Seahawks fans are not only expecting a win tomorrow they are expecting an annihilation of the Jacksonville Jaguars. There is a very good chance those expectations are met. Despite the presence of any warm fuzzy feelings about Gus Bradley it would be reasonable to predict a thorough shellacking without remorse. Bradley may have some inside information, but the talent gap between these teams is too vast for it to be relevant. Not only that, but the Jaguars must travel all the way across the country for this game and play in the house of horrors that is CenturyLink Field. If you participate in a survivor pool pick Seattle this week, sit back and relax. All that being said, just because the game as a whole doesn’t figure to be competitive it doesn’t mean that there aren’t individual matchups worth watching. Let’s take a look at what some of those matchups might be:
Matchup #1: Richard Sherman vs. Cecil Shorts
It would be easy to just assume that Sherman will win whatever matchup is thrown at him given his dominance, but Cecil Shorts is a tougher assignment than many people realize. Shorts piled up 979 yards and seven touchdown in 14 games last year, of which he only started nine. Given the poor quarterback play in Jacksonville that’s pretty impressive. Shorts, like Sherman, is a former late round pick (well 4th round in this case) with a chip on his shoulder. In the off-season he made some noise about taking the step up to becoming an elite level of receiver in the NFL, and while he isn’t there yet he’s not as far off as one might imagine. You still have to like Sherman to keep Shorts quiet here, but given the amount of garbage time that is likely to be in this game (as much as three quarters) Shorts might do alright statistically.
Matchup #2: Paul McQuistan vs. Jason Babin
Although his tenure with Seattle was fairly short, Babin’s late career success has always frustrated me given that he showed so little with the Seahawks. McQuistan is nothing special at left tackle and Babin could present a bit of a challenge for the veteran on Sunday. As recently as 2011 Babin put up 18 sacks and though that total dropped to 7 last season there is still reason to fear the 33 year old. I suspect the Seahawks try and run at the pass rusher because he is a guy you can knock off the ball at times. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if Babin found the quarterback once or twice in this game on the rare occasions when Wilson will need to pass.
Matchup #3: Bobby Wagner vs. Maurice Jones-Drew
The Jaguars have very few big time players but Jones-Drew is definitely one. Two years ago he had 1606 rushing yards and 4.7 yards per carry in an offense where opposing teams knew he was the only threat. Last year he had injury problems but had 4.8 yards per carry and was on pace for over 1,000 yards once again. Jones-Drew has struggled this year but it is too early to write him off at age 28. He may not be what he once was but there is no reason to believe he’s anything but a quality running back who is Jacksonville’s number one threat. Wagner has been fairly quiet to start the season but this defense held San Francisco running backs to 13 yards on 11 carries and you can bet that doesn’t happen without the quietly effective Wagner. Look for him to meet Jones-Drew in the whatever modest holes the Jaguars offensive line can open up.
This game might be a relaxing one for Seahawks fans rather than an exciting one, but that’s OK. Most would take a boring win over a breathtaking loss any day of the week.