Game Preview: Seahawks-Texans

Seahawks linebacker Leroy Hill could add to see his sack total by exploiting the interior of the Texans' offensive line this Sunday.

Seattle Seahawks (5-7) at Houston Texans (5-7)

Time & Place:
Sunday December 13, 2009
10am PT
Reliant Stadium
Houston, Texas

Regular season series: Sunday will be just the second meeting between the Seahawks and Texans, with Seattle winning the first meeting 42-10 at Qwest Field in 2005.

Notable Newcomers

Houston
John Busing, S (UFA, Cincinnati)
Shaun Cody, DT (UFA, Detroit)
Rex Grossman, QB (UFA, Chicago)
Chris Henry, RB (UFA, Tennessee)
Glenn Martinez, WR (UFA, Denver)
Dan Orlovsky, QB (UFA, Detroit)
Bernard Pollard, S (UFA, Kansas City)
Tutan Reyes, G (UFA, Jacksonville)
Brian Russell, S (UFA, Jacksonville)
Antonio Smith, DE (UFA, Arizona)

Seattle
T.J. Houshmandzadeh, WR (UFA, Cincinnati)
Colin Cole, DT (UFA, Green Bay)
John Owens, TE (UFA, Detroit)
Ken Lucas, CB (UFA, Carolina)
Lawyer Milloy, S (UFA, Atlanta)
Cory Redding, DE (Trade, Detroit)

2009 Draft Class

Houston
Brian Cushing, LB, USC (1st round, 15th overall)
Connor Barwin, DE, Cincinnati (2nd round, 46th overall)
Antoine Caldwell, C, Alabama (3rd round, 77th overall)
Glover Quin, CB, New Mexico (4th round, 112th overall)
Anthony Hill, TE, NC State (4th round, 122nd overall)
James Casey, TE, Rice (5th round, 152nd overall)
Brice McCain, CB, Utah (6th round, 188th overall)
*Troy Nolan, S, Arizona State (7th round, 223rd overall)

Seattle
Aaron Curry, LB, Wake Forest (1st round, 4th overall)
Max Unger, C/G, Oregon (2nd round, 49th overall)
Deon Butler, WR, Penn State (3rd round, 91st overall)
Mike Teel, QB, Rutgers (6th round, 178th overall)
**Courtney Greene, S, Rutgers (7th round, 245th overall)
Nick Reed, DE, Oregon (7th round, 247th overall)
Cameron Morrah, TE, California (7th round, 248th overall)
*-Injured Reserve
**-Waived

Stats & Rankings

Houston

Offense
Total: 8th (367.9 yards per game)
Passing: 4th (278.9 yards per game)
Rushing: 29th (89.0 yards per game)
Scoring: 13th (23.1 points per game)

Defense
Total: 16th (333.3 yards per game)
Passing: 15th (214.3 yards per game)
Rushing: 22nd (118.9 yards per game)
Scoring: 19th (22.2 points per game)

Turnover Ratio: t-15th (-1)

Seattle 

Offense
Total: 23rd (317.3 yards per game)
Passing: 14th (223.8 yards per game)
Rushing: 27th (93.4 yards per game)
Scoring: 20th (20.3 points per game)

Defense
Total: 21st (349.4 yards per game)
Passing: 26th (243.5 yards per game)
Rushing: 13th (105.9 yards per game)
Scoring: 20th (22.3 points per game)

Turnover Ratio: t-18th (-2)

Houston

OUT: DE Tim Bulman (hamstring)
Questionable: DE Mario Williams (groin)
Probable: T Duane Brown (knee), LB Brian Cushing (foot), CB Glover Quin (head), QB Matt Schaub (left shoulder)

Seattle

Questionable: LB D.D. Lewis (knee)
Probable: QB Matt Hasselbeck (right shoulder), DE Cory Redding (concussion), C Chris Spencer (thumb)

TV/Radio

FOX is sending Ron Pitts and John Lynch to cover the game, which will be shown on Q 13. Steve Raible, Warren Moon, and Jen Mueller have the radio call, which can be heard on 710 ESPN Seattle and 97.3FM.

Vegas Line: Texans -6 ½ (o/u 44 ½)

Keys to the Game

Keep Schaub/Johnson Off the Field – Offensively, the Texans rank 8th in time of possession, which helps them rank 8th in total offense. If they were a little better on 3rd downs, and didn't the ball over so frequently near the goal-line, they'd probably still be in the playoff hunt. It's imperative that the Seahawks, who rank 29th in time of possession, keep Schaub and Andre Johnson off the field by controlling the clock and avoiding the 4-to-6 three-and-outs per game that Greg Knapp's offense has been good for.

Protect Hasselbeck - The Texans have just 19 quarterback sacks this season, but that's no reason to take their pass rush lightly. Though slowed by groin and shoulder injuries this season, Mario Williams has nearly a third of their sacks and could make life very difficult on Sean Locklear. Expect lots of blitzes from the Texans' defense, which the Seahawks have struggled to pick up lately.

Attack the Middle – Houston's offense and Schaub's quick release helps the Texans avoid quarterback sacks (just 23 allowed in Schaub's 457 attempts), but no quarterback likes pressure and forcing early throws—preferably to players not named "Andre Johnson"—would be just as effective as putting Schaub on the turf. Houston's starting guards entering the season as on injured reserve, and Chris Myers isn't exactly a stout center, so blitzing up the middle early and often could force some poor throws from Schaub. This could be the game where Leroy Hill, Aaron Curry, and David Hawthorne, along with Darryl Tapp and Nick Reed, who rush the passer from the "Joker" position in dime and nickel packages, boost their sack and QB hit totals.

NorthwestFootball.net Prediction

As disappointing as the Seahawks have been this season, the Texans have arguably had it worse. After back-to-back 8-8 seasons, the Texans were expected to take the next step and make the playoffs in head coach Gary Kubiak's fourth season. The Texans got off to a good start (5-3), but opened the second-half of the season with four straight divisional losses. Their playoffs hopes have completely vanished, and in the process, the Texans have lost two of their top weapons on offense (Owen Daniels, Steve Slaton) to season-ending injuries. With quarterback Matt Schaub playing with a harness on his non-throwing shoulder, this is the Seahawks' best chance to score a road win against someone other than St. Louis this season.

Pick: Seahawks 24, Houston 16

In addition to writing for NorthwestFootball.net, Brian McIntyre blogs daily at Mac's Football Blog. You can follow Brian on Twitter, and if you'd like to e-mail him, you can always do so by clicking here.

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