…the big question for the Seahawks this week is if their defense can hold up. If the version that faced the Vikings plays, the answer is a definite yes.
The Seahawks face one of their toughest tests of 2018 this Sunday evening. If they had handled their business in San Francisco last week, this game wouldn’t matter one bit. Seattle would be locked into the fifth seed in the playoffs, and we could watch Brett Hundley try his hand at torching the Kansas City secondary.
Instead, Seattle made so many mistakes in their terrible no-good loss they set a team record for penalties. That doesn’t count breakdowns in coverage, either. Considering the opponent and what was at stake, that was the worst loss so far for the Seahawks. Unless you count losing Cliff Avril, Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas to injuries. Those were much, much worse.
Unfortunately, the Seahawks don’t have any of those studs on the team. The Seattle defense has still been good, but you can’t lose 11 Pro Bowl seasons and not suffer some dropoff. That doesn’t even count talent that was traded or let walk. Let’s put it this way: if Earl Thomas didn’t break his leg in week four against the Cardinals, I wouldn’t be writing about how important the game against the Chiefs is. But he did, and it is.
On offense, I like Seattle’s chances against Kansas City. I bet you already know the Seahawks have the NFL’s most potent running attack. What you may not realize is that the Chiefs defense is terrible against the run. They rank 26th in yards allowed, 28th in touchdowns allowed, and dead last in yards allowed per carry.
Chris Carson is not only bringing his lunch pail, he’s bringing enough dessert for his buddy Mike Davis, too. If Rashaad Penny can go, Seattle could run for more yards than their last two games combined. And yes, I know that would be at least 383 yards. They won’t do that, but they will run for a lot.
The running game could certainly be held back if guard D.J. Fluker can’t go. Jordan Simmons was much better than just a warm body in place of the Pacific Northwest’s best road grader, but unfortunately, he’s out for the season. Regardless, I still expect the Seahawks to be able to run the ball all day on the Chiefs. And that’s not all they can do, either.
Seahawks can do more than run against the Chiefs
Despite the less than stellar performance of Russell Wilson against the Vikings, he’s still tied for the third-best passer rating in the league. Want to talk about efficiency? He’s thrown for 31 touchdowns compared to just six interceptions. Wilson has the second highest percentage of touchdown passes per attempt in the league. He’s a DangeRuss man. Sorry, I had to do it.
The Chiefs are so terrible against the run, you’d think they’d compensate by at least being decent against the pass. And you’d be wrong. They’re dead last in passing yards allowed and 23rd in touchdown catches allowed. It should be no surprise that Kansas City is ranked 28th in points allowed, 31st in yards allowed, and dead last again in first downs allowed. Seattle should be able to move the ball practically at will against the Chiefs.
The problem for the Seahawks is on the other matchup. Remember that stat for Russell Wilson, second highest touchdown percentage? Unfortunately, the guy who checks in at number one plays for Kansas City. Pat Mahomes lights everybody up. The high-flying Chiefs aerial attack has only been held to less than 30 points four times. They’ve never scored less than 26 points, and they’ve scored over 40 five times. For reference, the Hawks have scored less than 30 ten times. Less than 30 is not as good as more than 30. The Seahawks defense has to keep the game within reach.
The Seahawks did get a bit of good news, as Bradley McDougald has been cleared to play after all. As compatriot and True Believer Lee Vowell wrote, the Hawks had no chance to beat Kansas City without McDougald. Even with him, Andy Reid’s offense will be very tough to contain. The best you can hope for is to keep the score within reach. McDougald’s presence will go a long way to making that happen for Seattle.