The Seahawks play the Chiefs in what is a tough matchup for Seattle. If safety Bradley McDougald cannot play, Seattle’s task of winning may be impossible.
There is one good thing about Sunday’s game, 12s. The Seahawks do not have to beat the Chiefs to make the playoffs. In fact, even if Seattle does win they are not guaranteed a playoff spot. Not in week 16 anyway. Seattle’s most important game would be a week 17 win over the Cardinals.
But when Seattle plays Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs offense on Sunday night football, they may be without safety Bradley McDougald. From my eye test, McDougald is having his best season as a professional. And when he is on the field he makes the Seahawks a better defense.
McDougald is very good at a lot of things. But he is great at covering opposing tight ends. After he left the 49ers game in week 15 after aggravating a knee injury, San Francisco nearly immediately scored with a touchdown pass to tight end Garrett Celek. Tedric Thompson was attempting to cover the tight end deep on the play but slipped and fell.
One could argue that McDougald could just have easily slipped and fell. But the issue was that even before the pass was completed there was chaos in the coverage. Second-year guys Thompson and Delano Hill could not adjust to the 49ers alignment quickly enough.
On Sunday, the Chiefs will use all kinds of alignments and disguise their plays. If McDougald is in the game Seattle could still have issues. But if the free safety and alternate Pro Bowler misses the game, the Seahawks will give up even more yards and most likely that will be followed by even more points as well.
Kansas City has a very good tight end in Travis Kelce. Let me correct that a bit: Kelce is great and not just very good. McDougald might do a solid job on him. But McDougald covers tight ends better than most safeties in the league, let alone his own team. Kelce against Thompson or Hill is a mismatch in favor of the Chiefs.
Thankfully, Seattle doesn’t have to win on Sunday against the Chiefs to make the playoffs. Even if they do somehow win, the still need to defeat the Cardinals in the final game of the year. If the Seahawks lose to the Chiefs but beat the Cardinals, Seattle still makes the playoffs. Maybe Seattle should simply rest McDougald anyway? The success of Seattle in the postseason might rely on the health of the Pro Bowl free safety.