Seattle Seahawks welcome Jake Locker-less Tennessee Titans to CenturyLink Field

This week has been a shitty week for Seattle sports fans. I recognize that not everyone follows the Sounders, but a crushing – albeit promisingly close – loss to Stanford in Palo Alto paired with a heartbreaking Seahawks loss made for a rough weekend. Two Sounders losses that were never really close didn’t make anything better.

With a Huskies game against Oregon and a Sounders match against Portland looming, this week’s Seahawks matchup against the Tennessee Titans figures to be the end of a great Seattle sports weekend, or the welcomed oasis at the end of another awful one.

Despite a 3-2 record, only one game worse than the Seahawks, the Tennessee Titans are hardly in the discussion with our beloved occupants of Century Link Field. Most of Tennessee’s success to this point in the season has occurred during the just over 14 quarters that Jake Locker was active. The Western Washington born local hero seemed to be turning a corner en route to what was quite certain to be a rowdy homecoming when his injured his hip not one-third of the way into the third quarter in Week 4 against the New York Jets. The Titans only scores after Locker let came on a fumble recovery, and a 77 yard pass from Ryan Fitzpatrick to Nate Washington – a bright spot in an otherwise inefficient showing from Fitzpatrick.

The following week saw Fitzpatrick struggle against the surprise undefeated Kansas City Chiefs, completing barely half of his passes while throwing two picks compared to one touchdown.

Former star running back Chris Johnson has been a no-show this seasons, still failing to recreate his dominant production from 2009, the year he ran for 2006 yards. Johnson’s seen his role in the passing game shrink too, whether by his own fault or not, catching a career-low 36 passes last year and starting 2013 on a pace slower than that.

For Locker’s part, He’s got the seventh highest DVOA of any quarterback in the league, and has also had some success on the ground. So while Tennessee’s offense ranks 14th in DVOA, that’s largely due to their 12th ranked passing offense – an aspect of their game that will be much worse until Locker is back, assuming he returns at the same level he left at.

Injuries

Seattle Seahawks

Max Unger, C – Unger has participated fully in practice this week and seems likely to make his return.

Breno Giacomini, OT – Hasn’t practice this week, missed last week, seems unlikely to play.

Bobby Wagner, MLB – Wagner hasn’t practice this week after injuring his ankle last week. Returned to the game after injuring it last week. Status up in the air.

Zach Miller, TE – Hasn’t practiced this week and missed last week. Doesn’t look good.

Tennessee Titans

Jake Locker, QB – Out with hip injury.

Michael Griffin, S – On injury report but full participant in practice.

Coty Sensabaugh, CB – Missed Wednesday practice and limited participation in Thursday practice.

Stats

Some stat comparison from Football Outsiders (click for a glossary of Football Outsiders advanced stats)

Seattle Seahawks Tennessee Titans
Quarterback Russell Wilson Ryan Fitzpatrick Quarterback
DVOA 6.0% -5.3% DVOA
DYAR 146 20 DYAR
QBR 55.3 38.8 QBR
Rush DVOA 26.9% 111.7% Rush DVOA
Running backs Marshawn Lynch Chris Johnson Running backs
DVOA -2.1% -14.7% DVOA
DYAR 24 -22 DYAR
Robert Turbin Jackie Battle Runningbacks
DVOA -26.6% -7.0% DVOA
DYAR -13 3 DYAR
Wide Receivers Doug Baldwin Nate Washington Wide Receivers
DVOA 36.9% 17.3% DVOA
DYAR 91 89 DYAR
Golden Tate Kendall Wright  
DVOA 10.3% -2.9% DVOA
DYAR 54 45 DYAR
Tight End Zach Miller Delanie Walker Tight End
DVOA 9.1% 9.7% DVOA
DYAR 14 29 DYAR
Team Defense     Team Defense
DVOA -19.7 -9.0% DVOA

Last week the Seahawks lost to a team that they are better then. In that case, they played an early game and they played in Indianapolis, both of which work against them. Both of those elements are distant memories this week, however, as the Seahawks take on the Titans in an afternoon game in Seattle. Considering the Titans overall talent level, and paired with their injuries – namely the injury to Locker – anything other than a substantial Seahawks victory seems unlikely.

That in mind, some people will call this a trap game for that reason. Don’t worry about this being a trap game. It’s not a trap for you. You will not be caught in the trap. I promise you.

And someone always calls games against bad-mediocre teams trap games because that’s what people do. Being contrarian is forgotten if you’re wrong, and lauded if you’re right. Just ask stupid Skip Bayless.

Predictions

Ryan Fitzpatrick exits the game before the end of the third quarter.

Bruce Irvin has two sacks and a big play against the run.

Presuming he’s healthy enough to play, Walter Thurmond has a big game.

We finally see something from Christine Michael.

Sidney Rice scores a touchdown.