Earl Thomas III and the Seattle Seahawks (4-2-1) will look to return to their winning ways when they face the Buffalo Bills (4-4) at home in a Monday Night Football showdown.
Even though No. 29 found the end zone on a fumble return touchdown against the New Orleans Saints in Week 8, the disappointing outcome is not what Earl and his teammates desired. Now winless in their past two contests, the Hawks recent success on MNF could play into their favor as ETIII and Co. try to get back in the win column.
In the past five seasons, Earl and the Seahawks have posted a winning record once November arrives. Since 2012, Seattle has a combined record of 28-6 over the final two months of the regular season. Monday’s contest could spark another second-half run and as Pete Carroll explained, his squad’s success in the back end of the season is something he’s grown to count on.
”I count on it now. I count on us improving and playing better as we get down the stretch and the closer we get to the finish the better we want to play,” Carroll said. ”That’s kind of how we’ve constructed our mentality.”
The Seahawks have dominated the primetime slate of late and this week they will try to extend their steak of 11 consecutive victories on Monday night. It won’t be an easy task, though, as the depleted Bills offense has been playing better than anticipated.
With Sammy Watkins still sidelined, wideout Marquise Goodwin has filled in admirably as Buffalo’s deep-threat in the passing game. Goodwin is second in NFL in yards per catch, averaging 21.5, so Earl will have his hands full keeping his fellow Texas Longhorn in check down the field.
Star running back LeSean McCoy’s status is uncertain due to a hamstring injury. If McCoy does suit up, he will look to continue his dominant rushing ways as he has racked up over 100 rushing yards in two of his last three games played. Backup Mike Gillislee will need to be accounted for as well regardless of McCoy’s status.
Gillislee ran for 85 yards and a touchdown last week against the New England Patriots, and it’s becoming clear that Buffalo’s ground game is a force. The Bills are leading the NFL ,averaging 5.46 yards per carry, so the defense’s success could be dependent on shutting down the run game.
The Seahawks could also be tasked with containing one of their former receivers, Percy Harvin, who came out of retirement this week to join the Bills. It’s unclear whether or not the former Seahawk will be ready to play on Monday night, as he’s been out of game for over year, but if he does get the nod, his big-play ability can’t be ignored.
Bills starting quarterback Tyrod Taylor has had his ups and downs this season, but in his last two games against NFC West teams, the dual-threat QB has four touchdowns and no interceptions. Buffalo as a team has had the division’s number this season, as they are already 3-0 versus the NFC West. But despite their prior success, the Bills know they’ll have to be at their best to beat Earl and the L.O.B.
“(Seattle’s defense) have been one of the best—I know Denver’s defense is really good. There’s several teams that have really good defenses but they’re definitely in the conversation if they’re not (the best),” Bills coach Rex Ryan said. “Love the way they play. I mean this team flies around to the football. It’s everything you want as a defensive coach, you look for that kind of temperament. The collisions cause turnovers, like these guys run, they hit, it’s not just the front-seven, it’s their whole team.”
MNF will kick off at 5:30 p.m. PT from CenturyLink Field and will be aired on ESPN.