It's raining in Seattle today, which is good for the Seahawks and bad for Phillip Rivers, but sadly Qwest Field drains revolutionarily fast so it remains to be seen how impactful the weather will be. Still, you don't win a game by poor conditions alone, so what are the keys for a Seahawks victory?
- Survive the first quarter. The San Diego Chargers are the top rated team in the league in the first quarter (based on Football Outsiders' DVOA), while the Seahawks rank dead last. It is absolutely crucial that the offense comes out and scores early, while limiting the Chargers from rolling too hard. We know we've got the defense to do it, but Matt has to start the game ready to play -- no more first quarter INTs.
- Run the ball early, often, and effectively. My only major criticism of Pete Carroll so far has been how he has handled the run game. Splitting carries amongst three to five 5-Star recruits is one thing, but when there is a single clear starter (Forsett) you have no choice but to give him the ball and let him run. The other two backs have not even halved his YPC numbers, and no one looks stronger or more elusive than Young Nastyman. What other "starting" RB has only 15 carries despite a 5.8 YPC average? Sorry, Pete, but that's idiotic.
- Earl Thomas. The Chargers are known for their "large chunk" game -- they will run the ball enough to keep you interested, then toss the ball 45 yards down the sideline and hope to win that battle 50% of the time. That's where big bad Earl Thomas comes in... he's got to have his best game as a pro (best of three...), and hopefully pull off his first INT or maybe two. Big momentum shifts mean something at home, and few safeties have the range that Thomas does. If he can stay disciplined, we're in good shape.
- Big plays. Here's lookin' at you, Golden. The Seahawks need a few big plays today. We're not going to dominate the Chargers, and talent-wise, they've probably got the edge. The 12th Man could end up playing the biggest role, but sparking things on Leon Washington's kick returns, Golden Tate's punt returns, Earl Thomas' interceptions, or just a big gain down the middle by Big Mike Williams with a few missed tackles could go a long way towards securing this win. We're underdogs for a reason, but that doesn't mean we can't win.
- 12th Man. Do your worst, fans!