Sep 2, 2011; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks defensive back Walter Thurmond (28) jumps on the ball after fumbling it during a punt return in the 2nd half of the preseason game against the Oakland Raiders at Centurylink Field. Seattle defeated Oakland 20-3. Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports
With last week’s enormously satisfying victory over the Chicago Bears on the road the Seahawks sit at 7-5 with a favorable schedule down the stretch and a good chance at making the playoffs. The thing about a favorable schedule though is that you have to win the games you are expected to. No games are given to you, especially not divisional matchups. Although the Seahawks are favorites in this game the Cardinals have beaten them this year and possess a fairly solid defense that could give Russell Wilson and company some troubles. Even so one would have to have a fair amount of confidence in this game going to Seattle even with Brandon Browner (wisely I’d say) dropping his appeal and serving his suspension. Let’s look at some of the big matchups for week 14.
Matchup #1: Walter Thurmond vs. Andre Roberts
My assumption would be that Sherman will shadow Larry Fitzgerald who remains extraordinarily dangerous despite pedestrian (to put it nicely) QB play in Arizona. That leaves Thurmond on the underrated Andre Roberts. The third year WR out of Citadel is averaging 58.1 yards per game through the air which would put him on pace for 930 yards in a 16 game season. It is not a total to sneeze at from a 2nd WR. It is a total that neither Sidney Rice nor Golden Tate can match this year. This is not to say that he is more talented than the Seahawks starting duo but it does give a sense of perspective. Thurmond will receive his 5th NFL start and play in his 22nd game in 3 years with Seattle. When he was drafted I was very high on Thurmond’s potential and remain so but his status as a constant injury risk and the ascendance of Seattle’s big time corner duo has taken some shine off Thurmond. This is a good opportunity for Thurmond to step up and help the Seahawks into the playoffs while they lose their defensive playmakers to suspension. No better time to start than today.
Matchup #2: Russell Okung vs. Sam Acho
This matchup brings us back to the difficult week Okung had with penalties in the opener in Phoenix. Okung seemed to struggle with Acho’s explosiveness and while Acho does not have nearly the strength of Okung his quickness seemed to give the big OT fits. It should be noted that the Seahawks LT was battling injuries at the time so perhaps with the playing field leveled we will see a more solid performance. I both hope and expect so. Okung is a great talent and Acho is an underrated one and seeing these two do battle will be one of the pleasures of the game for the viewers at home. More so the Seattle viewers I expect as I see Okung making good in this rematch and Russell Wilson making Okung look good with his elusiveness even if he slips up once or twice.
Matchup #3: Bobby Wagner vs. Beanie Wells
I don’t know if Bobby Wagner is going to win defensive rookie of the year but I do know that he best be in consideration. Wagner seems to get better and better every week and there seems to be very little limit to what he can do. Not since Lofa Tatupu have we seen a rookie linebacker with this kind of immediate impact (More on that comparison next week. I usually don’t like to give away future posts but there you go.) and I recall spending a really really high pick on one a few years ago, some guy who was recently cut by Oakland if memory serves… Wagner is not producing gaudy numbers but the advanced stats guys are taking notice and perhaps more importantly it’s simply evident when you watch the game. Today he will be looking to hunt down Beanie Wells whose career really has not unfolded in the way one might imagine given the promise he showed at Ohio State. Even so Wells was very effective last year with over 1000 yards, 10 touchdowns and a respectable 4.3 yards per carry. He really hasn’t brought that effectiveness into 2012 where he’s averaging 2.6 yards per carry. I wish him the best of luck with Mr. Wagner but I really don’t think it’s his day.
The Seahawks are probably in for a tougher fight than you might expect but this team tends to play close games. As fans we have to embrace that. It’s better than being a Patriots fan (as is quite literally everything). We are getting nail biters every week and that’s what makes being a fan fun. So let’s have fun today even if there is a little stress thrown in there as well. The 2012 Seahawks are not for the faint of heart.