Can the Seahawks contain All-Pro defensive end Myles Garrett?
Yes, we're starting with the obvious.
Just about every defense in the NFL features players whom opposing offenses have to worry, but very few teams have a pass rusher quite like Myles Garrett, a former No. 1 overall pick who is a four-time All-Pro and Pro-Bowler, and who has 82 sacks in 90 career games, including 7.5 this season.
"Myles Garrett is having a tremendous year and he's a heck of a player," said Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith. "They're very stout up front, it starts with him, but they have a bunch of different guys; Za'Darius Smith, Dalvin Tomlinson, they have a bunch of rotational guys. All of their guys do a really good job and I think Myles gets a lot of the credit. He's got about 7.5 sacks already. That's well deserved, he's one of the better edge rushers in the game. We have to create a plan for him and go out there and execute."
The Seahawks are getting healthier this week, but are still without starting right tackle Abraham Lucas, who is on injured reserve, and right guard Phil Haynes is doubtful to play, but they have confidence in the players who have been filling in. And whether it's Stone Forsythe at right tackle or Charles Cross on the left side, or any other combinations of linemen, tight ends and running backs tasked with protecting Smith, they know they'll have to be on top of their game when it comes to slowing down Garrett.
"Obviously he's a very good player, we have great players over here," said Cross. "I feel like it's going to be a great matchup between us."
Does Seattle's defense continue its streak of dominance?
While the Browns have been one of the NFL's best defensive teams throughout the season—a Week 7 hiccup against Indianapolis notwithstanding, the Seahawks have been one of the best by just about any measure over the past month.
In their last three games, the Seahawks have allowed a total of 30 points, and only three in the second half, and they've held three straight opponents under 250 yards for the first time since 2015. And while the Browns will present their challenges on offense, especially with their running game, the Seahawks don't see what they've done the past few games as an outlier, but rather a standard they can live up to moving forward.
"I think it is sustainable, but there are a lot of things that we can still do better," linebacker Bobby Wagner said. "Even in this last game, we let some of the runs get out on us, that's stuff that we could fix. It wasn't anything that they did per se, it was plays that we could've made to eliminate that. It's also a reminder that we have to stay on our thing, do our things right or things like that can happen. There's still so much I feel like we can improve on, and I feel like we've got the guys to do it."
Can the Seahawks take advantage of Cleveland's propensity to turn the ball over?
For all the things the Browns have done well this season on their way to a 4-2 start, one negative the Seahawks would love to see continue this week is Cleveland's lack of ball security. In part due to injuries at both quarterback—the Browns will start backup P.J. Walker this week—and running back, the Browns have committed 14 turnovers in six games, the second most in the NFL, and have committed multiple turnovers in five of six games. Cleveland's minus-six turnover differential also near the bottom of the league rankings at 29th.
After beating Arizona despite a minus-three differential last year—a first for the Seahawks since 2013—Seattle would love to be the team benefitting from turnovers this time around.
Will Seattle's improvements on third down continue against the league's best third down defense?
The Seahawks offense ranks 24th in third-down conversions, succeeding at a 35.7 percent rate, but they've been better of late, going 5 for 12 against Cincinnati, then a season-best 7 for 13 last week against the Cardinals.
Keeping that up won't be easy, however, as the Browns feature the league's No. 1 third-down defense, holding opponents to a 25.5 percent conversion rate.
"I think for them it starts with the rush," offensive coordinator Shane Waldron said of Cleveland's third-down defense. "Really their first, second, third down plan starts with the rush. (Defensive coordinator Jim) Schwartz does such a good job, everywhere he has been that defensive line is rolling off the ball. They're creating havoc, chaos. Then starting with Garrett, with great players added into that. So it starts up front, and then they do a good job on the second and third level playing sticky coverage throughout and mixing and matching like everyone does throughout the league. For us, having great communication, being in great time and rhythm in the passing game on those third down scenarios, starts there, and then see where it goes from there."
But seriously, how great do those throwbacks look in person and on the field?
By now you know the Seahawks are wearing their throwback uniforms on Sunday, and you've no-doubt seen pictures of them on Seahawks.com or on social media, but Sunday's game will mark the first time a large audience has seen them in person. From fans to players to coaches, just about everyone is fired up about debuting the throwbacks.
"It's just fun, we're just having fun with it," Carroll said. "One thing we did talk about is the idea is we are kind of representing the teams of the 90's. We're going to carry that with us and try to perform with the thought of trying to connect the message. Those guys that played back then and that were all a part of that whole image of what the Seahawks are all about and the fans that liked it, it's a special moment to connect it. It's crazy as that is, it's just football, but it's fun. We're going to try to do a really good job of that."
The Seahawks are set to take on the Cleveland Browns at Lumen Field in Week 8. Check out some of the best players to play for both the Seattle Seahawks and Cleveland Browns.