The Seattle Seahawks will continue their quest towards the playoffs this Sunday while the Buffalo Bills will try to provide them with better competition than the Arizona Cardinals did this past weekend. It shouldn’t be difficult.
After a 58-0 blowout against its division rival, Seattle has improved to 8-5 and has put itself in excellent position to extend its season.
The Bills' season looks like it will be a disappointment from start to finish, and the team is playing mostly for pride at this point.
Here is everything you need to know about the matchup.
Where: Rogers Centre, Toronto, Canada
When: Sunday, December 16, 4:05 p.m. ET
Listen: WGR 550 AM, Sirius 85 (Buffalo), 710 AM ESPN, 97.3 FM KIRO (Seattle)
Spread: Seahawks -5.5 (according to Sports Book)
Seahawks Injuries (via ESPN, as of Dec. 11)
CB Marcus Trufant, Questionable, Hamstring
WR Sidney Rice, Probable, Head
RB Marshawn Lynch, Probable, Back
CB Chris Maragos, Questionable, Hamstring
Bills Injuries (via ESPN, as of Dec. 11)
CB Aaron Williams, Questionable, Knee
DE Mark Anderson, Questionable, Knee
RB Fred Jackson, Out, Knee
What’s At Stake
The Seahawks have breathing room and momentum in the playoff race, but they are by no means safe. The Washington Redskins, Dallas Cowboys and Minnesota Vikings all sit just one game back, and a single poor performance down the stretch could launch Seattle into the frightening and uncertain world of tiebreakers.
For the Bills, a postseason berth is all but impossible save for a slim mathematical chance, but professional pride is still at stake. The team will be looking to get as many positive results out of this season as possible.
This matchup is all about the running backs. Marshawn Lynch is coming off a three-touchdown performance in the blowout against Arizona, and his fantasy owners will be pleased if he has anywhere close to the same success against Buffalo.
C.J. Spiller is flirting with finishing the season as a Top 10 running back despite seeing limited touches, and a few fine performances to end the year will help him break through. It will be difficult for the lackluster Bills passing attack to through against Seattle’s talented secondary, and Spiller will see the ball often in this contest.
Seahawks Player to Watch: Russell Wilson, Quarterback
While Marshawn Lynch is the centerpiece of the Seahawks' offense, Russell Wilson will be the difference-maker for this team. If he continues to improve and progress against the Bills and through to the end of the regular season, Seattle will be a dangerous team in the playoffs.
But the Seahawks could also miss out on the postseason or flame out in the first round if his inexperience catches up with him. From this point on, Wilson will need to lead this team, and it will go as far as he can take it.
Bills Player to Watch: Stevie Johnson
The speedy wideout has been the Bills' best receiver, but that is not that impressive of an accomplishment considering the Buffalo passing offense ranks 25th in the league. But Johnson is the team's top downfield threat.
While the Bills' offensive attack will need to be run-heavy, the coaching staff will be looking for a player to step up and win battles with the Seattle secondary. If Johnson is able to have success in this matchup, Buffalo will be competitive.
What They’re Saying
The Seattle Times’ Danny O’Neil noted that the Seahawks will be one of the most intriguing teams to follow for the next few weeks.
Well, it could mean a lot, because if Seattle (8-5) beats Buffalo in Toronto on Sunday and San Francisco (9-3-1) loses at New England later that day, then next week's game between Seattle and San Francisco will be for the division lead.
NBC altered its Sunday night schedule for the first time this year so that it could feature the Seahawks and 49ers. The network swapped out the Jets-Chargers game initially scheduled for that time slot.
AP Sports Writer John Wawrow (via The Royal Oak Daily Tribune) points out that Bills fans once again have to listen to the head coach speak about next season in December.
Acknowledging the Buffalo Bills have spent a portion of this season spinning their wheels, coach Chan Gailey maintains that the team is headed in the right direction — and he’s already making plans for next year.
“Now, we don’t have many wins to show for it at this point, but I believe we can get there,” Gailey said Monday. “And I have a great deal of confidence in the direction we’re headed.”
Key Matchup: C.J. Spiller vs. Seattle's Front Seven
The Seahawks' secondary is incredibly talented, and the Bills must find success in the ground game to help out Ryan Fitzpatrick. If Seattle is able to stuff the run without making any adjustments, the defensive backs will make game-changing plays.
But if Spiller is able to establish himself early and force more defenders into the box, the Bills just may be able to find a receiver open down the field. Finding success on the ground early will be Buffalo’s only hope in this game.
Will Seattle reach the postseason?
Prediction: Seattle 24, Buffalo 14
The Seahawks won’t unleash a beatdown like they did last week, and the team will look significantly more ordinary. Still, Buffalo will struggle on offense, and Seattle will get the result it needs on the road.