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Seahawks vs Jets: Top 5 players to keep an eye on

Sep 15, 2016; Orchard Park, NY, USA; New York Jets defensive tackle Leonard Williams (92) before the game against the Buffalo Bills at New Era Field. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 15, 2016; Orchard Park, NY, USA; New York Jets defensive tackle Leonard Williams (92) before the game against the Buffalo Bills at New Era Field. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports
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In the Seahawks vs Jets Week 3 matchup, Seattle comes into the game having lost five straight to Gang Green on the road.

seahawks vs jets
seahawks vs jets

Sep 15, 2016; Orchard Park, NY, USA; New York Jets defensive tackle Leonard Williams (92) before the game against the Buffalo Bills at New Era Field. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

This Seahawks vs Jets Week 4 game will be very different than other matchups.  First, both teams come in with the idea of winning on defense, which wasn’t true in past matchups.  Secondly, quarterback Russell Wilson will have to make plays with his legs to win.

Related Story: Jets face must-win situation against Seahawks

Winning football games usually comes down to winning in the trenches.  Both offensive lines are in for a battle, especially Seattle’s.

There are a lot of key players in this interconference battle.  Here are the top five to keep an eye on today.

Next: 5. Seattle's emerging running back

seahawks vs jets
seahawks vs jets

Sep 25, 2016; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks running back Christine Michael (32) is tackled by San Francisco 49ers inside linebacker NaVorro Bowman (53) during the third quarter at CenturyLink Field. Seattle defeated San Francisco 37-18. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

5. Running Back Christine Michael

The Jets front seven is disciplined and stout against the run.  However, Christine Michael did have a breakout game last week, albeit against the San Francisco 49ers.

The Seahawks offensive line is far from cohesive.  In fact, you can probably call them below average.

So, it’ll take a lot of patience for Michael to find the holes.  Michael will also have to use his power to break tackles against this defense.

If the line finds a way to open up the holes for him, he can hit them quickly, despite his size.  So, the Jets will have to find a way to keep them closed with their tough front seven.

Next: 4. A linebacker ready to make a name for himself

new york jets
new york jets

Nov 28, 2015; Atlanta, GA, USA; Georgia Bulldogs linebacker Jordan Jenkins (59) celebrates after their game against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at Bobby Dodd Stadium. The Bulldogs won 13-7. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

4. Linebacker Jordan Jenkins

Jordan Jenkins was thought of as a pass rusher in the draft.  However, based on many scouting reports he also has the strength to stand up against the run, especially against this Seattle offensive line.

Jenkins is a strong and smart football player with a nose for the football.  His versatility allows him to be an every-down backer in the NFL.

His strength, deceptive speed, and quickness will allow him to play against any tackle, whether it be 4-3 rush end or as a 3-4 outside linebacker.  With the skill set that he brings, he will be a major player in keeping Russell Wilson in the pocket and funneling Michael to the inside.

Furthermore, against one of the weaker offensive lines in the league, it may be a good source to gain confidence for the rookie.  It will be his second game, and a perfect game to knock the rust off from missing the first two weeks.

Next: 3. Seattle's experienced left tackle

Sep 11, 2016; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks offensive tackle Bradley Sowell (78), left, quarterback Russell Wilson (3) and tight end Luke Willson (82) join arms during the National Anthem before the start of a game against the Miami Dolphins at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

3. Offensive Tackle Bradley Sowell

Seattle’s offensive line has been inconsistent at best and below average at worst this season.  No matter what data you choose to look at, they are among the worst in the NFL.

However, according to Football Outsiders, the left side of the line is Seattle’s strong suit.  It makes sense because Bradley Sowell has the most experience on the line.

Fortunately, for the Jets, this is strength against strength.  Football Outsiders ranks the Jets’ defense highly against the run off of left tackle.

Since both teams are in the top ten, it will be a battle of wills.  So, whoever can impose his will on that side of the ball, could ultimately be the winner.

Next: 2. A linebacker ready to make an impact

new york jets
new york jets

Sep 11, 2016; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Cincinnati Bengals running back Jeremy Hill (32) scores a touchdown against New York Jets cornerback Marcus Williams (20) and linebacker Darron Lee (50) during the third quarter at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

2. Linebacker Darron Lee

So far Darron Lee has shown a nose for the football.  He leads the team in tackles, solo tackles, and assists, and he also is tied for third on the team in tackles for loss.

He was drafted 20th overall to fill the need as a pass rusher and has yet to record a sack.  However, he has shown an ability to help this team in the run defense, and his presence has helped the Jets go from near the bottom in run defense to the top.

Lee was originally thought to be a third down pass rush specialist early on in his career by many people in the know.  However, according to Sporting Charts, who tracks snap counts, Lee has played more than Lorenzo Mauldin, who was supposed to be the breakout star of the linebackers this year.

Lee is paying immediate dividends for the Jets.  He must continue to shine and hold down Michael and contain Wilson against Seattle.

Next: 1. An emerging defensive lineman

1. Defensive End Leonard Williams

When Mike Maccagnan took the job as general manager, he never thought Leonard Williams could fall into his lap at No. 6 in the 2015 NFL Draft.  Well, he did, and the rest is history.

Williams had a solid rookie season with three sacks and seven tackles for loss, showing his ability to stop the run and contribute to the pass rush.  He followed that up with three sacks and four tackles for loss so far in 2016.

He has also shown the coaching staff something because he’s getting more playing time this season than last.  In addition to this, early on in the preseason, despite being young, he has shown leadership. Furthermore, his acceptance of more of a role shows his maturity.

Must Read: Easy therapy for flight anxiety with the Jets

The Jets move Williams all along the defensive line, which means his responsibility may be to contain Wilson from breaking the pocket or getting to him from the inside.  Despite his youth, Williams is slowly emerging as one of the top defensive players on the team and in the league.

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