NFL Preview - Seattle (1-0) at San Diego (0-1)
By John McMullen, NFL Editor
(SportsNetwork.com) - Forgive the swagger but the reigning Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks will arrive in San Diego for their road opener with some added confidence.
The NFL's best team dismantled what was supposed to be some of their stiffest competition in the NFC when they routed Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers, 36-16, to kick off the 2014 NFL season back on Sept. 4.
Marshawn Lynch ran for 110 yards and two touchdowns against the Packers and Seattle's defense wreaked its usual havoc en route to the easy victory.
The Seahawks unveiled the franchise's first Super Bowl banner prior to kickoff with a capacity crowd at CenturyLink Field emitting their signature deafening boom, and the hosts responded in the resounding rout.
The battle in the trenches heavily favored the Seahawks, who gained 207 yards on the ground to Green Bay's 80.
"I'm mostly fired up that we ran the ball for over 200 yards," Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said.
Percy Harvin was a focal point of Seattle's offense, however, catching seven passes for 59 yards and running four times for 41 yards, while Russell Wilson passed for 191 yards and two touchdowns.
The Chargers, on the other hand, faltered down the stretch in the desert, falling to Arizona, 18-17, in Week 1. Philip Rivers finished 21-of-36 for 238 yards, one touchdown and an interception for San Diego, which is coming off a 2013 run to the divisional round of the AFC playoffs.
The Chargers scored touchdowns on each of their first two drives in the second half to go up 17-6.
Rivers converted a third down on the opening series of the third quarter by connecting with Malcom Floyd, who missed the final 14 games of last season after suffering a neck injury, for 32 yards before hooking up again with the lengthy wideout for a 6-yard scoring strike.
Cards QB Carson Palmer was then stripped on a sack by Jeremiah Attaochu and Dwight Freeney recovered the ball at the Arizona 29-yard line, leading to Ryan Mathews' 20-yard dash to the end zone.
That wasn't enough, though, as the Cardinals fought back in the fourth quarter.
"This is one we felt like we let it get away," said Rivers.
The Seahawks lead their all-time series with San Diego 26-23 and have taken six of the past seven meetings, including the most recent one, a 27-20 triumph on Sept. 26, 2010, accomplished despite Rivers throwing for a career-high 455 yards.
The two teams also met in the preseason with Seattle dominating en route to a 41-14 win, one in which Wilson finished 11-of-13 for 121 yards and led scoring drives on each of the four series he played.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
The best-case scenario for any coach is to dominate an opponent but still have a few things to complain about and that's exactly what Carroll got from the Green Bay game.
The Seahawks held the Pack's high-powered offense to 255 yards, a mark far better than the team's NFL-best 292.3 given up in 2013. However, Seattle allowed a first-quarter touchdown, something it did exactly once in 19 games last season and the defense allowed Rodgers to complete nearly 70 percent of his passes, a number far above the team's stingy 59.0 percent completion rate allowed a season ago..
"It was off. We weren't up to par," All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman said, despite barely being tested by Rodgers. "We weren't up to snuff, and I think everyone feels that way. We've got to play better."
Part of the issue is at nickel back. Walter Thurmond landed with the New York Giants in free agency while prospective replacement Jeremy Lane aggravated a groin injury against the Pack and will be sidelined for at least two months. Meanwhile, another possible contributor, Tharold Simon, missed the season opener after knee surgery and remains on the shelf.
"(I) have no concerns at all," Pro Bowl safety Kam Chancellor said. "We always say no weak links. "Anything (the starters) know, we share with our backups. So everyone is on the same beat. If anyone goes down a guy can step right in."
The current "next man up" is rookie Marcus Burley, who was acquired in a trade with Indianapolis in late August and replaced Lane last week. Burley could be an issue against the explosive Rivers, who led a unit that finished fifth in the NFL in offense last season.
"We really liked the kid coming in and did a fantastic job of being ready to play in (the Packers game) down the stretch," Carroll said when discussing Burley.
The Bolts possess a host of solid targets, though, like future Hall of Fame tight end Antonio Gates as well as second- year receiver Keenan Allen, who had 71 receptions for 1,046 yards and eight TDs as a rookie, and Floyd.
Sherman, Chancellor and All-Pro safety Earl Thomas certainly have the ability to lock down two of the three at most times so McCoy will have to exploit Burley by getting one of his playmakers matched up with the freshman.
"It's time to get ready for the Seahawks. Their secondary is pretty good," Floyd understated.
San Diego is a good football team but they are staring down the barrel at 0-2.
The Seahawks are playing with such confidence, it's hard to imagine them slowing down any time soon. The reigning Super Bowl champions have won five in a row dating back to last year's playoff run, outscoring their opposition 152-65 over the span and winning by an average of 17.4 points per game.
"Against a good football team that's coming here on Sunday, you can't give them the opportunities," McCoy said. "You've got to put them away when you have the chance."
Getting that chance is the issue.
Sports Network predicted outcome: Seahawks 31, Chargers 21
09/11 11:07:27 ET