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Cyber surfing: Saturday

Good morning. Here’s what’s “out there” about the Seahawks for today, Dec. 31:

Danny O’Neil at the Seattle Times looks at the improvement of the Seahawks defense in stopping big plays this season: “A year ago, the Seahawks allowed 76 plays of 20 yards or more, tied for second most in the NFL according to The Associated Press. This season, Seattle has given up just 45 such plays, tied for second fewest. That explains why the Seahawks have one of the most improved defenses in the league. But it will face a stiff test Sunday in Arizona. ‘They’ve had a lot of explosive plays,’ defensive coordinator Gus Bradley said of the Cardinals.”

Eric Williams at the News Tribune looks at Deon Butler, who is looking to make the most of his opportunities in the Seahawks’ season finale against the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday: “Because receivers Sidney Rice, Kris Durham and Mike Williams all landed on the season-ending injured reserve list, Butler has been one of five active receivers the past four games. And although he has only five catches for 40 yards, Butler has started the process of earning the trust of quarterback Tarvaris Jackson – something he hopes to build on through more offseason work. ‘Every game I feel like I’m just getting back to being myself,’ he said. ‘It was good for me to actually get a good hit in last week like that, so that was the next step. And just knowing that I feel like I’m fully back right now, and I feel comfortable out there.’ ”

John Boyle at the Everett Herald not only asks who made the better quarterback move this season – the Seahawks by signing Tarvaris Jackson or the Cardinals by trading for Kevin Kolb – he lets you vote: “If this were a game of high-stakes poker – and really, what is a bigger gamble than trying to identify that always elusive Quarterback Of The Future? – the Seahawks would be the player who bet the bare minimum. If they decide they don’t like their hand, they can fold. The Cardinals, meanwhile, are all in with Kolb.”

Here at Seahawks.com, we check in with Marshawn Lynch, whose images are threatening his identity, or so it seems: “Beast Mode. Skittles-back. Just who is this guy? Lynch paused from what he was doing the other day in the locker room, looked the questioner directly in the eyes and offered, ‘I know who I am. I’m very clear with that.’ After what Lynch has done in the team’s second-half surge, so does everyone else: The most productive running back the Seahawks have had since Shaun Alexander in 2005.”

We’ve also got a look at the final practice of the season in “Friday in Hawkville,” as well as a closer look at Sunday’s game in our “Matchup box.” There’s also Tony Ventrella’s video recap.

Mike Sando at ESPN.com has his “Final Word” on the NFC West for the final weekend of the regular season, including this: “Battle of the backs. Frank Gore leads NFC West running backs with 1,202 yards even though his production has trailed off late in the season. Marshawn Lynch would have to outgain Gore by 85 yards to overtake him for most rushing yards in the division. That is unlikely, but Lynch has set a furious pace lately. He leads the NFL in rushing since Week 9, gaining 855 yards over that eight-game period. The Rams’ Steve Jackson ranks eighth in the league with 620 yards during that time. Arizona’s Beanie Wells is 15th (541 yards), one spot ahead of Gore (527). All four primary backs in the division have topped 1,000 yards.”

As for the rest of the league, there’s Peter King’s “Game Plan” at SI.com; and Clark Judge’s “Peek at the Week” at CBSSports.com, in which he makes the Seahawks his “upset pick of the week”: “This one not only is for second place in the NFC West; it’s for a .500 season, and given what these clubs endured this season, yes, that’s a big deal. It looks as if the Cards start John Skelton again, and the Seahawks try to ride Marshawn Lynch to the upset. I say they do it, not just because of Lynch but because their defense is playing superb football. The Cards’ defense is improved, too, but Seattle has too much for Skelton to pull another fourth-quarter comeback. Unlike Cincinnati’s Cedric Benson, Lynch won’t try to fumble away the game this time. Moreover, the Seahawks are vastly improved on the road, where they had trouble winning much of anything a year ago. They have won three there, including upsets of the Giants and Bears. No, they’re still not a great road team, but they’re better … and better than Arizona here.”


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