Top 3 Individual Matchups
Bills Top 2 Advantages
Good advantage – Pass defense – Buffalo’s pass defense has improved considerably with their improved pass rush of late, now 14th in the league. Though Russell Wilson has above average mobility, he’s not always throwing when on the move as evidenced by the Seahawks 29th ranked passing attack.
Best advantage – Run game – Seattle ranks 10th in the league in run defense, but in the six games prior to their whitewash of Arizona the Seahawks were giving up an average of 151.6 rushing yards a game. With Buffalo averaging better than 140 on the ground per game and third in the league in 20-plus yard runs this season, and Seattle is 21st in 20-plus yard runs given up.
Number 1 Must
Time of possession – Buffalo has to maintain possession knowing how Seattle can grind out games on the ground. The Bills vastly improved run defense will have to be at its best Sunday and hold true to their ranking of ninth in the league in preventing offensive drives of five minutes or more.
The Seahawks rank 10th in the league in sacks with 32 on the season and their pass rushing tandem off the edge has accounted for more than half of them. Starting defensive end Chris Clemons leads the team with nine, with pass rush specialist rookie Bruce Irvin second with eight. Irvin leads all NFL rookies in quarterback takedowns and as a tandem with that total, and as a pair Clemons and Irvin rank second-best in the NFC with 17 combined sacks. They’re a main reason why the Seahawks allow the third lowest passer rating to opposing quarterbacks (65.7).
Wilson comfortable in red
Seattle QB Russell Wilson has excelled as a rookie in several areas of the game including passer rating (7th in NFL), fourth quarter passing (6th) and is already third all-time in touchdown passes by a rookie with 20. But Wilson has been particularly effective in the red zone. He ranks fifth in the league with a 105.1 passer rating in the red zone with 12 touchdowns and no interceptions. The only NFL QBs that rate higher inside the opponent’s 20 are Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Jay Cutler and Tom Brady.
Long drives allowed
While the Seattle defense has excelled in many areas this season, they’ve come up short when it’s come time to get off the field on third down. As a result the Seahawks defense ranks last in the league in average number of plays allowed per drive to their opponents (9.3). Overall Seattle ranks 22nd in third down conversion percentage allowed (40.5%). What’s worse is they rank last in 3rd-and-6-plus conversions allowed (38.5%) and last as well in 3rd-and-10-plus conversion percentage allowed (39.2%).
Long, tall corners
Part of the reason Seattle is able to end some of those long drives and keep points off the board defensively is their ability to force turnovers. The Seahawks are tied for sixth in the league in takeaways with 25. Their 14 interceptions are tied for second-most in the NFL. Seattle’s starting corners have accounted for nine of those 14 INTs. Seattle’s defensive backfield has just two players under six-foot. In their starting secondary only FS Earl Thomas has a wingspan under 6’5”.
Leaning on Lynch
The Seahawks really don’t seem all that concerned that opponents know they’re going to lean on Marshawn Lynch in the run game every week. In the first half Seattle ranks third in the league in rush percentage (52%), and on 1st-and-10 no other NFL club runs the ball more often than Seattle (64.6%). Much doesn’t change for Seattle’s attack in the second half where they rank second in the league in rush percentage (56.6%). Lynch is currently second in the league in rushing behind only Adrian Peterson with a career-high 1,266 yards this season.
Playing in close games has become relatively commonplace for the Seahawks. Their 58-point win last week notwithstanding nine of Seattle’s 13 games this season have been decided by a touchdown or less. All five of their losses have been by seven points or less this season as their opponents have only beaten them by an average of 4.8 points. Half of their victories in 2012 have been by six points or less.
Quote of the Week
“You’re just going to have to take what they give you. You can’t go in there thinking that you’re going to break them every time, because those guys are fast and physical and they fly around. So it’s going to be a crowded box, that’s what I expect. I’ve just got to take what they give me, and if a big one breaks, I have to take advantage of it.”
Stat of the Week
Mario Williams has six sacks in his last four games.
Milestones in reach
C.J. Spiller needs 53 rushing yards for his first 1,000-yard season.
The Bills are 2-0 this season when C.J. Spiller has 15 carries or more.