The Detroit Lions (0-3) are on the road in week four, heading to one of the toughest places to play in the NFL when they take on the Seattle Seahawks (1-2). To say that neither of these teams expected its season to start off this way would be a massive understatement. The Lions are fresh off a playoff berth in 2014, while the Seahawks, of course, were one play away from winning the Super Bowl. Regardless, the teams have a combined 1-5 record, so this Monday Night Football matchup is going to be an absolutely massive one.
For the Lions, Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson will look to turn things around, but rookie running back Ameer Abdullah may play a larger role this week due to Joique Bell dealing with an ankle injury, per Kevin Patra of NFL.com. Stafford hasn’t gotten off to his hottest start, throwing five touchdowns against five interceptions, but to his credit, the run game has struggled as well, scoring just two rushing touchdowns all year.
Turning to the Seahawks, this is a team that may be without its workhorse RB in Marshawn Lynch, who is considered a game-time decision, according to the team’s website. Lynch has struggled a bit this season, failing to score a touchdown while only averaging 3.4-yards-per-carry to this point. Doug Baldin, Jermaine Kearse, and Jimmy Graham have paced the offense to this point in 2015.
Let’s take a look at a few bold predictions for what should be a great game.
1. Thomas Rawls’s hot start continues
Through the first two games of the 2015 season, Rawls received a total of two rushes for five yards. Then, in week three with Lynch dealing with his injury, he stepped up in a massive way. The rookie from Central Michigan totaled 18 carries for 109 yards, while simply shredding the Chicago Bears defense. While the Bears aren’t the best in the business against the run, Rawls is going to get plenty of work this week, regardless of whether or not Lynch plays.
Detroit has been mediocre against the run in 2015, allowing an average of 112 yards per game, but we fully expect to see Rawls shred apart this unit at home. Could the future at running back in Seattle officially be ready to go? You bet. There’s a ton to like about Rawls, and we’ll see that week three wasn’t a fluke on Monday night.
If Lynch plays, I expect Rawls to get around 70-80 yards and a score. If he doesn’t play? Well, we’re thinking 120-plus rushing yards and two scores from the young back.
2. Ameer Abdullah finally breaks out
While Abdullah has done some incredibly impressive things through the first two weeks, what better way to break out and make a statement than by running over one of the best defenses in the NFL? Abdullah has 21 rushes for 82 yards and a score this year, while catching seven balls for 72 yards and another touchdown.
With the Lions seemingly diminishing Bell’s role, as he’s had a total of 20 rushes for 22 yards and a touchdown, it’s setting up to be the Abdullah show on Monday. While the future is bright for this young RB, he needs to help control the clock and tempo against a strong Seattle team.
The easiest way to give away a game to the Seahawks is to let them control the tempo and let their fans get even more into the game than they already will be. Expect Abdullah to be the man to help control the pace and lead the charge offensively.
3. The Seattle Seahawks finally get an interception
I know what you’re thinking: Why on earth is this bold, right? Well, the Seahawks are one of only three teams in the entire NFL who have failed to grab an interception this year. It’s Seattle, New Orleans, and Washington, which is obviously surprising because of how talented Seattle is defensively.
Kam Chancellor is back in action as we all know, and this team is at home against a quarterback in Stafford who has been known to force the ball into tight spots at times. Seattle, who totaled 13 interceptions last year, will grab at least one, if not two, on Monday against Stafford and the Lions.
While teams are usually avoiding throwing in the direction of Richard Sherman, expect Stafford to do all he can to get the ball to Calvin Johnson, who will likely see plenty of time facing off against Sherman. It has the potential to be a rough night for Stafford and the passing game in Detroit, which is why controlling the clock with the run game will be so important.
Follow Jeff Smith on Twitter @JSM8ith