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September 20, 2014 at 3:52 PM

Seahawks-Broncos: What to Watch

Here is what to watch for in Sunday’s Seattle-Denver game from beat writers Jayson Jenks and Bob Condotta.

First, from Jenks:

1, Gang tackling. The Seahawks have missed double digit tackles in each of their first two games. That’s a problem, of course. But equally as problematic is that the Seahawks aren’t all flying to the ball like they did for much of last season. Safety Earl Thomas said the Seahawks aren’t “swarming” to the ball, especially in Sunday’s loss to the Chargers. One of the most noticeable things about watching the Super Bowl again is how so many of Seattle’s tackles had two or three players making the hit. That needs to start becoming more common again.

2. Super Bowl adjustments. A cop out answer, I know, but it is easily one of the things I’m most interested to see. The Seahawks and Broncos had two weeks to prepare for each other in the Super Bowl, then had all offseason to look at what went right or wrong in that game. The two teams have added or lost players between then and now, but the core of both teams is still intact. I can’t tell you what the changes will be for either side, but watching how the two teams attack each other this time around — either for the differences or similarities in approach — will be fascinating.

3. Doug Baldwin getting involved in the offense. Baldwin has six catches for 49 yards, which ranks him second on the Seahawks behind Percy Harvin. But Baldwin said he has been the team’s most targeted receiver and that he needs to be catching more of the passes thrown his way. The first game featured a heavy dose of Harvin; the second game featured only 40 plays. But Baldwin thinks he needs to do more with the chances thrown his way.

And from Condotta:

1. The running game: Seattle’s 13 rushing attempts last week were the fewest since also attempting just 13 runs in a 24-0 loss at Pittsburgh in 2011. That obviously can’t happen again for the Seahawks to beat a team like Denver — or much of anybody. I’d expect Seattle to come out really trying to force the run early in the game and get that re-established. It’s not as if Seattle has had trouble running this season — Seattle is averaging 157.5 rushing yards in its two games. It just couldn’t stick with it last week at San Diego.

2.Marcus Burley defending Wes Welker in the slot: Jayson wrote about Burley for the Saturday paper and laid out the challenge well. Obviously, the Seahawks can mix some things up to give Burley help. And who knows for sure how much Welker plays in what will be his first game of the season after a suspension and a concussion. But there will undoubtedly be times when it will be Welker vs. Burley. Burley gave up a few plays last week at San Diego but was hardly a weakness, and has played about as well as could be expected overall in two games. But this will be another big challenge.

3. Turnvovers. Seattle feasted on turnover margin last year, forcing an NFL-high 39 with a plus-22 margin that was also best in the NFL. But the Seahawks have forced just one turnover through two games and are at minus-one for the season. Turnovers were obviously a huge deal in the Super Bowl with Denver losing four, plus the bad snap for a safety that could basically count for another, while the Seahawks didn’t have any. Turnovers, of course, are often the result of winning battles elsewhere, and Seattle forced a few in the Super Bowl with its persistent pass rush and tight coverage. Seattle also seemed to be the more aggressive team from the start in the Super Bowl, something the Seahawks did not appear to be last week at San Diego — you heard Thomas this week talk about how he felt he wasn’t as aggressive as usual against the Chargers. Seattle needs the turnovers to return.




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