Game Preview: Seahawks-Buccaneers

Game Preview: Seahawks-Buccaneers

Seahawks cornerback Marcus Trufant (left) has struggled since coming off the PUP list, but a non-existent pass rush and the defense using more man coverage haven't done him many favors.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-12) at Seattle Seahawks (5-8)

Time & Place:
Sunday, December 20, 2009
Qwest Field
Seattle, WA
1:15pm PT

Regular season series: Seattle holds a 7-2 edge in regular season games since the Seahawks and Buccaneers entered the NFL in 1976. The Seahawks have won 3 of the last 4 meetings, and have won 3 of 4 regular season meetings in Seattle.

Notable Newcomers

Tampa Bay
Connor Barth, K (UFA, Miami)
Michael Bennett, DE (Waivers, Seattle)
Rudy Carpenter, QB (Signed off Dallas' practice squad)
Tim Crowder, DE (UFA, Denver)
Yamon Figurs, WR/KR (UFA, Detroit)
Niko Koutouvides, LB (UFA, Denver)
Sam Paulescu, P (UFA, Washington)
Derrick Ward, RB (UFA, New York Giants)
Kellen Winslow, TE (Trade, Cleveland)

Seattle
T.J. Houshmandzadeh, WR (UFA, Cincinnati)
Colin Cole, DT (UFA, Green Bay)
Mike Gibson, G (Signed off Philadelphia's practice squad)
John Owens, TE (UFA, Detroit)
Ken Lucas, CB (UFA, Carolina)
Lawyer Milloy, S (UFA, Atlanta)
Cory Redding, DE (Trade, Detroit)

2009 Draft Class

Tampa Bay
Josh Freeman, QB, Kansas State (1st round, 17th overall)
Roy Miller, DT, Texas (3rd round, 81st overall)
Kyle Moore, DE, USC (4th round, 117th overall)
*Xavier Fulton, T, Illinois (5th round, 155th overall)
*E.J. Biggers, CB, Western Michigan (7th round, 217th overall)
Sammie Stroughter, WR, Oregon State (7th round, 233rd overall)

Seattle
Aaron Curry, LB, Wake Forest (1st round, 4th overall)
Max Unger, C/G, Oregon (2nd round, 49th overall)
Deon Butler, WR, Penn State (3rd round, 91st overall)
Mike Teel, QB, Rutgers (6th round, 178th overall)
**Courtney Greene, S, Rutgers (7th round, 245th overall)
Nick Reed, DE, Oregon (7th round, 247th overall)
Cameron Morrah, TE, California (7th round, 248th overall)
*-Injured Reserve
**-Waived

Stats & Rankings

Tampa Bay

Offense
Total: 28th (278.2 yards per game)
Passing: 25th (179.9 yards per game)
Rushing: 25th (98.2 yards per game)
Scoring: 29th (14.6 points per game)

Defense
Total: 26th (361.5 yards per game)
Passing: 7th (200.2 yards per game)
Rushing: 31st (161.2 yards per game)
Scoring: 30th (27.4 points per game)

Turnover Ratio: t-28th (-9)

Seattle 

Offense
Total: 23rd (314.5 yards per game)
Passing: 15th (223.5 yards per game)
Rushing: 28th (91.0 yards per game)
Scoring: 21st (19.2 points per game)

Defense
Total: 22nd (357.2 yards per game)
Passing: 29th (252.8 yards per game)
Rushing: t-11th (104.3 yards per game)
Scoring: 22nd (23.2 points per game)

Turnover Ratio: t-14th (-1)

Injury Report

Tampa Bay

OUT: WR Michael Clayton (knee), TE John Gilmore (head)
Questionable: LB Geno Hayes (hamstring), CB Derrick Roberson (groin), WR Sammie Stroughter (lower back), TE Kellen Winslow (knee)
Probable: G Davin Joseph (shoulder), DT Roy Miller (ankle)

Seattle

OUT: WR Nate Burleson (ankle)
Questionable: LB D.D. Lewis (knee)
Probable: LB Aaron Curry (hip)

TV/Radio

FOX is sending Ron Pitts and John Lynch to cover the game, which will be shown on Q 13. Steve Raible, Warren Moon, and Jen Mueller have the radio call, which can be heard on 710 ESPN Seattle and 97.3FM.

Vegas Line: Seahawks -6 ½ (o/u 39 ½)

Keys to the Game

Run the Ball – With Nate Burleson out with a high ankle sprain, and Seattle working with a new offensive line configuration, expect to see the ‘Hawks lean a little more heavily on their running game. The Buccaneers have the NFL's 31st-ranked run defense, so Julius Jones, Justin Forsett, and Louis Rankin—who should be active on Sunday—should be able to keep the chains and clock moving on Sunday.

Get Deon Butler Involved Early – As disappointing as it is that Deion Branch—not Deon Butler—will start opposite T.J. Houshmandzadeh, the Seahawks have run 44% of their offense from "Zebra" (1 RB, 3 WR) personnel. So as the third receiver, Butler should still plenty of playing time, and hopefully plenty of opportunities to see whether or not he can be a starting receiver in 2010, when both Branch and Burleson could be off the roster.

Marcus Trufant vs. Antonio Bryant – Despite missing all of training camp and the first six weeks of the regular season with a back injury, the Seahawks have matched Trufant up against the opponents' top receiver the last four weeks. With him being nowhere near mid-season form, and the Seahawks possessing a non-existent pass rush, Pro Bowl-caliber quarterbacks like Brett Favre and Matt Schuab, and Pro Bowl-caliber receivers like Sidney Rice and Andre Johnson, have capitalized on this match-up, besting Trufant to the tune of 17 receptions, 282 yards, and 4 touchdowns in two blowout losses. When facing first-round reclamation projects at quarterback, like Kyle Boller and Alex Smith, who were throwing to rookie wide receivers Michael Crabtree and Brandon Gibson, Trufant held his own, limiting them to just 9 receptions for 78 yards in a pair of Seahawks' wins.

Bryant, who is playing under the one-year franchise tag worth $9.844 million dollars, has just 29 receptions and three touchdowns on the season, but he's a big-play threat and has had solid performances on the road in recent weeks. With Michael Clayton out, and Buccaneers leading receiver Kellen Winslow questionable, Trufant shutting Bryant down could be the difference between an expected home win against a one-win team and (another) soul-crushing loss.

NorthwestFootball.net Prediction

Shutouts are hard to come by in the NFL, so it's not fair to expect one on Sunday. However, hosting a one-win team from Florida, who is starting a rookie at quarterback just a few days before Christmas, should produce a final score similar to the 41-0 pasting the ‘Hawks put on the Jaguars earlier this season. If this game is close, or if the unthinkable happens and the Seahawks lose to the Buccaneers, the VMAC will be placed on DEFCON 5 as the calls for Mike Holmgren's return grow much, much louder.

Pick: Seahawks 34, Buccaneers 10


In addition to writing for NorthwestFootball.net, Brian McIntyre blogs daily at Mac's Football Blog. You can follow Brian on Twitter, and if you'd like to e-mail him, you can always do so by clicking here.

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