No game left on the Seahawks schedule is going to be a gimme. This is what the last three games have taught me about this team that I love.
I thought the Seahawks would roll into Germany and beat Tom Brady and the Bucs pretty decisively, and I was painfully wrong. I thought they would bury Derek Carr and the Raiders at home, and they lost to them in overtime. I thought they would handily win against John Wolford quarterbacked Rams, and Geno Smith had to pull that game out at the end in a dramatic game winning drive.
So, I’m not going to say that these Panthers are an easy match for Seattle. They are not a great team, but they have a toughness to them. They run the ball well with a good offensive line, and they have a pretty good defensive line with edge rusher Brian Burns, and defensive tackle Derrick Brown.
Seattle has to be ready for this team, and they probably have to be ready without their star running back Ken Walker III, aka K9, and they could be without a few other players, as well. I don’t know how much looking past the Raiders they did the other week, but when I was at that game, I sensed a lack of crispness with the offense, at times, and maybe some lack of focus with the defense at others. I sensed that same lack of focus and fire from the defense last week in that opening drive against the Rams, as well.
These things cannot be a repeat trend during these final five games, if Seattle wants to see the playoffs. They need to shore it all up, and I think this game against a tough Panther squad is the game to do it.
Some will say that Seattle isn’t a very talented team, and that they have overachieved to get to where they are at 7-5. I say their record is what it says they are. They are a team with enough talent to contend for the playoffs and that is what they are doing. I think they are getting top level play from Geno Smith at quarterback, and he is aided by one of the best wide receiver tandems in the business, and a good group of tight ends, as well. While the defense has regressed in the last three games from where they were in October and early November, I think they have enough talent to still turn it around towards respectability again, and it might start this Sunday.
The Carolina Panthers are not likely going to trick Seattle in this match. The weather conditions could favor running, and they are a down hill, run it at you, offensive attack. With Seattle doing more 3-4 stuff these days, they have gone away from what was always the most consistent aspect of Pete Carroll’s 4-3 under/over front schemes, and that was stopping the run. This might be the way where Clint Hurtt decides to go with those heavier looks again.
Offensively, this also might be the game where Seattle decides is wants to try to get up early with the points, airing it out to set up the run, and leaning into its strengths with their passing attack. Getting Sam Darnold passing more while chasing a lead, than D’Onto Foreman running to chew clock is probably what would be ideal for the Seahawks in this one.
While Seattle’s defense has had it’s issues against the run, lately, they have been fairly decent against the pass with playmakers in their secondary like rookie corner, Tariq Woolen (6 INTs), and edge rusher Uchenna Nwuso (9 sacks). It cannot be overstated how important it is this week for Seattle’s defense to show up better against the run in this one. If they can do that, I think Seattle can comfortably win this one, even if they are without K9. I trust Seattle’s offense that much.
So, how do I think this game will go down?
I see Seattle winning, and advancing to 8-5. It might not always look pretty, but I think they find ways to get it done.
I think Seattle wins this in a 27-24 sort of way. The only reason I am giving it a tight score like this at the end is that, until I see this defense really bounce back towards playing well again, I need to emotionally brace myself for the reality that we could see Seattle forced to win shootouts.
Therefore, I think this game will have the look and feel of yet another close one, but Seattle still does enough to where Sam Darnold won’t have enough time to pull it out at the end.
Just get this win though, and get healthier for San Fransisco next Thursday.