Four Matchups To Watch: Seahawks at Texans

Posted Sep 28, 2013

A look at the Seahawks’ game against the Texans in Houston on Sunday, including four matchups that could impact the outcome.

When: Sunday, 10 a.m. PT, Reliant Stadium, Houston

Records: Seahawks 3-0 and lead the NFC West after last week’s 45-17 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars at home; Texans are 2-1 and tied for first in the AFC South after last week’s 30-9 loss to the Ravens in Baltimore

TV: Fox (Q13 in Seattle), with Chris Myers, Tim Ryan and Jennifer Hale

Radio: 710 ESPN and 97.3 FM, with Steve Raible, Warren Moon and Jen Mueller

Rest of the West: 49ers (2-2) beat the Rams (1-3) 35-11 on Thursday night; Cardinals (1-2) at Buccaneers

Matchup Microscope

The Seahawks’ offense vs. Texans DE J.J. Watt: The initial reaction might be that it’s silly to have one player be the focus of the entire offense. But it’s not, because that player is Watt. He’s not only productive, he’s disruptive. He had 20.5 sacks last season, when he was named NFL Defensive Player of the Year. This season, he has three sacks, but also seven QB hits, six tackles for losses and three passes defensed – in three games. The Seahawks will not only have to find him on every play, they’ll have to find a way to slow his relentless rush. While Watt is listed as the left end, that doesn’t mean he’ll always be there. So this goes beyond either Breno Giacomini or Michael Bowie at right tackle; or even Paul McQuistan, who is starting at left tackle because Pro Bowler Russell Okung is out with a toe injury. They’ll need help from the tight ends, backs and even guards.

One To Watch

Seahawks RB Marshawn Lynch vs. Texans RB Arian Foster: They appeared in a TV commercial together during the offseason. They were on opposite sidelines during the Pro Bowl in January. Sunday, the winner of their mano-a-mano matchup – if not one-on-one matchup – should significantly impact the outcome of the game. Last season, Lynch averaged a career-best 5.0 yards per carry while running for a career-high 1,590 yards, including 10 games with at least 100 yards. This season, he is averaging 3.4 yards per carry and is on pace for a 1,120-yard season as the Seahawks’ first three opponents have stacked their defenses to stop Lynch. Last season, Foster was second in the AFC with 1,424 yards and also ran for 15 TDs. This season, he is averaging 3.9 yards per carry, has one rushing touchdown and is on pace for a 1,103-yard season.

Fun To Watch

Seahawks QB Russell Wilson vs. the situation: Last week, all the fuss was about Wilson starting slow in the first two games, as he was 1 of 12 for 1 yard in the first quarters against the Carolina Panthers and San Francisco 49ers. A 4-of-7 first quarter against the Jacksonville Jaguars last Sunday that included a touchdown pass silenced that talk. Wilson going on to throw three more TD passes before calling it a day midway through the third quarter turned any question marks into exclamation points. Now comes another championship opportunity, against a good defense, on the road, with a 10 a.m. West Coast start. The odds appear to be stacked against Wilson and his team, but the second-year QB already has shown it’s not a safe bet to doubt him.

One Tough Task

Texans QB Matt Schaub vs. the Seahawks’ Legion of Boom secondary: Schaub has had an interception returned for a touchdown in each of the past two games. The Seahawks are tied for second in the league with five interceptions – including two by strong safety Kam Chancellor and one each by free safety Earl Thomas and cornerback Richard Sherman, who has five picks in his last seven regular-season games. Suffice it to say that this is not the same Seahawks secondary that Schaub exploited in 2009 with a 29-of-39, 365-yard, two-TD performance, as Thomas and Chancellor (2010 NFL Draft), Sherman (2011 NFL Draft) and cornerback Brandon Browner (2011 free-agent signing) have been added since that season.

Worth Noting

The series is tied, with the Texans winning 34-7 in Houston in 2009 and the Seahawks winning 41-10 in Seattle in 2005. … The Seahawks are riding an eight-game winning streak in the regular season, dating back to last season, and have outscored those opponents by an average score of 34.9-10.9. … The Texans have won five of their past six home games in September. … WR Andre Johnson gets most of the attention for the Texans, and rightfully so as he is averaging NFL-bests of 81.6 receiving yards and 6.0 receptions in 141 career games, and also has 45 career 100-yard games. But DeAndre Hopkins leads all NFL rookies in receptions (18) and receiving yards (243). … RB Ben Tate, Foster’s backup, is averaging 6.8 yards on 28 carries. … This is the second of four consecutive games against the teams from the AFC South for the Seahawks, who played the Jaguars last week; will play the Colts in Indianapolis next week; and host the Tennessee Titans on Oct. 13. … MLB Bobby Wagner leads the Seahawks with 24 tackles. … ILB Brian Cushing leads the Texans with 34 tackles.