Like the Dolphins, Seattle is 3-2, although the expectations for the Seahawks aren't the same as those surrounding the Dolphins. Coach Mike Holmgren brought several new players in the offseason in the aftermath of his first losing season in nine years as a coach, the most notable being quarterback Matt Hasselbeck.
The Dolphins also were interested in acquiring Hasselbeck in the offseason, and it's just as well they weren't successful because he has been considerably less than impressive so far this season. In fact, it was the much-maligned Trent Dilfer who was at quarterback for Seattle's last two victories over Jacksonville and Denver.
But now that he's healthy again, Hasselbeck will get the start against the Dolphins.
What follows is a quick look at Sunday's game against the Seattle Seahawks
WHO: Miami Dolphins (3-2) vs. Seattle Seahawks (3-2)
WHERE: Husky Stadium; Seattle, Wash.
KICKOFF TIME: 4:15 p.m. ET
TELEVISION: CBS (Ian Eagle, play-by-play; Solomon Wilcots, color)
LINE: Miami by 2½
COACHES: Seattle, Mike Holmgren (2nd year in Seattle, 10th year in NFL); Miami, Dave Wannstedt (2nd year in Miami, 8th year in NFL)
SERIES RECORD: The Dolphins lead 10-7 (Miami has won two of three playoff meetings)
LAST MEETING: 2000 at Miami; Dolphins 23, Seahawks 0
INJURIES: Dolphins — S Brock Marion (calf), WR Dedric Ward (foot) are out; CB Ben Kelly (ankle), RB Lamar Smith (ankle), T Todd Wade (knee) are probable.
Seahawks — RB Ricky Watters (shoulder) is out; FS Marcus Robertson (hamstring), WR/RB Charlie Rogers (toe), DE Michael Sinclair (groin) are questionable.
THREE MATCHUPS TO WATCH:
The Dolphins special teams vs. Seahawks kick returner Charlie Rogers: Remember when Rogers returned a kickoff for a touchdown in the teams' playoff meeting in the 1999 season. That can't happen again. The good news is the Dolphins haven't allowed any long returns this season.
Dolphins guard Mark Dixon vs. Seahawks defensive tackle John Randle: The self-critical Dixon is considered the Dolphins' best offensive lineman, and it should be fun to watch him go up against the always-talkative Randle.
Dolphins wide receiver James McKnight vs. the Seattle secondary: McKnight would like to get the ball thrown his way more often, and he would like nothing better than for that to happen against his former team. Injuries have hurt the Seahawks secondary.
WHEN THE DOLPHINS HAVE THE BALL: Lamar Smith got off to a great start against the Jets two weeks ago, but he began running tentatively after his second fumble. It is imperative that Smith get back to his usual aggressive style if the running game is to be successful. That won't be easy, in any event, considering Seattle ranks fifth in the NFL in rushing defense. Seattle's pass defense has been a lot more generous, so there will be opportunities to make plays downfield. The Dolphins have improved in practically every category on offense this season; the only thing that's been a major problem have been the turnovers. Quarterback Jay Fiedler has been reminded time and time again lately that he needs to be more careful with the ball, and hopefully that starts Sunday against the Seahawks.
WHEN THE SEAHAWKS HAVE THE BALL: With Hasselbeck back in the lineup, the Dolphins' focus has to be on stopping emerging star Shaun Alexander, the second-year running back from Alabama. He burned the Jaguars and Broncos in the Seahawks' last two games, and the Dolphins need to contain him. Miami's run defense hasn't been that great this season; it ranks 16th in the NFL. If the Dolphins can't slow down Alexander, it could be a long afternoon in Seattle. Hasselbeck has been a bust so far, and he isn't likely to do a lot of damage against the Dolphins secondary. The Dolphins would like to get more pressure on Hasselbeck than they've been able to generate so far this season because it would increase the likelihood of forcing turnovers. The Dolphins totally dismantled the Seattle offense in last year's season opener, but things probably won't be as easy this time.
A big debate around Miami over the past two weeks has been whether it was good to have a bye following the crushing Jets loss. We'll find out soon enough. The Dolphins simply have a better team than Seattle, and if they hope to make this season memorable, they need to show the ability to rebound after the New York disappointment.