NFC Wild Card
(6) Detroit Lions at (3) Seattle Seahawks
Lions: This really is Barry Sanders 2.0 and let me explain why. After the future hall of Famer retired, the Lions made the playoffs the following season. Calvin Johnson decides to call it a career this offseason and the Lions again are in the playoffs for the second time under Jim Caldwell in three seasons and as I’ve stated about them all season long, they’ve done it with a collective effort and it starts with the guy under center. Matthew Stafford has been everything to this team and overall, the Lions have been a much-improved team. They were in many situations when they actually held onto leads and sealed the deal or they would create a turnover on the defensive side of things to give the offense an opportunity to strike and there’s also been one guy that’s caught my eye, Darius Slay. He’s earned the nickname “big play slay” due to his ability to make a play when it matters. He also wants the other teams top receiver and he’s been their best cover corner all year. They would be NFC North champions if they didn’t struggle and drop their final three games so instead, they are starting the playoffs on the road in Seattle.
Seahawks: Well, here they are once again. Back in the playoffs for the fifth straight season and they feel they can get back to where they were almost three years ago when they won the Super Bowl. I think out of every team that Pete Carroll has had since taking the job as head coach, this maybe his most complete team that he’s had. The offense has been very potent in their last two seasons and after all the talk about Jimmy Graham not really doing too much, they’ve made the effort to get him the football and make him a key asset to their offense and this year, he and Russell have been on the same page this year and I remember at one point during the regular season, the Seahawks were struggling to score on offense. Their defense has been the backbone of this team for years and that continues to be the case. They’ve been one of the very best at stopping the run and Michael Bennett back in the lineup makes their front seven a much better unit because he brings a consistent pass rush and causes nightmares if he isn’t blocked properly. I think we are all anxious to see how the Seahawks will move forward without Earl Thomas who broke his leg in December. The road to another appearance for these guys begins on Saturday night.
Lions Player To Watch: Zach Zenner– The Lions offense has been very one-dimensional on offense and Stafford has had to carry the bulk of the load. Zach Zenner may not be the fastest at the position, but he’s been consistent with every chance he’s received to play. He’s totaled more than 100 yards rushing and receiving.
Seahawks Player To Watch: K.J. Wright– On a defense where we discuss guys like Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor, Michael Bennett, Cliff Avril and when he’s on the field, Earl Thomas, this guy doesn’t get mentioned too much. He’s a 6’4 linebacker that can tackle in space, deflect passes, rush the passer, force fumbles and he’s a guy that can be a very disruptive force all over the field.
Prediction: As it always is, the 12s will be rocking once again. The Seahawks have everything to exploit the Lions soft spots in their defense and Russell will enjoy throwing against a pass defense that’s allowed opponents to complete more than 70 percent of their passes. I like Seattle to take care of business and advance to the divisional round. Seahawks 27 Lions 13