When: Sunday, 1:15 p.m. PST, Raymond James Stadium, Tampa
Records: Seahawks are 6-8 and tied for first in the NFC West; Buccaneers are 8-6 and third in the NFC South
TV: KCPQ/13, with Thom Brennaman, Brian Billick and Chris Myers
Radio: 97.3 FM and 710 ESPN, with Steve Raible, Warren Moon and Jen Mueller
Matt Hasselbeck vs. the situation: The Seahawks’ veteran QB was benched last week after turning the ball over on three consecutive possessions in the third quarter of a loss to Atlanta Falcons. He has thrown 10 of his 17 interceptions in the past four games. But coach Pete Carroll is sticking with Hasselbeck because he “gives us our best chance to finish off right.” Now, Hasselbeck has to go out and do just that. And to do just that, he needs to make better decisions and play with the same mindset he had while throwing only one interception in his previous five starts. Can a QB – even one with Hasselbeck’s experience – do that with the weight of the past two weeks on his shoulders? We’re all about to find out.
One to watch
The scoreboard: Before the Seahawks kick it off against the Bucs, they should know the outcome of the Rams’ game against the San Francisco 49ers in St. Louis. As crazy as it might sound, the Seahawks need the Rams to beat the 49ers. That outcome would eliminate the 49ers, and their better-division-record tiebreaker edge if they are able to sweep their final two games and finish deadlocked in the West. Then, the division winner would be the team that wins the Jan. 2 regular-season finale between the Seahawks and Rams at Qwest Field. Yes, the Rams would come in at 7-8 and the Seahawks could be 6-9. But a Seahawks’ win would leave both teams at 7-9 and give the Seahawks the division title because of its better division record (4-2, compared to 3-3 for the Rams).
Fun to watch
Mike Williams vs. Mike Williams: The leading receiver for each team is Mike Williams. The Seahawks’ Mike Williams has 60 receptions for 720 yards and one touchdown. The Bucs’ Mike Williams has 58 receptions for 880 yards and eight touchdowns – to lead all NFL rookies in each category. The passing game needs to make plays for each of these teams as they cling to postseason aspirations. The best place to start for each is their best receiver. The Seahawks’ Williams had three games with double-digit receptions this season, but then was limited to one series in a three-game stretch because of foot and ankle injuries. He returned last week to catch eight passes. The Bucs’ Williams had six catches for 96 yards in last week’s overtime loss to the Lions.
One tough task
The Seahawks’ pass defense: Bucs’ QB Josh Freeman has the arm. The Bucs’ Williams has the speed. So look for offensive coordinator Greg Olson to test a Seattle defense that has allowed 30 pass plays of 20-plus yards when it goes with its nickel, dime and “Bandit” packages that include five, six and seven defensive backs. The flipside for the Seahawks is that they also have generated 22 of their 32 sacks from these same packages, and opposing QBs also are completing 54.9 percent of their passes – which ranks fourth-best in the league.
The Bucs have lost three of their past four games after starting 7-3. … The Seahawks have lost six of their past eight games after starting 4-2. … The Bucs are plus-8 in turnover ratio, sixth-best in the NFL. … The Seahawks are minus-9, which ranks 30th. … The Bucs have lost five starters on defense in the past month, and in their past two games they have allowed 369 rushing yards and a per-carry average of 6.6 yards. … The Bucs are starting eight rookies, and have signed 11 players off their practice squad this season because of injuries. … Hasselbeck needs 23 passing yards for his seventh 3,000-yard season. … Bucs RB LeGarrette Blount leads all NFL rookies with 777 rushing yards. … The Bucs’ Kellen Winslow has caught a pass in 74 consecutive games, the third-longest streak in the league among tight ends. … LB David Hawthorne leads the Seahawks in tackles (90) and needs 10 more to become the team’s first player to hit triple digits in his first two seasons as a starter since Lofa Tatupu (2005-06). … LB Barrett Ruud has 104 tackles to lead the Bucs. … DE Chris Clemons has a career-high 10 sacks to lead the Seahawks, and six have come in road games.