on the Seahawks that are key pieces to their success?
I'm not sure this is what you're asking for, but few players are more "key" right now than Paul McQuistan. He's a OG who's been forced over to LT because of the injury to Pro-Bowler Russell Okung. McQuistan's ability, or inability, to protect Wilson will go a long way in determining the success of the Seattle offense.
On defense, the guys who fit that description are DE Red Bryant and DT Brandon Mebane. They don't end up getting much in the way of stats, but both eat up blocks on the defensive line and allow the team's speedy linebackers and pass rushers do their thing. You may never hear their name called during the game, but both are key contributors to this defense.