Cyber surfing: Sunday

Good morning. Here’s what’s “out there” about the Seahawks for today, Oct. 30:

Dave Boling at the News Tribune examines the importance of today’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals at CenturyLink Field for the Seahawks, who are 2-4 and can’t afford to slip to 2-5. Says Boling: “At the risk of sounding like the shameless promos that networks contrive to pump up viewer interest in a crummy matchup, the Seahawks’ meeting with Cincinnati today at CenturyLink Field is a pivotal game in Seattle’s season. That’s not empty hype. Drop this one, and the Seahawks’ season starts to look like rubble from the Alaska Way Viaduct. Lose today – as oddsmakers expect – and the Seahawks fall to 2-5. If San Francisco defeats Cleveland at home today – as oddsmakers also expect – and the 49ers are 6-1. The NFC West Division race? Over. Seahawks’ chances of returning to the playoffs? Biblical.”

Also at the News Tribune, looks at the importance of today’s game being at CenturyLink Field, where the Seahawks have not played since Oct. 2 and will be playing for only the third time this season. Says Williams: “They’ve been on the road so much during the early portion of the season that the Seattle Seahawks may have forgotten what it’s like to have fans cheering for them at CenturyLink Field. But with six of the Seahawks’ final 10 games at home, the schedule finally turns in their favor. ‘Even when we’ve been there it seems like we’ve barely been there, so it’s great to come back,’ Seattle coach Pete Carroll said. ‘Our place rocks. So hopefully we can make the plays to get them up off their seats and get them crazy about it, and that factor is there for us again. But this is a very, very special place to play. We know it and we want to rouse them up.’ ”

Danny O’Neil at the Seattle Times looks at Bengals QB Andy Dalton, a player Seahawks coach Pete Carroll admits he considered selecting in April’s NFL Draft. Offers O’Neil: “Seattle spent months this year deciding if quarterback Andy Dalton would be a Seahawk. Now it will spend Sunday afternoon trying to beat him. Tarvaris Jackson’s availability for this game between Cincinnati and Seattle isn’t the only quarterback question the Seahawks will be facing. There are plenty of people who will ask whether the Seahawks should have chosen Dalton with their first-round choice, especially because the rookie from Texas Christian is 4-2 as the Bengals’ starter. ‘We really liked him,’ Carroll said. ‘We liked everything about him. We did an extensive study on him.’ ”

Also from O’Neil, three keys to today’s game, including this one: “Turn up the heat on Andy Dalton. The Bengals have allowed only 11 sacks this season, tied for seventh-fewest in the league. Seattle absolutely has to dial-up the pressure on Dalton to take full advantage of CenturyLink Field. There is no quicker way to creating turnovers than rushing the quarterback. Not only that, but with Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner starting at the corners against a dangerous group of wideouts, Seattle has to keep Dalton from having the time to pick the secondary apart.”

John Boyle at the Everett Herald checks in with Red Bryant, who has found new life – and a career – since being moved from defensive tackle to end last year. Says Boyle: “This season, with the front four staying healthy thus far, the Seahawks are the stingiest defense in the league when it comes to yard-per-carry average, allowing opponents just 3.1 yards per attempt. A big part of that has been the play of Bryant, who isn’t the prototypical end in that he rarely rushes the passer. Instead, the pass rushing is left mostly to Chris Clemons and Raheem Brock, while Bryant’s job is to take on blockers, set an edge and stuff the run.”

Christian Caple at PI.com has five things to watch in today’s game, including one player from each team: “Seahawks LB David Hawthorne: Heater lived up to his nickname last week, recording 11 tackles – seven solo – to go along with an interception and a sack. If Hawthorne is finally back after being slowed early this season by a knee injury, the Seahawks’ defense could be that much better. ‘The confidence has always been there. My play’s always been there,’ Hawthorne said. ‘It just happened to show up a lot last week.’ Bengals WR A.J. Green: The Seahawks think rather highly of rookie receiver Doug Baldwin. But the Bengals have a first-year receiver of their own – though Green was a first-round pick while Baldwin went undrafted. Green is one of the few rookie receivers who has outplayed Baldwin this year, catching 29 balls for 453 yards and four touchdowns. ‘We felt like he was the one or two players in the draft that could make a difference, and if we got an opportunity to pick him, we would stay there and pick him,’ Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said.

Mike Sando at ESPN.com looks at the defenses in the NFC West, and has this to say about the Seahawks: “The Seahawks lost nine games last season, none by fewer than 15 points. When they lost, they lost big – by an average of 21 points per regular-season defeat. Their four defeats this season have been by an average of 11.3 points. Their most recent two defeats, to Atlanta and Cleveland, were by a combined 5 points. Defensive improvement accounts for the increased competitiveness, in my view. Defensive ends Chris Clemons and Red Bryant are playing at a high level, as are safeties Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor.”

Here at Seahawks.com, we examine the efforts of that defense on third downs, “Think about it, the Seahawks have had games where they’ve been suffocating on the pivotal down – 1 of 12 against the 49ers, as well as New York Giants; and 3 of 14 against the Cardinals. But there also have been those games where they’ve helped breathe new life into the opposing offense on third downs – 9 of 16 against the Falcons; 8 of 15 against the Steelers; and 12 of 24 in last week’s loss to the Browns. ‘It’s been every other game, so hopefully this week we’re better,’ defensive coordinator Gus Bradley offered with a smile. Using that theory – or oddity – the Seahawks are in line for one of their better efforts in Sunday’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals at CenturyLink Field. Because that is the consistently inconsistent pattern the third-down defense has followed this season: 49ers (good), Steelers (not so good); Cardinals (good), Falcons (not so good); Giants (good), Browns (not so good). But why? How can a defense that has played so well on first and second downs have game-altering problems on third downs in some games and not others?”

We’ve also got a look at today’s game in our matchup box, as well as Tony Ventrella’s video preview of the game.


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