Game Preview: Seahawks at Tennessee Titans

The Hawks look to continue on their roll and travel to "The Volunteer State" to battle the struggling yet tough Tennessee Titans in only the second meeting between the two franchises since the Titans moved from Houston in 1997.

What: Inter-conference tilt
When: Sunday, December 18th, 10 a.m. (PST)
Where: The Coliseum, Nashville, Tennessee
Weather: Mostly sunny, 45 degrees


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Titans Key Players:

QB Steve McNair: If there is a tougher player in the NFL, you need to show me, because McNair is about as tough as they come. On the season he's thrown for 2,817 yards, completing 62.1% of his passes, while also throwing for 14 touchdowns and nine interceptions. A porous offensive line has allowed him to be harried and harassed on a regular basis. He's only been sacked 20 times so far this season, but he's been roughed up enough to cause him to miss one game due to back stiffness and he's missed a lot of practice time so far this season. McNair is an excellent leader, plays hard, has a good arm and despite his many ailments, he's still relatively mobile. He could be dangerous if he had more weapons around him, but he's a player teams need to contain in order to beat the Titans.

RB Chris Brown: When he took over as the full-time runner in 2004, many predicted the injury-prone Brown wouldn't play the entire season. They were right. He played 11 games but still put up over 1000 yards and scored six touchdowns. This season, Brown hasn't missed a game showing more durability than many gave him credit for and he's put up impressive numbers (777 yards and five touchdowns) given the offense's inability to move the ball through the air. His problem is that he runs too high and takes a lot of hits. He's got good speed to the outside and he's a threat to take it the distance if he gets in the open field.

LB Keith Bulluck: Bulluck is a tackling machine. His 112 tackles rank him 8th in the NFL this season and his 171 tackles last year led the entire league. He plays with his heart on his sleeve, is a media darling and is loved by his teammates. He runs well to the ball and rarely gets locked up by a blocker. He struggles some in coverage, but he has the athleticism to cover up most of his mistakes. He is McNair's mirror on the defensive side of the ball.

DE Kyle Vanden Bosch: The most unlikely star on the Titans defense is Vanden Bosch. His 12.5 sacks are tied for second in the entire league and his three forced fumbles lead the team. He plays tough against the run, but it is off the edge that he makes his presence felt. He likes to use a tough rip move to get to the quarterback, but he can also bull-rush and he is quick enough off the corner to get by most blockers. He also has a non-stop motor.

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Key Matchups:

Vanden Bosch vs. Seahawks RT Sean Locklear: After a relatively easy game last week versus the San Francisco 49ers, Locklear gets back on track facing some of the toughest pass-rushers the league has to offer. As stated above, Vanden Bosch can use a plethora of moves, but Locklear has held his own this season. The Hawks will continue to run behind a left side that features Pro Bowlers Walter Jones and Steve Hutchinson, so Locklear will only need to contain Vanden Bosch on the backside contain. When the Seahawks want to pass Locklear will have to use his excellent athleticism to keep Vanden Bosch at bay so that Seahawks QB Matt Hasselbeck can have time to look down field.

Seahawks RB Shaun Alexander vs. Bulluck: Alexander continues to impress with his tough running and his ability to find the endzone. He's on pace to set the league record for touchdowns this season and he leads the entire league in rushing with 1,496 yards. Bulluck sheds blockers well and is even better at diagnosing plays. This will be a battle to keep an eye on during the game.

Titans WR Drew Bennett vs. Seahawks CB Marcus Trufant: Bennett surprises with his abilities down the field. He leads the Titans with 566 yards and a 12.6 yard average. He's second on the team with 45 receptions, but he's only caught one touchdown. Trufant has improved his play as he's tightened up his coverage on wideouts and he's playing the ball better in the air. Trufant must contain Bennett and allow the Seahawks defensive line to get to McNair. When Bennett does get free, he must keep him from the long-gainers that can keep the chains moving.

Seahawks DT Marcus Tubbs vs. Titans RG Benji Olson: Olson, in his ninth year, has been solid this season. He is a veteran presence on a young line and he's been better than expected this season. Tubbs is essentially still a rookie, but he has been impressive so far this season. He plays the run well, stuffing the inside and allowing the linebackers to flow to the ball unimpeded. He's also provided a good pass-rush registering two sacks last week. He is a key to the front seven of the Seahawks defense.

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News and Notes: Seahawks can clinch home-field advantage throughout the playoffs for the first time ever with a win this week and a loss by Chicago; With a win the Seahawks would have the first 10-game winning streak in franchise history; Hasselbeck is tied for third in the conference with 19 passing touchdowns and is ranked second in the conference with a 92.7 QB ranking; Seahawks defense is second in the conference with a +8 turnover ratio; WR Joe Jurevicius is tied for 5th in the NFL with 8 receiving touchdowns; Four of the Titans' nine losses have been by 8 points or less; Bullock has led the Titans three straight seasons in tackles; Rookie CB Adam Jones leads the league in punt return average with 12.9 yards per return and has three kickoff returns of over 50 yards; Seahawks lead series 8-4 and have won the last four.

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Injuries:

Seattle:
OUT: CB Andre Dyson (ankle); CB Kelly Herndon (knee); S John Howell (hamstring)
QUESTIONABLE: LB D.D. Lewis (knee)


Tennessee:
OUT: WR Roydell Williams (wrist)
QUESTIONABLE: RB Chris Brown (elbow); RB Travis Henry (ankle); WR Erron Kinney (knee); DE Travis LaBoy (elbow); QB Steve McNair (back/ankle); LB Robert Reynolds (ankle); WR Sloan Thomas (groin); TE Ben Troupe (concussion)


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Prediction: Seahawks 27 – Titans 21

Scott Eklund writes and reports for Seahawks.NET and Dawgman.com. Feel free to contact him at sctthawk@yahoo.com.


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