by: Chris Sullivan
Call it the 'game changer' that never was. At the beginning of the year, I think all of us were looking to this game as the most important non-divisional matchup of the year, a way to really test the Seahawks resolve after narrowly beating the Redskins (in our mind) and getting ready to take out the winless Pats 10 days later. Well... uh... abouuut that...
The main reason people are paying attention to this game now is that it happens to be on. Oh, and its still a lot better than the Titans vs. the Lions, but then, I think watching Nascar with the Golf Channel picture in picture is going to be more entertaining than any Lions games this year.
The Seahawks are playing spoiler from here on out, and lets be honest, they're also playing for pride (what's left of it). As Sando has pointed out a few times, Holmgren needs to win 3 of the next 5 games to not have one of the top five worst 'final seasons' as a head coach (assuming he won't be HC elsewhere). Hasselbeck has been off all year for myriad reasons, but the bottom line is, we need him if we're going to win this year. So, lets look at the keys to the game:
- Hasselbeck must play more like a Matt and less like a Tim. Yeah, I said it, Matty has been playing like his brother out there this year -- he's just out of sync with his receivers and is making bad decisions when he forces things. We need a game out of Matt -- 60% completion percentage and no more than 1 interception. Hopefully a few touchdowns too. He's shown he is still the old Matt when things are clicking, but I think he needs to be the leader he can be and make sure things are clicking.
- Julius Jones must prove himself to Dallas and, more importantly, to Seattle. Jones has a chip on his shoulder for how he was treated in Dallas, and this is his opportunity to decorate that chip in an 11-layer dip known as the Dallas Cowboys defense. (I've never been one for metaphors.) More importantly, Jones needs to continue proving himself to Holmgren and the Seahawks, because for whatever reason, Mike doesn't appear convinced. I personally wonder if Mike is trying to give Morris as much exposure as he can (without being divisive) in order to get one of his guys a job in 2009. Either way, lets see 120 yards and 1 TD from Jones today, with Duckett picking up one or two for good measure.
- Trufant and Wilson must shut T.O. down. Make Romo rely on his inside routes or, better still, to an unfamiliar target in Roy Williams. If we keep T.O. frustrated, he drains the entire team of energy. Put some big bumps on him at the line and bigger hits on him down the field. The secondary needs to start trusting that they can stop these guys. We saw that a bit from Jennings finally last week, and I think Wilson has been understanding that technique can match talent if its good enough. We know Tru is solid.
- WIN IN THE TRENCHES. This should be there for every game. We need our Offensive Line to play. We figure to be playing the following week one starters: Walter Jones. Uh... GULP. Steve Vallos will get his first start today, and the rest of the line has slowly been decimated by minor injuries. Good thing it doesn't really matter at this point. On the defensive side of the ball, Mebane and Rocky have been doing a great job in recent weeks keeping that side of the ball competitive without Kerney. We need LoJack and Tapp to step up in this game, and we need Baraka Atkins to finally prove he deserves a spot on this team. Can he?