After putting together back-to-back 20-17 wins in the final minutes of each of their last two games, the Seattle Seahawks are hoping for an encore this Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Seahawks' tight ends, defensive backs, and wide receivers have stood out the past two games.
The Steelers will be starting quarterback Mason Rudolph for the second straight week. He looked excellent in a 34-11 drubbing of the Cincinnati Bengals. Was Rudolph's efficient performance (he went 17 for 27 on passes for 290 yards and 2 touchdowns) a one-time event? Let's hope so for Seattle's sake.
Which Seahawks will need to be difference makers on Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 17, however? Here are some guesses.
Safety Quandre Diggs
Against the Titans, Quandre Diggs nearly came up with a big interception early in last Sunday's game. Diggs has a knack for being able to read the eyes of opposing quarterbacks and will certainly be hunting for interceptions this week against Steelers QB Mason Rudolph. The Seahawks are looking to Diggs to lead their secondary, which has been sharp these past two weeks, to another strong performance. Hoping to make Rudolph's stellar Week 16 game against the Bengals a fluke.
Wide Receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba
Jaxon Smith-Njigba has continued to prove the Seahawks right for selecting him with the 20th overall pick in the 2023 draft. Not only has JSN put up superb numbers so far in 2023 (he has 59 receptions for 602 yards receiving), but he also came up with two big-time, game-winning touchdown catches late in games this season against the Browns and Eagles.
JSN has been a difference-maker in clutch situations and has helped the Seahawks in their short passing game. With T.J. Watt (the NFL's leading sacker with 17 sacks on the season), coming to Seattle on Sunday, the Seahawks will look to JSN to get the ball out of Geno Smith's hand quicker.
Tight End Noah Fant
How the Seahawks handle T.J. Watt in their blocking scheme is going to be critical against the Steelers. Noah Fant could assist the offensive line in double-teaming T.J. Watt in passing situations. How the Seahawks decide to use Fant should be interesting, as he can catch passes, and be useful as a blocker in the passing game.
The Seahawks used their tight ends well against the Titans in Week 16. Colby Parkinson was able to haul in a huge go-ahead touchdown, which would be the eventual game-winner. The Seahawks' tight end room has been strong all season, maybe Week 17 will be Noah Fant's turn to shine.