The Seahawks are 6-5 and clinging to the No. 6 playoff seed in the NFC for dear life. We are all aware of the impending suspensions of cornerbacks Brandon Browner and Richard Sherman. It appears as if they will appeal and plead their case; however things don't seem favorable according to NFL insider Peter King:
Peter King this morning with Mitch on Browner/Sherman possible suspensions: "I doubt sincerely its going to be overturned." Great.—Dave Softy Mahler (@Softykjr) November 29, 2012
Which only really means one thing—the appeals process could be dragged out so that both players finish the regular season, yet it's likely they won't be able to make a postseason appearance if they do indeed lose their appeal.
The question I pose is this: As a follower of the Seahawks, would you rather have Browner and Sherman available at the end of the regular season, or during the playoffs? There's no right or wrong answer, I just think it would be smart to sit both players right now.
That way they can help the Seahawks get into the playoffs and, if they do make it, then decide what's best for the team.
There's a lot of uncertainty surrounding the situation, but one thing that is for certain is that both cornerbacks will be needed this week to shutdown Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall.
Let's take a look at which matchups the 'Hawks will undoubtedly need to win if they want to shut down the 8-3 Chicago Bears.
When the Seahawks Are On Defense: Brandon Browner vs. Brandon Marshall
It's rare to see the talented Marshall move off of his left-wide receiver spot—he's most comfortable on the left side of the field—which means he will see plenty of No. 39 in coverage.
These two players have never squared off against one another, yet that doesn't mean an instant rivalry won't blossom. Both players are aggressive and highly talented. Marshall is currently the fifth-best wide receiver in the league, according to Pro Football Focus.
Through 11 games he has hooked up with quarterback Jay Cutler 81 times for 1,017 yards and eight touchdowns. Not to mention there has been six games in which Cutler has targeted him 10-plus times. Compare that to last year when Marshall was with the Miami Dolphins and he only saw six 10-plus targets games all season in 2011.
There's no question Browner will see plenty of action come Sunday, but will he be ready for it? At no point this season has any quarterback besides Tom Brady thrown his way more than 10 times. Additionally, he only has one game to his name in 2012 in which he has allowed more than five receptions.
And honestly, the best game of his two-year career came against this same Chicago Bears team. The only difference was that Caleb Hanie was the quarterback under center last season when Cutler was sidelined due to injury.
Hanie targeted Browner four times in that game—he completed one pass on him for 17 yards and his quarterback rating was an astonishing 5.2 when throwing at him. Not to mention he was picked off once when Browner baited him with off-coverage and jumped his route for an interception and a pick-six.
To think it couldn't happen again would be foolish. Cutler has tossed 11 interceptions on 286 attempts in 2012 and averages at least one turnover a game through the air. The passing attack runs through Marshall, yet if he doesn't get open the Bears offense doesn't have a prayer of having a big day.
When the Seahawks Are On Offense: Marshawn Lynch vs. Chicago's Front Seven
After tough sledding on the ground in Week 12, "Beast Mode" Marshawn Lynch will be looking to get back to normalcy. Heading into Week 13, No. 24 is coming off his worst game of the season. Against Miami, he was held to a minuscule 2.5 yards per carry on 19 attempts and for the first time in three weeks was kept out of the end zone.
Yet, his performance says less about him and more about the offensive line. To be blunt, the offensive line didn't provide any running room for the Pro Bowl running back. Of Lynch's 46 yards rushing, he had to pick up 42 of those yards after contact. His 2.2 yards after contact against Miami was down a bit from his season average of 2.7 yards after contact.
Unfortunately for Pete Carroll, things don't get any easier this week. The Bears defense is statistically the third-best overall unit in the NFL and the eighth best against the run. However, stats don't always tell the whole story. Over the course of the first six games, only the Packers in Week 2 managed to rack up over a 100 yards on the ground.
Over the Bears last five games, Carolina, Tennessee, Houston, San Francisco and Minnesota all went over the 100-yard rushing mark as a team. So, even though the Bears' defensive numbers look good on paper, things have been shaky as of late.
As a member of the Seahawks, Lynch has been less than impressive against Brian Urlacher and company. In two appearances he has played like a man stuck in quick sand—24 carries for 44 yards and 35 yards after contact. Two touchdowns as well, both of them came in the Seahawks 38-14 victory in 2011.
Even with less than impressive numbers, there are reasons to believe that this week can be different.
In the screenshot above you can see that Lynch is facing a loaded box, and it's safe to say he will see more of the same come Sunday. In the two prior matchups against Seattle, he saw that same look more often than not.
You may ask, why do the Bears always stack the box when they play the Seahawks?
Because they are not scared of the Seahawks' passing attack. Chicago dares Seattle to beat them through the air, and they will continue to do that until the 'Hawks finally do.
In the breakdown of this play above, you can see that Michael Robinson's block in the B-gap is one of the blocks that sprang Lynch for a nice gain. It would be wrong of me if I didn't mention the left tackles block on Peppers as well.
Robinson may only be a fullback to some, but his play is just as crucial as any offensive lineman's play. Even though Lynch is having a strong season statistically, he could easily lead the league in rushing if Robinson was doing a better job in front of him.
Currently, Pro Football Focus has Robinson as the second-worst run blocking fullback in the NFL. Quite the fall after a Pro Bowl appearance in 2011. He needs to find that same blocking magic he displayed in the play above, or the Seahawks will need to run more out of single-back formations.
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