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November 1, 2014 at 2:35 PM

What to Watch: Seattle Seahawks-Oakland Raiders

Here is our weekly look at what to watch in the Seahawks game from beat writers Jayson Jenks and Bob Condotta.

First, from Jenks:

1. Will the Seahawks blow out the Raiders? It’s hard to blow out another team in the NFL, and even some of the league’s worst teams aren’t that far behind from their more successful counterparts. But the Seahawks have been locked in a grind of close games since their Week One thumping of Green Bay, and the winless Oakland Raiders provide them with a real chance to firmly put a team away. If last week’s close, ugly win against Carolina showed that the Seahawks could once again win that way, then this week could show that they can also drop the hammer against less talented teams.

2. How will Brock Coyle play? One of the surprises to emerge from this week was news that rookie linebacker Brock Coyle would get his first start against the Raiders (it’s also his first real playing time in the NFL, as a starter or a backup). Coyle was one of the breakout players of training camp, and the Seahawks liked him enough to keep him around all season. Now they will get a real chance to see what they have in him. It’s not a true audition, but it is a chance to show if he’s a capable NFL linebacker.

3. Will Paul Richardson continue returning kickoffs? Richardson, Seattle’s explosive rookie receiver, busted a big return against Carolina last week, showing the blazing speed that made him so coveted by the Seahawks. But he only got that chance because receiver Bryan Walters couldn’t play because of a concussion. Walters is back this week, and he is the most trusted return man the Seahawks have. Reliability is the No. 1 most important thing for coach Pete Carroll, but Richardson’s big-play potential might be too much for the Seahawks to pass up, even if it comes with a little more risk.

And from Condotta

1. How will the Seahawks handle Khalil Mack? The Raiders took Mack, a linebacker from Buffalo, with the No. 5 overall in the 2014 draft. And don’t let the fact he has just one sack fool you — observers say he has proven worthy of the selection so far. Pro Football Focus this week rated Mack as the best 3-4 linebacker in the NFL writing: “”He’s a game-changer in the running game and that was evident just by watching the Browns tight ends trying to block him.’’ That’ll be an issue for the Seahawks, who will again be without their best run-blocking tight end in Zach Miller, with second-year player Luke Willson again getting the start backed up by Cooper Helfet.

2. Can the Seahawks make life difficult for Derek Carr? The Raiders also appear to have hit with their second-round pick, Carr, who like his older brother David was a star at Fresno State. Derek Carr was the only rookie to win a starting job heading into the season and has performed credibly, with nine touchdowns, five interceptions and an 82.0 quarterback rating. Behind Carr, Oakland has thrown 270 passes against just 133 runs, the highest pass-to-run ratio in the NFL at just over 67 percent. Carr, though, has been sacked just eight times due in part to decent mobility and a quick release. Seattle tied a season-high with three sacks last week of Carolina’s mobile QB Cam Newton, though, which it hopes is a step toward re-establishing a more consistent pass rush. Seattle has just three interceptions of its own this season after making 28 last year. But a rookie quarterback with a pass-happy team playing on the road could be the recipe for finally getting some turnovers in bunchs.

3. How much will Will Tukuafu play? Seattle signed the 280-pounder to fill the fullback role this week. And coach Pete Carroll couldn’t have sounded more enthusiastic about what he may be able to offer when asked about him on Friday. “Will was really impressive,” Carroll said. “He has way more experience playing the position than we thought. We went back a couple years to make sure that we accumulate a lot of plays to see him play fullback and what he could do there. He can out here and showed understanding of the game, ability to pick stuff up really quick, catches the ball really well. When he’s laying into somebody, at 280, there’s a difference. He’s a difference at that spot in that style, that was exciting to see. So Will is going to be playing in the game and we’re excited to see what he could do.” Tukuafu could be particularly critical in blocking Mack as the Seahawks try to get Marshawn Lynch and the running game going.

 

 

 

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