Two teams with seasons on the line will clash at Qwest Field on Sunday, as the 1-3 Seattle Seahawks host the 2-2 Jacksonville Jaguars.
INJURIES:The good news for Seattle is quarterback Matt Hasselbeck will be making his triumphant return after missing the last two games with a broken rib. The bad news is Hasselbeck will be without three starters on his offensive line, as left tackle Walter Jones(knee), left guard Rob Sims(ankle) and right tackle Sean Locklear(ankle) will be sitting this one out. Star defensive end Patrick Kerney will be a game time decision after not practicing Friday with a groin injury.
The Jags, on the other hand, will come into this game at full strength as they report no major injuries.
KEY MATCHUP: Jags WR Mike Sims-Walker vs. Seahawks CB Josh Wilson:Wilson, the team's leader in interceptions last year, will also be making his return from injury as this will be his first start since leaving the Week 2 matchup with the 49ers with a high ankle sprain. Look for the Jags to test Wilson early and often as QB David Garrard, who dropped 323 yards and three TDs on the Titans last week, will be looking for his new favorite target in Sims-Walker(who grabbed two of those three TD passes).
PLAYER TO WATCH:Obviously, all eyes will be on Hasselbeck on Sunday in his first action since being taken out by Patrick Willis in Week 2. Hasselbeck's return could mean a bounce back game from tight end John Carlson, who became somewhat of a forgotten man under the Seneca Wallace-led offense of the past three weeks. While Hasselbeck will be a bit cautious coming off injury and playing behind a depleted offensive line, he does have the luxury of facing a Jags defense that is dead-last in sacks(3 in 4 games) and is 31st overall in pass defense.
OUTLOOK:The game will come down to which defense steps up. If Hasselbeck shows his old form, the lack of a Jacksonville pass rush will likely see this Jags secondary getting picked apart. As for the Jags offensively, they're going to make the Seahawks prove they can stop star running back Maurice Jones-Drew(7th in the NFL in rushing, 2nd in touchdowns, 10th in total yards). I expect Hasselbeck to spread the ball around and lean on running back Julius Jones(who is averaging just over 100 yards rushing per game at home) early as he tries to find his comfort level. At 1-3, the Seahawks need this one a little bit more and, if Kerney gets the green light, I like the Seahawks' defense to apply a bit more pressure than their Jacksonville counterparts.
SCORE: Seahawks 24, Jaguars 17.
About the Author
Written by Dave Leonardis
Born and raised in New Jersey, I've been writing since I was 10 and blogging since I was 18. I'm a huge sports nerd, following football, baseball and basketball in particular in close detail. My style is very upfront. I don't pull punches and I'm not shy about criticizing anything I feel deserves a proper tongue-lashing. If you're looking for someone who says what he wants, when he wants, then look no further than this guy right here.