By Tom Krasniqi
A seemingly impossible task awaits the 0-7 Bucs as they travel to Seattle today to take on the 7-1 Seahawks from CenturyLink Field at 4:05pm (620 WDAE, 95.3FM, 103.5FM). Tampa Bay has dropped 12 of their last 13 dating back to last season. Seattle is coming off a lackluster 14-9 win at St. Louis on Monday night but they’ve won 11 straight games at home.
The Bucs struggling offense will have a tough time moving the ball against Seattle’s vaunted defense. Tampa Bay ranks next to last in the NFL in points scored (14.3 per game) and total yards (298 per game). The Seahawks are 4th in the NFL in total defense, allowing 289.3 yards per contest.
Dealing with the raucous crowd will be imperative for rookie quarterback Mike Glennon and the Bucs offense. During the week at practice, the Bucs blasted loud crowd noise and music to try and simulate what they’ll see today in the toughest venue in football. Bucs need to run the football to have a chance. Seattle is 15th in rush defense and allowed the Rams to rush for 200 yards last Monday night. Rookie Mike James will get start at running back again for the Bucs with Doug Martin (shoulder) out again. Last week against Carolina, James had 10 carries for 39 yards in the 31-13 loss to Carolina. Glennon threw the football a whopping 51 times last week. If he throws it that many times this week, the Bucs will get their doors blown off.
Seattle’s defense is aggressive and talented across the board. Former Bucs DE Michael Bennett has played well and he leads the team with 4.5 sacks. Bruce Irvin, Cliff Avril and Chris Clemons are also terrific pass rushers. Bobby Wagner is a playmaker at middle linebacker. The strength of Seattle’s defense is their secondary. Cornerbacks Richard Sherman (6-3, 195) and Brandon Browner (6-4, 221) are huge. Safeties Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas are big time players. The Seahawks have dubbed their secondary “The Legion of Boom” and have the best secondary in the NFL. Throwing the ball more than 35 times against this group would be suicide. Vincent Jackson is the most heavily targeted receiver in the NFL so far with 90 targets. He will likely see plenty of Sherman. With WR Mike Williams done for the rest of the season, the Bucs will lean on Tiquan Underwood and Chris Owusu to pick up the slack. Tight end Tim Wright also figures to be a big part of the passing game. Tampa Bay has to be productive on first and second down. If they get to 3rd and long, it will be a very long day.
The Bucs defense has not played well in recent weeks. Tampa Bay has allowed 31 points per game over their last three. Cam Newton beat them with his arm and legs last week. This week, the Bucs will have to contend with another all-around threat at quarterback in Russell Wilson. Wilson, like Newton, can make big plays from the pocket or on the run. The Bucs defense has to be disciplined in their assignments and cannot afford to lose contain against Wilson. Running back Marshawn Lynch is a tough customer and very difficult to tackle. Cornerback Darrelle Revis told me Lynch is the hardest back in the league to tackle and the Bucs must gang-tackle him. Revis figures to match up against WR Golden Tate, who leads Seattle in receiving. WR Percy Harvin (hip) is not ready to play. The Bucs recorded 3 sacks last week and must apply pressure on Wilson to have a chance. Seattle’s offensive line is banged up and it shows. Wilson has been sacked 27 times this season.
The Seahawks lead the all time series 7-4. The Bucs have won the last three meetings, including a 24-7 win at Seattle back in 2009. Both teams began play back in 1976.
Prediction: Good teams seem to win when they’re not at their best. For the Seahawks, that was last week when they pulled out a win at St. Louis. The ‘Hawks are back home where they are nearly invincible. Wilson and Lynch will lead the charge against a faltering Bucs defense. It will be extremely difficult for Glennon to move the ball against the Seahawks defense. This is a bad matchup. 34-13 Seattle.