Will holes in backfield, secondary hurt Seahawks against Browns?

Dec 19, 2015, 12:09 PM | Updated: 12:14 pm
Seattle’s secondary could be without both DeShawn Shead and Kam Chancellor Sunday vs. the Bro...
Seattle's secondary could be without both DeShawn Shead and Kam Chancellor Sunday vs. the Browns. (AP)

Can anyone come up with a good case for the Browns beating the Seahawks on Sunday at CenturyLink Field?

I’m guessing the guy who ran around naked to celebrate Cleveland’s win over San Francisco last Sunday could. And Browns head coach Mike Pettine probably could too.

The rest of us, not so much. But it should be fun to see Johnny Manziel in Seattle. You would expect him to have a tough go of it with the 3-10 Browns facing the 8-5 Seahawks, but he was pretty productive as Cleveland broke its seven-game losing streak against the 49ers.

And the naked guy would point out that the Legion of Boom might be down two players – Kam Chancellor is still nursing a bruised tailbone and DeShawn Shead has a sprained ankle. Kelcie McCray and Jeremy Lane will fill in if necessary.

More naked guy stuff – running back Isaiah Crowell and tight end Gary Barnidge give the Browns a chance on offense. Crowell rushed for 145 yards against the Niners, and Barnidge has 65 catches for 901 yards and eight TDs on the season. Tight ends typically find holes in the Seahawks’ defense.

When the Seahawks have the ball, it will be good to see defensive linemen Danny Shelton (UW) and Xavier Cooper (WSU) back home again.

But the Cleveland defense gives up nearly 400 yards a game. It is 26th in the league at stopping opponents, and the Seahawks have been the hottest offensive team in the league the last four weeks. Seattle has dramatically improved its success rate on third downs and in the red zone.

Then again, how will Russell Wilson and his teammates function in their first full game without Thomas Rawls, who broke his ankle in the first quarter of last Sunday’s game at Baltimore?

Bryce Brown and Christine Michael figure to share the carries against the Browns. I’m guessing Michael will be the featured running back, but we’ll see what Pete Carroll has in mind at 1 o’clock on Sunday.

I don’t feel like Michael deserves this 18th chance he’s getting because he already had 15 in Seattle along with one in Dallas and one in Washington. It’s not a good statement to bring back a player you already gave up on until you’re suddenly desperate enough to un-give up on him because John Schneider can’t dismiss the thought that he was a bad second-round pick.

As a stop-gap measure, though, you can argue that it’s a no-lose situation – if Michael’s terrible, the Seahawks will probably still find a way to beat the Browns, and they can cut him on Monday.

I would have been fine with DuJuan Harris and Derrick Coleman sharing the No. 1 job until Marshawn Lynch returns, and when I say “returns,” I’m not sure if I’m referring to his return to Seattle or return to the field.

But the Seahawks cut Harris this week, feeling like Brown and Michael are better options. So we’ll see, they know more about it than I do. I just find it curious and borderline ridiculous that they’re bringing back a guy they couldn’t get rid of fast enough in August. Now Carroll is trying to sell it as Michael being a victim of increased competition at running back. Not buying that explanation, but it was nice of him to say.

If they asked me, I’d take my chances with Derrick Coleman, who ran for 765 yards his senior season as a tailback at UCLA and had a nice 19-yarder in his only carry against Baltimore. He’d be a great game-managing running back, holding onto the ball while rushing north and south.

Still, as it is, the Seahawks are a team that has won six of seven and always gets hot this time of year. The Browns have lost seven of eight and their coach is on the hot seat.

The Seahawks are favored by 14 ½ and will win the game but because of the scattered running-back situation and uncertainty in the secondary, I’ll take the Browns and the points.

Smokin’ Lock of the Week: It’s Denver +6 ½ at Pittsburgh. I know the Steelers are on a roll, but the Broncos have the NFL’s best defense, and I expect Brock Osweiler to have a better game than he did last Sunday in a 15-12 loss to Oakland. That Steelers’ secondary, as we saw in Seattle a few weeks ago, is suspect. You give nearly a touchdown to a team that has the best defense in the league and a 10-3 record, I’ll take those points ’til the cows come home. The Smokin’ Lock of the Week record is now 4-9-1, but trust me when I say this, better days are ahead.

Line: Seahawks by 14 ½
Prediction: Seahawks 27, Browns 17
Season record against the spread: 5-7-1.

The Go 2 Guy also writes for SeattlePI.com and KitsapSun.com. You can reach Jim at jimmoorethego2guy@yahoo.com and follow him on Twitter @cougsgo.

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Will holes in backfield, secondary hurt Seahawks against Browns?