In the last appearance of the Cleveland Browns in Seattle during the late part of the 2015 season, their starting quarterback was a rising star by the name of Johnny Manziel. However, Manziel’s promising career was short-lived. The game, which was his eighth professional start, resulted in a 30-13 loss to the Seattle Seahawks at Lumen Field, and it marked one of the final games of his NFL career. He started one more game in the following week against Kansas City but never played in the league again.
The Sunday matchup between the Browns and the Seahawks was anticipated as a return to Seattle for a different quarterback, Deshaun Watson, who had an impressive rookie performance at Lumen Field in 2017 when he played for the Houston Texans. In that game, Watson was a key figure in a high-scoring contest, throwing for 402 yards, which is still the second-highest passing yardage of his career. However, the Seahawks won the game 41-38, with then-Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson setting a franchise record with 452 passing yards. Watson’s 13.4 yards per completion in that game remains the highest against a Pete Carroll-coached Seahawks team.
Regrettably, Watson has been ruled out of the game due to a lingering shoulder injury, and the Browns will rely on P.J. Walker as their quarterback.
With this context, let’s delve into the key factors for Sunday’s game:
Key Matchup: The matchup to watch is between Browns defensive lineman Myles Garrett and the Seahawks’ offensive line. Garrett, who is tied for second in the NFL in sacks with eight, has received the highest season grade of any defensive player by Pro Football Focus, including an impressive pass-rushing grade of 95.0. He primarily lines up on the left side, and his main adversary is expected to be Stone Forsythe, who is filling in for the injured Abraham Lucas. Garrett may also face Seattle rookie right guard Anthony Bradford when he shifts inside. The Browns often move Garrett to various positions, presenting a challenge for Seattle’s offensive linemen, including the tight ends when they are called upon to block.
Player to Watch: Wide receiver DK Metcalf has had an eventful few weeks, with an unnecessary-roughness penalty in a previous game and missing the last game due to rib and hip injuries. Now, he faces one of the NFL’s top pass defenses in the Browns, who have allowed the fewest passing yards and possess a strong pass defense. The Seahawks will need some big plays in the passing game, and Metcalf’s return to form is essential, especially with Tyler Lockett dealing with a hamstring injury.
Coaching Decision: The re-signing of Frank Clark, an outside linebacker/rush end, by the Seahawks has been a significant development this week. Clark played for the Seahawks from 2015 to 2018, recording 35 sacks during that time, ranking 10th in team history. Clark’s last NFL game was with the Denver Broncos in October, and he should be in good shape to play on Sunday. The Seahawks hope that Clark can make an impact, considering his 2.5 sacks in the last postseason.
The X-factor: The Seahawks will be wearing throwback uniforms, which could create a more festive atmosphere at Lumen Field. Players may be inspired to perform at their best while sporting these retro uniforms.
Players Who Could Surprise: Tight ends Will Dissly, Noah Fant, and Colby Parkinson could make a significant impact in this game. The Browns have allowed the fewest targets, catches, and receiving yards to tight ends this season. Seattle’s tight ends have been productive, with Fant and Parkinson leading the way in combined receiving yards.
Key Stat: The Browns have excelled in rushing, ranking second in the NFL in rushing yards per game and seventh in yards per attempt. They have compensated for their modest passing game by being a dominant force on the ground. Stopping the run will be crucial for Seattle’s defense.
Prediction: The game may evoke an old-school style of play with two emerging defenses and evenly matched 4-2 teams. Scoring opportunities may be limited, and turnovers could prove pivotal. The home-field advantage is likely to play a crucial role, leading to a victory for the Seahawks, with a predicted score of 20-13.