The Seattle Seahawks head to Ohio this week to take on the 4-0 Cincinnati Bengals. To help everyone get ready, I sat down with Matthew Willson from Stripe Hype for a quick Q&A.
Predictably, he’s fairly confident about the Bengals right now. They’ve played very well in the early portions of the season.
What has been the single biggest factor in allowing Cincinnati to get off to such hot start?
MW: Healthy players is the biggestfactor of the Bengals success. At this point last year, Andy Dalton had lost Marvin Jones, TylerEifert, and A.J. Green, which are his top three receiving options. The defense had seen a still hesitantGeno Atkins, who was coming back from an ACL tear, andVontazeBurfict was not even close to 100%. Outside of maybe New England, I don’t know of any team who can lose that much depth and be at their best. Withthe exception ofVontazeBurfict, everyone is back and Dalton looks like a brand new quarterback, who is playing with confidence because of that singlefactor.
Jeremy Hill has been a bit of a disappointment so far. Too many fumbles and not enough yards offset some good scoring numbers. What’s been going wrong, and is there hope that he will bounce back as the season progresses?
MW: There is hope for sure. The Bengals are fortunate enough that even with thunder struggling, lightning has just picked up. Giovani Bernard has been the work horse and is still in the early top ten running backs in yards and third in yards per carry in the NFL. If Hill can secure the ball and get the scores, while Bernard gets the yards, I don’t think that the Bengals or the fans will mind about Hill’s yardage production at this point, although that may change next season when Gio starts a contract year.
We’re four games into the year and we’ve yet to have an appearance of Bad Andy Dalton. Has there been a significant change in his play, or will regression to the mean eventually catch up to him?
MW: He has been working over the past two off seasons with Dr. Tom House, who many know as the throwing instructor to both quarterbacks and MLB pitchers. So we know that some of the improvement is on Dalton, but again healthy receiving options and with Dalton having a little more offensive control under second year coordinator Hue Jackson has boosted his performance. I don’t think it is a matter of good Dalton versus bad Dalton at this point, it is a point of will the NFL catch up to an Andy Dalton who has offensive control for check downs, audibles, and talent wide outs.
Seattle’s offensive line is a disaster right now. Is there anything I can tell my readers to give them hope, or will Geno Atkins and company just eat Seattle’s line for dinner?
I think what Seattle needs to hope for is a solid balanced offense, with respect for the run game. Marshawn is a power runner who can break tackles, and if he has a good game then the Bengals must respect the run with loading up the second level to keep the “big run” at bay. If the Bengals control the game, then it could be a long night for Russell Wilson and the Seahawks line, although Wilson is very good with his feet, which could play to the Seahawks advantage.
Lets wrap with up with a prediction: What’s the game flow like, and who comes out on top?
If the first four weeks from the Bengals continues into week five, it could be a long night for both the Seahawks offense, with short drives ending in punts, and Seahawks defense, with short breaks and long drives by the Bengals eight to nine play drives. Cam Chancellor must be ready to cover the deep pass by Dalton to any one of his targets, A.J. Green, Mohamed Sanu, Marvin Jones, or even Brandon Tate, as Kansas City found out last week. The Bengals, unless the Seahawks show up and Bengals don’t, win this game similar to last week.
Bengals 35, Seahawks 24.