The Seahawks have an opportunity to finish the preseason undefeated tonight as they play host to the Oakland Raiders. Though wins are always preferred over losses, exhibition game results don’t matter much in the National Football League. In fact, a team’s preseason winning percentage isn’t even a good gauge of how successful the team will be in the regular season.
In 2008, the Detroit Lions went undefeated in the preseason but finished the regular season without a victory.
And while I am pretty certain the Seahawks aren’t in that class, I’m not going to put too much weight on an undefeated exhibition season. That said, it would be nice to get another win at home against the Raiders.
Last weekend, the Seahawks left Kansas City victorious after a great showing by the starters and defense. Oakland, on the other hand, got blasted at home by the New Orleans Saints 45-7.
Tonight’s game will feature a lot of reserves and fringe players as teams focus on trimming the roster down to 53. Giving reps to guys buried on the depth chart will be crucial to making the right cuts.
In other words, expect to see a lot of Mike Teel and not Matt Hasselbeck. Justin Forsett and Devin Moore will get a lot of carries, not Julius Jones or Edgerrin James. And it was great to watch T.J. Houshmandzadeh catch five balls against the Chiefs, but tonight will be an opportunity for some of the other wide receivers to step up.
WHAT TO WATCH: Because this game will be critical for players who are competing for a roster spot, there are a couple of things to look for. First on the list are the wide receivers.
Houshmandzadeh, Deion Branch, Nate Burleson, and Deon Butler are locks to make the team. After that, there are probably two spots up for grabs. Courtney Taylor and Ben Obomanu seem to be the current favorites to make the team, but don’t be surprised if an underdog steals a spot.
Michael Bumpus was cut earlier this week to bring the roster down to 75, which leaves five receivers competing for two spots.
Taylor and Obomanu, Mike Hass, Jordan Kent, and Logan Payne are the remaining receivers after the top four. Kent is probably the most physically gifted, but hasn’t proven anything on the field.
Keep an eye on the receivers, and watch to see who comes to play tonight. Tonight’s game could shake things up quite a bit.
Another facet to pay attention to is the kicking game. Neither Seattle kicker has been impressive so far, but Brandon Coutu seems to have the edge over veteran Olindo Mare.
Before last weekend, Coutu was perfect on field goals. His downside, however, is a lack of power on kickoffs. Mare was terrible in his first exhibition appearance against the Chiefs, and also uncharacteristically hit a kickoff short.
The Seahawks won’t carry two kickers on the roster this year, so one of them is on their way out. Coutu probably has the edge, but watch kickoffs and field goals closely tonight.
FUN TO WATCH: The defensive line will be fun to watch in tonight’s game. Both reserves and starters have applied consistent pressure on the quarterback, and the depth chart is filled with competition.
Nick Reed has been outstanding this preseason, and Michael Bennett has demonstrated great ability and versatility. Baraka Atkins has maintained a roster spot in the past, but it is uncertain if he will make the cut this year.
The competition will be fun to watch, but one thing is for certain: these guys can get after it. Opposing quarterbacks have been under constant pressure from Seattle’s defense in exhibition games, and that shouldn’t change tonight against the Oakland Raiders.
PREDICTION: It is tough to foresee a scenario where Seattle drops this game, but how the reserves perform will be difficult to predict. I am confident, however, that the Seahawks end the night victorious and undefeated in the preseason.
Oakland 6, Seattle 20