Last Sunday, the Seattle Seahawks showed the nation why they are one of the top, if not the top, defensive units in the NFL. Down 20-3 and struggling to get anything going in the first half against a Houston Texans team looking to rebound after an embarrassing loss, Seattle buckled down and fought their way back into the game.
Cutting their deficit to 14 after a Steven Hauschka field goal, Russell Wilson put the Seahawks on his back and executed a magnificent 98-yard drive that resulted in a Marshawn Lynch touchdown to cut the lead to 7. Then, with just over two minutes remaining in the game, do-it-all cornerback Richard Sherman intercepted an ill-advised Matt Schaub pass and took it back to the house to even up the score at 20.
Reinvigorated after battling back from a 17-point deficit, Seattle would eventually find themselves as 23-20 road victors after halting Houston's drives in an overtime period that saw Hauschka eventually nail a 45-yard field goal to keep the Seahawks record perfect.
Already having downed a potential playoff contender on the road, Seattle will have another tough test against the AFC South when they head to Indy to take on the 3-1 Indianapolis Colts on Sunday. There, they'll be facing a squad that has one of the top rushing attacks in the league as well as a defense that has flexed its muscle throughout the season.
Looking ahead to this highly-anticipated game, here are a few key individual matchups to play close attention to.
The first and one of the most important matchups in this game will be Bobby Wagner vs. Trent Richardson. While Richardson still has yet to really get going since being traded to the Colts, he is the definition of a power back who can blow through just about any defender. He can find the gaps in the defense as well as create his own by blowing through any opponent and putting the strongest of players on their backs.
Key to stopping him on Sunday for the Seahawks will be Bobby Wagner, who is a hard-hitter of his own and another stellar second-year player. Accumulating eight tackles—six solo—in Seattle's game against the Texans, he'll be an extremely valuable asset in looking to halt Indianapolis' offense as the Seahawks look to improve to 5-0. If he can push up against Richardson and stop him at first contact, Seattle will be able to take attention away from Indy's rushing game and force Andrew Luck to win the game through the air.
Another big matchup for Sunday's game will be K.J. Wright vs. Coby Fleener. In case you missed Seattle's game last week, Houston's tight ends had quite the day against Seattle's defense. The combination of Owen Daniels and Garrett Graham racked up 141 yards receiving and a touchdown against a stout Seahawks defense that may have had their only weakness revealed by the Texans.
Stopping the mid-range passing attack will rest on K.J. Wright and the other Seattle linebackers, with Wright being one of the more agile players on Seattle's defense. He had a decent game against Houston and should be ready to contend against Coby Fleener, a great tight end who Andrew Luck has grown accustomed to. Expect the Colts to attack the middle of the field and Seattle's linebackers early on while Seattle attempts to shut down Fleener with K.J. Wright and company.
A final matchup to watch this coming Sunday will be Marshawn Lynch vs. Cam Johnson. Seattle's "Beast Mode," who is willing to truck just about any man in his path, powered his way for 98 yards and a touchdown against the Texans and has looked every bit the part of the great back he has been in recent seasons.
Expect Indianapolis to have a tough time against him on Sunday with the absence of Bjoern Werner, who will be out with an injury the next 4-6 weeks. Replacing him will likely be Cam Johnson, an ex-49er, who will have the tough task of going up against Lynch and the Seahawks rushing attack. Seattle should pound the side of the defense Johnson is on early and could have plenty of room, even with a somewhat depleted offensive line. If Seattle gets going on the ground early, expect this game to have the potential to get out of hand.