1.) Ray Rice vs. David Hawthorne
We all know Ray Rice and what he can do to make opposing linebackers look stupid. Last week in Pittsburgh you could tell the Steelers where focused on stopping him first and foremost but still Rice was able to impact the game. Here is some information about Hawthorn since most of us Ravens fans probably do not know much about him.
- Led the team with 100-plus tackles for the second consecutive year in 2010, this with 105 (74 solo), becoming the eighth player in Seattle history to accomplish that feat.
- Burst on the scene after Lofa Tatupu was injured for the year (pec) in Week 6, 2009. Led the team with 116 tackles (93 solo) and tied for team-lead with three interceptions.
- In his first start vs. Chicago (9/27/09), tied for the third-best tackle performance in Seahawks history with 16 (15 solo), along with one interception. Posted first-career sacks with 2.0 at Dallas (11/1/09) and set career-high with two picks vs. Detroit (11/8/09). In 11 starts in 2009, collected 105 stops (84 solo).
- Played in 14 games during rookie season, placing fourth on the team with 12 special teams tackles.
- Although he seems to be playing at a high level, Rice makes some of the best linebackers in the game look bad. Advantage: Rice
2.) Anquan Boldin and Torrey Smith vs. Branden Browner and Richard Sherman.
Anquan boldin is really starting to show that he is capable of being a true number one receiver. Perhaps some of this is due to the development of Torrey Smith as a deep threat on the other side. If Lee Evans is able to play this week it could move Boldin back into the slot position where he has been dominant in the past. All I know about Browner and Sherman is that they are big and physical. Sherman is six foot three and Browner in is six foot four! Here is some information on the two of them.
- Originally signed by the Denver Broncos as an undrafted rookie free agent in 2005 and placed on Injured Reserve (arm) in August 2005. Released after training camp in 2006.
- Signed with the Calgary Stampeders of the CFL. Played four seasons with Calgary (2007- 10), being named to the CFL all-star team his last three seasons and winning the Grey Cup in 2008. Played in 68 career games with 206 tackles, 2.0 sacks, 12 interceptions and two touchdowns. Had a career-high 61 stops in 2008 and five interceptions in 2010.
AT STANFORD: Fifth-year senior who is penciled in as the starter at left cornerback...made the transition from wide receiver to secondary in spring drills prior to the 2009 season and started 12 of 13 games last year at cornerback...has 81 career receptions for 1,340 yards and seven touchdowns...seven career touchdown receptions are the most of any Stanford player heading into the season...led Stanford in receiving yardage as a freshman and sophomore but was limited to just four games last season after suffering a partial tear of his left patellar tendon...has averaged 16.5 yards per catch in his career to rank ninth on Stanford's all-time career list.
It is hard to say how our receivers will match up against these humungous corners but we have struggled in the past against press coverage. Hopefully if Evans plays he can help change that. Advantage: Even
3.) Bryant McKinnie vs. Chris Clemons
McKinnie has had an up and down year. He has played well at times and has looked completely lost at others. Hopefully the addition of Ben Grubbs back to the left side of the line will help him keep his head on straight. Since we don't know much about Clemons here is some quick information on him.
- Originally an undrafted free agent signing of the Redskins in 2003, he suffered a torn ACL and spent his first season on Injured Reserve. Spent the first part of 2004 on the Redskins practice squad before being signed to the active roster.
- Nearly one third of his career tackle total (101) have been sacks (31.0).
- In first season as a regular starter, led Seattle with a career-high 11.0 sacks, including four multi-sack games.
- Named NFC Defensive Player of the Week for his efforts versus Dallas (12/28/08) when he recovered a fumble and raced 73 yards for the decisive score in the playoff-clinching win, while also tying a career high with two sacks and a forced fumble.
- Posted 8.0 sacks during the 2007 season with Oakland, despite only starting two games and being on the field for just 37 percent of the team’s defensive snaps.
- In first-career game, collected first-career sack taking down Ben Roethlisberger at Pittsburgh (11/28/04).
This will be a case of which Bryant McKinnie shows up this week. If one more week with Grubbs to his right helps him get things under control, advantage McKinnie. If not... it's Clemons all the way. So we'll say even at this point.
4.) Joe Flacco vs Earl Thomas.
Flacco has played six consecutive quarters of outstanding football (minus one fumble). He will be going on the road into one of the loudest stadiums in the NFL but I think it is Flacco's time to shine. Whatever the case may be he will have Earl Thomas watching his every move. Here is some info on Thomas
- Led team with five interceptions (T5th NFC, T10th NFL), tying the club’s mark for most interceptions by a rookie (Michael Boulware, 2005).
- In 2010, finished fifth on team with 71 tackles (60 solo) during rookie campaign.
- Scored first career touchdown on a 10-yard return of a blocked punt vs. Kansas City (11/28/10), the first time that has happened for Seattle since Alex Bannister’s 9-yard return vs. Denver (10/14/01).
- Collected the first two interceptions of career vs. San Diego (9/26/10) with the final pick coming at the goal-line to preserve the win. Became the first Seahawks rookie since Kenny Easley in 1991 to have two interceptions in one game.
- Posted a career-high eight stops (six solo) in consecutive weeks at New Orleans (11/21/10) and vs. Kansas City (11/28/10).
- Made NFL debut with six tackles (four solo) vs. San Francisco (9/12/10).
- Only second safety drafted by Seahawks in first round (Kenny Easley, 1981). Fourth player drafted out ofTexas (Last: MarcusTubbs, 2004).
- I think at this point experience will win this race. Advantage: Flacco
5.) Billy Cundiff vs. Steve Hauschka
Cundiff came to Baltimore after a journeyman career and quickly caught on after setting an all time touchback record. Steve Hauschka was booed out of Baltimore just a few short seasons ago. Let's hope that being reunited with his old team brings back memories of the shanking that was his first NFL season! Here are some of Hauschka's NFL highlights.
- Originally signed by Minnesota as an undrafted free agent on May 2, 2008. Was waived by the Vikings August 30, 2008, and claimed by Baltimore the following day. Waived by Baltimore September 9, 2008, and signed to their practice squad two days later. Signed to the Ravens active roster October 30, 2008. Was waived the following season on November 18, 2009, before signing with the Atlanta Falcons December 29, 2009. Was waived by Atlanta the following camp on August 16, 2010, and claimed August 17 by Detroit. Was waived by Detroit September 4, 2010, and signed with Denver later that season on December 11, 2010.
- Has connected on 16-of-22 (.727) field goals during his career with Denver (2010) and Baltimore (2008-09).
- Made 9-of-13 field goals (.692) and 27-of-28 extra points in nine games during the 2009 season with Baltimore.
- Advantage: Ravens all the way!