"I don't know about that," Carroll said. "I'll have to gauge my temptations."
No one is expecting Carroll to show his hand, but his decision about what to do with Sherman this week is a big one. Throughout the year, the Seahawks have picked their spots and used Sherman to travel with opposing wide receivers. They did it for three-plus quarters against the Cincinnati Bengals and A.J. Green. They also did it in both matchups against the San Francisco 49ers and Torrey Smith.
The Steelers have a talented group of receivers, but Brown is clearly their No. 1 with 79 catches for 1,141 yards through 10 games. He has 16 receptions of 20+ yards.
"He does everything," Carroll said. "He's really fast. He plays fast on the field. He accelerates to the ball with great confidence. He makes plays on the sidelines. He makes plays in the back of the end zone. He's a tough guy inside. They put the ball on the perimeter to him on the screen stuff so he can catch and run. ... And then he's got Ben [Roethlisberger] that knows him and believes in him, and the coaching staff and all that. So he's just an extraordinary threat."
It's a crucial decision for Carroll and defensive coordinator Kris Richard. On one hand, why not match up strength vs. strength? According to ESPN Stats & Information, 66 of Brown's 79 catches have come when he's lined up outside, so it's not like Sherman would have to play the slot. Why allow the Steelers to dictate matchups and get Brown matched up on the right cornerback?
On the other hand, Brown is far from the Steelers' only receiving threat. Martavis Bryant is averaging 20.0 yards per reception and has five touchdowns.
Sherman was asked this week whether he ever lobbies to take on the opponent's top receiver.
"Not once," Sherman said. "I go out there and do my job, whatever they ask me to do. I don't change that for anybody because I think that's when you get caught up looking forward to things and get caught up in the peaks and the valleys of a season. 'I'm going to get up for this guy, I'm not going to get up for this guy. We don't have to worry about these guys.' You've got to worry about them all."
To make matters even more complicated this week, Carroll has not declared who will start at right cornerback. Cary Williams has started 10 games there, but he was benched during last week's win over the 49ers. DeShawn Shead replaced him and was up and down. The Seahawks also have Jeremy Lane coming back for the first time.
Roethlisberger is averaging 8.94 yards per attempt on the season, second to only Arizona's Carson Palmer. The Seahawks have allowed 34 pass plays of 20+ yards through 10 games. They allowed 32 such plays in all of 2014. But since Kam Chancellor returned in Week 3, Seattle is allowing 16.38 points per game, second to only the New England Patriots.
"I would anticipate Richard to follow AB," Roethlisberger said. "If you consider AB the best, which we do, and I think they probably consider him one of the best. We consider Richard to be one of the best in the business. We would expect that matchup."
The sense here is that Roethliberger is right. The Seahawks can't let Brown dominate the game, and the chances of that are greatly reduced if Sherman shadows him, even if it means playing at a disadvantage elsewhere.