The bye week could not have come at a better time for the ailing Seahawks. By the end of the Seahawks’ win against the Giants two weeks ago, the Seahawks were without starters Tarvaris Jackson, Zach Miller, Max Unger, Mike Williams, and Robert Gallery on offense. Cornerback Marcus Trufant was also placed on the injured reserve list this week, forcing the Seahawks to play out the remainder of the season without their most experienced defensive back. Although Jackson will likely miss the Browns game this week, he has already begun to practice on a limited basis, and will be back soon. Robert Gallery and Mike Williams have been full participants in practice this week, and will boost the offense with their return against Cleveland.
The Browns, like the Seahawks, are 2-3 this season, but their two wins have come against the Colts and the Dolphins, two of the three remaining winless teams. They are not one of the better teams in the league. Additionally, the Browns’ overall health is heading in the opposite direction of the Seahawks’ health. The Browns’ offensive star, powerful running back Peyton Hillis, will probably not play this weekend due to an injured hamstring, which will allow the Seahawk defense to key on struggling second-year quarterback Colt McCoy. Furthermore, Cleveland will be without their best cornerback, Joe Haden, who is out with a knee sprain.
Since moving to an up-tempo and often no-huddle offense, Seattle has posted 64 points in its last two games. Charlie Whitehurst was effective running this offense after he took over for the injured Tarvaris Jackson, and hopefully there is very little drop-off from when Jackson ran the show. He received all of the practice repetitions with the starting offense this week, and should be more comfortable than he was last week running the team. Seattle has been effective the last few weeks using the pass to set up the run for Marshawn Lynch. Don’t expect this to change. Whitehurst will chuck the pigskin plenty, and his ability to minimize mistakes will be crucial for the Seahawks’ chances of winning on the road. Look for offensive coordinator Darrell Bavell to call designed deep passes down the field several times during the game, but to focus mostly on getting the ball out of Whitehurst’s hand quickly.
Cleveland’s offense, ranked 28th in the league (out of 32 teams), is not explosive, and will have trouble moving the ball against Seattle. With Hillis out, the Seahawks will likely be able to sit back and force Colt McCoy to pick apart ever-changing pass coverages. McCoy is completing just 55% of his passes this year (27th in the NFL), and does not possess a strong arm. He will need to string together multiple completions in a row for the Browns to move the ball, and the Seahawks know that. Unless McCoy has his best game of the season, expect him to either turn the ball over a bit, or to struggle to sustain drives. He was an exceptional college quarterback, but he’s not ready to single-handedly carry an offense. If the Browns break 20 points, it will bode ill for Seattle, and frankly, it will surprise me.
Odds makers have picked the Browns as a three point favorite against Seattle, or basically, the home field advantage the Browns have is what separates two very evenly matched teams. Turnovers likely will decide the outcome of the game because of how even the matchup is. The current top six teams in the NFL in turnover differential are 25-4. If Whitehurst doesn’t try to be a hero and force some of his throws into dangerous places, I think he can lead the Seahawks to more scores than Colt McCoy can lead the Browns to. McCoy will NEED to make plays for the Browns offense, while I think Seattle’s receiving corps and running game can take much of that pressure off of Whitehurst.
It might not be a pretty game, but at the end of the day, I think the Seahawks’ new-found success on offense will be too much for the Browns. That’s also why I think the Seahawks will beat Cleveland and improve their record to 3-3. I haven’t made a score prediction in a while, but here goes: Seahawks 24, Browns 13.
About the Author
Written by Erik Olsoy
Erik was born in Columbus, Ohio during the only Ohio State football victory over Michigan in the 1980s, but moved to Washington state and grew up there. His loyalty to Ohio State remains strong, but his strongest allegiances developed toward Seattle sports. Though he recently graduated from Boston College, he has not yet been converted to the ways of New England Sportsdom, and only roots for the Red Sox against the Yankees because the Yankees are the root of all evil.