Detroit (9-7) at Seattle (10-5-1)
When: Saturday, January 7th 2017
Where: CenturyLink Field, Seattle, WA
Time: 8:15 ET | TV: NBC
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The Seattle Seahawks make their fifth straight postseason appearance when they host the Detroit Lions in Wild Card Weekend, Saturday night at CenturyLink Field. Seattle traded wins and losses in their final six games of the regular season to blow a shot at a bye in the first round. Quarterback Russell Wilson comes into this contest without a playoff home loss and threw for a career-high 4,219 yards this season. He threw a touchdown pass in a 25-23 victory over San Francisco on Sunday and found Doug Baldwin for a scoring strike the last time Seattle met Detroit – a 13-10 victory October 5th, 2015. Seattle’s ground game has been a concern for Seattle since the retirement of Marshawn Lynch, with Thomas Rawls plagued by multiple injuries, Christine Michael now with Green Bay, and C.J. Prosise battling shoulder issues. Wide receivers Jermaine Kearse (six touchdowns in seven career playoff games) and Baldwin (four TDs in last six postseason contests) have come up big in the Playoffs. The Seahawks signed veteran Devin Hester to handle kick-return duties in the wake of fellow WR Tyler Lockett’s season-ending broken leg. Former Lion Cliff Avril recorded six of his team-leading 11.5 sacks in his last six home games while fellow Pro Bowl defensive end Michael Bennett has a sack in back-to-back postseason contests. Linebacker Bobby Wagner led the NFL and set a franchise single-season record with 167 tackles in the regular season.
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The Lions come in really slumping, losing their last three games and blowing their chance at winning the NFC North after last week’s 31-24 loss at Green Bay. Quarterback Matthew Stafford said he hasn’t been affected by wearing a glove on his throwing hand to protect an injured finger, although he has just two touchdowns and three interceptions in his last three games after recording 22 TDs and seven picks prior to the injury. Stafford threw for 347 yards and two scores in the loss to Green Bay on Sunday and has averaged 351.5 yards in two career playoff appearances. Former Seattle wide receiver Golden Tate overcame a terrible start to the season to lead the team with 1,077 receiving yards, with 404 of those yards and two touchdowns coming on 33 receptions in his last four road games. Tate is in his third season with Detroit after signing a five-year, $31 million contract on the heels of helping the Seahawks win Super Bowl XLVIII. Zach Zenner has helped Detroit’s 30th-ranked rushing game with 136 yards and three touchdowns in his last two games. Defensive end Kerry Hyder recorded six of his team-leading eight sacks on the road this season for the league’s 18th-ranked defense. The Lions will be looking for their first postseason victory since 1991.
I don’t have confidence in either team reaching the Super Bowl this year, but Seattle has a chance if they can’t get the offense going. Seattle has not been as dominant on defense like they have been in the past and the season-ending injury to safety Earl Thomas has hurt. Stafford should be able to get Detroit down the field enough to keep this one close.
Pick: Lions +8