Game Preview: Buccaneers at Seahawks

WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh (Elaine Thompson)

Read on to find out everything you need to know about Sunday's game between the Buccaneers and Seahawks including which matchups to keep an eye on, who might be sidelined due to injuries and what each team needs to accomplish in order to be victorious.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-12) at Seattle Seahawks (5-8)

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GAME SNAPSHOT

KICKOFF: Sunday, 4:15 ET

GAMEDATE: 12/20/09

SURFACE: Artificial turf

TV: FOX (Ron Pitts, John Lynch, Nischelle Turner)

PREDICTION: Seahawks 24-13

KEYS TO THE GAME: The Bucs are scaling back the offense to help struggling rookie QB Josh Freeman, who has thrown eight interceptions the past two games. They also want to put more of the offensive workload on the ground game, and coach Raheem Morris called out the offensive line as an area that needs to improve. Seahawks coach Jim Mora has been far blunter in the assessment of his own offensive line. With QB Matt Hasselbeck often taking hits even on three-step drops, Seattle will try to work significantly against a Bucs defense that gave up 175 rushing yards last Sunday.

MATCHUPS TO WATCH:

Seahawks WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh vs. Bucs CB Aqib Talib. Houshmandzadeh leads the Seahawks with 65 catches. Talib has shut down top receivers and will likely be assigned to Houshmandzadeh.

Seahawks DLE Patrick Kerney vs. Bucs RT Jeremy Trueblood. Kerney is a top edge rusher and Trueblood has struggled with penalties and protection.

Bucs QB Josh Freeman vs. Seahawks secondary. Freeman has thrown eight interceptions in the past two games and is battling his confidence. The Bucs hope to make his job easier by running the football.

GAME PLAN: The Bucs are expected to try and take some of the pressure off Josh Freeman by running the football. But Tampa Bay is ranked 25th in the NFL in rushing offense at 98.2 yards per game.

Freeman, who has thrown eight interceptions in the past two games, says he has to play better regardless of the game plan.

"I'm expected to go out and really play well every week and give my team their best chance to win," Freeman said. "I haven't done that the past couple of weeks. You always plan on going out and playing well and you prepare to the best of your abilities and then when you get out there on Sunday, you have to get the job done and I haven't been doing that the past couple weeks.

"We've got a lot of different weapons. I think the game last week is kind of the exception because it was a really good defense. You can't look at last week's game and just be like, "Man, we can't throw it, we can't run it, we've got to just re-evaluate everything we're doing.' We've got to get back to the basics of what we're being successful with and that is running the ball, (whether) it be the zone run or the power and the play-action game or the quick game. There are a number of things we've shown we can do successfully. We've just got to get into a groove and a rhythm and go do that week in and week out."

Defensively, the Bucs have played much better since Raheem Morris took over from ousted defensive coordinator Jim Bates. He has used multiple fronts and has given LB Barrett Ruud more options to check to. But the Bucs yielded 160 rushing yards last week against the Jets.

Seattle moves the ball mostly through the air and Morris must find a way to pressure QB Matt Hasselbeck.

FAST FACTS: Tampa Bay has lost 16 of its past 17 games. ... Hasselbeck is 3-0 in his career against the Bucs.

PERSONNEL NEWS

Bucs:

--WR Michael Clayton (knee) did not practice Thursday or Friday and is listed as out against the Seahawks.

--RB Cadillac Williams (back) returned to practice and was not on injury report Thursday or Friday.

--TE John Gilmore (head) did not participate in practice Thursday or Friday and is listed as out against Seattle.

--DT Roy Miller (ankle) had full participation in practice Thursday as well as Friday.

--WR Sammie Stroughter, who did not play last week with a back injury, had full participation in practice Thursday and Friday.

--TE Kellen Winslow (knee) did not participate in practice on Friday and is questionable for Sunday's game.

Seahawks:

--QB Matt Hasselbeck told reporters on Thursday that his sore right shoulder feels fine and he'll be ready to play on Sunday.

--LB Aaron Curry (hip) was a full participant in practice on Thursday as well as Friday and is probable for Sunday against Tampa Bay.

--WR Nate Burleson (ankle) is out for this week but is a possibility to return to the field before the season ends.

--LB D.D. Lewis (knee) was a full participant in practice and should be available for Sunday.

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