The Seahawks travel to Detroit this weekend looking to bounce back from a tough Week 1 loss, and they'll be facing a tough challenge in the Motor City. To learn more about the Lions, who opened their season with a road win over the defending Super Bowl champs, we reached out to detroitlions.com senior writer Tim Twentyman with five questions about this week's opponent:
There were already high expectations for the Lions before they went and won in Kansas City over the defending champs, how hyped is Ford Field going to be on Sunday, and on a related note, is the team embracing all the excitement about their potential for this season or trying to ignore it?
Twentyman: I've had the pleasure of watching a few games in Seattle and the 12s can get pretty darn loud, but Seattle should expect a crazy loud environment at Ford Field Sunday. It's expected to rival the 2011 Monday Night game against Chicago when it was so loud the Bears had nine false start penalties. I was at that game and my ears were still ringing hours after the contest. Lions fans have been waiting a long time for a consistent winner and the feeling in Detroit is that they've built the roster to finally accomplish that.
The coaches and players have embraced the expectations. In fact, they have high expectations for themselves. This is the strongest roster the Lions have had in my 15 years covering the team and everyone in Allen Park thinks this is a team that can make some serious noise in the NFC.
The Lions ranked 32nd in the NFL in total defense and tied for 28th in scoring defense last year, but the defense had a solid 2023 debut against the reigning MVP. What did Detroit do to get better on defense this offseason?
Twentyman: GM Brad Holmes made a concerted effort this offseason to revamp the secondary and that's been the biggest improvement to the defense in 2023. The additions of veterans C.J. Gardner-Johnson, Cam Sutton and Emmanuel Moseley are expected to make a huge difference. We already saw the impact last week in Kansas City that Gardner-Johnson and Sutton made, and Moseley could make his debut as soon as this week after rehabbing a torn ACL he suffered last October while starting at cornerback for the San Francisco 49ers. He didn't start the year on PUP so the Lions expect him back sooner rather than later.
The addition of rookie nickel corner Brian Branch has been huge, too. Branch has been so good he's played the nickel and the Lions have moved Gardner-Johnson to safety. The plan when signing Gardner-Johnson in free agency was for him to play the nickel, but this kid has been so good they can't keep him off the field. Branch had a 50-yard pick-six against Mahomes and the Chiefs last week and has been really good since Day 1 stepping on the field.
This may be somewhat related to the last question, but how much are the Lions counting on this year's rookie class to add to what was already a good team last year?
Twentyman: We talked about Branch and his impact, but the Lions got a number of terrific performances from their rookie class last week. The Lions didn't want to put too much on running back Jahmyr Gibbs' plate Week 1 but in just nine touches he forced a Week 1 high seven missed tackles. He's a big play just waiting to happen with his 4.3 speed and might be the best pass-catching running back I've seen in Detroit in my 15 years.
Linebacker Jack Campbell is part of a talented linebacker rotation in Detroit and had a nice diving pass breakup last week. He's a tackle machine. Tight end Sam LaPorta caught all five of his targets in Kansas City and was really good as a blocker. It was his block that helped spring running back David Montgomery for his game-winning touchdown run in the fourth quarter last week. All four of these players are key contributors early and can be impact players.
What player or players could you see being an X-factor for Detroit in this game?
Twentyman:Second-year edge rusher Aidan Hutchinson was a beast last week in Kansas City despite not recording a sack. He had four hurries and three hits on Mahomes and was a handful on the edge all contest. Hutchinson is coming off a nine-sack rookie season that also included three interceptions as he finished runner up for the Defensive Rookie of the Year.
Hutchinson will certainly be licking his chops on Sunday with some of the injury concerns Seattle currently has at both tackle spots going into this one. The Lions will move him around and rush him from both sides and he looks even better than he did as a rookie. He's poised for a huge season.
What matchup/matchups are you most looking forward to seeing play out on Sunday?
Twentyman: Seattle has a terrific trio at receiver with DK Metcalf, Tyler Lockett and rookie Jaxon Smith-Njigba. Seattle can sling it all over the field and Detroit's got to be prepared for the deep shots quarterback Geno Smith is so good at hitting on.
We talked about Detroit's revamped secondary, and I think that's the big matchup Sunday. Can Detroit's defense marry up their rush and coverage and limit the big play element in Seattle's passing game. Detroit wants to make the Seahawks drive the field and earn the points they get. No big plays. Detroit certainly hasn't forgotten that in the last two matchups between these two teams the last two seasons Seattle has put up 51 and 48 points, respectively.
The Seahawks and Lions face off on Sunday, Sept. 17, 2023 at Ford Field. Kickoff is set for 10:00 a.m. PT. Take a look back through history at the Seahawks' matchups against the Lions.