Two years removed from winning its fourth consecutive NFC West title, Seattle (2-5) has six wins in its last 23 games. The Seahawks’ most recent loss, 38-17 at Dallas last Sunday, again showed how far they are from becoming a serious contender.
“We are going to find out who the strong people are, and they are going to be here fighting with us until the end,” said first-year Seattle coach Jim Mora, who has put his team on notice regarding their accountability.
Mora already released third-string veteran cornerback Travis Fisher and ineffective running back Edgerrin James this week.
Despite being outscored 65-20 in losses to Dallas and Arizona after a 41-0 win over Jacksonville on Oct. 11, the Seahawks have a chance to bounce back against Detroit (1-6). The Lions have lost four in a row since snapping their 19-game losing streak with a 19-14 win over Washington on Sept. 27.
Coming off a 17-10 loss to previously winless St. Louis, the Lions have won two of their past 31 games. The last team with two victories in a 31-game stretch was the Houston Oilers during the 1982-84 seasons.
Seattle has won its last two meetings with the Lions, most recently 9-6 at Detroit on Sept. 10, 2006.
The Seahawks are expected to have quarterback Matt Hasselbeck starting despite missing practice time due to broken ribs.
Hasselbeck, who’s 11 completions shy of tying Dave Krieg for the most in franchise history, was 22 of 39 for 249 yards with two touchdowns against the Cowboys. He’s 46 of 58 for 417 yards with a TD in his last two games versus the Lions.
He’ll also try to get back in sync with receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh, who had words with Hasselbeck after an incompletion between the two against Dallas.
Houshmandzadeh, who signed a $40 million, five-year contract in the spring, had 92 receptions last season with Cincinnati but only 35 through seven games this season and has said repeatedly he wants the ball more.
“That’s kind of his demeanor,” Hasselbeck said of Houshmandzadeh’s fire. “There’s no issue there. The issue is, we have to complete more passes.”
While Hasselbeck and Houshmandzadeh have a chance to thrive against Detroit’s 27th-ranked pass defense that allows 251.9 yards per game, Seattle would also like to get its running game going.
Paced by 56 yards on 15 carries from Julius Jones, Seattle managed 79 yards on the ground against the Cowboys, one week after totaling a season-low 14 versus the Cardinals. The Seahawks are averaging 88.7 rushing yards — fourth-worst in the NFL — and haven’t scored on the ground in three straight contests.
The Lions, who allowed 150 rushing yards to St. Louis, have issues on both sides of the ball. Their most pressing, however, could be on offense where star receiver Calvin Johnson could miss a third straight game with a knee injury.
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Detroit has scored 10 points in the two games without their biggest offensive threat who’s caught 22 passes for a team-leading 325 yards with a touchdown.
Against the Rams, rookie quarterback Matthew Stafford was 14 of 33 passes for 168 yards, and didn’t complete a pass to a wide receiver until the fourth quarter.
“Calvin affects the coverages we see and everything that teams do against us, because they always have to account for him,” said first-year Lions coach Jim Schwartz, whose team ranks 25th in total offense (292.6 yards per game).
While Johnson is likely a game-time decision, so too could be running back Kevin Smith. Smith’s rushed 125 times for 393 yards and three touchdowns this season, but aggravated a shoulder injury against the Rams.
While Seattle is 2-2 at home, Detroit has lost 15 straight road games since winning 16-7 at Chicago on Oct. 28, 2007.