3 Questions: Can Seahawks prove they have a Super Bowl offense?
Russell Wilson and the Seahawks’ offense bounced back into top form against the winless New York Jets last week, but Week 15 will give them a chance to prove themselves as a legitimate contender in the eyes of their toughest critics.
Can the Seahawks prove they’ve got a Super Bowl offense? That’s one of three big questions this team will face when they take on the Washington Football Team this weekend:
Can the Seahawks prove they have a Super Bowl offense?
The Seahawks’ defense has taken a significant step forward over the past few weeks, and that’s great, but Seattle’s Super Bowl hopes hinge on the offense playing like a top-five unit through its championship run. They’ll get a chance to prove they can be one of the best on Sunday when they face one of their toughest challenges yet.
Washington ranks fourth overall in total defense and excels against the pass, where they’ve allowed 206 yards per game. That’s thanks to an excellent pass rush made up of four first-round starters: edge rushers Chase Young and Montez Sweat, and interior linemen Daron Payne and Jonathan Allen.
Young, who was the second overall pick earlier this year, has commanded most of the attention, but there are serious weapons on the other side of the line (Sweat leads the team with seven sacks) and in the rotation behind him (defensive end Ryan Kerrigan has 5.5 sacks).
It won’t get much easier in the secondary, where cornerback Kendall Fuller leads the team with four interceptions. The rising star here though is strong safety Kamren Curl, a seventh-round rookie who’s had a hand in some of Washington’s biggest plays.
“He has been a revelation,” ESPN’s John Keim said of Curl. “On the Chase Young fumble return for a touchdown (in Week 14 against San Francisco), that play was a pump-fake to the tight end screen, then it was a pump to the tight end, and there was supposed to be a go ball down the seam to the receiver. Well, you need to get the intermediate safety to bite … Kam Curl doesn’t do that. He stays home. Because he stays home, Nick Mullens can’t throw. Then the pressure comes, he gets sacked, and Young picks it up and goes for a touchdown.”
There aren’t many weaknesses to this Washington defense, but it’s still a unit with flaws. They’re not as stout as other top defenses against the run; they’re 11th overall and are allowing 107 rush yards per game. As noted by my Jake & Stacy co-host Jake Heaps, Washington is 1-7 in games where it has allowed more than 100 rushing yards. And as limiting as they are with points scored, five teams have scored 30 or more points against them: Detroit, Baltimore, Cleveland, Arizona, and the Los Angeles Rams.
It will likely be an ugly game, but Seattle has too many weapons on offense to falter here. If they do lose and that loss is the result of offensive follies, it’s not the end of their hopes; Seattle’s odds of making the postseason hover above 95 percent. But without Wilson, Metcalf, Lockett, Carson and others proving they can hang with the best, it’ll be hard for the rest of the league to see the Seahawks as a legitimate contender. And with the Rams facing off against the winless Jets, the battle for the NFC West could be over before Week 16.
Will the Seahawks defense get their first pick-six of the season?
Seattle’s defense has an opportunity to build on their turnaround against a weakened Washington offense. Washington’s best weapon is wide receiver Terry McLaurin, who has over 1,000 yards; there’s not many consistent playmakers behind McLaurin, but tight end Logan Thomas (49/469) does lead the team in scoring with five touchdowns.
The real advantage is under center. Prior to last Sunday’s game, second-year quarterback Dwayne Haskins hadn’t taken a snap since being benched in Week 4. With Alex Smith out, Haskins will start just the 12th game of his career against a Seahawks defense that’s leading the league in sacks since Week 8.
One area that’s fallen off for Seattle is the turnover margin. After recording 10 turnovers through the first five weeks of the season, the Seahawks have recorded just eight since Week 7 (with half of those coming in Weeks 7 and 8). Suddenly, Haskins’ inexperience looks like a prime opportunity for a Seahawks defender to find the end zone for the first touchdown this season on that side of the ball.
The matchup of the game will be Chase Young vs. RT, so who wins this battle?
Starting right tackle Brandon Shell (ankle) is officially questionable for the game, and while that’s a sunnier outlook than doubtful status, it’s not encouraging that he missed practice this week.
If Shell is inactive, Seattle will need to turn to either Cedric Ogbuehi or Chad Wheeler to start in his place. It’s an unenviable position against Washington’s Young, who was a one-man wrecking crew against San Francisco last week. It’s on Ogbuehi and Wheeler to win those battles, but it’s also up to offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer and Wilson to find ways to strike quickly.