After the undefeated Los Angeles Rams and one-loss New Orleans Saints, there are 11 NFC teams with records between 4-2 and 3-4.
Two of those are the Seattle Seahawks and Detroit Lions, who will meet Sunday at Ford Field in Detroit.
Both 3-3, the Seahawks and Lions are trending in the right direction — each have won three of four games since 0-2 starts — in large part for the same reason: renewed running games.
The Seahawks have relied on the tandem of Chris Carson and Mike Davis, while the Lions have succeeded with second-round draft pick Kerryon Johnson.
After the first two losses, coach Pete Carroll said the Seahawks re-evaluated and re-emphasized the running game and made sure “that was the essence of what we were all about.”
Combined with the return of offensive lineman D.J. Fluker in Week 3, the results have been apparent. Carson has a team-high 352 yards rushing, averaging 4.5 yards per carry, and one touchdown, and Davis has 193 yards, 4.6 per rush and three TDs.
That’s quite a turnaround for an offense that last season saw quarterback Russell Wilson lead the team in rushing and had just one TD from a running back on the ground.
The Seahawks rushed for 155 yards in a 27-3 victory against Oakland in London before their bye week, and Wilson was sacked just once after being sacked six times in each of the first two games of the season.
“We’re just getting rolling,” Carroll said. “I’ll never not be frustrated by the way we started this season, but we’re moving.”
The Lions were embarrassed in their first two games, blown out at home 48-17 on Monday Night Football by the New York Jets and a rookie quarterback, Sam Darnold, making his first career start and then dropping a 30-27 decision to San Francisco (1-6).
Detroit had 248 rushing yards, its highest single-game output in 21 years, and 7.1 yards per carry in a 32-21 victory at Miami last weekend. Johnson rushed for 158 of those yards and has 444 this season.
“We’re always going to try to be balanced the best we can,” Lions coach Matt Patricia said. “Look, when you go out and you can execute and do it the right way, it looks really good. We’ve seen it when it doesn’t look so good the other way.”
Against the Dolphins, the Lions had more rushes than passes for the first time this season.
Quarterback Matt Stafford said he was fine with that.
“It’s incredible,” he said. “Our guys up front dominated. They played great. I thought our receivers in the back end blocked well, and then obviously our backs were awesome. It was a lot of fun to watch them do their thing.
“I haven’t been a part of too many of those, and it was a whole lot of fun.”
Both teams will get some reinforcements for Sunday’s game.
Carroll said the Seahawks expect to have linebacker K.J. Wright (knee) and tight end Ed Dickson (upper leg) in the lineup for the first time this season.
The Lions made a trade Wednesday with the New York Giants to acquire standout defensive tackle Damon “Snacks” Harrison.
Carroll said Harrison is a great addition for the Lions.
“Tell him to take his time getting there,” Carroll joked.
Defensive end Ezekiel Ansah (shoulder) is questionable to play for the first time since Week 1.
—Field Level Media