Seahawks' lack of invincibility offers Lions hope

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News

Allen Park — The Detroit Lions would have rather won the division, would have rather hosted a playoff game at Ford Field. But all things considered, of the team’s three possible road opponents in the wild-card round of the playoffs, the Seattle Seahawks were arguably the optimal option.

That’s not to say it will be easy. The Seahawks have won nine consecutive playoff games at home and the team has a wealth of postseason experience with back-to-back Super Bowl appearances, but this team is different, more vulnerable than previous versions.

You start with Seattle’s offensive identity. For years, they’ve been a rushing team, behind the powerful legs of Marshawn Lynch. They had finished in the top-5 in rushing yards the past four seasons. This year, they were 25th, and tied for 24th in yards per carry.

The NFL’s research department noted that the Seahawks had 18 different players record a carry, the most since the 1987 season, when a strike had replacement players playing some of the games. The team’s leading rusher, Christine Michael, was released by the team in November and is currently on Green Bay’s roster.

Defensively, Seattle continues to be one of the NFL’s best. They finished fifth in yards allowed (318.7) and third in points (18.3), but the unit arguably lost its best player when four-time All-Pro safety Earl Thomas suffered a broken leg in Week 13.

“Well, it’s really hard,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. “He’s an extraordinary player, you know. There’s just one of him. You’re not going to get a guy that’s going to be like him, you’re going to get the next version and Steven Terrell has done a nice job for us.”

Head coach Pete Carroll of the Seattle Seahawks has seen 18 different players carry the ball this season.

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In the five weeks since Thomas’ injury, the Seahawks have surrendered 38 points to the Packers and 34 in their lone home loss to the Cardinals.

A look at the advanced metrics is even more troubling. The defense’s DVOA, which evaluates players and teams from a league-average baseline based on situation, ranks 30th since Thomas went down.

And there are other areas of concern in Seattle. The offensive line has struggled much of the year, allowing 111 quarterback hits. The team also lost No. 2 receiver and dynamic return man Tyler Lockett to a broken leg earlier this month.

Even with all that, the Lions remain an eight-point underdog. They should be. But if there was ever a good time to catch Seattle, this would be it.

jdrogers@detnews.com

Twitter: @justin_rogers